Ask DifferentPlease share your hidden macOS features or tips and tricks
[+600] [155] Am1rr3zA
[2010-08-24 00:39:53]
[ macos ]
[ ]

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:… - Josh Newman
@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
Hacker News'd: - Kyle Cronin
@kyle since this news added the question's view grow so fast - Am1rr3zA
(7) My collection of OS X tweaks (hidden or not) can be found here: - Mathias Bynens
(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! - RPiAwesomeness
How about running it in VMWare Workstation on a PC? - Martin Hatch
There are many useful tips hidden all the way on Page 5, because new answers (with votes=0) are unlikely to get voted up when they're hidden way back there! Wish there was a sort by "random" option or something. - Demis
I wish there were an easy way to search these five pages of answers, so I could ensure mine wouldn't be a repeat. - 2540625
[+412] [2010-08-26 05:00:44] statictype

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. - John Siracusa
(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
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
Also, does anyone know how to use autocomplete without the focus jumping to OK if there was no match? - Thardas
Few of these seem to work in TextEdit. - Daniel says Reinstate Monica
[+279] [2010-09-14 17:16:46] Jeremy Mullin

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 curl "" | 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

(54) You can also use this to turn rich text (HTML/RTF/etc) into plain-text; just "pbpaste | pbcopy". - caelyx
That is super useful to get things such as directory listings, listings filtered by grep, etc. Love it. - milesmeow
[+273] [2010-08-24 19:24:29] pauldunlop

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 [1].

Screenshot Secrets via:

  • ++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.


(75) 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
(2) I didn't know about the "space" aspect -- very nice! - Michael H.
(3) Tried to add a few more but wouldn't fit as a comment - OP feel free to edit your answer:… - Josh Newman
(1) Holy crap. That is seriously a hidden gem. - bummzack
A downside to this method, the space keystroke is actually sent to the active window, so once I tried to capture a window, pressed space, and that made the window change because of the space key and then my screenshot opportunity was ruined. There's a little chance that the window changed automatically in the exact moment I hit the space and everything I said is pure bullshit, so I don't know. - Petruza
I think I can remember the shortcut, then I just open Grab: CMD+SPACE, then type 'grab' and hit enter. - John Ferguson
(11) If you hold CTRL while taking the shot, it is placed in your clipboard. - klaaspieter
(4) If you hold Option while rect-dragging, it affects all four corners - handy when your start position was slightly off. - Erics
(1) Note also that if you want the window without the drop shadow, you can Alt-click the window to capture, instead of clicking it. - calum_b
If you have a TouchBar laptop, the touchbar will show you options of where to save (Desktop, Clipboard) and which type of grab (Screen, Window, Selection). Although I've used this since OS 8/9 or so, I had no idea about half of these additional options! Amazing! - Demis
[+260] [2010-08-25 23:42:47] Reed Olsen

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 [1].


(79) 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
(21) 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. - Matthew Shanley
(17) This works for the screen brightness as well: Option + Shift + Brightness Up/Down - Florin
(6) I think I love you. - titaniumdecoy
(16) 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
(2) Wow! Love being able to turn the volume up quietly!!!! - daviesgeek
(1) Wow I had NO idea and I've owned macs for 6 years! - Siddhartha
(2) If the volume change sound is off holding Shift while pressing volume buttons will temporarily reenable it. - intcreator
Note that the quarter increment brightness will not work between the lowest normal increment of brightness and turning the display off for MacBooks. However the quarter increments for volume will still work. - intcreator
Woah, I never knew this worked for brightness, too! Thanks, @Florin! - ELLIOTTCABLE
any way to do this on external usb keyboard? - WestCoastProjects
[+223] [2010-09-14 18:13:42] community_owned

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
Holy crap, this rocks! - ceejayoz
Amazing! I didn't know about this one. - daviesgeek
Amazing!! I have used macbook for over a year and I don't even know it! - code4j
(8) Holding OPTION when over a hidden or minimised application will bring it back to the foreground when you let go. - twe4ked
@scubbo You can always ask a jeopardy question if you want to share an answer. In this case, you could ask as someone who wants a keyboard control for quitting an app rather than using the mouse. Your answer here (and the entire question) is buried inside "tips" and someone searching for this answer can't easily find it by how the site indexes questions over answers. - bmike
(1) In a similar manner, you can press the "1" key to show all of the open windows of the highlighted application. - Tyler Mumford
Really cool! Only app it doesn't work for is Finder. - aliteralmind
Also shift-Tab scrolls backwards in the List. Very useful to do WHILE dragging a file - to drag between apps or desktop. Did you know Windows also has the Tab-switcher? - Demis
[+223] [2011-01-12 14:28:35] Simon Whitaker

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.

Doesn't work for me (Leopard 10.5.8) - Rabskatran
(2) And it won't. This is Snow Leopard only. For Leopard I suggest checking out SoundSource: - Jason Salaz
(3) This is awesome. - ySgPjx
(19) I once read 'Option-click everything' - John Ferguson
(1) This also works for the network control (in snow). I'm not on my mac right now, can't add cap. - Trufa
(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! - Matt Williamson
(2) Uninstalling SoundSource… - Brock Boland
Works on 10.6 for me. - Goodbye Stack Exchange
Whoa!! Cool! I will definitely use this rather than SoundSource. - daviesgeek
You sir, are a gentlemen and a scholar. - Zombies
(1) To toggle "Do Not Disturb" option+click the notification-center icon - yckart
(1) Additionally, you can option + long click on a dock icon to reveal a menu with force quit - Yunus Nedim Mehel
[+200] [2010-08-24 21:30:54] Carmine Paolino

Proxy icons [1]

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. - Daryl Spitzer
(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
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
(7) Proxy icons are like the best thing ever. +1! - Mark Szymanski
This is awesome!! - code4j
What version of Safari are you using? It doesn't seem to work in 10.9.4 - Daniel says Reinstate Monica
Safari tip longer works as of Mavericks and Safari versions thenceforth - Benjamin R
Annoyingly, this usually doesn't work for Microsoft Office apps for some reason. Every once in a while it works, but it's super inconsistent. - Wowfunhappy
[+196] [2010-08-24 23:36:48] Dan McClain

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

ya I really love this features, but it is not so hidden. - Am1rr3zA
Can't up-vote enough! - Alex
And once you get used to this great feature, the Windows way of scrolling makes you mad (you have to click on the window so that it gets focus) - Nivas
(26) This is a great feature. Using Command + Click you can even open Firefox links in new tabs without giving it focus. - David Barry
(9) Katmouse will do this for you on Windows. I installed it a few years back and have been using it ever since. - Robert S Ciaccio
@calavera Katmouse is awesome! You just made my day. - Loïc Wolff
Interesting, I use Wizmouse on my Windows PC - Juri
After having been away from the Mac for a while (well, basically since OS9), the feature was initially confusing. Now I love it, but I had the wrong thing scroll for quite a while. - Matthew Frederick
Yes, some old version of windows got that but then lost it forever, it's great - Petruza
(6) 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 - Nathan Osman
Ubuntu also has this feature. - Gordon
@Gordon: you are right, Ubuntu also has this feature. - I-M-JM
This is such a good feature. I remember when I first got my Mac and I was like, FINALLY scrolling that makes sense. Especially when you have dual screens and you don't want to have to click to activate a window just to scroll down a couple ticks. - styfle
(3) You can also command-click to move a window without giving it focus. - Goodbye Stack Exchange
TM = Time Machine? - Daniel says Reinstate Monica
To be clear, @DavidBarry's tip (⌘-click interaction with background programs and windows) works for any interaction, in almost any app. (I use ⌘-click on Messages while it's in the background, so I can read messages from someone without foregrounding the app, and thus sending Read Receipts. ;) - ELLIOTTCABLE
[+176] [2010-09-14 17:48:06] community_owned

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
(8) 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
(2) Hmmm the System Preferences need to have a option to choose vim bindings. - Will Hardy
(12) @Will Hardy set -o vi - Bluu
(3) @Bluu: Instant Nerdgasm. <3 - bastibe
They're frustratingly inconsistent, though; they work in some apps but not all. - offby1
@WillHardy install Karabiner - iLemming
(1) Most of those actions can also be done using cmd, shift and option keys which is way more easier to remember: cmd for skipping to the end/beginning of the line, option for moving word by word, shift for selecting the characters while moving the cursor - Yunus Nedim Mehel
[+162] [2010-08-24 01:02:00] Tim Sullivan

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 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
(4) I use Alfred instead, I should try spotlight if it remembers things liek Alfred does. - Dmitriy Likhten
(3) Isn't the default keyboard command Ctrl+Space in recent versions of OS X? - yusf
(3) @LessPop_MoreFizz It can even handle a bit more than simple division, try sqrt(10), cos(10) and so on. - Emil
I installed Quicksilver and use ⌘+space for it instead. I haven't used Spotlight in a year or so. - Tyler Crompton
Note that if you have multiple keyboard layouts enabled on your Mac, Command-Space might switch between those layouts instead (see "Input Sources" section of "Language & Text" control panel). As I never got into the habit of using Spotlight, I don't mind. - Garrett Albright
You can change cmd+space to something else, via System prefs > Spotlight > Keyboard shortcuts > Spotlight. I like f10. - aliteralmind
(3) And if you move your spotlight field with a force touch trackpad, you can feel a little "tick" when it's centered. - tourdetour
I miss pre-Yosemite spotlight. The new one takes up too much screen realestate and I never use it. - Wowfunhappy
[+148] [2010-10-08 12:37:54] Shaun W.

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
Maybe is should have been... System Preferences => Keyboard => Keyboard Shortcuts Tab => set Full Keyboard Access to All Controls See: - Shaun W.
(6) I cannot live without this...absolutely essential! - Lizzan
(20) I don't understand rationale behind "Text boxes and lists only" setting being default. - Peter Štibraný
(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
I had no idea :D - Kriem
Absolute lifesaver. - Kenan Banks
(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
YOU ARE A GOD! This is amaze. - Benno
[+143] [2010-10-14 19:21:02] Stegel

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 [1])

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. :) - Paul Schreiber
I like the display sleeping one. Didn't know that! - daviesgeek
(18) Instead of eject, you can use the power button. Useful for MacBook Airs that don't have an eject button. - bot47
(3) I always forget which one reboots, sleeps or shuts down. I just know that if I press everything, it shuts down. - Pepijn
(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
Thank you for sharing these shortcuts. Not all characters are recognised by my iPad though, maybe add a plain text description? - 11684
Thank you this is excellent. - Merlin
[+138] [2010-12-30 11:13:14] Sagar Kothari

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
(15) 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.
(8) Esc works too, but it more unsafe due to Esc usually having another function. But it works :). - Jason Salaz
Any way to make it work with other languages? - Daniel says Reinstate Monica
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
[+131] [2010-09-15 16:26:11] Josh Newman

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 [1]).
  • With the key pressed, the clicked application will be hidden if it is visible.

(31) 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
(1) not working in yosemite? - maysi
(1) Works for me in Yosemite... - imagineerThis
[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
[+118] [2010-09-14 21:13:04] Victor Jalencas

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.

(1) Funny, I checked the same thing when playing around with say yesterday... - Jonik
(33) I use "say" a fair amount -- scripts tell me when they're done, for example. Handy. - Michael H.
(6) Here’s an example of the details that the speech engine gets correct - Josh Lee
(17) say -vz Droid is deliciously ironic. XD - Astra
(10) ls | say to say a list of files - user235
can the speech synth be used from a shortcut, as a service or otherwise than just form terminal? - Petruza
(2) the say command is a wrapper over the API to use it from Cocoa (see‌​ce/…) so I don't see see why it couldn't be used in a service. Also, the accessibility services (VoiceOver) use it as well - Victor Jalencas
(1) @Petruza: The Edit>Speech menu is found in most Cocoa apps. - mckeed
@Redbeard0x0A: say -v cellos droid - Mark Szymanski
ls -alR / | say - CoffeeRain
ls -al ~ | say, I think, is equivalently funny and wouldn't hang =) - Anton Strogonoff
(2) omg, I think you just gave me a good tip to annoy my co-workers >;) - Syrahn
(2) Actually, I like this command: ls -al ~ | say -v cellos. Remove the -al if you want :) - Martijn Courteaux
@Petruza say is an AppleScript command as well. - 11684
(1) @khedron You just changed my life. - Siddhartha
(2) - Sumit
[+113] [2010-09-09 09:12:34] mouviciel

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 (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 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 [1].

From Super User [2]


I use this all the time in combination with DTerm. As well as "touch file.ext" to make text-based files quickly. - Groxx
(2) 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
open -a AppName also works for applications in ~/Applications, or subfolders of either Applications directory. - eyelidlessness
open -R file to reveal the file in Finder - Tyilo
This is equivalent to start on Windows - manojlds
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
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
@Sam, I suspect the "nor do you need to match case" is only true if you use the Apple default filesystem format—which is case insensitive but case preserving. Much much better idea is to use "Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)" rather than the default "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)". - Wildcard
open -e (for 'edit') opens in TextEdit. - Demis
[+107] [2010-08-26 00:56:03] Trieu

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: - r00fus
This also works in open/save windows - Josh Newman
@r00fus Space has always been the Quick Look launcher, even on 10.5. - deceze
deceze, correct, I mistakenly referred to a special use case, the "Find file Dialog"... had to use droplet in 10.5, but Space works fine in Snow Leopard. - r00fus
(1) Alt: no such button. - user235
(21) My button says alt on it. I know it's option, but it doesn't say that on it anymore. - Rich Bradshaw
If you have a force touch trackpad, you can also force click on an element to bring the quick look ! - tourdetour
[+103] [2010-08-24 14:03:38] Fishtoaster

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
(5) what determines which apps handle this? - Alexander
This is a common behaviour in code editor. - Martin Delille
(2) Wish I had known this the last 15 years. Amazing. - P A N
[+103] [2010-09-12 12:50:35] Peter Štibraný


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
Great tip! I will probably keep that one handy. - daviesgeek
(8) caffeinate was recently added.. man caffeinate for more info - InChargeOfIT
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
[+81] [2010-08-26 07:56:12] Davide Gualano

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

One of my personal favourites - I use this all the time! - Simon Whitaker
Too bad I never use the desktop for anything but storage devices. - user235
(17) @Radek: There is also Cmd+H for your home directory. - Harald Hanche-Olsen
(7) In the Finder it's Cmd-Shift-D to go to the Desktop. - michaelmichael
(7) In Finder: CMD-Shift-D: Desktop CMD-Shift-A: Applications CMD-SHift-H: Home directory - klaaspieter
[+74] [2010-09-14 21:26:50] Jonik

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
(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.
@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
Thanks! BTW, I meant "navigate to the appropriate directory", not dialog. Glad it was still useful. :-) - Michael H.
(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
(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
So the follow up to this is how to change escaping to use another format, such as quotations ("/my path has spaces" vs /my\ path\ has\ spaces)? See:… - ylluminate
[+72] [2010-08-26 00:27:55] Michael

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.
(4) I use it occasionally. I wished it was possible to disable antialiasing... To count pixels ;) - Vincent
@vincent you can disable AA by first zooming then pressing option + command + \ but that has since been rendered obsolete in lion - Alexander
Great for screencasts when you need to zoom in! - daviesgeek
(11) @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
@simeon Thanks, been using that for a while now. More recently I (re)discovered xScope, which is way way much better to count pixels that this trick. (and has also many other nice features..) - Vincent
(3) In Mavericks you have to enable the "Use scroll gesture" option in System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom - Alfred Xing
[+67] [2010-08-26 00:57:18] Philip Regan

Show the full directory path in the Finder window.

In the Terminal, run this:

defaults write _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 [1] for other hidden settings.


Under the View menu, there's the "Show Path Bar" option which achieves a nice result. - zneak
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. - Philip Regan
(1) I just test this, WOW I really love this one. - Am1rr3zA
(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
[+64] [2010-08-28 09:32:19] Carmine Paolino

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.
(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
This is especially useful for non-webkit based browsers for uploading files. - Laas
(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
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:… - Demis
[+63] [2011-03-22 19:36:20] Mark Szymanski

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.

[+57] [2010-08-24 19:19:45] stefanlindbohm

Secrets [1] 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


[+56] [2010-09-21 19:30:58] Josh Newman

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
(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. - Jason Salaz
(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. - eyelidlessness
thanks for the correction @eyelidlessness - it's actually not tilde, as that is only activated with shift. updated the answer. - Josh Newman
If you hold Shit you also can cycle to the previous window. Pretty useful! - Leo Caseiro
[+48] [2010-10-09 16:56:25] Nev Stokes

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 ;) - titaniumdecoy
This is the only reason I continue to use Safari rather than Chrome. - Matthew
(3) In Lion it's now in the context menu, plus you can double-tap with three fingers on a multitouch trackpad. - Paul Eccles
(3) Works in Google Chrome, but not in Firefox - daviesgeek
Three-finger-double-tap is incredibly buggy for me in Lion: doesn't work on most sites in Chrome, for example. - Anton Strogonoff
(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
[+43] [2010-09-14 18:02:04] Matthew Shanley

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
(1) If you have a Magic Mouse, you can also scroll horizontally by swiping one finger left and right. - user235
[+42] [2010-08-31 00:39:12] Nippysaurus

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


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
I wish I could double vote up. That's awesome. - Kieveli
(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
I have to say, I turned off the genie effect almost immediately. - John Ferguson
Doesn't work anymore in Big Sur? - Klas Mellbourn
[+37] [2011-04-03 22:11:21] Debilski

In file open and file save dialogs: Hit ++. to show all hidden files and folders.

Note that this appears to be true for any keyboard, no matter what +. on its own produces on that keyboard.

The commercial extension TotalFinder [1] makes this feature available to normal Finder windows as well.


it didn't work for me - Am1rr3zA
Sorry, it’s Command not Option. Maybe it’s Snow Leopard only? - Debilski
I have snow leopard too but with command it didn't work either - Am1rr3zA
Works for me on 10.6.7, but maybe it's keyboard dependent? I have a Norwegian keyboard layout, where shift+period=colon. - Harald Hanche-Olsen
(1) Shift . doesn't correspond to : in the US keyboard, maybe another distribution? - Petruza
That actually makes sense. If you turn on Keyboard Viewer and hold down <kbd>Command</kbd>, you will notice that also holding down shift, or not, does not make a difference. Hence the correct description of the keystroke is <kbd>Command</kbd>+<kbd>Shift</kbd>+<kbd>.</kbd> in all cases. I suggest you amend your answer accordingly. - Harald Hanche-Olsen
(1) Heh. I forgot about the community wiki feature. I edited it myself. - Harald Hanche-Olsen
Great. Hope some other people will notice it. - Debilski
(6) I so wish this feature existed in the Finder itself, and not just the Open/Save dialog. I would LOVE to be able to enable hidden files temporarily, on-the-fly, as it were. - Jason Salaz
(1) It exists in the Finder plugin TotalFinder. Maybe there are other plugins which do nothing else but add that feature. - Debilski
To view hidden files in Finder you can use shft+cmd+. - Patrick Mullins
[+36] [2010-09-15 20:06:05] gregseth
  • When typing text in any document or text field ⌥ option+← backspace will delete the entire word, the same with ⌥ option+del which will delete the whole next word.

  • On MacBooks and aluminum keyboards, typing fn+← backspace leads to typing the del key, deleting the character in front of the cursor, not before it.

  • Using an accented language? Press ⌃ ctrl+← backspace after an accented letter to delete just the accent, not the letter.

(1) On the tiny aluminium wireless keyboard - fn + backspace gives you del. fn + alt + backspace will delete the whole next word in that case. - Danny Staple
@Danny Staple same for laptops and wired aluminum keyboards. - user235
[+32] [2011-05-20 09:23:59] Jeff Atwood

I still think + + + v (paste without style) is very handy.

That is, when something is on the clipboard and has unwanted styles along for the ride, this keyboard shortcuts lets you paste just the plain text without any formatting.

(3) I wish all programs implemented this key combination consistently. Evernote decided they needed to be "special" and use Cmd + Shift + V for paste-without-style. Grrrr. - Ian C.
Google Docs also deals with this weirdly. In general, though, I find it very handy. - Michael H.
(2) Cmd + Shift + V makes a hell of a lot more sense than Apple's ridiculous "claw" hotkey. - Oscar
[+30] [2010-10-14 10:54:59] Stegel

In iTunes pressing + L brings you to the song playing right now.

Helpful if you lost yourself in your collection or are in iTunes Store and want to change something real quick.

Very useful in combination with + I to show the details of the currently playing song.

[+30] [2011-04-09 19:35:58] Ted Naleid

Have a menu command/keyboard shortcut that you know exists, but you can't find it (or just don't want to touch your mouse)?

Press --/ to get to the help menu. It'll pop up the help menu that you can type into. Type the word you want to search the menus for, then to the menu item you want. OSX will helpfully show you where that item exists in the menu with a big blue arrow and you'll also see any associated shortcuts.

help menu search example

This one is my favorite. It's like a command line for the application. - Sam
(1) You can execute the selected item by hitting Return. - user235
This is amazing! - Mike Chamberlain
[+29] [2010-08-24 23:45:15] swilliams

This is a pretty common one, but to show all hidden files you can type the command

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles 1

and then

killall Finder

in Terminal.

To reverse, repeat using a 0 instead of 1.

YES and NO are also possible instead of 1 and 0. - user235
(12) The only annoying bit is that you see the .DS_Store files EVERYWHERE, like on your desktop. - mhud
(1) Annoying, but just realized/found out that I had a .htaccess file sitting on my desktop, so useful as well, even if temporary. - Darryl Hein
@mhud I have a solution for the .DS_Store files that are everywhere. - JayRizzo
[+29] [2010-09-15 14:04:27] Josh Hunt

Image Wells

All good mac programs contain image wells for opening files, such as the Desktop & Screen Saver pane in System Preferences:

1 [1][Image well in Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane] 1 [2]

or in Filemerge:
alt text

This nifty litte things allow you to drag-and-drop files into them (and in some cases, out of) to load them into the program. Here, I am changing the wallpaper by dragging the file out of Finder and into the image well:
alt text


certainly a nice usability feat! - ChrisR
Very very important to know! - Ricket
(6) This is also how you can change the icons for apps & other files in Finder. Highlight a file, press Cmd-I, and drag a new icon onto the well. - Joe Shaw
Also, if you click on the image well you can use Cmd-C and Cmd-V to copy the image for use elsewhere or paste a new image in. - Joe Shaw
Why do your tabbar items and windows look so, different? - user235
Probably had something ugly like SnowTunes installed… Cant remember - Josh Hunt
[+27] [2011-02-22 09:33:58] Arne Burmeister

Disable Caps-Lock

The ability to disable the Caps Lock key is wonderful (open System Preferences, go to Keyboard, then click the button titled Special Keys or Modifier Keys). It is not really hidden, but I never need the key, but especially on my MacBook I sometimes hit it by fault.

Some people also use this panel to replace Caps Lock with Control. Especially useful when you're using Ctrl+A, Ctrl+E shortcuts a lot.

(2) If you are a command line hacker, having caps lock as control is pretty essential in my book. - claytron
@claytron: I have three control keys on my keyboard this way! As a heavy emacs user, I think it's fantastic. - Michael H.
Removing this key <kbd>⇪</kbd> is suppressing a lot of stupid errors with password entering windows (when this key is accidentally pressed). Some of these password entering windows aren't intelligent enough to show this trap to the user. - dan
I use this. Beware that this will be a slight annoyance when you use other people's computers, since you will find yourself toggling caps lock whenever you mean to use the ctrl key. - Dag Høidahl
[+26] [2011-05-04 20:05:08] Dave

You can add spacers to your Dock. Some apps make them for you or you can use the Terminal:

defaults write persistent-apps -array-add '{tile-data={}; tile-type="spacer-tile";}'

Afterwards, use the following command to restart your dock:

killall Dock

You will see a spacer appear. Like normal apps, they can be removed and repositioned by dragging.

You can add spacers multiple times by repeating the first command. For example, this Dock has 2 spacers:

Dock spacer example

(4) Can it be removed like any other app? By drag 'n' dropping it off the dock? - Loïc Wolff
(1) @loic-wolff Yeah, they act just like an app without picture - Dave
[+25] [2011-04-11 18:12:39] Peter Frings
  • Hold down the key to drag a background window by its title bar without focusing it or bringing it to front

  • -click in a scrollbar's empty space to scroll to the clicked place (instead of scrolling up or down one page). You can switch this behavior in the Appearance panel of System Preferences.

  • -click on the name of a page in Safari's title bar to show the URL path as a menu. Select to browse (this is the same as -clicking the title in document windows).

I like cheatsheet ( Hold down ⌘ for a moment and you get a popover showing all shortcuts. - Andrew
[command] clicking in any background window allows you to interact with that window without bringing it to the front. You can also [command]-scroll a background window - especially useful when manually copying between docs or following instructions! - Demis
[+24] [2010-09-14 20:01:54] jblocksom

My favorite trick is using Exposé [1] with drag and drop. Once you've started dragging something you can use the Exposé keyboard shortcut, switch to the application you want to drag it to, and drop it wherever it's needed. It's great for doing things like adding images to a presentation.


(3) You can also drag it to the app's Dock icon and Exposé will pop up with only that app's windows. - user235
That's quite awesome! - Goodbye Stack Exchange
[+22] [2010-09-14 18:40:46] Mjayasek

When clicking from one application's window to another's, holding down while clicking will automatically hide the former app's windows.

[+21] [2010-09-14 17:31:54] Elliott Bennett

When you're + between running applications, if you press before releasing command, it will raise minimized windows from the dock. Otherwise, you may be in an application, but without a raised window.

Also, while + goes to the right through the application list, ++goes left. + backtick (`) also goes left.

ctrl++-8 inverts the screen. Sometimes useful for whacky lighting situations, especially with glossy screens.

+1 I really love option trick to raise minimize I don't know this. - Am1rr3zA
(1) Option to raise minimize -- this only works for me if the application has no non-minimized windows. I wonder if this is intentional behavior or a side-effect of something else? - Michael H.
Wow the inverting shortcut is amazing! - Petruza
When using cmd + tab, what option does is the equivalent of clicking the application's icon in the Dock. Typically, if the application has windows open and visible, it will simply switch to that application; if it only has minimized windows open, it will raise the most recently accessed window; if no window is open, it will open either a new document or the application's default window. - eyelidlessness
(1) FYI, the screen inversion shortcut didn't work for me here in 2016 under Yosemite 10.10.5. - dissolved
[+21] [2011-04-09 00:35:03] kevin9794

On any open file or save file dialog instead of searching for the file, you can grab any from the finder...

enter image description here

And drop it in the window to select it!

enter image description here

This little trick has saved me hours in looking for files to be opened. You can also drop files directy on the file fiedls of any webpage.

enter image description here

Specially useful tricks when you have files on your desktop or a finder window! Hope it helps!

(2) Drag and drop on OS X is just amazing. Pretty much works everwhere. - Josh Hunt
One of the reasons to love OSX :D - kevin9794
(2) I would vote this up 10 times if I could. - Ian C.
haha thanks! Indeed its one of my favourites too. I use it all the time! - kevin9794
(1) You can also drag and drop a folder on the Open/Save dialog to change the current path to that location. So useful! This is one of my favorite little features in OS X. - daGUY
[+19] [2010-08-24 00:41:10] Am1rr3zA

Use widget in Desktop:

This allows you to drag widgets out of Dashboard onto the desktop. Requires the dock to be relaunched to take effect, so type "killall Dock" and press enter. Now, if you click and hold onto a widget in the dashboard and press F4 to return to the desktop, the widget won't disappear with the rest.

If you want get it back to dashboard click it and press f4 (show dashboard) and release widget

defaults write devmode YES

alt text

Not working form me on a MacBook Pro with 10.5.8 - Alex
How would you get it back into the dashboard? Would you have to delete it and then add again? - Nippysaurus
(2) no click it and press f4 (show dashboard) and release widget. - Am1rr3zA
Some systems have Dashboard tied to F12. So basically, enable the feature, open Dashboard, select tool, then close Dashboard. You can "stow away" by clicking the widget while opening Dashboard. - r00fus
Unfortunately, the widget then appears above all Windows, which makes this not very useful - Casebash
Also, you can hold alt over the widget to delete it. - Odinulf
[+19] [2011-01-31 18:04:45] calum_b

It's always worth pressing Alt when a menu is posted, as some menu items will change to offer previously-hidden options. For example:

  • In Safari, File>Close Window and File>Close Tab become Close All Windows and Close all Tabs.
  • In iTunes, File>Find Duplicates becomes File>Find Exact Duplicates, and Advanced>Create MP3 Version becomes Advanced>Convert to MP3...
  • In, Edit->Add Link... becomes Edit->Remove Link.
  • In Finder right-click menu, Get Info becomes Show Inspector, and Keep Arranged By becomes Arrange By.
  • On the Window menu in any application, Minimize, Zoom, and Bring All to Front become Minimize All, Zoom All, and Arrange in Front.

Holding Alt/Option in the Virtual Machine window on VMWare Fusion gives you options to explicitly/forcefully kill the selected Virtual Machine. Instead of gracefully. (Read: Pull the plug instead of pushing the power button.) - Jason Salaz
[+18] [2010-09-15 16:10:06] Josh Newman

Have a laptop? +Click BatterySymbol in menu bar to view your battery's condition

via @Mactip [1]


(8) The same on the WiFi logo: displays more information about the hotspot you're connected to. - gregseth
(3) Same goes for the audio symbol and the bluetooth symbol. - johnwards
[+18] [2011-04-07 04:10:10] jburns20

hold down ctrl and while mousing over the dock to toggle magnification on-demand.

[+18] [2011-04-08 22:07:05] edoloughlin

Dialogs usually have two useful actions accessible from the keyboard. performs the default action (Save, in the image below) and space performs the secondary action (Don't Save, in the image below).

Dialog with two actions

(2) Hmmm could it be possible that works only because first button is focused which is not the default OSX option? - Vincent
(6) For this particular type of sheet, you can also press ⌘D to choose the Don't Save option. Unlike the space bar this works whether or not you have Full Keyboard Access enabled. - PCheese
(5) This is incorrect; space only performs "Don't Save" because it is highlighted, which will only happen if you have full keyboard access enabled. Pressing the <kbd>tab</kbd> key move focus elsewhere, and space will then perform that action. - eykanal
And ⌘. should choose Cancel - GEdgar
Cmd-Delete will also activate the most destructive action — in this case, Don't Save. - Tyler Mumford
[Escape] is always cancel. So you often have three shortcuts for the dialog, and [tab]+[space] (or [shift]-[tab] for reverse order) to choose anything not assigned to [return] & [esc] - Demis
[+18] [2011-07-28 07:38:31] Rene Larsen

Click and hold the Show All/ button:

Show All button in System Preferences

At the bottom of this list, there is a Customize... option.

List of preference panes

Clicking this enables "Hide mode", which adds a checkbox to the corner of each preference pane.

Hide mode in System Preferences

You can hide a preference pane by unchecking the checkbox. You can later show it again by going back and checking it again. In addition, you can go to a preference pane without manually showing it again by using the same Show All button.

(2) Yeah I believe this is for Lion only. Nice tip though. - Paul Eccles
(1) I had it posted on the Lion tips & tricks thread (now deleted from the thread) -… - (I couldn't remember if it was possible on Snow Leopard) - BUT there this comment was written "This was in snow leopard as well" - so I don't now what right and wrong, because I don't have Snow Leopard anymore for testing - what I know is that it is working as described in Lion. - Rene Larsen
Works in Mavericks, too. - Daniel says Reinstate Monica
exists in 10.12 Sierra as well, neat! - Demis
[+17] [2011-03-22 18:18:22] g .

Just came across this one [1]...

To enter a newline character in a text field you can use + return. Similarly to enter a tab character use + . This is particularly helpful in a find and replace window.


[+17] [2011-10-21 05:43:46] daviesgeek

You can Option ⌥-click menu items to bring up extra information.

  • Battery:
    Extra context in Battery menu item
  • AirPort:
    Extra context in AirPort menu item
  • Bluetooth:
    Extra context in Bluetooth menu item
  • Sound:
    Extra context in Sound menu item

[+17] [2012-03-23 13:33:16] Mathias Bynens

It’s possible to enable AirDrop on unsupported (older) Macs running Lion by entering a single command in

defaults write BrowseAllInterfaces -bool true

This also enables AirDrop over Ethernet (not just WiFi). (CableDrop™?)

Don’t forget to logout and login again, or reboot your Mac after entering the command.

Disclaimer: This is just one of the many goodies in my .osx file [1].


What about Snow Leopard? - 11684
[+16] [2010-09-15 16:33:20] Josh Newman

Photo Booth:

Hold to skip countdown and take immediate photo.

Hold to disable the screen flash.

via @Mactip [1]


lol i used to invert the screen colours (control + option + command + 8) so that the flash is inverted to dark black rather than bright white - Alexander
[+16] [2011-04-03 15:43:19] KARASZI István

I really like the way of MacOS modifies the letter spacing of the fonts when resizing a pane. As long as the spacing can be decreased, the title won't be truncated.


enter image description here

UPDATE: This feature does not exist anymore. :(

(2) That's (negative) letter spacing or tracking. Kerning means adjusting the distance between pairs of characters specified by the font. - Lri
[+16] [2011-07-28 11:54:41] z4mba

+ + . will show hidden files in any file-open dialog box.

enter image description here

Cmd + Shift + .

[+15] [2010-09-14 18:37:13] community_owned

If you hold down option while resizing the Dock, it will resize in multiples of 16 pixels.

[+15] [2011-04-12 17:59:12] alampros

Switcher + Exposé


While +ing (holding , tapping ), you can press or to switch to the currently selected application's window Exposé view. You can then use the keyboard arrows to highlight a window and to switch to it.

really nice tricks - Am1rr3zA
You can also do this with the "1" key while ⌘-tabbing. - Tyler Mumford
[+14] [2010-09-17 02:16:54] Chris Reitter

I avoid using the mouse, so I like to start applications using Spotlight. You can launch Spotlight by pressing + space. Once Spotlight is launched, type in application name and press enter.

So to start Safari without using the mouse, type: + space -> "Safari" ->

(1) +1 - I use a mouse, but this is still my most used shortcut. - Jon Hadley
Note that the shortcut for launching Spotlight is configurable in System Prefs. To my understanding the default is Cmd + space, not opt + space. - Jonik
(2) "I avoid using the mouse" Really? on the platform that virtually gave birth to the mouse? really? - Petruza
[+14] [2011-01-12 04:25:56] Mark Norgren

You can change screen brightness in quarter intervals by pressing + + Brightness Up / Down:

Brightness at quarter interval

(1) This doesn't work for me. - Tyilo
[+14] [2013-06-25 17:44:44] Adam Tuttle

I searched through all 5 pages of this thread and I'm surprised to find that nobody already mentioned this handy tip for

Press ctrl+R to bring up a search through your command history. It's a somewhat fuzzy search in that what you're typing doesn't have to be the initial characters of a command, but it still must be a contiguous section of the command.

For example, you could find a previous usage of curl by typing "rl" in the search... or "post" if the curl command you want to find was a POST.

You can also use the Up & Down arrows to flip through just the matching commands in your history.

(1) Well it's not Mac specific. The reverse-i-search is available all over. - keyser
(1) Not related to Mac OS, that's available on every Unix shell through the Readline library. - zool
[+14] [2013-07-28 19:39:46] keyser

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 [1] 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.


(1) I really liked the copy pasting part - Am1rr3zA
(1) I was bothered for about 3 years that there is no way to move a file in Finder via the keyboard, until I finally heard from a former colleague about CMD-C + CMD-OPT-V. This answer deserves more upvotes! - Tafkadasoh
In folder tree view, Cmd--> will expand a directory, and Cmd<-- will collapse it. - dr.nixon
[+13] [2011-01-12 22:03:02] Simon Whitaker

+ click on the title bar at the top of a Safari window to get a menu of URLs, each the same as the previous but with the last path component removed. Like this:

alt text

Or right-click. - Paul Eccles
(1) Too bad this doesn't work in Chrome. :-( - daviesgeek
(2) This doesn't seem to work any more in El Capitan. - Dag Høidahl
[+13] [2011-04-13 17:05:13] user5580

When you use + to switch tabs, you can continue to hold down and drag a file into any icon in the bezel.

Combined with the trick of dragging from the proxy icon in the menubar, this is a powerful way to open a file in another application, especially if you rarely use your dock.

[+13] [2011-06-20 12:57:26] Matt Gibson

In Safari, on a page that wants you to select a file for upload, instead of clicking "browse", you can usually just drag a file directly to the "browse" button. It will set the filename without even opening up the file dialog.

Slightly recursive example below :)

enter image description here

[+13] [2012-03-23 13:30:09] Mathias Bynens

It’s possible to set a blazingly fast keyboard repeat rate, much faster than the maximum possible setting in System Preferences → Keyboard → Keyboard → Key Repeat.

Keyboard settings at apparent maximum

The trick is to use this command in

defaults write NSGlobalDomain KeyRepeat -int 0

After that, log out and back in, or just reopen all applications.

Disclaimer: This is just one of the many goodies in my .osx file [1].


This is especially useful when typing FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUU, etc. - Mathias Bynens
(1) Best part of this is to navigate faster in text files, e.g. hjkl in visual mode in vi. - Samet Atdag
[+13] [2013-11-08 20:41:42] keyser

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.

Good tip but I bet I would forget this shortcut either! - Alper
[+12] [2010-08-24 23:29:20] Vervious

This isn't really a "feature", just a way to customize OS X, but I still think it's useful:

You can edit the icons used by OS X at /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources

You can also change the login screen to your liking here


There are so many ways to customize OS X... the dock, for example (/System/Library/CoreServices/

And you don't really need to "resource hack" anything: just backup and change a couple png or tif files!

While this still works, starting with El Capitan you must disable SIP to perform these types of tweaks. - Wowfunhappy
[+10] [2010-09-15 00:46:52] r00fus
  • Select a bunch of text and drag to the desktop and it will make a text clipping [1].
  • Drag it back to a text window and it will dump the text there.
  • Double-click and you can view the selectively copy for pasting elsewhere.
  • Install the quicklook extension [2] and you can view text and pict clippings in quicklook.

Theres also a service to summarize text by right clicking a text clipping file or selected text. A wonderful replacement for word - Alexander
(3) Quick Look in Lion handles both .textClipping and .pictClipping files with Apple-provided generators alone. - Graham Perrin
[+10] [2010-09-15 16:05:44] Josh Newman

Hold down and click TimeMachine Icon in the menubar. Now you can search/restore from other backups

via @MacTip [1]


[+10] [2011-04-04 04:25:52] Greg Cain

In Terminal, if you hold option, your cursor turns into a small "+". While holding option, you can use this to highlight and copy any square/rectangular area of text instead of whole lines at a time.

it's a nice trick - Am1rr3zA
This works in other native apps (though it's indeed most useful in Terminal). - 2540625
[+10] [2011-04-12 20:10:42] bmike

Often a simple spotlight query isn't enough.

The shortcut ++space brings up the powerful finder search window no matter what app is running.

Not only can you use the normal search types like kind:app or kind:mail but you can force spotlight to show you files that are normally hidden.

This is particularly useful to search for and inside hidden system files such as .ipsw packages, detailed logs and CoreServices utilities. search window showing hidden System Files

You may want to add System files to your default search menu for quicker access.

  • first click the circle plus to the far right of the Save button to show the optional search filters
  • then choose other under the Kind dropdown
  • lastly search for System and check the include toggle. choose the "other" itementer image description here

Can this be automated via defaults write? - Wowfunhappy
[+10] [2011-04-14 01:07:56] Mark

While you are using + to cycle through open applications, you can press Q before you release to close the app. You can close several apps before release .

"H" also hides apps. - Demis
[+9] [2010-09-15 16:08:16] Josh Newman

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

via @Mactip [1]


You know, I've never tried special clicks on the drag box. Thanks! - Jason Salaz
[+9] [2011-03-23 17:46:19] Zepplock

+ ` (backtick accent) switches between multiple windows of the same app.

[+9] [2011-04-12 08:29:18] PCheese

To quickly lock your computer with a screen-saver style password, regardless of whether a password or time delay is set in the Security preference pane, enable the keychain status menu item and use its Lock Screen command. To enable it, open the Keychain Access utility, choose Preferences… from the Keychain Access menu, and enable "Show Status in Menu Bar" from the General pane.

Keychain status menu item with lock screen command

Ctrl-Shift-Eject does this without filling your menubar. - bot47
(3) @bot47 Not exactly the same. Ctrl-Shift-Eject simply puts the display to sleep. Therefore (1) the password lock does not kick in until the Security time delay is reached (if password is even enabled in the first place) and (2) the display goes to sleep instead of screen saver mode, which as of Lion requires a keyboard button press or mouse click to awaken and takes slightly longer to respond to user input. - PCheese
[+9] [2011-04-15 14:53:19] BSP

Want to move back and forth through your navigation history? Most apps, including Safari and Finder, let you use the following shortcuts:

+[ to move back.
+] to move forward.

For swedish keyboards: <Shift><CMD> + Ö/Ä - keyser
[+9] [2012-04-27 21:31:42] bot47

LaTex from Grapher:

enter image description here

[+8] [2010-09-15 06:55:22] Joe Howard

++ or ++ can be used to select the previous or next word.

(1) @Lri All posts in this tread are community wikis. That means that anyone can edit them to improve them. Why don't you make an edit with the correction? - Nathan Greenstein
[+8] [2010-09-16 03:09:28] geoffeg

I love the DigitalColor Meter application (in /Applications/Utilities) for finding the color of something on screen (especially useful for web development). cmd + shift + h to lock/hold the color you're on, ++c to copy the value as RGB Hex value.

Note that if you use it on a second display the colors may not be correct. - user235
[+8] [2010-10-14 11:00:00] Stegel

By pressing + + + you can create the  - Symbol on a german keyboard.

The tilde-key btw is created by pressing +N for all those who searched `~´

For English (American) keyboards, the shortcut is: Option ⌥ + Shift ⇧ + K

(2) It's alt+shift+K on an English (American) keyboard. - Ricket
It's Alt+A on a Norwegian keyboard :) - Emil
Alt + & in a french one - Thomas Ayoub
[+8] [2010-10-20 15:36:56] Stephen

The 'Open Terminal Here' applescript that can be added to the finder toolbar(?), is a great way of getting a shell prompt to the folder your are viewing.

The 'original' is at the pages of its author Marc Liyanage:

He kindly links to a number of other versions so you can take your pick.

The other side of the coin (though not worth it's own answer) is the command

open .

to open a finder window for the current shell folder.

It's a nice trick - Am1rr3zA
Do you know of any updated icons for Snow Leopard? Love the functionality, but the icon is ugly next to the others. - Lizzan
Anything can be added to the Finder's toolbar. Mine contains a couple of applications and my trash. - ughoavgfhw
(2) As of Mac OS X Lion 10.7, Terminal provides Services to do this. Enable New Terminal at Folder in System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Services. The quickest way to get there is to choose [Application Menu] > Services > Services Preferences…. There's also New Terminal Tab at Folder. These operate on folders in Finder, as well as pathnames selected in text in any application. You can also drag folders (and pathnames) onto the Terminal application icon in the Dock, or onto the tab bar of a terminal window to add a new tab. - Chris Page
@Chris: Nice to know about new Lion functionality. I still use the "cd" tool to provide a button in the Finder window to make this fast, but it's good to have alternatives. - Michael H.
(1) @khedron: Terminal will also open a terminal if you tell it to open a folder. So the script can be simplified to just tell application "Terminal" to open ... and all the stuff about checking whether it's running and issuing a cd command can be removed. - Chris Page
You can drag a folder to the dock icon too. - user235
[+8] [2011-02-09 15:35:21] user3496

You can access the File, Edit and other application menus with the 'Change the way Tab moves focus' setting in Keyboard -> Shortcuts Preferences. I changed it from the default to Ctrl+` as the default merely adjusted brightness.

Keyboard -> Shortcuts preferences with 'Change the way Tab moves focus' option highlighted

[+8] [2011-04-02 15:36:33] bconneen

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.

Gigabit Ethernet is great in not needing crossover cables for direct connections. - John Ferguson
I believe you can also connect via a Firewire cable and network over that connection. (Not using one machine as a drive, but actually networking.) - Wayne
[+8] [2011-04-09 05:55:05] Stuart Carnie

When resizing columns in Finder, hold down whilst dragging, and you'll resize all columns and reset the default width.

[+8] [2011-04-12 10:01:11] Thomas Lundström

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
[+8] [2011-04-12 19:06:40] user5466

Ever wanted to stop the iTunes visualizer at that really cool moment and take a picture? In iTunes 10 (and previous versions really) you can control what your visualizer is doing. You need to have a song playing to notice changes.

Simply press the ? key to see a help menu of the controls. On most visualizers press f to see the current FPS. (all except the default)

To freeze the default iTunes visualizer press F to freeze the mode, then press L to freeze the camera. Now that your visualizer is completely stopped, press M to change the mode. Turn the fog on and off with N (only works with certain themes). Change the color palette with P before freezing the mode or locking the camera or it has no effect. + F for full screen, then ++3 for full screen grab.

Viola, instant custom desktop pattern!

[+8] [2011-04-16 00:34:05] Guixing Bai

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. - Tyler Mumford
[+8] [2011-08-02 20:34:21] Paul Eccles

3rd party apps can add unwanted items to your right click menus! To add or remove items from the right click contextual menus: Go to System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts. Select the "Services" panel and uncheck the services which you don't need. enter image description here

[+8] [2011-09-06 02:00:26] daviesgeek

When switching focus between applications, you can hold down and click on another application. When you change focus from one application to another, the first application hides. So, let's say you are switching from an open Finder window to an open TextEdit window while holding the key. Finder will hide once you click on the TextEdit window. I discovered this by accident and it's pretty cool

[+8] [2012-03-23 13:35:47] Mathias Bynens

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

Simply enter this command in

defaults write NSUserKeyEquivalents -dict-add "Target Search Field" "@F"

Then, restart iTunes.

Disclaimer: This is just one of the many goodies in my .osx file [1].


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? - Thomas Tempelmann
[+7] [2010-09-15 06:03:20] community_owned

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

[+7] [2010-09-15 16:24:08] Josh Newman

Quickly find your search results in Safari

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

via @Mactip [1]


Looks like this has become ⌘+⌥+S as of Lion. - Tyler Mumford
[+7] [2010-10-01 04:21:04] Bluebomber

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.

[+7] [2010-10-09 17:02:43] Nev Stokes

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.

[+7] [2010-10-14 11:03:25] Stegel

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
[+7] [2011-01-31 17:17:59] user3156

An often-neglected feature of OS X is the ability to drag files and proxy icons [1] 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.


(3) Wait, Adobe actually did read the HIG? - user235
[+7] [2011-04-08 20:10:41] Nilloc

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

Use with care though.

[+7] [2011-04-15 21:57:00] user5698

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


(4) Not really a OS X tip, but an emacs tip. - claytron
I didn't realize emacs was installed by default. Thanks. - hsmiths
(2) now I'm stuck in emacs... - Chris F Carroll
[+7] [2013-06-24 20:53:02] ckpepper02

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
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
[+7] [2014-02-25 18:38:16] harryg

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

[+7] [2014-08-26 16:50:51] Arseny Kogan

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.

Duplicate of this answer. - Glorfindel
[+6] [2011-01-11 07:05:33] Sagar Kothari

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

Use tinker tool [1] (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 no-glass -boolean YES in the terminal. - Davide Gualano
I used Docker to get the little triangles back. I'm not a fan of the glowing orb. - John Ferguson
What I would give for the ability to do the opposite on 10.10+... - Wowfunhappy
[+6] [2011-04-08 20:27:20] Nilloc

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 AppleDisplayScaleFactor .7

Does it still work in Mavericks? I can't seem to get it to work. - Daniel says Reinstate Monica
[+6] [2011-04-12 18:14:00] Kevin L.

Target Disk Mode [1] 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
[+6] [2012-01-17 15:47:46] Paul Dunahoo
 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.” - Mathias Bynens
(6) To put it more bluntly, purge-ing your disk caches can actually slow you down. - zigg
[+6] [2016-04-27 20:18:14] Nebula

El Capitan has a new split full screen feature [1], 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.


[+6] [2017-03-26 11:23:14] Glorfindel

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
@Demis correct, you won’t end up with two files. I see now why it’s confusing, I’ll try to fix it. - Glorfindel
[+6] [2017-03-26 11:35:14] Thomas Tempelmann

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.

[+6] [2019-03-10 17:52:23] Glorfindel

macOS has a built-in option to mass rename files (including changing the extension), which I found here [1] 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
According to this blog post it's available since Yosemite (10.10). - Glorfindel
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
[+5] [2010-11-20 17:45:31] Bleep Bloop

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
[+5] [2011-02-22 18:35:08] deiga

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
@seh - No I didn' 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
(5) I have this behaviour when I hold the Alt key instead. - Rabskatran
(2) It is Option/Alt key, not Shift. - styfle
[+5] [2011-04-12 16:44:04] Doug

You can force Exposé [1] 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 wvous-show-windows-in-other-spaces -bool FALSE

then, to restart Dock:

killall Dock

Doesn't work on El Capitan - Tolgay Toklar
[+5] [2012-08-19 19:33:52] bot47

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

[+5] [2013-06-28 19:16:03] Derek Morrison

Hide an Application While Cmd-Tabbing

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

[+5] [2013-12-22 08:04:02] user1855732

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


[+5] [2013-12-26 16:34:00] Anil

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 [1] 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 AppleShowAllFiles"
    set hiddenFilesNewDisplayStatus to "NO"

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

    do shell script "defaults write AppleShowAllFiles " & hiddenFilesNewDisplayStatus
    do shell script "killall Finder"

end tell

[+5] [2015-07-10 21:58:26] D A Vincent

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.

[+4] [2010-09-15 09:43:38] Husky

Exposé [1] 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.


Yeah, active corners are useful! Personally I also like to have Dashboard bound to one corner and screen blanking (Put Display to Sleep) to another. - Jonik
[+4] [2010-10-01 22:27:27] Fill

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
AppleDisplayScaleFactor - username
I am actually typing this comment in a stuck window :p - user235
Well, this doesn't seems to work in El Captain. - tourdetour
[+4] [2010-10-08 12:33:11] Shaun W.

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 [1] a try!


(2) +1 it's nice but it's not a real OS X hidden features it's good 3rd-party apps. - Am1rr3zA
(1) I figured it would fall into the "nice tips & tricks" part of the thread :) - Shaun W.
(6) "OSX mouse doesnt feel quite as good as the windows mouse" ?? Heresy! - Petruza
[+4] [2010-10-14 11:21:42] Stegel

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

Most of those are not Mac OS X-specific. - user235
If you [shift][command][G] on finder, you can type the hidden folder's path and browse it in finder as a normal visible folder. - Petruza
[+4] [2010-11-02 02:05:13] Mike Varela

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.

(1) That is the default when staying on the same hard drive. Use option to copy on the same drive, and command and option to create an alias. - ughoavgfhw
[+4] [2011-01-31 18:06:51] yjsoon

Secrets [1] 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.


This is NOT a hidden / useful feature. - ff10
[+4] [2011-04-07 20:56:53] user5130

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.

[+4] [2011-04-10 03:25:39] Ted Naleid

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).

FYI a quick way to add any missing menubar icons is to double-click any of the files in /System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Items/ - Demis
[+4] [2011-04-12 22:15:41] user5493

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

Note that this only affects whether a 32 or 64 bit kernel is used. Both can still run 32 or 64 bit applications, and 64 bit applications are always the default if the processor is 64 bit. However, the default kernel is 32 bit because, as you have seen, some third-party extensions don't work with a 64-bit kernel yet. - LaC
[+4] [2011-04-13 04:13:53] user5532

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.

[+4] [2011-09-28 20:21:39] Dmitriy Likhten

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

For a user who doesn't like taking their hands off the keyboard, I use this feature all the time. - eywu
[+4] [2013-03-27 15:56:35] Josh Newman

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


[+4] [2014-12-14 00:55:57] 1''

Create a Keyboard Shortcut to open Terminal (or any application) no matter where you are or what application is currently active.

Use Automator to create a Service. Within Actions choose Launch Application.

In my case I made sure that the service receives no input in any application.

Then from the dropdown select other then double-click Utilities then select and click choose.

Save the service and make sure it has a .workflow extension.

Next open up System Preferences and click on the keyboard. Click the Shortcuts tab and select the Services option on the left.

You should see your new service in the General section named whatever you chose to name it.

Then you can click the none button that indicates it has no shortcut yet and assign it whatever shortcut keys you want.

There are other ways but this works no matter what application is active and it never fails.

[+4] [2016-01-26 19:14:33] intcreator

Extremely quick way to open a new Finder window:

  • Click on the desktop (even a sliver will do)
  • Hit N

The desktop is part of Finder, so in a lot of ways it acts as a Finder window itself. For me it's faster to select the Finder app by just clicking on the desktop than to use Spotlight or to switch apps to Finder.

Can ⌘-Tab to finder instead, removes the need for searching/clicking - Demis
Or right-click the finder icon and choose “new finder window” - Demis
[+4] [2017-08-10 18:50:28] Demis

During a spotlight search, 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.

[+3] [2010-08-24 19:43:57] Jemus42

Also TinkerTool [1] shows some hidden features


Any specific 'hidden features'? - bb216b3acfd8f72cbc8f899d4d6963
@haykam oh boy, that post is ~9 years old. Not sure what exactly I used TinkerTool for back then, but since I switched to doing stuff with the defaults command. I vaguely remember using it to block .DS_Store files being created on network drives though. - Jemus42
[+3] [2011-04-05 20:10:32] dreynold

Safari also supports a subset of Emacs keybindings [1]


(2) It's not a Safari thing: it's supported by any native text control. To name a random few: Spotlight search field, TextEdit, even Stickies. - PCheese
@PCheese: Nice to know! - dreynold
[+3] [2011-04-07 19:40:23] dequin

If you want to Open/Close FrontRow just use + esc

[+3] [2011-04-08 12:19:59] Alvar

One of the most amazing things I know to do in the terminal is "doctor terminal" I just love it! :D I know it's a silly program that's easy to make but, no other operating system has it.

This is accessed through emacs in the Terminal:

  • Type emacs
  • Press Ctrl+X
  • Type doctor
  • Press Return

After each question, you can recieve a response by pressing Return twice in a row.

(3) It's emacs feature and it's available on almost all operating systems - mspasov
Omg that is great, harkens back the the old Mac program ELIZA! I had no idea all Emacs had that built in, what a cool Easter egg! - Demis
[+3] [2011-04-08 19:43:46] Javier

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

(10) This doesn't work for me. Is there something special you have to do first? - Jason Salaz
(6) I cannot get this to work either. Tested with and windows. - Mathias Bynens
(2) This doesn't work for me. - Dag Høidahl
[+3] [2014-04-29 12:12:39] Heiko Haller

In an any Open/Save dialog, you can use Quicksilver to quickly find the desired file or folder and just drag it anywhere into the file dialog, sendig the file chooser directly to that location. [Enter] will do the rest.

(While not included in OSX, I assume, that the majority of users interested in this thread do run

I haven’t used quicksilver ever since Spotlight got hugely upgraded (mid-2000’s) and took over half of its functionality (calculations, searches, app launcher etc.). Indeed before Apple took over that functionality with Workflows, Customized Keyboard shortcuts and a very intelligent Spotlight, Quicksilver was the way to go! - Demis
[+3] [2016-09-19 08:41:42] Applefanboy

Custom Alert Sounds - An old trick from OS9 days (tested to 10.8) is to create your own alert sounds. Not entirely productive but if you are into hacking your Mac / OS to make it your own, this is one on the list - it's fun to have Peter Griffin tell you it's time for lunch.

  • Sample your sound file as usual (download or record/input to the Mac using something like Sound Studio or QT Pro 7).
  • edit down to 10 seconds or less adding a clean entry and exit
  • export as an AIFF file
  • place here: /System/Library/Sounds/*
  • select the alert sound via the System Preferences / Sound / Sound Effects panel

Note: the Library folder may be invisible by default. If so open terminal and add the following to make it permanently visible:

chflags nohidden ~/Library/

Note2: this route path will facilitate a sound file available to all users on your Mac. You can keep it to yourself by placing the AIFF here:


Such a fun customization from way back in Mac OS 6/7!!! Didn't know this still existed. It looks like Audacity can export AIFF still:… - Demis
[+3] [2016-09-19 09:52:16] Applefanboy

Text Edit - restore zoom feature in 10.7 / 10.8+

This is a helpful tip to remedy Apple's less than useful update to the ubiquitous Text Edit application from OS 10.7 following which they removed the incremental 'Zoom' control shown below.

enter image description here

I am aware of the keyboard shortcuts CMD + and CMD - that work post 10.7, however, the zoom increments with this method are pre-fixed and too large for me - I am most comfortable with 125% and to be honest, I am bugged that a useful function has been removed. So the action:

  • Delete the default version of Text Edit in the system / apps folder (you can drag this app to the trash or use a program like AppZapper). If you go the manual method, delete the preferences file as well.
  • beg, steal or borrow a copy of OS 10.6. Most regular Mac users will have one archived (I have Mac OS's back to 6.5, although I am sad).
  • drag a copy of Text Edit 1.7.1 (or earlier - 1.6 should work from OS 10.5) to your current applications folder.

enter image description here

  • Select any text edit document, get info (CMD + I) and set Text Edit 1.7.1 as the default application to open this type of file.

Note: you may get an error message from Text Edit stating that it cannot save the file due to a permissions error. Don't worry, the file is being saved OK under OS 10.7+ and the false flag is due to an Apple change in the way newer versions of Text Edit auto-save. To suspend this reporting, you can soft hack Text Edit 1.7.1's behavior in terminal with the following command.

defaults write -app textedit ApplePersistence -bool false

defaults write -app textedit AutosavingDelay -int 0

Hope you find this tip helpful.

[+3] [2017-07-07 15:10:54] Demis

You can drag-drop Finder objects (or any document window's proxy icons [1]) while doing any of the following:

  • App-Switching (+Tab or ++Tab),
  • Spaces (+ or +),
  • Show Desktop (+F3), or
  • Mission Control (+).

Combined with dropping into open/save dialogues, this means you'll never have to navigate to a file in one app and then navigate to the same file again in the open/save dialog. You'll also never have move windows around in order to drop a file into Safari.

Eg. I have an image open in Preview, and want to send it as an attachment in gmail.

  • Gmail pops open the "select attachment" file dialogue: gmail file dialogue
  • Start dragging the proxy Icon from Preview - don't let go of it start dragging proxy icon
  • While continuing to drag the file, switch apps with +Tab.

    • Keep holding , but release/hit Tab or +Tab repeatedly to get to Safari.
    • Let go of once Safari is selected, to bring it to the front. App-Switcher while dragging
  • Drop the file onto the file dialogue, and it'll become selected. drop icon into file dialogue [2] File is selected and ready to send. Return to finish selecting the file. file is selected and ready to send

If you save screenshots to the desktop, then a similar trick is useful with the "Show Desktop" keyboard shortcut (+F3).


By the way, this also works (mostly) in Windows, using the Alt-Tab switcher on MS Windows! - Demis
[+3] [2017-07-07 15:23:07] Demis

Quickly insert weird characters into text by setting Text-Replacement Keyboard Shortcuts for any characters you find in the "Emoji & Symbols" panel.

I personally use LaTeX-style shortcuts, so typing \arrowright gets replaced with →. Type a Space after the \arrowright to do the replacement.

Set your shortcuts in SysPrefs > Keyboard > Text enter image description here

You can copy/paste characters from anywhere into the Replace With... column. I prefer to double-click characters from the Emoji & Symbols pane, so I know they're in the standard font packages. The Emoji & Symbols pane can be enabled by selecting

SysPrefs > Keyboard > Keyboard (tab) > Show Keyboard and Emoji Viewers in menu bar

and then choosing Emoji & Symbols in the resulting menu item: show emoji & symbols

[+3] [2017-07-07 15:28:32] Demis

Ever downloaded an app that Mac OS won't let you open because it's "from an unidentified developer"?

Instead of completely disabling this security feature (via SysPrefs>Security), try the following:

  • Right-click the .app file
  • hold Shift while clicking Open.
  • The resulting warning now has an [Open] button, click it.
  • The warning is circumvented for this app only, but still enabled system-wide. It will never warn you again for that particular app.

[+3] [2018-07-24 18:50:42] Wowfunhappy

In TextEdit, you can go to a specific line number by hitting L. Useful if a script errors at a specific line number.

Select Line tool

[+3] [2019-02-22 12:59:59] bb216b3acfd8f72cbc8f899d4d6963

On newer versions of macOS , you can access an interactive tool for taking screenshots via +Shift+5.


You can use three different modes.

Capture/Record Entire Screen

This mode is basic and lets you capture the entire screen. It replicates the functionality of +Shift+3.

Capture/Record Selected Portion

This mode allows you to crop out parts of the screen beforehand. You can move or resize the selected portion. The width and height of the portion will appear while resizing. This mode replicates the functionality of +Shift+4.

Capture Selected Window

This screenshot-exclusive mode allows you to take a screenshot of a window. Windows include context menus and other UI items as well. This mode replicates the functionality of +Shift+4 after pressing Space and selecting a window.


After capturing your screenshot or recording, you can view a preview of it. Right-clicking this preview allows you to set its save location, open it, delete it, or use Markup.

Right-clicking preview of saved screenshot

Markup editor allows you to draw freehand circles, add text, crop, or rotate screenshots.

Markup editor on screenshot

The Markup editor also allows you to trim recordings.

Markup editor on recording

[+3] [2019-11-15 02:27:39] bb216b3acfd8f72cbc8f899d4d6963

By long-pressing on the bookmarks tab on the sidebar, you can open a menu containing the structure of the bookmarks folder. You can move your mouse to jump to a folder from this menu.

Context menu for bookmarks folder structure

[+2] [2017-03-26 11:37:56] Thomas Tempelmann

Pressing + + W will close all windows of an application at once, in most apps.

This also closes a whole Safari window, including All contained tabs. - Demis
[+2] [2017-12-23 16:12:16] n1kk

Regarding tips and tricks. The most annoying part of MacOS for me always was the inability to put dock on the side of a middle monitor in multi monitor setup.

I've managed to achieve it with a help of Wraparound [1] app (Free). It wraps mouse around your monitors so you can setup you monitors arrangement so the monitor you want your dock to be on would be first (if you want dock on left) or last (if you want it on right) and then just wrap mouse movement horizontally.

Here is example of my monitor arrangement before

arrangement before Wraparound use

and this is after

arrangement after Wraparound use

and here's how Wraparounds settings look

Wraparounds settings

so in the end my real setup looks like this

real world monitor arrengement

The only thing that doesn't work is dragging window from middle monitor to the left, it seems to work for an instant but then gets teleported back. But I'm using Spectacle [2] app (Free) to manage windows and I use a shortcut to move windows between monitors so that's not a problem for me at all.


[+2] [2018-01-13 02:56:27] ProGrammer

I frequently use the shortcut: Shift + Home and Shift + End to jump to the begining and end (respectively) of a long command in Terminal. It is one of the most useful commands I have discovered for macOS to date.

[+2] [2018-11-12 05:38:47] 2540625

Advanced cursor navigation for text.

  • optionleft/right arrow – Move cursor to previous/next word break.
  • commandleft/right arrow – Move cursor to start/end of line.
  • commandup/down arrow – Move cursor to top/bottom of textarea.
  • shiftleft/right arrow – Highlight left/right character.
  • shiftcommandleft/right arrow – Highlight left/right word.
  • shiftcommandup/down arrow – Highlight text to start/end of line.
  • optiondelete – Delete word.
  • commanddelete – Delete line.

[+2] [2019-01-30 07:56:07] Glorfindel

If you have an iPhone (or iPad) with iOS 12, and a Mac with macOS Mojave, you can use the iPhone as a scanner or photo camera to directly scan documents or take photos. The scanner will even rotate and resize the document so that it appears as a rectangle. This function is integrated in a few Apple apps like Finder, Mail, Messages and the iWork apps.

enter image description here

For more information, see the Apple Support article Use Continuity Camera on your Mac [1].


[+2] [2019-11-17 14:47:52] atreeon

If you use a second monitor this one helped a lot

fn + + - combines the contents of both screens into one

[-1] [2011-04-13 20:54:30] footer

Use this plugin to allow QuickLook to view animated GIFs - Animated GIF QuickLook For Mac 1.0 [1]


(2) This isn't a feature of OSX it is a plugin. - Graeme Hutchison
(2) And Quick Look supports animated gifs by default on Lion anyway. - Lri
[-5] [2011-04-15 14:30:59] BSP

A handy tip I discovered by accident.

Highlight any file in an Open dialogue window, press the space bar and voila! there is your file in all it's glory.

(6) This is called Quick Look and is already posted:… - styfle