Once upon a time I would tell people ‘Command-P is print’ and they’d learn a new command. Over the last few years, people know so little about their Macs, I’ve had to say ‘hold the Command key down. There is a command key either side of your spacebar. While it’s held down, press the letter P.’ I’m not blaming people – it’s partly that your Mac is so easy to use these days, partly because your natural impulse it so click a menu and choose a command from there, and partly the fact that people get virtually no information at all with new Macs, but believe me, even learning a few commands will make your Mac use very much quicker and more efficient.
Where are these commands? drop any menu and they’re listed to the right of all the menu items …
1/ Learn some commands — Hopefully you already know that Command-P always means print, Command-C always means copy, and Command-V alwaysmeans paste. This holds for any application. There are, of course, hundreds more keyboard shortcuts. Adding a few more keyboard shortcuts to your repertoire is painless and easy. Shortcuts mean spending less time on the mouse, which in turn means a lower risk of Carpel Tunnel and Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).
2/ Command-click — This is one of my favourites: if you want to get to the Finder (or if you prefer to think of it this way, your desktop), but you can barely see it through all the open application windows, hold down the Command and Option keys together and click anywhere on any part of the desktop you can see past those windows. That key combination takes you to the Finder while hiding (not quitting, please note) all other applications at the same time. If you’re already in the Finder, you can type Command-Option-H for the same effect.
3/ Hide everything else — Command-Option-click on any application icon in the Dock and it will simultaneously hide all other open apps except that one. In this instance, Option is acting as a ‘modifier key’ – it modifies the behaviour of the Command key.
4/ Applications folder — In another recent development, when I say to people ‘there’s a handy Apple Calculator app in your Applications folder’ they say ‘What’s an Applications folder?’ Then I have to explain where it is and how to open it. This is because now Apple even hides your internal hard drive from you by default.
There’s even a shortcut for that: while you’re in the Finder, just type Command-Shift-A. (Similarly, Command-Shift-U will bring you straight to the Utilities folder.)
5/ Talking about ‘hidden apps’: Dictionary — This is the Apple app that regulates all your spelling, bar Microsoft and Adobe app spelling. So this covers Apple Mail, Notebook, Text Edit and Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and many third-party apps use it too. But it doesn’t cover Word, Excel, Photoshop or InDesign, etcetera. Use the above tip to open it up, making sure you’re in the Finder as per the tip above that.
You know you’re in the Finder, btw, if it says Finder by the Apple menu at top left of your screen.
Open the app because you can open its Preferences and set your spelling to British English – yes, this is where you solve the color-colour problem. Dictionary is a very interesting little app in its own right, so it can do a whole lot more – for example, it has a built-in encyclopaedia. There are a more special tricks and tips for Dictionary at the new Apple-centric site, Apple World Today.