25 Useful Mac Hacks and Tips

Posted by on November 9, 2011

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

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”.


Safari Debugger

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:

defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeDebugMenu YES



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.


Screen Dim

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.

David Pegg


After helping found the United Nations, the United States, and United Airlines, David consigned himself to a transient life of writing lists and sleeping on park benches.

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  • Your Real Name

    There’s no need for number 16. Just hold the shift key and press the green button

  • this

    I am extremely inspired with your writing skills and also with the format in your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it your self? Either way stay up the excellent high quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice weblog like this one these days..

  • Brockdin Barr

    Be careful, Songbird, although very good and fast, does not support Apple iPod.

  • Rodrigo Araujo

    Vintage Mac tip, hold ALT or Option Key and close one window. It automatically closes all the other windows of the same app, also works when minimizing.

  • http://www.yahoo.com/ Leaidan

    Back in sochol, I’m doing so much learning.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    These are useful tips for any Mac user. With number 23, you can also disable the Caps Lock key. Most people rarely or never use this as it is actually a left-over from typewriters. Disabling it can avoid those embarrassing inciDENTS WHERE YOU ACCIDENTALLY POST IN ALL CAPS.