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9 Most Useful Built-in Tools In Mac That You May Have Forgotten

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9 Most Useful Built-in Tools In Mac That You May Have Forgotten

Mac OS X comes with a number of practical and versatile built-in tools, which can help enhance productivity and simplify your tasks. We often end up overlooking some of these easily available and handy features, which are jam packed with potential. Here is my cheat sheet of the top 10 default tools that you may have forgotten about.

1. Grapher

Access: Finder – Utilities – Applications – Grapher

For math geeks as well as those intimidated by equations, Grapher is a powerful tool to visualize pesky formulae. The software sketches out 2D and 3D graphs in seconds from any mathematical equation. In fact, it can chart multiple equations at once. The interface is simple with three panes: equation editor on the top, equation list on the left, and the graph area. Use the Inspector button on the top right corner to change colors, line type and other attributes of the graph. Eliminate dabbling with your paper and pen, and add Grapher to your list of must-use applications.

Grapher2

    2. Dictation

    Access: Apple – System Preferences – Dictation & Speech

    Available in Mac OS X Mountain Lion and later versions, you can use Dictation to speak to your Mac and translate words into text. You have to be explicit with punctuations – like saying aloud ‘comma, ‘quotation mark’, ‘all caps’ or ‘new line’ will do as the name implies. The computer will listen to your dictation for 30 seconds at a time. OS X Mavericks also offers Enhanced Dictation without an active internet connection.

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    Dictation2

      3. Automator

      Access: Finder – Applications – Automator

      With Automator, you no longer have to repeat your daily and tedious tasks.  Many users shy away from this tool because it looks difficult to implement at first glance. But once you get the hang of it, it can significantly reduce the time taken for mundane activities. To name a few of its features, you can rename multiple files or images at once, automatically quit applications at designated days and times and convert a text file into audio in no time.

      Automator

        4. Screen Sharing

        Access: Apple – System Preferences – Sharing

        This robust and user friendly feature lets you connect to another Mac on your network and display its screen on your computer. It’s helpful when you want to remotely trouble shoot on a parent’s computer, collaborate on a project and access your home Mac on the go. If you have an iCloud account, you can use Back to Mac to share a Mac screen on a remote network as well.

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        ScreenSharing2

          5. Podcast Publisher

          Access: Finder – Applications – Utilities – Podcast Publisher

          Podcast Publisher enables you to record audio and video podcasts of professional quality. I particularly enjoy ‘trimming’, an editing feature that aids in removing unnecessary parts of my clip. For some of us, creating content is the easy part but distributing it efficiently is a taller task at hand.  With this application, you can easily share your podcast to iTunes, email it to another person, save it on your desktop or publish it on the Podcast Library. You can also record your Mac’s screen real time to demo something instantly.

          PodcastPublisher

            6. Preview

            Access: Finder – Applications – Preview

            Preview is probably the most underrated and unspoken treasures in the Mac OS X. Aside from the the basic PDF viewing utility, it is equipped with a host of other functionalities.  You can annotate files, insert new pages, magnify a specific portion of the document and sign PDFs without printing them. Besides, you can crop, rotate and resize popular image files such as JPEG, TIFF, GIF and PNG.

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            Preview2

              7. Terminal

              Access: Finder – Applications – Utilities – Terminal

              Analogous to the Windows command prompt, Terminal lets you communicate directly with the core of the Mac. It is more powerful than Automator and has a whooping number of useful features, that makes it worth even for a casual Mac user to learn a few basic commands. Have you ever been unsuccessful in permanently deleting a file because its locked and you can’t identify the culprit? Terminal will do it in a second using the ‘rm’ command. Want to have some fun and make your Mac talk to you? Use the ‘say’ command in Terminal.

              Refer to a more exhaustive list of Terminal commands here.

              8. Boot Camp Assistant

              Access: Finder – Applications – Utilities – Boot Camp Assistant

              Sometimes the most loyal Apple supporters need Windows on their Mac, be it for customized office software or the latest PC games. Boot Camp lets you choose between Windows and Mac OS X when you turn on your computer.  It will create the necessary Windows partition without erasing your existing OS X data. But remember, you still have to buy the Windows license!

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              BootcampAssistant

                9. Wi-Fi Diagnostics

                Access: Finder – Go – System – Library – CoreServices – Wi-Fi Diagnostics

                Diagnostics is a shy and lonesome tool but does wonders by tweaking your Wi-Fi for optimal performance. It monitors signal strength and noise by providing a real-time graph. Observing what makes your signal drop from time to time can prove to be an addictive pastime! If anyone attempts to connect to your network, the Record Events function logs it along with the date and time. For those into debugging a network, the Capture Raw Frames can seize all traffic on the wireless network for later analysis.

                Diagnostics

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                  Last Updated on November 25, 2021

                  How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

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                  How to Make Private Browsing on Safari Truly Private

                  There comes a time when we may be searching online and don’t want the browser to remember our footsteps. The reasons don’t always have to be what we obviously think of as the main reason; for example, sometimes, you may not want Safari to remember your passwords or prompt you to enter your password when surfing the web.

                  Whatever the reason, we may think that we are totally in the clear with Private Browsing on Safari and the other browsers on a Mac. However, a quick Terminal command can bring up every website you’ve visited. How do you do this? Also, how do you clear your tracks for good? We will provide both answers and more today.

                    What Does Private Browsing Do?

                    When activated, Private Browsing on Safari prevents your browsing history from being kept in the history tab of the application. Along with this, it doesn’t autofill information that you have saved in the browser. In this mode, you essentially become incognito and any references of previous use is essentially hidden when you are in private mode.

                    For example: if you are on Facebook or filling out a form and some information or your login is already filled in in the spaces provided, this is called autofill. It’s activated by simply clicking Safari next to the Apple symbol in the menubar and selecting Private Browsing, then clicking “OK” to the prompt.

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                    The reasons behind private mode differ for each individual. While we won’t go into all of those reasons, one thing that is  important to remember is that private browsing doesn’t forget the websites you visit. As we will see later on, Macs keep a second copy of the websites you visit in either mode. If you are in frantic mode looking for a solution to this, look no further.

                    The Terminal Archive

                    While Safari does a good job of keeping your search history out of prying eyes in the history tab, there is a less-than-obvious way to view a full list of visited websites on Mac. This is done in Terminal; the command-line emulator that allows you to make changes to your Mac.

                    Terminal is located in the Utilities folder on your Mac. Once activated, simply add the command:

                    dscacheutil -cachedump -entries Host

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                    Once you hit “enter”, a list of the visited sites appear. Showing only the domains, the sites appear in a format of:

                    Key: h_name :(website domain)ipv4 :1

                    However, there’s no need to fear—there is a way you can clear this information from Terminal with a command that’s just as simple.

                    Clearing Your Tracks

                    Just as simply as you were able to enter the command to view the websites, you can clear the cache that Terminal showed you with the comamnd:

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                    dscacheutil -flushcache

                    As the command denotes, this literally “flushes” the domains from Terminal. This does not prevent the record from continuing to be recorded for future sites, however, so if that’s an issue for you, repeat this process regularly.

                    Other Browsers and Private Browsing

                    Other browsers have this form of privacy mode for their service. They promise many of the same things as Safari, but they do not have the same Terminal issue due to how this command only presents websites visited on Safari (the browser Macs come shipped with).

                    If you use Firefox, you’ll notice that its private mode is also known as Private Browsing. Chrome calls private mode Incognito, while Internet Explorer refers to it as InPrivate Browsing. Opera is the newest to the scene, denoting it as Private Tab. Safari is the oldest well-known browser with this feature.

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                    As you can see, despite Private Browsing not being 100% private, Terminal allows for your browser to be. In what ways has Terminal helped your life or allowed you to become more productive? Let us know in the comments below.

                    Featured photo credit: Benjamin Dada via unsplash.com

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