15 Sep 10 Basic Tips & Tricks For New Mac Owners
- Learn to use the dock
The “dock” is that ribbon down at the bottom of your screen. It holds the icons of the programs you use the most.
First of all, clean it up! Click and hold on any dock icon you don’t use and then slide the mouse over to the “options” to see the option to remove it. That keeps your dock from becoming too cluttered.
When you’re using a program, its icon will appear on the dock while it’s open. If you think you’re going to be using that program a lot, again, click and hold on the icon until the “options” window comes up. Slide over to “options” and then select “keep in dock.”
Then it will always be there when you need it.
- Move the dock to the right-hand side of your screen
Here’s a more important trick. Go up to your Apple menu in the top left-hand corner of the screen and go to “dock.” There’s a “position on right” option. That moves the dock over on the right-hand side of the screen.
Why do this? Because there’s a lot more unused territory to the right of your screen. Keeping the dock on the bottom uses up valuable reading space.
- Keep your desktop clean
Here’s a quirk about Macs. When you clutter up the desktop, the speed goes down noticeably.
That’s why I create a folder called “Misc Desktop” on my desktop and every once in a while I move the random icons sitting on my desktop into it. This trick keeps the Mac running fast, and I know where those random docs and pics are when I go back and look for them.
To create a new folder on the desktop, hold down CTRL on the keyboard and click on any blank desktop space. Select “New Folder” and then give it a name. Then just click and drag icons and programs over to it. That’s it!
- Master the trackpad
Here’s a quick and essential early move for every new Mac laptop user. Go to the Apple Menu in the top-left corner of the screen. Select “System Preferences” and on the second line of icons, look for and select “Trackpad.”
Apple provides you with fun mini videos to demonstrate some of the creative ways you can manipulate the desktop with different finger swipes. Learn ’em early and your experience with the Mac will be all the more enjoyable.
- Fly the flag!
This one’s strictly cosmetic, but I like it. Go to the Apple Menu and call up System Preferences again. On the second row, click on “Keyboard.”
There are a row of buttons; the last is “input sources.” Click on that and down at the bottom of that page you’ll see a clickbox labeled “Show Input menu in menu bar.” Click on that and – voila! – a tiny American flag will appear on your menu bar.
- A different way to cycle
All computer users, PCs or Macs, should remember the reliable “Command + Tab” trick. Try it – thumb on the CMD button, first finger on the Tab button.
You’ll see all your open programs appear in front of you. Hit the Tab key a few more times and you’ll cycle through your open programs. Becoming proficient at this little trick will really make your life easier, saving you from years of poking around all the open windows on your screen.
One other thing: Hit CMD + Tab once quickly, and then again, and you’ll note that all of a sudden you’re toggling between your most recently used programs. It’s a great way to, say, write and email and check for info on the Web on a browser as you do.
Here’s a difference Mac users need to know: On the Mac, hitting CMD + tilde – that’s the key right above the Tab button that looks like ~ – will cycle you through the open windows in one program – Word documents or Web browser windows.
- The search is on!
The little magnifying glass at the upper right-hand corner of the screen is how you search for things inside your Mac. Apple calls it “Spotlight.” Going back to System Preferences again, look for the “Spotlight” icon.
You can assign any key combination you want to call up the search window – I use CMD + Spacebar. A few tries and you’ll find it’s a quick and easy way to search for that file you’re looking for. Mac indexes the content of your files as well, incidentally, so you can search for words inside documents.
- Show off your music
Macs have beautiful screensavers, just as Windows computers do. But music fans have a Mac-only option that always brings a smile.
Back in Apple Menu>>System Preferences, click on “Desktop & Screen Saver.”
Under “Screensaver,” scroll down until you see “iTunes Artwork.” This makes your screensaver a collage of record album covers you have in your computer’s music collection.
Note that you can also set “hot corners.” By dragging your mouse down to the bottom right corner of the screen, say, you can trigger the screensaver to start immediately. Enjoy!
- Password-protect it!
Open up the Apple Menu once more and go to System Preferences and then Security & Privacy. Under the “General” tab, make sure you have a password selected. Then click the box to require a password to get back in after your screensaver has started.
It’s smart to do this even if you live alone. If your computer or laptop is stolen, your data won’t be sitting there for the taking.
- Get automatic updates
Once more to the Apple Menu and System Preferences. (I hope you’re picking up that there are a lot of powerful things to do in there!