Sweet OS X secrets Mac users will want to use

“I could write about how Apple is crushing Samsung and Xiaomi, predict a massive Mac sales spike, or let you know some of the new features of the Apple Watch, but I didn’t want to today,” Jonny evans writes for Computerworld.

“Instead,” evans writes, “I thought I’d assemble a small but sweet collection of Mac OS X tricks I think you’ll use.”

• Apple Dictionary
• Small volume
• Summarize
• Head of the queue
• The great dictator
• Better screengrabs
• Command
• Keyboard tip
• One more thing…

Sweet OS X secrets Mac users will want to use here.


    1. While some people take delight in discovering features that they never knew about, I find it disappointing that Apple doesn’t bother to tell users about them. An OS is not supposed to be an easter egg hunt. Apple needs to put serious effort into its help menus and start writing complete product manuals again. Especially now that Ive has hidden the meaning of everything under a wash of white and grey ugliness and unintuitive buried submenu locations.

      1. Exactly.
        Apple has also been steadily dumbing down the UI by hiding stuff that used to be in plain sight through System Prefs and such. Unless you know the magic key combo it is lost to you.

      2. First thing I do with a new/update app/OS/ is peruse the README (as Apple has virtually included with everything they produce.

        From there, the Manuals and/or Support pages. Everything hint that was posted here is in Yosemite’s OS X Support site for example, as well as accessible from the HELP menus.*

        Amazing how much you can learn by clicking the “?” button at the bottom right corner of virtually every app/system Preferences… pane

        * http://www.apple.com/support/osx/

      3. Mike, please don’t be surprised, and don’t blame Jonathan Ive. If you’re new to OS-X, or the Mac OS before it, easter eggs have always been a part of the system. Not everything in every OS is documented, and sometimes, easter eggs are a side effect of programming. Plus, they’re called easter eggs because well, gosh darn it, they’re fun to discover.

        There is actually a wealth of documentation available for OS-X, both from Apple (especially on apple.com) and from third party authors. My hunch is that Apple has left the door open to create an industry by which tech authors can thrive. If Apple published every last detail in a vast user guide, a lot of authors would be out of work.

        And think of it this way: perhaps fanboys like us want to know everything about the Mac and OS-X. But truth be told, most people don’t. They want life to be simple, and they don’t want their heads to hurt with details (“Too much information”). And frankly, the bulk of Apple’s sales are to that large second group, not the minority of us hard-core fanboys. It’s something we tend to forget.

        Call it “dumbing-down” if you wish. I don’t. If you want to find out myriad details about OS-X, the information is out there. But I’m willing to bet that even the most hard-core programmers developing for OS-X use but a scant fraction of the possible shortcuts and other hidden items themselves, and it’s likely that you do too.

        Apple does this for a good reason: each of us are different. No two Mac users work the same way. We form habits and rarely change them. The many variations of doing things in OS-X (and other operating systems) have evolved to match our habits.

        In short, worry not. The world won’t end because of something you thought was hidden specifically to annoy you, and you alone. Jonathan Ive is not out to get you.

        Oh, and have a nice weekend.

  1. The Dictation feature has to first be turned ON in the Dictation & Speech Preferences pane. You can use Dictation offline if you check the ‘Use Enhanced Dictation’ box, although it will require adding 785 MB of data to your drive. You can also change the activation shortcut key if you like.

    1. Regarding dictionaries, I’m loony for them! Here’s what I do:

      1) I have a keyboard command set up for Apple’s Dictionary to bring it up on screen instantly. I have it set to appear on the right of my screen.
      2) I have a keyboard command set up for OmniDictionary. It always defaults to the left of the screen.
      3) I have a second instance of the OmniDictionary app I renamed ‘OmniDictionary 2’. It also has its own keyboard command. It always appears on top of the first instance of OmniDictionary, so I move it over to the middle of my screen.

      WHY do I do this? Because I often go into word brainstorm mode and want to look up several words at the same time. Bouncing between all three is incredibly useful! Example: If I’m trying to look up a synonym in one pane I can look up one of the listed synonyms in another pane. If that dictionary app doesn’t have that synonym listed I can check the OTHER dictionary! I run into this a lot with old and obscure words.

      NOTE: Omni Group has discontinued OmniDictionary and you can’t get it from them any longer. The version at Archive.org is ancient and useless. However, you can get the last version, v2.0.4, adware free from Softonic:


      The keyboard command app I run is Quicksilver. It can be buggy and clunky to use, but is worth the effort. (Yes, I nag at the project team about bugs regularly).

  2. One trick i just found out today was how to use 2 monitors for one window pane. You have to go into preferences for mission control and turn off “displays have separate spaces”

      1. I know. Spaces is often more of a pain than anything. Apple still doesn’t quite have it right when using multiple monitors of different resolutions or in extended mode. Can’t figure out why opening a window isn’t reliably at the same size and position. Window opening for me happens at random on different screens.

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