This page will feature tips and tricks in regard to applications or functions related to the Mac or OS X that are not necessarily “how to” instructions
Note that one can use header navigation with their screen reader for faster navigation. I have separated the topics in heading level 2, such as General Mac OS X, Finder, Safari, etc. The specific “set of tips and tricks” information are under heading level 3 for each post.
General Mac OS X
The Resume Feature in OS X Lion
There has been a lot of discussion about this new feature in Lion. With the move by Apple towards a more iOS feel to the operating system, like the new view in Mail, the Resume feature is an aspect of the iPhone, iPad and iPod that is now present in OS X.
Basically, the Resume feature in OS X Lion effects all Windows in an application and all applications on the system in that when you start an application, all of its previous windows will be present and when you restart your system, all of the applications you had running at shut down/restart will start with the system. This is default behavior and, thus, can be a bit disconcerting for someone new to Lion. For example, if you close down Safari with several webpages open and do not close those windows before quitting the application, those same windows will be open when you start Safari again. Similarly, if you shut down your system with Mail, Safari and iTunes open, for instance, those same applications will open when you restart the system. It’s something that does take a bit of getting used to and, in some cases, it can even be a bit annoying.
Fear not, though. If this is a type of behavior that you would prefer not having occur in Lion, Apple has provided ways to change this either on the application level or for the overall system. I am going to talk about some tips of dealing with Resume, but you can also hear a demonstration I did that can be found on the
Dealing With Application Windows
If you want your previously opened windows in any application not to be open when you restart that application, you can do this as a “one shot” deal by holding down the option key when you quit that application. In other words, holding down the option and command keys and the letter q to quit the application. This will cause the application not to have its previously open windows present when you restart it.
If you want this to be an across the board thing for all applications permanently, you can apply this in System Preferences by doing the following;
- Open System Preferences.
- Navigate to the General Pane.
- Tab until you come to the checkbox that states, “Restore windows when quitting and reopening apps”, and uncheck it.
Once you do this, any time you quit and reopen an application, its previously opened windows will not be present.
As a note in regard to this, if you have it so all of your previously opened windows do not open when you start an application, adding the option key to the command-q command to quit an application will act in reverse as a “one shot” deal where the next time you open that application, all of the previously opened windows will be present.
Dealing With Applications and the System
If you decide that you don’t want your applications restarting any time you reboot or start up your system, you can disable the Resume behavior as well system wide. This is done in the restart or shut down dialog easily gotten to by hitting the power button on your system for a moment or through the respective dialogs that appear from the Finder menu when selecting these options. When you do this, you will find a checkbox that states, “Reopen Windows when logging back in”,. Just uncheck this box, and you will not have any applications left open when you restart or shut down your system reopening automatically.
Note that if you do this, this does not effect individual applications and their windows. In other words, if you uncheck the “Reopen Windows when logging back in”,. checkbox in the shut down or the restart dialog, but do not do so for “Restore windows when quitting and reopening apps” in the General pane of System preferences, your applications will still open with the previously opened windows when you start them.
Additionally, in theory, holding down the option key when restarting your system should reverse the state of the “Reopen Windows when logging back in” checkbox, but I have found that it does not react reliably at the time of this writing with version 10.7′s initial release.
Lastly, there are a few other ways of dealing with the Resume feature for application windows if you are comfortable dealing with folders and files by way of your user library in Finder. All of the resume settings for your applications are contained in your ~/library/Saved Application State folder. Manipulation of this folder or the subfolders for specific applications can be done to effect how the Resume feature works for applications. For details on these methods there is a very informative article
that explains this subject in more detail.
Again, though, unless you are familiar and comfortable with working with your Mac on a more technical level, I would advise utilizing the approaches I have talked about above.
Calibrating a MacBook or MacBook Pro battery
Calibrate the battery in your MacBook or MacBook Pro every month or two to keep your battery functioning at its fullest capacity.
To calibrate the battery:
- Plug in the MagSafe power adapter and fully charge the MacBook or MacBook Pro battery until the light on the MagSafe connector changes to green and the Battery icon in the menu bar indicates that the battery s fully charged.
- Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for two hours or longer. You may use your computer during this time as long as the power adapter is plugged in.
- Disconnect the power adapter with the computer on and start using it with battery power. When the battery’s charge gets low, you’ll see the low battery warning dialog on the screen.
- Continue to keep your computer turned on until it goes to sleep. Save your work and close all applications when the battery’s charge gets low and before the computer goes to sleep.
- Turn off the computer or allow it to sleep for five hours or longer.
- Reconnect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged. You may use your computer during this time.
Repeat the calibration process every two months or so to keep the battery fully functioning. If you use your MacBook or MacBook Pro infrequently, it’s best to recalibrate the battery at least once a month.
If you purchased additional batteries, repeat the calibration process with those batteries as well.
Arranging Items on the Dock with VoiceOver
It is possible to arrange the items on your dock in whatever order you desire using VoiceOver. This is not a commonly known command, but once you are on the dock, pressing the option and command keys with either the left or right arrow will move the item you are currently on. VoiceOver will tell you that you have moved the item to the left or right of the next item in the appropriate direction.
For example, let’s say you want to move the order in which Safari, iChat and Mail happen to be located. You would rather have Mail ahead of both Safari and iChat. So, in the dock, you do the following;
- First move to Mail using the arrow keys by themselves
- When you are on Mail, press the option-command-left arrow keys. Voice over will say, “Mail moved to the left of iChat”.
- Press the same option-command-left arrow keys again, and you will hear VoiceOver tell you, “Mail moved to the left of Safari”.
You now have Mail, Safari and iChat ordered as you desired on the dock.
Spell checking in Leopard and Snow Leopard
The following was written by John W. Hess and is courtesy of Keith Reedy. These tips will also work in Snow Leopard as well.
For me, the best way to spell check with Leopard, for example, in Mail, is to use Command-Shift-Semicolon to activate the spell checker.
Press VO keys up arrow to bring focus to the spell checker and then VO keys down arrow until you hear the first misspelled word.
Release the VO keys and just press down arrow to review the suggestions and when you hear one you like, just press enter and the next misspelled word will be heard.
Press down arrow to move through the suggestions and hit enter on the one you like. If you don’t like any of them you can type in what you think the spelling is and when you hit enter it will move to the next word.
If you want the spell checker to ignore the word, or learn the word and put it in to the spell checker’s dictionary, just tab to ignore, or if you want the spell checker to learn the word press tab again and press enter.
This also works in text edit. I use it for everything. You can also check spelling on the web. For example if you are using web mail and you want to spell check your message this method will work.
Advice on non-media formats that require a third party application to be used on the Mac
The following was written by Dr. Lewis Alexander and was originally posted on the Mac Visionaries email list. It is presented here with his kind permission.
just posting this as a clean advisory on the use of quicktime and other associated applications to handle non mac / unsupported media formats.
this is a quick guide with resources to support users running the latest releases of OS X including snow leopard and Lion.
Apple quicktime is of course a standard media interface which works in tandem with iTunes and handles most standard media formats based on web enriched content, etc. However, there are cases where Quicktime and iTunes cannot support unsupported media formats such as WMV (windows media video), WMA (windows media audio), AVI (Audio/video interleaved) etc.
there are a number of options available to give users access to these formats. These include:
Perian. A freeware opensource quicktime extension which is constantly updated to support non standard formats.
See here to download Perian
Windows Media for mac (AKA: Flip4Mac)
which can be found here.
VLC Media Player. A universal media player / command line / scriptable system supporting various formats.
(This is a stand alone application which can support the interaction of web based content but cannot directly handle embedded materials tied to the site / content provider)
Go here to download VLC.
The above listed applications are standard tools to support web enriched media and work with quicktime and iTunes with exception as stated to VLC as a standalone system.
As many will have noticed, especially users of OS X 10.6 snow leopard and OS X 10.7 Lion, Quicktime is not installed by default, instead, Quicktime X (WEB UI) is installed. This does not support importing, saving or converting media types.
This is where a little trick and solution is available. you will need to download Apple quicktime 7 in order to gain certain benefits including support for streaming content embedded to sites which Quicktime X cannot support.
you can download quicktime 7 from:
this works in OS X 10.6.3 upwards including Lion.
Quicktime pro can still be used and a key purchased from apple or if you’re using any of apple’s pro applications like logic or final cut pro, then quicktime would be upgraded to pro as a media user.
I hope this guide helps to rectify some users issues with media content support either on the host system or through web authored content.
Web Shortcut Files
More than a few times on the various blind Mac users email lists, the question has come up how to put a shortcut to a website on the desktop. Esther posted a very simple and effective means of doing this on the Mac Visionaries email list by way of creating a plain text file with Text Edit. I am presenting the relevant parts of her message here;
- From Finder, press Command-Shift-A to navigate to your Applications folder
- Press “t” to navigate to TextEdit, and open it with Command-Down arrow or Command-O
- If you’re using the default TextEdit settings, press Command-Shift-T to switch from rich text to plain text format.
- Type the following three lines, noting that for the third line you will simply be pressing the return key:
- enter key
- Save the file with Command-S, and if you want it saved to your Desktop press Command-Shift-D. Type in a name in the text box like “bard.url” (without the quotes), and press return. You’ll be asked to confirm that you want to use the “.url” extension instead of “.txt”‘; just press return to accept this.
- Close the file with Command-W
Now you have a file on your Desktop that will open Safari to the bard web site whenever you open it. If you want to create a similar file for another web site, just change the URL address that you put into this file. In fact, you can simply copy the file you created, open the copy with TextEdit to change the URL address, and then save it to another file name with a “.url” extension.
On most web sites, using the .url format will be between ten to a few hundred times smaller than a web archive file. This is AppleScriptable, but I’d have to dig this up. For earlier versions of the OS (Tiger and Leopard), I used a small utility called weblocmaker.
Logging into MobileME Using Safari on the Mac
There have been some issues with some folks trying to sign into their MobileMe account and the related pages using Safari on the Mac with VoiceOver. Thanks to Esther, she has suggested some nice tips in dealing with this issue.
To avoid extraneous busy activity when logging into the MobileMe web site is to append the section you want to log into at the end of the address. That means that you add a slash and then “account”, or “mail”, or “find” (for “Find My iPhone”), or “calendar”, etc. like this:
Creating New MailBoxes in Apple Mail and Moving Mailboxes
These tips come from a message posted on the Mac VoiceOver list by Keith Reedy of
Creating a New Mailbox
I have lots of mail boxes, with names like: Learning the MAC. So when I receive a message that will help to learn more about the MAC, I move that message to the Learning the MAC mailbox so that I can find that learning message when I need it.
Your mail box can be named any thing you like, like funny stuff, or, family and the list is endless.
One of the nice things about the MAC and voiceover, is that it gives you more than one way to do things, like creating a new mail box.
Try this just for fun.
- Go in to menus with control-option-m or control-f2 and right arrow to “mailboxes”.
- Down arrow to new mailbox and hit enter.
- Type in the name you want your mail box to be called. If there is text in that field, it will be erased after the first keystroke or two. It works for me.
Moving a Message
When you receive a message that you want to move to one of your new mail boxes, you do not need to be in the body of the message in order to move the message, you can just have the Voiceover cursor on the row of the message that you want to move.
Now do the following.
- Go to menus, with control-option-m, or, control-f2 and right arrow to messages.
- Next, down arrow to “move” and press “control-option-spacebar”.
- Then arrow down to the mail box that you want to move your message to and then press enter.
You can also find your mail box by pressing the first few letters of the name of the mail box.
Organizing Contacts into Groups
The following was originally posted on the Mac Visionaries email list by Ray Foret Jr. As always, I am grateful for the use of his material.
Ray offers a quick and easy step by step process for adding contacts to an existing group in Apple Mail. Follow these steps to do so;
- Go in to your all contacts group.
- Locate the contact you wish to add.
- Press command+c to copy that contact.
- Now, go to the group to which you wish to add the contact.
- Now, Press command V to add that contact in to the table of contacts for that group.
It’s as simple as that.