30 essential Mac time-saving shortcuts

Top ways to work faster with OS X, Safari, iLife and Mail

Safari and Mail shortcuts

21. Use tabbed browsing
Why have ten browser windows open when you can just have one? Tabbed browsing – which you'll need to activate in Safari's Preferences – enables you to have a different web page open in separate tabs of a single window.

When you start to run out of tab space, Safari will give you a pull-down menu of tabs it couldn't fit on the toolbar, so you can easily find what you're looking for. You can also reorder tabs or convert them into windows (or back into tabs) by dragging them and dropping them.

22. Use RSS feeds
How much of your day is spent visiting websites to see if they've been updated, only to discover they haven't? RSS feeds end that problem for you once and for all. Any site that has an RSS feed will show a blue RSS button in the Safari's URL bar.


RSS READY: Quickly read all the days news without wasting any time with Safari's RSS reader

Click on it and you'll get a list of all the latest content on that site that you can search through, and sort and limit to particular days using a handy sidebar. Bookmark the feed and it'll give you a count of all the new items at the site since you last visited.

23. Install Safari 4
Safari 4 is stable, fast and has a range of new features. As well as moving tabs to the title bar, Safari now has Autocomplete for searches, which suggests common searches so you don't have to type so much.

It also has: Top Sites, which gives you a new way of looking at your most commonly accessed sites; Cover Flow for your bookmarks and history and a new high-powered developer tool for debugging web pages. Get it from www.apple.com/safari/.

24. Foxmarks/Xmarks
More often than not, you'll be using one browser on your Mac at home and a different browser on a machine at work, which might be a PC (gasp!). Keeping all your bookmarks in sync between all those machines takes time, and MobileMe doesn't sync with Firefox – and if you use RSS feeds, no matter what you do, Live Bookmarks in Firefox never ends up working when imported in Safari or vice versa.

The solution is Foxmarks, a free add-on for Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer for Mac and Windows that will keep all your bookmarks (and, with Firefox, your passwords) in sync.

25. Enhance Safari search
Whether you're using Safari 3 or Safari 4, Inquisitor is invaluable… and free. Not only does it give you a prettier version of Safari 4's search Autocomplete, it allows you to change the default website used by Safari from Google and use whatever keyboard shortcuts you choose.

Inquisitor also learns from your searches, so you'll end up getting results tailored to your needs, and if you use Yahoo!, it will also give you previews of pages.

26. Utilise AppleScripts
Before Automator came along, OS X's built-in scripting language, AppleScript, was the best way for anyone to automate OS X programs and customise them. Even now, there are things it can do that Automator can't.

To write your own AppleScripts means learning a simple, English-like language, but if that seems too much, others have already written plenty of free AppleScripts that you can install and use to enhance your programs.

Mail, in particular, has many. Try Mail Scripts, which helps remove duplicate messages, schedule email delivery, change servers, archive messages, open messages and filter sent messages.

27. Improve Mail
While Mail gives you an idea of how many new messages you have (thanks to its Dock icon), more often than not, you don't notice it changing. Growl, which also works with other apps, including Safari, provides a notification system that gives you a message preview. It's very customisable, so you can set delays for previews, or decide whether they should stay on screen.


GROWL: This handy app gives you a visual notification when you get mail

28. Play clever with Spotlight
Mail's Spotlight integration for searches means you can search every mail field for a specific word using Spotlight. However, you can narrow down how Spotlight searches emails using some special command words, followed by a colon.

For example, if you want to search for all messages containing the word 'macformat' that include email addresses containing 'mac.com' just type, 'email:mac.com macformat'.

Other keywords include 'from', which will search just for names instead of addresses, 'subject', which will scan the the subject lines, and 'date', which will search for the date sent (you can use things like and = to specify any ranges).

29. Filtering spam
One of the biggest timewasters around is junk mail. Mail has a built-in junk mail filter, activated in Preferences, which determines whether a message is spam and marks it as such, or deletes it. However, it can be slow to learn, isn't updated very often and isn't very reliable.

SpamSieve, which works with many other email programs as well, is far more powerful and customisable. You'l find that it's regularly updated, easier to train and lets you create rules for approving and blacklisting particular kinds of mail.

30. Speed up Mail
For the true power Mail user, Mail Act-On is the ultimate way to cut to the chase and speed up and declutter your Mail messages. This nifty application will enable you to create rules and combinations of rules for moving and copying messages to particular mailboxes.

All of these rules can then be accessed from a panel or with a simple keystroke and can apply to incoming and outgoing messages. It can also be combined with MailTags to tag messages with keywords and projects so you can locate your messages more easily.