Mac Productivity

10 Awesome Hidden Productivity Tips and Tricks for Your Mac

Khamosh Pathak 17-10-2017

If you’re a Mac power user, you probably look toward third-party apps to increase your productivity. While the Mac App Store is filled with awesome productivity apps, you don’t need to look that far for some immediate productivity influx.


So let’s talk about some little-known productivity features in macOS.

1. Text Replacement

emoji text replacement mac

There are a handful awesome text expansion utilities for the Mac 7 Tips For Automating Your Mac With TextExpander If you haven't gotten on the Mac automation spaceship by now, you're missing out. Applications like Keyboard Maestro, Hazel, and TextExpander can speed up your workflow and save you lots of clicking, copying, pasting and... Read More , but you should start with the built-in Text Replacement feature. This allows you to type a shortcut and macOS will automatically expand it for you. For example, you can create a shortcut like “@e” for your email address.

The next time you type in the shortcut and press the space key, macOS will automatically replace it with your email address. This is also a great way to create your own emoji shortcuts How to Type Emojis on a Mac There are multiple ways you can match your iPhone's emoji game on your Mac, and in some cases surpass it using shortcuts. Read More .

To set it up, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Text and click on the + button. Then type in the shortcut in the Replace field and the phrase in the With field.


2. Spacebar to Preview Files

Mac Preview in Finder

I’m often surprised that not everyone knows about this genius little feature. When you’re in Finder and you have a file highlighted, just press Space to preview it. It works for almost everything: images, TextEdit documents, music, QuickTime videos and more.

When you’re moving files or transferring them, you can use this feature to make sure it’s the file you want — without actually opening the file. Also, once you’ve got the preview mode engaged, just use Up and Down arrow keys to switch to between different files.

3. Dictation



macOS has a stellar dictation feature built-in. It works particularly well if you have a U.S. or U.K. English accent. Once you’ve engaged the Dictation mode whatever you say will be converted to text on-screen. The feature supports important action keywords like period, comma, next line, next paragraph and so on.

To enable the feature, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Dictation and turn it on. You can switch language and the keyboard shortcut. By default, you can start dictation by tapping the Function (Fn) button twice.

4. Split View

mac productivity hidden trick split view

For the longest time, macOS didn’t have any sort of native fullscreen or splitscreen functionality. That changed with OS X El Capitan. If you want to work on two apps or windows at the same time, you don’t need to use a third-party app to arrange them just right.


Click and hold on the green Maximize (or “Fullscreen” as Apple calls it) button and you’ll see the window rise up from the rest of the UI. Dock it to a side and it will stay there. On the other side, you’ll see all available windows for the Desktop you’re in. Click on one and now you’ve got the two apps running side by side. Use the handle in between two windows to adjust the app’s horizontal space.

5. Use Spotlight for Everything

mac productivity hidden trick spotlight

In the past few updates, Spotlight search has picked up a few neat tricks Search More Efficiently In Mac OS X With Our Top Spotlight Tips Spotlight has been a killer Mac feature for years, with Cupertino regularly schooling Redmond in the art of desktop search. Here are a few tips to help you find more on your Mac. Read More . Spotlight search gives you local search and web search in one place. You should make it a habit to start any task or action from Spotlight.

Chances are that Spotlight will get you where you need to go after a couple of letter presses. For things like launching documents or files, searching inside a website, Spotlight can save you a lot of time and clicking around.


6. Actually Useful Siri Commands

siri mac commands 6

If you’re not a fan of typing, try using Siri to do the same things you’d do with Spotlight Simple Siri Tricks and Commands You Have to Try on Your Mac While it can’t do nearly as much as it can on iOS, Siri for Mac can still be a team player. Read More . Siri will launch apps and websites for you. And you can ask Siri what time it is in another city, general knowledge and even math questions.

7. Pin Tabs in Safari

safari mac tips and tricks 7

We’ve already told you about Safari’s awesome little features 17 Essential Safari Tips and Tricks for Mac Users These essential Safari tips and tricks will make the Mac's default browser experience even better. Read More and pinned tabs are a stand-out favorite. Because of Safari’s tab design, it’s difficult to differentiate tabs once you have more than a dozen tabs going.

For tabs that you use consistently throughout the day, just right click on it and select Pin Tab. The tab will now show up on the left edge and it will have a little favicon. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Command + 1 to jump to the first tab (and so on and so forth).

8. Sign Documents Using Trackpad

preview mac guide 11

Preview is one of the most underrated apps 10 Essential Tips and Tricks for Preview on the Mac Preview is an unassuming app that can do the job of half a dozen standalone utilities. Read More on macOS. You should spend some time exploring everything the app can do. One thing that’s immensely useful is the ability to sign PDFs using your signature.

Go to Preview, open a PDF, click on the Briefcase and then the Signature icon. Select the Create Signature option and then use your finger to draw your signature on the trackpad. Once you’re satisfied with it, save it and now Preview will remember it (and sync it with your iPhone and iPad via iCloud). Next time you want to sign something just select and place the signature on the document.

9. Unlock Your Mac Using Apple Watch or Touch ID

Mac Unlock Using Apple Watch

If you’re using the latest MacBook Pro with Touch Bar How Useful Is the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro? Does Apple's thin context-dependent OLED strip improve productivity or is it just a gimmick as some users are making it out to be? Read More , you should be using Touch ID to log in. It’s going to save you a couple of seconds every time you start using your Mac (which adds up quickly). But if you don’t have a Touch Bar, try unlocking your Mac using your Apple Watch Unlock Your Mac Using Your Apple Watch or Android Wear Device Typing a password is just so much hassle, don't you wish you could use your iPhone, Apple Watch or simply have your Mac unlock when you walk near it? Well, now you can! Read More .

You’ll need to be using macOS Sierra and watchOS 3 for this feature to work. Once it’s set up, all you have to do is walk up to your Mac wearing your Apple Watch and it will be unlocked automatically.

Mac Unlock Apple Watch 2

To set it up, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy, select the General tab and check the Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac option.

10. Use Night Shift

mac productivity hidden night shift

If you’re working late nights on your Mac (something you probably shouldn’t be doing), Night Shift feature will actually help you curb eye strain Use a Mac at Night? Night Shift and Other Apps That Can Save Your Eyes Apple just dropped the latest macOS Sierra update with relatively few changes apart from one standout feature: Night Shift. Read More . Once enabled, the feature will swiftly turn your screen into a warmer shade of yellow. This way, you’re not going to look at bright blue light coming from the screen when everything around you is dark.

To enable this feature, click on the Notification Center icon in the menu bar. Switch to the Today section and swipe up to reveal the Night Shift button.

The Others

Because macOS is more than a decade old, it had accumulated little features over the years. Start exploring the menu items and toolbars in the built-in apps and you’ll realize just how much the stock apps can do (Preview and Safari are the best examples of this). Using the FaceTime app you can make cellular calls from your Mac (via your iPhone). And there’s so much you can automate using the built-in Automator app Learn to Use Mac Automator With 6 Handy Example Workflows A little bit of patience and creativity are all you need to start automating your Mac -- you don't need to know a single line of code. Read More .

What are your favorite features in macOS? Share with us in the comments below.

Related topics: Mac Tricks, Productivity.

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  1. SlaughterDog
    March 29, 2019 at 4:49 am

    Hidden tricks? This is what I consider “regular usage”, but that’s just me. It’s like calling the "L" or "1" on a car’s transmission selector a hidden trick to make driving easier in certain situations – while I can’t imagine not using it when needed, there are folk out there who have never moved the lever past D and assume steep hills simply suck for everyone.

  2. Connor A. Purcell
    October 23, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    None of these "hidden tricks" are hidden or tricks! These STANDARD FEATURES aren't even new, and most of them are as old as 2010!

  3. ragini
    October 18, 2017 at 11:25 am

    This is an amazing article .I purchased Mac last year and I still feel there is a lot to explore and learn .This article has been helpful in understanding my Mac better .