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Top 10 Mac OS X Tips

Top 10 Mac OS X Tips


    Ever watch someone who really knows how to use a Mac and OS X? Sometimes it just seems like magic how they can make windows move, images appear, apps launch, and all kinds of cool stuff—and their fingers never even seem to leave the keyboard. I can’t claim to know that many Mac tips and tricks, but I do have a bunch of tricks up my sleeve that you might find useful. Some of these are pretty common and a few a little obscure, but they will all do something great that you bring you a step closer to being a Jedi Master of your Mac.

    Yes, padawan, here are my top 10 Mac OS X tips:

    1. Shift-Click Maximize Button to Fill Screen

    You know the red button on a window is close and the yellow one is minimize and the green one is maximize, right? Okay, so you also know that some apps (like Chrome and Word) don’t fill the entire screen when you click the maximize button. Sure that’s find most of the time, but sometimes you actually want the window to fill the screen. Next time you want the current window to fill the entire screen, just hold down the shift key when you click the button. Poof! Big window!

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    2. Terminal Tricks—Purge

      One of the essential tools in a Mac Jedi’s toolkit is Terminal. Oh Terminal, such power you hold over the entire system. A lot of people are a wee skittish about using Terminal. All the horror stories of people typing rm * in the wrong place and wiping out their Mac will have that effect on people. Okay, fair enough, but here’s a simple command that will…well it’s pretty cool. The command is “purge” and it does one very simple thing—it frees up RAM on your machine. As your Mac is running and you’re launching apps, surfing the web, and all the normal stuff you do on your Mac, RAM (memory) is allocated to do that. Sometimes when an app has been running for a while it doesn’t release all the RAM it was given, even if it doesn’t need it any more. Before I learned this tip I would just reboot my Mac if RAM was running short (and I had quit all the apps I didn’t need), but with purge… Purge forces apps to release RAM they might be holding on to (that they don’t need). All you need to do is launch Terminal from your Utilities folder and type “purge” (no quotes) at the prompt and hit return. It’s 100% safe and can get back a bunch of RAM. I’ve gone from a few megs of few RAM to a couple gigs in a few seconds! (Important: While purge is running your Mac will be unresponsive for a minute. Don’t worry! This is normal and okay!)

      3. Launch Spotlight with Command-Space

      Looking for something? You know Spotlight can help you quickly find files, emails, look up words, even launch apps…but do you know that a quick tap on command-space will open up Spotlight on the menubar for you to start typing? Simple as that you can quickly type command-space then something like safari then return and launch Safari…and your fingers didn’t even touch the mouse! Want to turn that up to an 11? Then just download Alfred for free from the Mac App store and do all this and more! Once you do, don’t forget my 10 Awesome Alfred Tips!

      4. Drop Files onto the Dock to Open in an App

      I like to keep Preview as my default app for opening images. Preview is pretty fast and easy when I need a quick look at something (or just need to resize the image quickly), but when I want to edit an image I use Acorn. So how do I open an image in Acorn? You’re thinking, launch Acorn, go to the File menu… Nope, easier. I have Acorn on my Dock all the time, so all I need to do is drag and drop an image file onto the icon and … Acorn launches (or comes to the front) and the image is opened! This trick works with just about all apps and can save you a ton of time.

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      5. Custom App Stacks

        My dock was getting pretty cluttered. Lots of apps that I “needed”, but you know I didn’t use them all that often. So I made a custom App stack for them. This is a multi-step process:

        1. Make a folder somewhere (I made it in ~/Applications which is different than the system-wide Applications folder (see tip 7 for more on these directories).
        2. Open your Applications folder in another Finder window.
        3. You’re going to make aliases to your real apps in this step. Hold down command and option and drag an app you want quick access to and drop it in the folder you made.
        4. Repeat for as many apps as you wish
        5. Drag the folder with all the aliases to the right side of your Dock, just to the left of the Trash.
        6. Enjoy! That’s it. The folder will have aliases to all your apps!

        6. Remove Icons from the Menu Bar

        I know we like to have icons on our Menu bar, but sometimes it gets a little crowded. For some icons on your Menu bar (mostly System related ones), just hold down the command key, click the icon and drag it off the Menu bar! Come on, you don’t really need the volume/speaker icon there did you?

        7. Get to your Library Folder

        One of the “improvements” in Lion was to hide your Library folder from you. Okay, I get it. You shouldn’t need to muck about in your Library very often, but hey sometimes you do. Sometimes you need to clean out stubborn files or something. Here’s the easy way to get to your Library folder (and the Applications folder from tip 5 too). With the Finder active hit command-shift-g and you’ll get a Go to folder: window. Just put “~/Library/” (no quotes) and click Okay. That’s it. For tip five use ~/Applications/ instead.

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        8. Finder Sidebar

        Since we’re talking about the Finder, I’m sure you noticed all those folders and items on the left side of your Finder windows (if not go to the Finder and from the View menu and select “Show Toolbar”). You know you can add your own folders there right? Yeah, just drag any folder to the side and that’s it. Now the cool part isn’t just that you now have one-click access to that folder, but anything you drop onto that folder will be copied or moved there! Nice!

        9. Take a Screenshot

        Ever need to take a screenshot of something on your screen? Maybe it’s an error, maybe it’s just a graphic, but you need it…but how? Easy. Command-shift–3 will take a picture of the entire screen and command-shift–4 will let you select a part of the screen or a window. Of course if you want to step things up, just download Skitch for free and crank up your screenshots a few notches.

        10. Control the Apps that Launch at Startup

          You know after a while your Mac seems to be taking longer and longer to finish starting up. Oh you see the Desktop okay, but then app after app loads. You have control over this. Just go to System Preferences -> Users and Groups. Then look for the Login Items button. Yep those are all the apps that launch for me. But if I get tired of waiting for one app or another to start, I just select the app from the list and click the “-”. Gone! Faster startup here I come!

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          These are just a few of the tricks I have up my sleeve. I’m sure you have a few you’ve picked up over the years, so…

          What are your favorite OS X tips? Share them in the comments below.

          (Photo credit: Question Mark on Mac Keyboard via Shutterstock)

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          Last Updated on October 16, 2019

          11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

          11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

          Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

          Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

          Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

          In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

          1. ScheduleOnce

            ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

            ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

            ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

            Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

            Available on Web

            2. Calendly

              Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

              You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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              Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

              3. Assistant.to

                For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

                From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

                While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

                Available on Web

                4. Acuityscheduling

                  Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

                  It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

                  Available on Web | iOS | Android

                  5. Pick

                    Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

                    At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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                    Available on Web

                    6. X.ai

                      For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

                      This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

                      Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

                      Available on Web

                      7. YouCanBook.me

                        is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                        They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                        Available on Web

                        8. Doodle

                          Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                          It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                          You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                          While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                          Available on Web | iOS | Android

                          9. WhenAvailable

                            WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                            Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                            Available on Web

                            10. Rally

                              Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                              Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                              Available on Web

                              11. NeedtoMeet

                                Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                                NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                                While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                                Available on Web

                                Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                                In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                                To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                                Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                                A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                                Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                                If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                                Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                                With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                                The Bottom Line

                                Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                                Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                                Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                                Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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