7+ ways to get more done faster on your Mac

Get more done. Get it done faster. These Mac tips should make your more efficient than before.

Apple, Mac, macoS, Mac OS, How to

Get more done. Get it done faster. These Mac tips should make your more efficient than before.

Use smart mailboxes

Apple’s Mail application hosts a feature called Smart Mailbox. It refers to Mail folders that you can automatically pre-populate according to certain criteria. One of the most useful ways to use this feature is to create a Smart Mailbox that gathers emails from named colleagues — but this works even more effectively if you first create a contact group in Contacts. Here’s how to match these two features up:

The Contacts bit

  • Open Contacts, File>New Group.
  • Name the new group – if you are gathering names of your colleagues, you might call it "Colleagues".
  • In the All Contacts view, search for each colleague you want to include in your new group and drag & drop their contact card into the relevant group. (Contacts can belong to multiple groups.)

The Mail bit

Now you can easily create a Smart Mailbox to gather all the emails you receive from your colleagues. (It doesn’t need to be colleagues; it can be friends, clients, whatever group(s) are appropriate to your needs.)

  • Open Mail>Mailbox>New Smart Mailbox.
  • In the dialog that appears, choose Sender is member of group.
  • In the dropdown menu to the right of the option you chose, select the name of the Mail Group you created, ‘Colleagues’ for example.
  • Now you can easily monitor work-related messages from your colleagues. You can even take this further by tapping the ‘Plus’ button to add a new criteria and choosing ‘Message is unread’.

Get better at Siri

Siri can do so much for you. One of the best things it can do is remind you to look at something later. Perhaps you are reading an email or on a webpage and want to look at it later; just say “Hey, Siri, remind me to look a this at 9am tomorrow,” and you’ll get a reminder at that time the next day that will include a link to what you need. Siri will also answer questions, find documents and show you passwords you need to learn. If you’re running macOS Mojave (which you should be), then Siri Shortcuts will also help you get more done fast.

Master shortcuts and gestures

The Mac is packed with useful shortcuts and gestures designed to help you get things done faster. Example: When using a trackpad, you can get directly to the Desktop by spreading four fingers outward. When it comes to keyboard shortcuts — if you learn just three, I recommend Command-Space to get to Spotlight, Command-Comma to directly access an application’s preference files, and Command-Tab to fly through your active applications. You’ll find lots more of these (recommended) right here.

Use document icons

Are you making effective use of the document icons you find at the top of almost every application window? Had you noticed that you can drag and drop these around your system, drop them onto other applications, or stash them where you want them saved? This is a really good way to easily save items — just drag their icon to the chosen destination, or even to print items so long as you’ve added a printer icon to your Dock, when you can just drag your document icon to the Dock print icon. Or tap Command-P.

Collect those Clippings

Text snippets on Macs are incredibly helpful. Use them like this: If you regularly need to type certain things — names and addresses, social media sign-offs, anything at all, just type them in a document, select them and then drag and drop them to your Desktop. You’ll see a new item appear on the Desktop. Called a Text Clipping this contains the words you wrote, and you can add those words to anything you write in the future just by dragging that snippet to what you are working on. I like to keep mine in a dedicated folder that I’ve dragged into my Finder menu. Now when working on something that I must add those pre-made sentences to, I can do so by using Command-Tab to reach the Finder, opening up my Snippets folder and dragging it across. It’s amazing how much this helps smooth workflow. (Another great feature lets you create digital stationery.)

Get into Spaces

Spaces are brilliant. Your Mac supports multiple Desktops. To access these, just swipe up with three fingers and then tap the Plus at top right of the display to add a new Desktop. Tap that Desktop and you can open apps that will remain there, or drag and drop already open items directly into your new space. This is an outstanding way to block out extrinsic noise so you can focus on what you are doing, by collecting all the items you need for a project inside one Desktop space.

Quick Actions: Automatic JPEG creation

MacOS Mojave introduces Finder support for Quick Actions, special Services you can build in Automator. One really handy action you can create for yourself will automatically turn any image into a JPEG. It’s really easy to build:

  • Open Automator and open a new document
  • Select Quick Action
  • Set the workflow to receive current image files in any application.
  • In the search box just beside the word Variables, type Change type of Image.
  • Once it appears in the sidebar, grab it and drop it onto the workflow space at the right of the application screen.
  • You’ll be asked if you want to copy items to the Desktop; say yes.
  • Now in the Change type of Image box, set "To Type" to the image format you need, JPG, for example. In the future when you select an image, you’ll be able to change it into your chosen format in a trice.

I hope these little tips have whetted your appetite for new ways to get things done on your Mac. You may also like 40 tips to get the most from your Mac (and macOS 'High Sierra'). And even more tips are here and here.

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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