Organize your passwords and be more secure

1passwordicon yosemite

Passwords are part of the landscape, whether you’re using a Mac or an iPhone or whatever. You need them to log into websites, you need them to sign into iCloud, you need them for Gmail, you need them for Facebook. (You also need user names. Don’t forget about user names.)

Passwords aren’t going away anytime soon so let’s get organized. The best way to organize your passwords is with the excellent 1Password password manager (direct link)– also available for your iPhone (direct link) and iPad (direct link). 1Password will remember your passwords, and supply them when you are logging into websites. Super-handy.

The Mac version will sync with the iPhone and iPad versions, so if you have a Mac and an iPhone and an iPad (attention: Mom!) each device will always have the up-to-date password list. I recommend you watch this introductory video from the 1Password people. Contact me if you have questions after that.

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Let Apple take care of Daylight Saving Time on your Mac

Date and Time Preference Pane icon

Apple will take care of setting the clock on your Mac as long as the Date & Time preferences are correct. Go to the Apple menu, then System Preferences, then Date & Time. In the Date & Time section of the Date & Time preference panel check the box for “Set date and time automatically.” The menu to the right should be the one closest to where you are.

Yosemite date and time preferences

The preferences should have been set this way already but sometimes things happen. With these settings you never have to set the time yourself. Apple will do it for you.

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⌘-Spacebar to bring up Spotlight


If you want to use Spotlight to search for something, don’t bother clicking on the magnifying glass at top right. Just press ⌘-Spacebar and Spotlight pops right up. If it doesn’t, go to Apple menu/System Preferences/Spotlight and make sure the preferences are set that way. See below:

Yosemite_ 2015-03-08 at 4.26.38 PM

(Thanks, Rick, for pointing out that the preferences might not be set to ⌘-Spacebar.)

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Figure Out Your Passwords via Safari’s Preferences

Safari compass iconYou’ve probably noticed Safari filling in your username and password on certain sites. That happens because you told Safari to remember your username and password, probably a long time ago. And now you don’t remember the password and Safari shows it as bullets, like so:

•••••. Not very helpful if for some reason you need to know what that password is.

Turns out there is a way to figure out what those bullets stand for.

1. Go to Safari/Preferences… and go to Passwords (across the top). It looks like this:

Safari Passwords box

2. Click on the password (or passwords– ⌘-click) you’re interested in.

3. Check the box that says “Show passwords for selected websites” at bottom left.

Safari will pop up a box asking you to supply your administrator password (the one you use when installing software, or maybe when you turn the machine on). After you do that, you’ll be asked to allow access to the Keychain (at least once, maybe twice– click “Allow” each time). After that you will see the passwords in plain text. Yay.

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Smaller Mailboxes open more quickly

Get your old emails out of the Inbox. The fewer items in the Inbox, the faster the Mail program displays them. Just make a new “Mailbox” (Mailbox menu, then New Mailbox…) and drag a bunch of your old mail into it. You might try making a Mailbox for “2014 Email” and another for “2013 Email” and so on.

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Use Mail’s Activity window to see what Mail is doing

Mail activitywindow

Sometimes Mail seems to be stuck (especially when you are trying to quit it). Many times, people force-quit Mail because they think it’s frozen, when actually Mail is busy synchronizing folders, or getting mail, or otherwise doing what it’s supposed to be doing. You’ll learn a lot about Mail by showing the Activity window (in Mail, go to the Window menu, then to Activity).

Leave the Activity window open in a corner of your screen and keep an eye on it as you use the Mail program. I think you’ll find that Mail is quite the busy bee, and when you can see the program working you’ll be much less likely to give up on it and force-quit. I don’t leave Activity up all the time, but when things seem slow I look to Activity to see what’s going on.

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Find more stuff in Recent Items

Yosemite 2015 03 04 at 7 03 46 AM

You know about Recent Items, under the Apple menu, yes? It tracks Applications, Documents, and Servers– typically, and by default, it tracks the most recent ten of each. When you’re looking for a recently-used app, document, or server, the Recent Items menu can be a big time-saver. But, since it only remembers the last ten apps, the last ten documents, and the last ten servers, there’s a fair chance that the stuff you’re looking for isn’t in the Recent Items list. What a drag if the thing you want was number eleven! We need Recent Items to remember more items. Turns out all you have to do is ask.

Recent Items can remember as many as 50 apps, 50 documents, and 50 servers. Just go to System Preferences, then General. Find Recent Items toward the bottom of the General preferences and change it as you’d like. It goes up to 50. See below.

Yosemite 2015 03 04 at 7 03 28 AM

More items means more chances that the desired app, document, or server will be in the list. Give it a try and see.

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Go to the Desktop with ⌘-Shift-D

When saving a file, and you want to put it onto the Desktop but you’re looking at some other folder, press ⌘-Shift-D and you’ll go straight to the Desktop. Also, when you’re in the Finder, and looking at a Finder window, and you want to see the stuff behind it (on the Desktop), don’t bother with shoving windows out of the way so you can see the Desktop. Instead, do ⌘-Shift-D and the window you’re looking at will display the Desktop’s contents. Switch to Icon View (⌘-1) if you want, but List View (⌘-2) is faster since you can sort by name, date, etc.

Note: ⌘-Shift-D does other things in other programs. If Mail is frontmost, ⌘-Shift-D will Send the message you’re writing. If Safari is frontmost, the web page you’re looking at will go to your Reading List. Be sure you’re either in a Save… dialog box or in the Finder before trying the ⌘-Shift-D thing.

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Set paragraph alignment from the keyboard in Microsoft Word

Word paragraph formatting shortcuts

What’s “LERJ,” you might wonder. Well, in Microsoft Word, it’s simple:

⌘-L aligns the paragraph your cursor’s in to the Left.

⌘-E aligns the paragraph your cursor’s in about the cEnter.

⌘-R aligns the paragraph your cursor’s in to the Right.

⌘-J aligns the paragraph your cursor’s in on both sides– that is, it Justifies it.

Put it all together and that spells “LERJ.”

(They couldn’t use ⌘-C for Center because ⌘-C is used, by the System, for Copy.)

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Close all windows at once with the Option key


It’s easy to close a window on the Mac: just click the red button at top left. If you have several windows open it takes several clicks: one per window. But, if you hold the Option key while clicking a close box, all windows from that app will close. Works in Finder, Mail, and Safari, and many others (but not all).

Keyboard shortcut: ⌘-Option-W, but it doesn’t work everywhere.

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