50 tips to get you started with your new Mac
25th Dec 2011 | 10:00
Got a Mac for Christmas? Get up and running with these tips
50 tips for your new Mac
Apple goes to great lengths to make your Mac as easy and as intuitive to use as possible, but that doesn't mean there aren't ways in which you can improve your experience even further.
Whether you're new to Macs and looking for a friendly guide, or a long-time Mac user who's hoping to glean some new approaches to familiar tasks, there's a tweak out there to change the way you use your computer for the better.
In this article we'll reveal 50 different tips and techniques for getting the most from your Mac. We'll cover fundamental aspects of using your Mac, from using Finder to browse your files, to switching between desktops using Mission Control. We'll even show you how to give your operating system a lick of paint with some handy customising pointers.
All of the tips in this article work with OS X Lion, but the vast majority also work with Snow Leopard too. So sit back and prepare to enhance the way you use your Mac.
01. Manage what starts with your Mac
Do certain programs you rarely use insist on starting with your Mac? Or maybe you have a number of applications you always use that you'd like to start automatically when you first log on each day, saving you the bother of doing so manually.
To manage your startup items, open System Preferences > Users & Groups. Select your user account and click the Login Items tab to see what's starting with your Mac. Unwanted items can be removed by being selected and then clicking the '-' button.
To start a favourite application with your Mac, click the + button instead, then click the Application link under Favorites to locate the app you want to launch at login time. Select it and click Add. If you want the app to start in the background, tick the Hide box before closing Users & Groups.
02. A smarter way with folders
Smart folders enable you to build up customised folders containing files of a certain type, name or whatever criteria you choose. The files are left in their original location - instead the smart folder is basically a set of links to those files, so you can have the same file contained in more than one smart folder without creating copies to clutter up your hard drive.
Smart folders are created by saving the results of a search you've performed, and they can be created in a number of ways: choose File > New Smart Folder. Type your search term - a name, for example - then click the + button to start adding filters to restrict what files are displayed: for example, to search only for image files, choose Kind followed by Image. Add more filters if you wish.
Once the results are to your satisfaction, click Save, give your smart folder a name and leave Add to Sidebar ticked if you want to be able to access it from the Finder sidebar.
03. Window management tweaks
Resizing application and Finder windows can be a bit tricky, which is why Lion has introduced a number of great new features that will appeal to many.
First and foremost, you no longer need to grab a corner of the window to resize it - you can now resize by clicking and dragging on any part of the window edge. If your window is the right aspect ratio, but the wrong size, hold down the Shift key as you drag it, and it will resize proportionally. If you'd like to make it wider or taller at both ends, hold the Option key when you click and drag one edge, and the other edge will resize at the same time too.
You can also move windows when clicking on an edge by first dragging in the wrong direction - for example, drag up or down when clicking on the left or right edge. Once it's moving, you can drag the window in any direction.
04. Resize an app to full-screen
Lion introduces full-screen support, which allows supported apps to take up the entire window. Not all apps are compatible, and Snow Leopard users may be feeling a little out in the cold.
One workaround is to install a free program called Right Zoom for Mac. This little gem 'fixes' the green zoom button in selected applications or Finder windows, so when clicked the window will always resize to the full available width and height of your desktop. It's not as good as full-screen mode, but it's a decent substitute.
Once downloaded, unzip Right Zoom and drag the app to your Applications folder before launching it. You'll be prompted to configure it before use: tick Activate Right Zoom to get started and work your way through the options, which allow you to restrict its use to specified apps or when you hold the Option button as you click the green maximise button.
05. Revamp the startup screen
Fancy changing the background colour and logo that appears when your Mac boots? It's a simple procedure with a free tool called BootXChanger; it sadly doesn't work with newer Macs including the 2011 MacBook Pro, Air and Mac mini. It should work with older Macs, though, even those running Lion.
BootXChanger is refreshingly simple to use, considering what it does. Follow the link above to download the app. Once that's done, open it and then drag your choice of logo - nine alternatives are supplied in the Sample Boot Images folder - onto the program window.
Next, choose a new background colour, click Apply and reboot to see the fruits of your handiwork. You can use any square PNG image - try to keep the size down below 512x512, or as little as 90x90 if possible - but we recommend using the Chrome Apple logo with a white background for a really classy startup look.
06. Customise file and folder icons
Icons help identify what's going on, but sometimes you might feel uninspired by a particular icon being used, or find folders hard to find in a sea of identical-looking icons. The good news is that customising your icons is a simple affair with two basic choices.
The first is to assign a colour label to the selected folder or file name - choose File > Get Info in Snow Leopard, or simply pick a colour label from the File menu in Lion.
Alternatively, change the icon itself. First, locate one - it can be another file or folder icon, or an icon file (search Google for 'free mac icons'). Select the file containing your chosen icon and press Command+I. Click the icon and press Command+C, then open the Information pane for your target file or folder, select its icon and press Command+V to replace it.
07. Manage the Launchpad
Launchpad, which was introduced in Lion, was inspired by your iPhone or iPad's home screen. It gives you quickfire access to all of your apps from a single location, but it needs to be tweaked to reflect your needs before it can be deemed truly indispensable.
Start by organising your icons in the order you want them to appear. You may also want to move icons between pages: to do this, just drag the icon to the left of the screen to move it to the previous page, or the right to place it on the following page.
You may also want to restrict the Launchpad so that it only shows your choice of application. To do this requires a free program called Launchpad Control, which installs into System Preferences under Launchpad. From here, simply untick the items you wish to hide and click Apply to streamline the Launchpad. Re-tick an item to make it visible again.
08. Switch between open applications
If you've got loads of windows and apps hidden away to prevent desktop clutter, switching between them can be tricky. Hold down the Command key and press Tab to launch an icon-based task switcher.
You can use Tab and Shift+Tab to move between them, before hitting Return to switch to that application (you can also press Q to quit it, or H to hide or show its windows). Want more detail? Hit 1 and the Exposé Application Windows mode takes over. This gives you a preview of all the windows currently opened by the selected app.
Move between windows using Shift and Tab keys, using [Space] for an up-close preview of the currently selected window. Jump to the next app in the list with Command+'. Hit Return to select the current window and return to the desktop, or Esc to simply exit back to the desktop.
09. Search by Spotlight
You don't need to open Finder to initiate a search for files and documents on your hard drive: you can also search your Mac directly from the menu bar using the Spotlight magnifying glass icon in the top right-hand corner. The results appear via a drop-down menu, which are helpfully organised into file types, and clicking one opens it.
That's as far as it goes for Snow Leopard users, but Lion users should revisit the Spotlight bar as a number of useful enhancements have been added. First, you can now get a preview of any search result simply by moving the mouse over a specific file and waiting for a pop-up to appear.
Second, hold Command+Option as you roll the mouse over a file and its path will be revealed underneath the QuickLook window. Finally, hold Command as you highlight a document and the first instance of your search term will be highlighted at the same time.
10. Limit the scope of your search
By default, Spotlight (top-right of the menu bar) will search in no less than 15 categories, including various file and document types, applications and System Preferences. When you perform a search, you can narrow the results to specific file types by choosing Show all in Finder to open the results in a Finder window.
Click the + button next to Save and click the Any drop-down menu to limit your search accordingly. Want to search two or more file types? Simply click the + to add another file type to the list.
If you would like to limit future searches to specific types, resulting in faster searches, open System Preferences and choose Spotlight. Simply untick those categories that don't interest you, and Spotlight will helpfully ignore those file types in future searches.
You can also ban Spotlight from searching specific folders on your Mac: switch to the Privacy tab and either drag a folder into the window, or click + to add it manually.
11. Change your desktop background
If you're bored with the backdrop that greets you every time you boot your Mac, it's time for a change. Open System Preferences and select the Desktop & Screen Saver > Desktop tab.
From here you'll find a number of different backgrounds to choose from - if you can't choose between them, tick Change picture and rotate the background at set intervals, from a frankly ridiculous five seconds to a more sedate daily switch. Also tick Random order to prevent the selection getting stale.
A large number of backgrounds are provided, while you can also select something more personal from an iPhoto collection or your Pictures folder. Add additional folders by clicking + to select them. If you're going for something personal, try to resize or crop it using Preview's Tools menu to match the dimensions of your desktop. If you don't know what it's currently set at, find out from the Displays System Preferences pane.
12. Master Lion's new Finder features
The Finder has been overhauled in Lion to provide a number of useful new features. There's a new smart folder called All my files that appears in the sidebar, for example; clicking it lets you view all of your documents and other personal files, all arranged according to their type.
There's also a new button that lets you quickly choose how your files are arranged without having to select Show View Options first. There's also a new option (Date added), which is especially useful for folders like Downloads.
One thing that's missing by default from the new Finder - which may annoy you - is the status bar. Getting it back is simple enough though: just press Command+/ to toggle it on or off.
13. Lock your Mac
Do you frequently leave your Mac unattended and get frustrated at the hoops you have to jump through in order to 'lock' it, so it can't be used until you return? Then read on for a handy hint that shamelessly steals one of the better ideas from Microsoft Windows.
First, pick a screensaver that you'd like to use while your Mac is left unattended: open System Preferences and choose the Desktop & Screen Saver > Screen Saver tab to do so. If you don't want the screensaver coming on at any other time, set the Start Screen Saver slider to Never.
Now return to System Preferences and this time select Security & Privacy. Tick Require password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins. Close System Preferences and when you next go to leave your Mac, press Ctrl+Shift+Eject to trigger the screensaver and lock your Mac.
14. Work with multiple desktops
While you can keep your desktop reasonably clutter-free by minimising open windows, it isn't the most convenient way to work. A better way is to make use of Spaces (Snow Leopard) or Mission Control (Lion), which enables you to set up to 16 virtual desktops, allowing you to both assign windows to different desktops and then switch seamlessly between them.
Lion users can quickly access Mission Control by pressing Ctrl+Up Arrow, but Snow Leopard users need to enable the feature first: open System Preferences and choose the Exposé and Spaces > Spaces tab. Tick Enable Spaces and - for easy access - Show Spaces in menu bar.
Four desktops are set up by default in Spaces - click Add Rows or Add Columns to add more. New desktops are added to Mission Control by either dragging a window into empty space to the right of the desktop or by clicking the + button that appears in the top right-hand corner.
15. Manage multiple desktops
Applications can be manually assigned to a specific desktop simply by launching them when that desktop is visible. You can also move windows between desktops in Mission Control simply by clicking and dragging their preview window to the new desktop.
Better still, you can configure applications to open in specific desktops, allowing you to effectively configure one desktop for web browsing, another for productivity apps like image editing and so on.
Lion users can assign an application to a specific desktop by right-clicking its Dock icon and opening the Options sub-menu to choose between one desktop, all desktops or - the default behaviour - no desktops.
Snow Leopard users should open the System Preferences > Exposé and Spaces > Spaces tab, then click the + button to assign open applications (or click Other to browse for one) to a specific desktop, or Every desktop if you want it universally available (recommended for key tools like Finder).
16. Set up your Dock icons
The Dock is an incredibly useful tool, giving you quick and easy access to various parts of your system, but it pays to take the time to set it up exactly how you want it to operate.
Start by customising the Dock so that it conveniently shows your favourite applications. Remove unwanted icons from the Dock simply by dragging the icon onto your desktop, where it will disappear into a puff of smoke. Next, add favourite applications to the Dock so they're permanently visible: open the Applications folder and simply drag your app's icon onto the Dock in the place where you want it to lie in the list. Make sure it's to the left of the dividing line that appears between app icons and stacked folders.
Once done, rearrange your app icons into a logical order by dragging and dropping them into place on the Dock. (You can resize the Dock on the fly by click-dragging the separator up or down with your mouse.)
17. Change the Dock's behaviour
Want to change certain aspects of the Dock's look, as well as hide it from view until you need it? You'll find most options available under the Apple > Dock menu, but to take full control of the process, open System Preferences and select Dock.
From here you can resize the Dock plus set a magnification level that makes highlighted icons more visible. You can choose to place the Dock on the left or right of the screen, plus set the Dock to automatically hide when it's not being used (just drag the mouse to the screen edge where the Dock is to reveal it).
By default, all minimised windows are displayed as thumbnails between folder stacks and the Trash: tick Minimize windows into application icon to disable this behaviour.
18. Working with Stacks
Drag a folder right of the dividing line on the Dock and it will create a 'stack' of that folder's contents, which appear when you click the folder icon. Stacks display their contents in Grid, Fan or List view - switch views by right-clicking the folder.
Files and folders can be moved from the stack to the desktop or a Finder window simply by dragging them to the appropriate location - hold the Option button to copy them instead.
If you're a Lion user you can even move or copy files between stacks in this way: open the first stack, drag the file onto another stack folder and either let go or wait for the folder window to open, allowing you to place it precisely. Lion users can preview individual stack entries by placing the mouse over it and pressing the [Spacebar] for a preview of the file.
19. Populate your Dashboard
The Dashboard lets you place a number of useful information-based tools called widgets on your desktop. A small number are enabled by default, but getting more is easy: click the + button at the bottom left of the desktop to add more.
You'll also find thousands more widgets online: check www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard. Once downloaded, you can preview a widget without having to install it: double-click the zip file to extract the widget, then double-click the widget itself.
When prompted to install, hold Command+Option and the Install button will become a Run one. Click this and the widget will open in your Dashboard, but when closed it will disappear. This allows you to give the widget a test drive - if you subsequently don't like it, just close it and delete the downloaded file. If you want to keep it, just double-click the widget file again, this time choosing Install to add it to your Dashboard.
20. Automate repetitive actions
You can't master the powerful Automator tool in a single tip, but you can get a flavour of its usefulness and power by following this simple tweak, which allows you to create a thumbnail quickly and easily by automating a number of otherwise repetitive actions.
Open Automator from the Applications folder. Select Application and click Choose. Select Photos under Library and ignore the restrictive Create Thumbnail Images option.
Instead, drag Change Type of Images across, clicking Don't Add when prompted. Pick your chosen output format - PNG or JPEG in most cases. Now drag Scale Images across - again, click Don't Add - and choose an exact pixel size (width) for your thumbnail.
Finally, select Files and Folders under Library and drag Rename Finder Items across, click Don't Add for a third time, and tweak it to Add Text (for example _thmb) after the filename. Save your application and test it by dragging image files onto it to automatically create thumbnails.
30 more Mac tips for new users
21. At your Service
Automator can be used to create menu items and other useful features where none exist in OS X. These are created by launching Automator and choosing Service. Would you like to right-click a file and print it without having to open it in its parent app first?
Select Utilities under Library and drag Print Finder Items. Set the Service receives selected drop-down menus to files and folders in Finder and save your finished service with a suitable name (such as Print this file). You can access it by right-clicking any file and choosing Services > Print this file (or whatever name you gave it).
All services are stored in your user's /Library/Services folder (this is hidden in Lion - hold down Option as you open the Go menu in Finder to access it). Should you later decide you no longer want a service, simply trash it from here before logging off or restarting.
22. Launch apps via the keyboard
Imagine being able to avoid using the Dock or the Applications folder to open your favourite program. Well imagine no more, because thanks to Automator, you can create services that allow you to do just that.
Launch Automator, select Service and click Choose. Next, set the Service receives drop-down menu to no input. Then select Utilities under Library and then drag Launch Application into the right-hand window. Now select your chosen app from the drop-down list, then choose File > Save to save the service.
Now close the Automator app and open the Keyboards System Preferences panel. Switch to Keyboard Shortcuts and choose Services from the left-hand menu. Scroll down to the bottom of the list and double-click in the blank space to the right to set your chosen keyboard shortcut. Hold down the desired shortcut keys, then make sure the service is ticked. Finally, log off or restart your Mac to test it out.
23. Tweak Lion's Resume settings
Lion's new Resume feature has all the trademarks of Marmite: you either love it or hate it. Things aren't helped by the lack of customisability in Lion itself.
You either switch off the state-saving feature for all supported apps (open System Preferences > General and untick Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps) or you leave it on and struggle to remember to manually press Command+Option+Q each time you quit an app you want to restart with a clean slate.
Thankfully there's a third way in the form of TinkerTool. Switch to the Resume section and you'll be able to pick and choose exactly which applications are allowed to save their window states when quitting. So now you can restore windows on well-behaved apps while preventing others from opening windows you have no need for.
24. Undo unwanted Lion touchpad tweaks
It can be awkward using the touchpad to drag multiple items around, which is why lots of people swear by the tap-drag method: choose your items, then tap and release, before tapping and holding as you drag your selection around the screen.
At first glance, it appears that Lion has ditched this functionality, but before tearing your hair out, relax: it's simply been disabled as default behaviour. To get it back, open System Preferences and select Trackpad, then tick Dragging (with/without) Drag Lock.
When it's enabled, Lion will even display an iOS-like badge telling you how many items you're currently dragging around the screen. You can also undo another trackpad-related change from the same panel: reverse scrolling (Apple chooses to call it 'natural scrolling'). While some may find the new system intuitive, others will no doubt gratefully untick the option labelled When using gestures to scroll or navigate, move content in the direction of finger movement.
25. Get fast folder access
If you frequently access a specific folder, add a convenient link to it in the Finder sidebar. Open Finder, locate the folder in question and then drag it to the sidebar's Favorites (Lion) or Places (Snow Leopard) section. Rearrange icons by dragging and dropping them in the desired order. Once that's done, clicking this link jumps straight to that folder's contents in future.
26. Streamline the Finder sidebar
Too many unwanted items appearing in the Finder sidebar? You can strip them out by opening Finder and choosing Finder > Preferences. Select Sidebar and you can untick those items you rarely use.
You'll also find one option is de-selected by default under Devices - tick this if you want one-click access to all of your computer's drives and network shares from the sidebar.
27. Make use of Recent Files
Your Mac remembers recently opened applications, documents and servers. So if you want to quickly reopen something you were just working on, click the Apple menu and choose Recent Items to select it from the list. Many applications also store a recent documents list too, accessible from their File menu, Open/Save dialog boxes and - in Lion - when you right-click an application icon on the Dock.
28. Create network drive shortcuts
Save yourself time connecting to favourite shared folders by creating shortcuts to them. Open Finder, choose Go > Connect to Server and connect to the shared folder. Once its icon appears on the desktop, right-click it and choose Make Alias. Use this shortcut to connect to the folder in question via a quick double-click in future.
29. Reveal the Library
The Library folder has been hidden in Lion by default, but thankfully there's an easy way to access it without having to show all the hidden folders on your Mac in the process: just open Finder's Go menu and hold the Option key - you'll see the Library appear between Home and Computer on the list. Just select it to open your personal Library folder.
30. Delete sensitive items securely
When you drag an item to the Trash and then empty it, the file in question is actually still present on your hard drive until the space it resides in is written over by other data. Click and hold the mouse button over the Trash icon, then hold the Command key to reveal the Secure Empty Trash option. Select it to more thoroughly wipe private files from your drive.
31. Create semi-opaque sticky notes
The Stickies application allows you to paste reminders all over your desktop in the form of sticky notes in various colours and styles. If you find your desktop's getting overwhelmed by all of your notes, you can make individual notes less visible: select the offending note and select Note > Translucent Window. Select Note > Use as Default to make all new notes semi-transparent too.
32. Login quickly
If you share your Mac with others, you may find having to log in each time you start it gets to be an annoyance. Fortunately, you can bypass it: first open System Preferences > Users & Groups; click the lock, then click Login Options, pick your user account from the Automatic login drop-down menu and enter your password to boot straight to your desktop in future.
33. Switch between locations quickly
If you find yourself moving your MacBook between different networks, you might have to configure different settings for each network you connect to. Open System Preferences and select Network, then click the Location drop-down menu and choose Edit Locations.
Click + to create a new location, give it a name and click Done. Then fill in the details you need to access that network by way of an Ethernet cable or wireless connection. Switch between networks using the Location drop-down menu.
34. Change the Launchpad background
When opened, the Launchpad overlays a blurred version of your desktop background image. If you don't like this, you can easily change it: with Launchpad open, press Command+B and the background will change to black and white.
Press it again for a blurred black and white image, and once more for a regular colour view of your desktop. If you want to return it to its original setting, just hit Command+B for the fourth and final time.
35. Reveal more detail in your search results
Being able to sort your search results a number of ways can be advantageous when you're trying to pick a single file from dozens or even hundreds scattered all over your hard drive. One quick way to track down a file is by searching for the date that it was created or modified.
By default, Finder search results don't include this information, but by simply right-clicking anywhere in your search results window and choosing Show View Options, you can add additional information, including Label, Date Created and finally, Date Modified.
36. Spotlight drag and drop
It gets even better for Lion users rediscovering the joys of Spotlight: you can now drag and drop Spotlight search results out of the window for a myriad of purposes. Drag them to a Finder window or the desktop to create copies while the originals are left untouched.
More excitingly, you can drag and drop Spotlight results into an email, or share it with other users via AirDrop, making Spotlight a great time-saving tool.
37. Preview files in Finder
Want a quick preview of a selected file? Just press the [Spacebar] to activate QuickLook for a quick peek. Snow Leopard users can also zoom into a thumbnail of selected images in Finder's column view: with the preview visible, hold the Option key as you click on it to zoom into the image, or Shift+Option to zoom back out again.
When you're zoomed in, you can easily pan around the image using the mouse. This also works on the image's preview when you select it and choose File > Get Info in Finder.
38. Manage AutoCorrect for different apps
A large number of built-in applications - including Safari and Mail - make good use of AutoCorrect, but sometimes it's a hindrance rather than a help. Fortunately you can do something about it.
Manage it by opening System Preferences and choosing Languages & Text > Text tab. From here, tweak its settings or disable it entirely (untick Correct spelling automatically). The changes come into effect when apps are relaunched. You can also disable it on an app-by-app basis. To do so, place the cursor in a text field then choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Check Spelling Automatically to remove the tick.
39. Enable AirDrop on any Mac
AirDrop makes it simple to share files between two Macs on the same network, but it apparently only works on newer Macs that support a particular type of Wi-Fi connection. If you've upgraded your Mac to Lion and discovered it doesn't appear to support AirDrop, don't fret.
Open Applications > Utilities > Terminal and type the following command on all the Macs you wish to enable AirDrop on, even those which it already supports:
defaults write com.apple. NetworkBrowser BrowseAllInterfaces 1
Restart each Mac, and AirDrop should now be accessible to all Macs running Lion on the same network.
40. Switch between desktops quickly
Moving between your virtual desktops can be done from the menu bar or Dock icon, or by clicking on an app's icon in the Dock itself. Alternatively, use your keyboard: press Ctrl+" or ' to quickly move to adjacent desktops, or jump straight to a specific desktop in your spaces via Ctrl+1, 2, 3 or 4.
These latter shortcuts are disabled in Mission Control, but fortunately you can get them back: simply open System Preferences and select the Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Choose Mission Control and then tick the relevant boxes next to each Switch to Desktop... shortcut you want to use.
41. Reveal hidden menu bar options
Click on an application or system tool's menu bar icon and you'll see a list of options appear via a drop-down menu. All very useful, but if you hold the Option key as you click you may find some alternative options popping up: verify your backups in Time Machine, for example, or perform a diagnostic test on your Bluetooth connection.
42. Cut, paste and consolidate files
Lion introduces two handy features for managing files in Finder: the ability to easily move files from one location to another, plus an option for consolidating a selection of files into a single folder.
To move files from one location to another, select your choice of folders and files, and press Command+C to copy them, followed by Command+Option+V instead. The files will be moved here, and deleted from their original location.
To move a group of files into a single folder, simply select the files in question and press Command+Shift+N, then rename the folder to finish.
43. Identify your virtual desktops easily
You can assign a different background image to each virtual desktop in Lion (these were known as Spaces in Snow Leopard), helping you identify which is which. First, make sure you right-click the System Preferences Dock pane and choose Options > All Desktops. Then simply switch to each desktop in turn using Mission Control and open the Desktop & Screen Saver Preferences pane to set a unique background for that desktop.
44. Change the Login screen's background
If you're running Lion, start by preparing your replacement 'texture' - a 256x256-pixel image in PNG format. Type 'texture background' into http://images.google.com if you're stumped for inspiration.
Once the image is resized and converted, rename it NSTexturedFullScreen BackgroundColor.PNG. Browse to /System/Library/ Frameworks/AppKit.framework/Versions/C/Resources, back up the original and then copy your new image here, overwriting when prompted.
Things are slightly different in Snow Leopard: you need to create a JPG file in the same native resolution as your display, named Aqua Blue.jpg. Browse to the folder /Library/Desktop Pictures, back up the original and replace it with your new image. (In Terminal, Type chflags nohidden /Library/ if your Library folder is hidden.)
45. Set your Dashboard free
In Snow Leopard, your dashboard widgets are designed to float on top of your desktop, but in Lion they've been assigned their own dedicated desktop space. If this change doesn't suit, you'll find that, thankfully, setting your Lion widgets free is a straightforward task: just open System Preferences and select Mission Control, then untick Show Dashboard as a space.
46. Take screen captures quickly
You can quickly take screenshots using one of two handy keyboard shortcuts: hold Command+Shift+3 to grab the entire screen, or Command+Shift+4 to grab a selected area. You can press [Space] to capture selected windows instead.
47. Magnify images in Preview
A new feature in Lion allows you to magnify a selected area of the currently loaded document or image. Switch it on by pressing the ' key and you'll see the magnifier appear - just move it around the image using your mouse. You can easily alter the magnifier's magnification using the + and - keys.
48. Animation in slo-mo
As you've no doubt noticed, your Mac is blessed with some fabulous animation effects as windows swoop, desktops slide into place and more besides. Sometimes, though, you might appreciate a slower pace to things, and there's a keyboard shortcut for that: the Shift key. Just hold Shift as you click Dashboard, Launchpad or a desktop in Mission Control, for example, to see what we mean.
49. Perform Spotlight calculations
Click the Spotlight icon, type in a sum and the search results will include a calculation courtesy of the built-in calculator. It supports some advanced commands - try sqrt(9) for example - but it's not always accurate and is best left for simple arithmetic. Remember, you can access the main calculator from the Applications folder for complex calculations.
50. Access Dock from full-screen apps
One of the few drawbacks of running apps in full-screen mode in Lion is that the Dock appears to be inaccessible. In fact, you can still access it directly from full-screen mode: just move your mouse down to the bottom of the screen as normal, then lift it before moving it down again, at which point the Dock appears.
First published in MacFormat Issue 241
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