Top 5 Mac Tricks

June 19, 2019 - posted by Josh Smith

A man typing on his laptop which sits on his lap

Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

I love my Macs. I’ve had a few over the years and I am more comfortable here than on a PC. I know this because I just took a dive into Windows land and I found myself wanting. I’m sure if I had a more powerful computer or had access to purchase all the apps that I wanted my story would be different, but I already have that…on my Mac.
Here are the tools and tricks that I use to be productive on my computer. Some are built in, some are 3rd party, but they are what I consider, holistically, as my environment.


Alfred is an application launcher that gives me superpowers. Alfred can open up applications with just a few keystrokes but it can also chain together actions to perform more. I set up my Alfred to replace the Mac built-in Spotlight keyboard shortcuts of `⌘ space`. Once I hit that keyboard shortcut, I can start typing my application name, “P”, “Ph”, “Pho” and I’ll get “Photoshop”, “iPhoto”, “Photos”, etc. Alfred uses fuzzy search and learning to understand what I’m probably after.

I can also open files, run Terminal Commands, and other basic file system functions. But there’s more.

My keyboard shortcut for Alfred 3 is:


Alfred’s Clipboard manager

Alfred has a basic and premium version. I purchased the premium version called PowerPack. PowerPack provides a few more features that I’ve found that I can’t live without. The biggest is the Clipboard manager. Normally, you can only store one item in your clipboard with a /cmd-v, but with the Alfred 3 Power Pack, you can store dozens. You may think that having dozens of items from which to choose just introduces another problem of sorting by taking the items and putting them in a different unorganized bucket. Not so, the last 10 saved items are assigned a hotkey when the clipboard manager is invoked gives you easy access. But, there’s also a search field that you can begin typing to filter out the possible matches. I use this to store a complex API key or password. I can glance at the password and I’ll remember that it starts with a d5v… and begin typing that into the fuzzy search. All items that match will rise to the top and voila, I have my password.

My keyboard shortcut for Alfred 3 Clipboard Manager is:


Take Screenshots

Since I take notes with images in them, I have to have a fast and simple way to capture context around my note. I have used many screen capture apps over the years, but I have settled on CloudApp. I can take screenshots, of course, but I can also make .gifs and short videos with sound. Since the idea is to create simple visual items, none of the different mediums are particularly feature-full, but that’s the idea. I can reach for an assortment of other options to make images, GIFs, or videos if I want to.

My keyboard shortcut for screenshots is:


Switch Applications

I often have a bevy of applications open at once. Usually, it’s a browser, PHP Storm, Sketch, Avocode, Slack, Hangouts, Airmail 3, Mamp, and Sequal Pro. By far those are my most used applications on my machine. I have three big monitors, but I still don’t have room for everything at once. I have to hide things like Mamp, which is open I and often need to get to its preferences, but it doesn’t need to be visible all the time. PHP Storm, however, gets its own full screen and maximized. Switching applications only brings the current one forward or to the top.

My keyboard shortcut for switching applications is:


Switch Tabs

I almost exclusively use Chrome as my browser of choice with about 7 tabs open. I have a tab pinned for project management, but that is about the only required one. I’ll pin something like an InVision design if I’m looking at it, but that’s on a case-by-case basis. The thing about have tabs is that you can easily switch between them. You can switch directly to tabs 1-9 by having Chrome as the active application and then hitting the CMD-1-9 keyboard shortcuts. You can also switch tabs by cycling through them from left to right or right to left with CTRL-Tab or CTRL-Shift-Tab, respectively. I stick with cycling through my tabs by the left to right.

My keyboard shortcut for switching tabs in Chrome is:

CTRL-Tab with Chrome as the active application


Charles 🇵🇭

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