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Do you know any hidden or little-known nice feature of Mac OS X? It doesn't matter what it is—maybe just a short terminal command or a keyboard shortcut. Share your experiences on hidden Mac OS X features with us..

Please post one tip per answer. Please also check to see if your answer has already been posted - duplicate answers will be deleted. To search answers for this question use inquestion:400 (or inquestion:this, directly from the question page) in addition to your search terms in the search box in the upper right hand corner of this page.

Also provide details on how to achieve that feature, and if possible, include a relevant image too!

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17  
mac.finerthingsin.com is a great source of hidden gems on the Mac. –  Philip Regan Aug 24 '10 at 23:35
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My collection of OS X tweaks (hidden or not) can be found here: mths.be/osx –  Mathias Bynens May 2 '13 at 18:43
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Does iOS count? I'm sure most people know, but if you pull the camera thingy on the lock screen in iOS 7 up about 2/3 of the screen and then quickly flick it back down again, it will bounce up high enough to trigger the camera! –  RPi Awesomeness Dec 27 '13 at 3:56

133 Answers 133

In finder "columns" view, double click the block below the scroll bar arrows to auto fit column width

via @Mactip

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If you want to quickly resize your Dock you can click and drag the bar that separates the apps from minified windows, the Trash etc. If your Dock is on the bottom then drag up to increase the size of the dock and down to make them smaller. Drag left/right if your Dock is on the side of the screen.

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You can disable 3D Dock effect ( if you don't like ) when dock is at bottom.

Use tinker tool (it's free).

Now, switch to Dock tab, do as instructed in image.

alt text

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9  
You can achieve the same effect without using TinkerTool by entering this string defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES in the terminal. –  Davide Gualano Jan 11 '11 at 12:17

An often-neglected feature of OS X is the ability to drag files and proxy icons into other applications or windows.

Try this in Adobe apps. Why use the File > Place… command? Just drag a file directly from the Finder directly into the document you’re working on.

Drag files onto Dock icons to open that JPG in Photoshop rather than iPhoto. Drag an image from your browser into Photoshop’s Dock icon.

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2  
Wait, Adobe actually did read the HIG? –  rightføld Apr 2 '11 at 16:11

Hibernate your MacBook Pro with

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 25

and then put it to sleep which will save the state of your system and then power off. Very handy when flying.

If instead you want very fast sleeps, without writing memory to disk, use

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

To restore the default behaviour, use

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 3

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Quickly find your search results in Safari

  1. Perform a Google search in the toolbar
  2. Click a result
  3. Press +G

via @Mactip

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+ ctrl + "two finger swipe" = change the opacity of the window under the cursor

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9  
This doesn't work for me. Is there something special you have to do first? –  Jason Salaz Jan 17 '12 at 16:49
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I cannot get this to work either. Tested with Finder.app and Terminal.app windows. –  Mathias Bynens Mar 26 '12 at 7:45

Here's one I learned a long time ago, still works today.

Keyboard shortcut for proper single and double quotes:

Single Quotes

  1. For Left ( ) press: Alt + ]
  2. For Right ( ) press: Alt + Shift + ]

Double Quotes

  1. For Left ( ) press: Alt + [
  2. For Right ( ) Alt + Shift + [
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1  
nice one, I didn't know that –  Am1rr3zA Jun 25 '13 at 18:54

If you use random Backgrounds, there is a quick way to make them change when you want.

type in the terminal

killall Dock

This will make your random Desktopbackground change.

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Not sure if it's posted already but you can drag folders and files from the finder into an application's open / save dialogue. It sets the save or open path to that of the folder or file you're dragging. Excellent when you prefer to use the finder to navigate but don't want to repeat the process in your app or vice versa. Also, on many cases, whilst in the open / save dialogue, you can hit command R to reveal the files in the finder.

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When closing an unsaved document +D will invoke Don't Save for you.

Use with care though.

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Hold ctrl and scroll with the mouse/trackpad in order to zoom the view at any time. Extremely handy in order to discern pixel differences of a UI.

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You can -click and drag many OS provided icons from your menu bar to rearrange or remove them if it's getting too crowded. Doesn't work with all 3rd party ones, but many built-in ones (like volume, battery, sync, bluetooth, etc) can be removed this way. Many of them can be removed from the control panel, but this is the only way some of them can be removed once activated (that I'm aware of).

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Hold Option & click Speaker/Volume icon in top menu bar to quickly select audio output and input devices (bluetooth, airplay etc.)

via https://twitter.com/justinerdman/status/316936844958916608

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Remember the double-sided arrows on both the top and bottom of the scroll column in OS 9? Go to the terminal and type:

defaults write "Apple Global Domain" AppleScrollBarVariant DoubleBoth

When you login/restart, this will work across all applications. Very handy to have.

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In Finder, select any number of files. Press + ctrl + N to automatically have them moved to a new folder.

Great if you forgot to create a new folder before selecting files, and in general.

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Target Disk Mode lets you mount a Firewire-enabled Mac as an external disk, without even booting into the OS. Useful for quick transfers, large transfers (it's quite fast), recovery, etc.

To start it, hold T during startup.

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When +clicking on an open app in the Dock the application hides.

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5  
I have this behaviour when I hold the Alt key instead. –  Rabskatran Apr 6 '11 at 10:42
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It is Option/Alt key, not Shift. –  styfle May 20 '11 at 23:32

Also TinkerTool shows some hidden features

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Exposé for spaces and 'Show desktop' attached to corners of the screen. I've attached 'Show desktop' to my lower right corner, and Exposé for spaces in the top left. Now, i can go bottom right to the desktop, grab a file, move over to the top left to switch to a space, and drop it there in a Finder window or Application.

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Do a "killall dock" in Terminal while a window is being minimized with the Genie effect (helps to hold down Shift to slow it down) and the window will be 'stuck' in the Genie effect yet still be operational! For example, you can still scroll.

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If you are a recent convert to osx and miss the mouse/cursor acceleration of a windows mouse? OSX mouse doesnt feel quite as good as the windows mouse?

Give SteerMouse a try!

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1  
+1 it's nice but it's not a real OS X hidden features it's good 3rd-party apps. –  Am1rr3zA Oct 8 '10 at 12:39
1  
I figured it would fall into the "nice tips & tricks" part of the thread :) –  Shaun W. Oct 8 '10 at 13:48
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"OSX mouse doesnt feel quite as good as the windows mouse" ?? Heresy! –  Petruza Apr 4 '11 at 15:29

If you drag files while holding the command key, the contents move but don't copy. Great for cutting the copy - then delete original process.

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alt + + left click in the dock hides all windows except application currently in focus. Great if you find window clutter distracting.

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Secrets by Blacktree is a preference pane which enables many hidden OS X and specific application preferences (e.g. change Dock to 2D, change iTunes stoplights back to horizontal). Saves you a couple of trips to the Terminal.

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There is a fast way to create a hidden folder on Mac OS. Hidden folders a created by typing "." on the beginning (e.g. ".hiddenfolder")

The Finder won't let you do this though. So we gonna use the terminal.

to create a new folder:

mkdir .hiddenfolder

first of course you have to navigate to the location, you want the folder to be. For example the Desktop:

cd /Users/USERNAME/Desktop/

or drag a folder into the Terminal to get it's address

To know where you are right now, type:

pwd

Another way is, to rename a folder. To do so type:

mv ActualFolderName .hiddenfolder

To open a hidden folder, make hidden files visible like described earlier, or use terminal (navigate there first, or type open absolute path)

open .hiddenfolder

or if you are in the hidden folder already, just type

open .

to show hidden folders/files in terminal type

ls -a
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If you connect two Mac's directly using a standard ethernet cable, you can quickly transfer files between them. It automatically configures the connection, and is much faster than doing large transfers over wireless.

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You can adjust the scale of all windows (sizes of buttons and menus and toolbars) to fit more on a smaller screen. It was really helpful on my TV setup, because I couldn't see the bottom items in the System Preferences.

defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleDisplayScaleFactor .75

to reset simply

defaults write NSGlobalDomain AppleDisplayScaleFactor 1

Or you can change it per Application

defaults write com.apple.iTunes AppleDisplayScaleFactor .7
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You can force Expose to only show windows that are on the current Space (instead of all windows open on any Space). Type the following into Terminal:

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

then, to restart Dock:

killall Dock
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I am new to Mac so this might be common knowledge but in snow leopard if you hold 3 and 2 during boot you will boot into 32 bit mode and the same goes foe 64 bit when holding the 6 and 4 keys during boot. Macfuse for example did not like running in 64 bit mode

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protected by bmike Jan 23 '13 at 23:25

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