How to find your email server settings

You need to know your incoming and outgoing mail server settings when you’re setting up an email program. Apple provides a look-up website that will tell you what the settings are for your particular email address.

Mail Settings Lookup web page on
Mail Settings Lookup web page on–

They do not save your email address (and you could use a phony one anyway– if your real email address is “” you could enter “” and get the same server settings. Obviously you would use your own username when setting up your mail program).

Here’s what you get if you put in

Mail Settings Lookup server settings for
Mail Settings Lookup server settings for

Note: newer versions of Apple’s Mac Mail program use the same information so when you’re setting up Mail, it often can figure out the settings for you. Apple’s mail settings lookup page is especially useful when setting up some other program.

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Enable Zooming on your Mac

You can zoom in and out on your Mac, making tiny type easy to read. Turning the feature on is a two-stepper:

1. Apple Menu/System Preferences/Accessibility
2. Click on Zoom, then check the box.

Turning on Zooming in the Accessibility Preference Pane

Now all you have to do is hold the Control key down while doing whatever it is you do to scroll (probably two fingers on the trackpad, or a swiping gesture on the mouse). You’ll turn this

Small text from a website
Text from a website, a little too small

into this.
Zoomed in text.
Same text, zoomed in.

Bigger is better.

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How to hide (and show) Finder’s Favorites

It’s very handy to have some shortcuts in the left-hand pane (the “sidebar”) of your Finder windows. In the screenshot below you can see I have shortcuts, in the sidebar, for a bunch of folders. One click on a folder in the sidebar and it opens in the main window pane to the right, even though I don’t know where the folders really are.

Finder Favorites

Sometimes the list of Favorites disappears, and it looks like this:

hide-show favorites 2

You are probably guessing that the Favorites are still there, but hiding. Good guess!

Try moving the cursor until it is parallel with the word “Favorites.” See the tiny, grey-on-grey writing that says “Show?” Click it, and your stuff isn’t hidden anymore. Of course you can hide things again later.

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Add and remove columns from the Finder’s List View windows


You can add and remove columns from the Finder’s List View windows very easily. Just open up a window and then go to View/Show View Options. (My friend Dave likes the keyboard shortcut ⌘-J.) There you’ll find all sorts of options, including checkboxes for showing and hiding various columns.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.34.40 PM

The changes you make in the View Options panel are for only the window you’re looking at when you make those changes, unless you check “Use as Defaults.”


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Customize the Share button

share button

You’ve seen the Share button (square with an up-pointing arrow) before. It’s the one that lets you share a web page from Safari, or a vCard from Contacts, or a file from the Finder. “Sharing” can mean a variety of things (email it, post it to Facebook or Twitter, add it to Photos, send it via Messages, etc.). Here’s how you customize the Sharing button so the options you want are present and the ones you don’t are not.

  1. Go to the Apple menu and choose System Preferences…
  2. Click on Extensions
  3. Click on Share Menu
  4. Check and uncheck services as desired, and drag to change the order


Result: next time you click on the Share button you’ll get just the services you want, in just the order you want. Here’s how it looks on my Mac:

share menu

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How to name your Mac

Your Mac has a name. It shows up on other computers when they are on the same network as your, and it shows up various places on your own machine. It’s nice if the name is something other than “Macintosh (3)” so here’s how you make the name be anything you want.

Just go to the Apple menu, then System Preferences, then Sharing, and rename away. Best to do this when no one is connected to your Mac, of course.

Here’s what it looks like on my Mac:

how to name your mac

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How to find Software Update options

In Mac OS 10.10 (Yosemite), the options for software updates are in System Preferences/App Store. In Mac OS 10.8 (Mountain Lion), the options for software updates are in System Preferences/Software Update. Either way, that might not be where you’d expect to find them. And the settings are worth looking at. See below.

App Store options

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In case your red, yellow, and green buttons change to gray

red yellow green

Ah, the Mac’s red, yellow, and green buttons: red for “close,” yellow for “minimize,” and green for “maximize” (sort of). You kind of get used to seeing them in that same red-yellow-green order. Until one day they’re all gray, like this:

gray gray gray

Yuck. This is not nearly as good as red-yellow-green. If your Mac’s buttons are gray, and you want to bring back the color, just go to…

Apple menu/System Preferences/General

and choose “Blue” at the very top of that window. You probably would not expect to gain red, yellow, and green by choosing BLUE but that’s how it works. Choosing “Graphite” instead of “Blue” gives you the gray buttons. I know no one who likes the Graphite look but there it is.

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System Preferences has a Search box

Sometimes one can have trouble finding things in System Preferences. Maybe you’re a PC user and not used to the Mac’s terminology. Or maybe you’re just not sure where to look. Fortunately, the top right corner of the System Preferences window has a Search box in it, and you can simply type in what you’re looking for and System Preferences will highlight the Preference pane that has it. Even if you type in the wrong words (like “Wallpaper” instead of “Desktop”). See below. And try it!

System Preferences

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