MacBook Pro Tips and Tricks: Get The Most Out of macOS
I had been a Windows users since the time I started using a computer, and then in February of 2017, my five-year-old Sony Vaio died. As I was mulling over the decision to buy a new laptop, I happened to visit an Apple Store with a friend who was there to buy an iPhone. That was the first time I saw the MacBook Pro in person and I instantly fell in love with its design, its weight or lack thereof, and its trackpad. Still the decision to buy one was not easy. Apple charges a premium for its laptops and that price was a little hard to swallow. After a lot of back and forth inside my head, I finally decided to take the plunge, and I am happy that I did. I don’t want to start a fight about Windows vs Mac here, as I like both of them equally. That said, for what I do, I have realized that a Mac fits my workflow better than a Windows machine.
However, my switch to the MacBook Pro was far from easy. My fingers and mind refused to accept the change and in the initial days, sometimes I even regretted buying a Mac. In hindsight, that was bound to happen as years of habit does take some time to go away. The best thing about my transition from Windows to Mac was that I researched a lot about the macOS operating system, and that has helped me become more proficient in Mac than some of the lifelong Mac users that I know. I have learned and discovered various tips and tricks which has helped me a lot in using my MacBook Pro to its full potential. In this article, I am going to share some of those tips and tricks with you. I hope that you will find at least one tip which you didn’t know before. Conversely, if you would like to share your tips with me, drop them down in the comments section below.
MacBook Pro Tips and Tricks: Beginner Level
The tips I am sharing in this article are divided into three sections. This section is for beginners who have just switch to a Mac and are looking for tips which can help them get going. If you are already familiar with these tips, you can directly skip to the next sections which contain more advanced tips.
1. Quick Look
Quick Look is one of the most used features on my Mac. Once you make using this a habit, half of the time you will not have to open any file as it allows you to see the content of a file without opening it. To perform the quick look Action, all you need to do is to select your file and tap the space bar once. For example, you can select a PDF and hit the space bar to quickly scan the content of the PDF without even opening it. That said, this feature does have its limitations. The preview that Quick Look can show you depends on the file you are trying to preview. If it’s a document or an image file, Quick Look will allow you to see the whole content of the file as shown in the pictures below. However, if it’s a folder or an eBook it will only show you superficial information such as the file size and last modified date. Once you learn where the Quick look is helpful and where it’s not, the feature will come really handy.
2. Force Quit Apps
While one of the benefits of using a Mac is that you rarely have any app which goes unresponsive, there are sometimes that it will happen, and when it happens, you will need to know how to force quit them. While on Windows you must be habituated to type Ctrl+Alt+Delete, the keyboard shortcut for force quitting on Mac is a little different. The keyboard combo that you need to hit is - Cmd+Opt+Esc (command, option, and escape key). Once you hit the combo, “Force Quit Application” box will open in a floating window. Here, you can just select the app which is misbehaving and click on the Force Quit button. If the keyboard combo is a little hard for you to remember, you can use an alternate method. Click on the Apple Menu at the top left corner and you will find the Force Quit option.
3. Perform Faster App Search in Spotlight
This is a very quick and handy tip. Whenever you are searching for an in Spotlight, typing the initials of the app will bring the results faster than typing its whole name. For example, if I want to search for App Store, I will simply type the letters a and s. Once you make this a habit, you will perform faster app searches and save time a few keystrokes at a time.
4. Access Emoji Keyboard
This is a fun one. If you love to use emojis, there’s an easy way to call the emoji keyboard on your mac. To do that, hit the keyboard combo Cmd+Ctrl+Space and the emoji keyboard will open. Here you can scroll down to find the emoji you want to use. You can also perform a search to find the one you want to.
5. Minutely Adjust the Volume and Brightness
As you know, we can use the keyboard shortcuts to adjust brightness and volume on your Mac devices (F1 & F2 for brightness and F11 & F12 for volume), the control they provide is not good enough for me. That’s because the first few steps barely make any change while the last few steps do too much. I like to control my volume and brightness a little more minutely. If you also want to do that, first hold down the option and the shift key and then use the Function keys to make the adjustment. If you do that, a single press will result in an increment or reduction of a quarter of bar instead of the full bar which happens if you don’t use the option and the shift key. If you look at the pictures below carefully, you can spot the quarter increment.
6. Move Files With Cut and Paste
Coming from Windows, it really frustrated me a lot when I was not able to use cut and paste command with the keyboard. Cmd+C works for copying but there’s no Cmd+X for performing the Cut Action. If you are a Mac user who doesn’t know what the Cut Action is, let me explain it to you. While using the Cmd+C or the Copy Action can help you copy files from one place to another, the cut Action allows you to do the same thing with one major difference. The difference is that the Copy Action keeps the original file or text in place and creates a duplicate of that file whereas, the cut Action moves the original file and doesn’t create a duplicate.To perform the Cut Action on a Mac, first, copy the file using ⌘C (Cmd+C) combo. Now open the location where you want to paste the file and hit ⌘⌥V (Cmd+Opt+V) instead of ⌘V (Cmd+V).
Performing the Cut Action: Copy (Cmd+C) → Paste (Cmd+Option+V)
MacBook Pro Tips and Tricks: Medium Level
7. Master the Hot Corners
Hot Corners are one of the most under-appreciated features of macOS. Either people don’t know about them or they just don’t find it useful. For me, Hot Corners is a feature which I can’t live without. Using Hot Corners feature, a user can assign different actions to each of the corners of the display. Dragging your mouse pointer to that corner will execute that action. For example, I have assigned the top-left corner of the display to show my desktop when I trigger it. So whenever there are a lot of windows open on my desktop and I want to grab a file to attach or do any other thing which requires me to look at my desktop, I just drag my cursor to the top-left corner and I am done. It’s up to you how you want to use the four corners of your desktop, but once you make using them a habit, you will speed up your workflow many folds. The picture below shows all the actions that I have assigned and am using Hot Corners for. To set-up a Hot Corner all you need to do is to follow the following path:
Apple Menu → System Preferences → Desktop & Screen Saver → Screen Saver Hot → Corners
8. Quickly Access Folders Using the Go Menu and Shortcuts
Another underappreciated feature which can greatly increase your workflow speed is the Go Menu which is present in the Menu bar in the default mode. You can use the Go Menu to easily access folders without first opening the Finder window. If you put in some effort to remember the shortcuts mentioned in the Go Menu, you don’t even need to use the Go Menu, and can directly use the keyboard shortcuts to open a window. For example, if I have to open my Downloads folder, I simply tap the keyboard command ⌥⌘L (Opt+Cmd+L). The picture below shows all the other keyboard shortcuts which you might want to learn.
9. Using the Delete Key Both Ways
Users who have just switched to Mac from Windows will surely appreciate this feature. Windows has two keys for deleting texts which are Backspace and Delete. The Backspace button deletes the text which is behind the cursor while the Delete button deletes the text which is in front of the cursor. However, macOS only comes with the Delete key. What’s even more confusing is the fact that the Delete key on macOS works as the Backspace key on Windows. However, there is a way you can use the Delete key both ways i.e. use the Delete key to delete the text both before and in front of the cursor. To delete the text in front of the cursor, a user just needs to hold on to the ”fn” key while hitting the delete key. You don't need to hold the function key if you just want to delete the text before the cursor.
10. Rename Multiple Items at Once
This one might not be useful for everyone but it can be a lifesaver for someone who really needs it. As the heading suggests, you can rename multiple files on your Mac in a single action. I take a lot of screenshots on a daily basis, and renaming them in batches saves me a lot of time. To rename multiple files at once, first, select all the files and then right click (control + click / secondary click). From the right-click menu, select the “Rename multiple items” option, as shown in the picture below. A popup menu will open. Here select the option shown in the picture below and enter the name you want to use in the custom name field. Since I am using this as a test, I will just use the word test. Now, click on the Rename button. Now, all the files will be renamed using the word test followed by a number. (Test1, Test2, Test3, and so on). This feature will save a lot of your time when you need to crudely rename files for organizing them.
11. Organize Your Files With Tags and Stacks
While we are on the topic of organizing files, I want to show you how you can easily organize and access files using tags and stacks. In its most basic forms tags are colored dots which can be assigned to any file or folder. If you open your Finder window, you will see a Tags menu in the left bar. Once you assign a tag to a file, it can be quickly accessed by clicking on its respective tag in the Finder window. This is extremely helpful if you want to access multiple files in a place without moving them outside their parent folder. For example, I will assign the Red tag to all the screenshots I just took. To assign the tag I will just right click on them and choose the read tag. Also, since I am assigning the same tag to all of the files, I will select all and then do it. This saves me from assigning tags individually for each file.
Now, I will open the finder window and click on the Red tag and you will see that all my screenshots are there. To make these files even more accessible we will add them to our dock using the Stacks feature. To do that, click and drag on the Red tag from the Finder window and drop it between the Trashcan and the line separating it from other items on your dock. You will see that the tag Red has been added to a stack. Click on the stack to access all your files which are tagged Red. This is an easy way to organize and access your files.
MacBook Pro Tips and Tricks: Advanced Level
12. Take Screenshots in JPG Format
If you take a lot of screenshots on Mac, you must know that your Mac takes screenshots in PNG format. Although there are a lot of advantages of keeping photos in PNG format (for one, it is lossless), it also comes with a major disadvantage. PNG format images take larger space on your Mac’s hard drive as the file size is bigger. Hence, its always good to take screenshots in JPG format. With JPG format the screenshot quality is almost the same and you save space. It also makes them easier to share as the files are smaller in size.
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
It’s very easy to teach your Mac to take screenshots in JPG format. Just open the Terminal on your Mac, type the code mentioned above and hit enter. Now, every time you take a screenshot, your Mac will be taking it in a JPG format. In fact, you can replace jpg with pdf to take screenshots in PDF format. Also, if you ever want to go back to taking screenshots in PNG format, just replace jpg with png in the above code.
13. Mark the Hidden Apps
We all know that macOS lets us hide apps using the “Command+H” keyboard shortcut. Hiding app is a good way to keep your desktop clean. One major benefit of hiding apps instead of minimizing it is that you can use the “Command+Tab” keyboard shortcut to call an app back, something you can’t do with a minimized app. To call up a minimized app, you need to click on it, which means you will have to remove your fingers from the keyboard and use a trackpad which takes more time than using the Command+Tab keyboard shortcut.
defaults write com.apple.Dock showhidden -bool TRUE; killall Dock
However, there’s one problem with hiding apps. There is no way to know which apps are the one you have hidden and which are just closed. It makes it harder to call back apps as closed apps don’t come up using the keyboard shortcuts. Well, I am going to save this problem for you today. Just open Terminal, copy and paste the command written above and hit enter. Once you do that, you will see the hidden apps are a little greyed out than the rest of the apps, just like shown in the picture below.
14. Show Full File Path in Finder
When it comes to Finder, I have a love and hate relationship with it. I love its simplicity and yet sometimes it just makes it hard to find files. I am going to come out and say it. Windows definitely has a better file explorer system than the Mac. My biggest gripe with Finder is that it doesn’t show the path of a file when you open it. It makes it hard to remember where your important files are. Call me an old-fashioned guy, but I like to remember where my important files are organized.
defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool YES; killall Finder
Well, if you also have the same problem, I can help you eliminate it. I have posted a little command above which by now you know what to do with. Just copy and paste it into the Terminal and hit enter. After this, your Finder will show you the files paths at the top just as shown in the picture below. If for some reason you want to go back to the way it was. Just replace the word ”Yes” with “No” (without the quotes), and everything will go back to normal.
15. Create Custom Keyboard Shortcuts
The last tip I want to live with you today is one which can greatly improve your productivity. Using keyboard shortcuts is one of the fastest ways to get something done. Not only it makes the process faster, once you are used to it, you can perform that action without even thinking about it. That’s why I always make sure that I create custom keyboard shortcuts for all my frequently used actions. For example, I take a lot of screenshots and resize them using Mac’s preview app. However, there’s no keyboard shortcut to open the resizing window on the Preview app. So, I created one for myself.
To create a shortcut go to System Preferences→Keyboard → Shortcuts → App Shortcut. Now click on the + button choose the app you want to create a shortcut for. Here, enter the name of the action you want to create a shortcut for and then type in the keyboard shortcut you want to use. It’s as simple as that.
MacBook Pro Tips and Tricks: Conclusion
That ends our article. I wanted to add more but the article is already too long. If you want more tips, be sure to let me know either by liking this post or commenting below. Your engagement proves that the work I am doing is helping some of you out there. Also, if you found this article helpful, do share this with others because we need your help to share the blog with others. You can also check out our accessories page to buy some cool new accessories for your Mac or iPhone.