10 essential Mac tips and tricks

Nov 03, 2016


1. Take a screenshot of a specific part of the screen


Taking a screenshot is all well and good, but more often than not you don’t actually need the whole screen in the capture. On Macs there’s a simple way to grab just the part of the screen you want: Cmd + Shift + 4.

From there, click and drag out a box over the part of your screen you wish to capture. Upon release the image will be saved to the desktop. If you do just want to grab the whole screen, press Cmd + Shift + 3 instead.

2. Rename large batches of files all at once


Renaming files is tedious at best. Renaming a hundred holiday snaps in one sitting is downright torturous. If you’re running the latest version of OS X – Yosemite – you can do it with one simple action.

Select all the files you want to rename and right-click them, then click Rename. This presents you with three options for renaming. Replace Text allows you to change, for example, the ‘IMG’ part of a set of files with something more relevant. Thus ‘IMG_01’, ‘IMG_02’ and so on become ‘Dad’s birthday_01’ and ‘Dad’s birthday_02’, or somesuch.

3. Run Windows on your Apple machine

Boot Camp

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to run a copy of Microsoft Windows on a Mac. It’s also surprisingly simple to do.

Navigate to the Applications folder on your Mac, and then to the Utilities folder. Within that is a programme called Boot Camp. It will now ‘partition’ your hard drive – this essentially means split it between Windows and Mac. You can choose how you split the ratio, but remember that storage allocated to one OS is not accessible by the other. Click Partition to start the process.

Upon restarting your Mac will ask for a Windows installation CD. If you don’t have one you will need to purchase one – it can be either Windows 7 or Windows 8. When it asks where it should install select the partitioned section of your hard drive.

Once completed your Mac will boot into Windows for the first time. Surreal eh? From now on, whenever you turn your machine on simply hold down the Optionkey and you can choose between Windows or OS X. Bear in mind there is no way to switch operating systems on the fly, so make sure you choose the right one or you’ll have to restart.

4. Add your signature to documents


If you’ve ever had to return an official document that’s been sent to you digitally you’ll know the pain of having to add your signature. With Mac OS X, there’s a much better way.

Open the document you need to sign within the Preview application. Click the pen icon near the top right-hand corner of the screen and select Create Signature from Built-in iSight. iSight is your Mac’s built-in webcam, which it will use to capture your signature. Sign your name on a plain white sheet of paper and hold it up to the camera. Align it properly using the guides on screen and the camera should automatically extract it. Click Accept to save it.

To use it in the future just follow the first steps of this guide, only instead of clicking the Create Signature option there will be a preview of your existing signature.

5. View all foreign characters

Character Viewer

Click on the magnifying glass icon in the top right of your screen and search for a programme called Character Viewer. Open it and you’ll be granted access to every special character OS X is capable of displaying. When you find the character you want double-click it to insert it into the text field you’re currently editing.

6. The Mac equivalent of Ctrl + Alt + Delete

Force Quit

Mac has it’s own equivalent of Ctrl + Alt + Delete. Should you find yourself unable to exit a programme, hold down the Cmd + Option keys and press Esc. This will bring up the Force Quit dialog box, which will show you all running applications and allow you to forcefully terminate them.

7. Switch between multiple windows within the same programme

Switch Windows

Using the Cmd + Tab keys you can quickly switch between your open programmes. However if you have, say, three Word documents open at once that you wish to switch between, you’ll need a different shortcut.

Cmd + ~ will instantly switch between multiple windows of the same programme. This will work for any application.

8. Instantly look up a word in the dictionary or thesaurus


OS X’s reference tool is wonderfully integrated. You can access it from just about anywhere to look up whatever word may be causing you trouble. Select the word you wish to learn more about and press the Cmd + Ctrl + D keys. Alternatively, if you’re on a MacBook just click it with three fingers on your trackpad.

9. Start up your Mac silently


Even if you’ve never used a Mac before you may well be familiar with the iconic chime it lets off every time it starts up. Unfortunately, that sound is often quite the inconvenience. If you’re somewhere where silence is paramount, such as a class or library, just hold down the Mute key at startup.

10. Convert any sort of unit within Spotlight

Spotlight Unit Conversion

Spotlight can find things both on your Mac and online, and also solve some basic queries without resorting to opening a new window. One such query is unit conversion. All you need to do is type in the figure you want converted, for example ’57kg’ and it will show you a list of conversions as a search result. This even works with currency, provided you’re connected to the internet.

Reference: https://blogs.which.co.uk/technology/apple/10-essential-mac-tips-and-tricks/