I'm not much of a tinkerer when it comes to macOS, as I mentioned recently. I have a very specific way of setting up every Mac I own, but I rarely delve much deeper.
Yet, I like to occasionally step back and examine exactly how I use technology to be more productive.
You don't realize how much time you are saving until you stop and think about it. As a way to hopefully help you save some time, here are five time-saving tips I use to tackle my to-do list every day.
When you need to document some aspect of your Mac's behavior, a screenshot of the full screen is rarely needed. Yes, you can press Command-Shift-4 to select an area to save to the Desktop (Command-Shift-3 saves the whole screen as a file to the Desktop), but if you add the spacebar you'll get more options.
When you press the spacebar before dragging across an area to capture it, your cursor changes into a camera, allowing you to select an entire window or dialog box with a click.
If you hold down the spacebar after you've dragged a selection rectangle, you can move the selection rectangle around on the screen before capturing the shot; let go of the spacebar but keep the mouse button down to adjust the size of the rectangle after you've moved it.
Spacebar has the most use. Daily we use the spacebar while typing and gaming. But was this spacebar trick helpful and surprising for you? Again the bonus surprise is the spacebartest.org tool. This is the best spacebar counter designed after seeing the popularity of the spacebar test on TikTok. Visit and use this on your mac. Also, try my mentioned mac spacebar trick
Sadly, I do not use Alfred.
However, I use Spotlight pretty much all the time on macOS. Alfred is a lovely chap with a lot more functionality (and one day I'll give him a go), but for a simple and lazy user like myself, Spotlight is perfect.
Spotlight is a built-in macOS feature that helps you find just about anything on your computer. You can either click the hourglass at the top-right of your screen or hold down the command key and press the spacebar.
The Spotlight Search field will appear, into which you can type anything. In addition to emails, apps (installed or not), and notes, all manner of useful results will be uncovered.
It's nothing more than a convenient way to access apps that aren't on my dock, or when I'm simply too tired to move my mouse pointer down to the dock.
We'll be able to get our hands on macOS Monterey later this year, which will include something called Live Text.
I think this is pretty cool. It lets you copy text from any image and paste it wherever you like. This is a bit limited for me since I've grown accustomed to a tool called TextSniper.
TextSniper lets you convert anything on your screen into text. In cases where you cannot easily copy and paste text from an image, presentation, PDF, or screencast, TextSniper lets you simply draw a frame around the content and it will grab the content for you (all you need to do is hit the paste button).
I have found this to be extremely useful in three scenarios:
- PDFs (for situations where copying and pasting text within a document is impossible);
- Notion (although I love this tool, copying and pasting text from it is frustrating); and
- Using video calls (when someone shows a presentation, I can now see a copy of the text without needing a screenshot).
macOS Monterey will provide this functionality to the masses, but only with images. With TextSniper, you can grab any text on the screen and it will even read out the text to you, which is very useful for some users. Check it out.
Using the Apple Watch to unlock
This time-saver was revealed in my recent macOS setup tips video, but it's worth exploring further.
In case you didn't know, you can use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac. Turn this feature on by going to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General and checking the box next to Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac.
Whenever you approach your locked Mac while wearing your Apple Watch, it will automatically unlock by using the Watch as an authentication device. It is faster and more convenient than both Touch ID and Face ID.
However, it goes further than that. If you check that box, your Apple Watch will also speed up the process of installing new apps and granting certain system preferences. If, for example, you want to view your saved Safari passwords, macOS will prompt you to double-click the button on your Apple Watch rather than requiring you to type your password.
When I don't have an Apple Watch, this is one of the main things I miss.
Adapt the Control Center to your needs
The Control Center is located at the top-right of macOS. Even so, it's easy to overlook its benefits.
You can access a bunch of useful settings for your Mac by clicking Control Centre, which is indicated by a small toggle icon. WiFi, Bluetooth, and Do Not Disturb are among them.
By default, macOS places some of this stuff in your menu bar, but you may not be aware that you can customize the controls that appear there. You can do this by clicking and dragging the controls you wish to have quick access to from Control Centre onto the menu bar.
WiFi, Bluetooth, Display, and Do Not Disturb are always on my list. There's one less click for a few macOS features I use every day.
Using keyboard shortcuts
Now things are getting exciting, aren't they?
Despite this, keyboard shortcuts are excellent timesavers, and they are classic examples of techniques we use in our daily computing tasks that are based on muscle memory. So, I can guarantee that you have plenty of your own that you probably use more often than you realize.
Three shortcuts I use constantly are:
- Press control + command + spacebar to open the emoji picker. It's true you can access it by hitting the globe key on newer Macs, but this keyboard shortcut is now completely ingrained for me and is really useful if I'm using an external keyboard.
- By pressing shift + option + command + v, you can paste whatever text you've copied as plain text. This is a lifesaver if you're tired of text copied from Word messing up your lovely, clean note in Notes.
- It's a hangover from my Windows days, and I suspect that Apple stole the idea from Mr. Gates. Switch between your last-used app and the one you're currently using with this simple shortcut. You can scroll through all of your open apps by holding the command button. The most common shortcut I use each day is this one.
Let me know how you save time
Here are a few tips to help you become a super-fast and productive Mac user.
I'm sure I've left plenty on the table as usual. So, let me know your own time-saving tips in the comments below. Is there something I'm missing?