Macspiration – 10 Quick Tips for any Mac User

For my tenth Macspiration article (wow, is it ten already?) I decided I would make a list of ten tips that could be useful to any Mac user. Some of these might be obvious to the advanced user, but hopefully you’ll find something to help you out.

1. New Folders: Want a new folder for files or applications? Go to the “File” menu in the finder, click “New Folder,” and it will appear on the desktop or in the folder you are in at the time. Just type the what you want to name the folder after it appears. You can also, from the finder, use the keyboard shortcut of Command-Shift-N.

2. Renaming Files and Folders: Want to rename a folder or file? Or missed the opportunity to name the folder in #1 above? Click the name of the folder/file, and immediately move your mouse down. The format of the name will change into an editable field. Type your new name and press return. This works for any application also.


3. Using Aliases for Important Documents or Applications: An alias is also known as a shortcut in the Windows world. It is like a “stand-in” for the original icon. To make an alias click the original icon, go to the “File” menu in the Finder, and click “Make Alias”. An alias can be moved anywhere on your desktop or within the computer. Double clicking an alias will give you the same result as double clicking the original icon. If you accidentally delete the alias, the original will still be on our computer. Just make another alias and keep going! You can tell the different between and alias and an original by the little arrow on the lower right corner of the icon.


4. Resizing Icons and File Names: Are the icons in your computer and/or text under those icons too small for you? From the finder go to the “View” menu and show view options. From there you can resize the icons to make them bigger or smaller, and you can change the point size of the text. If you are doing this from within a folder, you have the option of making the same change to all your windows and folders.

5. Let your computer update itself (sort of): In the “Software Update” preference panel, there is an option for automatically having your computer check for updates from Apple in set intervals. It can also download those updates and let you know when they are ready to install (not recommended for a dial-up connection). All you have to do is click “Install” when prompted, and enter the administrator password. It is usually prudent, however, to wait a few days after a new Mac OS X update is released, allowing other Mac users to test and use the update to find out if there are any potential problems you would want to avoid. If there are, simply decline to update until a fix is made available.

6. Running scripts: What are scripts? Honestly, I’m not really sure, but I know you have to run them on a regular basis. I’ve read explanations about them, and still don’t really understand. I do know there are daily, weekly, and monthly scripts that the computer will run itself as regular maintenance if you keep it on 24/7. If you don’t keep it on all the time, you have to do this on your own. There are several free and pay programs out there that will do this for you. I use a program call Yasu, by Jim Mitchell Designs. It does more than run these scripts, and I run it with each option checked once a month. I’ll also run it when I notice my computer is slowing down, and it seems to work every time. (On another note- I also run Alsoft’s Disk Warrior once a month for regular maintenance).

7. BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP (especially those downloads): Whether it is for documents, downloads, or applications, you should backup on a regular basis. This could be to an external Firewire hard drive, CD-R, or even a flash drive if the files are small enough. You never know when something might go haywire and potentially cause you to loose everything. (Look for future Macspiration articles about using a flash drive on a Mac, and burning data CD’s).

8. Emptying the trash: Seems obvious, but just putting a file into the Trash Can is not enough. Trash can build up and take up valuable hard drive space. Not sure if the trash has something in it? Check the dock. If the can is empty you’re OK, if it looks full, I’d empty it. I empty the trashcan whenever I put something in it. Others would say wait a few days just in case you decide you need what is in there. It’s up to you. To empty the trash, go to the Finder menu and click “Empty Trash.” You’ll be prompted with a window to make sure you definitely want to empty they trash. Click the appropriate option.

9. Putting folders in your Dock: One thing I do to keep my apps organized is having three folders in my Dock- One for internet apps, one for graphics/productivity apps, and one for iLife apps. Each folder contains aliases of applications I regularly use. When I want to launch one, I go to the dock, click and hold the folder to get a menu of its contents, and I choose what I want to run by moving the mouse to it and letting go. To get a folder into the dock, just drag it there and release when space is made for it. Folders reside on the right side of the dock.

10. HAVE FUN AND DONT BE AFRAID TO TRY THINGS OUT. I say this in a lot of my articles. Most of what I know about the Mac, and the software I have, came from playing and trying things out. If you really mess things up, you can always reinstall the software and start over. Just be sure you STAY OUT OF THE SYSTEM FOLDER, until you are experienced enough to know what you are doing.

As usual, send me emails with comments or ideas; or leave a comment below. I love hearing from you. Look for more Quick Tips in the future!

Hey! Only 90 articles to go for 100!!!

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