20 tips to help you work smarter with OS X

This also applies to any Web Clip widgets you may have created from Safari on Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard). Note that widgets that come with the system can't be deleted. To close an open widget, mouse over it, hold the O key and click the x symbol that appears.

7. Customise application toolbars

More or less every application running on OS X has a toolbar where certain key controls and buttons will live. To modify the items that appear in a given application's toolbar, right-click or [Ctrl]-click on the toolbar and choose Customise.... You should now be able to drag existing buttons and fields out and new ones in to reflect the way you like to work. There is usually an option to restore the default set if you change your mind later. This process will only affect the application you perform it on, not any others.

8. Use the sidebar

Every Finder window in OS X has a sidebar – a panel running down the left which contains links to local and networked computers and hard drives, as well as shortcuts to your Home folder and its contents. To remove any locations from the lower part of the sidebar, drag them out or right-click and choose Remove.

To add an item, drag it in. Drives can't be dragged in this way from the upper part of the window, but you can eject connected drives by clicking the arrow that appears next to them. Internal hard drives can't be ejected but they can be removed from the sidebar by right-clicking.

9. Customise your Mac

OS X looks great but many people like to make it their own by customising it. To do this, start by going to System Preferences > Appearance where you can alter the colour scheme of windows to an extent. Then go to Desktop & Screen Saver. Here you can choose any image file on your Mac to use as a backdrop, and also specify a folder of images from which to automatically choose a new picture at certain intervals.

Your iPhoto library and Events are available here, too. If you're feeling adventurous, third-party programs will let you use screensavers as animated Desktop backgrounds, though they tend to use a lot of CPU power.

10. Time Machine backups

OS X 10.5 comes with Time Machine, a backup program that's built into the heart of the OS. By connecting an external drive and specifying it as the backup drive, you can perform an initial backup of your whole system which will be bootable should you suffer a hard drive crash.

Specific items can be excluded from the backup by choosing to ignore them in the Time Machine setup. The clever part is that each subsequent backup you make to the same drive will be incremental, meaning only items changed since the last backup will be copied. By invoking Time Machine you can also step back in time for any folder to view and access its contents at any backup point, even if it's since been deleted.

Quick tips...

11.Search and spell

In many applications you can highlight a word or block of text, right-click and choose Search in Spotlight or Google, or Look Up In Dictionary to make sure everything is correctly spelt.

12 .Dock setup

In System Preferences you can choose the size, location and behaviour of the Dock, plus set it to either magnify when you scroll over it or not.

13. Quick find

Finder windows have a text field at the top right-hand corner. Type in it to instantly search your Mac for files or folders that you need to locate.

14. Quick copy

Hold the O key while dragging an item to duplicate it. Hit [esc] if you wish to cancel the copy before releasing the mouse.

15. Safari tabs

Drag a tab by its title bar out of Safari and it will be opened in a new window. You can also drag tabs around to re-order them.

16. Remove Preference Panes

To quickly remove third-party preference panes in System Preferences, right-click on them and choose Remove.

17. Automated folders

To make working with multiple folders easier, you can attach Automator actions to specific folders, so that any file dropped in the folder has the action applied to it automatically.

18. Stacks

In Mac OS X 10.5, folders can be dragged to the Dock and opened as Stacks. Their contents will be displayed as a list or in a grid so you can see what's inside without opening it.

19. Add-ons

Contextual menu items in 10.5, once installed, appear under the More section that appears when you right click on any part of the Desktop.

20. Network connections

OS X 10.5 spots any Macs on your local network and displays them under Shared in the sidebar. Connect simply by selecting one.

First published in Macformat Issue 200