86 Amazing Mac OS X tips and tricks

To follow up on our post regarding Amazing PC / Internet Tricks, we thought of having a similar post for our Mac users. We posted a blog regarding cool iPhone tricks, that was followed by the post on must have apps for iPhone. Finally here are some cool Mac OS X tips and tricks list. Before moving to the tricks here is a list of some of the keys that we will be using for some of our tricks.

Command ⌘    Shift ⇧   Option ⌥    Control ⌃   Caps Lock ⇪  Fn

List of some really amazing Mac OS X tips and tricks

I. Unit conversion through Spotlight

Simply type 1 USD in spotlight and it will suggest the conversion factor for some of the common currencies. Same is the case with other unit of measurement. Try for 1 meter, 1 kilogram, etc.

Mac OS X Tips _1

2. Spotlight as calculator

Do I need to explain it.

Mac OS X Tips _2

3. No need to remember the address of every program and app

Simply use Spotlight for opening anything and everything. So in this tutorial when we ask you to open any program or app simply open Spotlight, type the name of that program and open it. You don’t need to remember the exact place where that app or settings is located.MacBook OS X Tips

4. Listen to your text

Select the text> ‘Edit’ Tab > Speech > Start Speaking

MacBook OS X Tips

5. Renaming a group of files at once

Select the group of files > Right click > Rename

MacBook OS X Tips

6. Use Emoji Keyboard

While typing if you wish to use Emoji Keyboard, then press ‘command + control + space’ to activate emoji keyboard

MacBook OS X Tips

7. Invert screen color for night usage

During night time to reduce the glare and still use your MacBook press ‘control + option + command + 8’

8. To delete the files

Press ‘command + delete’

9. To type a special character

Press ‘option + E’ and then press whatever key has a special character attached to it.

10. Record your screen

Open Quicktime > ‘File’ Tab > New Screen Recording > Select ‘Record’ > Select an area of your screen or the entire screen > When you are done then click the stop icon

MacBook OS X Tips

11. Share Specific text

Select the text > right click and click share

12. Use the dictionary for definition of any word

Method 1: Hover the mouse over any word. Press ‘command + control + D’ for the pop up dictionary.

Method 2: Hover over the word and press ‘control’ > Click ‘Look up’

Method 3: Hover over the word and tap the keypad with three fingers at once

MacBook OS X Tips

13. Use ‘Delete’ button the Windows way

The ‘Delete’ button works like the ‘Backspace’ key of the windows keyboard. To delete the text from left to right press ‘fn + delete’.

14. Start the Mac silently

Press the Power button + F10 + HOLD

15. Add signatures to Forms

Sign on a piece of paper. Open Preview > ‘Help’ tab > Type ‘Signature’ > ‘Manage Signature’. The camera will start. Keep the piece of paper in front of your camera. Preview will detect your signature. Select ‘Accept’ or ‘Done’.

16. Merge various Finder windows

Select any Finder windows > ‘Window’ tab> Merge All Windows >Enjoy the tabbed experience

MacBook OS X Tips

17. Change Volume silently

Use Shift + F12. In the later versions of OS X, use this option to hear the sound going up and down as in the later OS X versions the silent option is the default option.

18. Stop the notifications

System Preferences > Notifications > Specify your option in the ‘Do Not Disturb’ section. You can even exclude certain apps from the notification.

19. Quickly see the desktop

Place your thumb and three fingers on the trackpad. Now move your three fingers away from the thumb. If it does not work then maybe you need to enable three finger track pad.

20. Enable three finger trackpad

System Preference > Trackpad > Mark Check on check-box for ‘Three Finger drag’

21. Change the screen light by 1/4th unit

Simply pressing the screen light button will change the screen light by one unit at a time. Press ‘option + shfit + Screen light button’ to change it by 1/4th unit at a time.

22. Multiple desktop

Open Mission Control. Hover your mouse to the top right corner. Click on the plus sign and create another desktop. Use different desktops for different jobs. One for games, one for office work, one for social networking.

23. Setup Hot corners

System Preferences > Mission Control > Click on the Hot Corners… > Set up different options for different corners. I have set up mission control in the right hand bottom corner. So for tip number 22, I just hover my mouse to the bottom right corner and take it to top right corner and Voila!

24. Change pattern in iTunes

While listening to a song in iTunes press ‘command + T’ to change the pattern according to the beats of your song

25. Browse between open windows

Use ‘Command + Tab’

26. Capture a part of the screen

Use ‘command + shift + 4’ > Drag to take screenshot for a part of the screen. The image file will be saved on desktop by default.

27. Take printscreen for the whole window

Use ‘command + shift + 3’. The image file will be saved on desktop by default.

28. Incremental volume change

Similar to the tip number 21 above, there is an option for incremental change in volume as well. Use ‘shift + option + Volume up or down’.

29. Quit an app

Use ‘command + Q’

30. Switch between various view option in Finder

In Finder window use ‘command + 1’, ‘command + 2’, ‘command + 3’ and ‘command + 4’ for Icon, List, Column and Cover Flow view respectively.

Expand and Collapse a folder using arrow keys

31. Expand a folder in Finder in List View using right arrow

32. Collapse a folder in Finder in List View using Left arrow

33. To rename a folder of file hit Enter

34. To open the selected folder

Double click or press ‘command + Down Arrow’. Similarly pressing ‘command + Up Arrow’ will take you to the parent folder.

35. Crop Image in Preview

Draw a selection with the regular Rectangular selection > Press ‘command + K’.

36. Save password in iCloud Keychain to access it across devices

iCloud keychain will help you in accessing your sites from your Mac, iPhone, iPad. Just follow the steps mentioned for keychain on Apple official page.

 37. Automator

Use Automator for building your own workflows of commands

38. Know your Apple ID

Many a times, while in tech support or filling out a form in Apple official website, or for sharing your screen with someone else you will need to know your Apple Id. To know your Apple Id follow: System Preference > iCloud

39. Screen sharing in Mac

Spotlight > Search for Screen Sharing > Enter the Apple ID of the person you are trying to contact

MacBook OS X Tips

40. Family sharing of purchases

System Preference > iCloud > Family Sharing. For more details you can visit this link

42. Revert to previous version of a document

Open any document and hover your mouse over the name of the document. A black arrow sign will appear, once you click it, you will get a number of options including browsing the previous versions of the document.

43. Lock the file for editing

Open any document and hover your mouse over the name of the document. A black arrow sign will appear, once you click it, you will get a number of options including to lock the document.

44. Switch between headphones and speakers

If you have both headphones and speakers connected to your Mac, press option + volume up/down. A ‘System Preference’ window will open. In ‘Play sound effects through:’ select the output device that you wish as per your preference.

45. Stop applications that are preventing sleep of your Mac

Open Activity Monitor > View in Column Mode. You can find which apps are preventing the sleep mode.

46. Resize column in Column view

Press option + Double click the column divider to resize all columns to fit the longest file name

47. Search for a text on a page in Safari

If you have a webpage opened in Safari and you want to search for a specific text on that page. Simple go to the address and type that text. Now select the option for finding that text in that particular page.

MacBook OS X Tips

48. Empty the Trash with warning

Use command + shift + delete

49. Empty the Trash with no warning

Use command + option + shift + delete

50. To cancel a drag and drop option while in the midst of a drag you can press ‘Esc’ key

51. Hide / show the sidebar on the left

Press command + option + S

52. Hide/ show the toolbar on the top

you can press command + option + T

53. Close tab in Safari opened in other devices

Choose ‘Show All Tabs’ from the View menu and you will see all your open tabs on all your devices. The condition is that they should be using the same Apple ID.

MacBook OS X Tips

54. Open Quick Look to preview most types of files without actually opening it

Press the Spacebar, alternatively you can use Command + Y

55. Press with three fingers on trackpad to open Quick look to preview most types of files

56. Hold Option while scrolling to zoom in or out in Quick Look for images and PDFs.

57. To undo renaming the last file you can press Command + Z. Pressing Command + Z undo most of the last actions like copy etc.

58. Create Printer Pool to minimize waiting time

System Preferences > Print & Fax, select the printers and create a Printer Pool. So, if one printer is busy, the Mac will send the document to the next printer for printing

59. Restrict the usage of Mac

Open Spotlight by pressing command + Spacebar. Type ‘Parental Control’. Press ‘enter’. Select options for the time of day when it can be used.

MacBook OS X Tips_13

60. Quickly scan through the menu of any app

Click Help menu and type the option you are looking for. It will quickly show you the related list. Hover your mouse over the one you want and it will show the main menu item under which it is listed.

MacBook OS X Tips_14

61. Play around with resizing and open window

Try these out.

A. Hold Option while resizing a window.

B. Hold Shift while resizing a window.

C. Hold both Option and Shift while resizing a window.

D. Now thank me here for the cool trick.

62. Drag windows without disturbing the front window

You have two windows open, one at the foreground and other at the background. To move the background without bringing it to the front, press command and then move it.

63. Change the default app associated with a file type

Press Command + I > Open with > Choose new App > Click ‘Change All…’ to apply to all the files

MacBook OS X Tips_15

64. Stop background applications to load automatically during boot up

Press Shift while the OS X is loading to stop background applications from opening up automatically. This process speeds up the logging process.

65. Automatically open certain items on startup

System Preferences > Users > Login items > Click the ‘+’ to add an application


66. Find the culprit for slow Mac

Go to Activity Monitor and check out CPU usage, memory usage and other such statistics

67. Move the files

Press command + C to cut and then command + option + V to paste, simply pressing Command + V will copy paste the file

68. You can press Command + H to hide the front window, to hide all other windows except for the front window, press Command + Option + H

69. To close the front window of an app you can press Command + W, to press all the windows of an app you can press Command + Option + W

70. Define frequency of removal of downloaded items

Open Safari > Preferences > General Tab > ‘Remove download list items:’ Here you can select the frequency with which the downloaded item list is removed from Safari browser.

MacBook OS X Tips_17

71. Split View in Photos App for Mac OS X

Open Photos > Open any image in Photos app > Click on the Split view in the Photos App Toolbar > Enjoy viewing photos in a better way

72. Change default search engine in Safari

Open Safari > Preferences > Search Tab > Select the search engine you wish to use from the ‘Search engine’ drop down menu

MacBook OS X Tips_18

73. Hide/ show your dock

Press command + option +D to hide your Dock. Repeat this step to show the hidden dock. Go one step ahead and use this command to hide the Dock on your friend’s Mac. Watch his expression!

74. Press Command key. Hold it and press Tab key one by one to go through your open apps. If you need to close some app, just press Q. Press H to minimize or hide the app window.

75. Group files into a folder like a boss

Select the files you wish to group, right click on any one of the files and select ‘New Folder With Selection’.

76. Insert Apple symbol in names of files/ folders or in your document

Press Option + Shift +K in your MacBook while renaming a file or while editing a text in any document. Later thank me here.


77. Stop magnification in Dock

System Preferences > Dock > Magnification > Uncheck the box


78. Stationery Pad Options for any file

For any document press ‘command + I’ to Open the in for that particular file. Click on the checkbox against ‘Stationery pad’. While saving a file choose the option of ‘Stationery pad’. Now anytime you open the file a duplicate file will be opened. This is very useful for documents that are used as templates and prevents you from accidently replacing the original file.

79. Change the cursor size to grandma’s preferred size

System Preferences > Accessibility > Display pane > ‘Cursor size:’ > Change the cursor size using the scroll to a size your prefer.

80. Find various options in System Preferences in different versions of OS X

Apple release updates to the OS X. With these various options move from one section to other in the System Preferences. There might be a case where in this tutorial we have told you to go to a particular section in System Preferences and you can’t find it there. For example, in tip number 79, in previous versions of OS X, the option to change cursor size was System Preferences > Universal Access > Mouse & Trackpad. In the later versions of OS X, it has changed to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display pane > ‘Cursor size:’.

In such a case don’t worry. Simple open System Preferences using Spotlight. On the top right corner in the search box, type what you are looking for and you will be directed to the relevant section. Additionally the operation system will suggest some other similar related text.


81. Force quit troubling application

Press command + option + Q to force quit the troubling app.

82. Open a number of folders at once

Suppose you have a number of folders inside one particular folder and you want to go through their content one by one. In List view, select all the folders by pressing ‘command + A’ and then press the right arrow key. A real time saver if you wish to scan through content of a number of folders.

83. To close all of the folders in this List View just do the procedure again repeatedly, only this time use the left arrow key to close the folders.

84. Select what apps appear in your spotlight search

System Preferences > Spotlight > Search Results > Include or exclude apps that you wish Spotlight to access.

85. Exclude certain folders from Spotlight search results

If for some particular reasons, you wish to exclude certain folders  from Spotlight search then, System Preferences > Spotlight > Privacy > Click on the ‘+’ sign at the bottom to add folders that you wish to exclude from your searvh in spotlight.

86. Change Alert sound

System Preferences > Sound > ‘Sound Effects’ tab > ‘Select an alert sound:’

87. Customize folder icon

Follow this separate post on how to customize folder icon in Mac OS X. 

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  1. Ashutosh Mishra January 4, 2016
  2. Saurav Chaurasia January 31, 2016
  3. Mathew Mcnought February 2, 2016

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