Option-tap the Touch Bar to open all kinds of preferences

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option Touch Bar Mac
Option-tap these icons to open Preferences.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you have a Mac with a Touch Bar, do this right now. Hold down the Option key (⌥), and tap the volume icon in the Touch Bar. For non-Touch Bar-using readers, this is what happened: The Mac’s Sound Preferences launched instantly.

This is such a typical Mac feature that it should be obvious. But when I shared this tip with fellow Touch Bar aficionado and Cult of Mac writer Graham Bower, he was all like, “Oh!” and, “That’s pretty neat!”

So, what other tricks can be done with the Option key and the Touch Bar?

Hold down the Option key to unlock Mac’s hidden menu bar actions

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menu widgets
Not that kind of menu item.
Photo: Croissant/Unsplash

The Option key (sometimes marked ⌥ on your Mac’s keyboard) offers you extra options, whether you’re using the keyboard or the mouse. Hold it down while dragging a file, for example, and it will create a duplicate of that file, instead of just moving it1. The Option key works everywhere — in menus, too. Today, we’re going to see what happens when you Option-click on the status menu icons up on the right side of your Mac’s menu bar. The Bluetooth, volume, Wi-Fi, Time Machine and Notification Center widgets, to be precise.

Option-clicking on these icons gives you far greater control of some of your Mac’s core functionality. You might be surprised at what you can do up there.

Quickly Access Time Machine Options Right In The Menu Bar With Mavericks [OS X Tips]

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Browse Other Backup DIsks

On my Macbook Air running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, when I click on the Time Machine backup menubar item, I see the option to browse other backup disks. That’s a pretty cool option, if I need to switch between different disks to backup my Mac; maybe to make a secondary backup for redundancy.

In Mavericks, the Time Machine menu bar icon doesn’t have this option any more, instead only showing Stop This Backup when backing up (or Back Up Now when it isn’t), Enter Time Machine, and Open Time Machine Preferences. If you’re wondering where the option to browse other backup disks has gone, you’re not alone.

Mastering The Option Key On Your OS X Mac [Feature]

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keyboardOptionblk

The Option key is a powerful ally in the transition from new, beginner user of OS X to the power user that you want to be. There are a ton of hidden features in the Finder alone that are hidden behind the underrated and unassuming Option key. There are Option key tricks for the OS X Menu Bar, for apps in the iWork suite, in Safari, and a few more random ones to boot.

So, sit back, relax, and get ready to hit that Option key a whole bunch of times in a row.

Master The Option Key In OS X Safari [OS X Tips]

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keyboardOptionblk

What fun the Option key is in OS X, right? Adding it to clicks and keystrokes makes many features accessible that would otherwise be hidden. We’ve spent the last few days talking about how to maximize the Option key in your power-user Mac workflow, in the Finder, the Menu Bar, and in iWork apps.

Now, we’re going to head over to Apple’s built-in browser, Safari, and show you how the Option key can make your Safari life just that bit better.

Master The Option Key In OS X Finder [OS X Tips]

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Apple-Keyboard-Option-Key

The Option key is a powerful ally in the transition from new, beginner user of OS X to the power user that you want to be. There are a ton of hidden features in the Finder alone that are hidden behind the underrated and unassuming Option key.

Here are some of the more useful ones.