We write lots of complicated how-tos and in-depth buying guides here at Macworld, but sometimes we just want to quickly tell you about our favorite tricks and tips that take mere seconds to use but will save you lots of time and frustration.
Shake to find your cursor
If you’ve ever lost your mouse in a sea of windows and spent tens of seconds trying to find it, you’ll wonder where this trick has been your whole life. Go to the Accessibility pane in System Preferences, then Display, and finally Cursor. Make sure the “Shake mouse pointer to locate” checkbox is selected. Now, you’ll be able to quickly move your mouse or your finger over the trackpad for a second or two to briefly enlarge your cursor so you can quickly spot it.
A few generations ago, Apple decided to clean up the interface by removing the scroll bars from the right edge of windows. They magically appear and disappear when you start scrolling, but if you want to quickly grab a scroll bar and move to a specific point in a browser or document, it’s tricky and not very intuitive. But you can turn them back on. Head over to the General pane in System Preferences and you’ll see an Always option under the Show scroll bars section. It may look weird at first if you’ve been living without them for a while, but you’ll get over that the first time you instinctively grab a scroll bar and swiftly move through a lengthy webpage.
Use your corners
Mac veterans know all about the usefulness of Hot Corners, but if you’re new to the Mac, you might not have stumbled upon the feature yet. To find it, go to the Desktop & Screen Saver pane in System Preferences, click on the Screen Saver tab, and select Hot Corners at the bottom. A pop-up window will appear with drop-down menus for each of the corners of your screen. You can select from nine options, including Start Screen Saver, Put Display to Sleep, and Lock Screen, as well as a few other common actions. (If you’re using an external display, the corners will shift to that display.) It’s especially useful if you’re using a MacBook—set a corner to start the screen saver or sleep and you’ve got an easy way to make sure your screen isn’t using precious battery power.
Quickly preview files
Apple’s built-in Preview app is a great way to quickly edit JPGs and PDFs without needing a full-featured photo editor. But when you just want to quickly look at something, it can be a pain to double-click, wait for the app to open, and then close the file when you’re done. If you just want to view a picture or document without editing or copying it, Apple has built a nifty way to quickly just by pressing the space bar. That’s all there is to do—just click and highlight the file you want to view and then press the space bar to open a read-only view in its own window in the center of your screen. From there you can press the space bar again to close it or triple-click to open the file in its default app. And that’s not all: The space-bar preview function works in other ways than just previewing files. For example, if you select a drive icon and press the space bar, you can see info on the amount of storage the drive has. Try it on any icon and see what happens.
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Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.