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10 Hidden Mac Features You Should Use

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Macs are well known for their ease of use, but they also have a lot of great features hidden under the surface that many people never notice. Whether you’re a Mac newbie or a Mac veteran, here are ten great features you should be using.

Glance

Using Quick Look in Mac Finder.

Quick Look allows you to quickly view files without opening them in the Finder. To use it, open a Finder window and find the file you want to view. Click an item once to select it, then press the spacebar once to view it in a pop-up window. You can also use Quick Look for folders to view information about the contents of a folder.

RELATED: How to edit files and images with Quick Look on Mac

Virtual desktops (spaces)

Using Virtual Desktop Spaces in Mac Mission Control.

Spaces are similar to Mac virtual desktops and can help organize open windows and applications into different desktop workspaces. You can create different spaces for different tasks and then quickly and easily switch between them.

To do this, press F3 on your keyboard to open Mission Control, then move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen and click the plus (+) button to add a new desktop. From there, you can drag application windows from Mission Control onto the desktop thumbnails at the top of the screen and switch between them by clicking the thumbnails themselves.

RELATED: Mission Control 101: How to Use Multiple Desktops on a Mac

Full screen mode

If you are easily distracted while working or playing games on your Mac, full screen mode will help you focus on one task at a time. When you use it, one application or window will take up the entire screen, and the desktop and other windows will be temporarily hidden.

To enter full screen mode, click the tiny green button in the top left corner of the window (next to the red “close window” button). Or you can hover over the green button and select Enter Full Screen. It’s easy to miss if you don’t already know it’s there.

RELATED: How to Enter and Exit Full Screen Mode on Mac

Screenshots

Sample macOS Big Sur image.

On a Mac, a screenshot captures the exact contents of your screen and saves it to an image file that you can view later or share with other people. To take a screenshot, press Shift+Command+3 on your keyboard and the screenshot will be saved to your desktop by default. You can also press Shift+Command+5 for more screenshot options and screen recording features.

RELATED: How to take a screenshot on Mac

Hotkeys

The Mac operating system provides many handy keyboard shortcuts that can save you time by reducing the need to find options on the screen with your mouse pointer. For example, you can use Command+H to hide a window, Command+C to copy text (and Command+V to paste), or use Command+Tab to switch between open applications. There are dozens more keyboard shortcuts that will make you more productive on your Mac. What’s more, you can customize keyboard shortcuts in System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts.

RELATED: The Best macOS Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Use

Spotlight search

Enter the name of the application and click

Spotlight search should be an obvious feature, but we’ve seen many Mac users who don’t know it exists. It’s a powerful search tool that can find almost everything on your Mac. You can also use it to quickly launch applications.

To use Spotlight, click the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner of your screen and start typing what you’re looking for. Or you can press Command+Space on your keyboard. Spotlight will search your entire system and show you a list of results. Once you get the hang of it, you may never need to root Finder to find something again.

RELATED: How to quickly launch a Mac app with Spotlight

Forced exit

 "Force quit apps" dialog box on Mac.

Force Quit is a great hidden feature to quickly close an unresponsive application. You shouldn’t rely on it to exit apps that work well, but sometimes if an app becomes completely unresponsive, you have no other choice. To use it, press Command + Option + Escape on your keyboard, select the unresponsive application from the list, then choose Force Exit.

RELATED: How to Force Quit Apps on Your Mac When They’re Not Responding

Automator

Search in progress "Automator" in the spotlight on Mac.

Automator is a powerful tool that allows you to automate repetitive tasks on your Mac. To use Automator, open the Automator app (open Launchpad and type “Automator” to find it) and select one of the many included actions, such as “Rename Finder Items” or “Copy Files and Folders.” You can then combine a series of activities to create a workflow. Once you create a workflow, you can save it and run it anytime.

RELATED: Automator 101: How to Automate Repetitive Tasks on Your Mac

Text expansion

Using shortcuts to expand text on Mac.

Using the tool built into macOS, you can speed up your typing by setting up custom keyboard shortcuts for frequently used text. For example, you can create a shortcut for your email address (“@@”) so you don’t have to type it in every time, or shortcuts for commonly used phrases like “omv” for “on the go”. To customize it, open System Preferences > Keyboard, then click Text and click the plus button to add abbreviations.

RELATED: Type faster on your smartphone, tablet or laptop with Text Expansion Shortcuts

AirDrop

AirDrop should now be in the Favorites section of the Finder sidebar on Mac.

AirDrop lets you quickly share files between Mac computers or other Apple devices. It uses local Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections instead of the Internet.

To use AirDrop, open Finder and click the AirDrop icon in the sidebar. A window will open showing all AirDrop-enabled Apple devices in the vicinity—usually about 30 feet or less away. To share a file, simply drag it to the AirDrop window and select the device you want to transfer it to. The recipient will then be prompted to accept the file. Have fun with your Mac!

RELATED: How to AirDrop to the Favorites Sidebar in Finder on Mac

If you’re interested in a Mac but haven’t purchased one yet, be sure to check out our lists of the best MacBooks and desktop Macs.

Best MacBooks of 2022


MacBook Pro 14″ (M1 Pro 2021)

2020 Apple MacBook Air: Apple M1 chip, 13-inch Retina display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, backlit keyboard, FaceTime HD camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; space gray

2020 Apple MacBook Air: Apple M1 chip, 13-inch Retina display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, backlit keyboard, FaceTime HD camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; space gray

MacBook Pro 16″ (M1 Pro 2021)


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