20 Useful OS X Tips
Because we are all different, operating system developers always put more than one way of doing things in their systems. One example is there’s often keyboard shortcuts, menus and toolbars in applications for doing the same thing. Consequently, it’s very easy to get into the habit of doing things a particular way without ever learning other ways.
Hopefully for the average user there might be at least one tip here that you weren’t aware of and that will be useful to you. Otherwise, I officially re-title this article: “20 Useful OS X Tips for Beginners and Switchers”.
By the way, if you have a single button mouse, where it says “right click”, substitute with “control-click” .
1. Pressing Esc while typing in most applications pops up a list of suggested completions of the word you’re typing. (Does anyone know if there’s a way to toggle the permanent display of this?)
2. Image Capture lets you manage photos on your camera before you download them (as explained in last week’s article).
3. Right click on an open PDF in Safari to get the a context menu which includes the option to open the PDF in Preview.
4. Pressing the Tab key in Exposé cycles through open applications.
5. Press the ` key in Exposé to cycle backwards as per the previous tip. ( ‘ is the key Tab and left of the 1 key).
6. Press Command-Q to close applications when command-tabbing. This is possibly the fastest way you’ll find to close several applications in quick succession.
7. Macs with remote controls can be put to sleep by holding down the play button on the remote. (I use my Mac as a reading light so find this quite handy. Maybe Apple could include a clapper for me in Leopard.)
8. Triple click selects a whole paragraph of text.
9. To select a block of text, click the start position, then Shift-click the end position. Significant;y, this doesn’t just work in editing applications like Word (where you might be already doing it anyway), but it also works with non-editable text, such as a webpage in Safari. Where has this been all my life? The number of times I’ve selected pages and pages of text by click and drag, when this is so much quicker. (My Hackmeister friend knew this one of course - but never had told me. )
10. In TextEdit, Option-click & drag selects a rectangle of text. (When you need it, selecting a rectangle of text is really useful, so if anyone knows other applications that have this functionality, let us know.)
11. We all know Command-shift-4 to capture a selection of the screen, but don’t forget pressing the Spacebar will toggle between selection mode and select whole window mode.
12. Command click the jelly bean found in the top right corner of some applications to cycle through toolbars.
13. In Safari, Command-Shift-click a link opens it in a new tab and immediately displays the page. (If anyone knows a way in Safari to force a page to open in the same window, do tell.)
The Option key is a hidden treasure trove. Experiment with it often. Here’s a few:
14. Hold the Option key will clicking the Zoom button (green button, rightmost of three in the top left corner of windows) switches the zoom state of all windows in the selected application.
15. Option-click the minimize button minimizes all windows in the application - and makes for a really cool animation (hold the shift key too if you want to slow it down to see it more easily).
16. Option-click on a minimized window will restore all windows for that application.
17. Option-click on a running application in the Dock hides the front-most application and brings the clicked application to the front (unless it already was).
18. Option-click on the close tab icon in Safari, closes all other tabs. Handle this one with care - there’s no warning dialog.
19. Option-arrow moves cursor by word. One for the Windows switchers who are used to using ctrl-arrow.
20. When menus are selected, press the option key to reveal alternative functions. Eg In the File menu of Finder, the Get Info item becomes Show Inspector which is like a context sensitive info pane.
Now, if you are like “The Hackmeister of OS X”, rather than scoffing, let us know a few of your favorite lesser known tips.