New users to the Mac OSX operating system will quickly discover one important fact: it isn’t Windows. If you’re used to running Microsoft Windows, your years of experience will only get you so far. You’ll need to learn a few new tricks to get the most out of Mac OSX.
Here are 10 quick tips to help you get started:
1—Hide (Or Show) The Dock
The Mac OSX Dock is a easy way to access all of your favorite applications, but it can take up an annoyingly large part of your screen—especially on small-screen devices like Powerbooks. But you don’t have to look at the Dock all of the time. To hide it, press Command-Option-D.
To access the dock when it’s hidden, simply move your mouse over the bottom of the screen or press Command-Option-D again to undo hiding the dock.
2—Click And Drag To Eject
There is one thing which is the same on Mac OSX and Windows—you need to safely remove external USB drives before you disconnect them. If you don’t, you could lose data from the drive. On both Windows and Mac OSX you can right click on the drive you want to remove and choose “Eject”.
But on Mac OSX there’s a simpler option. Drag the drive from the desktop to Eject button on the Dock. Mac OSX will automatically eject the drive.
3—Show Hidden Files
In Windows, some files have a special permission which hides them from view. In Mac OSX, any file which starts with a period (called a dot) is a hidden file. For example, Mac OSX puts a .DS_Store file in every folder you view to save your view settings.
The problem some users face is that they edit files which start with a dot. For example, webmasters commonly work with a .htaccess file. How do you view these hidden files? It’s easy: in the Open and Save File windows, press Command-Shift-. to show hidden files. Press it again to re-hide the hidden files.
4—Track File History
One of the coolest features of Mac OSX is that it keeps track of where your stuff came from. For example, if you download a file from Safari, OSX can tell you (even years later) what website you downloaded it from. Or if you downloaded an attached file, it can tell you the email address of the person who sent it to you.
How to you access this information? Easy. Find a file in Finder and press Control-I to bring up the file information window. Then expand the More Info section, which will include a Where From section.
There are two catches: you have to get the file from an official Apple application, such as Safari or Mail, and if you move the file to a non-HFS+ (Mac OSX) drive, you’ll lose the Where From information.
5—Search The Dictionary
Everyone needs to look up a definition from time to time, but before you start a Google or Dictionary.com search in Safari, try using the dictionary app built into to Mac OSX.
Simply press Command-Control-D to bring up the dictionary app, type in the word you want to search for (or part of the word if you don’t know how to spell it), and search.
6—Adjust The Volume In Small Increments
Perhaps I just have sensitive ears, but the Mac OSX volume adjustment app changes the volume too much when I press the volume up and volume down buttons on my keyboard. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can adjust the volume in smaller increments to get just the volume you want.
Hold the Option and Shift keys down when you press the Volume Up or Volume Down keys to use precise volume changes.
Bonus tip: if you need to start your Mac quietly to avoid waking someone, hold the mute key when you press the power button and continue to hold it for a few seconds. Your Mac won’t make that initial power on noise.
7—Reset A Password
What do you do if you forget the password to your user account? It’s easy: insert your Mac OSX Install/Recovery disc and reboot your computer. As soon as the computer starts to boot, hold down the C key until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
In the Utilities menu, choose Reset Password. Choose the account with the password you want to reset and enter the new password. Save your changes and restart the computer.
8—Force Quit An Application
Just as on Windows, sometimes applications stop responding and they won’t shutdown when you try to close them. If an application doesn’t close within a short time after you press the close button, Mac OSX may ask you whether you want to Force Quit the program.
But if Mac OSX doesn’t ask you or you don’t want to wait several seconds for the Force Quit window to appear, you can Force Quit the currently-displayed application by pressing Command-Option-Escape until the program quits. (It should take about two seconds.)
Mac users often totally neglect to clean out their Macs. They think that you can add endless files and never perform any maintenance. MacKeeper is like 911 for your Mac. This award-winning system utility includes a set of powerful maintenance features for Mac Optimization, Security, Data Control and Cleaning: Antivirus MacKeeper Antivirus will secure your Mac against spyware, malware, trojans, identity theft and phishing attacks.
Check out MacKeeper: award-winning system utility
9—Take A Screenshot
There are three easy ways to take screenshots on your Mac:
1. Capture the entire screen by pressing Command-Shift–3.
2. Capture a selection by pressing the following key combination and then clicking and dragging the section of the screen you want to capture: Command-Shift–4.
3. Capture just one window by pressing the following key combination and then clicking the window you want to capture: Command-Shift–4.
Mac OSX will save the screenshot to your desktop.
10—The Official Apple List Of Keyboard Shortcuts
One of the best ways to become more effective at using Mac OSX is to learn as many keyboard shortcuts as you can. Every time you press a key combination instead of going through the menu, you save yourself a few seconds—and those seconds add up quickly over the years in which you use your computer. (If you save just one minute a day, that’s over six hours a year.)
My advice: try to learn one new keyboard shortcut every week. That’ll make you a Mac OSX pro in a couple years with hardly any effort. To learn what keys to press, consult the official Apple list of keyboard shortcuts at https://support.apple.com/kb/HT1343.
You can also download the PDF OS X keyboard shortcuts.