15 tips every Mac user should know

Hints everyone might need from time to time

Apple, oS X, Mac, Mac OS X,

There are so many different ways to get things done using a Mac and I hope this selection of useful tips will offer most Mac users at least one or two features you may not have encountered before:


The keyboard shortcut that gets you to Spotlight search for those times you don’t want to speak to Siri.

Quick conversion

To get a quick conversion just launch Spotlight and type the figure you want to convert, $100 or 76Kg, for example. Spotlight will show you a range of conversions for that figure, though things like currency conversion will only work when your Mac is online.

Screenshot control

Sometimes you want to take a screenshot of a specific part of the screen. When you do just tap Command + Shift 4 and you can click and drag a box to define which part of the screen you want to take a picture of. You can toggle between an image you select using the cross-hair or an application window by pressing Spacebar at the same time – try it now to see what I mean.

Image export

Open an image in Preview but want to export it in a format that’s not listed when you choose the ‘Export’ command? No problem, just hold down the Option key when you click the Format drop down list. You’ll find a selection of new image export options.


Do you get annoyed because your Mac won’t accurately move between sections when you try to fill in forms? Go to System Preferences>Keyboard, and click the All controls radio button for Full Keyboard Access.

Split Screen view

When resizing the windows when using Split Screen view, just hold down the Option key and you will be able to see both windows clearly while you do.


When you are working with numerous documents on your Mac and need to find a specific one you can cycle through all the windows if you want, but you’ll get to it much faster if you just tap the F3 button to access a minimized view of all your documents.

Volume tip

Tap Option and Shift while raising or lowering volume and you’ll be able to adjust the sound in incremental steps for much more sensitive control. Use the same keyboard modifiers when adjusting screen brightness for a similar effect.

Faster rename

Want to rename a whole bunch of files? Select them all in the enclosing folder and right (Option) click them. Choose Rename items… in the contextual menu. They will all be given the name you choose and an appropriate number.

Don’t get stuck

If you can’t exit an application tap Cmd + Option and press Esc to invoke the Force Quit dialog box. Now you can force the recalcitrant application to quit.

Get to work fast

If you’re still squirreling through folders to find your work folder, why not launch a new Finder window, select Show Sidebar and just drag and drop your work folder into the sidebar. Now you can easily pop new files into your work folder and get to it almost as quickly as launching finder. (Or drag and drop it to the right hand side of the dock for even faster access).

Take Command

Most Mac users know to navigate between apps using Command and Tab, but did you know you can Quit and app in this view just by selecting it and tapping Q? Try using Command in your Menu bar to unlock other hidden features.

Menu tip

Many of the Menu icons in macOS Sierra can be moved around. To do so just click the icon while holding down the Command key -- just be careful not to pull it from the Menu bar. Take a look at more Menu tips.


Press the Option key and tap the Notifications icon in the top right and you’ll see the icon changes to a light gray. This shows you’ve just enabled Do Not Disturb, which means you won’t receive any more Notifications until you switch them one again.

Time Machine

Take a look at the greatest Time Machine tip here.

Do you have more tips to share? Please share them with all the rest of us in comments below.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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