Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)

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Finder Tips

The Finder is the control center for the Mac and you will spend much of your time using Finder windows. There are many ways in which you can adapt the Finder for your own needs.

Using the Apple Menu

The Apple Menu is a great place to start exploring OS X. Click the Apple icon at the top left of the screen and a drop-down menu will appear. Using the Apple Menu you can:

imageFind out about your Mac’s configuration

imageCheck for Software Updates

imageVisit the App Store

imageView your System Preferences

imageConfigure the Dock

imageView recent apps or documents

imageForce Quit apps

imagePut your Mac to sleep, restart, or shut down

imageLog out of your account

imageHolding down the Shift or Option keys gives you different options (image below shows Apple Menu with Shift key pressed)

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The Apple Menu gives you quick access to commonly-used functions, previously-opened documents, apps, and other utilities.

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The New icon pictured above indicates a new or enhanced feature introduced in the latest operating system for Macs – OS X Yosemite.

Force Quit apps

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Recent Items

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Resizing Window Columns

If you use the multiple column view (probably the most useful view) you often see document titles chopped off since they don’t fit within the column.

You can manually drag the column by placing the pointer on the dividing line and moving the pointer to the right.

Quick, accurate column resizing

imagePlace the pointer on the dividing line between two columns

imageDouble-click

imageThe column will now resize to the exact width that accommodates the longest document title

Before resizing a column

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After double-clicking to resize

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The Finder and app buttons in Yosemite are different to other versions of OS X:

Red: closes window

Yellow: minimizes

Green: full screen

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Change Finder Views

There are several Finder views. You can use the mouse to change views but keyboard shortcuts are much quicker! There are also keyboard shortcuts for many Finder options as shown in the table below.

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A more comprehensive list of shortcuts is provided in Chapter Two.

Function

Keyboard shortcut

Finder Icon view

 + 1

Finder List view

 + 2

Finder Column view

 + 3

Finder Cover Flow view

 + 4

Show/Hide Toolbar

 +  + T

Go Back

 + [

Go Forward

 + ]

Show Enclosing folder

 + up arrow

Show Computer

 +  + C

Show Download folder

 +  + L

Show Home

 +  + H

Show Desktop

 +  + D

Show Network

 +  + K

Show Applications

 +  + A

Show Utilities

 +  + U

Go to folder

 +  + G

Connect to Server

 + K

Minimize window

 + M

Cycle through windows

 + `

Command key

 

Option (alt) key

 

Shift key

 

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Learn some basic keystrokes to help speed up your workflow.

Finder Options

By default, OS X is not set up to show hard drives and other connected devices on the Desktop (earlier versions of OS X showed these). There are many adjustments to the Finder you can make and all are found at:

Finder > Preferences

Show connected drives

You can find settings for various types of drive under the General tab. You can also tell OS X how you want windows opened and also the Spring-loading delay time:

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Use Tags to highlight your files or folders

OS X provides Tags if you look under the Tags tab. These are color coded. You can change the names of the Tags to anything you want to make them more useful.

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Default Tags can be edited as shown on the image above

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Mac OS X’s Tags make it really easy to find important files and folders.

Fed up with being asked if you want to empty the Trash?

You can easily switch this off using the Advanced tab. Simply uncheck the Show warning before emptying the Trash then it won’t ask you again!

Be warned, if you delete files they may be almost impossible to recover!

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Control the Sidebar

The Sidebar contains your folders such as the Home folder, Applications, Movies etc. What you see, and the order they are shown, can be fully modified so you only see the items you want.

Customize the Sidebar

Under Finder Preferences choose the Sidebar tab and check or uncheck until you have the Sidebar customized to your needs.

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Remove the Indicator Lights

These are the lights that show on the Dock to indicate which app is running (i.e. as opposed to being on the Dock but not active).

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You can see Contacts and Calendar are active in the image above but FaceTime and Reminders are not.

Dock Options

You can switch off indicator lights and modify the Dock in many other ways by opening Dock Preferences:

System Preferences > Dock

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Resize Finder Icons

The icons you see on the Desktop and elsewhere may be perfect for your eyes, or you may prefer them to be larger or smaller. Achieving this is easily done using:

View > Show View Options (on the Menu Bar of the Finder).

Drag the slider right or left till you achieve the desired icon size.

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You can also change the size of the text and the option to display the preview of the file (showing icon preview can slow down older Macs and switching off the preview speeds things up).

Clean Up the Menu Bar

The Menu Bar is very useful since it holds items like the date and time, Wi-Fi, and many other functions. You can often determine what is shown on the Menu Bar from the Preference file for each item.

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You can stop Date & Time showing on Menu Bar by unchecking the box at the top. The same can be done for Keyboard (below) and every other item that shows on the Menu bar.

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The items on the menu bar are not fixed – they can be moved around to suit your needs.

Rearranging the order of items on the Menu Bar

Click an item while holding down the Command key and you can move items around the Menu Bar.

FTP using the Finder

Generally, file transfer (copying files to or from a server) is performed using an FTP (file transfer protocol) program such as Cyberduck (http://cyberduck.ch). But you can easily connect to servers from the Finder without using any software.

Connect to an FTP server

imagePress ⌘ + K to open a server search window

imageEnter the FTP details and press Connect

imageThe FTP window will open like any regular Finder window and you can view files, upload and delete items easily

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Customize Notification Alerts

Notifications in Yosemite are the same as those in iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch). Essentially, apps can send you notifications of events, text messages, incoming emails, and many other types of activity on the Mac. How you see and hear these can be configured to suit your needs.

Go to System Preferences > Notifications to access the settings.

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To see your notifications on the Mac click the icon at the top right of the screen (on a MacBook Pro you can see the notifications by swiping two fingers from left to right on the trackpad).

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Finding Files

Because Spotlight indexes your files based on their names and the data they contain, you can find any file you want fairly quickly. This powerful Spotlight indexing and search facility means that less filing of documents may be used, but in general it is still a good idea to create folders, much as you would do with a file cabinet, rather than have all your documents in one folder.

There are several ways you can locate files.

Finder search window

imageType ⌘ + F

imageA Finder search window opens

imageType the name of the file OR some of the text within the file if you don’t know the actual file name

imageThe Finder will attempt to locate the file for you

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The Finder will even find words within your documents. If you cannot remember the name of a file simply type in a word or two that you know are actually contained within the document.

In this example, I was trying to find a presentation about platelets that I had created within the last week: I typed ⌘ + F then typed platelet in the search box. Many files were found so I needed to narrow this down.

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I changed Kind to Presentation which narrowed down the list but there were still too many files.

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I added a Created date option and specified within last 30 days which reduced the list of files, showing the ones I was looking for.

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Keep adding criteria to the search to pinpoint the file you are looking for.

Using Spotlight to Find Files

Instead of bringing up a Finder window, you can use Spotlight. There are two ways to access Spotlight:

imageClick the Spotlight icon (magnifying glass at the top right of the screen)

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imageOr you can tap ⌘ + Spacebar which brings up the Spotlight search box

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Hiding Sensitive Files

Later in the book we will look at ways of making encrypted disks to hold sensitive files. But here is a quick and easy way to create a folder which can be hidden and unhidden using the Terminal app.

To hide a folder called “mysecretfile” (in Documents folder)

imageOpen Terminal and enter chflags hidden ~/Documents/mysecretfile

imageThe file is now hidden

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To unhide

imageEnter chflags nohidden ~/Documents/mysecretfile

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Quick Look at Files

Sometimes, when you are looking through a group of files, you don’t want the hassle of opening each and every one within a program. OS X lets you see the content of a file quickly using Quick Look. If it is the correct file, you can then double-click the file and open it using the appropriate app.

Using the Spacebar

imageFind the file and click it once to select

imageTap the spacebar to open; tap again to close

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From File Menu

Select the file by clicking on it then go to File > Quick Look

Using keystroke

imageClick the file once

imagePress ⌘ + Y

Once you can view the file there are various things you can do, e.g. open in the appropriate program, preview (if it is an image), email it, Tweet it, and a few other actions.

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Use Quick Look to see if a file is the one you want before opening it (will save you time).

Keep Files in the Cloud

There’s a lot of hype about cloud computing, but there are so many advantages to keeping files in the cloud that it makes sense to use a cloud to store much of your data.

In essence, the cloud is a remote server (usually multiple) on which you have some drive space. On the Mac you can often use the cloud as you would any other folder on your Mac, allowing you to drag-and-drop files into the cloud. So what? Well, if you have that cloud service running on your desktop and laptop, and perhaps an iPhone, iPad or other mobile device, you can see your cloud documents from any device! You no longer have to carry around USB drives to open your files on other devices.

iCloud

Apple’s iCloud is a cloud service which provides a folder called iCloud Drive on your Mac.

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Dropbox

This is a great cloud service. You can download the free app at dropbox.com. You then have a Dropbox folder on your Mac (or PC or pretty much all mobile devices). You get 2GB free but you can buy more space if you need it.

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Opening Foreign Files

Sometimes you are sent files created by an app you don’t have on your Mac. If you double-click the file, the Mac will tell you the program that created it cannot be found. But you can often still open the file and see the contents even if the layout is messed up.

For example, if someone gives me a QuarkXpress file I cannot see the content because I do not have QuarkXpress on my Mac. But I do have other apps that can open it which will give me a good idea of what the contents should look like.

I can also force the document into something like TextEdit and see the text but not the graphics and layout.

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On the Mac you can open almost any type of file, although you may not see the contents in their original forms.

Opening with a similar program

imageRight-click the document

imageThe Mac will suggest a program, in this case InDesign (similar to QuarkXpress). This will let me see the layout and probably the graphics too

imageBut if I didn’t have InDesign on my Mac, I could ask Microsoft Word, Pages, or TextEdit to try to open the file

imageAt least within a word processing document I can grab the text I need and re-edit it

The Mac may suggest an appropriate app

In this case you can see my Mac has suggested InDesign.

But there are other options – simply click Other... and choose different apps till you find one that opens the file.

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Viewing in TextEdit

Although the text doesn’t look great, I can at least see the content and I can edit either within TextEdit or copy and paste it into Word or some other app. You can even see what the App Store suggests (tap App Store...).

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TextEdit is a great little text editor – it is fast, simple and good for making simple edits to text before placing in Word or Pages.

Viewing File Information

Sometimes you want to see how big a file is, its location, which app created it, and who has read/write permissions. This is easily done on the Mac using the File Information command: ⌘ + I. You can also click once on the file or folder and go to File > Get Info.

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This document is 61KB in size and is a PDF file. It is in the Dropbox folder on my Mac. You can see the creation and modified dates. It is not locked (you can lock it from here by clicking the radio box). Sharing and permissions are hidden but clicking the triangle will show who can read and write to this file and these settings can be modified.

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This is a folder on my Mac (the Dropbox folder). It is 46.43GB in size and it was created on 3 August, 2012 (the date I installed Dropbox).

It contains 21,712 items (a mixture of files and folders). You can tell it’s a folder because of the Dropbox folder at the bottom of the image.

File Sharing

Sometimes you need to share files with others. Previously, using OS X, you would need to send an email to someone and attach the file. Now, OS X makes it very easy to share documents with others, and also Tweet the file. You can also share image files with Facebook.

The options you see for sharing depend on the type of file you wish to share. If it is a picture, you have the option of sharing to Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and other sharing options, e.g. Mail, Messages, AirDrop and Add to Photos.

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You will need to sign into your Facebook account in order to share pictures. If you have not already set this up, the Mac will prompt you to do so.

Document sharing options

Here, a PowerPoint file has been right-clicked:

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Sharing options with image files

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Yosemite has a very useful range of file-sharing options.

Create Aliases

These are great time-savers! If there are folders you access regularly within your documents folder, make an alias and put it on the Desktop.

The alias points to the original file and if you drop anything onto the alias folder it gets added to the real folder. Similarly, if you delete anything from the alias it gets deleted from the real folder.

To make an alias of a folder

imageLocate the folder

imageRight-click and choose Make Alias

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imageOr go to File > Make Alias

imageOr click once on the folder and type ⌘ + L

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Create aliases of key folders and place these on the Desktop or left column of the Finder window to speed up workflow.

Locate a Saved File

Sometimes you create documents but you cannot remember where you put them. There are several ways to find them.

Spotlight search

You can do a Spotlight search and refine the search to include all documents created within the last day.

If you know the program that you used to create the document, you can open that and look for Recent Files. If you can only remember some of the text within the document, then enter that into Spotlight.

I created a document which is important, but I saved as “Imporrtant” which means if I type “important” into Spotlight, the document will not be found.

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If I then type only the first few characters “impor”, then Spotlight will find it.

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I can do a Finder search and not enter any name for the file but simply ask the Finder to show me all documents created within the last 0.05 days. My document now shows:

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Alternatively, I can open Pages (since I used this to create the document) and it will show me the recently-opened files which include the document I am looking for.

Using the Finder

Defining a specific type of file created within the last 0.05 days brings up today’s file.

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Using the app that created the document

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Sort your Files using Finder

OS X provides many ways to sort your files. Most of us have them listed alphabetically (the default) but you can sort by: Name, Kind, Application, Date Last Opened, and several other ways.

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You can sort your files and folders by many methods, in addition to the default alphabetical sort.

Here is my Documents folder, sorted using different methods:

By Kind

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By Size

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By Application

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Create Folder from Selection

If you have a group of documents that you want to place into a folder, you could create the folder (⌘ + N) and then drop the files in. Or, the quick way is to lasso the files to select them all then right-click and choose New Folder with Selection (n Items).

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Always Open With...

With files such as PDFs, JPEGs, TIFFs, etc. you can force the Mac to always open with one specific application rather than let OS X decide for you. For example, you may want PDFs to be opened only by Adobe Acrobat rather than Preview, or TIFF files only with Adobe Photoshop rather than Preview. By right-clicking on the file and holding down the Option key you can tell OS X to Always Open With a specific app. After that, every PDF will be opened only by Adobe Acrobat.

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If you are tired of having to open files from within a program, tell the Mac to Always Open With... then it will remember to open that type of file with the app you have specified, rather than OS X’s default setting.

To open in your specified app you should only have to double-click the file from now on.

The other way to achieve this is to go to File > Open With then hold down the Option key till you see Always Open With.

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Basic Folder Housekeeping

Housekeeping is boring, as is folder housekeeping, but organizing your folders properly will save you lots of time later.

Numbered style

Numbering folders has two benefits: it brings them to the top of the list and it also lets you decide the order in which they are listed.

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Make any folder go to the top of the list by adding a space or * before the name. To make it go to the bottom add a Z before the title of the file or folder.

Occasionally, you want special folders to keep “to-do” items in. Start the title of the folder with a Z then it goes to the bottom of the list (you know it’s there even though you may have to scroll down).

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Putting a space or * before the folder title also forces it to the top of the list.

Using Tags

Use OS X’s Tags feature to coordinate your folders into Personal, Work, Travel, Tax, etc.

Let Smart Folders do the Work

OS X Smart Folders are special folders that automatically include any file within a specified set of criteria.

In the example below, I wanted a folder that contains only presentations created in the last seven days.

Create Smart Folder

imageGo to File > New Smart Folder

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imageAdd criteria one at a time, e.g. Kind is Presentation, Created date within the last 7 days

imageThe Smart Folder will be added to the Sidebar

imageInside, you will see only those files you have specified. As the days go by, the files will change. If no new presentations are created over a week the folder will be empty

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Smart Folders take the grunt work out of finding specific types of file (defined by the criteria you set).

Name the Smart Folder

Here, you can give the Smart Folder any name you want and also specify the location where the folder is stored.

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Look inside the Smart Folder

You will see the only files that fulfil these strict criteria.

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Hide Running Apps

It is very easy to hide a running app. This is useful if you are on Facebook at work and the boss comes in!

Hiding an app quickly

imageThe app you want to hide needs to be active, i.e. it is not enough just to see the open app window; the app must be active (menu bars will not be gray)

imageWith the app active, press Option + click anywhere on the Desktop

Before Option + Click

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After Option + Click

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Launch Apps using Spotlight

To save time, rather than navigate your way to the Apps folder, you can launch apps directly from Spotlight.

Launch apps from Spotlight

imageBring up the Spotlight search box by tapping ⌘ + Spacebar

imageEnter the first few characters of the app’s name, e.g. “Wo” will bring up Microsoft Word

imageIf Microsoft Word is highlighted, press Enter

imageIf Microsoft Word is not highlighted, click on it then press Enter

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Rather than go to the Applications folder to find an app, use Spotlight.

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Stop Spotlight searching the web

Sometimes you only want to find things on your Mac. It’s easy to change these settings.

Go to System Preferences > Spotlight and choose the items you want included in your search.

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Streamline the Login Items

Each time you log in, certain apps and services are launched. The more items you have, the longer login takes and the more resources you use. It is a good idea to check your items from time-to-time and weed out any that you don’t use:

imageOpen System Preferences > Users & Groups

imageClick the padlock and authenticate to unlock in order to make changes

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imageClick the Login Items button

imageCheck through the list and remove those you don’t need by pressing the “-”

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Save time and resources by removing unwanted login items.

Quick App Switching

You can switch between apps by clicking each app’s icon on the Desktop or you can use the App Switcher feature.

Bring up App Switcher

imageType ⌘ + Tab

imageThe App Switcher showing running apps will appear

imageYou can cycle through the apps by repeatedly hitting Tab

imageQuit an app by highlighting it, then hitting ⌘ + Q

imageMake an app active (come to the front) by selecting it, then clicking on its icon

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Other actions while in App Switcher

tab – move selection to the right in the app list

` – move selection to the left

h – hide the selected application

q – quit the selected application

mouse scrollwheel – move the selection back and forth

left arrow – move selection to the left

right arrow – move selection to the right

Gatekeeper Alerts

This security feature is built into OS X Yosemite and is there to protect you from installing rogue software. If the source is not recognized by your Mac, you will be prevented from running the installer for that app.

This can become irritating after a while and you can switch this feature off.

Configure Gatekeeper

imageGo to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy

imageClick the padlock and authenticate in order to make changes

imageAt the bottom part of the window choose whether to allow software from Anywhere to be installed

imageAlternatively, you can choose only to allow installation from apps bought on the Mac App Store

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Quick Hide/Show the Dock

If you have a huge screen you may not need to hide the Dock but if you are working on a smaller screen, hiding the Dock gives you a bit more screen real estate.

Hiding & Showing the Dock

imageTap Option + ⌘ + D to hide the Dock

imageTap Option + ⌘ + D to show it again

Before hiding Dock

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After hiding Dock

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Spotlight is a Calculator!

Spotlight can be used to perform calculations, saving you time since you don’t need to open the calculator app.

Using Spotlight as a calculator

imageOpen the Spotlight search box by tapping ⌘ + Spacebar

imageEnter your calculation

imageThe result will be shown in the Spotlight search window

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Spotlight can even be used as a currency converter!

Turn on Dark Mode

This option increases the contrast in the menu bar and the Dock.

Go to System Preferences > General

Select Use dark menu bar and Dock

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Screenshots in Other Formats

On the Mac you can take screenshots using a variety of methods. The easiest is ⌘ + Shift + 3. Other methods are detailed elsewhere in the book. The default image is a PNG file but you may prefer to have the image saved as a JPEG or TIFF. There are no system settings for this. Instead, you have to use Terminal and use a UNIX command to change the way OS X takes pictures of the screen.

Commands to change screenshot format

imageOpen Terminal

imageType defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg if you want the screenshots saved as JPEG

imageIf you want it saved as PDF type defaults write com.apple.screencapture type pdf

imageTo change to TIFF enter defaults write com.apple.screencapture type tiff

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Taking different types of screenshot

Full screen (Save to Desktop) – ⌘ + Shift + 3

Full screen (Save to Clipboard) – ⌘ + CTRL + Shift + 3

Select region (Save to Desktop) – ⌘ + Shift + 4

Select region (Save to Clipboard) – ⌘ + CTRL + Shift + 4

Select item (Save to Desktop) – ⌘ + Shift + 4 then Spacebar

Select item (Save to Clipboard) – ⌘ + CTRL + Shift + 4 then Spacebar

Editing Screenshots

The easiest way to edit screenshots is in Preview. If you double-click a screenshot, Preview will open (unless you have told the Mac to open PNG files in another app).

Once open, you can crop, rotate, annotate, and more from within Preview.

You can see some of the editing tools available in Preview below.

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I have added an arrow, thought-bubble, and text to this image.

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Create an Encrypted USB Drive

If you have sensitive files and want to hide them, you can buy an encrypted USB drive but they can be expensive. You can easily make one yourself using a standard USB drive.

Make an encrypted USB drive

imageOpen Disk Utility

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imageClick the Erase tab

imageChoose Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted)

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imageName the USB drive

imageEnter the password you want to use

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imageAdd a hint if necessary

imageDo not add to Keychain otherwise the drive will open automatically when you insert it into your Mac (the whole object is to have it password protected!)

imageNow, when you insert the USB drive you will need to enter the password in order to access the drive

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Reveal your own Library

The User Library is hidden by default (oddly, the Main Library remains visible, however). The User Library contains the Preference files for the apps you use.

Temporarily show User Library

imageOn the Menu Bar select Go then press Option

imageAfter pressing Option, the User Library is visible. Click it to open it

Permanently show User Library

imageGo to Home

imageThen open View > Show View Options

imageMake sure Show Library Folder is checked

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Running Multiple Desktops

If you want to run several apps simultaneously, the Desktop can become crowded, with the windows of the various apps overlapping. It is much easier to assign a separate Desktop to each app and flick backwards and forwards between them.

Mission Control in Yosemite allows you to make several Desktops as you need them. In the Mission Control window you can place apps into separate Desktops.

Assigning apps to Desktops

imageLaunch Mission Control (from the Dock or double-tap the mouse or keypad)

imageDrag apps to separate Desktops

imageMake new Desktops by clicking the icon at the top right of the screen (a + symbol will appear)

imageToggle between the various Desktops by tapping Control + right or left arrow

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Mission Control can make it easier to work with multiple apps.

Switch Resume On/Off

Shutting down the Mac used to involve quitting all apps and the need to save all your work. Now you can shut down your Mac and it will remember which apps you had open and reopen these when you restart (even if you do a full shutdown).

If you want all apps to reopen on restart

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If you do NOT want all apps to reopen on restart

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Hide Unwanted System Prefs

The System Preferences give you control over many aspects of your Mac. By default, all preferences are displayed when you open the app. You can, however, choose to hide certain preference panes by editing the window:

imageGo to System Preferences > View > Customize

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imageUncheck the preferences you want to hide

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Yosemite Tweaks

You can modify OS X on your Mac piecemeal using Terminal commands and other options hidden within various apps but there is a freeware app that lets you change a ton of features.

Mountain Tweaks (works with Yosemite, too)

Go to tweaksapp.com/app/mountain-tweaks/ and download the app. Drag it to your Applications folder and run the app from there. Be careful what you change in case your Mac starts behaving oddly. If all goes wrong, you can always click the Restore button and your Mac will be back to where it was before you started tweaking it.

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General Tweaks

These let you change features common to both Mountain Lion and Yosemite.

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Hidden Second Clipboard

The Mac only has one clipboard. When you select Copy ( + C) the information is sent to the Clipboard. If you copy again, the original clipping is lost. Within certain apps, e.g. TextEdit, you can use a hidden second clipboard by using certain commands:

Kill: Ctrl + K

Yank: Ctrl + Y

With text selected, Ctrl + K works as a secondary “cut” command by removing the highlighted text without replacing what is currently residing in your clipboard.

To bring the text back, use Ctrl + Y.

Kill has other uses

“Kill” has other uses apart from the “cut” command. If you place your cursor at a given point in a paragraph and hit Ctrl + K, all of the text from that point forward will be cut. This is a useful way to quickly grab and move an entire paragraph of text.

Disadvantages

Ctrl + K only works on editable text (e.g. TextEdit and Mail). You can’t “kill” text on a web page.

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Accessing Emoticons

If you like using emoticons (picture images that act like text characters) you can find these easily from the Character Viewer.

Show Character Viewer

imageOpen System Preferences and click on Keyboard

imageMake sure Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in the Menu Bar is checked

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imageYou will then see the Keyboard & Character Viewer icon in the Menu Bar

imageClick to show Character Viewer

imageChoose the option you want (People, Nature, etc.), find the character you want to use in your document and double-click it. It will then be placed into the document

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Mouse & Trackpad

When you click, double-click, or triple-click the trackpad, you have to physically click the trackpad by default, depressing the trackpad in order for the Mac to register the click. It is much easier to allow Tap to Click so that gently tapping the surface of the trackpad registers as a click.

Configure Tap to Click

imageGo to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Trackpad

imageCheck the top option Tap to Click

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Speed up your mouse!

Some people (me included) are speed freaks and like their mouse pointer to zoom across the screen at high speed.

Speeding up the mouse is easy.

Speed up your mouse

imageGo to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Mouse

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imageDrag the Tracking slider right or left until you find the speed that suits your needs best

Access the Dictionary

OS X has an inbuilt dictionary that can be invoked from within any app.

To access the Dictionary

imageDouble-click the word you wish to look up

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imageOnce highlighted, right-click and choose Look Up

imageThe definition and pronunciation will be shown

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Within many Apple apps you can type a word then hit Esc. This will bring up a suggested list of words.

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You can bring up the Dictionary from within any app.

Deactivate Widgets

Widgets are small apps that run continuously, showing you the weather, stocks and shares and other information. They can be found on the screen to the left of the main screen (press Control + left arrow to see or use Mission Control).

There are thousands of widgets you can install but these use RAM and can slow your Mac down. In general it is best not to have too many of these running at any one time.

Deactivating is easy

imageGo to the widget screen (Control + )

imageClick the image symbol and you will see image appear on each widget

imageTap image for every widget you wish to remove

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Add more widgets by clicking the (+) symbol.

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Save Text as Snippets

You can drag pieces of text from documents onto the Desktop and use these later by dropping them onto a word processing document or other types of document. This gets round the limited number of clipboards provided by OS X. You could keep several small pieces of text, all dragged from a website or other document, and drop these one-by-one onto a new document.

To make a Snippet

imageSelect the text you want to save as a Snippet

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imageDrag the highlighted text to the Desktop or folder

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imageWhen you want to use the text Snippets, drag onto a new document

Drop the Snippet onto a new document

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You can then tidy up the text, reformat, etc.

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Using System Information

The About This Mac app under the Apple Menu provides a lot of information about your Mac.

Launch System Information

imageGo to Apple Menu > About This Mac

imageClick More Info...

imageCycle through the tabs to see the full specs of your Mac, including RAM upgrade options

Basic specs

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Screen resolution

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Storage

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RAM

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Service options

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Clean Install of OS X from USB

OS X is purchased from the App Store, and after installation the installer is deleted from your Applications folder. In order to get OS X onto a USB stick you need to download OS X but not install until you have made a copy of the installer!

Creating the OS X Yosemite on USB stick

imageLocate the Install OS X Yosemite installer in the Applications folder

imageRight-click to Show Package Contents

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imageDouble-click to show package contents

imageDouble-click the SharedSupport folder

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imageRight-click InstallESD.dmg file

imageSelect Disk Utility from the Open With menu

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imageSelect your USB drive from the list on the left and click the Partition tab

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imageSet the Partition to 1 Partition, set the name to YOSEMITE, set the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and then click the Options button

imageChoose GUID partition table and click OK

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imageClick Apply to save changes

imageWhen asked to confirm, click the Partition button

imageRight-click the InstallESD.dmg image from the left side of Disk Utility and choose Open Disk Image from the pop-up

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imageSelect the new Mac OS X ESD partition then click Restore

imageEnsure Max OS X Install ESD is set as the Source and then drag YOSEMITE partition from the list on the left to the Destination field

imageClick the Restore button then click Erase to begin the install

imageLog in and enter the administrator password

imageWhen the restore is complete, the USB drive will mount and is ready to use