For some of us using a Mac is natural. Its like having another arm or leg. For others it is a bit more complicated. We all know someone who thinks “Mac” is synonymous with “utter chaos masked in sleek perfection”. No matter what category you fall into, however, you will surely find this list of 25 Mac Hacks and Tips helpful, or perhaps even amusing.
Hot corners allows you to designate some sort of event that should take place when you scroll your mouse into one of the four corners of your screen. For example, you can set it up so that when you place your mouse in the bottom left your computer will go to sleep. This is one of those features that is hard to live without once you get used to it. You can configure hot corners in “Expose and Spaces” under System Preferences.
Spaces almost goes hand in hand with hot corners. This feature allows you to split your desktop into multiple screens and is very useful for multitasking. It can be configured on the same screen as hot corners.
Change command button to control
For many new Mac users this can be the hardest thing to adjust to. For those of you struggling with this, we bring you good news – its very easy to remap the “control” button to function as the “command” button. Go to System Preferences » Keyboard & Mouse. On this screen select “Modifier Keys” which will allow you to remap the functionality of the most important keys on your keyboard, including “command” and “control”.
Although Safari probably doesn’t have as good of a rep as some other browsers, it still packs a lot of power. One of the coolest hidden features is the very useful debugger. In order to activate it type this command into your terminal:
Although it has features like iPhoto, Mac doesn’t come with any advanced photography editing tools like Photoshop. The good thing is that there are a lot of free alternatives out there, the best being Gimp. Because it is open source there are even some hacks that make it function almost exactly like photoshop.
If you need something more than TextEdit then Textmate may do the trick. Designed especially for developers this is a powerful platform that extends Apple’s approach to operating systems into text editors.
Invert screen colors
Not many people know about his trick, but if you want to see your Mac invert its screen colors hold down Ctrl-Option-Cmd-8 on the keyboard.
Slow motion windows
Normally when you minimize a window by clicking on the yellow button it zooms to the bottom of your screen. If you’re really bored one of these days try doing it while holding down the shift button. Hey, it might not get you a girlfriend but its still cool.
Quick Look Expanded
Quicklook is one of those features that really sets a Mac apart. You don’t even have to open the file to read what’s inside. As unbelievable as it may seem there are some plugins out there that can make it even better.
Maximize screen zoom
One of the biggest complaints by new Mac users (after no right-click) is the behavior of the zoom button (the green button in the top left corner). It acts nothing like its Windows counterpart. There are several plugins out there that will force it to behave more like the maximize button in Windows.
Activity monitor in dock
By using this tool you gain similar functionality to the task manager in Windows. It is a good idea to add this item to your dock because it will take on some extra functionality. Its icon will actually display a pie chart of memory use and if you want to force quit applications it will provide you with a lot of extra information about processes you have running.
If you travel a lot or you just want to conserve your battery life you may like the fact that your Mac automatically dims the screen to save your batteries. Sometimes this can be annoying, however, and it can be changed by going to System Preferences » Energy Saver and selecting the options for “battery”.
As far as media players are concerned VLC is one of the best you can get for your Mac. All you have to do is download it. It is completely free and it will play almost anything, including your DVDs.
Although iTunes is the default music player for Mac many people prefer using something else. Songbird is one such opensource alternative that will give you myriad of features to manage all of your music files.
As cool as the Mac stickies are there is a lot of room for improvement. Sketchbox allows you to upgrade your stickies functionality to add drawings, set individual reminders, or even use them as an alarm clock.
Built in dictionary
This is one of the coolest features on Mac and arguably another reason to use native programs like Safari. This is because as long as you are in Cocoa applications (things like Safari and TextEdit that are native to Mac) you can press Ctrl-Cmd-D while hovering your mouse over a word and you will receive the dictionary definition.
If you are having trouble using the default mail application on Mac then Thunderbird may be a viable alternative. It was developed by the Mozilla team so if you are used to using Firefox it should be relatively easy to pick up.
Carbon Copy Cloner
Making a copy of your hard drive is fairly important as anyone whose computer has crashed will tell you and Carbon Copy Cloner is one of the best applications to help you with this.
This is one of the best bit torrents for Mac. Its lightweight and because it is also open source you don’t have to worry about anyone playing games with you to get your money. Not only this but it works great and was styled to fit right into the Mac GUI.
If you are tired of always specifying what program to use to open files of the same type do this: open one of the files and click “get info”. This will bring up a lot of information about the file so find the section that says “open with”. Select the program you want to use and then press “Change All”. From now on every file of this type will open with that program.
Log in items
If your Mac is taking a long time to boot one way of speeding it up is to decrease the number of applications that open immediately after you log in. You can do this by going to System Preferences » Accounts and selecting “Login Items”.
The dock is one of those features unique to Mac that people either love or hate. Since Mac doesn’t really give people many options when it comes to customization there are a lot of plugins and hacks out there to accomplish this. One plugin that works well is Candybar. It gives you a wide variety of styling options and lets you customize your dock fairly easily.
This has been the bane of many a person’s existence who has made the switch from PC to Mac. The fact of the matter though, is that it shouldn’t be a problem. Mac actually does support right-clicking as long as you enable it. You can do this by going to System Preferences » Trackpad.
Mouse tracking speed
The reason mouse tracking feels different on Mac than PC is because it doesn’t accelerate. One way to adjust for this is to turn the tracking speed all the way up to “fast”. (see image above)
After such a long list of amazing things you can do with your Mac we know that you are probably considering turning all of your computers into Macs, including your PCs. Well, you are not the only one. Hackintosh is a project devoted to making OSX available on unsupported computers, so now you can.
David is the editor-in-chief of List25. He has a Masters degree in International Business from University of Florida. He loves to break dance, do flips, play guitar, and everything else that is fun. Follow him on Twitter @iamdpegg