Mac: Learning from others

Lately the traffic on this blog has been picking up and with it the comments on some posts. In the last couple of days alone I've gotten some really cool little esoteric tips. Here are some that I just had to mention:

Simon Elliot told me that Ctrl-Scroll Wheel (or Ctrl-Two Finger Track Pad) Zooms the entire screen. Once it's zoomed you can move the mouse around and it scrolls the now larger image. If I ever sit at my computer and forget my glasses I can zoom this thing so large that Mr. Magoo could easily read it.

Instant Sleep
An anonymous poster mentioned that I could instantly put my Mac to sleep by pressing Command-Option-Eject. Sure enough, instant black screen. If you have ever wanted your Mac to act like it has narcolepsy, press that key combination. 

Turning a Positive into a Negative
Karl C. brought up this gem: Press Command-Option-Control-8.  It immediately turns your screen into a negative image. It reverses all of the pixel colors so that black becomes white and white becomes black. It can also be done through System Preferences. Karl said it's designed to help save power but I say it's designed to do to someone's machine that they leave unattended.

Slow Motion Exposé and Spaces
Karl also told me that holding down the Shift key while activating Spaces or Exposé would make the animation work in s-l-o-w  m-o-t-i-o-n. Cool to know but not something I see using much.

Sleep Faster
The MacBook I have creates a disk image when you put it to sleep, slowing down the time it takes to fully go to sleep. Hendrik pointed out this post from MacWorld that will modify that feature using Terminal. Not to be outdone, an Anonymous poster mentioned that SmartSleep can be added to your Preferences pane to make the change without involving Terminal.

Mr. Clean to the Rescue
A couple of people mentioned that Mr. Clean works wonders on the white surface of the MacBook. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser was also recommended. Reportedly my MacBook will be "looking like new in minutes".

There you have it - some interesting little tricks. Got a really cool one you don't think anyone knows?


Devin said…
How about this one? I'm sure you're familiar with being able to right-click on a word and look it up in Dictionary. But better yet, for Cocoa apps (I don't think this works in Firefox then, but I can't speak from experience), hold down cmd-ctrl-d while the mouse is over a word and a little message will pop right up giving you the definition. Also, if you keep cmd-ctrl pressed (it seems like you can release d though), you can move the mouse around the screen and it will keep looking up whatever word you highlight.

Just a cool feature I learned about recently. Apple really seems to be thorough.
Anonymous said…
Command-Option-Control-8 to switch the screen to White on Black is part of the accessibility tecnologies included on OS X for those that have difficulty seeing the computer screen.
Devin said…
Oh yeah, and regarding the cmd-ctrl-option-8 thing for reversing the colors, I find that useful for when I have to read a long PDF for a class or something. I think reading little black text on a bright white screen is much harder on the eyes than reading big (I also zoom in) white text on a black background.
Anonymous said…
As my (first) contribution to this blog, that might become a great repository of tips for mac users, here are some I use quite often :
- to access the sound pref panel, hit options and one of the function keys that controls the volume. To access the display pref panel, do the same with the luminosity function keys. It might also work with the other function keys, but they have changed since I bought my older powerbook.
- When you are switching between applications using command-tab, if you hit 'Q', the selected application will be asked to quit. If you hit 'H', the app is hide.
- My screen saver do not lock the screen. I used to do, but I got bored of unlocking every time I talked to someone for a few minutes. Nevertheless, I prefer to lock my screen when I leave for a lengthier period. Hopefully enough, it is possible, even if it is a bit cluttered : in the preferences of the "keychain access" utility, there is a "show status in menu bar" checkbox. This displays a new menu item that contains a item to lock the screen.

Thanks for this blog, it is a pleasure to read :-).

P.S. : displaying black on an LCD screen do not reduce its power consumption, unless it has some "auto brightness" functionality (but those are mainly found on flat panel TV). The light source is always on (see the white apple logo behind the screen : it is still bright when you display a fullscreen black image), the black pixels are just opaque.
Dan Brown said…
I 'stumbled-upon' this site and have read every post with great interest. I had some experience of Mac OS 8 when using it at work many moons ago; but have only become really interested since the refresh and 'cat named' varieties started hitting the market.

My partner purchased a Macbook about 5 months ago and she is completely addicted to it. She previously had an ageing desktop pc that was barely used other than to store photos.

I work in IT and suffer the same family/friends calls that anyone else in the industry must expect. So I was amazed when she called me at work to tell me she had synced her phone calendar and contacts over Bluetooth with no extra software installed. At that time she'd only had the Mac for a matter of days.

After that brief background to me, what I really wanted to post was a thank you for documenting your experience in such an interesting read. I am still torn between the ‘large’ 15inch Macbook (13.3inch screen) and a smaller 'UMPC' as a possible solution, but having read your posts it continues to reassure me the Mac experience is rich, productive and fun.

Oh and I'm in complete agreement that Mac and pc users should just get along. I just want a tool that does the things I want it to do well. I have no loyalty to poor performing products. How come everyone expects people to take sides?
Anonymous said…
Just to expand on the key combinations:
[ALT]+[CMD]+[EJECT] = instant sleep
[CTRL]+[CMD]+[EJECT] = instant shutdown + restart
[CTRL]+[ALT]+[CMD]+[EJECT] = instant shutdown

[ALT]+[CMD]+[ESC] = invokes the "force quit" dialog

Apple has more in this document:
Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts
Anonymous said…
A very cheap, but effective, way to clean the palm rest and even the top shell of the MacBooks is by using a standard pencil eraser and rub the areas that is stained. This will magically clean up the mess. To give it a smooth finish, you can simply put a dab of rubbing alcohol onto an anti-static cloth and wipe it down after using the eraser. i learnt this tip from an Apple service engineer.
Anonymous said…
I'm glad your blog is starting to increase in traffic. I'm hoping my site will start to see an increase, and I've been trying to write quality content.

I've had good experiences with your blog and hope you continue to write on your impressions of OS X as well as starting up your business.

Good luck
David Alison said…
@Devburke: I love that tip but unfortunately it doesn't work on my MacBook. I'm actually putting a post up about that shortly.

@Jerome: That's some useful stuff there. I love the way Apple has made the Option key a constant source of great shortcuts.

@Dan: Thanks for the nice comments man - I'm glad you've enjoyed reading this blog. As for the people taking sides well, that's just our culture. More and more people love to make everything a binary decision. It's easier that way because it does not require thought. Oh well.

@Sean: Thanks man - and thanks for reading. My goal is to put in more business startup articles. That's where my true passion is - sharing the experiences I've had with building a business from scratch. But I'm enjoying the Mac too much not to share!
Devin said…
Maybe some newer Macbooks have slightly different shortcuts. If you go to Keyboard Shortcuts in Keyboard and Mouse preferences, one of the first ones should be "Look up in Dictionary". You also wanna make sure you try it out in a few different apps to make sure it's not just an issue of it not working with the specific app. Safari, for example, definitely should work.
Unknown said…
David. I completely agree on the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser solution for the white MacBooks, but just a headsup...don't use it on the outer shell. It works wonders on the palm rest and keys, but any collected dirt in the eraser will shred the pretty white surface.
Anonymous said…
david alison: @Devburke: I love that tip but unfortunately it doesn't work on my MacBook. I'm actually putting a post up about that shortly.

Check the status of "Enable access for assistive devices" in the "Universal Access" control panel. If it's disabled, this group of key commands won't work.
Devin said…
"david alison: @Devburke: I love that tip but unfortunately it doesn't work on my MacBook. I'm actually putting a post up about that shortly.

Check the status of "Enable access for assistive devices" in the "Universal Access" control panel. If it's disabled, this group of key commands won't work."

I dunno about that, it's disabled for me and they still work
David Alison said…
@Ping: I tried the Access setting you suggested and it had no impact. My latest post is what I went through with two levels of support from Apple this morning. They were pretty thorough, including doing safe bootups, disconnecting my mouse and creating a new user account to try it under. It appears to be a bug of some sort at this point. I'd love to hear from someone that has a 2.2GHz MacBook that they purchased early this year that does not have this issue.
Anonymous said…
Does the inversion work when you're clicking on it in the Preference Panel?
David Alison said…
@Ping: Sorry man - not sure what you mean by inversion.
Anonymous said…
No problem... ;-)

System Preferences -> Universal Access -> Seeing -> Display:

You can toggle between "Black on White" and "White on Black" with a click - and this section also shows the hotkey combination. Maybe it's set to a different combination on your machine.

There's also a contrast enhancer and a grayscale option for vision-impaired users.
David Alison said…
@Ping: Ahhh! Gotcha - you switched gears on my man! That works fine - both in the preferences panel and using the default key combination of Control-Option-Command-8.
Anonymous said…
Ah - I had thought you had been referring to the second comment from devburke. Good to hear there's no problem with that one. ;-)

I just responded to the other thread over there.
Eytan said…
David, check out the zoom settings for options on when the screen moves (there are options like keeping the cursor always in the middle, moving the screen only when it hits the edges, etc). Those options are under System Preferences…>Universal Access>Seeing, in the zoom section, when you click "Options…"
As for Control-Command-d not working for you - wow, that is odd!
I'm glad I ran across your blog last week. It's great!
David Alison said…
@Eytan: Thanks man - glad you like the blog.

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