Make Leopard leap: Time-saving tips for OS X 10.5

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Use Dashboard to the fullest

Introduced in Tiger, Dashboard allows you to quickly access mini-applications known as widgets with the click of a button. Since widgets are typically very light code (written in the same technologies used to build Web pages and Web applications), they load very quickly and provide access to any number of useful features, such as calendar and to-do items, Web searches, a calculator and much more.

With Dashcode (the widget development environment Apple released with Leopard), making widgets is much easier than it was in Tiger, and the range of available widgets has ballooned into the thousands, including many devoted to productivity tasks. Apple provides a thorough listing of widgets to browse through.

Leopard also introduced a feature known as Web Clip that allows you to turn any section of a Web page into a custom widget. If you use any Web-based tools on a daily basis, this provides a quick and easy way to access them.

Tips for working with text

Applications built specifically for Leopard offer a couple of useful text-selection and copy-and-paste features that can be helpful for anyone who works with text. First is the option to select text in blocks rather than lines.

When you select text in an application (such as TextEdit) built with Leopard's development tools, try holding down the option key while selecting text: Rather than the standard line-by-line text capture, you'll see a cross-hair (similar to the one used to select sections of a photo for cropping) that you can use to select text in blocks.

The second option is for pasting unformatted text. At one time, copying and pasting text typically didn't preserve the formatting of the text. Today, most applications format pasted text as it was in the application from which it was copied or cut. By pressing command-shift-option-V to paste (instead of the traditional command-V), however, you can still paste unformatted text into most applications.

Work smarter with keyboard shortcuts

Throughout this article, I've mentioned various keyboard shortcuts that exist in Leopard, from the commonly known to some that are a bit obscure. These keyboard shortcuts provide some of the biggest productivity boosts in Leopard, though they may take time to master and you may want to change some from their default settings.

The Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard & Mouse pane in System Preferences shows you all the standard keyboard shortcuts built into Leopard.

This provides a great place to start learning about shortcuts for Mac OS X and the Finder. You can also use this tab to change the shortcuts to something easier for you to type.

There are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts built into Leopard and its accompanying applications. Here are some of my most frequently used time savers.

To learn about even more shortcuts, including those used to manipulate text and other data within applications, check out UsingMac's guide to over 200 keyboard shortcuts.

Ryan Faas is a frequent Computerworld contributor specializing in Mac and multiplatform network issues. You can find more information about him at

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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