14 Must-Know Tips & Tricks for Mac OS X
We often get asked what the single most useful Mac tip is, or what a handful of the best tricks are. It’s impossible to answer such a question given the diversity of use cases of OS X, but here’s a collection of what are surely some of the absolute best tips for Mac OS X that should be considered must-knows for all Mac users. We’ve covered just about all of these on an individual basis before, but if you want to learn a whole lot in one sitting you’re in the right place.
Show Hidden Files in Open & Save Dialog Windows
Have you ever wanted to access a hidden file from an Open window or Save dialog? You can easily toggle hidden files by hitting Command+Shift+Period in any dialog window.
Go To Folder
Hitting Command+Shift+G in the Finder brings up a Go To Folder dialog, this is without a doubt the fastest way to navigate deep into the OS X filesystem. The next best part? Tab completion works, so you don’t even have to type out the full paths. It also works in Open & Save dialogs too and is arguably one of the most useful keyboard shortcuts for the Finder.
Instant Image Slideshow Anywhere in OS X Finder
The next time you’re flipping through a series of pictures in the OS X Finder, select them all and then hit Command+Option+Y to create and instant fullscreen slideshow of the selected images.
Instant Focus Mode, Hide All Windows Except Foreground App
Tired of having a million windows open, cluttering your workspace? Hit Command+Option+H to hide every window and application except for the foreground app, think of it as a way to quickly push distractons aside and focus.
Hide Current Application & Current Windows
Your boss is coming, quick, hide that Facebook window! Whether you’re trying to keep a secret or just want to do something else, you can instantly hide the currently active app or windows by hitting Command+H
Instantly Lock the Screen
Control+Shift+Eject instantly locks the screen and summons the screensaver, just remember that the password lock feature must be enabled separately before you’ll get use out of this one, otherwise the display simply turns off.
Take Screen Shot and Store It In Clipboard
Hit Command+Control+Shift+3 to take a capture of the entire screen and store in the clipboard. If this sounds familiar to Windows users it’s because this is basically the Mac equivalent of the Print Screen button which doesn’t exist on the simplified Apple keyboards. Longtime Mac users will most likely prefer the classic Command+Shift+3 option though, which dumps the screen shot directly onto the desktop.
Cut & Paste Files in Finder
Use Command+C as usual, and then hit Command+Option+V to “move” the item, effectively cutting and pasting the document into the new location. Longtime Windows users will find this to be useful, but it’s also just a great keyboard shortcut to move files about. This is limited to OS X Lion and later.
Make ~/Library Visible Again
OS X Lion and later defaults to hiding the user library directory, it’s still accessible through a variety of ways, but you can make it always visible in the home directory again with the following terminal command: chflags nohidden ~/Library/
Cycle Windows in Current Application
Command+` (next to the 1 key) cycles through the current applications windows, without having to go into Mission Control. This is probably the fastest and most efficient way to quickly flip through app windows in OS X.
Cycle Through All Open Applications
Command+Tab the application switcher gets a lot of use by power users for good reason, it’s one of the quickest ways to move between open apps there is, without your hands ever leaving the keyboard. Combining this with cycling through active windows is a big time saver.
Quickly Force Quit the Currently Active App
Hold down Command+Option+Shift+Escape for about 2-3 seconds to force quit the currently active application without any confirmation dialog, and without having to kill it through activity monitor or the Force Quit menu. Just note there is no warning the app quits immediately without saving anything, perfect for when something is going haywire.
Application Launching with Spotlight
Hit Command+Spacebar and start typing the name of the app you want to launch, then hit return to open that app immediately. If you’re fastest with the keyboard, this will be the quickest way to launch apps in OS X.
Discard Windows from Resuming on Application Quit
Don’t want OS X’s Window Restore feature to resume the applications current windows on next launch? Use Command+Option+Q when you quit the app to discard the current windows, preventing them from being restored the next time you launch that application.