6 power-user tricks for Mac Spotlight

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Spotlight is good for much more than just finding files.
Spotlight is good for much more than just finding files.
Photo: Pixabay/Pexels CC

Spotlight for Mac. Isn’t it that little magnifying glass icon in the menubar, the one that you click when you’ve given up trying to find that document you swear is somewhere on your Mac? Well yes, it is. But if you know these Mac Spotlight tips, it can be so much more than that.

You can use it to find a document, even if you can only remember a snippet of text from inside that document. But you can also use it to do math, launch apps, open folders, and even check the weather. These Mac Spotlight tricks will let you get the most out of this underutilized feature.

These Mac Mail rules clean up your inbox so you won’t have to

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mac mail rules

Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple’s Mail app — the Mac one, not the iOS one — has a secret weapon for automatically cleaning up your inbox. It’s called Rules, and you can use it to process all arriving emails, so you don’t have to.

Mail rules can be used to get custom alerts, to automatically file invoices, to save newsletters out of the inbox, to block senders, and lots more. Today we’re going to check out a few of the most interesting Mac Mail rules so you can get started cleaning up your inbox.

Check out these secret (and super-useful) settings for your Mac

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JPG screenshot location
Dust off your Terminal to use these great hacks.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

By using commands in your Mac’s built-in Terminal app, you can quickly change settings you probably didn’t even know existed.

Some of these Mac settings are just shortcuts — you can enable them in the usual way, using the mouse. But Terminal makes things simple. Instead of opening the System Preferences app, then finding (or remembering) a setting you want to change, and then searching further until you actually find the right checkbox, you can just type (or paste) a command, then  hit return.

Most of these are secret settings, though. They are impossible to change without Terminal. Let’s check them out.

5 super-useful Terminal tricks for total noobs

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terminal tricks
Where the hell are you supposed to begin?
Photo: Cult of Mac

The Mac’s Terminal is at once scary and powerful. It’s like a whole other computer living underneath the pretty interface of macOS. Sometimes, it’s convoluted. Other times, it seems laser-focused, offering a much quicker way to get things done. Instead of clicking and dragging your way through multiple screens, you just type a line of text.

However, the Mac Terminal is pretty intimidating if you’re not used to it. Today we will learn five super-useful Terminal tricks that make getting around much easier.

How to make Mac screen recordings

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Old toilet seat iBook
Some Macs may be too old for screen recording, but not many.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

As a Mac user, you already know how to take a quick screenshot with the ⌘⇧3 and ⌘⇧4 shortcuts. But did you know that you can also capture a video recording of your screen? If you’re running macOS Mojave, making a Mac screen recording proves as easy as hitting a shortcut, just like grabbing a screenshot. Older Macs can do it, too, albeit with a little more futzing.

How to stop your Photos library from taking over your Mac

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Film Contact sheet
Don't let your photos take over your whole SSD.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Photos app on the Mac has two options for storing your photos. You can tell it to keep the full-size originals of everything, or you can have it self-manage, keeping your master library in iCloud and storing a mixture of full-resolution and low-res versions locally to save space.

The trouble is, even when you choose the “Optimize Mac Storage” option, the Photos app’s storage can metastasize and take over your whole drive. Today we’ll see how to cap this storage, giving Photos a hard limit on how much space it can use. For instance, if you have a MacBook with a 128GB SSD, you could choose to only use 30GB for Photos — and it will never, ever use more.

How to turn on Mac Bluetooth without a mouse

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Dust off any old USB keyboard and get your Bluetooth back in action.
Dust off any old USB keyboard and get your Bluetooth back in action.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You wake up or restart your Mac, and nothing is connected. Your Bluetooth keyboard does nothing. You wiggle your Bluetooth mouse or trackpad, and the on-screen pointer refuses to wiggle in response. The problem? You Mac’s Bluetooth is switched off. But how do you switch it back on without a mouse?

Today we’ll see how to activate Bluetooth on an iMac, Mac Pro or Mac mini 1 without having to touch a mouse or trackpad. All you need are a USB keyboard, Spotlight and one clever trick.

Hot Corners controls your Mac with a flick of the trackpad

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This street corner is pretty hot.
This street corner is pretty hot.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Are you forever dragging windows around on your Mac to find the one you want? Hiding all the open apps so you can see the desktop? Do you wish you could sleep the display without waiting for the Energy Saver timer to kick in? Want to start the screensaver right now?

You can trigger all these options, and more, just by moving your mouse pointer to a corner of your Mac’s screen. What?!? Yes. The feature that lets you do these wonderful things is called Hot Corners. It’s built in to every Mac — and it’s awesome.

How to switch on Mojave’s Dynamic Desktop

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Dynamic desktop
Imagine this, only more dynamic.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Dynamic Desktop is a great macOS Mojave feature. It changes the desktop image throughout the day, so your wallpaper always matches the time of day — nighttime images at night, shadowless glare at noon, and so on. Today we’ll see how to switch it on, and where to find new Dynamic Desktop images to add to the defaults.

How to recover previous versions of your files on Mac

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Files may be clunky, but it's better than this.
There's no need to keep a zillion different versions of a file on the Mac.
Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr CC

What happens if you’re working on a document and you realize you screwed it up? Maybe you deleted a few paragraphs without realizing. Or you’ve just been writing a bunch of nonsense for the past half-hour and wish you could go back to where you were before? On the Mac, you can easily do just that. It’s called versions, and it’s automatic.

Using versions, you can easily browse and restore previous versions of any document. Some apps have this built in, so you can do it right there inside the app itself. But the Finder also supports versions, so you can revert to a previous state of almost anything.