21. At your Service
Automator can be used to create menu items and other useful features where none exist in OS X. These are created by launching Automator and choosing Service. Would you like to right-click a file and print it without having to open it in its parent app first?
Select Utilities under Library and drag Print Finder Items. Set the Service receives selected drop-down menus to files and folders in Finder and save your finished service with a suitable name (such as Print this file). You can access it by right-clicking any file and choosing Services > Print this file (or whatever name you gave it).
All services are stored in your user's /Library/Services folder (this is hidden in Lion - hold down Option as you open the Go menu in Finder to access it). Should you later decide you no longer want a service, simply trash it from here before logging off or restarting.
22. Launch apps via the keyboard
Imagine being able to avoid using the Dock or the Applications folder to open your favourite program. Well imagine no more, because thanks to Automator, you can create services that allow you to do just that.
Launch Automator, select Service and click Choose. Next, set the Service receives drop-down menu to no input. Then select Utilities under Library and then drag Launch Application into the right-hand window. Now select your chosen app from the drop-down list, then choose File > Save to save the service.
Now close the Automator app and open the Keyboards System Preferences panel. Switch to Keyboard Shortcuts and choose Services from the left-hand menu. Scroll down to the bottom of the list and double-click in the blank space to the right to set your chosen keyboard shortcut. Hold down the desired shortcut keys, then make sure the service is ticked. Finally, log off or restart your Mac to test it out.
23. Tweak Lion's Resume settings
Lion's new Resume feature has all the trademarks of Marmite: you either love it or hate it. Things aren't helped by the lack of customisability in Lion itself.
You either switch off the state-saving feature for all supported apps (open System Preferences > General and untick Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps) or you leave it on and struggle to remember to manually press Command+Option+Q each time you quit an app you want to restart with a clean slate.
Thankfully there's a third way in the form of TinkerTool. Switch to the Resume section and you'll be able to pick and choose exactly which applications are allowed to save their window states when quitting. So now you can restore windows on well-behaved apps while preventing others from opening windows you have no need for.
24. Undo unwanted Lion touchpad tweaks
It can be awkward using the touchpad to drag multiple items around, which is why lots of people swear by the tap-drag method: choose your items, then tap and release, before tapping and holding as you drag your selection around the screen.
At first glance, it appears that Lion has ditched this functionality, but before tearing your hair out, relax: it's simply been disabled as default behaviour. To get it back, open System Preferences and select Trackpad, then tick Dragging (with/without) Drag Lock.
When it's enabled, Lion will even display an iOS-like badge telling you how many items you're currently dragging around the screen. You can also undo another trackpad-related change from the same panel: reverse scrolling (Apple chooses to call it 'natural scrolling'). While some may find the new system intuitive, others will no doubt gratefully untick the option labelled When using gestures to scroll or navigate, move content in the direction of finger movement.
25. Get fast folder access
If you frequently access a specific folder, add a convenient link to it in the Finder sidebar. Open Finder, locate the folder in question and then drag it to the sidebar's Favorites (Lion) or Places (Snow Leopard) section. Rearrange icons by dragging and dropping them in the desired order. Once that's done, clicking this link jumps straight to that folder's contents in future.
26. Streamline the Finder sidebar
Too many unwanted items appearing in the Finder sidebar? You can strip them out by opening Finder and choosing Finder > Preferences. Select Sidebar and you can untick those items you rarely use.
You'll also find one option is de-selected by default under Devices - tick this if you want one-click access to all of your computer's drives and network shares from the sidebar.
27. Make use of Recent Files
Your Mac remembers recently opened applications, documents and servers. So if you want to quickly reopen something you were just working on, click the Apple menu and choose Recent Items to select it from the list. Many applications also store a recent documents list too, accessible from their File menu, Open/Save dialog boxes and - in Lion - when you right-click an application icon on the Dock.
28. Create network drive shortcuts
Save yourself time connecting to favourite shared folders by creating shortcuts to them. Open Finder, choose Go > Connect to Server and connect to the shared folder. Once its icon appears on the desktop, right-click it and choose Make Alias. Use this shortcut to connect to the folder in question via a quick double-click in future.
29. Reveal the Library
The Library folder has been hidden in Lion by default, but thankfully there's an easy way to access it without having to show all the hidden folders on your Mac in the process: just open Finder's Go menu and hold the Option key - you'll see the Library appear between Home and Computer on the list. Just select it to open your personal Library folder.
30. Delete sensitive items securely
When you drag an item to the Trash and then empty it, the file in question is actually still present on your hard drive until the space it resides in is written over by other data. Click and hold the mouse button over the Trash icon, then hold the Command key to reveal the Secure Empty Trash option. Select it to more thoroughly wipe private files from your drive.
31. Create semi-opaque sticky notes
The Stickies application allows you to paste reminders all over your desktop in the form of sticky notes in various colours and styles. If you find your desktop's getting overwhelmed by all of your notes, you can make individual notes less visible: select the offending note and select Note > Translucent Window. Select Note > Use as Default to make all new notes semi-transparent too.
32. Login quickly
If you share your Mac with others, you may find having to log in each time you start it gets to be an annoyance. Fortunately, you can bypass it: first open System Preferences > Users & Groups; click the lock, then click Login Options, pick your user account from the Automatic login drop-down menu and enter your password to boot straight to your desktop in future.
33. Switch between locations quickly
If you find yourself moving your MacBook between different networks, you might have to configure different settings for each network you connect to. Open System Preferences and select Network, then click the Location drop-down menu and choose Edit Locations.
Click + to create a new location, give it a name and click Done. Then fill in the details you need to access that network by way of an Ethernet cable or wireless connection. Switch between networks using the Location drop-down menu.
34. Change the Launchpad background
When opened, the Launchpad overlays a blurred version of your desktop background image. If you don't like this, you can easily change it: with Launchpad open, press Command+B and the background will change to black and white.
Press it again for a blurred black and white image, and once more for a regular colour view of your desktop. If you want to return it to its original setting, just hit Command+B for the fourth and final time.
35. Reveal more detail in your search results
Being able to sort your search results a number of ways can be advantageous when you're trying to pick a single file from dozens or even hundreds scattered all over your hard drive. One quick way to track down a file is by searching for the date that it was created or modified.
By default, Finder search results don't include this information, but by simply right-clicking anywhere in your search results window and choosing Show View Options, you can add additional information, including Label, Date Created and finally, Date Modified.
36. Spotlight drag and drop
It gets even better for Lion users rediscovering the joys of Spotlight: you can now drag and drop Spotlight search results out of the window for a myriad of purposes. Drag them to a Finder window or the desktop to create copies while the originals are left untouched.
More excitingly, you can drag and drop Spotlight results into an email, or share it with other users via AirDrop, making Spotlight a great time-saving tool.
37. Preview files in Finder
Want a quick preview of a selected file? Just press the [Spacebar] to activate QuickLook for a quick peek. Snow Leopard users can also zoom into a thumbnail of selected images in Finder's column view: with the preview visible, hold the Option key as you click on it to zoom into the image, or Shift+Option to zoom back out again.
When you're zoomed in, you can easily pan around the image using the mouse. This also works on the image's preview when you select it and choose File > Get Info in Finder.
38. Manage AutoCorrect for different apps
A large number of built-in applications - including Safari and Mail - make good use of AutoCorrect, but sometimes it's a hindrance rather than a help. Fortunately you can do something about it.
Manage it by opening System Preferences and choosing Languages & Text > Text tab. From here, tweak its settings or disable it entirely (untick Correct spelling automatically). The changes come into effect when apps are relaunched. You can also disable it on an app-by-app basis. To do so, place the cursor in a text field then choose Edit > Spelling and Grammar > Check Spelling Automatically to remove the tick.
39. Enable AirDrop on any Mac
AirDrop makes it simple to share files between two Macs on the same network, but it apparently only works on newer Macs that support a particular type of Wi-Fi connection. If you've upgraded your Mac to Lion and discovered it doesn't appear to support AirDrop, don't fret.
Open Applications > Utilities > Terminal and type the following command on all the Macs you wish to enable AirDrop on, even those which it already supports:
defaults write com.apple. NetworkBrowser BrowseAllInterfaces 1
Restart each Mac, and AirDrop should now be accessible to all Macs running Lion on the same network.
40. Switch between desktops quickly
Moving between your virtual desktops can be done from the menu bar or Dock icon, or by clicking on an app's icon in the Dock itself. Alternatively, use your keyboard: press Ctrl+" or ' to quickly move to adjacent desktops, or jump straight to a specific desktop in your spaces via Ctrl+1, 2, 3 or 4.
These latter shortcuts are disabled in Mission Control, but fortunately you can get them back: simply open System Preferences and select the Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Choose Mission Control and then tick the relevant boxes next to each Switch to Desktop... shortcut you want to use.
41. Reveal hidden menu bar options
Click on an application or system tool's menu bar icon and you'll see a list of options appear via a drop-down menu. All very useful, but if you hold the Option key as you click you may find some alternative options popping up: verify your backups in Time Machine, for example, or perform a diagnostic test on your Bluetooth connection.
42. Cut, paste and consolidate files
Lion introduces two handy features for managing files in Finder: the ability to easily move files from one location to another, plus an option for consolidating a selection of files into a single folder.
To move files from one location to another, select your choice of folders and files, and press Command+C to copy them, followed by Command+Option+V instead. The files will be moved here, and deleted from their original location.
To move a group of files into a single folder, simply select the files in question and press Command+Shift+N, then rename the folder to finish.
43. Identify your virtual desktops easily
You can assign a different background image to each virtual desktop in Lion (these were known as Spaces in Snow Leopard), helping you identify which is which. First, make sure you right-click the System Preferences Dock pane and choose Options > All Desktops. Then simply switch to each desktop in turn using Mission Control and open the Desktop & Screen Saver Preferences pane to set a unique background for that desktop.
44. Change the Login screen's background
If you're running Lion, start by preparing your replacement 'texture' - a 256x256-pixel image in PNG format. Type 'texture background' into http://images.google.com if you're stumped for inspiration.
Once the image is resized and converted, rename it NSTexturedFullScreen BackgroundColor.PNG. Browse to /System/Library/ Frameworks/AppKit.framework/Versions/C/Resources, back up the original and then copy your new image here, overwriting when prompted.
Things are slightly different in Snow Leopard: you need to create a JPG file in the same native resolution as your display, named Aqua Blue.jpg. Browse to the folder /Library/Desktop Pictures, back up the original and replace it with your new image. (In Terminal, Type chflags nohidden /Library/ if your Library folder is hidden.)
45. Set your Dashboard free
In Snow Leopard, your dashboard widgets are designed to float on top of your desktop, but in Lion they've been assigned their own dedicated desktop space. If this change doesn't suit, you'll find that, thankfully, setting your Lion widgets free is a straightforward task: just open System Preferences and select Mission Control, then untick Show Dashboard as a space.
46. Take screen captures quickly
You can quickly take screenshots using one of two handy keyboard shortcuts: hold Command+Shift+3 to grab the entire screen, or Command+Shift+4 to grab a selected area. You can press [Space] to capture selected windows instead.
47. Magnify images in Preview
A new feature in Lion allows you to magnify a selected area of the currently loaded document or image. Switch it on by pressing the ' key and you'll see the magnifier appear - just move it around the image using your mouse. You can easily alter the magnifier's magnification using the + and - keys.
48. Animation in slo-mo
As you've no doubt noticed, your Mac is blessed with some fabulous animation effects as windows swoop, desktops slide into place and more besides. Sometimes, though, you might appreciate a slower pace to things, and there's a keyboard shortcut for that: the Shift key. Just hold Shift as you click Dashboard, Launchpad or a desktop in Mission Control, for example, to see what we mean.
49. Perform Spotlight calculations
Click the Spotlight icon, type in a sum and the search results will include a calculation courtesy of the built-in calculator. It supports some advanced commands - try sqrt(9) for example - but it's not always accurate and is best left for simple arithmetic. Remember, you can access the main calculator from the Applications folder for complex calculations.
50. Access Dock from full-screen apps
One of the few drawbacks of running apps in full-screen mode in Lion is that the Dock appears to be inaccessible. In fact, you can still access it directly from full-screen mode: just move your mouse down to the bottom of the screen as normal, then lift it before moving it down again, at which point the Dock appears.
First published in MacFormat Issue 241
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