Sign up ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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!

share|improve this question
18 is a great source of hidden gems on the Mac. – Philip Regan Aug 24 '10 at 23:35
My collection of OS X tweaks (hidden or not) can be found here: – Mathias Bynens May 2 '13 at 18:43
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

135 Answers 135

I prefer using the keyboard. Some shortcuts that kind of work together in Finder:

  • + = Go to parent directory
  • + = Open selected directory/file
  • + 2 = Clean up by type (see navigation bar for all the alternatives)

And something I use all the time:

When copy-pasting, + v (normal copy-pasting, but adding the option key when pasting) will move the file instead of copying it.

share|improve this answer
I really liked the copy pasting part – Am1rr3zA Jul 29 '13 at 4:56

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

via @Mactip

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

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

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

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

share|improve this answer

Quickly find your search results in Safari

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

via @Mactip

share|improve this answer

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

Use with care though.

share|improve this answer

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

share|improve this answer
This doesn't work for me. Is there something special you have to do first? – Jason Salaz Jan 17 '12 at 16:49
I cannot get this to work either. Tested with and 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 + [
share|improve this answer
nice one, I didn't know that – Am1rr3zA Jun 25 '13 at 18:54

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.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

+ = switch between applications. Press before releasing and it will un-minimize minimized windows from that application.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

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).

share|improve this answer

When you're in the +Tab task switcher selecting the Finder and pressing +Q will restart the Finder.

share|improve this answer

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


share|improve this answer

Hide an Application While Cmd-Tabbing

As you're Cmd-Tabbing through applications, you can pause on an app (while still holding Cmd) and then press 'h' to hide the other app. You aren't switched to the hidden app, so your focus stays on the original one.

share|improve this answer

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

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

To paste plain text without any formatting use +++V.

That's very useful when working in app like Keynote and copying some text from webpage.

Note: It doesn't work if any other function assigned to this shortcut. To fix that just change the default shortcut in the app to something else.

share|improve this answer

Also TinkerTool shows some hidden features

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

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!

share|improve this answer
+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
I figured it would fall into the "nice tips & tricks" part of the thread :) – Shaun W. Oct 8 '10 at 13:48
"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.

share|improve this answer

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

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer

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:


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
share|improve this answer

protected by bmike Jan 23 '13 at 23:25

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.