You’ll get more done with these 10 Mac tips

Here's a handful of useful Mac tips to help you get things done from wherever you are.

Apple, Mac, macOS, Catalina, how to
Willis Lai/IDG

Amid the ongoing distractions of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to remember  millions are using their Macs every day to get work done. These tips should help you work more efficiently, giving you more time to catch up on everything else.

Use Do Not Disturb

Zoom calls, Teams conferences, phone calls, emails, instant messages, Slack conversations – does anyone else get stressed out that working remotely ends up being so noisy? It’s hard to focus through interruption, so use Do Not Disturb to buy yourself some mental space.

On your Mac, press the Option key and tap the Notifications icon in the top right. You’ll see its color change to light gray, which means Do Not Disturb is activated. Now you’ll receive no application notifications until you enable it again.

Staying online 

They used to say only death and taxes were certainties in life. Today you can add “and intermittent Internet access” to the list. If you use an iPhone as well as a Mac, you can try this (though it won't help with death and taxes). Open Catalina’s System Preferences>Network and look for the new-to-Catalina Auto Hotspot item which will automatically connect your Mac via your iPhone if you have Personal Hotspot running on your smartphone.

Here are some more productivity tips for macOS Catalina.

Full screen, Split View

Tap the green traffic light icon in any app to enter full screen mode. This gives you the greatest possible display space (though you can make this even greater by hiding your Dock and enabling Automatically hide and show the Menu bar in System Preferences>General.

You can open two applications side by side in this attention-preserving mode. There are several ways to achieve this, but I recommend the following approach.

  • Launch both required applications and set one to full screen mode by tapping the green button, or Control-Command-F .
  • Tap Mission Control (F3), or slide four fingers up on your trackpad.
  • Drag-&-drop the preview of the second application into the image containing the full screen app.
  • Both applications should now open side-by-side.

Get Gestures

Working in full-screen mode is even easier when you learn to use trackpad gestures:

  • Slide four fingers on the trackpad left or right to move between spaces.
  • Slide three fingers up to return to Mission Control.
  • Slide two fingers up or down to scroll.
  • Swipe left from the right edge with two fingers to open Notification Center.

There are many other trackpad gestures you can use on your Mac.

Automate stuff that wastes your time

There are numerous ways to automate repetitive tasks on your Mac. Text Replacement can be particularly useful at times. Text Snippets are even better.

  • The problem: You have text you enter into documents frequently.
  • Solution: Write the text (it can include links), select it and drag it to the Desktop.

You now have a text clipping. Just drag that clipping into documents to automatically enter it.

Save smarter

You probably save your work into specific folders. You may have lots of these. Did you know that you can use the Print dialog to speed this process up (so long as you want to save it as a PDF)?

Here’s what to do:

  • OpenFile>Print, open the PDF item lower left and scroll down to Edit Menu...
  • In the next box tap the Plus 
  • In the Finder twindows hat then appears, navigate to the folder you want to save items to.
  • Click it and hit Save.

Now all you need to do when saving a document is tap Command-P (print), and then select the new destination in the PDF drop-down menu.

Get results – fast

You’re using Command-Space to use Spotlight and you’ve become accustomed to employing this to search the Web. Next time you make a search query, type it in the usual way and then tap Command-B. You’ll be taken directly to the search result in Safari. Tap Command-Tab to return to your previous application.

Share a web page

The quickest way to share a web page is to type Command + I in order to send an email containing the page, or Command + Shift + I if you only want to share the URL.

Send a PDF – of (almost) anything

You can easily share a PDF of anything you can print on your Mac in iMessage or Mail using the Print menu. Just open File>Print and tap PDF and use Send in Mail or Send via iMessage.

Command-Space

Command-Space is the most useful Mac tip in the book. Use it to access Spotlight search, where you can search the contents of your Mac, search the Internet, open applications and so much more. Get used to using it and you’ll save oodles of time.

Also read:

You can explore more Mac and iOS tips here.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

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