Previously on Mac Lore… · Clicking on that “Mac OS X” link cost me a half hour rat-holing on my journey over the years. So you don’t have to, here’s a compendium of advice I give people about the Right Way To Do It; although some of the recommendations are not Mac-specific:
Your screen is wider than it is high. So put the Dock on the side not the bottom.
Dock size and magnification are a matter of taste, but don’t auto-hide it, because…
Remove from the Dock every app that you don’t use regularly. That way, everything there is either running or likely to be, and it becomes a useful visual status check. To the right is a snapshot of mine as I write this.
Go spend some quality time in the System Preferences for Trackpad. Definitely turn on “Tap to click” and “Secondary click”. Then use the accessibility preferences to enable double-tap-and-drag.
While you’re in System Preferences, make sure your keyboard repeat rate is turned up to the max; few things are more boring than holding down the spacebar or whatever and watching the cursor inch across the screen.
Command-space, which brings up Spotlight search, is your friend. It’s really pretty good. Not enough people know that you can highlight things in the result list and type command-I to get a nice little popup with useful information about what you just found.
Use the tab trick in your favorite browser for one-click access to things you care about. (When I wrote that piece it didn’t work in Safari, but now it does.)
Keep a couple of browsers around. Chrome and Safari are both great on Mac, Firefox is OK but recently I’ve found it slow. It’s common to use one for work stuff and the other for personal. Another option is to be logged into Google in only one of them and Google-invisible in the other. Speaking of which, Safari is starting to have a strong privacy story.
Your browser will open PDFs directly and want you to read them there. Don’t. Download ’em and open ’em up in the awesome Preview app. Particularly if they’re big or complicated; Preview laughs at 500-page graphically-complex documents and provides a superior read/search/navigate experience.
Despite the fact that Preview is great, do not try to use it to fill in legal forms. It will look like it’s trying to work, but it won’t. For that purpose (and that purpose only) go get Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Related to Preview: Let’s assume you’re a professional who sometimes needs to show off your work. So use the command-control-shift-4 gesture to grab a piece of your screen, shift over to Preview, hit command-N and it creates a new graphic with what you just captured. The only fly in the ointment is that when you save it, it’ll want to use PNG and you almost always want JPG, so you have to toggle that on the Save menu.
This is how I captured the Dock image above.
If you have to give a presentation, use Keynote; it and Preview are Apple’s two truly great Mac apps. Do not go near PowerPoint, it’s a travesty on Mac.
Learn to use the control-key navigation tricks. They make editing text — any text in almost any app — dramatically faster.
Turn off all the notifications you possibly can. You should own your time. If you have a reasonably active life there will always be new things to read in mail and Twitter and Slack and so on; so go read them when you come to a stopping point. The only notification I leave on is the desktop Signal app, because you have to know me pretty well to reach me there. And (at work) mentions on Amazon Chime.
Inbox Zero is a great idea but unattainable by most of us. Instead, try the Low-stress Inbox technique.
Use a password manager. Really, please use one.
I wrote the first of these in 2002. I wonder how many more are in my future?