A series of small tips and tricks about macOS functionalities you probably not heard of but present from years, let’s find them.
With each new version of macOS, Apple always adds new interesting features, but talking daily with various Mac users, we have had the opportunity to verify that many consider innovations, features that in reality are not at all new but are only little known, present for years in the operating system; below are ten macOS tricks and little-known features of the operating system.
Create a printer in the dock
You can print a document without opening it. Just drag it to the printer icon on the Dock. But how to display our printer in the Dock?
Just open System Preferences, select “Printers and Scanners”, drag the icon of your favorite printer into the Dock. From now on we can drag anything to print onto this icon. The window that appears when we drag a document to the icon is that of the printer, the same that allows you to manage, pause, resume and delete print queues.
Print on multiple printers
macOS allows you to create “printer groups”. This functionality is achieved by selecting several printers (using the Shift key) from the “Printers and Scanners” Preferences and then selecting “Create printer group”. The purpose of this function is simple: if the printers we use are often busy and we want to print a document as quickly as possible, we can create a group of printers. The document will be printed on the first printer in the available group. To print multiple copies of a document simultaneously on different printers, simply print a copy on the printer group on multiple occasions. If we print multiple copies on a group of printers at one time, all copies will be printed, one after the other, on the same printer.
Create a folder from a selection of files
It is a feature available since Mac OS X 10.7 Lion but little known and is useful for quickly creating a folder of items on your desk or in a Finder window. Just select all the elements you want to group, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on one of the selected elements (or click with the right mouse button where possible), choose “New folder with selection”, enter a name for the folder and press the Enter key.
Duplicate a file by dragging the icon to the left of the title
The icon that appears in the top center of a document title is not just a graphic element. By holding down the Alt key and dragging the icon in question (you must carefully click exactly on the icon on the left in the title) we can duplicate any document on the fly. With some applications it is also possible to click on the file name shown above to rename the document. Click with the right mouse button (or equivalent combination with the trackpad) displays the full path of the document.
Move around in the Finder with the keys
You can move between the finders between folders and subfolders using the keys. Cmd-down arrow lets you open a file or folder, Cmd-up arrow lets you move back in chronological order. Holding down Alt you can open folders and sub folders and move from the first to the last file in a folder. Even with Spotlight searches you can use the keys. By running a search you have identified a folder and want to see what’s inside it? Just choose it with the arrow keys and press Enter. With the Tab key you can move to the right in the window shown by Spotlight.
Choose which folder to open with the “New Finder window” command
The new Finder window to be opened by default when choosing the appropriate command from the “File” menu or pressing the CMD-N combination can be customized by the user. Just select “Preferences” from the “Finder” menu and from here – in the General section – decide which is the new default window that the Finder must open.
Create Smart Folders
The “Smart Folders” allow you to automatically collect files by type and object in the Finder. Smart folders are updated when we modify, add and remove files on Mac. Creating a Smart folder is very simple: just select the “New smart folder” item from the Finder menu from the Finder and enter a topic, a phrase or another parameter in the field of research. To determine if the search should include only the names of the files or all of their contents, just choose “The name is” in the search suggestions displayed below the search field, click on Name, then choose “File name” or “All “.
To search for other specific attributes, click on the “Add” button below the search field, then choose the desired attributes using the search attribute pop-up menus. The menus work in combination; for example, to search for images, just choose “Type” from a pop-up menu on the left, then “Image” from the nearby pop-up menu. By clicking on “Save” you can specify the name and location for the Smart folder. If we don’t want the Smart folder to appear in the sidebar, just deselect the “Add to sidebar” option before saving. To change the criteria of a Smart folder, simply open the folder and start typing in the search field of the folder, or click on the Action pop-up menu and choose “Show search criteria”.
Create text clips, images and website URLs on the fly
You may find that you find interesting text on a web page. It may be useful to save it and to do it macOS offers a very simple system (even if with some sites it does not work): just select the text of your interest and literally drag the selected block into a document or on your desk: a document with the text will be created selected. It is trivial to remember it but the mechanism also works from Safari with images and also with URLs of websites (just drag the favicon of a site onto the desktop or other point to have the desired site at your fingertips). Some web pages may prevent you from saving items that appear on the page.
Sign a PDF with the trackpad or camera
If you have any Mac laptop with a trackpad, you may not know a little “trick”: the ability to sign any PDF. Open the PDF to sign with the Preview app, click on the briefcase icon in the toolbar to show the “edit tool bar” (to the left of the search field) and then click on the “Signature” icon. A window appears allowing you to use the trackpad to create a new signature; just sign with your name on the trackpad using your finger and, at the end, press any key.
Alternatively you can sign a sheet and use the integrated camera to capture the signature. Simply sign on a white sheet in front of the camera so that the signature is aligned with the blue line of the window. When the signature appears in the window, click on “Finish”. To use the desired signature, simply drag it to the desired location using the handles to adjust the size. If you use iCloud Drive, signatures are available on all Macs with iCloud active.
Type accented characters
Many do not know that to type an accented character or an alternative version of a character, just hold down the key until the alternative characters are displayed. Very convenient option to get the variations of a character on the fly.
To choose one of the characters displayed, just the number below the character or click on the character we wish to use. If we decide not to type an accented character after holding down a key, just type another character or press the Esc key.
If no additional characters are available for the key we are holding, the popup menu is not displayed. The menu is not displayed even when the “Repeat Key” slider is disabled in the Keyboard pane of System Preferences.