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Mac hints and tips

Tips index

Drag to email

If you have Mail running in the background - minimised to the Dock - and you are using an application, you can click and drag text to the Mail icon in the Dock to create a new message containing the text. For example, Start TextEdit and load or type in some text.

Select some text in TextEdit and the click and drag it to the Dock. Drop it on the Mail icon. Mail comes to the front and a new email is created containing the text in the message body. It saves you having to copy the text, find Mail, create a new message and then paste it in. Everything is done in one go automatically.

Finder shortcuts

The key to working quickly on you Mac is, er, the key, or more precisely, the keyboard. There are lots of keyboard shortcuts and if you can learn some of them you will find that using your Mac is easier and faster. Discovering the keys an application, such as Finder for example, responds to is a piece of cake. Just look on the menus. On the right of many menu items is the shortcut key combination, so take a look.

To open a new Finder window you press Command+N and to create a new folder you press Shift+Command+N. Press Command+1, 2 or 3 to select icons, list or columns views. You can cut (Command+X), copy (Command+C) and paste (Command+V) files and folders more easily with the keyboard and selecting everything in the current folder is just Command+A. Press Command+O to open an item - a file, program or folder.

There are sometimes additional keyboard shortcuts that access functions that aren't on the menus, so how do you find out what these are? Try looking in the help file via the Help menu. Most applications will list the keyboard shortcuts they respond to. You might have to search the help for them though.

Hide and see

Everyone knows that if you want to hide a program window you can click the minimise button in the top left corner of the window. However, not everyone is aware of some useful keyboard shortcuts for hiding program windows. If you press Command+M (the Command key is the one with the Apple logo on), with many, but not all applications the current window will be hidden. Double clicking the title bar of a window will also minimise it too. You will find the window or application in the Dock at the bottom of the screen if you want to restore its original view.

Some applications display several windows on the desktop and if you want to hide them all you can press Command+H. There's a really useful keyboard shortcut that enables you to hide every window except the one you are working on. Press Command+Ctrl+H and your desktop will be cleared except for the topmost window.

Note that these are standard keyboard shortcuts and an application doesn't have to use them. However, most do though and certainly all Apple apps do.

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