99 Mac Secrets (Part 1) : General OS X tips, Security tips, System shortcuts

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Nearly 100 things you didn’t know about your Mac

General OS X tips

1.    Use Screen Sharing

Screen Sharing is an often forgotten feature of OS X that enables you to view and control another machine from your Mac. This is particularly useful for grabbing work from another desktop, and can be activated through the Sharing System Preferences panel, and accessed via Finder’s sidebar. You can control the machine or drag and drop files between Macs in seconds.

Use Screen Sharing

2.    Activate do not disturb mode

Pull Notification Center downwards with your mouse and you will reveal a hidden setting at the top of the panel. This switch enters a ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, which stops notifications popping up for 24 hours in total.

Activate do not disturb mode

3.    Declutter your dock

There are a couple of things you can do to clear up your Dock. First, set applications to minimize into their app icons. Secondly, set your stacks to Display As Folder and change the icon of the folder to create a more professional, and tidy look.

4.    Activate zooming

Open System Preferences, select Accessibility and switch the Zoom option to on so you can focus in on parts of the screen with a simple gesture.

Activate Zomming

5.    Master search tokens

You can use Finder’s search bar to search for specific items using Search Tokens. Type in a file type, for example, and you can filter results to just that type. Combine terms in the search bar like file name and date and you can find a single file in a hard drive full of thousands within a few seconds.

6.    Get dictionary definitions anywhere

If you want a quick definition of a word on your screen, all you need to do is double-tap (not click, just tap) on your track-pad as your mouse hovers over the word.

get dictionary definitions anywhere

7.    Move menu bar icons around

Apple automatically adds icons to your menu bar by default when you first switch on your Mac, but they don’t have to always look the same. You can re-order the icons, add new ones and remove those you don’t want with a simple keystroke. Hold the Cmd key while you click and drag an icon and you can move it around. Drag an icon out of the bar in this mode and it will be removed.

Move menu bar icons around

8.    Use fast user switching

Fast user switching was a feature added in OS X Tiger (10.6), but it’s one that’s often forgotten. It enables you to quickly change between different user accounts on a single Mac by simply selecting a name from the menu bar. To activate it, open the Users & Groups section of System Preferences and find it in Login Items.

Use fast user switching

9.    Reorganize notification center

To change the order that apps appear in Notification Center, drag them up and down the list in System Preferences>Notifications.

Reorganize notification center

10.  Turn off the empty trash prompt

Do you get annoyed when Trash keeps asking whether you’re sure you want to empty it? To remove this prompt, select Finder>Preferences from the menu bar. Choose the Advanced tab and uncheck the box that says Show warning before emptying the Trash. Now your Trash will empty as soon as you click the option, with no extra clicks.

11.  View advanced Wi-Fi and sound information

If you want more information about the AirPort settings on your Mac, or if you want to change the sound output or input devices, you can access these controls quickly through the menu bar. Hold Alt as you click the icons and the drop-down boxes will show different results, with more information and options.

Security tips

12.  Limit app downloads

In Mountain Lion, you can choose to allow apps from anywhere to be installed, or, for more security, simply limit apps to those downloaded from the Mac App Store.

13.  Set a lock screen security message

In System Preferences choose Security and you can add a message for when your screen is locked after falling asleep. This is great for adding contact details, just in case your beloved Mac is lost.

This is great for adding contact details, just in case your beloved Mac is lost.

This is great for adding contact details, just in case your beloved Mac is lost.

14.  Check your privacy settings

There is a new Privacy section in System Preferences that helps you to keep track of all the apps that have used data from your machine – check it regularly so you know who sees what.

15.  Disable automatic login

If you’re worried about losing your Mac for whatever reason, disabling automatic login is an absolute necessity. Do it in System Preferences to stop your Mac booting straight into your workspace.

16.  Make screensaver lock your screen

It’s not well known, but you can set your screen to lock after the screensaver activates. If you’re worried about security, doing this and setting a screensaver to appear after two minutes of inactivity will help.

System shortcuts

17.  Adjust volume in increments

18.  Move to Trash

19.  New Folder with items

20.  Invert colors

21.  Activate Spotlight

22.  Force Quit applications

23.  Show or hide the Dock

24.  Switch between windows

25.  Slow motion animations

26.  Zoom in or out


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