Recent keyboards for both desktop and laptop versions of Macintosh computers come with media buttons across the top of the keyboard where the F keys are. For example, my 11″ Macbook Air has F1 and F2 assigned to brightness, and F11 and F12 assigned to volume. When pressed, they increase or decrease the volume or the brightness one little tick mark at a time. But what if you want finer control?
To do that, simply hold Shift-Option down when using the Volume or Brightness up or down. On my laptop, I have the F keys set to act as actual F keys, bypassing the functions that are printed on them. TO use the brightness setting, for example, I typically have to press the fn button in the lower left of the keyboard to use the F1 and F2 keys to brighten my screen.
With this tip, then, I have to add the fn key to the process, hitting fn-Shift-Option-F1, F2 (for brightness), F11, F12 (for volume). You may need to do the same thing if you’ve disabled the media shortcuts on the F keys.
When you add the Shift-Option modifier, you’ll notice that the volume will go up or down a fourth of an indicator square, allowing a more specific adjustment to the volume. The same holds true for the brightness control.
An added pro tip here that I found out while messing about with the keys is that holding the Shift key down mutes the Volume up and down sound that plays when the volume increases or decreases. That’s an added bonus when you need to turn your Mac’s sound down, but don’t want an office mate or sleeping spouse to be annoyed by the noise.