10 amazing tricks to learn on your Mac

Mac tricks
Whatever Mac you have, here are some great tricks

Think you know your Mac? Think again: it's bursting with tons more awesome tricks, shortcuts and things that make you say 'Wow!' than you could possibly know!

Even the best of us can forget them from time to time, so check out these ten top tricks– taken from MacFormat's '50 awesome things you forgot your Mac could do' issue – and discover some amazing trickshots.

For more, check out the September 2013 issue of MacFormat – and you can get it completely free in the app edition with a trial subscription:

1. Endless keyboard shortcuts

The mouse is great and all, but don't be afraid to favour keyboard shortcuts instead of a series of clicks (don't worry, it won't get jealous). The developers have put in tons of keyboard shortcuts that will help you save time, and here's the best part: you can create your own custom ones too, for any of your commonly used menu options. Just go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Application Shortcuts and then pick your own selection of keys to replace the tiresome journey the cursor would have otherwise made.

2. Everything ready at log-in

Everyone's got their own set of 'evergreen' apps – those that are constantly open whenever they fire up their Mac, regardless of the activity they might have planned. Wouldn't it be great if said selection of apps automatically opened every time you switched on your computer? You can guess where this is going, can't you? That's right, the options await at System Preferences: select yourself from Accounts, and then visit Login Items.

3. Connect to the internet through your iPhone

Got an iPhone to accompany your Mac? Your mobile device comes with a feature that enables it to share its 3G or 4G mobile broadband connection with other devices (though this must be allowed by your network operator), making it perfect for getting your Mac online wherever you are. You can share the signal through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB. First turn on the iPhone's Personal Hotspot option in Settings. Then you can either pair them both over Bluetooth, manually connect them using a USB or select the Wi-Fi network created by the iPhone in the Mac's Wi-Fi options and enter the password.

4. Sign here, here and here

There's no need to feel restricted while using a Mac. Need to add a signature to an important document? Not a problem: in OS X 10.7 and later you can do exactly that using Preview. Within Preview's Preferences, go to the Signatures tab and then click on the +. Scrawl your name in black ink on white paper, hold it up to your Mac's webcam, line it up and click Accept. Make sure you save it so you can use it again in the future, whether it's for writing letters or answering fanmail…

5. Record screencasts

Question: what's the best way to record a problem you're experiencing on screen or to make an instructional video demonstrating the use of an app? Answer: record a video of your screen – after all, that'd be the most useful if you were on the receiving end, right? You can do so through QuickTime Player. In File > New Screen Recording you can chose the audio source and even whether or not to include the mouse clicks in the recording! To neaten any rough edges, you can tweak it in iMovie, and then upload it to YouTube or AirDrop it to say, a relative's Mac.

6. See the hidden options

It can be infuriating when trying to locate the right menu path, but not on the Mac's watch. Holding down the Alt key on your keyboard actually lets you get to more options in the menu bar, as well as in the menus themselves. It's a neat little time-saver; for menu options with ellipses for example, holding down Alt and then clicking them bypasses the dialogue that would have otherwise appeared and executes the command directly.