Rooting out Mac OS X hidden features

As part of a longer article about hidden features in hardware and software, Mac OS X is mentioned by Katie Hafner for The New York Times:

Some hidden features, though useful, are too obscure to merit space in a manual, printed or otherwise. Consider the summarizing service that is part of Apple Computer’s OS X operating system. The program will take any document and reduce it to a pithy precis. Yet Apple does not advertise the feature and mentions it only briefly in its online manual.

The summarizing feature is only one of many that are left for the consumer to discover. Each new Macintosh comes with what Apple calls an “up and running” manual, a 30-page booklet that points out basics.

“There are so many hidden gems,” said Ken Bereskin, the director of OS X product marketing at Apple. One such nugget resides on the calculator that comes with the Macintosh. Not only is the calculator buried inside the applications folder, but deep within the functions of the calculator is a currency converter that automatically updates conversion rates.

Full article here.

This reminds us of our article (9/25/2002) about “How to use Mac OS X to zoom in and out with ease” which we will repeat here for those who don’t yet know about this “hidden feature.”

Ever want to peer at something a little more closely, but don’t want to stop, change display properties to a lower resolution, look at whatever it is, then change display properties back to your normal resolution? You don’t have to – if you have Jaguar or Panther. Mac OS 10.2 introduced a lovely new Zoom feature designed for people who need the ability to zoom in and out at will, which covers pretty much all of us:

[Command,Option,*] toggles Zoom on and off. That’s “Apple, Option, Asterisk” in English.
[Command,Option,+] zooms in, centering on the cursor position when Zoom is on. “Apple, Option, Plus Sign”
[Command,Option,-] zooms out. “Apple, Option, Minus Sign”

That’s it! And it zooms waaaaaaaaaaaaay in. Try it. It will zoom out to your display’s current resolution, as you would expect. If you move the cursor while “zoomed” in, you will scroll around the screen. By the way, it’s a neat trick to play on a fellow Mac OS X user – just jump on his or her machine when they’re not looking and zoom really far in, leave it that way and watch them try to figure it out. More options for other accessibility capabilities are in the “Universal Access” pane of System Preferences.


  1. “There are so many hidden gems,” said Ken Bereskin, the director of OS X product marketing at Apple. One such nugget resides on the calculator that comes with the Macintosh. Not only is the calculator buried inside the applications folder, but deep within the functions of the calculator is a currency converter that automatically updates conversion rates.

    I love that feature. I use it all the time.

  2. That Zoom feature is a must-have for primo porn watching. Instead of distorting video in small player windows by resizing it with the player, it’s much clearer to leave it at its native size and Zoom into it with Mac OS X. Now where’s my hand lotion?

  3. Another one is the word auto-complete popup. In the middle of typing a word, press option-esc and a scrolling popup with up to 100 words which complete the typed characters appears. You can then click the word you want.

  4. Of interest to PornWatcher and Webbyswim:

    The news that Apple Computer is to follow Microsoft in producing an operating tailored to media management has been widely welcomed by analysts. Microsoft’s Media Center OS launched to much applause over a year ago but has gained little traction as yet, computer makers HP and Gateway said that the market is growing and would continue to grow as consumers became aware of the benefits the platform provides. The majority of consumers interviewed in a street survey said they were unaware of Microsoft’s Media Centre and believed Apple computer’s Mac OS X to be superior for managing digital media. When asked to comment Microsoft admitted that they had failed to communicate the benefit to customers in their marketing, a matter they are to re-address with a $3Bn marketing campaign.

    Apple’s immediate response to Windows Media Center was to dismiss it, now it seems they are changing their tune. Learning from Microsoft’s mistakes Apple’s version of Media Center has market focus and Apple are confident they can hit the sweet spot. Recent versions of Apple’s operating system, Mac OS X, have been named after cats, the current itteration being Panther with Tiger expected in the fall. The special digital media version also has a cat moniker, ‘Pussy’, no surprise then that the market Apple has identified is digital pornography.

    Pornography is a fascinating business, and I mean the business rather than the content. Always in the forefront of new technology, high quality paper and printing, then 35mm film, video tape, CD-ROMs and DVD it came as no suprise to industry watchers that pornography was the first business category to be profitable on the internet and still it leads the industry. “With around 30% of all images on the web, the most used search terms and almost universal interest it is surprising [that] technology companies have been so relcutant to openly embrace the [market]”, said Rob Enderle, the technology analcyst(TM).

    Paul Thurrott, of Paul Thurrott’s Internet Nexus, was less sure the software would be successful, “Apple is already strongest in the graphic creation market anyway, and in the consumer market most winkers use Windows and are unlikely to switch (, they’re mostly looking for cheap thrills”.

  5. Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, pointed out that whilst people readily acknowledge that there are many pornography companies on the internet they didn’t immediately recognise these companies only exist because they have customers, “there are tens of millions of customers for digital imaging, movies and audio out there, it’s not just the content creators, the consumers need great tools to manage all that media they have downloaded”, he said.

    Preliminary indications are that the software will have an iTunes like interface enabling easy sorting, categorisation and finding of images. The ability to automatically reject poor quality images is integral, based upon technology for the junk mail filter from Apple’s widely acclaimed Automatic context searching for images, a technology available elsewhere has been subject to the usual Apple refinement of ease of use. Images are analysed for content and are automatically sorted in to standard categories like Big Tots, Wet Drams and Soft F-cus. Users can also create their own categories and rules, a definite bonus for those who think differently.

    Apple as usual has refused to comment about complimentary hardwear despite rumours of a ‘Rod’ computer to replace the failed Cube, and a headless iMac shaped rather more alike a part of the female anatomy (with the power button right on top, just where you’d expect to find it).

  6. “Ken Bereskin, the director of OS X product marketing at Apple”

    Off topic here, but Apple markets OS X??? If this guy is in charge of the marketing effort for OS X then he should be let go.

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