Mac OS X Tips and Tricks

For all you Mac enthusiasts out there, this is your time to shine with tips galore. We all know your Mac can do millions of things, but sometimes even the best of us forget some of the really cool stuff it can do for us. Below is a few of the 50 popular tips in my arsenal.

Disclaimer – much to my disappointment, I must emphasize that some of these tips need recent versions of OS X such as OS X 10.10 Yosemite or OS X 10.11 El Capitan, but not all them do. Some are tips that Apple has slipped into upgrades that you may have totally missed, while others may be classic “aha” moments of “I totally forgot you could do that!”

  1. Making your Mac Talk and Listen

A feature in OS X 10.8, is Mac’s ability to talk to and listen to you. (Unlike my kids who never seem to listen but certainly enjoy the art of speaking their minds.) While these are often pinned as accessibility features, they can be useful tools for everyone. We are all guilty of shooting off an email without proofreading or attaching a document we scanned over too quickly. As humans we have a tendency to ‘auto-fill’ words as we proofread our own work. Instead, select the text and go to Edit> Speech> Start Speaking. You may control the speed and select from a variety of preloaded voices in the Dictation and Speech System preference pane.

If you find that you use this feature often, enabling a keyboard shortcut is the best option. The default shortcut is Option + Esc, but you can change this in the Dictation and Speech pane.

Your Mac is also a good listener. In OS X 10.8 you can also dictate text anywhere you would normally type. Using the default options in Mac, simply press the Function key twice and then start talking. No need for those bloated overpriced Text to Speech programs; Mac has it built in.

  1. Signing PDFs Without Printing and Scanning

We may be brainiacs of the 21st century,  but we are still signing hard copies of all manner of things. When you are emailed a PDF to sign and email back, you know the routine. Open, print, sign, scan, reply and attach. Mac users can avoid all this and actually sign the PDF right in the email.

Drag a PDF into the email you’re sending, hover over it, then at the top right you’ll see a little button appear. Click it and you get a range of Markup options, including an option for signing documents. You can also add your signature by holding a signed piece of paper up to your webcam. Mac does a great job of cutting it out of the background. You can also sign with your trackpad. If you have an iPad stylus, you can use that instead of your finger.

  1. Import with Image Capture

Mac users sometimes overlook Preview’s power features and almost always ignore Image Capture completely. Before you spend your family’s fortune on bloatware apps that bog down your computer with worthless software, you may want to revisit Image Capture in your Utilities folder. This Mac default program allows you to control most modern scanners (including the ones built into multi-function printers) both wireless and wired. You can also import from digital cameras, including the iOS devices.

Open Image Capture and pop up the panel at the bottom left corner for extra options. Here is where you tell your Mac which app should launch when you connect your devices (including ‘none’.) For example; you could launch Aperture when you connect your digital camera, but launch nothing when you dock your iPhone.

We still have 47 more cool tips, but we can’t list them all here at once. Keep checking back for more great Mac and Windows tips in future articles.

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