How to use a Mac

Even if you’ve been using a Mac for a while, chances are you can learn to use it more effectively and efficiently[footnote]Heck, even I can still learn to use a Mac more effectively and efficiently[/footnote].

Initial Set-up

  • Enable right-click – You’ll work so much more quickly with this enabled. Go to: System Preferences > Mouse / Trackpad > Secondary Click.
  • Set up Hot Corners – This is one of the biggies for taking advantage of all the drag and drop niceties the Mac offers. Go to: System Preferences > Mission Control > Hot Corners. I set the bottom-left corner to Mission Control and the bottom-right corner to Desktop.
  • Set up DropBox – If you already have an account, add it to your classroom computer. If not, create an account here.
  • Set up Finder as God intended – Your Finder window should look like this:Choose the third Finder view option and sort your files by name.You should also, for this class, click ⌘ + , and set “New Finder windows show…” to Dropbox.
  • Set you Dock to the left, shrink it down a bit, and remove (either by right-clicking or, more satisfyingly, by clicking and dragging toward the middle of your screen until a dust cloud appears) any applications you won’t be using every day.

Keyboard Shortcuts

You must must must must must learn to use keyboard shortcuts to use a computer at all efficiently. You’ll have to force yourself to do this at first, but once you learn these, you’ll wonder how you lived without them.


  • ⌘ + C – Copy
  • ⌘ + V – Paste
  • ⌘ + X – Cut
  • ⌘ + S – Save
  • ⌘ + Q – Quit the current application
  • Shift (Hold down) + Arrow – Select text
  • ⌘ + Shift (Hold down both) + Arrow – Select text until end of line
  • ⌘ + Tab – Alternate between current and previous applications
  • ⌘ (Hold down) + Tab – Select among open all applications
  • ⌘ + ` (To the left of the 1 key) – Switch among open windows within an application
  • ⌘ + Space – Open Spotlight (Quickly find and open applications and files)
  • ⌘ + Option + Escape – Force Quit (Brings up a dialog that lets you force a frozen application to quit / restart)

Google Chrome

  • ⌘ + T – Create a new tab
  • ⌘ + R – Refresh the current tab
  • ⌘ + Shift + T – Reopen closed tabs
  • ⌘ + 1, ⌘ + 2, etc. – Switch to the

Keychain Access

Using Spotlight (⌘ + Space), open Keychain Access to securely view any passwords you’ve stored on your computer. Click the checkbox to “Show password” and then enter your user password (the one you use to log on to the computer) to display the password.