The MacBook Pro is often considered a work of art with regards to ease of use. And it really is. Apple has done an outstanding job of simplifying most every job you do. But even with that well-designed desktop, there are ways you can make your life easier, while you're on the go. Let's take a look at a few ways you can improve that workflow on macOS.
1. Create unique keyboard shortcuts
When you're constantly going between the keyboard and the trackpad all day, it makes for a very stop-and-start workflow. One of the best things you can do is create keyboard shortcuts for those things you do regularly. I'm going to demonstrate how this is done by creating a keyboard shortcut to open the Launchpad (one tool I use quite a lot).
To create a new shortcut, do the following:
- Click on the Apple menu in the upper right corner of the desktop.
- Click System Preferences.
- Click Keyboard.
- Select the Shortcuts tab.
- Select Launchpad & Dock.
- Click to select Show Launchpad.
- Type the keyboard shortcut you want to use for the action.
That's all there is to creating a new shortcut.
If you want to create a shortcut to launch an app, click the App Shortcuts entry and then click the + button. Select the app you want to add from the Application dropdown (Figure A). Type a menu command title, click on the Keyboard Shortcut text area, and type the keyboard shortcut you want to use. Once everything is exactly as you want it, click the Add button and your shortcut is ready.
2. Dragging text
One incredibly handy and lesser known feature found in macOS is the ability to drag text from one app to another. Let's say, you're reading data in a browser and need to copy it to a Pages document or any office suite text tool. Instead of copying that text and then going through the motions of cutting and pasting, you can simply highlight the text, and then click and drag the text to the other application. This action will paste all of the selected text into the file—all without having to copy and paste.
3. Easy split screen
Did you know that macOS has a great split screen feature? With this you can make perfect usage of your screen, sharing it between apps. However, how do you activate this feature? Strangely enough, Apple hid it in plain sight. Open up the apps you want to have split between your screen. Click and hold the cursor on the green button (upper left hand corner of app window) on one of the open apps. This action will move the app in focus to take up the left half of your screen (Figure B).
Click to select the next app that will encompass the right side of the screen. This will set the two apps up, side-by-side, so you can use them more efficiently. To exit out of split screen mode, move your mouse to the top of the screen to reveal the app window controls, and click the green window button of either app.
4. Picture In Picture
You may not know this, but macOS offers a picture-in-picture mode that allows you to view videos while you work. The thing about this is that it doesn't function for every video. It will depend on how a video is embedded. For example, most YouTube videos will work just fine for this, whereas videos that are wrapped within an advertisement might not.
To get to picture-in-picture, do the following:
- Open up the video in question.
- Hold down the Control button on your keyboard.
- Double click on the video.
- In the resulting menu, click Show Controls.
- With the video controls available, click the picture-in-picture icon in the upper left of the video (Figure C).
The video will pop out of the web page and you can click and drag it to one of the four corners of your desktop to watch it while you do your work.
5. Set the default Finder directory
If you work from within a particular directory more than others, it might make sense to set that directory as the default for when you open a new Finder window. Say, for example, the primary directory you work from is Documents. Out of the box, Finder opens to Recents. Let's change that. Here's how:
- Open Finder.
- In the menu bar, click Finder | Preferences.
- Select the General tab.
- In the New Finder windows show drop-down, select Documents (Figure D).
- Close the Preferences window.
Every time you open a new Finder window, it will now open to Documents.
Simple but effective
These tips are pretty simple. However, once you start making use of them, you'll find they go a long way to making your macOS desktop a bit more efficient while you're on the go. And considering how busy we tend to get while shuttling from place to place, every bit of extra efficiency counts.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.