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Power Up Your Mac With These Simple Hacks

Power Up Your Mac With These Simple Hacks

These simple Mac hacks will help you be more productive in OSX. By learning keyboard shortcuts, built in applications, and the Terminal, you will change the way you work, for the better. I’ve rounded up some of the simple hacks that I’ve found most useful over the years, and a few of the more obscure ones that are not as scary as they look.

Keyboard shortcuts

There a lots of keyboard shortcuts that make navigating your Mac easier, quicker and more productive. Here are the most useful:

The basics

  • ⌃CTRL + C for copying to the clipboard
  • ⌃CTRL + X for cutting to the clipboard
  • ⌃CTRL + V for pasting form the clipboard
  • ⌘CMD + ARROW LEFT for jumping to the beginning of a line
  • ⌘CMD + ARROW RIGHT for jumping to the end of a line
  • ⌘CMD + ⇧SHIFT + ARROW LEFT for highlighting everything to the left of the cursor
  • ⌘CMD + ⇧SHIFT + ARROW RIGHT for highlighting everything to the right of the cursor
  • ⌘CMD + A to select everything
  • ⌘CMD + Z to undo the last operation
  • ⌘CMD + ⇧SHIFT + Z to redo the last undo
  • CMD + SHIFT + 3 to save the screen as a PNG image file
  • CMD + SHIFT + 4 to save a portion of the screen as a PNG image file

Pasting without style

When you copy and past text, usually the style is retained as well. Sometimes, you only want to copy the text, and match the style of the sentence that you are pasting into. Instead of pasting into a text editor first and then copying again from there, use this shortcut. Hold down ⌘CMD + ⌥OPTION + ⇧SHIFT + V

Fine tune volume

To adjust the volume in smaller (than normal) increments hold down ⇧SHIFT and ⌥OPTION + F11 (or F12).

Silently adjust the volume

To adjust the volume without making that annoying clicking sound hold down ⇧SHIFT + F11 (or F12)

Quickly delete a file

This is probably my most used shortcut (after copy and paste). Hold down ⌘CMD + DELETE to quickly put files in the Trash.

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Use the delete button (like a PC)

If you’ve come to the Mac from a PC you might find it more than a little odd that you can only delete “backwards.” If you want to delete the characters to the right of the cursor hold down Fn + DELETE

Silently booting your Mac

Avoid the start-up sound when booting up your Mac by hold down the mute button (F10).

More audio options from the Volume icon

I make music on my Mac and this little hack is invaluable to me. Hold down ⌥OPTION and click the Volume icon to get all of the input and output options available.

Instant access to a dictionary and thesaurus

This is a newer mac hack that everybody should know about. Hold down ⌃CTRL + ⌘CMD + D while your cursor is over some text and a lovely little popup appears with a definition, a Wikipedia entry and alternative words via a thesaurus.

Terminal

The terminal in your Mac is one of the those scary places that feels like only the advanced users should tread. A few simple terminal hacks can save you a lot of time in the long run, so we’ll be careful and keep it simple.

You can find the Terminal app in your Utilities folder in Applications. Generally, with Terminal based hacks you will need to log out and then back in again.

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Free up your memory

If you feel that your Mac is running a little slow it could be that you need to free up some memory. Type “purge” into the Terminal and press return. If you want to see what is what is going on you can have open Activity Monitor at the same time. You might find it easier to use a small application like Memory Clean which makes this process even simpler and more visual.

Change default screen shot image format

Being able to grab the screen as an image is great and for most people saving in the PNG image format is fine. However some people have a preference for JPG or even PDF. With this quick hack you can change which format you want to default to.

Type:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture type file-extension

Where “file-extension” is, either jpg or png or pdf.

Where are my screen shots saved?

I find it really useful to have a folder called “screenshots” in my “Pictures” folder. Whenever I take a screen shot images get nicely organised into this folder instead of mixed in with my Desktop.

First make sure that you create a folder called “screenshots” in your Pictures folder and then type:

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defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /Users/myname/Pictures/screenshots

Application hacks

Display the date in the menu bar

How many times have you clicked the day and time to get today’s date? It’s such a simple hack. Open up Preferences, click the Date & Time icon and then click the Clock tab. Check the “Show date” box. It will instantly update the menu bar.

Date in the menu bar

    Date in the menu bar

    Instant access to foreign characters

    If you hold down a key (such as “a”) you will get a pop up with alternative versions of that character for different languages. Simply choose the one that you require by pressing the right number.

     

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    Instant access to special characters

      Instant access to special characters

      Tweet selected text instantly

      On Macs running Mountain Lion and later, you can tweet almost any text on your Mac easily. Select the text, right click it, and select Tweet (sometimes you may find it in the “services” sub menu). That’s it. Try it now on one of these hacks!

      Tweeting by right clicking

        Tweeting by right clicking

        Repair disk permissions

        When your Mac shuts down unexpectedly or a third party installer has been run, your Mac’s folder and file permissions can get a little screwed up. Generally, you won’t notice but it can affect the performance of your system. Launch the “Disk Utility” application, found in the Utilities folder inside your Applications folder.

        Repair disk permissions

          Repair disk permissions

          Summary

          I really hope that you find these useful. I know I certainly do. Of course there’s hundreds more hacks, if you have any more that you think I’ve missed, are more importnant, or that we should know about please share them in the comments.

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          Last Updated on February 15, 2019

          7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

          7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

          Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

          Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

          Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

          So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

          Joe’s Goals

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            Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

            Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

            Daytum

              Daytum

              is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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              Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

              Excel or Numbers

                If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                Evernote

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                  I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                  Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                  Access or Bento

                    If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                    Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                    You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                    Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                    All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                    Conclusion

                    I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                    What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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