Hopefully you already know how great Preview is. It comes built in with every Mac, it handles PDFs and images with ease, and does a great deal of basic image editing just fine, saving you the bother of opening more substantial, more expensive image editors. Here’s a tip for getting perfect square crops inside Preview.
It’s a safe bet that most Cult of Mac readers – and certainly all the Cult of Mac writers – are broadly in favour of almost everything Apple creates.
If there’s one feature of OS X (Snow) Leopard that drives me and every other Mac user I’ve ever known mad with fury, it’s the Help Viewer, and its obstinate insistence on floating on top of every other window in sight.
You want your computer to be as secure as possible, right? Here’s one thing that newcomers to OS X might want to change pretty soon after getting their hands on their first Mac.
The OS X web browser, Safari, is a pretty good browser in almost every respect. But it has one default option that, personally speaking, I’ve never felt very comfortable about leaving switched on.
It’s true: sometimes Macs do crash. More often than not, though, crashes will be limited to a single application, rather than the entire system.
You’ll know an app has crashed because it simply stops doing anything. Clicking on controls has no effect, scrolling gets you nowhere; the app simply doesn’t respond to your usual commands. So what do you do next?
First, don’t panic. OS X is designed to keep crashes under control. Even if an application has crashed, in most cases you’ll still be able to carry on just fine with work you’re doing in other applications. All you have to worry about is the one that’s crashed, and any unsaved work you had inside it.
In the System Preferences application, you’ll see an icon called “Language and Text”. If you open this, and select the Text tab, you’ll see a list titled “Symbol and Text Substitution”, which provides some useful text shortcuts. You can use these to auto-correct common typos as you make them, or to replace short text mnemonics with longer words or phrases.
When friends or family come to stay, they might want to borrow your computer for a while. That’s fine, but sometimes you want to keep your stuff private, and you want your personal settings to stay as they are.
That’s when it’s a good idea to make use of the built-in Guest Account, which you’ll find inside the Accounts pane of System Preferences, as long as you’re running OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or later.
Back in Tip #27, we showed you how to use QuickLook, an extremely handy way of previewing all sorts of different files on your Mac.
QuickLook is particularly handy for checking out image files, especially when you have a folder’s worth, all with identical generic icons rather than thumbnail icons, and you’re not sure exactly which one you want.
It also has a hidden secret feature: you can zoom in to images while in QuickLook mode. Here’s how.
The Stationery Pad is an often overlooked feature of Mac OS X, designed to let you create your own template documents.
It’s a very flexible system – pretty much any document you create can become a template.
Here’s how you use it.
Here’s a fun one. Whatever you’re doing on your Mac, from any application or any document, try hitting all these buttons together: Control+Option+Command+8.
Bam! Your screen colors are inverted. Don’t worry, you haven’t broken anything, and this isn’t a bug. It’s a feature.
The Home folder in a new account will probably look like the one above.
These are the default folders automatically created inside the Home folder of a new account.
You can create more folders here if you wish – after all, this is your Home folder, for you to play with as you see fit – but I’d suggest that beginners stick to the hierarchy that’s set up for you by the system. In this post, we’re going to go through those folders one by one.
Waaaay back in Tip #9, I said we’d take a closer look at the Finder sidebar. Let’s do that right now.
A Finder window has the Toolbar at the top. (We looked at how to customize it in Tip #11.) This is where you have controls for what you’re doing with the Finder, as well as (optionally), shortcuts to specific things like files or applications.
Today we’re looking at the sidebar to the left. It’s the place for shortcuts to locations. Here, you can put folders, drives or volumes that you want swift access to from everywhere.
We’ve just looked at user accounts, and showed you how to go about setting up your own personal account.
New accounts will be created with what’s called a Home folder. This is the area of the filesystem where everything created and edited by you, using your user account, will be kept.
Mac OS X has a system of user accounts, similar to that found on Windows machines. Setting up user accounts on your computer is a good idea for all sorts of reasons.
Each account is a separate, ring-fenced section of the computer’s system. Stuff that User A does won’t affect stuff belonging to User B. So at their simplest level, accounts are a useful way of keeping every person’s work or activity separate. They are a good idea on family computers for that reason.
Shorter answer: hell yes.
Longer answer: there’s an application called Dictionary (you can find it in your Applications folder, or search for it with Spotlight) which has detailed entries for thousands of words and phrases.
Here’s a secret: OS X has a password generator built-in, but many people will never even see it. Here’s how to make it easier to get to.
It’s natural to assume that iTunes is a monolithic one-window application, because there’s no obvious way to view your vast database of music, videos and apps in anything other than just that one window.
No obvious way, but it is there.
Now you have a Mac, what’s the easiest way to remember people’s birthdays? Apple thought of that, and built a useful tool right in.
On a Mac, the green “Maximise” button (found alongside the yellow “Minimise” button and the red “Close” button in the top-left corner of every window) doesn’t do what you’re used to its counterpart doing on a Windows PC.
In current versions of OS X, “Maximise” really means “display the contents of this window in the most efficient way possible,” – and different applications will interpret that in different ways, and in different circumstances. The results can be frustratingly unpredictable, especially for newcomers who aren’t used to a Mac.
This is one of those simple little things that’s so obvious, and so simple, that it’s easy for newcomers to miss.
How do you rename a file on a Mac? If you’re coming from Windows, you’ll be accustomed to right-clicking on it and choosing the “Rename” menu item, but it’s not there on OS X.
Exposé is an OS X feature designed to help you move around many documents and applications quickly and easily.
All you have to do is push a button (or move your mouse in a particular way, or drag your fingers on the trackpad), and all your open windows, from all your open applications, will be displayed on screen at once, shrunk down so that you can see them all.
In nearly every single Mac application you use, you’ll find the Hide command. It’s a very useful thing to know about.
On Windows, you got used to the Minimize command, which sent any particular document or application window down to the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen. OS X has a similar feature, which is also called Minimize.
When you’re viewing something like a web page, or an email message, or a PDF – anything that isn’t a text field for typing in – you can use the spacebar to scroll down in page-sized increments, just like a Page Down key that you were probably used to having on a Windows machine, and now won’t have if you’re using a Mac notebook.
It’s just as easy to go in the opposite direction. You can scroll up again by hitting Shift + spacebar.
(For the record, Page Up on a Mac notebook is officially done using Function+Up Arrow, and Page Down with Function+Down Arrow. But a lot of the time, using the spacebar is quicker and easier.)
I would never have thought to include this in the list of 100 tips, because I thought it was so universal. I’ve been using this trick for so long, it’s become second nature, and I just assumed that everyone used it.
But a post on Reddit today caused the penny to drop: it turns out that many of the readers there hadn’t discovered this little gem, so I thought it was worth passing on to you as well.
(You’re reading the 32nd post in our series, 100 Essential Mac Tips And Tricks For Windows Switchers. These posts explain to OS X beginners some of the most basic and fundamental concepts of using a Mac. Find out more.)
At the top of many OS X applications you’ll see something like this:
…a row of buttons, known as the Toolbar. This particular Toolbar is from word processing application Bean; different apps will have different buttons and different toolbars, but they will all look something like this.
The point is, wherever you see a Toolbar like this, you can customize it to suit your needs. You can put more buttons up there, or have just one or two. Or none at all.
Here’s how you do it.
Windows users are accustomed to a “Print Screen” or “PrntScrn” button on their keyboard. When hit, the computer takes a picture of the current screen and saves it to the clipboard, ready for pasting into a graphics program.
So where’s the PrntScrn button on a Mac? How do you take a screenshot?
Vance L from Australia contacted us at email@example.com saying that when he switched from PC to Mac, he spent 10 minutes looking for that button before realising it wasn’t there. But as he found out, there’s another way.