The Best Built-In Mac Tips You’ve Never Heard of, According to Reddit

Justin Pot 05-02-2015

Invert your colours, quickly switch audio devices and see where your currently open file is located. There’s a surprising number of things your Mac can do out of the box, if you only know how.


Which is why, back in December, the good people of Reddit’s r/Mac shared their favourite built-in Mac tricks. Whether you’re a longtime Mac user or a recent convert, there’s probably something in that thread you don’t know, so be sure to check it out. I’ve highlighted only a few of the best tips below.

Invert Colours Instantly

Press Control, Option, Command and 8 at the same time, and this happens:

The Best Built-In Mac Tips You've Never Heard of, According to Reddit mac invert colours

I’ve shown you how to invert colours on your Mac Invert Your Colors, And Other Tricks For Night-Friendly Mac Usage Is your Mac too bright in dark places? Whether you need to work in the dark without being noticed or want your screen to be easier on your eyes, we've found apps for that. Read More using a dedicated app, but that was apparently a waste of time: your Mac comes with the ability built-in. Who knew?

via abcocktail.


Look Up Any Word Quickly

It’s not exactly a hidden feature, but you can look up any word instantly by tapping it with three fingers. You’ll see a dictionary definition.

The Best Built-In Mac Tips You've Never Heard of, According to Reddit mac lookup word

via Gabs00

Want more? You can expand on your trackpad’s list of tricks and add window-snapping using the free app Better Touch Tool Become A Power Trackpad User With BetterTouchTool It's especially useful for Mac users who do lots of work in applications like iPhoto or Aperture, or who surf the web. Read More .


Take Screenshots Without Extra Tools

Some people love their screenshot app of choice, but the truth is Mac users probably don’t need one – if they know the correct keyboard shortcuts.

  • Command + Shift + 3: Save your entire screen as an image file on the desktop
  • Command + Shift + 4: Save a selection of your screen as an image on the desktop
  • Command + Shift + 4, followed by Space: Pick a window or menu
  • If you’d prefer your screenshot be sent to the clipboard, and not as an image file to the desktop, simply add “Control” to any of the above screenshots.

By default the file is a PNG. You can change the default screenshot format How To Change The Default Screenshot Image Format & Other Properties [Mac] Read More , if you’re prefer, along with the destination folder.

via english_major

Hate it when OS X adds that pesky semi-transparent drop shadow to all your screenshots? Fix it by opening Terminal and pasting the following:


defaults write disable-shadow -bool true

In order to action your changes, next kill the system’s UI server using the following:

killall SystemUIServer

You can reverse the change by pasting the initial command, and changing true to false.


Quickly Switch Audio Devices

If you own an external microphone, or Bluetooth speakers, you probably change the default audio devices for your Mac with some frequency. You can do so using System Preferences, of course, but if you want a faster way just hold the “Option” key while clicking the Volume button on your menubar.

The Best Built-In Mac Tips You've Never Heard of, According to Reddit mac change audio devices

via butters1337.

See Where Any File Is Located

Did you quickly save a file, without paying attention to where you saved it to? Just Command-click the icon at the top of the window to reveal the folder hierarchy and find out exactly where you saved it to. This works great for apps like TextEdit or Preview, or for distinguishing identically-named folders in Finder.

The Best Built-In Mac Tips You've Never Heard of, According to Reddit where file is located

It’s worth noting you can also drag the icon from here to other programs like iPhoto or VLC.

via dustractor

Drag Anything To The Open Dialogue

I can’t believe I didn’t know this: the “Open” dialogue used by almost every Mac app supports drag and drop.

If you’ve already found the file you want to open in Finder, it can be a pain to dig through your folders to find it again. It’s also unnecessary: simply drag-and-drop the file from your Finder to the dialogue. The dialogue will be taken to that file’s location, letting you open it quickly.

via thinkincolors

Quickly Access Emoji And Other Characters

If you’re an Emoji fan you need to know this: your Mac supports the characters. Just press Control, Command and Space.

The Best Built-In Mac Tips You've Never Heard of, According to Reddit mac emoji

This same dialogue also gives you quick access to a variety of special characters.

The Best Built-In Mac Tips You've Never Heard of, According to Reddit mac special characters

It’s one of the lesser-known features added with Mavericks Secrets of OS X Mavericks: What You Really Need To Know You probably already know about the major features of the latest, free upgrade for Mac OS X. Here are the hidden ones. Read More , and the shortcut is a little awkward, but it’s the fastest way I know to make the ™ sign without having to remember an obscure shortcut like Shift+Option+2 (go on, try it).

via dar512

What Are Your Favourite Built-In OS X Tricks?

We’ve found a bunch of Mac tricks like this before, including things you need to know about 10 Tips You Need to Know About Mac Preview Read More , but I still found a bunch of things in this Reddit thread I didn’t know. Which makes me curious: what tricks do you know? Share yours in the comments below, and together we’ll try to learn even more about our Macs.

Related topics: Emoticons, Keyboard Shortcuts, OS X Yosemite, Screen Capture.

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  1. Anonymous
    January 5, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Create a shortcut to merge all finder tabs. If you're a power user with lots of finder windows, you need to do this:

    1. System Preferences->Keyboard->Shortcuts
    2. Select "App Shortcuts" on left hand side at the bottom
    3. Add +
    4. Application -> Finder
    5. Menu Title: Merge All Windows
    6. Shortcut ??M

    • Anonymous
      January 5, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      step number 6 should say: Shift+Command+M
      (or whatever you want...but that's my suggestion)

  2. Bruno Tikami
    February 25, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Use Option + any of the function buttons to open the Systems Preferences item related to that function:

    option + F1 = Display System Preferences
    option + F3 = Mission Control System Preferences
    option + F5 = Keyboard
    option + F10 = Sound

    • Justin Pot
      February 25, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      I had no idea! This is awesome, thanks for sharing.

  3. Timo
    February 10, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    To paste text without formatting you can press Shift + Option + Command + V, which can come in handy when writing emails, comments, articles etc.

    • Justin Pot
      February 11, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      This one is incredibly useful, thanks for adding it to our list.

  4. Michael James Miller
    February 9, 2015 at 2:19 am

    This one is listed in the Reddit list too:

    option+shift+volume keys this allows you to increase or decrease volume by smaller fractions.

    • Justin Pot
      February 9, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      I was going to include that! Not sure how I lost track of it, but thanks for letting readers know.

  5. Fong
    February 8, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Command + Shift + K
    For ? font.
    Shut down: Command + Option + Ctrl + Eject
    Restart: Command + Ctrl + Eject
    Sleep: Command + Option + Eject

    • Justin Pot
      February 9, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Nice ones!

  6. Brian Tkatch
    February 6, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I tried setting up BTT but it didn't look easy in the few seconds i was willing to give it. Now that i have a a Leap, i ought to give it another shot.

    There was a post here on it a while ago, maybe i should try it again.

    • Justin Pot
      February 9, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Let me know how it works for you! I mapped three-finger tap to middle click, so I can open new tabs by three-finger tapping a link, and I can't remember what using the touchpad was like before doing this. Highly recommended.

  7. Brian Tkatch
    February 6, 2015 at 11:57 am

    @Jonathan thanx for the tip! I didn;t realize it was in sys prefs.

    This encourages me to use BetterTouchTool, i mean, i have it installed. And i have a LeapMotion.

    I'm a strong keyboarder on Windows, but on the Mac, less so. Keyboard support has always been of of Windows strengths.

    • Justin Pot
      February 6, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      BetterTouchTool is a really great tool, but you've got to put time into setting it up. Totally worth it, though, if you want things to work exactly the way you want.

  8. Linda
    February 6, 2015 at 10:29 am

    I've known about almost all of these for years but, I've also owned macs for years. I use a lot of the short cuts often, because it's a short cut. It's always good to inform though.

    • Justin Pot
      February 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Are there any others you know about that aren't in the article?

  9. Vinay
    February 6, 2015 at 8:02 am

    thanks for volume output advice. Good article.

    • Justin Pot
      February 6, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Glad you found it useful!

  10. Brian Tkatch
    February 6, 2015 at 12:40 am

    >Control, Option, Command and 8

    Does nothing on my mac mini/Mavericks

    Thanx for the tips.

    • Jonathan G.
      February 6, 2015 at 8:33 am

      Brian: Mavericks changed that to a setting that must be enabled by going to System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Accessibility > Invert Colors.

      I think they changed it so it's less easy to quickly prank unsuspecting Mac users.

    • Justin Pot
      February 11, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      I'm on Yosemite and it worked for me, weird that it doesn't for everyone. :

  11. And
    February 5, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    That open dialog trick is just wicked. Going to try using those emoji in Skype. Thank you.

    • Justin Pot
      February 5, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      You're welcome! Thanks for reading.