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Power Up Your Mac With These Simple Hacks

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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.

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        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 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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