OS X Quick Tips


PDF signature

No need for a paper and pen. You can now sign PDF forms using your Mac’s trackpad. Simply click the Sign button in Preview’s annotation toolbar and trace your signature on the pad with your finger.


Activating Spotlight with Command-Space now brings up a search box in the centre of your desktop. It no longer just searches your Mac for files either. It also retrieves news headlines, maps, Bing web search results, iTunes store media, and it can even convert currencies on the natch.

Green button goes fullscreen

In Mavericks, the green button at the top left of windows is better known as the zoom button. But in OS X Yosemite, it takes windows full-screen. You can still access the traditional functionality however by holding the Alt/Option key when clicking the traffic light.

Record output from an iOS device

Want to record a live screencast of apps or games running on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad? With iOS 8 and Yosemite, you can. Simply attach the device to your Mac using a Lightning cable and it shows up as a video input source in QuickTime. You can then capture anything you’re doing on-screen and store it as a video file.

Check compressed memory

OS X utilises memory compression features when resources are tight, making the system more efficient at passing data from place to place. Activity Monitor’s Memory tab now displays how much your Mac relies on compressed memory, which can be a good indicator of how much you’d benefit from a RAM upgrade.

Safari Tabs

The way Safari organises your browser tabs has changed. You can still switch between tabs in the horizontal strip above the main window, but click the new Tab View button in the top right corner of the toolbar and you get thumbnail previews of all open tabs. Multiple open pages from a single site are stacked on top of each other, while below these are iCloud tabs open on your other devices in a layout reminiscent iOS 7.

Duck Duck Safari

In addition to the typical search engines Safari has traditionally aligned with, you now have the option to choose DuckDuckGo as your default search service. For those late to the private party, DuckDuckGo is a slick search engine that doesn’t track your search activity or share personal information with advertisers or security agencies.

Safari Private Browsing window

Continuing the theme, Safari now allows you to create a separate window of tabs exclusively for private browsing (meaning your actions are not saved or tracked), while enabling you to also maintain separate windows that aren’t set to be private.

Markup in Mail

Apple Mail has aped Preview’s annotation tools. Now, whenever you add an image to an email you’re composing, a down-facing chevron appears in its top-right corner. Clicking this reveals the option to mark up the image with shapes, text and arrows to make your point clearer to your recipient.

Dashboard off by default

Some old-school OS X users may be rankled at the apparent disappearance of the Dashboard in Yosemite. Actually, it hasn’t been removed; it’s just disabled by default – you can switch it back on in Mission Control’s System Preference pane if you still find it useful.

Notification Center overhaul

Notification Center in Yosemite doesn’t just import iOS 7’s Today view. Apple has also opened it up to third-party widgets with what it’s calling ‘Today Extensions’. This will allow developers to feed bespoke information into Notification Center – think your favourite football team’s next fixture or eBay auctions you’re watching, for example.

AirDrop advanced

AirDrop has seen significant improvement in Yosemite. It now works between Macs and iOS devices that don’t share the same local network or have an internet connection. It also now works on older Macs that missed out in previous versions of OS X. Not only that, you don’t need Finder to be open on the recipient’s Mac to initiate a Drop (although it still needs to be authorised at the receiver’s end).

Mail Drop

Everyone’s experienced the frustration of an email not arriving at its intended destination because of an attachment the server deemed too big to handle. In Yosemite, Mail gets round this with Mail Drop, in which large attachments are now uploaded to your iCloud account. If the recipient is also using Mail they see the file just as if it was attached to the email; if they aren’t using Mail, they get a link to download it instead. Note that the size of an attachment will be limited to the free space on your iCloud account.

Soundbites in Messages

You can now send quick voice memos to your Messages contacts with the new Soundbites feature. These disappear shortly after the recipient has read them, but you can choose to save them if you wish. You can also now send short video clips or multiple images directly from within Messages.

Message/iPhone tones

One new feature Apple is rightly proud of is Yosemite’s ability to make and receive iPhone calls. Tied to that is Messages’ ability to send and receive SMS and MMS messages linked to your iPhone number. As a result of this extended phone service, Messages has also inherited all the ringtones of iOS, allowing you to match or differ the sound your Mac and your iPhone make when a message or call is incoming.

Batch rename

Batch renaming files in OS X used to require installing a third-party app or a trip to Automator. No more. In Yosemite, you simply click-drag a selection box over the files in Finder you wish to rename, right-click and select the Rename XX items… option in the dialog.

Screensharing in Messages

Previously screen sharing was only possible in Messages using a third-party service such as AIM. However now Apple has implemented a built-in screen sharing feature that operates automatically over iMessage accounts, meaning you don’t have to set up anything in order to help or receive Mac assistance from a friend or colleague remotely. Simply initiate a Message conversation and click on the Details button in the top right-hand corner of the screen and select the ‘Invite / Ask to share my screen’ button indicated by two overlapping rectangles.

Group messages

Not only can you initiate group chats in iMessage, you can also add and remove participants in your ongoing chat, as well as change the chat thread name (which will subsequently appear on all devices). Using the new Details button, you can also enable Do Not Disturb on individual chats to opt out of the conversation without terminating it.

Dark mode

Dark Mode was demoed on stage at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference as an option to benefit those who prefer to save their eyesight from glare at night as well as photographers and video editors who manipulate colour. You can turn it on via the ‘Use dark menu bar and dock’ toggle in the General pane of System Preferences.

Safari bookmarks

Just like iOS, your website bookmarks and bookmark folders can now be quickly accessed simply by left-clicking Safari’s address bar. Below your bookmarks you’ll also see links to those sites you’ve most frequently visited.

Double-click to zoom

For those who miss the instant action of the green maximise traffic light, try double-clicking an empty part of a window’s toolbar – it should automatically resize the window to fit its content. Note that this functionality may not work on third-party apps and later versions of iTunes.

Finder preview pane

Previously Finder’s file preview pane was restricted to Column view, but in Yosemite you can make it visible in any view mode you like. From the menu bar, choose View > Show Preview to turn it on.

Accessibility improvements

Not everyone gets on with transparency. Happily you can reduce its effect significantly in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences. What’s more, you can change the contrast level of windows and borders as well as increase the overall contrast of your display if you find Yosemite’s new look not so easy on the eye.

Calendar suggestions

Calendar in Yosemite is a little more intelligent than previous iterations and now learns from previous events in order to auto-complete event details as you input them – this includes likely attendees and even suggested dates to schedule the event. The more you use Calendar, the more accurate it becomes at predicting your schedule.

RSS feeds in Safari

RSS feed subscriptions are back in Safari. Simply click on the RSS feed icon in a web page and Safari will prompt you to OK the subscription, whereafter it will appear in the Shared Links sidebar alongside your other shared links piped in from Twitter and so on.

Gatekeeper Tips

Fix the “App can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer” Error in Mac OS X

Since OS X Mountain Lion, the Mac defaults to preventing applications from unidentified developers or sources from being launched. You’ll discover the message in OS X 10.8 when you try to launch a Mac app that didn’t come from a verified source or from the Mac App Store, and you’ll get an alert dialog that says “[App name] can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer”.

App Can't be Opened from Unidentified Developer warning

This new security feature is called GateKeeper, and it doesn’t mean you can’t run those unverified apps on the Mac, you just have to either temporarily skirt the security blanket of GateKeeper, or turn off the app limitations entirely.

Temporarily Get Around “App Can’t Be Opened” Gatekeeper Alert Message

This is probably the best option for most users, since it maintains some security:

  1. Right-click (or control-click) the application in question and choose “Open”
  2. Click the “Open” button at the next dialog warning to launch the app anyway

You can do this with any third party app that gives you this warning dialog and open it anyway.

Temporarily get around the App Cant Be Opened message in Mac OS X

If you get tired of constantly right-clicking apps to open them, return to pre-Mountain Lion levels of app security by turning off Gatekeepers app verification completely.

Disable GateKeeper’s Unidentified App Developer Prevention Completely

This is generally best for advanced users who know what apps to trust and not to trust:

  1. Launch System Preferences from the Apple  menu
  2. Choose “Security & Privacy” and then click the “General” tab, followed by clicking the lock icon in the corner to unlock the settings
  3. Look for “Allow applications downloaded from:” and choose “Anywhere”
  4. Accept the security warning and allow
  5. You can now launch any app from any location or developer

Disable Gatekeeper blocking unidentified apps in OS X Mountain Lion


Bypass Gatekeeper in OS X Mavericks with Security Preferences

Gatekeeper is an application level security feature on the Mac that aims to prevent unauthorized and unidentified apps from being launched in OS X, thereby preventing potential security problems like exploits or trojans from running on a Mac. The feature is most often encountered when an app has been downloaded from the web, and upon attempting to launch the app a warning dialog will prompt the user with a message saying something along the lines of “This app can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer”. We’ve covered how you can get bypass that error message on a case-by-case basis by using the right-click “Open” trick, but the latest version of OS X brings another option which may be easier for some users to selectively launch apps and bypass Gatekeeper. This is advantageous because users can continue to retain the strict security preference of leaving Gatekeeper enabled and intact, which is generally recommended.

Bypass Gatekeeper App Launch Warnings from System Preferences

This solution is temporary, providing a per-application launch bypass. It does not disable Gatekeeper in OS X.

    • Attempt to launch the application inquestion, encountering the normal “can’t be opened” message, then click “OK”


    • Launch System Preferences by choosing it from the  Apple menu
    • Select the “Security & Privacy” control panel, and go to the “General” tab
    • Under the “Allow apps downloaded from:” look for the following message: “appname.app was blocked from opening because it is not from an identified developer.”


  • If you trust the application and want to launch it bypassing Gatekeeper, click “Open Anwyay”

The full Security preference panel looks like the following, with Open Anyway highlighted within the Gatekeeper section.


If the “Open Anyway” option is not visible then you likely must unlock the security preferences by clicking the little padlock icon in the corner and entering an administrative password.

Choosing “Open Anyway” will launch the application in question directly from Security System Preferences, and you’ll be able to use it as normal. This approach is obviously slightly more time consuming than using the right-click Open trick, but it may be advantageous for certain users in select situations.

Gatekeeper is really aimed at protecting novice and average Mac users, while advanced OS X users who are more comfortable with things may find the warnings to be intrusive or annoying. If you don’t want to receive the warnings at all, you can simply disable Gatekeeper completely through the Security System Preferences by choosing “Anywhere” from the allow apps list.

This feature was first introduced to the Mac with OS X Mountain Lion, but the “Open Anyway” option inside the Security preferences is new with OS X Mavericks.

Credit OS X Daily : http://osxdaily.com/2013/11/08/bypass-gatekeeper-mac-os-x-security-prefs/

Security Tips


1. Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper’s control resides under Preferences/Security & Privacy and it’s main function is to allow the user to control which apps can be run without further escalation and or attention. For example it is by default to ‘Mac App Store and identified developers’ so if you download an application that doesn’t meet this criteria you will not be able to run the application immediately or more so accidentally.

You can either change the preference to ‘Anywhere’ (not recommended) or simply right click (or control click) on the App instead of the normal single double click to open it.

2. Software Updates

Updates often gets overlooked as a security measure; however fundamentally you want to keep your Mac updated with the latest and greatest updates. Most often users don’t update their Macs to the latest because the update has phased out their application from working, or the user feels they are too busy to update their Macs. Don’t be that user. Instead inquire with the software developer’s support system to find out what they are doing about their incompatible product – many often become aware of this issue through their internal testing and generally try to push out a patch or updated version quickly. If they lag see if you can find an alternate product until they update. It’s always good to have another good product on standby.

3. FileVault 2

Laptop and even Desktop encryption should be automatic nowadays. Losing a few thousand dollars of hardware is much better than losing all your data to someone later to find it pasted all over the Internet or worse sold on the blackmarket. Use whole disk encryption any chance you get.The rewards far outweigh the risks.

4. Privacy Controls

Privacy is important and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Make sure you keep track of whom is keeping track of you by tuning your privacy controls accordingly.

5. Firewall

The firewall interface under Preferences/Security & Privacy is very basic, there are a few third party interfaces available however keeping things simple is a good practice. Be sure to use the firewall to tune it to your needs whether it be at home, work or travel. You may think you have nothing to hide, however you have plenty to steal.

6. Password Assistant

Face it, for most creating a good password is hard. It involves a lot of thinking not only to come up with one that you don’t already use, but then remembering it without having to write it down is a task within itself. This is where Keychain Access is your friend, use it. Inside Keychain Access is a handy tool named Password Assistant you can use it to quickly come up with a password and you can save it in your keychain to use on various logins.

7. Anti-phishing

For those that use Safari (6.0.2 ) over Chrome or Firefox you may have to make a firewall adjustment otherwise Safari may not be able to communicate correctly to receive updates from the The Google Safe Browsing Service, therefore leaving your browser out of date and more vulnerable.

8. iCloud Mac locator and remote wipe

For those that use iCloud your Mac can be enabled similar functionality as your iDevices for communicating with your Mac if it gets lost or stolen once it is reconnected to a network. It certainly is better than nothing, howeveryou have less to worry about if you use FileVault2 to encrypt your Mac.

9. Secure Empty Trash

Another feature the Mac users may forget to use often especially on USB keys is the Secure Empty Trash Feature. By default files are simply marked for deletion and not really deleted making file recovery simple for an attacker. Using Secure Empty Trash things get much more difficult to recover.

10. Control Access

Make sure you are the only person accessing your account by requiring a password immediately after sleep or screen saver begins. Enable a hot corner to activate the screensaver and get used to hitting that hot corner before leaving your Mac. Get used to doing this at home and it will come naturally everywhere else.

In conclusion…

Mountain Lion comes with a plethora of integral security features not really meant for the user to control such as file screening, sandboxing and runtime memory protection and without an interface to monitor or view users don’t think about it and just trust it. However as you could see in the Anti-Phishing example above with Safari unable to update for the last 82 days it becomes curious as to what else may not be working as designed. 😉

Online Resources Mentioned Herein:


File Sharing

File Sharing allows your Mac to share files and folders with other Macs and PCs on your network.


  • Your file sharing settings may be overridden by your network router’s firewall, the firewalls on other computers, or the firewall in Mac OS X v10.5 or later.
  • Before you begin, you might want to create all the user and group accounts you will need in Users & Groups preferences (in OS X Mountain Lion and OS X Lion) or Accounts preferences (in Mac OS X v10.5 or Mac OS X v10.6).

Open Sharing preferences

  1. Log in with an administrator user account. To enable and configure file sharing you need to know the name and password of an administrator account on your Mac.
  2. From the Apple () menu, choose System Preferences.
  3. Type File Sharing in the System Preferences search field, and press Enter.

Select folders to share

Below the Shared Folders list, click the Add (+) button. Find the folder you want to share. To select multiple folders, press and hold the Shift key while selecting folders with the mouse.

In the example below, the folders named “Juan Chavez’s Public Folder” and “Mac 101” (/Users/Mac 101) have been selected for sharing.

Shared folders, sharing system preferences

Repeat this process for all folders you wish to share.

Note: You can also directly select a folder in the Finder to share. Select the folder, choose Get Info from the Filemenu, and enable “Shared Folder” to share it (or deselect “Shared Folder” to stop sharing the folder).

Get Info window

Tip: When you open a shared folder, a “Shared Folder” banner appears in its Finder window, as well as any subfolder windows.

Shared Folder banner

Accessing shared files

To access files that are being shared on a different computer or from an AirPort disk or Time Capsule, follow these steps in Connect to shared computers and file servers on a network.

For more information, please see Servers and shared computers that you can connect to and Network address formats for shared computers and servers.
Advanced topics

To learn about some more advanced aspects of File Sharing, open a section below.

Configure user and group accounts with appropriate access privileges

  1. In Sharing preferences, select the folder that’s being shared.
  2. To add to the default user accounts and groups that were selected when you shared the folder, click the Add (+) button below the Users list.
  3. Select an existing user account or group. User accounts can be created in Users & Group preferences (in OS X Mountain Lion and OS X Lion) or Accounts preferences (in Mac OS X v10.5 or later), in System Preferences. Tip: You can create a Sharing Only user account by clicking “New Person” or adding a user from your Contacts (in OS X Mountain Lion) or Address Book (in Mac OS X v10.5 or later).
  4. The default privilege for a user account or group you add is “Read Only”.  If you want to change this, click the pop-up menu next to the user or group and choose one of the following privilege options:
    • Read & Write – The user can read, copy, edit, and delete the contents of the folder.
    • Read Only – The user can only read and copy (to another location) the contents of the folder.
    • Write Only (Drop Box) – The user can only copy content into the folder.  The user can not see the contents of the drop box folder.

      Note: A “Write Only” user can overwrite items in the drop box folder, if what they drop into it has the same name as an item already in the drop box folder.

    • No Access (groups only) – User accounts in this group will have no access to the folder.  However, if a user account is added, the privileges assigned to the user account override the group restrictions.
  5. Repeat this process for other folders being shared for which you want this users to have access.

Sharing preference pane

You can also manage the user or group access of a shared folder via the Finder; select the folder and choose Get Info from the File menu.

Tip: If you need to assign the shared folder user or group account privileges to items contained in the shared folder, select “Apply to enclosed items” from the action pop-up menu. A confirmation sheet appears, click OK to complete the process.

Get Info window

Choose the appropriate network protocol to communicate with the type of computer that’s accessing your shared files

You can share files using Apple Filing Protocol (AFP), Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, or File Transfer Protocol (FTP). NoteFTP is only available in Mac OS X v10.5 and Mac OS X v10.6.

Follow these steps to select the appropriate protocols for the type of computer that will log onto your Mac:

  1. In Sharing preferences, click Options.
  2. Select “Share files and folders using AFP” to enable the Apple Filing Protocol. Use this protocol to file share with other Macs.
  3. Select “Share files and folders using FTP” to enable the File Transfer Protocol. Use this protocol to file share with UNIX and LINUX systems. (This option is only available in Mac OS X v10.5 and Mac OS X v10.6)
  4. Select “Share files and folders using SMB (Windows)” to enable the Server Message Block protocol and check the user accounts to enable for SMB. Use this protocol to file share with Microsoft Windows-based PCs and Linux computers.

    Note: You will have to enter the user’s password for a user account that you enable for SMB.

  5. Once you have selected the desired networking protocols, click Done.

File Sharing options window

OS X Recovery

OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks include OS X Recovery. This feature includes all of the tools you need to reinstall OS X, repair your disk, and even restore from a Time Machine backup without the need for optical discs.

Recovery System

OS X Recovery includes a built in set of utilities as part of the Recovery System. To start your computer from Recovery, restart your Mac and hold down the Command key and the R key (Command-R). Press and hold these keys until the Apple logo appears. This indicates that your Mac is starting up. After the Recovery System finishes starting up, you should see a desktop with an OS X menu bar and a “Mac OS X Utilities” window.

Note: If you see a login window or your own desktop and icons, it’s possible that you didn’t hold Command-R early enough. Restart and try again.

In order to reinstall OS X, you need to be connected to the Internet over an Ethernet or Wi-Fi network. The Wi-Fi menu is in the upper-right corner of the screen. Click the icon to select from available Wi-Fi networks. Choose your preferred network name and, if needed, enter a username and/or password.

OS X Internet Recovery

Mac models introduced after public availability of OS X Lion include the ability to start up directly from an Internet-based version of the OS X Recovery system. OS X automatically uses this feature when the Recovery System on the hard disk isn’t available (such as when your hard disk encounters an issue, or when your hard disk has been replaced or erased). OS X Internet Recovery lets you start your Mac directly from Apple’s servers. Starting up from this system performs a quick test of your memory and hard drive to check for hardware issues.

OS X Internet Recovery presents a limited interface at first, with only the ability to select your preferred Wi-Fi network and, if needed, entering a passphrase. Next, OS X Internet Recovery downloads and starts from a Recovery System image. From there, you are offered the same utilities and options as a local Recovery System.

Some computers that did not ship with OS X Lion or later installed may be able to add the ability to use Internet Recovery by applying a software update.

Restoring iLife applications after Internet Restore of OS X

If your computer came with OS X Lion or later and you erase your hard disk and install OS X, you can download iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand from the Mac App Store.

  1. After installation, start (up) from OS X.
  2. Choose App Store from the Apple menu.
  3. Enter your Apple ID and password when prompted.
  4. Click Purchases.
  5. If you haven’t previously accepted your bundled iLife applications within the Mac App Store, you should see your iLife applications appear in the Accept portion of the screen. Click Accept.
  6. You may be asked for your Apple ID and password once again. Your iLife applications now move to the Purchased section. These applications are part of the software that came with your computer. Your account will not be charged for them. Click Install to complete installation of your applications.

Requirements for reinstalling OS X using Recovery

Reinstalling OS X using OS X Recovery requires broadband access to the Internet via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection. OS X is downloaded over the Internet from Apple when OS X Recovery is used for reinstallation.

OS X Recovery requires that DHCP is enabled on your chosen Wi-Fi or ethernet network, If you bought OS X from the Mac App Store, you will be prompted to enter the Apple ID and password you used to purchase OS X.

The time required to download OS X varies, depending on the speed of your Internet connection and the version of OS X you are installing. If your usual or current Internet connection has requirements or settings not supported by OS X Recovery, either change the settings to a supported configuration for the duration of your OS X reinstall, or seek out acceptable networks from which you are permitted to access the Internet (such as friends, family, Internet “cafe” establishments, or possibly your place of employment with appropriate permission).

Supported network configurations and protocols

WEP Yes No
WPA/WPA2 Yes Yes
WPA-Enterprise Yes No
PPPoE (where there is no router handling the PPPoE connection) No No
Captive-Networks (where you click an “Agree” button to access the Internet) Yes No
Proxies (where specific proxy servers must be configured in network preferences) No No
Certificate-based authentication / 802.1x No No

Which version of OS X is installed by OS X Recovery?

  • If you use the Recovery System stored on your startup disk to reinstall OS X, it installs the most recent version of OS X previously installed on this computer.
  • If you use Internet Recovery to reinstall OS X, it installs the version of OS X that originally came with your computer. After installation is finished, use the Mac App Store to install related updates or later versions of OS X that you have previously purchased.

What to do if the installer warns that no Recovery System can be created

Some disk partition configurations may result in the OS X installer reporting that it could not create a Recovery System. In these situations, even if you are permitted to continue the install, you may want to quit the installation and create an external, bootable OS X hard drive with a Recovery System, first. You can continue your OS X upgrade on your computer’s startup drive after creating an external Recovery System.

  • Your storage device must have at least 13 GB available (after formatting) to install OS X Lion or later and a Recovery partition.
  • These steps erase and reformat the storage device. This article instructs you on setting up a storage device to use the GUID partition scheme and the Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format, which are required to install OS X and a Recovery partition on your external storage device. You should back up any important files that are on the device to a different drive.
  • This procedure installs a version of OS X that is compatible with the Mac it was created with. Using this OS X system with a different Mac model may produce unpredictable results.
  • Your computer’s serial number is sent to Apple as part of this process to help authenticate your request to download and install OS X Lion.

Additional Information

Please note that OS X Recovery must be present on the computer’s startup volume in order to use FileVault 2. Using RAID partitions or a non-standard Boot Camp partition on the startup disk may prevent OS X from installing a local Recovery system.

OS X Recovery includes a version of Safari with links to resources on www.apple.com. This version of Safari can be used to access help resources at Apple’s website and elsewhere on the Internet. The network requirements listed above also apply to the version of Safari included with OS X Recovery. Plugins and Safari Extensions cannot be added to the version of Safari included with OS X Recovery.


Download icon

OS X Recovery Disk Assistant v1.0


Built right into OS X, OS X Recovery lets you repair disks or reinstall OS X without the need for a physical disc.

The OS X Recovery Disk Assistant lets you create OS X Recovery on an external drive that has all of the same capabilities as the built-in OS X Recovery: reinstall Lion or Mountain Lion, repair the disk using Disk Utility, restore from a Time Machine backup, or browse the web with Safari.

Note: In order to create an external OS X  Recovery using the OS X Recovery Assistant, the Mac must have an existing Recovery HD.

To create an external OS X Recovery, download the OS X Recovery Disk Assistant application. Insert an external drive, launch the OS X  Recovery Disk Assistant,  select the drive where you would like to install, and follow the on screen instructions.

When the OS X Recovery Disk Assistant completes, the new partition will not be visible in the Finder or Disk Utility. To access OS X Recovery, reboot the computer while holding the Option key. Select Recovery HD from the Startup Manager.

Finding your OS

To get the latest enhancements and security updates, you should use the latest version of OS X. You can install updates you can install updates from the Mac App Store, from Software Update, or from the Apple Support website. To find build numbers for the version of OS X that came with your computer, refer to OS X versions (builds) for computers.

Finding the build number

To find the build number of the version of OS X you have installed, use these steps:

  1. From the Apple () menu, choose About This Mac.
  2. Click the Version number underneath where the window says “OS X”. The About This Mac window then displays your OS X version number in place of the version number.

About this Mac window

In the above example, OS X Mavericks is installed. You can also view your build number from the System Information or System Profiler app.

The build number depends on the version of OS X that is installed. When you install an OS X system software update or upgrade, you get a new build number. The build number of OS X included with a Mac may be different than what appears below.

OS X Mavericks

OS X Mavericks v10.9.2 Build 13C64
OS X Mavericks v10.9.1 Build 13B42
OS X Mavericks v10.9 Build 13A603

OS X Mountain Lion and Lion

OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.5 Build 12F37, 12F45 or 12F2029 (see notes)
OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.5 Build 12F37
OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.4 Build 12E55
OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.3 Build 12D78
OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.2 Build 12C54, 12C60, or 12C2034 (see notes)
OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.1 Build 12B19
OS X Mountain Lion Build 12A269
OS X Lion v10.7.5 Build 11G56 or 11G63 (see notes)
OS X Lion v10.7 Build 11A511


  • Build 12F2029 is available for the iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013) with NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M only.
  • If you have Mountain Lion v10.8.5 (build 12F37), the OS X v10.8.5 Supplemental Update can be installed to get OS X v10.8.5 (build 12F45).
  • If you have Mountain Lion v10.8.2 (build 12C54), the OS X v10.8.2 Supplemental Update 1.0 can be installed to get OS X v10.8.2 (build 12C60).
  • Build 12C2034 is available for certain Macs only; it is installed by the OS X 10.8.2 Update (13″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5″ iMac (Late 2012), and Mac mini (Late 2012).
  • If you have OS X Lion v10.7.5 (build 11G56), the Mac OS X v10.7.5 Supplemental Update can be installed to get OS X v10.7.5 (build 11G63).

OS X Snow Leopard and earlier builds

Mac OS X v10.6.8 Build 10K540 or 10K549
Mac OS X v10.5.8 Build 9L30, or 9L34 for Server 10.5.8 v1.1
Mac OS X v10.4.11 Build 8S165
Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger installation disc Build 8A428
Mac OS X v10.3.9 Build 7W98
Mac OS X v10.3.2 installation disc Build 7D28
Mac OS X v10.3 Panther installation disc Build 7B85
Mac OS X v10.2.8 Build 6R65 or 6R73
Mac OS X v10.2.3 installation disc Build 6G37, 6G35 for Server
Mac OS X v10.2 Jaguar installation disc Build 6C115
Mac OS X v10.1.5 Build 5S60 (5S66 with Networking Update 1.0)
Mac OS X v10.1 Puma installation disc Build 5G64 (5L14 or 5L17b with Security Update 10-19-01)
Mac OS X v10.0 Cheetah installation disc Build 4K78

Retail installation disc build numbers

Mac OS X v10.6.3 Install DVD Build 10D575
Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard Install DVD Build 10A432, build 10A433 for Server
Mac OS X v10.5.6 Install DVD Build 9G66
Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard Install DVD Build 9A581


Top OS X Tips

1. Control a Mac remotely 


 There are dozens of ways of controlling a Mac across the internet, which you might want to do to schedule a recording, start a download and so on. You could try LogMeIn, or share a desktop using Google Hangouts and Skype; you could try port forwarding the built-in VNC client in OS X, but our favourite – and the easiest – is Back to My Mac, managed through iCloud.

So long as the remote Mac is on, logged into an account tied to your iCloud login (through System Preferences) and connected to the internet, it should appear under Shared in your Finder sidebar. (If it doesn’t, hover over Shared and click Show; if Shared isn’t there, look in the Finder’s preferences.)

Click Share Screen… to control the Mac over the internet, as if you were sitting in front of it. (It might make more sense to go Full Screen to stop yourself getting confused!) Check out the options in the menus and toolbar.

Alternatively, click Connect As… to log into the Mac to copy files from and to it. If you have a recent AirPort Extreme with a hard disk attached, or a Time Capsule, then you can access those files similarly; make sure your router is logged into iCloud using AirPort Utility.

2. Talk to and listen to your Mac!

Talk to your mac

In OS X 10.8, the Mac’s ability to listen to you as well as talk is really impressive. Although these are sometimes framed as being accessibility features, they can be useful for everyone. For example, it’s a good idea to read through any important text before you send it off, but it’s easy to skip mistakes when you’re reading your own work. Instead, select the text and go to Edit > Speech > Start Speaking. You can control the speed and pick from a range of different voices (our favourite’s the Scottish ‘Fiona’) in the Dictation & Speech System Preference pane.

If you find you use the feature often, you should enable the option to trigger speaking aloud using a keyboard shortcut – the default is Option+Esc, which you can change in the Dictation & Speech pane. (If you do have restricted vision, investigate the VoiceOver feature in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences too; this can read aloud buttons and other on-screen items, and more.)

Your Mac is just as good a listener as it is a talker, though. Not only can you control your Mac using Speakable Items (check the Accessibility pane) but in OS X 10.8 you can also dictate text anywhere you would type. By default you just press the Function key twice and then start talking.

3. Run Windows 


We know, we know – who wants to run Windows? But sometimes it’s handy, whether to play the latest games or run some niche piece of software that has no Mac equivalent. You can either run Windows alongside OS X with a virtualisation app such as VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop or VirtualBox, or partition your hard disk to install Windows on to run it full-bore on your hardware using Boot Camp Assistant (in your Utilities folder).

4. Add clips from websites to Dashboard


 Remember Dashboard? Introduced with 10.4, this overlay holds ‘widgets’ that can perform handy little tasks – Apple still hosts a catalogue of them at apple.com/downloads/dashboard. One oft-forgotten trick is that you can make your own widgets by clipping from web pages. The best bit is that the web page remains live. Here’s how to do it (we’re going to clip out some cricket scores, but it will pretty much work for any part of any site).

1. Navigate to the page you want to clip a section from in Safari. (It has to be Safari, not Chrome, Firefox or whatever.) You can clip out information that’s essentially static – say, a list of keyboard shortcuts you want to refer to – or stuff that’s changing all the time.

2. Go to the File menu and choose Open in Dashboard…; now you can mouse over sections of the web page, and it’s usually smart about snapping to appropriate areas. If not, just click then drag the handles. Once you’re done, click Add at the top right.

3. Once the clipping has been added to your Dashboard, you can click the i at the bottom right to flip it round. Here you’ll see options for the frame; pick the one you like. The web clipping should update anyway, but if you need to force a manual refresh, click it, then tap Command+R.

5. Type exotic characters


As well as letters and symbols you see on your keyboard, you can type a bewildering array of special characters. You may already be familiar with typing accents such as for café (in that case you either type Option+E then E again or, on OS X 10.7 or later, hold down the E until you get extra options) but you’ll find there are many more.

Go to the Edit menu of most apps and you’ll see Special Characters at the bottom. This panel gives you access to a huge range of symbols you can drag into your documents. Not all apps or operating systems support them, but these are mostly part of the cross-platform Unicode standard. There are probably more than you see at first, too; click the cog to reveal more.

Emoji (those fun, colourful characters available in OS X 10.7 or later) are a notable exception to this cross-platform world. They’re not Apple-only, but your recipient might not be able to see them.

6. Record screencasts

You can record videos of your screen; you might want to record a problem or make instructional videos about using apps on your Mac. Open QuickTime Player and from the File menu choose New Screen Recording. Click the little drop-down arrow to pick the audio source and to choose whether or not to show mouse clicks in the recording. Now you can pick to record either the full screen or just a selection, and once you’re done, you can do the usual things – trim, upload to YouTube, AirDrop it to another Mac, or import it into iMovie for more precise editing.

7. Zoom into the screen

Want to see something up close? Hold the key and scroll up with your mouse or trackpad. If that does nothing, check the option is enabled in Accessibility, where you will also find options for smoothing and whether you want the whole screen to zoom in or just show you the zoomed area in a little window within your Mac’s screen.

8. Slow down animations

Lots of visual effects on your Mac can be slowed down either to help you better understand what’s going on, or just so you can go ‘oooooh, pretty!’. Hold down Shift when, for example, minimising windows, triggering Mission Control or Launchpad, and you’ll see the effect.

9. Use custom icons (plus, exporting icons to use elsewhere)


Back in the day, we all seemed to be adding custom icons to every folder on our system, but it appears to have fallen out of fashion a bit. But it shouldn’t have, because it’s a great way to personalise your Mac and makes it easier to identify folders and other stuff at a glance. Below, we’ll show you how to do it, but here’s a bonus tip as well.

If you want to copy icons to use them in documents, for example, it’s really easy with Preview. Select the item with the icon you want in the Finder and then tap Command+C. Switch to Preview and tap Command+N (which is New from Clipboard) and you’ll see the icon appears in all the different sizes. Pick the one you want (usually the biggest) and then export it to whatever format you need – PNG is often best as it retains the transparency – and drop it into your document.

1. The first step in changing a file or folder’s icon is to find what you want to change it to. Search the web (try interfacelift.com). Go to /System/Library/CoreServices and then right-click CoreTypes.bundle and choose Show Package Contents; you’ll find great system icons including Apple hardware in Resources.

2. Once you’ve found the item whose icon you want to copy – whether it’s a file, folder, app or whatever you like – you need to get further information on it; either go to the File menu and choose Get Info or just hit keys Command+I. Now, click on the icon and tap Command+C.

3. The next step is to paste the icon onto the folder or whatever it is you’re personalising in a similar way. Opt to ‘Get Info’ on it, select the icon and then tap Command+V. If you later want to clear the tweaked icon, then you can select it in this Get Info window then tap .

Discover the power of Preview

Crop and tweak images, annotate PDFs, and a whole lot more…

10. Quickly, smartly and elegantly import with Image Capture


If people sometimes overlook Preview’s power features, they almost always ignore Image Capture completely. Before you clog up your system with bloatware apps and drivers for digital cameras and scanners, though, try Image Capture – it’s in your Utilities folder. With this you can control most modern scanners (or the scanners in multifunction printers) both wired and wirelessly, and import from digital cameras, including iOS devices.

Pop up the panel at the bottom-left for extra options; it’s here, for example, that you tell your Mac what app should launch when you connect each of your devices (including ‘none’) so you could launch Aperture when you connect your SLR, say, but launch nothing when you dock your iPhone.

11. Annotate PDFs and images

Annotate PDFs

Preview has some fantastic tools built into it for annotating images and PDFs. And, what’s best of all is that the annotations it adds to a PDF are based on a standard that’s compatible with Adobe’s PDF app, Acrobat, which is used by Windows users and companies – so it’s easy to share annotated documents with colleagues.

Make sure the Edit Toolbar is visible (from the View menu) and you’ll see you’ve got options for drawing shapes, arrows, speech and thought bubbles and more. There’s also the option to highlight text in different colours, strikethrough some text, add notes and type some text into boxes.

12. Sign your documents

Sign documents

In OS X 10.7, Preview gained the ability to add your signature to documents. To get started, go to the Signatures tab in Preview’s preferences and then click the +. Now, sign your name in black ink on a small piece of white paper and hold it up to your Mac’s webcam. Line it up and click Accept (making sure the ‘Save this signature’ option is checked if you want to use it in the future).

Now open a document you want to sign, pop up the Edit Toolbar and click the signature icon – it looks like an S on a line next to a tiny x. Draw a box to add your signature on the form. You can scale and reposition it afterwards too.

13. Crop, resize and tweak images

Crop images

Preview is one one of the most underappreciated apps on a Mac; especially in later versions of OS X, it became hugely powerful, and even for us at MacFormat, it does much of what we’d traditionally use a more elaborate and expensive application such as Photoshop for. Do yourself a favour: open an image in Preview and poke around the app’s menus and interface to see what it can do.

For example, you can crop your image. Draw a selection with the regular Rectangular Selection tool then either hit Command+K or choose Crop from the Tools menu. Alternatively, show the Edit Toolbar and make a more complex selection either with the Instant Alpha tool (like in iWork) or use the Smart Lasso. With this tool, you draw as carefully as you can around the outline of the object and then Preview works out as closely as it can where the edges are. In either case, cropping will, if the image isn’t already a PNG, convert it so that you can have the thing you’re cutting out on a transparent background. (You might need the Invert Selection command, too!)

You can also resize images, and even do some tweaks to the colours with the Adjust Color pop-up. Select Adjust Color… from the Tools menu, and you get some handy sliders and a histogram to help you tweak things. Plus, hit the backtick symbol (to the left of Z on a UK Mac keyboard, and to the left of 1 on a US Mac keyboard) to bring up a loupe so you can see what’s happening at 100% as you make changes.

Quick timesavers

Cut to the chase and avoid stress on project deadlines

14. Edit videos in QuickTime Player

If you’ve recorded a fun little video and it needs just a small amount of tidying at the start and end before it goes online, there’s an easier way than delving into iMovie. QuickTime X can trim the start and ends of videos if you go to Edit > Trim… in the menu, then drag the handles at the start and end of the timeline that appears to set a new beginning and end of the clip. Click Trim when you’re happy with it.

If you want to take a section out of the middle of a clip, you can use the Split Clip menu option. You can split your video more than once and remove sections you don’t want, and you can even insert other videos where the splits are.

15. Make a keyboard shortcut for anything

Keyboard shortcut

Keyboard shortcuts are great for saving time, but you’re not limited to just the shortcuts put in by developers; if there’s a particular menu option you use all the time that doesn’t have a shortcut, you can create it yourself.

Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Application Shortcuts. Click the + button to add a new shortcut. You can choose which app you want to apply it to from the drop-down list, but you must know the exact name of the menu command to type into the next box, including the correct case and any special characters such as ellipses. Lastly, choose a unique key combination to invoke the command, then click Add.

16. Use Automator and Services for speed


Automator is a tool built into OS X that enables you to build your own workflows of commands, making complex tasks much easier in the future. Use it to build your own little apps that perform a specific task, to make a workflow to modify batches of files, or to create new Services, which are functions you can access from a right-click. You could use Automator to rename a large number of files, to convert images to a different file type, to turn text files in a folder to audio files, and much more.

1. To create something in Automator, open it, then choose what type of thing you want to create: each is useful in different circumstances, so click on them to see descriptions. Select the one you want and click Choose (or open an old Automator file).

2. Start creating the steps of your workflow by dragging Actions from the left-hand side of the screen to the empty space on the right-hand side. Actions are categorised by application and file type, or you can search for something at the top. Just click an Action’s name to see what it does.

3. Once you’ve built up your workflow, you can click Run in the top-right corner to test it (though you won’t be able to fully test everything this way). If there are any problems, the part where it failed will have a red cross next to it, and the log underneath will explain any warnings.

17. Use the app switcher to do more 

App Switcher

Most Mac users will be used to using Command+Tab to switch applications, but this little interface is more flexible than it seems at first. For a start, if you bring it up, then keep holding Command and hover your cursor over the icons (or press the ” and ‘ keys), whichever app is highlighted when you release Command is the one you’ll switch to.

Also, when you’ve got an app highlighted, you can do a few other things: press Q to quit an app instantly; press H to hide an app from view; or press the up or down arrows to see the highlighted app’s open windows in Mission Control. Finally, if an app has windows that have been minimised, switch to it, but hold Option when you release Command – the minimised windows will all reappear back from the Dock.

18. Do quick sums with Spotlight

If there’s a very quick calculation you need to do when working, but you don’t want to break your flow by opening the calculator or bringing up the dashboard, you can use Spotlight instead. Just hit Command+[space] to open Spotlight, and then type your sum – you can even use brackets for more complex maths. The answer will appear where Spotlight’s results usually come up, and you can copy the results with Command+c.

19. Upload movies to YouTube with QuickTime

There’s an easier way to get your movies online than going through YouTube’s web interface. Double-click your movie on your Mac to open it in QuickTime Player, then click on the Share icon in the player and select YouTube (though you can choose other services). The first time, you’ll have to log in, but after that you’ll be taken straight to options for giving your video tags, a description and categorising it. You can also make a movie personal, so that it’s not immediately visible to the wider world.

20. Speed up the Bookmarks bar

Safari’s Bookmarks bar is a great way to make your favourite sites easy to access, but you can actually speed things up even more! When you place a site in the bar, it’s assigned a keyboard shortcut based on its position – just press Command+1 to access the first site in the bar, Command+2 to access the second, and so on.

21. Close many windows quickly

Sometimes, working at your Mac for a while can leave you with a lot of open windows – lots of Preview images, for example, or Finder windows. Rather than closing them individually, you can close all of an application’s windows at once by pressing Option+Command+W. It only closes windows from the currently active app, so your other work is safe.

22. Hide apps quickly

Full-screen apps make it easy to focus on something, but that’s not the only way to clear yourself of distractions: if you want to hide all open applications except for the one that’s currently active, press Option+Command+H and they’ll disappear – you can show them again by selecting them in the Dock. Conversely, to hide only the active application, just press Command+H. If you click the desktop while holding Command+Option, you’ll hide all application windows except for Finder.

23. Open a file’s location in Finder from Spotlight

When you don’t know where a file is, Spotlight is the easiest way to find it, but you won’t always want to open the file: you might just want to see it in Finder. To do this, highlight the result you want in Spotlight, but hold Command when you click on it. This will open the file’s location in Finder. You can also use this trick with files displayed in Stacks on the Dock to open them in Finder.

24. See hidden options

Holding Option actually lets you get to more options in the menu bar, as well as in the menus themselves. For example, the Restart…, Shut Down… and so on options in the Apple menu are followed by an ellipses to indicate that they’ll bring up a dialogue when selected, but if you hold Option when clicking them, you can skip this dialogue and immediately perform the action.

Hold Option while looking through other menus and you’ll see more options change, such as ‘Add Link’ becoming ‘Remove Link’ in Mail. Similarly, try holding Option while clicking the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi icons in the menu bar to see more details and options for your connections.

25. Rename, duplicate and revert files easily


In OS X Lion, Apple introduced some new features for working with files, and a new hidden menu to access them. When you’ve opened a document, move your cursor over its name to bring up a small black arrow just to the right. Click this arrow and you bring up a menu with some of these new options. The most useful are the ability to rename and duplicate files, but you can also lock a file to prevent further editing, change it so that the file is stored in iCloud instead of only on your hard drive (though only in compatible apps), or move the file.

The flashiest feature is the ability to revert to a previous version of a file, though: you can choose an older version from what’s listed in this menu, or click ‘Browse All Versions…’ to enter a Time Machine-like interface, where you can scroll through older versions of that file and compare them to the current one.

26. Switch audio source/output from the menu bar

Audio menu

If you have headphones or speakers set up with your Mac, and if you have a headset or microphone connected, you might find yourself wanting to switch between different inputs or outputs, but this doesn’t have to mean a slog to System Preferences every time: hold Option and click the volume adjuster in the menu bar and it’ll bring up a list of audio inputs and outputs. You can then select the ones you want (though it can’t display too many, so might be limiting for complex set-ups).

Working with text

These tips work in most apps on the Mac – big, legacy apps such as Word or InDesign often do things differently, though

27. Quickly type out the phrases you regularly use

If you find yourself regularly typing the same things – whether that’s a single Unicode character that doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut, or an entire chunk of text such as an email signature or even just an email address – the built-in Text Replacement feature in OS X is a boon.

Go to the Text tab of the Language & Text pane of System Preferences and click the +. Put the shortcut you want into the left column and the text you want it to expand to in the right. (One idea our friend Craig Grannell had is to preface all these shortcuts with ‘[[‘ so that you don’t accidentally mistype something to trigger a macro) You then have to make sure Edit > Substitutions > Text Replacement is checked in each of the apps you want this to work in.

28. Quickly and perfectly select chunks of text

Sure you can use the mouse to click and drag over a section of text, but you have to be quite precise to position the cursor perfectly – which slows you down – and you can often capture rogue spaces and punctuation that you then have to edit out if you’re copying and pasting. But there is a quicker way!

1. To select a word, position the mouse cursor anywhere along its length and then double-click. To select an entire paragraph, position the mouse cursor anywhere inside the paragraph and then click three times. But wait, there’s more!

2. Let’s say you want to select three words in a row. Position the cursor somewhere on the first word then double-click, keeping your finger pressed down on the second click. Now drag left or right to the last word – you’ll see you’re now selecting a word at a time.

3. Not quite selected everything you wanted? Hold Shift and then click beyond your selection to add the text in between to the selection. Alternatively, to make a selection, position the cursor where you want the selection to start, scroll to the end then click while holding Shift.

29. Select text in non-standard layouts

If, though, the text you’re selecting isn’t in a neat paragraph, you might think you can’t select it. But actually, that’s not so! Holding down Option brings up crosshairs to let you select a rectangle of text, which is ideal for copying columns of numbers, for example. Alternatively, holding down Command will let you select non-contiguous bits of text.

‘Non-contiguous’ might be a phrase you’ve never come across before, but in this context it just means bits of text that aren’t next to each other in a sentence or paragraph. Let’s say we wanted to select the first sentence of this tip and this paragraph at once; we can easily do that by selecting the opening sentence then select this paragraph while holding down Command. Best of all, you can combine the previous tip with this one, so you could click and drag to select the first sentence and then triple click the paragraph while holding Command.

30. Zap your cursor around the text for easy editing

You waste a lot of time switching from the keyboard to the mouse to move your cursor around text. Force yourself to learn these text navigation shortcuts, though, and you’ll be zipping around your words in no time!

Option+Left Move one word to the left
Command+Left Move to the start of the line
Replace ” with the other arrow keys and see what happens!
Add Shift to these commands to select text as you move
+T Transpose (swap) the two letters either side of the cursor

31. Get in-line synonyms, definitions and more

Sometimes when you’re writing, you might not always be able to reach for that perfect word. Or maybe you’re not even sure if you’ve used the right word and need to check, just in case. Or maybe you just want to do a bit of research for an essay, for instance.

Happily, the built-in Dictionary in OS X puts synonyms, definitions and even Wikipedia within easy reach. Select a word or phrase with your mouse or using keyboard shortcuts and then either right-click the selection and click Look Up or tap Ctrl +Command+D.

In the pop-over window that appears, simply click the headings to open the standalone Dictionary app in that mode, and you can click the ellipsis to see more entries. Best of all, you can change the order that the dictionary, thesaurus and so on appear in the Dictionary app’s preferences, so if you’re always reaching for synonyms but never use Wikipedia, say, you can move the thesaurus to the top and even disable Wikipedia entirely.

Working with other devices

Get connected with your other gadgets to work better and smarter

32. Connect to the internet through your iPhone

Connect Mac to iPhone

The iPhone comes with a feature that enables it to share its 3G or 4G mobile broadband connection with other devices (though this must be allowed by your network operator), making it perfect for getting your Mac online wherever you are. There are three ways to connect your Mac to your iPhone to share its signal: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB.

To begin, go to the Personal Hotspot option in the iPhone’s Settings menu, and turn it on. If you want to connect over Wi-Fi, find the Wi-Fi network created by the iPhone in your Mac’s Wi-Fi options, select it, and enter the password shown in the iPhone.

To connect using USB, plug your iPhone into your Mac and you should get a dialog that takes you to the Network section in System Preferences, from which you can select the iPhone. For Bluetooth, activate Bluetooth on both devices and pair them, and the connection option should again appear in System Preferences > Network.

33. Share a DVD drive with Remote Disc

Remote disc

Remote Disc enables you to effectively share a DVD drive between multiple Macs, letting you, say, use an older iMac’s SuperDrive with a MacBook Air to install software. To activate this on the Mac that has the disc drive, go to System Preferences > Sharing and check ‘DVD or CD Sharing’, then insert the disc you want to share. Make sure the other Mac is connected to the same network as the disc-laden one, then open a Finder window and look in the sidebar for Remote Disc in the Devices section. Click it, then double-click the computer you want to connect to.

34. Print to the next available printer

It can be annoying having to wait for someone else to print out large documents when you’re in a hurry, so use this tip to minimise the wait if you have access to more than one printer. In System Preferences > Print & Fax, you can select multiple printers and create a Printer Pool. You can then select this Pool from the print dialogue in apps instead of your individual printers, and if one printer is in use, your Mac will automatically send the document to one that’s free instead – no waiting!

35. Use Home Sharing to share your iTunes library

home sharing

It’s pretty common for members of a family or a shared house to want to share their music or movies with each other, and you can do this easily with iTunes. Go to iTunes > Preferences > Sharing, and then check the box labelled ‘Share my library on my local network’. If you want to limit who can access your library, set a password in the box near the bottom, otherwise everyone will be able to access it.

You can also limit sharing to particular areas or playlists in your iTunes library. Once Home Sharing is turned on, other iTunes users can see your library by clicking the Library drop-down menu in the top-left of iTunes. iOS device users can also access libraries through Home Sharing by going to the More tab in the Music or Videos apps.

36. Share a printer with other Macs

Share a printer

Network printers are massively useful, letting anyone on your network print wirelessly, but if you’ve got a great printer already connected to one Mac and don’t want to replace it, you can still get the same convenience. Go to System Preferences > Sharing and check the Printer Sharing service. This will bring up a screen where you can select the printer to share, and specify who can use it, if necessary. Once this is set up, any Mac on the network can access that printer from the print dialogue, though the Mac the printer is connected to must be turned on.

37. Get wireless audio and video with AirPlay


AirPlay is Apple’s technology for streaming audio and video around your house, and it’s available on both iOS devices and Macs. Most Macs can stream audio to AirPlay speakers, while newer Macs can also mirror their displays to an Apple TV, letting you show something on the big screen.

For basic AirPlay output from iTunes, you just need to click its symbol – the rectangle with the triangle cutting into it – next to the volume bar and choose where you want to send the music. If you want all of your system audio to come from the speakers instead of just music, though, hold Option and press a volume control key to open the Sound preferences, where you can choose an output (or use the Menu bar tip we already mentioned).

If an Apple TV is on the same network as your Mac, an AirPlay icon will appear automatically in the menu bar. To start mirroring your screen, select it, then click on the name of your Apple TV.

Keep your Mac secure

Make sure your machine is safe from prying eyes and sticky fingers

38. Add a Guest User account to your Mac


As you probably know, you can add multiple users to your Mac, so that every person in your home or office, say, can have their own space to work and to set things up how they like them. But there’s another kind of account you can turn on: a Guest account.

Turn it on in System Preferences > Users & Groups, and now you’ll be presented with Guest as an option at the login screen. Anyone can use it – no password needed – but once they’re finished everything they do will be wiped. This is great not just for Macs in foyers or spare rooms, say, but it’s also great for if a friend or colleague says, “Can I just borrow your Mac for a minute to do something?”

You probably should turn off Automatic login and set your Security & Privacy settings to require a password after, say, five seconds of sleep or screensaver time. That way you can be sure nobody will be able to access your stuff, but when they try to use your Mac they’ll be offered the option of switching user and can then pick Guest.

39. Restrict what someone can do – and when!


The Parental Controls in OS X are simple, but there are plenty of options in there – some of which are useful for other things than preventing underage access. You can limit computer use to a certain length of time every day, set a ‘bedtime’ after which users won’t be able to use the computer, limit the functions of the Finder, limit what apps that user can use and more. You could, for example, disallow a nervous computer user from modifying the Dock or changing their password.

40. Prevent malicious apps

If you’re running OS X 10.7 or later, you have a feature called Gatekeeper. Configured through the General tab of the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences, this tells your Mac whether it can run only apps from the App Store, apps from the App Store plus trusted developers (those who have been given Apple’s blessing) or from anywhere. That middle option is usually the best one – malicious apps should be prevented from running. If you have an ‘unsigned app’ (one not from one of Apple’s trusted developers) that you’re sure is safe, you don’t have to switch to the least secure option in System Preferences. Right-click it, choose Open and then click Open in the dialog.

41. Avoid keyloggers

One method of attack is to capture what you type – with the intention to harvest passwords. To mitigate the risk of this, you can click letters using an on-screen keyboard. Go to Language & Text (or International on older systems) then Input Sources and check Keyboard & Character Viewer. Now launch the on-screen keyboard from the menu bar.

Fixing annoyances

Sort quirks in a jiffy, whether its connectivity glitches or resizing windows

42. Find menu bar options quickly using Help

Menu bar options

 Some apps have more menu bar options than you can hope to keep track of, but instead of searching through each drop-down list manually, you can use the last Help menu to speed things up. It contains a search box, where you can type in the name of the option you’re looking for. Results come up underneath it, and hovering over a result will show you which menu it’s in, or you can just click the result to select it.

43. Set preferred Wi-Fi networks

If there are a few different Wi-Fi networks around that you connect to (and some in the same place), you can set an order of preference for your Mac, so that it will always connect to the one you want if it’s available. Go to System Preferences > Network, click Wi-Fi if it’s not selected, and then click Advanced… Here, you can drag networks up and down in the list to prioritise them, or select one and then click the minus button to remove it from the list altogether.

44. Retrieve your forgotten passwords

If you can’t remember one of your login passwords for a website, you might be able to recover it from Keychain Access. Run Keychain Access from Utilities, then look in the list for the website you’re after. Right-click on it and select ‘Copy Password to Clipboard’. You’ll then be asked for your user login password to prove that you’re really you. Enter that and the missing password will be copied, so you can just paste it into the log-in field.

45. Take control of your windows

You can be quite flexible when it comes to windows in OS X – not only can you drag from any side to resize them these days, but you can also hold Option to resize them from two sides at once (the one you’re dragging and the opposite one), or hold Shift to resize it while keeping it locked to the same proportions. And while we’re talking about windows, if you want to move any that are in the background without bringing them to the fore, hold Command and then drag them around.

46. Paste text without keeping its formatting

When you copy text from some applications, and especially from the web, you tend to also copy its formatting, such as the text size, font choice and so on. When you then paste this into some text fields, such as in an email, it looks out of place, and can make things hard to read. To paste the text without its original formatting (so it just formats in the same way as the rest of what you’re pasting into), instead of pressing Command+V, press Option+Shift+Command+V. Microsoft Word actually has a ‘Paste Special…’ menu option to do the same thing.

47. Change which app a file is opened with

Default programs

If you want a file to open in an app other than its default, select the file and press Command+I, to show its information. In the ‘Open with:’ section, use the drop-down menu to choose a new app. If you just close the window here, that change will only be applied to that one file; if you want other files of that type to use that same app, click ‘Change All…’ beneath the drop-down menu.

48. Have things ready at log-in

If there are certain apps that you’ll always want to have open when you start up your Mac, you can set this up in System Preferences. Go to Users, make sure your user account is highlighted, then click Login Items. Click the + and you can choose an application, file server or pretty much anything else that should open when you log in. Once you’ve added something, you can use the checkboxes to opt to hide it, though it will still be running in the background. Having lots of these set up can make your Mac slower to start up, though, so if you need to speed things up and temporarily don’t need them running, hold Shift while OS X is logging you in to suppress them.

49. See what your Mac’s up to with Activity Monitor 

Activity monitor

If you find your Mac is running slow, or the fans are kicking in when you don’t appear to be doing anything too intensive, you can see if you can identify what’s causing it. Activity Monitor in OS X shows you how your Mac’s resources are being used. Launch Activity Monitor from the Utilities folder to see current processes, and the resources they take up. The columns show you things such as the CPU usage of a process or the RAM it’s taking up. If there’s a process that’s hogging resources and you’re confident it’s not needed, you can end it by selecting it, then clicking Quit Process. If you’re just curious about how system resources are being used, click the tabs (CPU, System Memory and so on) to see graphs of your usage over time.

50. Back up your Mac

Okay, so we know that people haven’t actually forgotten they can back up with their Mac, but we also know that so many people don’t bother. Please do! Ever since OS X 10.5 Apple has made it easy to back up using Time Machine. Ideally you should be doing other things to back up as well, but at least do Time Machine; you can pick up a 2TB drive for less than sixty quid. Go on. Do it today!

OS X Mavericks Tips


The gesture to show the Desktop by holding down your thumb and spreading with three fingers has been reworked to allow for a gradual activation. Try this by holding down four fingers and slowly spreading to show the Desktop.

In Mavericks, there is a new character popover to access emoji and other special characters. To activate it, hit ⌃⌘Space and the popover will appear under your cursor. You can view recently used emoji and swipe down in the popover to show a search field that lets you find a specific emoji by name. You can also access the old-style Special Characters window by clicking the icon next to the search field.

Clicking the triangle next to a document’s name in the title bar now shows a new popover to rename a file, assign tags to it, change its location, and lock it. Tags are auto-completed from existing tags on your Mac. The old version browser is still available under File > Revert To > Browse All Versions….

For Tags, Finder has received a new panel in the Preferences to add new tags, manage them, and configure Favorite Tags (the ones that show up in the Finder’s sidebar and other quick menus).

You arrange items by tag from View > Arrange By > Tags (⌃⌘7).

Tags are shown at the top of a document’s Get Info panel (⌘I). From that field, you can add tags and remove them; Spotlight comments have been moved further down the panel.

You can open a new tab in Finder with ⌘T; you can also merge all windows into a single window with tabs, and move a tab to a separate window from the Window menu.

You can move between open tabs with ⌃⇧⇥ and ⌃⇥.

Like Calendar in Mountain Lion, Reminders dragged to the Finder now get a thumbnail preview that shows the todo’s name and other information. You can even Quick Look these items to see their status (such as “Needs Action” for uncompleted reminders).

If you want to prevent an app from using App Nap, you can hit ⌘I on an .app file in your /Applications folder and then check “Prevent App Nap” under general in the Get Info panel.

You can hold ⌘ and double-click a folder to quickly open it in a new Finder tab.

In the Trash, you can now sort deleted items by Date Added in List view.

The Finder’s List view has new, larger column headers, and there is a new animation when you delete a file in List view.

Finder selections have rounded corners in List and Column view.

If your Home directory, you can now open the View Options (⌘J) and check Show Library Folder to always show your ~/Library in the Finder. No more Terminal hacks!


Clicking the + button in the new Contacts app now lets you choose between adding a new contact, a group, or a field to a selected contact.

The app has a new design with three panels; ⌘1 is now Hide/Show Groups under the View menu (it was Groups in Mountain Lion).

Hovering over an address makes a “Show Map” link appear on the right side of the screen; click it, and the address will open in the new Maps app.

You can now export cards to PDF from File > Export as PDF… (a new menu that has also been added to other Apple apps).

Google Accounts now allow for native contact sync in System Preferences > Internet Accounts (what used to be called Mail, Contacts & Calendars).


Using File > Move Books from iTunes…, you can import books you have in iTunes into the new iBooks app.

You can right-click on a book in your Library to show a contextual menu with various options like Show in iBooks Store or New Collection From Selection.

You can set ePub line break and hyphenation settings in Preferences > General.

You can right-click a word to show a contextual menu with options for annotations and research in your default browser.

Notification Center

Lock screen notifications can be disabled for individual apps in System Preferences > Notifications.

Notification Center has gained a new battery notification for low power (it replaces the old modal dialog).

Banner notifications now show contact photos for Messages; you can put your cursor over a message notification to quickly reply to it without opening the Messages app.

There is a new Messages button to quickly send a message from the top of Notification Center. Clicking it will open a small compose box similar to the Tweet and Facebook widgets.

There is a new notification for disks that haven’t been ejected properly.

Upon logging into Mavericks for the first time, you’ll get a notification telling you to check out what’s new in Mavericks at this link. https://help.apple.com/osx-mavericks/whats-new


There is a new Today view that shows items due on the current day.

You can now right-click a list in Reminders to quickly Complete All Reminders.

Calendars and Reminders are two separate sync options in System Preferences > iCloud.


You can now tell the browser to avoid preloading the Top Hit in the background under Preferences > Privacy > Smart Search Field.

Safari’s AutoFill settings have a new option for adding and managing credit card information. You can add new credit cards, and Safari will automatically add an icon (Visa, MasterCard, etc) after you enter the card’s number.

A new option in Preferences > Advanced lets Safari stop Internet plugins to save power.

In Mountain Lion’s Safari 6, when you opened a Google search, clicked on a result, and then tried to find that result again in Safari’s History, you used to get a Google redirect URL instead of the result’s direct link. In Safari 7, results opened from Google show up in History with their real URL, and not the Google redirect one.

There are three new shortcuts for the Sidebar under the View menu: Show Bookmarks Sidebar (⌃⌘1), Show Reading List Sidebar (⌃⌘2), and Show Shared Links Sidebar (⌃⌘3).

Right-clicking a bookmark in the Favorites Bar to Edit Address no longer takes you to the bookmarks manager. There is a new popover to edit a bookmark’s URL without leaving the webpage you’re viewing.

You can right-click a shared link in the Sidebar to show a contextual menu to open a link in a new tab or new window, update shared links, and, for Twitter links, retweet a tweet and show the original tweet and author on the Twitter website.

System Preferences

There is a new option to use Enhanced Dictation for offline usage and live feedback in System Preferences > Dictation & Speech.

The Language & Text panel is now Language & Region and it has been completely redesigned. The segmented controls at the top are gone and you can now use dropdown menus and the Advanced button to access various settings.

The Input Sources tab in the Keyboard preferences panel has been redesigned to show a preview of a keyboard layout. A preview is also shown when adding a new input source.

Displays can have separate Spaces in Mavericks. To configure the option, you need to check a box in System Preferences > Mission Control.

You can now sync text shortcuts with iOS using iCloud. Shortcuts are available in System Preferences > Keyboard > Text; hitting the space bar accepts a correction, while Esc dismisses the suggestion and inserts the shortcut’s text as it is.

In Mavericks, you can create a keyboard shortcut to quickly compress any Finder item with just a hotkey. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts and create a new shortcut for “Compress” (without quotes). Now, in the Finder, you’ll be able to compress any item just by hitting your shortcut. In Mountain Lion, the menu used to be called “Application Shortcuts”, and adding a custom shortcut for “Compress” wouldn’t work in the Finder.

You can disable iCloud storage on an app-by-app basis in Mavericks. Go to System Preferences > iCloud > Documents & Data, click Options, and check off apps you don’t want to store documents in iCloud. This will also disable the iCloud Document Library that apps show when launched without open documents.

Do Not Disturb has received its own dedicated section in System Preferences > Notifications to allow for scheduling and other option that mirror what is available on iOS.

Go to System Preferences > iCloud > Account Details to allow approving with a security code for iCloud Keychain. In this screen, you can also click Change Security Code… to enter a new four-digit numeric security code and click Advanced to create a random or complex security code.

Apple now refers to spaces as “Spaces” (uppercase) in System Preferences > Mission Control.

The Software Update preference panel is gone. You can now check for updates in System Preferences > App Store.

Mavericks can install app updates automatically like iOS 7. You can disable the option in System Preferences > App Store.


The Dashboard has a new background in Mavericks.

Both Launchpad and Dashboard folders are transparent (linen-free) in Mavericks.

The Launchpad has new sparkling indicators for new apps.

When displayed on the sides of the screen, Mavericks’ dock has a new look.

New dictionaries have been added to the Dictionary app (Dutch, Italian, Simplified Chinese-English, and more).

The new emoji popover replaces Edit > Insert Smiley in Messages.

Photo Booth has a new Plastic Camera effect and other effects have been tweaked for this update (such as moon becoming hologram).

The “Find” command now works for finding text inside a specific note in the Notes app.

In Mavericks, every Mission Control item can be dragged & dropped to be rearranged. You can put a full-screen app next to the Dashboard and even move the Dashboard from the left and all the way to the right or in between Spaces.

In the Maps app, you can use the View menu to tweak many visual settings such as labels in local languages, large labels, as well as a useful scale.

You can click the battery icon in the menubar to show apps that are using significant energy and ⌥-click it to view your battery’s condition.

Available updates in the Mac App Store have a new contextual menu to install now or schedule for later. The App Store will show updates scheduled to be installed in a separate section.

The Mac App Store can now show updates installed in the last 30 days.

Location pins “jump” when you hover over them in Maps suggested results (in the sidebar on the right).

The Calendar inspector has been redesigned to have sections that you can click to show/hide.

Automator 2.4 can store documents in iCloud for sync across multiple Macs.

Network Utility has moved from Applications/Utilities to System/Library/Core Services/Applications. You can also open System Information and click Window > Network Utility to open the app.

There is a new Holidays calendar in the Calendar’s General Preferences.

When right-clicking a Calendar search result, the contextual menu now shows new options to email or message all invitees.

In Messages, smilies are now automatically corrected to the corresponding emoji.

Top Tips

OS X has some really great features that Windows’ users might envy; There are the well documented and much talked about features like Mission Control, Desktop Spaces, and the Launchpad, but OS X is also stocked full of several smaller and less hyped about features and tricks that even some veteran Mac users are unaware of. Regardless of how long you’ve been using the platform, it’s always nice to learn a new trick or two that your Mac can do, and we’ve complied whole list of them to help you use your Mac more efficiently.


Reposition The Screenshot Selection Area

OS X has a built-in screenshot tool that can capture any user defined area on the screen, in addition to the entire screen and any selected window. If you have ever started to capture a particular area on your screen and realized it needs to be slight above or below the point you started to drag your mouse from, you can simply hold down the Space bar without releasing the mouse, and move your cursor around to reposition the selection box you’ve created.

Reposition The Screenshot

Open A File, Folder Or App In Finder From Spotlight Search

Spotlight is one of the best system-wide search features you will find on a desktop OS. If you’ve as yet been unable to figure out how to open a file, folder, or app in Finder from Spotlight’s search results, you do so with Command+Enter.

Move Up Directory Structure For Any Website In Safari

Moving to the previous folder or moving up a folder level in Finder is easy using the Back button or the folder path bar at the bottom of Finder. Safari supports a similar feature as well – Command+Click Safari’s title bar (not the address bar), and it will list all options for moving up the directory structure of the website.

Move Up Directory

Drag Windows Without Bringing Them Into Focus

OS X allows you to scroll any window that your cursor is positioned over, regardless of whether the window is in focus or not. If you’ve ever wanted to move an app window while still keeping it in the background, you can do so by holding down the Command key while dragging it to any other position. You will not lose focus of the app you were last working in.

Reveal Hidden Files In Open File Dialog

We’ve covered quite a few tips and tricks that require you to access hidden folders but if you’re getting weary of always hiding and unhiding the hidden folders in OS X, you can access and open them by hitting Command+Shift+. in any Open File dialog box.

Hide A System Preference Pane

System Preferences has a really great search feature that highlights which preference pane you should look in for modifying a particular setting. If you’ve always felt that System Preferences was a bit too cluttered to your liking, you can hide the panes you rarely or never use. Open System Preferences, click the ‘View’ menu, and select ‘Customize’.

Hide A System Preference Pane

You should now be in the customization mode for preferences. Simply uncheck the preferences that you want to hide, and click ‘Done’. To restore a preference, just enter customization mode again and all preference panes – hidden and visible – will appear. The hidden preferences will be unchecked; select them again and they will become visible in System Preferences just as before.

Select The Secondary Option In Any Dialog Box

Whenever a dialog box appears asking you to confirm or cancel an action, one option is always highlighted with a blue glow. This default or primary option is what is executed when you hit Enter. Any other option is known as the secondary option and if you simply want to execute this one with one quick keystroke, just hit Space. Note that this will not work well for dialog boxes where you have more than two options available. In those cases, you have to use the Tab key to highlight a button to execute it from the keyboard.

Cleaning Up The Right-Click Context Menu

Apps add options to the right-click context menu that are specific to apps and sometimes the type of files and folders you right-click on. Apps themselves might be very useful, but these options can be a source of clutter. To edit these options, go to the keyboard preferences in System Preferences. In the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, select Services in the left column to see a complete list of options that appear in the right-click context menu. The list will include both stock options as well as those added by apps. Just unselect the ones you don’t want to keep.


Add Spacers To The Dock

Spacers in Dock help separate groups of icons and folders. It’s an easy way to organize the apps you have pinned to the Dock, but OS X doesn’t let you add spacers easily. To do so, open Terminal, and run the following commands:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{tile-data={}; tile-type="spacer-tile";}'
killall Dock


A spacer will be added, and you can drag and reposition it anywhere on the Dock. To remove it altogether, just drag it off the Dock and click & hold over it your desktop.

Rearrange System Icons In The Menu Bar

The system icons on the Menu Bar can be rearranged by holding down the Command key and clicking & dragging the icon to a different position. While this works for all system icons, it wouldn’t necessarily work for all third-party app icons.

Rearrange System Icons

Resize & Set Default Column Width For All Columns In Finder

In Finder’s Column view, the width of the columns varies depending on the file name but if you want to set it to be uniform regardless of the file names, hold down the Option key as you resize a column and all columns will instantly change to the width of that column.

Create A Hidden Folder

We’ve told you how to view hidden files in OS X, but we’ve never really talked about creating a hidden folder. Let’s get right to it. First of all, launch Terminal and navigate to the folder in which you want to create the hidden folder. To see which folder you’re currently in, type pwd in Terminal. To navigate to a different folder, use the cd command followed by the folder path. You can easily enter any folder’s path in Terminal by simply dragging and dropping the folder from Finder into Terminal.

Once you’re finally in the desired folder, run the following command:

mkdir .myhiddenfolder

Hidden Folder

Feel free to change the myhiddenfolder to the folder name of your choice, but don’t remove the period; it’s this period before the folder name that defines it as hidden and if you leave it out, you will have created a normal folder.

Make Mission Control Show Windows From Current Desktop Space Only

By default, Mission Control shows all windows for all apps that are currently running. If you accidentally click on a window that’s open in a different Desktop Space, you will switch to that window and consequently, to that space. To restrict Mission Control to showing only the windows open in the currently active Desktop Space, run the following Terminal commands:

defaults write com.apple.dock wvous-show-windows-in-other-spaces -bool FALSE
killall Dock

Mission Control

That should do it – you should now see only the windows from the currently active Desktop Space in Mission Control. To reverse this and change it back to the way it was, run the following commands:

defaults write com.apple.dock wvous-show-windows-in-other-spaces -bool TRUE
killall Dock

Delay Dragging Windows To Another Desktop Space

If you’ve installed apps that mimic the Windows Aero Snap feature on Mac, you might not like how often you can end up accidentally moving a window to different Desktop Space. Surprisingly, this can happen even when you’re just trying to rearrange app windows because the Desktop Space switching feature is quite sensitive. A workaround for this is to run the following command and play around with the value at the end until you have a response time that you’re comfortable with.

defaults write com.apple.dock workspaces-edge-delay -float 0.5
killall Dock

Move Selected Files & Folders To A New Folder

Have you ever spent ten minutes carefully selecting files and folders from a densly populated folder, only to realize you forgot to create the new folder you planned on moving them to? OS X has a built in workaround for that. With the desired files and folders selected, just hit Control+Command+N, and the selected items will be moved to a brand new folder that OS X will create for you. The folder will be named after the number of files in it.

new folder