How to check your MacBook’s, MacBook Pro’s or MacBook Air’s battery condition

Normally, when you click on the battery menu you get basic information about your laptop’s battery, like this:

Apple laptop battery menu
Apple laptop battery menu

Turns out you can get more information. Press and hold the Option key, then go to the battery menu again. You get this:

Apple laptop battery menu, Option key held down
Apple laptop battery menu, Option key held down

If the condition says “Replace soon” it’s probably time for a visit to the Apple Store. You can get a battery from Amazon and do it yourself, for certain models– otherwise, go to Apple. Figure about $129 for a battery at Apple, installed. Batteries do eventually wear out so if yours says something other than “Condition: Normal” that’s just the way it goes.

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Fast and easy way to send a file by email

Sharing menu

Today I had to email an AppleScript to someone. The usual routine (the one most people follow) is this:

  1. Open Mail
  2. Create new mail message
  3. Click the paperclip (to attach the file)
  4. Rummage around in the box that comes up, trying to find the file to attach
  5. (Optional) Give up

Here’s how I do it.

  1. Click once on the file (that is, don’t bother opening Mail yet)
  2. Click the “Share” button in the Finder window’s toolbar. See below. (If you wonder how I got the names under the buttons, check out this blog post and also this one.)

Share button

3. Choose “Mail” from the menu that drops down when you click the Share button. Mail will launch, if it’s not already running, and a new message will be created… with the desired file already attached. Nice.


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How to make the Power Button behave like it used to

Time was, you briefly pressed the power button on your Mac and you got this box:

Are you sure restart shutdown

In macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) (and in all macOS since), pressing the power button puts the Mac to sleep. If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know that Control-Eject brings up the old dialog box (the one you used to get by pressing the power button) but that’s not much help if your Mac doesn’t have an Eject key! See below.

macpro keyboard

Turns out that holding the Control key and pressing the power button gives the same result you used to get by pressing the power button alone, even if you do have an Eject key on your keyboard. Give it a try and see.

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Reveal advanced features in the Calculator


You know about the Mac’s Calculator app. (You don’t? Look in the Applications folder.) But, did you know that the Calculator can do all sorts of fancy stuff, like sines and cosines and exponents and factorials and random numbers and square roots? Just click the green button (the one you’d click to zoom in other apps, 3rd from the left for my color-blind friends) and you get the advanced calculator. Click it again and it’s back to normal.


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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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Save Time with Smart Groups in Contacts

Contacts icon

Everyone knows you can search the Contacts. The problem is, when you do, you don’t get to specify where (that is, which field) to search for what you’re looking for. Plus, you can’t look for two things at once. Examples:

1. Suppose you want to find everyone in your Contacts whose phone number has a 512 area code. If you do a Find for 512 you will find everyone who has “512” anywhere in his info– maybe it’s part of his house number, maybe it’s in his zip code, maybe it’s in a note you wrote about that person. You get what you want but you also get a bunch of stuff you don’t want. Yuck.

2. Suppose you want to find all of the people who live in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Sherman Oaks, and Studio City. That’s six searches and you can’t show the results all in one list. You get what you want but you have to search six times. Yuck again.

On top of that, next time you want to find all of the people who have phone numbers starting with 512 or who live in those Southern California cities you have to do the work again. Smart Groups is what you want. Here’s how it works.

Go to the File menu in Contacts and choose “New Smart Group…” Enter some search criterion, and notice that in many cases you will be able to not only specify that the item is found, but also to specify WHERE: which field, and “begins with” or “ends with” or “contains” etc. Click the “+” to add criteria. Give your search a name, then click OK to save it when you’re done. Your search criteria will be saved, and your “Smart Group” will show up on the far left pane of the Contacts app. It will be there every time you launch Contacts.

The “smart” part is that every time you click on that particular Smart Group, the search is applied, so the results are always current! They ought to call this “It’s a miracle, and it will save you a ton of time” Groups.

Here’s an example.

Smart Group in Contacts

Here’s another. Notice how I am able to search for both “Texas” and “TX” in the same search. Notice also that I am searching for cards that match “any” (that is, either) criterion. That is an important thing and it will trip you up if you don’t watch out. If you chose “All” instead of “Any” there’s no way you’d find anything, since nobody’s state is going to be both Texas and TX at once.

Contacts Smart Group

Note: this works in Address Book too. You don’t have to be on Yosemite to use this feature.


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Put frequently used Mail folders into Favorites Bar for easy access

Yosemite Mail icon

Mail’s toolbar looks something like this (click it to zoom in):

no favorites

Turns out you can add a skinny toolbar underneath the main toolbar. Actually, it’s not a toolbar: it’s the Favorites Bar” (shown outlined in red below). Looks like this (click this one to zoom in too):

Mail with Favorites Bar

Clicking on a Favorite takes you there right away, as if you clicked that Mailbox in Mail’s left-hand pane. You can drag and drop a mail message into one of the Favorites and in it goes, same as if you dragged it to the corresponding Folder (mailbox) in the list on the left, making for some quick and easy filing. The advantage of dragging an email to the Favorites bar is the list at the left is alphabetical, so there can be some scrolling involved, while the items in the Favorites bar can be in any order you’d like (so no scrolling required). Put folders (mailboxes) that you would have to scroll down to find into the Favorites Bar– they’ll still be in the list of mailboxes at the left, but now they’ll also be accessible at the top, without scrolling.

Put mailboxes into Mail’s Favorites bar by dragging from the list at the left to the Favorites bar. Take things out of the Favorites bar by dragging them off. Couldn’t be easier.

I find the Favorites Bar very handy and you will too. Try it.

Note: this works in older versions of Mac OS. It is not “new in Yosemite.”

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Get audible feedback when you adjust the volume


In older macOS versions you could adjust your Mac’s volume from the keyboard and hear how loud you’d made it as you pressed the volume up and volume down buttons. For some reason, the audible feedback is now gone (by default). Get it back by holding the Shift key down as you tap the volume up and volume down buttons.

You can also go to the Sound preference pane and check the box to enable the sonic feedback, in case you want it permanent.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.55.20 PM

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Hold Command key to see file path in Spotlight

If you do a Spotlight search in Yosemite, and then you click on one of the things you found, but now you wonder where that thing is on your hard disk, just press and hold the ⌘-key and look at the bottom right of the Spotlight window. See the picture here.


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