Hidden Mac Features
Discovering Mac OS X Secrets
A friend of mine once asked me why I was a fan of the Mac and not PC. In a phrase, my answer was, “because Macs just work.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I wish it was possible to just _____ on a computer.” The majority of the time I can bring out my Macbook Pro and show them just how easy it is to do so. Or, someone will be watching me over my shoulder and see me perform a function and say “Whoa, how did you do that?” I take great joy in showing them, and then watching them shake their heads or make the statement that they wished their computer would do the same!
The majority of the time, most users pull their computer out of the box and start using it for the purpose that they bought it for and never look back. They usually never dive into the world of power users and try to discover exactly what their computer is capable of. When they do discover a cool “trick” it opens their eyes for a brief moment and usually spawns a lot of Google searching to see what other “tricks” they can do with their computer. So, I decided to put together a list of some of the coolest features that the Mac can do. These are all built-in features that the average user is usually unaware of. So, here they are!
The dictionary has been a part of OS X 10.4 or commonly known as Tiger. For those that do a lot of writing, especially students, this feature can be quite handy. There is no need to open Google and do a search for a particular word or keep a separate app open for definitions.This works for any native application for the Mac. It does not work for Mozilla software such as Firefox though.
Simply hover the mouse pointer over the word in question and press CTRL+Command+D
A box will open right there with the definition of the word. If you require more info, such as a synonym, you can click on the “More” button in the lower right hand corner and the Dictionary App will open giving you access to more tools.
2. Inverting Colors
Personally I have not found a use for this particular feature, but people I know who are big into photography say it is very useful when looking a photographs.
The above key combination will invert the colors of your entire screen. Press the combination once more to put everything back to normal.
3. Text Clipping
This is one of my favorite features of the Mac. Basically it’s the speedy way of copy and pasting.
Simply highlight the text you want to copy and then drag it wherever you need it.
You can drag it to an email for example, or you can drag it to your desktop and your Mac will automatically create a text file with the text. No muss, no fuss.
4. Screen Capture
This is a great feature that I pretty much use on a daily basis. There are actually three different ways to do a screen capture.
First Method – captures the entire screen.
You will hear a camera sound, and the screen capture will be saved to your desktop as a PNG file with a date and time stamp.
Second Method – lets you define the area to be captured.
Once you press the above combination your mouse pointer will turn into crosshairs and you can use your mouse to define an area. When you release the mouse button, the image is saved to your desktop.
Third Method – lets you capture the image to your clipboard.
Command+CTRL+SHIFT+3 for the whole screen.
Command+CTRL+SHIFT+4 to select an area.
If you need to copy and paste and image into an email or Word document, this is the best way to do it.
5. Download YouTube or Web Videos
All you YouTube watchers, this one is for you. Ever wanted to download that cool video you just found? You don’t need third party apps or plugins to do this. It is a built-in function of Safari.
This will bring up Safari’s activity window. To download the video, simply double-click on the file. Usually it has the same name as the video, but if not, it will usually be the largest file listed.
6. Fast Google Search
This is just flat out a cool way to perform Google searches.
Highlight your search term, and then press Command+Shift+L
Safari will open up with your search results in Google. One note though, it does not seem to work if the text you highlight is inside a browser.
7. Auto Type Only When You Need It
Typing a document or letter and need a suggestion for a word?
Simply start typing your word and then press F5 for a list of suggestions.
8. Slow Motion Animations
This one is pretty cool to watch, but usually goes too slow for practical use. I have found it useful when making videos though.
Simply hold the SHIFT key while clicking.
For example, when you click the yellow button on a window, it minimizes the window and you see the animation of the window shrinking and going to your Dock. This will slow that animation down.
Every now and then you may need to summarize a particular paragraph. This is a great feature that I have found useful from time to time.
Highlight the text you want to summarize, then go to the menu for that particular app and select Services->Summarize. You can then use the slider control to determine how “summarized” it gets.
If for some reason you do not see the Summarize option, you may need to turn it on. You can do this from Services->Services Preferences. Simply scroll down until you see the Summarize entry and checkmark it.
You can create a slideshow of selected pictures.
Simply highlight all of the pictures you want to include, then press the Space bar.
Well, there you have it. These are ten of the coolest hidden features that Mac OS X has. Even if you don’t find a use for them in your daily routine, they are always great for that “Wow” factor. Next time a PC user is trying to show off their latest application or whatever, break out a few of these gems and watch their jaws drop!