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-\.


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.

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.

How to make things bigger in Safari

You can enlarge things three ways in Safari:

  1. Click the “Zoom In” button in the toolbar (if you’ve added it to your toolbar)
  2. Choose “Zoom In” from the View menu
  3. Use the keyboard shortcut ⌘+ (Command-plus)

I like #3.

⌘- (Command-minus) will make things smaller again.

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.

Your Mac has a Dictionary

Macs come with a Dictionary app. It’s very handy. Find it in the Applications folder.

When you launch it, you get this (you will, that is, if you type “sleep” into the search box):

Dictionary, in use

EVERY word in the Dictionary is clickable! I mean “every”– and that includes words in the definitions! So try clicking. Also, try the thesaurus and the Apple and Wikipedia sections.

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.

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!

Make the green zoom window button work the way you expect it to

Click the green zoom button in a Mac window and it not only gets bigger, it goes full screen– and it’s so full-screen that the menu bar’s taken away. That’s not what most of us expect– especially if you’re used to the way that button used to work (it zoomed, but it left the menu bar alone).

Turns out you can make the green button behave the zoom-but-don’t-hide-the-menu-bar way by holding the Option key down while you click it. Apple gives you a tiny visual clue that holding the Option key will give you a different result– try hovering over the green button with and without the Option key held down.

Green zoom button, without the Option key
Green zoom button, without the Option key
Zoom button with Option key held down
Zoom button with Option key held down

Sometimes bigger isn’t better. This is one of those times.

(If you click the green button without the Option key, bring the menu bar back by pressing the Escape key at top left of your keyboard. There are other ways but that’s for another post.)

BONUS: see this article for an even better way to resize your windows.

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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