8 Mac Hacks You Can Use to Stop Wasting Your Machine’s Time | Hacker Noon

June 3rd 2020

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@kunalKunal Mishra

Tech Writer. Creating Graphics. Theciva.

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There’s always a smarter way to do anything. And this definitely applies to how you use your Mac. 

No matter how experienced you’re, there are still a bunch of productivity-boosting tricks built right into your Mac and yet you don’t know them. These macOS tricks can mean the difference between doing a thing in two clicks and doing it in seven clicks. 

And you know what the best part is? You don’t need to download a single app on your Mac to use any of these tricks. Most of them take little to no time to learn but save a lot more time.

Plus, I’m giving Pro Tips to explore an even smarter usage of the tricks, from my personal experience using macOS. 

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1. Text Shortcuts

You can save a ton of time by using text shortcuts instead of a long word or a hard-to-find symbol. If there’s a word, phrase or symbol you use often, then you can create a shortcut key for it.

Like I can assign a shortcut like ‘ste’ for my website’s URL which is ‘theciva.wordpress.com’. So the next time I don’t have to write the whole URL again rather I can write just ‘ste’ and macOS will replace it with the URL.

It’s basically telling your Mac to replace <a shortcut word> with a <text>.

How to create a text shortcut?

  1. You need to head to System Preferences and go to Keyboard.
  2. Then, click open the Text tab.
  3. There you’ll see a table with two columns heads that read ‘Replace’ and ‘With’.
  4. How to create a text shortcut? // Credits: Kunal Mishra

So, for example, if I want to a shortcut word for the command symbol (⌘):

I’ll add a shortcut word such as ‘cky’ in the Replace column.I’ll add the symbol (⌘) in the With column,

This will tell the keyboard to replace the word ‘cky’ with ‘⌘’.

Some tips you should consider:

  • Make sure the shortcut word isn’t any common word. Earlier, I used ‘co’ as the shortcut word for that symbol. But it gave me trouble when I had to write something else that starts with ‘co’ as well.
  • Don’t worry; it won’t affect anything you’ve written previously.

PRO TIP: You can set up a shortcut word for emojis with this trick. I have set up the emoji ‘’ with the shortcut word ‘haha’. This is a super handy trick when I’m in any messaging app.

2. Watch A Video While Working With Picture-In-Picture

There are times when you want to watch a video while working on another window. macOS’s Picture-In-Picture aka PIP tool is an extremely useful tool for this.

You can do this on any browser. I’m using Safari right now.

How to enable PiP on YouTube videos? // Credits: Kunal Mishra

  1. Just open the YouTube/Vimeo (or some other web video player) video you want to play.
  2. Move the cursor to the video and double click with only one finger on your trackpad. Or double left-click on a mouse.
  3. Then select ‘Enter Picture in Picture

Done. You’ll have a floating box in a corner of your screen. You can then open any other app or window.

If you want to play any downloaded video on PiP, then:

  1. Open Safari
  2. Press 

     +

    O

    and select the video file you want to watch

  3. Note that you won’t be able to select the video file directly. You’ll have to press the play button on its icon first.
  4. Then single click with two fingers or right-click if you’re on a mouse and select ‘Enter Picture in Picture’.
PRO TIP: An easy method to do the above is to download IINA player. It lets you play videos in PiP and it supports almost all video extensions.

3. Increase Or Decreases Volume In Smaller Amounts

Your Mac’s volume bar consists of 16 blocks and when you increase (

F12

) or decrease the volume (

F11

) once, it goes up or down one block.

But the 16 blocks aren’t always sufficient especially when you have massive speakers where the difference of each block matters. For that case, you might want to turn up or down your volume with smaller increments.

Press 

Option

 + 

Shift

 + 

F1

/

F2

 and you can turn the volume up or down by 1/4 block, not one block.

How to increase/decrease volume in smaller amounts? // Credits: Kunal Mishra

PRO TIP: You can do the same with the brightness control keys. Just press 

Option

+

Shift

+

F11

/

F12

.

4. Hidden Autocomplete

Times are when you don’t know the exact spelling of any word. That’s where autocomplete helps you. You type in the first few letters of the word and it tells you a list of words making it easier for you to choose the one you want.

But do you know there’s an autocomplete feature called QuickType built right into your Mac? All you need to do is to press 

Option

 + 

Esc

 after typing out the first letter or two of the word.

Using Hidden Autocomplete on a Mac // Credits: Kunal Mishra

The problem with this trick is that it only works in macOS’s inbuilt apps like TextEdit and Notes.

PRO TIP: Pressing 

Option

 + 

Esc

 without writing any letter will tell you suggested list of words you can use. For example, if you’re starting a new sentence, and you press 

Option

 + 

Esc

, you’ll see suggestions like ‘I’, ‘They’, ‘There’ etc.

5. In-built Emoji Keyboard

Typing out an emoji on a Mac is way easier than doing it on a Windows PC because Mac has a native emoji keyboard. You can bring it up with 

Control

+

+

Space

.

Using Emoji Keyboard // Credits: Kunal Mishra

  • It lets you search for emojis.
  • You can also assign some emojis as favourites so they remain at the top.
  • It also shows a section for recently used emojis.

PRO TIP: Tap on the window-like icon beside the search bar and you’ll find the character viewer. This little box shows you more than just emojis. It has all sorts of characters from arrows and bullets to math symbols and pictographs.

6. Mac Screenshot Guide

Taking a screenshot or recording your screen on a Mac is quite easy if you know the right way to do it. So this trick is about all the ways to you can take a screenshot or screen record on a Mac:

  • Take A Screenshot Quickly: For a quick and easy screenshot, you just need to press 

    +

    Shift

    +

    3

    /

    4

     and it’s done.

  • Screenshot Like A Pro: The above trick is the quickest way you click a screenshot but you don’t have much customisation options. If you want to click a screenshot of only one window or only a certain part of your screen then you should press 

    +

    Shift

    +

    5

     and it will show you a bunch of options to screenshot.
    You can specify the area of the screen you want to screenshot or screen-record.

PRO TIP: After pressing, 

+

Shift

+

5

 tap on Options and you’ll see options to:

  • Set where your screenshots will be saved
  • Set a timer for screenshots
  • Show a thumbnail of the screenshot just after it’s clicked in the bottom right of the screen
  • Show or not the mouse pointer in the image

7. The Easy Way To Uninstall Apps

Despite overall user-friendliness of macOS, uninstalling an app has always been a problem for most users. Many Mac users find it irritating to go to the Applications folder and then delete the app.

But not many users know that macOS offers an easy way to uninstall apps. Just open the Launchpad by pressing 

F4

 (Or 

Fn

+

F4

) and press and hold the 

Option

 key.

Just like in iOS, the apps will start trembling and an ‘X’ icon will appear on them. You can click that icon to delete the app.

The easy way to uninstall apps // Credits: Kunal Mishra

But some apps can’t be deleted this way. For example, Chrome and Spotify.

8. Look Up For Meanings Definitions Instantly

Sometimes you may be reading an article on a very niche-specific topic that has some terms or abbreviations you don’t know. You, then, have to Google it. Even worse, if you’re offline.

But thankfully, macOS comes with a preinstalled offline dictionary. And the best part of this trick is how easy it is to see the meaning of any word. All you need to do is to hover your cursor over the word and tap on the trackpad with three fingers.

Using Look Up to search the meaning of a word // Credits: Kunal Mishra

  • In case, you use a mouse, you can right-click over the word and select Look Up “<the word>”.
  • Another easier way to do this to keep your cursor over the word and press 

    +

    control

    (⌃)+

    D

     .

PRO TIP: After the meaning of the term shows up, scroll down and you’ll find an option that reads ‘Configure dictionaries’. Tap on it and select all the dictionaries of all the languages you work in. There are dictionaries many languages including Dutch, French, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Hindi etc.

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