40 tips to get the most from your Mac (and macOS 'High Sierra')

Whether you have an iMac or a MacBook Pro, there are a variety of ways to turn Apple’s hardware/software combo into a productivity powerhouse.

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Get around Safari

Jump directly to the top or bottom of a Web page using the Function key and the right (to the bottom of the page) or left (to the top of the page) arrows on the keyboard. You can achieve a similar result using Command-up or Command-Down. A third way is to use Control-Tab and Control-Shift-Tab. Hit Command and the left arrow to go back a page in the browser window. Hit Command right to go forward again.

Tabbing Safari

Navigate between multiple tabs using the Command-Shift-] or Command-Shift-[ characters. If you want to take a quick look at all your open tabs (just tap Command-Shift-\ to find a specific one.)

Share Safari

Want to email a Safari page? You can use the Share icon, or ask Siri, or copy the URL and paste it into an email. The quickest way is to type Command + I (to send an email containing the entire page), or Command + Shift + I (to send an email containing the URL).

A Safari secret: Reopen windows and tabs

Command-Shift-T: Reopen the last closed window (or tab) in Safari. Command-Shift-T again to reopen the window before that; you can keep going to dig deep into your History.

safari secret -- recently closed Apple

Another Safari secret: Recently closed

Control-click Plus: Look to your Safari tabs. To the right of those tabs you’ll see a “+” symbol. Ordinarily, you tap this to open a new tab. But hold down the Control button while you click and a menu will appear listing all your Recently Closed tabs.

Fast form-filling

Do you fill in lots of forms as part of what you do? Do you get frustrated that you can only use Tab to zap through text boxes but can’t zip through drop-down menus or radio buttons? Help is at hand: open System Preferences>Keyboard>Shortcuts tab. Look to the bottom of the pane and enable All Controls under Full Keyboard Access in windows and dialogs, press Tab to move keyboard focus between.

form filing Apple

Preview is powerful

Most Mac users know that Preview can save items in the JPEG, JPEG-2000, OpenEXR, PDF, PNG and TIFF image formats – just choose Export… in the File menu. However, you may not know that Preview can save items in 10 additional formats, including PSD. Just hold down the Option key when you click the drop-down Format list you access after selecting Export.

Master Command

Most Mac users know that if you press the Command and tab keys you can move between applications. If you keep Command pressed, you can use other keys to Q (Quit) or H (Hide) a selected application. You can also Command and click on a dock icon to open a Finder window with the app inside the folder it is in. Or choose Command-Shift-A when in Finder view to go directly to your Applications folder. (Replace A with U to open Utilities, D for Desktop, H for Home or I to open your iCloud drive).

Command desktop clutter

If you can’t see your desktop for all the open applications, just hold Command and Option down and click anywhere on your desktop. Or, if you want to get to all the open windows for a specific app, just hold down the same keys and click on any available window for that app.

Multitouch: Four-fingers

Use four fingers on your trackpad.

Swipe up with them to activate Mission Control.

Place four fingers toward the center of the trackpad and then spread them apart and you will push the windows aside to see your Desktop … or pinch them together to open Launchpad.  

Multitouch: Three fingers

Select a window by hovering your cursor at the top of it and you will be able to move it just by moving three fingers around the trackpad. 

Multitouch: Two fingers

Two-finger click to right-click an item, or swipe with two fingers in a direction to scroll. In Safari, you can swipe right with two fingers to go back or swipe left to go forward in your browsing session. You can also smart zoom into an item by double tapping with two fingers.

De-clutter the Dock

You can minimize windows to get them out the way by tapping the yellow traffic light at the top left; the only snag is that all those windows will take up room in the right-hand side of your Dock, making things a little unwieldy.

However, you can also place these minimized windows under their relevant application icons in the Dock – which is much  more tidy. (Then you can find items just by clicking and holding the relevant application icon in the Dock.)

Here’s how to enable this:

1.    Open System Preferences

2.    Open Dock Preferences

3.    Check the “Minimize windows into application icon” box (which is off by default).

tame dock clutter Apple

Mission Control

Mission Control is an absolute gem. But sometimes all those miniaturized apps and windows can be hard to navigate. Simplify this by grouping all those items by application (System Preferences>Mission Control>check Group windows by application). Now when you enter the Mission Control view, all your items will be logically grouped together, making them easier to find.

Mission Control and the Dock

Did you know that if you swipe down with four fingers while hovering your cursor on top of an application icon in your Dock you will scroll directly to all the active windows belonging to that application? Click on a window to bring it to the front.

app switcher Apple

Command-Tab to cycle through apps in the Dock quickly.

Dock control

Control-click the dividing line in your Dock to very quickly move, hide or magnify the Dock. This is a great way to make more usable space on the fly.

Show me more desktop

Do you need more usable Desktop space? Hide the Dock (see above) and then Open System Preferences>General. At the top in the Appearance section, check Automatically hide and show the menu bar. The Menu bar will disappear, giving you a little more usable display space. To get back to it in future, you just need to hover your cursor at the top of the screen and it will pop down.

Full screen mode

Really want to focus? Try full screen mode. Available since OS X Lion, this mode gets rid of everything but the application window you want to work in. Just  type Control – Command –F while in the window you want to focus on. That window will fill the entire screen. Exit this mode by typing Control – Command –F. To move between windows, just swipe four fingers right or left; or use Control and the left/right arrows; or go into Mission Control and select another app in that view; or use App Switcher (Command-tab).

fullscreenmode Apple

TextEdit talents

If you have a document that you want to strip of all formatting , open it in TextEdit and use the Format>Make Plain Text command. Now, you can work on it in that application, or edit it and use what you need in another, without carrying any orphaned text formatting into your project. You can also use Format>Make Rich Text to create more sophisticated documents.

One more thing...

Robert LeVitus once wrote: “If you are not typing at least 40 words a minute, you’re wasting time.” He’s right – you’ll get much more done if you improve your typing, and you can do so for free: just visit Typingtest.com, take a test and follow online courses to improve your typing speed and accuracy. You’ll get much more done, faster, no matter how you use your Mac.

Do you have any Mac tips you use to get things done that aren’t included in this selection? Please let me know.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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