Do you know any hidden or little-known nice feature of macOS (née 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!

  • I wonder if the "Terminal Tips and Tricks For Mac OS X" thread from SU can be ported over: superuser.com/questions/52483/… Sep 14, 2010 at 17:12
  • @3rdparty, that would probably happen only after this site is out of beta... (though I don't know what the exact plan is with regard to these overlapping sites).
    – Jonik
    Sep 14, 2010 at 17:18
  • more of the same here superuser.com/questions/15646/underused-mac-os-x-gui-features
    – username
    Sep 14, 2010 at 17:40
  • 8
    My collection of OS X tweaks (hidden or not) can be found here: mths.be/osx May 2, 2013 at 18:43
  • 6
    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! Dec 27, 2013 at 3:56

157 Answers 157


In iTunes, it’s possible to make + F focus the search input instead of toggling the full screen mode.

Simply enter this command in Terminal.app:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes NSUserKeyEquivalents -dict-add "Target Search Field" "@F"

Then, restart iTunes.

Disclaimer: This is just one of the many goodies in my .osx file.

  • Shouldn't this work in almost any (Cocoa/ObjC based) application? It's basically the same as changing a menu shortcut via the Keyboard / Shortcuts System Prefs, isn't it? Mar 26, 2017 at 11:26

Holding lets you drag icons in your menu bar to reorder them. Dragging them out of the menu bar removes them.

All of the built-in icons support this behavior, but most third-party apps don't.

  • 1
    Fantastical is the only third-party app that supports this, as far as I know. You have to download a "menu extra" from their website's FAQ page to enable it. Jul 4, 2013 at 21:42

In order to navigate with the keyboard in the menu bar, press ctrl+F2. The Apple icon in the menu bar will light up, and you can navigate through the menus using arrows and the key.

Once you are in the menu bar you can also navigate using initial letters, e.g. b to go to Bookmarks

  • If you type quickly you can usually type the whole thing in (or until it's unique) to select it.
    – 0942v8653
    Oct 21, 2014 at 9:17

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.

  • 2
    This might also unhide hidden apps and un-minimize minimized windows.
    – Demis
    Jul 7, 2017 at 13:43

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.

  • 4
    Wait, Adobe actually did read the HIG?
    – user235
    Apr 2, 2011 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


Quickly find your search results in Safari

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

via @Mactip

  • Looks like this has become ⌘+⌥+S as of Lion. Jul 4, 2013 at 21:34

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

Use with care though.


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 + [
  • 1
    nice one, I didn't know that
    – Am1rr3zA
    Jun 25, 2013 at 18:54
  • On some non-US keyboards it seems to be Alt N for ‘, Alt M for ’, Shift-Alt N for “ and Shift-Alt M for ”.
    – P A N
    Apr 25, 2016 at 9:44

You can play tetris in Terminal:

When you are in Terminal type emacs and hit enter. After that press escape button and X button at the same time. Now just type tetris and hit enter.

Same goes for pong, 5x5, snake, tetris, dunnet and blackbox, just type its name instead of tetris

Source: http://secretpctips.com/2011/04/mac-os-secrets-easter-eggs/

  • 4
    Not really a OS X tip, but an emacs tip.
    – claytron
    Apr 20, 2011 at 19:52
  • I didn't realize emacs was installed by default. Thanks.
    – hsmiths
    May 27, 2011 at 23:26
  • 2
    now I'm stuck in emacs... May 30, 2015 at 16:04

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.


If you need to type an accented letter like "é" or "ñ" just press and hold the corresponding letter on your keyboard and a little popup will appear with numbered letters with accents. You can also click the letter of your choice.

Accent popup


macOS has a built-in option to mass rename files (including changing the extension), which I found here while looking for a shell script snippet to do the trick. Just select the files, right click and choose "Rename n items ...". The Replace Text dialog is rather self-explanatory.

enter image description here

enter image description here

(image sources: OS X Daily)

  • Is this a 10.14 Mojave feature or did it arrive a while back and no-one seemed to notice or read the friendly manual?
    – bmike
    Mar 10, 2019 at 19:34
  • According to this blog post it's available since Yosemite (10.10).
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 10, 2019 at 19:36
  • Woah! Thank you - that's just crazy it's been hidden / undocumented here for so many years. Thanks for the answer +2 if I could.
    – bmike
    Mar 10, 2019 at 19:39

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

  • 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. Jan 11, 2011 at 12:17
  • I used Docker to get the little triangles back. I'm not a fan of the glowing orb. Apr 8, 2011 at 23:04
  • What I would give for the ability to do the opposite on 10.10+... Jul 24, 2018 at 18:42

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
  • Does it still work in Mavericks? I can't seem to get it to work.
    – Daniel
    Aug 5, 2014 at 13:05
 sudo purge

I use this all the time for freeing unused memory on my Mac.

  • 3
    From man purge: “force disk cache to be purged (flushed and emptied). Purge can be used to approximate initial boot conditions with a cold disk buffer cache for performance analysis. It does not affect anonymous memory that has been allocated through malloc, vm_allocate, etc.” Mar 26, 2012 at 7:44
  • 6
    To put it more bluntly, purge-ing your disk caches can actually slow you down.
    – Mattie
    Jul 4, 2013 at 22:43

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.

  • For what? A little more explanation of how this is a tip or stick might make this a better tip
    – bmike
    Apr 21, 2011 at 18:18

El Capitan has a new split full screen feature, where you can have two apps open at once. I use it all the time, but the one thing I find inconvenient about is that it will very strongly blur the un-focused window when resizing a pane:

Blurred unfocused window demo

You can hold down while resizing to see both screens respond to your resize changes -- neither will be blurred.


Since El Capitan (OS X 10.10), the green button in the top left of a window does not resize the window as it used to, but instead turns it into full-screen mode.

To get the old behavior back, hold down the key, which will turn the green button's symbol from the resizer to a + as it used to be.


When I migrated from Windows to Mac OS X, what I really missed is the ability to move files with cut (Ctrl + X) and paste (Ctrl + V) (as opposed to copy and paste).

It turns out Finder has this capability as well, but it's more like 'mark and move': Cmd + C and then Alt + Cmd + V.

  • This is awesome, thanks for posting. If it's like CMD-dragging a file, then it's probably more like "copy + delete the original".
    – Demis
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:24
  • @Demis correct, you won’t end up with two files. I see now why it’s confusing, I’ll try to fix it.
    – Glorfindel
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:27

Hide an Application While Cmd-Tabbing

While using +Tab, you can press H to hide/show the app that is currently selected.


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

  • You can use alt+cmd+H too, without having to move the mouse
    – jtimberman
    May 19, 2011 at 3:36

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


You can prevent app from appearing in Dock by editing .app/Contents/Info.plist. Just add


Probably the most used shortcut I created on my machine is one to hide and show hidden files.

I've set this up via an AppleScript on my machine with a keyboard shortcut of ^ + + + . which toggles the visibility of hidden files within Finder whenever I want. This way I don't have to manually run a terminal command to show hidden files, and I can quickly turn it off to avoid accidentally modifying system files. I use FastScripts to allow me to set the keyboard shortcut for my AppleScript, and placed the AppleScript in my ~/Library/Scripts Folder.

Here is the AppleScript in case you wish to give it a try:

tell application "System Events"

    set hiddenFilesDisplayStatus to do shell script "defaults read com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles"
    set hiddenFilesNewDisplayStatus to "NO"

    if hiddenFilesDisplayStatus is "NO" then
        set hiddenFilesNewDisplayStatus to "YES"
    end if

    do shell script "defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles " & hiddenFilesNewDisplayStatus
    do shell script "killall Finder"

end tell
  • You can do this natively with Command Shift period.
    – benwiggy
    Mar 11, 2023 at 12:18

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

  • I don't get that behavior with Shift. Did you have to change an option to get hiding to work like that?
    – seh
    Feb 23, 2011 at 2:12
  • @seh - No I didn't...at least I don't remember changing anything like this. This is on OS X 10.6.6, but I'm not sure if it's version related. Could also be that I've changed something while working on this SL installation, I haven't reinstalled since SL came out.
    – deiga
    Feb 23, 2011 at 5:43
  • 5
    I have this behaviour when I hold the Alt key instead.
    – Rabskatran
    Apr 6, 2011 at 10:42
  • 2
    It is Option/Alt key, not Shift.
    – styfle
    May 20, 2011 at 23:32

The Guest account is great for troubleshooting.

If I have a software issue, logging in as Guest lets me open an app with 'clean' preferences settings.

It's helped me with network issues as well.

To enable Guest logins, go to System Preferences, Users & Groups, Guest User, and check Allow guests to log in to this computer.


You can force Exposé 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
  • Doesn't work on El Capitan Dec 24, 2015 at 22:08

During a Spotlight search (Space), hit B to Google that term in Safari. Gives very quick access to a google search.

I assume the search setting in Safari determines which search engine is used.

  • This is an extremely underrated hint! As a Mac user since OS 9 days... I never knew this existed!
    – AVelj
    Dec 15, 2023 at 3:59

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.

  • 1
    That's neither a feature nor a nice tip or trick.
    – raimue
    Oct 14, 2010 at 19:44
  • AppleDisplayScaleFactor macworld.com/article/142173/2009/08/scaleapps.html
    – username
    Nov 3, 2010 at 23:44
  • I am actually typing this comment in a stuck window :p
    – user235
    Apr 2, 2011 at 16:09
  • Well, this doesn't seems to work in El Captain.
    – tourdetour
    Dec 24, 2015 at 0:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .