100 Tips

Read Cult of Mac’s latest posts on 100 Tips:

How To Make Help Viewer Behave Like Regular Windows [100 Tips #53]



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.

Almost everything.

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.

Tighten Up Safari’s Security With One Click [100 Tips #52]


Safari security

Photo: Safari/Apple

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.

How To Deal With Crashed Apps [100 Tips #51]



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.

How To Correct Common Typos Automagically [100 Tips #50]



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.

100 Tips #49: Get Guests Online Quickly With The Guest Account



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.

100 Tips #48: How To Zoom In On Images In QuickLook



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.

100 Tips #45: What Are These Folders In My Home Folder?



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.

100 Tips #44: How To Customize The Finder Sidebar



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.

100 Tips #42: How Do User Accounts Work?



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.

100 Tips #37: How To Maximise Windows On OS X



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.

100 Tips #36: How To Rename Files Or Folders



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.

100 Tips #35: What is Exposé?



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.

100 Tips #32: Use The Spacebar For Page Down



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.)

100 Tips #31: How To Customize The Toolbar



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.

100 Tips #30: Where’s The PrntScrn Button On A Mac?


Photo by Phil Sexton, used with thanks under CC License

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 100tips@cultofmac.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.