How to quickly access an app’s Help

Command Shift ?
Command Shift ?

There are certain conventions that all Mac apps are supposed to adhere to. One is “put the cursor in the Help menu’s Search field when the user types Command-Shift-?”.

Help menu
Help menu

Try it– it will probably work.

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Activate 1Password from the Keyboard

1Password is the best password manager for the Mac. (It synchronizes with the iPhone and iPad too, so your passwords are always up to date.) Most people access their passwords by clicking the 1Password button on the toolbar in Safari, Firefox, or Chrome, but that’s the slow way to go.

The fast way: Command-\.

Command-\
Command-\

This pops open the 1Password “Unlock” box if 1Password is locked, and after you enter your master password and hit Return, 1Password automatically pops in the username and password you need for the website you’re on.
1Password Unlock dialog box
1Password Unlock dialog box

If 1Password is already unlocked, Command-\ fills in the username and password without you doing anything more.

Try it once and you’ll be hooked.

Not using 1Password yet? Read this article for more information.

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How to show the Emoji and Symbols Palette

You want to type things like this…

Smiley Emoji
Smiley Emoji

… but you don’t know how to do it. Until now!

Since Mac OS 10.9 (Mavericks) there’s been an Emoji & Symbols menu item at the bottom of the Edit menu in many Mac programs. Choose that and you get this:

Emoji & Symbols palette
Emoji & Symbols palette

Choose a category on the left, and then choose a symbol/picture on the right. Double-click the picture to insert it into your document (Mail, Pages document, Messages).

BONUS: keyboard shortcut is Control-Command-Spacebar.

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Delete Conversations in Messages from the Keyboard

You may have tried pressing Delete or Backspace or even the forward delete key to delete a conversation in Messages. If you’ve tried, you know they don’t work. What does work is to hold the Command key down while pressing Delete or Backspace (forward delete won’t work).

If you select a conversation (see below) and then press Command-Delete (or Backspace– depends on what your keyboard calls it) you’ll get a message asking whether you’re sure you want to delete the conversation.

Dialog box in Messages on a Mac, asking whether one wants to delete a conversation
Are you sure you want to delete this conversation?

BONUS: skip the confirmation dialog box by adding the Option key to the mix. Command-Option-Delete (or Backspace) deletes the conversation without asking whether you’re sure. So be sure!

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How to delete a file without having to empty the trash

— How to delete a file without having to empty the trash —

You know that things you put into the trash aren’t really gone until you empty the trash, right? Turns out that in 10.11.x (El Capitan) you can throw something way and have it be deleted immediately if you want. Just click on the item you want to delete, then go to File/Move to Trash… except hold the Option key down while you do it, and you’ll see “Delete Immediately…”

Delete Immediately with the Option Key
Delete Immediately with the Option Key

You’ll still have to deal with a dialog box:
Are you sure you want to delete immediately?
Are you sure you want to delete immediately?

Keyboard Junkies: you know that Command-Delete (or Command-Backspace) sends the selected item to the Trash. So, if you hold the Option key while you do it (Command-Option-Delete) the items will be “Immediately Deleted.” Very fast– but then you have to deal with the “Are you sure” dialog box. Bonus Hint: use Command-D to click the “Delete” button in that box from the keyboard. Command-Option-Delete, then Command-D, takes care of everything.

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Easy way to remember four important keyboard shortcuts

Undo Cut Copy Paste

One could argue that Undo, Cut, Copy, and Paste are the menu items that make a Mac a Mac. They are always in the Edit menu, and every program uses the same keyboard shortcuts for them:

  • ⌘-Z for Undo
  • ⌘-X for Cut
  • ⌘-C for Copy
  • ⌘-V for Paste

Guess what? The keys are right next to each other, in the bottom row of the keyboard. That should make remembering them easier.

I don’t know how they came up with the Z for Undo, but that’s OK. I do have some ideas for X, C, and V but only if you ask.

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Move items to the Trash, from the keyboard

Apple-Keyboard-Command-Key Apple-Keyboard-Delete-Key

If you click on an icon in the Finder, and then press ⌘-Delete, the item will fly into the Trash. It’s still retrievable, same as anything else you put into the Trash. It just gets there a really easy way.

Clicking on an icon and then pressing the Delete key by itself does nothing. You have to add the Command key.

If you look in the Finder’s File menu you’ll see the shortcut.

Finder File menu

UPDATE: I wrote about this in April 2015. Oopsy. I’ll make up for it.

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Get dimensions of images via Get Info

It’s useful to know the dimensions of an image (in pixels). For a given picture, more pixels generally means higher quality, higher resolution, and an ability to be printed larger without looking all pixelated. Almost every graphics program has a way of showing you an image’s dimensions but you can find that info without even opening the image up. Just click on its icon once, then go to File/Get Info (or ⌘-I). You’ll see the dimensions in the More Info section.

Get Info

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Essential Keyboard Shortcuts: Command-Up Arrow

Apple-Keyboard-Command-Keyuparrow

When you’re looking at a Finder window, and you want to climb up one level, hold the ⌘ key and type the up arrow. Up you go.

For example: let’s say you’re looking at Finder window with a bunch of icons in it. Across the top of the window it says “My Favorite Photos.” Now you’re wondering “Where is this folder called ‘My Favorite Photos’?” You could hold the ⌘ key and click on the name of the folder, in the title bar– that would show you a menu with the complete path to the window you’re looking at. But if you just want to go there, type ⌘-up arrow.

Another example: you’re somewhere in the Pictures folder, several folders deep. You want to climb up until you’re at the Pictures folder itself. Just tap ⌘-up arrow until you’re there.

See also my post “Command-Click a window’s title to show the document’s path.

Want some more, longer how-tos?

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