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Tips & Shortcuts

20 Awesome Reader Submitted Mac Tips and Tricks

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When Mactuts+ first launched, we gave $1,000 to the person who submitted the best Mac Quick Tip screencast. Only one person could win (props to Joseph Darnell for snagging first place), but we received a ton of really good submissions. We've tossed them all onto YouTube and rounded them up for your enjoyment and education. Take a look, you're sure to learn something cool!


Joseph Darnell: Create Different User Accounts to Separate Work from Play

As a creative director for a small company, I am always finding distractions on the Internet and in my inbox, steering my attention away from the work I love. It has taken years of discipline to discern a good way to avoid rabbit trails driven by my personal life. I took up implementing User Accounts to keep work and recreational parts of my life separated. Several of my Mac friends have adopted this workflow too and are happy with the results.


Create Different User Accounts to Separate Work from Play

Stephen Lund: Freeing Unused Memory

Is your computer moving slow lately? Well it could be that you have a lot of unused memory, in this quick tip find out how to free your computer's memory. Regain all that memory that was once being wasted!


Freeing Unused Memory

John Winter: Creating and Using Custom Short Domains

You are already familiar with short domains such as bit.ly and are, perhaps, wondering how organizations come to use custom short domains such as 'cultm.ac', 'nyti.ms' and 'tgr.ph'? To register and configure your own custom short domain is remarkably easy provided that you know the tools to use.

In this short video, I register the custom short domain 'mtpl.us' to provide a quick overview on how to find and register your own custom short domain, how to configure the short domain for use with the domain shortening service, bitly and how to configure a lightweight menubar app for easily converting long URLs into your own custom short URLs.

Once this is done, you have the ability to quickly and easily convert some very long and complex URLs to short URLs using your own custom domain, making it easier to share links in Twitter, iMessage, Facebook, email or even in print.


Creating and Using Custom Short Domains

John Winter: How to Clone Your Mac's Hard Drive

If you really care about your data, you should care about your back up routine, and by cloning your Mac's hard drive, in addition to your Time Machine backups, you are halving the chance that you'll lose critical data.

This video explains, in two and a half minutes, how to set up SuperDuper! to schedule the cloning of your Mac's hard drive, giving you peace of mind when it comes to looking after those precious photos.


How to Clone Your Mac's Hard Drive

Oliver Sherratt: How to Take Screenshots on Your Mac

In this tutorial we will look at a quick and easy way to create screenshots on your mac. Using a simple native shortcut we will produce clean and professional looking images of applications, menus and windows that can easily be integrated into websites or tutorials with no further editing required.


How to Take Screenshots on Your Mac

Nick Pavlovits: 2 Great Spotlight Alternatives

In this screencast, I'll show you some great alternatives to Spotlight on the mac: Alfred and Found.


2 Great Spotlight Alternatives

Nick Pavlovits: Automatic Spelling Correction

This is a really cool trick that you can use to make your Mac correct your spelling for you as you go!


Automatic Spelling Correction

Dan Lourenco: Empty and Recreate Your Account's Trashcan with Terminal

Most of the time, we empty the Trash in OS X via the Finder without any problems at all. However, every once in a blue moon you may find yourself having trouble emptying it due to some unknown issue. In these (rare) cases, we can use our Terminal prowess to empty and recreate an account’s Trash with correct ownership and permissions.

A word of warning, I’m making two assumptions in this video: that you’re comfortable and careful using the Terminal. Anytime we’re using the rm command, there’s potential for bad things to happen if you’re not careful.


Empty and Recreate Your Account's Trashcan with Terminal

Jonathan Batteas: Use Terminal to Monitor a Folder for Changes

How-to write a quick shell script and launchd command to monitor a folder for changes, and create a filelist of the folder's content whenever there are changes.


Use Terminal to Monitor a Folder for Changes

Sébastien Lavoie: How to Create a Quick Text Clipping

A quick tip explaining how to create a new file from a text selection without having to copy and paste into a new file.


How to Create a Quick Text Clipping

Timo Kosiol: Manage Your Open Windows Better with HyperDock

HyperDock expands the functionality of your dock and changes your workflow. See previews of every single window and switch between windows. Not just between applications. It really helps you to keep a clear view over the stuff on your desktop.


Manage Your Open Windows Better with HyperDock

Enzo Amata: Removing Icons from System Preferences

This video shows you how to quickly customize which Preference Panes are visible in System Preferences.


Removing Icons from System Preferences

Luka Banse: Revert Your Dock to its Original State

Learn how to reset your dock so it looks just like it did on the day you bought your Mac. Don't worry, you can undo this action!


Revert Your Dock to its Original State

Andrew Lee: Use Bartender to Take Control of Your Menu Bar

With Bartender, you’re able to choose from apps you currently have open or from apps in your Applications folder. Once you’ve selected an app, you can choose to hide the app completely, to move it into the Bartender icon, or to leave it alone. If you choose to hide or move it, it also gives you the option to have the icon briefly flash for a few seconds when you get notifications. This is perfect for mail or Twitter. The app itself is also customizable by letting you pick your own icon and tune the behavior of the pop-up bar.


Use Bartender to Take Control of Your Menu Bar

Ian Spence: Create an Image Conversion Service with Automator

If you ever want to quickly convert image types without opening any software, you can pull it off with a simple service created in Automator. This video will walk you through how to make a service that will convert any image type to a JPG simply by right clicking the file.


Create an Image Conversion Service with Automator

Ian Spence: Camouflage Your Dekstop Clutter

In my short screencast, I demonstrate one of my favorite apps that I use on a daily basis called Camouflage. It's a simple application located in the menubar that allows you to hide and show your desktop icons with the use of a simple key stroke. You're also able to set a different wallpaper when the icons are hidden. Finally, it also has an "Open Finder with a Double Click" feature which allows you to quickly access your finder from your desktop.


Camouflage Your Dekstop Clutter

David Orós: Quickly Zoom in on Anything on Your Screen

Web browsers have integrated zoom tools to let you magnify any part of the page. But, what if we want to zoom into an element in OS X. That's where screen zoom comes in!

This trick is very useful and can be used anytime, anywhere. As shown in the video, we only have to turn it on in the Universal Access preferences, and we're ready to go! By pressing the Control key while moving the mouse wheel (or your elegant finger over a Magic Mouse), we'll be able to zoom to any part of the screen.


Quickly Zoom in on Anything on Your Screen

Harry Orford: Change Window Sizes on the Fly with Divvy

In this video, I'll go over how to quickly and easily manage the layout of your various windows with an application called Divvy.


Change Window Sizes on the Fly with Divvy

Bruno Skvorc: Edit Your .profile File and Create Aliases with Terminal

If you do web development on a Mac, you need to edit hosts, vhosts and other locked files as often as you start new projects or switch major git branches. Editing those files in vim can get tedious, so I'll show you how to create a persistent single-command alias to open and edit them in Text Edit.

We'll create a .profile file in your home folder, pack it with useful aliases and then load them into the system. In next to no time, you'll be able to edit locked files with a command such as "edit [file]", or even simpler for familiar cases: "edit_hosts" to open the hosts file in Text Edit.


Edit Your .profile File and Create Aliases with Terminal

Dan Beeston: Use ControllerMate to Automate Tasks

We all type out our email so many times a day, it just makes sense to automate the task. ControllerMate makes it easy to assign a text fragment to a hotkey. This tip introduces you to the software and shows you how to find the button building block you're after and how to link it to an output.


Use ControllerMate to Automate Tasks

Show Us Yours!

So there you have it, 20 awesome Mac tips and tricks submitted by you guys, our awesome readers. Obviously, there's a lot of talent and knowledge in our reader base. Some of these were so good that we've asked the guys who submitted them to join the team as regular contributors, so you'll be seeing a lot more of them!

Think you've got what it takes to be a Mactuts+ contributor? We need folks with both writing and screencasting skills. Stop by our "Write for Us" page for more info.

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