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/… Commented 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
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 17:18
  • more of the same here superuser.com/questions/15646/underused-mac-os-x-gui-features
    – username
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 17:40
  • 8
    My collection of OS X tweaks (hidden or not) can be found here: mths.be/osx Commented 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! Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 3:56

157 Answers 157

2 3 4 5 6

In any Finder window or Open/Save dialog, you can hit G (just '/' also works in Open/Save) to get a location bar from which you can directly type in the directory to go to. It even supports ~ for home and tab completion.

The Open/Save dialog has several other useful shortcuts:

  • R - Reveals the selected item in a new Finder window.
  • I - Info window shows for the selected item.
  • > - Shows/Hides hidden files in the dialog
  • F - cursor jumps to the Find text field
  • / or ~ - Opens a Go To Folder dialogue.
  • D or D - selects the ~/Desktop folder as a destination
  • L - selects ~/Downloads folder as a destination
  • O - selects ~/Documents folder as a destination
  • S - Shows/Hides sidebar
  • . or esc - Cancels and closes the dialog window
  • 90
    Typing / or ~ in an open/save dialog will also trigger the file path text field to appear. Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 18:09
  • 6
    This basically works like the command line cd command. Type /... to go to absolute paths, ~/... for paths relative to the user directory and ... for directories relative to the current directory. Great for opening hidden directories.
    – deceze
    Commented Sep 27, 2010 at 3:21
  • Unfortunately this doesn't seem to support special characters. For example, if I try to autocomplete a path that contains "ö", it doesn't work. If I write the whole path myself, it works just fine.
    – Thardas
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 11:25
  • Also, does anyone know how to use autocomplete without the focus jumping to OK if there was no match?
    – Thardas
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 11:26
  • Few of these seem to work in TextEdit.
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 15:05

In the terminal, you can pipe the output of any command to pbcopy to copy it to the system clipboard. You can also paste from the system clipboard using pbpaste, and pipe that to another command or write the value directly to a file:

Copy a string: echo "ohai im in ur clipboardz" | pbcopy

Copy the HTML of StackOverflow.com: curl "http://stackoverflow.com/" | pbcopy

Open a new buffer in VIM, initialized to the content of the clipboard: pbpaste | vim -

Save the contents of the clipboard directly to a file: pbpaste > newfile.txt

  • 55
    You can also use this to turn rich text (HTML/RTF/etc) into plain-text; just "pbpaste | pbcopy".
    – caelyx
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 23:40
  • 1
    That is super useful to get things such as directory listings, listings filtered by grep, etc. Love it.
    – milesmeow
    Commented Dec 31, 2011 at 23:21

I always find the ++4, space (you must press space at the end otherwise it doesn't work) command is really useful, and one that a lot of people don't know you can do. Upon pressing space, you get a large camera icon for your cursor, and it allows you to take a screenshot just of the highlighted window. The nice thing is that OS X preserves the window drop shadow, with full alpha transparency. So when you paste the images into other documents, they look fab.

More screenshot magic from 3rdparty.

Screenshot Secrets via: http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/2006/01/01/mac-os-x-screenshot-secrets.html:

  • ++3 Capture entire screen and save as a file

  • +ctrl++3 Capture entire screen and copy to the clipboard

  • ++4 Capture dragged area and save as a file

  • +ctrl++4 Capture dragged area and copy to the clipboard

  • ++4 then space Capture a window, menu, desktop icon, or the menu bar and save as a file

  • +ctrl++4 then space Capture a window, menu, desktop icon, or the menu bar and copy to the clipboard

  • Another useful trick is to hold space while drawing a capture area to reposition it.

  • Another trick is to hold option while drawing a capture area, to resize the area in all directions, instead of just the one corner you're dragging.

  • For fine-tuning on a certain axis, you can hold shift and the axis you next move in is the one you'll control.

  • Hit esc while capturing an area or window to exit capture mode.

Note: I added this because I find it to be useful. I don't mean any offense to anyone's answer in doing so.

  • 76
    I'd rather describe it as "Having pressed cmd+shift+4, you can toggle between a crosshair snap and a full-window snap using spacebar".
    – deceze
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 2:25
  • 2
    I didn't know about the "space" aspect -- very nice!
    – Michael H.
    Commented Sep 8, 2010 at 6:28
  • 3
    Tried to add a few more but wouldn't fit as a comment - OP feel free to edit your answer: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/400/… Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 17:22
  • 11
    If you hold CTRL while taking the shot, it is placed in your clipboard. Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 8:30
  • 4
    If you hold Option while rect-dragging, it affects all four corners - handy when your start position was slightly off.
    – Erics
    Commented Jul 5, 2013 at 7:44

You can increase or decrease your volume, brightness, or keyboard backlighting brightness by quarter increments by using the following combination:

+ + Volume Up/Down

Note that this feature was disabled in Mac OS X Lion from 10.7 through 10.7.3. This feature was restored in 10.7.4. For workarounds on how to accomplish this on earlier Lion versions, see this question.

  • 80
    Related to this tip, option+any volume key will open the sound system preference pane, and shift+vol up/down will change volume silently (without the little plink sound.)
    – ghoppe
    Commented Sep 9, 2010 at 20:38
  • 22
    Following up on ghoppe, if you've turned off the preference for the little plink sound using Shift + Volume Up/Down will change the volume with the sound effects. Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 17:58
  • 18
    This works for the screen brightness as well: Option + Shift + Brightness Up/Down
    – Florin
    Commented Sep 18, 2010 at 10:57
  • 7
    I think I love you. Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 8:24
  • 17
    If you want the tiniest little bit of sound, you can turn the sound all the way down with "Volume Down" and then hit the "Mute" key to turn it up just a little bit.
    – Ted Naleid
    Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 19:17

While +Tab-ing between applications, without releasing , you can hit Q to quit or H to hide the selected application. Works great with the mouse to get rid of a whole bunch of applications quickly.

The bevel won't go away and you can repeat this for as many applications as you like as long as you're holding .

If you have multiple windows of an app, use key 1, , or to reveal the windows while that app is highlighted in the application switching strip. i.e.: while +Tab-ing, when you highlight the app with multiple windows, keep held down and press one of those keys. Then use mouse to go that window.

  • 2
    Nice one! Really saves precious seconds.
    – Jonik
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 13:30
  • Holy crap, this rocks!
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 13:53
  • Amazing! I didn't know about this one.
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 1:50
  • 8
    Holding OPTION when over a hidden or minimised application will bring it back to the foreground when you let go.
    – twe4ked
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 9:42
  • 1
    In a similar manner, you can press the "1" key to show all of the open windows of the highlighted application. Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 21:03

Holding (Option)while clicking menu bar icons will give you additional menu items or alternate menus. The alternate volume control menu will let you choose input and output audio devices.

volume menu

Bonus: On older versions of OS X, this gave you the alert volume instead of devices. You can still get the alert volume using clicking.

For the airport menu, you'll get WiFi connection information.

Wifi menu

The Bluetooth menu will include debugging information and tools.

BlueTooth menu

Time Machine will show "Verify Backups" and "Browse Other Time Machine Disks". Unlike the other menus, the Time Machine menu will show the alternates if you hold Option after opening the menu, and will hide them if you release it.

  • 2
    And it won't. This is Snow Leopard only. For Leopard I suggest checking out SoundSource: rogueamoeba.com/freebies Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 1:49
  • 3
    This is awesome.
    – ySgPjx
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 21:23
  • 20
    I once read 'Option-click everything' Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 22:56
  • 2
    I've been using soundsource this whole time! Thank you so much for letting me clear up some oh-so-valuable space in my 15" macbook menu bar! Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 15:40
  • 2
    Uninstalling SoundSource… Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 13:43

Proxy icons

In a document-based application (like Finder, TextEdit, Preview, Pages…), after a document has been saved, a proxy icon for the document appears in the title bar. It represent the file itself, and can be likewise manipulated:

  • click it for a few seconds and drag to another application to open it, or to the desktop/Finder if you want to copy/move it, etc…
  • ⌘-click (or control-click, or right-click) it to view the path menu, useful to open the folder or any subfolders of the file in the Finder.

alt text

  • ⌘-click on the titlebar in Safari can help you easily move up the directory structure of a web site, too!

    alt text

  • Since Mountain Lion you can edit the document titles:

    inline renaming of documents

  • 13
    You can also drag it into Terminal. Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 0:08
  • 11
    The link you gave (to Apple Human Interface Guidelines) is useful. Lots of interesting details to be learned from there (this was new to me: a dot in the (red) close button means there are unsaved changes).
    – Jonik
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 23:14
  • I find this quiet anoying - it there a way to cancel this behaviour. I see why it can be useful - yet I dont like it.
    – Asaf
    Commented Sep 28, 2010 at 20:02
  • 7
    Proxy icons are like the best thing ever. +1! Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 19:31
  • 1
    Safari tip longer works as of Mavericks and Safari versions thenceforth
    – Benjamin R
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 7:50

I love the fact that OS X will scroll the window that the mouse is hovering over, even if another application has focus. That way I can scroll an example that I am coding in TextMate without having to lose keyboard control on TM

  • 27
    This is a great feature. Using Command + Click you can even open Firefox links in new tabs without giving it focus. Commented Sep 4, 2010 at 17:03
  • 10
    Katmouse will do this for you on Windows. I installed it a few years back and have been using it ever since. Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 10:51
  • 7
    This is not limited to OS X - this is a feature in many window managers on Linux / Unix - including the one I'm using right now :P Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 0:51
  • 1
    Ubuntu also has this feature.
    – Gordon
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 13:32
  • 4
    You can also command-click to move a window without giving it focus. Commented May 5, 2011 at 22:31

Most applications on OS X respect emacs' style shortcuts for maneuvering about in text fields.

  • ctrl+A: beginning of line.

  • ctrl+E: end of line.

  • ctrl+U: delete from cursor to beginning of line.

  • ctrl+K: delete from cursor to end of line.

  • ctrl+W: erase word to the left.

  • ctrl+T: transpose characters around cursor.

There are others that are slipping my mind currently I'm sure. I miss this so much on Linux.

  • 30
    these are emacs shortcuts more than they are bash i believe
    – dstarh
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 21:31
  • 9
    Those are indeed Emacs bindings; bash uses libreadline, which defaults to Emacs style. There are plenty of other bindings: CTRL+f / CTRL+b to move back and forward by character, and OPT+f / OPT+b to move by word (super useful!). Similarly, CTRL+d deletes the character to the right, and OPT+Delete deletes the word to the left.
    – ieure
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 19:28
  • 3
    Hmmm the System Preferences need to have a option to choose vim bindings.
    – Will Hardy
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 22:40
  • 12
    @Will Hardy set -o vi
    – Bluu
    Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 3:46
  • 3
    @Bluu: Instant Nerdgasm. <3
    – bastibe
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 8:06

When I first switched to Mac a couple of years back, I was using it full time for nearly six months before someone showed me +space to bring up the Spotlight Search. Single best shortcut I've learned.

The Spotlight search field and Siri (especially with text input) can also handle simple mathematical expressions. No need for Calculator.app for a quick bit of division!

  • 3
    I use this shortcut all the time for quick lookup of English word definitions (from the built-in New Oxford American Dictionary)
    – Jonik
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 21:14
  • 4
    I use Alfred instead, I should try spotlight if it remembers things liek Alfred does. Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 20:20
  • 3
    Isn't the default keyboard command Ctrl+Space in recent versions of OS X?
    – yusf
    Commented Apr 12, 2012 at 17:13
  • 4
    @LessPop_MoreFizz It can even handle a bit more than simple division, try sqrt(10), cos(10) and so on.
    – Emil
    Commented Feb 7, 2013 at 18:19
  • 3
    And if you move your spotlight field with a force touch trackpad, you can feel a little "tick" when it's centered.
    – tourdetour
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 23:14

Want tab to go to every field on a form not just input fields?

I got sick of the state/country drop down fields of web forms being skipped when tabbing.

Go to System Preferences → Keyboard and set Full Keyboard Access to All Controls.

alt text

In system dialogs, if you tab-highlight a button, hit space to "click" it (hitting enter will still choose whatever the default action is, regardless of what button your tab has focused on).

  • @shaun can you put it's photo I can't find this in my OS X 10.6.4
    – Am1rr3zA
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 12:41
  • 6
    I cannot live without this...absolutely essential!
    – Lizzan
    Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 13:01
  • 20
    I don't understand rationale behind "Text boxes and lists only" setting being default. Commented Nov 2, 2010 at 5:40
  • 1
    Ah THAT's where it is! I set it in OS 10.4 and haven't been able to find it since! thanks :)
    – Mark Pim
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 7:50
  • 2
    It's a trade-off. I find it more irritating than helpful because it often makes it lots more keystrokes to get to the text boxes.
    – Old Pro
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 23:12

I needed this today, when I had to shut down several Macs.

ctrl + Shows the shut down dialog. Type R to restart, S to sleep

ctrl + + + Shuts the computer down

+ + sends computer to sleep

+ ctrl + send display only to sleep (great for locking your computer instantly)

ctrl + + restarts the Mac

+ + esc lets you kill not responding programs (including the Finder)

and one of my favorites

+ , gets you to preferences of almost every program

  • So glad people liked my work on Command-Comma. :) Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 3:38
  • I like the display sleeping one. Didn't know that!
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 2:06
  • 19
    Instead of eject, you can use the power button. Useful for MacBook Airs that don't have an eject button.
    – bot47
    Commented Aug 19, 2012 at 19:32
  • 3
    I always forget which one reboots, sleeps or shuts down. I just know that if I press everything, it shuts down.
    – Pepijn
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 11:02
  • 3
    I can't remember all these combinations, I simply use CTRL-EJECT to get the window to select from Restart, Sleep, and Shutdown. As I mostly shutdown, I simply press enter next.
    – Tafkadasoh
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 11:43

While typing, just press F5 to get suggestions for what you're typing (almost equivalent to spell-check suggestions). Example:

alt text

  • 16
    OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING. I had no idea this existed!
    – Josh Hunt
    Commented Dec 30, 2010 at 12:10
  • 16
    Or for MacBooks where to press F5 you have to press the Fn key as well, you could just use the Esc button. (This is cool though, thanks for bringing it to my attention :))
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 18:19
  • 9
    Esc works too, but it more unsafe due to Esc usually having another function. But it works :). Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 1:46
  • Any way to make it work with other languages?
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 15:17
  • The order in which it suggests words depends on the context. Just selecting the first that comes up, repeatedly, gives me "I love you so much fun and I think it’s a good day to be a good day to be a good day" etc. :-)
    – mabartibin
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:20

You can click on Dock app icons with modifier keys for special functions relating to that app:

  • With the key pressed, the clicked application will be shown in a Finder window (via @Mactip).
  • With the key pressed, the clicked application will be hidden if it is visible.
  • 32
    To my delight I just noticed that cmd + click (or cmd + enter) in Spotlight search results (and some other places) follows the same logic (= show in Finder instead of opening)
    – Jonik
    Commented Sep 26, 2010 at 12:19
  • 1
    not working in yosemite?
    – maysi
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 20:15
  • 1
    Works for me in Yosemite... Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 6:31
  • 1
    [Command]-click on nearly anything in Finder will show the file/folder rather than opening it. That includes Dock menus, spotlight searches and Proxy Icons.
    – Demis
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 4:39
  • On macOS 12.6, option-clicking on any app in the Dock hides the frontmost app, and makes the one I clicked frontmost (or if I click the frontmost app, it simply hides that one). I don't know how long this has been the behaviour. Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 19:43

The speech synthesizer, which is available from the command line, with the command say, knows how to correctly pronounce the operating system name:

say Mac OS X

It won't say "MacOSex", but "Mac OhEs Ten". That's attention to detail. It works even if you specify macosx as the argument.

  • 34
    I use "say" a fair amount -- scripts tell me when they're done, for example. Handy.
    – Michael H.
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 0:31
  • 7
    Here’s an example of the details that the speech engine gets correct daringfireball.net/linked/2007/10/28/alex
    – Josh Lee
    Commented Oct 5, 2010 at 18:14
  • 18
    say -vz Droid is deliciously ironic. XD
    – Astra
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 21:08
  • 11
    ls | say to say a list of files
    – user235
    Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 15:59
  • 2
    the say command is a wrapper over the API to use it from Cocoa (see developer.apple.com/library/mac/#documentation/Cocoa/Reference/…) so I don't see see why it couldn't be used in a service. Also, the accessibility services (VoiceOver) use it as well Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 15:54

In Terminal (Applications/Utilities/Terminal), open can be pretty handy. It can:

  • launch programs by exact path to the executable
  • launch any program in the PATH directories by executable name

In Terminal, type open -a Application to launch an application that lives in the /Applications folder, or open <exact path to applcation> to launch an application that is anywhere on your computer.

  • open files in default applications

Just us open <file>. open song.mp3 will open song.mp3 in the default audio player (in my case iTunes)

  • open files with other applications

Open a file with Mail.app (i.e. mail the file) open -a Mail homework.txt

  • open a Finder window into a local directory
  • open a Finder window into a network share

open /Path/to/dir/ will launch the folder in Finder, whereas open . will open the current folder in Finder.

  • open any URL with its default handler (e.g. a browser)

open http://google.com will launch the default browser and open the url. It also works for FTP (but i have not tested anything else)

For more, just run man open in Terminal or see this page.

From Super User

  • 3
    When using the open -a construct with apps in the /Applications folder, also note that you don't need the .app extension nor do you need to match case. E.g., open -a textedit
    – Sam
    Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 14:39
  • 1
    open -a AppName also works for applications in ~/Applications, or subfolders of either Applications directory. Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 5:10
  • 1
    open -R file to reveal the file in Finder
    – Tyilo
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 8:56
  • 1
    open -n is possibly one of my personal favorites. It lets me open more than one copy of an app, which I actually use a lot with Eclipse and Firefox.
    – nneonneo
    Commented Jan 6, 2015 at 0:49
  • 1
    I so often need to open dirs from the terminal that I assigned it an alias - alias o="open .". Also, slightly related but cd to is an incredibly useful add for the finder Toolbar which opens the current directory in the Terminal.
    – Siddhartha
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 7:24

It took me a while before I figured out that hitting the space bar while in Finder launches Quick Look on whatever is selected. VERY handy.

Also note that holding while doing this throws you straight into the full-screen view.

  • Note: This is a Snow Leopard feature. For Leopard users, you can use the quicklook droplet: macosxautomation.com/applescript/quickviewer/index.html
    – r00fus
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 0:26
  • This also works in open/save windows Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 16:28
  • 1
    Alt: no such button.
    – user235
    Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 15:54
  • 21
    My button says alt on it. I know it's option, but it doesn't say that on it anymore. Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 19:21
  • 1
    If you have a force touch trackpad, you can also force click on an element to bring the quick look !
    – tourdetour
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 23:17

In most Mac apps (TextEdit, for example), you can -drag* to select a rectangular area of non-contiguous text.

Rectangular selection in TextEdit

You can also hold while dragging to select multiple disjoint areas in a single selection.

*Hold while dragging your mouse over an area

  • You just blew my mind. There have been times where I wished something like that opiton-drag thing worked but I figured no one would ever implement it. Now I need to remember what I would use this for :)
    – styfle
    Commented May 5, 2011 at 7:08
  • 6
    what determines which apps handle this?
    – Alexander
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 4:40
  • This is a common behaviour in code editor. Commented May 15, 2014 at 14:36
  • 2
    Wish I had known this the last 15 years. Amazing.
    – P A N
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 5:03


pmset noidle



in Terminal will prevent your Mac from sleeping. Press Ctrl+C to stop.

  • 19
    Great tip! Also, Caffeine does the same thing but in a button in the menu bar, and can also prevent sleeping for a certain amount of time (and it's free).
    – Ricket
    Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 0:22
  • Great tip! I will probably keep that one handy.
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Sep 6, 2011 at 2:07
  • 9
    caffeinate was recently added.. man caffeinate for more info Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 7:42
  • My bet is caffeinate was added to copy the functionality of Caffeine. On 10.7.4 I don't have caffeinate but I use Caffeine.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Dec 26, 2015 at 9:13

In any Open/Save dialog window, hitting +D opens the desktop folder.

  • One of my personal favourites - I use this all the time! Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 17:37
  • Too bad I never use the desktop for anything but storage devices.
    – user235
    Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 15:56
  • 17
    @Radek: There is also Cmd+H for your home directory. Commented Apr 2, 2011 at 16:35
  • 7
    In the Finder it's Cmd-Shift-D to go to the Desktop. Commented Apr 12, 2011 at 15:46
  • 7
    In Finder: CMD-Shift-D: Desktop CMD-Shift-A: Applications CMD-SHift-H: Home directory Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 8:32

When you drag and drop any file (or folder) from Finder onto a Terminal window, it gets converted into the full (absolute) path to that file.

I find this a small but occasionally useful trick when dealing with files in both Finder and Terminal.

  • 1
    I learned this from dbr at Super User, so props to him
    – Jonik
    Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 21:28
  • 13
    You can also drag & drop files into File Open dialogs, and it will navigate to the appropriate dialog and highlight the file.
    – Michael H.
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 0:30
  • @khedron this was an extremely great functionality I discovered just after switching from windoze. It's one of those features you don't know, but when you try them, they work as they should, as common sense would dictate.
    – Petruza
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 14:53
  • 4
    You can also use Copy/Paste instead of Drag & Drop. And since Terminal knows you copied a folder/file, it knows to automatically escape special characters for pasting into the shell.
    – Chris Page
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 9:35
  • 1
    As of Mac OS X Lion 10.7, if you drag a folder or pathname onto a tab (rather than into the terminal view) it will automatically execute a complete "cd" command.
    – Chris Page
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 9:37

Hold ctrl and move the scroll wheel (or use two fingers on trackpad). It will zoom in the entire screen.

This setting can be enabled or changed in the System Preferences, under Acessibility, Zoom.

  • This doesn't work for me, I have to use Cmd+option
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 18:35
  • 5
    I use it occasionally. I wished it was possible to disable antialiasing... To count pixels ;)
    – Vincent
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 23:10
  • @vincent you can disable AA by first zooming then pressing option + command + \ but that has since been rendered obsolete in lion
    – Alexander
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 4:45
  • 12
    @Vincent you can disable AA in Mac OS X 10.7+ by going to System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Zoom -> Un-tick "Smooth Images". As XAleXOwnZX says, it used to be a very handy shortcut key for pixel-counting graphic designers, I want it back.
    – simeon
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 4:16
  • 4
    In Mavericks you have to enable the "Use scroll gesture" option in System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom Commented Jul 6, 2014 at 0:03

Show the full directory path in the Finder window.

In the Terminal, run this:

defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool YES

Then, run this.

killall Finder

There are all sorts of hidden defaults that can be mucked around with but this is my absolute favorite because now no matter which window I am looking at, I know exactly where I am.

You should also check out TinkerTool for other hidden settings.

  • Under the View menu, there's the "Show Path Bar" option which achieves a nice result.
    – zneak
    Commented Sep 11, 2010 at 20:40
  • Yes, but having the POSIX in the title does away with the icons and extra space that get in the way of longer paths. Usually, I only see the icon folders and the names are either truncated or left out completely. Not terribly useful, really. Commented Sep 12, 2010 at 2:28
  • 1
    I just test this, WOW I really love this one.
    – Am1rr3zA
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 17:23
  • 3
    This is handy, but I think it's too ugly to justify it's constant presence. I'll stick to the path bar.
    – Alexander
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 18:09

Holding (or fn on MacBooks, and depending on your System Prefs*) while pressing one of the function-row keys will bring up the System Preference panel for that key. Here's a list:

  • +Brightness: Displays
  • +Exposé/Dashboard: Exposé and Spaces
  • +Mute/Volume: Sound
  • +Keyboard Brightness: Keyboard (for Macs with backlit keyboards)

*If you have checked the option to use F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys, done in System Preferences>Keyboard, then you will need to add the fn to the afore mentioned sequences.


Drag and drop files and folders to "Open" dialogs/sheets: very useful to open package contents with other software.

Just locate the file with the Finder


and drag and drop it to the Open dialog

open dialog

Bonus: you can do the same thing with 'Upload file' web forms. (Only with WebKit-based browser)

drop in browserdropped

  • 2
    Also useful in general for open/save dialogs.
    – Michael H.
    Commented Sep 8, 2010 at 6:31
  • 4
    I love this behavior and hate that in windows, if you try it, the file is moved to the folder that was showing in the dialog. Stupid!
    – adambox
    Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 20:12
  • This is especially useful for non-webkit based browsers for uploading files.
    – Laas
    Commented May 5, 2011 at 12:42
  • 1
    This is also possible with representations of files in most applications, you can for example drag a file from the download bar at the bottom of Chrome straight to an upload field.
    – Jide
    Commented Jun 25, 2013 at 2:16
  • This is one of my favourite aspects of the MacOS, it prevents you from finding the same file(s) in Finder, and a file dialogue later. Combined with Proxy icons and MissionCtl/Exposé/Spaces keyboard shortcuts, it is a massive productivity booster! Like this: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/400/…
    – Demis
    Commented Jan 23, 2019 at 8:22

On i.a. en-US keyboards +` will cycle through multiple open windows in your current application.

On some other keyboard layouts the hot key may be e.g. +<.

You can verify—and modify—your "Move focus to next window in application" shortcut under System Preferences → Keyboard → Keyboard Shortcuts → Keyboard & Text Input.

  • Wow, why didn't I find out about this sooner!? Thanks!!
    – Ricket
    Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 0:41
  • 3
    It's stunning how many people don't know about this. Of course, I remember when I was complaining about "how bad OSX's Alt Tab is, because it doesn't show all windows". Then I learned how to do it better. Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 1:47
  • 3
    cmd + ` (not tilde, which requires shift) can also be used when the task switcher (cmd + tab) is active (continue to hold cmd), selecting the previous application rather than the next. Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 5:33
  • thanks for the correction @eyelidlessness - it's actually not tilde, as that is only activated with shift. updated the answer. Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 21:56
  • If you hold Shit you also can cycle to the previous window. Pretty useful! Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 1:42

Secrets is a database with a huge amount of hidden settings for both the system and some common applications.

This domain is now offline and the developer appears to have parked the work (based on MacUpdates activity). It was originally launched for OS 10.6 as a preferences pane although the data was delivered from a Google server which is now down. However :) - you can see some of the previous secrets listed as a web archive (may take a minute to load):


Sept 2016


I really find the inbuilt dictionary useful on Cocoa apps like Safari and Mail etc.

With your cursor over a word, press ctrl++D to get a definition.

You can also drag a word straight onto the Safari icon in the Dock to perform a Google search for the word.

  • Doesn't work in FF4 ;) Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 8:32
  • This is the only reason I continue to use Safari rather than Chrome.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 5:58
  • 3
    In Lion it's now in the context menu, plus you can double-tap with three fingers on a multitouch trackpad. Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 17:39
  • 3
    Works in Google Chrome, but not in Firefox
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 0:00
  • 2
    With the new force touch trackpad, you just have to force click on a word to achieve that, it's way more precise than three finger double tap.
    – tourdetour
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 23:35

Holding down while using the mouse scroll wheel will scroll the window horizontally.

  • 8
    If you have a multitouch trackpad, you can also scroll horizontally by swiping two fingers left and right.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 5:56
  • 1
    If you have a Magic Mouse, you can also scroll horizontally by swiping one finger left and right.
    – user235
    Commented May 5, 2011 at 16:10

Most animations in macOS can be played in slow motion, when you hold (Shift). Works for example to slowly minimize windows if you click the minimize button while holding the (Shift) key.

Other examples are:

  • toggle exposé
  • toggle dashboard
  • add/remove dashboard items
  • all kinds of animations in Twitter for Mac

From: http://www.eeggs.com/items/29318.html

In macOS, while in the finder, open any window & click the minimizie button (yellow) at the top of the window while holding shift.

This will minimize the window in slow motion using the new "genie effect" minimize function of macOS.

The CEO of Apple has shown this egg publicly several times. However, this egg is undocumented & has no system menu equivalent to use this feature. Anyone who has NOT followed the development of macOS & watched the demos at the MacWorld trade shows would not realize this somewhat useless feature exists in macOS.

  • 1
    The Shift trick can be used to slow down many kinds of animations, too.
    – Josh Lee
    Commented Oct 5, 2010 at 18:10
  • I wish I could double vote up. That's awesome.
    – Kieveli
    Commented Dec 10, 2010 at 20:17
  • 7
    Even better: If you type killall Dock in Terminal, without hitting enter, do this, then go back to Terminal and hit enter, the Dock is quit while the window is minimizing, leaving it in its animated state until next time you minimize it.
    – ughoavgfhw
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 19:49
  • I have to say, I turned off the genie effect almost immediately. Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 22:54
  • Doesn't work anymore in Big Sur? Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 21:43
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