The original Mac launched all the way back in 1984. Even George Orwell didn’t see that coming.
It’s been through many iterations through the decades, but the Mac is still going strong today.
As each new version of macOS gets released, more and more functions are added that make your Mac even easier to use. There may be many that you’re not even aware of.
Read on as we take a look at some of the best Mac tips and tricks you should know.
1. Create Your Own Desktop Icons
Ever wished you could change up how all of your desktop icons looked? You might want to do so to make it easier to find specific types, or just to make things look pretty.
The good news is, it’s easy to do this on Mac. Find an image that you want to use as your icon. Open it in the Preview app.
Now click Edit > Select All. Once the image is selected, use cmd-C to copy it.
Now find the icon you want to change, and right-click on it, then select Get Info. Click on its current icon and use cmd-V to paste in your new image. Job done.
Bonus tip: if you have too much desktop clutter, click on your desktop and then in the Finder menu, click on View > Use Stacks. Your files and folders will now miraculously group themselves, tidying up your desktop in an instant.
2. Spotlight on Spotlight
The Spotlight bar can do so much more than just finding your files and folders for you.
It’s also capable of performing calculations, conversions, and even currency conversions. To launch the Spotlight bar, click cmd-SPACE. For a calculation, simply starting typing it in the bar, and you should see the solution automatically appear.
For conversions, again, start typing the amount you want to convert, and you should see a suggested conversion appear. For example, if you type in 10 miles, Spotlight will automatically generate the conversion to 16.09 km. If you want to convert to different units, just type something like 10 miles in meters to set your desired units.
Currency conversions work in a similar way. Typing an amount of foreign currency will automatically convert it to your local currency, but you can specify your target currency if you wish.
3. Record Your Screen
If you’ve got senior relatives with Macs, trying to explain to them how to do the simplest tasks can be a real struggle.
The good news is that it’s simple to record your screen on a Mac, so you can send them a simple “how-to” video. If you’re using macOS Mojave or later, all you need to do is click Shift-cmd-5 to launch the onscreen controls. You can then record the whole screen or any specific area that you select.
If you’re running an older version of macOS, launch QuickTime which comes included with every Mac, and click on File > New screen recording. You’ll be able to record the whole screen or just a portion in a similar way.
QuickTime isn’t the only video player available for Mac. If you’re looking for something that can handle a wider range of file types, check out VLC media player for Mac.
4. Type in Swedish
This is one of those Mac tricks that you’ll wish you’d known about sooner.
If you want to type a letter with an accent over the top of it (how else are you going to type smörgåsbord correctly?), then you don’t need to worry about searching through a page of special characters if you’re using a Mac.
Simply hold down the key for the letter you want to add an accent to, and a menu will pop up showing all the possible accented versions of that letter. You can click on one, or hit the corresponding number, and voilà, your accent appears.
5. Screenshot Skills
Taking a screenshot on your Mac is simple if you know the tricks.
To take a screenshot of the entire screen, all you need to do is hit Shift-cmd-3 and a shot will be saved on your desktop with the current time and date. If you want to screenshot just a portion of the screen, then hit Shift-cmd-4 and you can drag a window to select the area of the screen you want to screenshot.
All your screenshots save to your desktop by default, so using Stacks is definitely recommended (see the bonus tip in the first section).
6. Silence the Chime
If you’ve ever got up early to do a bit of work, you’ll know the nightmare that is trying to power up your Mac without the welcome chime waking up your whole household.
The good news is that there is a little Mac trick to silence that familiar chord. All you need to do is hold down the mute button at the top of your keyboard as you power on. Your chime will be silenced and the rest of the house will remain undisturbed.
7. Extend Your Real Estate
This is a great tip if you’re trying to make use of multiple apps at once.
Even with a large iMac screen, you might still not have enough room to see everything you want at the same time. If you have the right Mac, iPad, and version of macOS, you can use your iPad as a second screen, giving you much more space to work with.
You’ll need a MacBook or MacBook Pro from 2016 or later, an iMac from 2017 or later, or a MacBook Air or Mac Mini from 2018 or later. It will also work on a Mac Pro and iMac Pro. You’ll also need an iPad 6th gen or later, iPad Air 3rd gen or later, iPad Mini 5th gen or later, or an iPad Pro.
You’ll need to be running macOS Catalina or later on your Mac, and iOS 13 or later on your iPad.
If you meet all those requirements, you can use a feature called Sidecar. Simply click the AirPlay icon in your Mac menu bar, select your iPad, and you’ll have a whole new chunk of screen real estate.
There Are Plenty More Mac Tips and Tricks
This is just a selection of some of the great Mac tips and tricks that exist. With each new version of the OS, more features get introduced, adding new tips and tricks that make using your Mac even easier.
Be sure to check back regularly to keep yourself informed about all things tech.