40+ Super Secret OS X Lion Features and Shortcuts

OS X Lion has now been around long enough for us all to dig in and really find some interesting functionality that is either completely hidden or just enough below the service that many users don’t even know it exists.

We’ve spent hours combing through Lion for secrets and put out a call on Twitter for your favorites. This post brings over forty such hidden tricks and tips for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Finder Tricks

1. Bring Back Finder’s Icon Size Slider

With Lion came a ton of visual changes to the operating system we know and love. Everything has a sort of borderless appeal to it now with window graphics going right up to the edge and stopping suddenly without a buffer of any sort.

This makes for a really slick looking operating system, but to achieve it Apple had to make some serious functionality sacrifices that I’m not crazy about. For instance, the Finder no longer has the status bar at the bottom. There’s no quick reference for how many items are in a folder or a slider to resize the icons (a nicety that we only just got in Snow Leopard).

Fortunately, this particular problem has a quick fix. These features aren’t gone, they’re just hidden by default. Bringing them back is as easy as hitting ⌘/ or going to View>Show Status Bar.


The long lost Finder Status Bar

2. New Group From Selection

Let’s say you have a bunch of stuff scattered across your desktop that you want to throw into a single folder. The old way of doing this is to create a new folder, select everything but that folder, then drag all of the selected items into it. In Lion though, you can now simply select all of those items then Right-Click and choose New Folder with Selection.

3. Merge Folders

Did you know you can have Lion auto-merge the contents of two folders? This one was tricky to figure out. Apple announced it on their site as a new feature in Lion but getting it to work is anything but intuitive.

If you have two identically named folders in separate directories, dragging one in with the other prompts a standard Replace dialog message. However, Option-Dragging the folder to duplicate it into the other directory brings up an additional choice: merge. This will create one folder containing the collected contents of both of the originals.


Merging folders

4. Arrange Apps By Category

The new Finder has dramatically improved the various sorting modes that are available. For instance, organize your files by date and you’ll see some nice subtle dividers that separate the content, making for a much more pleasant viewing experience.

If you’re in your Applications folder, a new option pops up in this menu: Application Category. This will intelligently sort through all your App Store apps and place them in their corresponding categories.


Apps arranged by category

5. Close all Finder Windows

Have you ever found yourself with a ton of different Finder windows open and wishing that you could just kill them all and start over? Look no further than a quick ⌘⌥W, which will instantly close all open Finder windows. Alternatively, you can ⌥Click the close button.

6. Drag Something Out of the Sidebar

At least once a week a random click and drag goes wrong in Finder and I end up with something in my sidebar completely by accident. Logic says that to fix this, you’d reverse your previous action and drag the item back out to delete it from the sidebar, but this doesn’t work.

However, you don’t have to resort to the multi-step Control-clicking fiasco, instead try a Command-drag. This will successfully remove the item in the sidebar.

7. Fullscreen Spotlight Shortcut

Let’s say you have a folder full of JPGs and you want to quickly go through them in a fullscreen image viewer. Try hitting ⌥Space to instantly launch Quick Look in fullscreen. From here, use your back and forth arrows, view a grid or start a slideshow.

Awesome Lion Tricks

8. Show Dock in Fullscreen Apps

Another great Lion feature is the fullscreen mode that you now see on many apps. The immediate complaint that many people have upon entering a fullscreen app though is that their dock no longer pops up from the bottom when moused over.

The truth is, yes it does. The action necessary to make it happen changes ever so subtly though. Typically, any motion near the bottom of the screen will pop up a hidden dock. However in fullscreen mode, you must bring your mouse all the way down to the bottom, then keep going. That little extra effort will tell OS X that you aren’t messing around with the app but instead want to see your dock. It’s awkward to get used to but eventually it starts to make sense.

9. Add a Signature in Preview

Signing digital documents can be a pain. You have to print the PDF, sign it, then scan it back in. Who wants to go through that mess? Fortunately, Preview now lets you skip the hassle.

Open a document in preview and slide open the Annotations Toolbar by clicking on the little pencil button near the top. From there, click on the Signature Button (the “S” with a line under it) and choose Create Signature from Built-in iSight. Now just follow the on-screen instructions and sign a white piece of paper then hold it up to the camera. Preview will even save your signatures for future use.


Adding signatures in Preview

10. Alternate Character Options

This one is something everyone (including me) finds completely by accident when they try to type “nooooooooo!” or a similarly repeating string of vowels in Lion. It turns out if you hold down certain letters on the keyboard, rather than repeating the character, Lion pops up an iOS-like menu that allows you to choose an alternate variation.


Alternate Character Options

11. Address Book/iChat: Import Face from iPhoto

If you use Faces, iPhoto’s automatic face-detection feature, then adding photos to contacts in various Lion apps becomes much easier. When editing a contact’s photo, there’s a little button at the bottom that will automatically match the name of your contact to a “face” in iPhoto.


iPhoto Faces Button

12. Quick Duplicate Open File

I had a very difficult time adjusting to the lack of a “Save As” option in many of Lion’s apps, this is of course a result of the new Versions document system. One of the things that made it easier is knowing how to quickly create a duplicate of a document without running to the File menu.



To accomplish this trick, click on the filename at the top of a Version-enabled file like those from TextEdit. This drops down a menu of options, one of which allows you to quickly duplicate the file.

Command-Clicking on the same place (the filename at the top of the window) will give you the path to that file. You can click on any folder in the hierarchy to open it in Finder.

13. Move Download from Safari

The new Safari download manager that sits to the right of the search bar has some interesting functionality beyond double-clicking a file in the list to open it. You can also actually move the downloaded file out from your Downloads folder by clicking and dragging it right from the Safari menu into the folder where you want it.


Drag the download to move it to your desktop

14. Quick Look Previews in Spotlight

Spotlight received a welcome improvement with the Lion upgrade, now when you hover over an item in the results, a little Quick Look preview automatically pops up. The secret surprise is how well this works. For instance, if there are web pages in the results, you get an actual live web preview. Click on a link and it opens it in your browser. This is great for running a quick search for a site that you recently visited.


Live web previews right in Spotlight

15. Drag from Spotlight

Another slight Spotlight improvement is the ability to drag and drop files right from your search results. Keep in mind that this action will copy a file to a new location, not move it.

16. Noncontiguous Selections in TextEdit

In TextEdit, you can hold down the Option to see the typical selection tool replaced by a crosshair icon. Using this will allow you to make a noncontiguous selection, presumably to make selecting columns easier.


Noncontiguous selections

17. Multiple Selections in TextEdit

While we’re on the topic of cool ways to select text in TextEdit, try holding down the Command key and making a few selections. This allows you to select and copy multiple items at once. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow you to then replace all of those selections with a single typed string like Sublime Text 2 does.

18. Play an Album From Your Screensaver

In Lion, the built-in Album Artwork Screensaver has some added functionality. You can now move your mouse around without exiting the screensaver. Hovering over an album will enlarge it and give you the option to play it. It’s a really fun way to see and interact with your music.


Click an album to play it

19. Delete Apps in Launchpad

Launchpad introduces a brand new way to delete apps from your Mac. In the Launchpad interface, click and hold an app to launch the iOS-style wiggle mode (or simply hold down Option). This will activate little close icons on the apps that were installed through the Mac App Store. Clicking this won’t only delete the app from launchpad, it’ll throw it in the trash.


Jiggle mode

20. View Recent Files in Expose

There’s a cool new way to view your recent items in several apps such as TextEdit and Preview. Activate the app and hit your dedicated Expose Keyboard Shortcut (varies from older to newer keyboards). Not only will all of the open windows zoom out and organize themselves, along the bottom of the screen a strip of thumbnails will pop up containing recently opened items.


Recent Files in Expose

21. Different Launchpad Backdrops

Here’s one that I’ll bet you’ve never heard about. The default view behind your icons in Launchpad is a blurred out version of your desktop. You can actually change this by hitting ⌘B. This shortcut will toggle between blurred, normal and grayscale backgrounds.

22. Proportional Window Resize

In Lion you can now resize a window from any edge, not just the corner. It turns out that this works similarly to resizing objects in many graphics applications. For instance, holding the Option key while dragging an edge will also move the opposite edge. Also, holding Shift will move every edge except the one opposite to the selected edge.

23. Double Tap to Define

In Snow Leopard, you could hit ⌘⌃D while hovering over a word to bring up a little window with its definition. In Lion, you can do the same thing with a three finger double tap.


Double tap with three fingers to define

Revert to the Old Ways

24. Turn off “Natural” Scrolling

This one was instantly the most requested trick when Lion first launched. The powers that be at Apple have decided that the “natural” way for you to scroll is by imagining that you’re actually reaching out and tossing the page like you do on an iOS device. The problem of course is that on a desktop you have years of experience sliding your fingers down to scroll down and up to scroll up. Suddenly being forced to reverse your thinking results in a mental barrier that many people don’t see the benefit in getting over.

I recommend just getting used to it as it seems to be how Apple will do things from here on out, but if you simply can’t accept the change, you can revert back to the old way by unchecking Scroll direction: natural in the Mouse section in System Preferences.


Getting your scroll on the old school

25. Bring Back Scroll Bars

As I mentioned before, the major visual push in Lion was all about stripping out anything unnecessary from the user interface. Some people like these changes, others can’t stand them. As we saw before though, Apple typically gives you control over these changes.

Scroll bars are a very useful feature, their presence immediately lets you know that the page can be scrolled. When they’re hidden, history has taught us to assume that the page doesn’t scroll. However, in Lion the default state of scroll bars is hidden, they don’t show up until you start scrolling. This can be confusing and frustrating if you’re too used to the old way. You can bring them back easily enough though, simply go into the General category in System Preferences and select Show Scroll Bars: Always.


Getting your scroll on the old school

26. Turn Off Restore Windows

While we’re in the General section of System Preferences take note of the Restore windows setting near the bottom. Sometimes this can get really frustrating.

For instance, if you have a buggy Safari extension that crashes on a certain page, having the browser continually try to reload that page aggravates the problem. Also, if you have an older Mac that takes long enough to start up an application, turning off the default action to restore the last session and all of its tabs can save a lot of headaches.

27. Old School Mail Layout

The upgrades to Mail were some of the best that Lion made as far as I’m concerned, but they’re not for everyone. If you miss the old Mail layout, you’re in luck. Open up Mail Preferences and click on the Viewing tab. At the top you’ll see a checkbox labelled Use classic layout, check this and you’re back to Snow Leopard’s Mail layout.

Mission Control

28. Make Your Spaces Stay Put

Being used to the way that Spaces worked in Snow Leopard, I simply couldn’t get used to how Mission Control was always rearranging my spaces (aka desktops, Lion can’t seem to decide what to call them). I like to have everything stay put with a set position for desktop 1, 2, 3 etc.

It all started making much more sense when I went into Mission Control in System Preferences and turned off Automatically rearrange spaces based on most recent use. After you do this, you can once again enjoy the sanity of assigning an app to space 1 and having it stay there!

29. Magnify Windows in Mission Control

Mission Control is probably my favorite new feature in Lion. I use it constantly and definitely find it to be an extremely useful way to sort through the massive amount of windows that I generally have open.

One hidden feature here that you’ve probably never tried is to hit space bar when hovering over one of the small window previews. This will zoom into the window in a Quick-Look-like fashion so you can take a closer look.


Hit space over a Mission Control window

30. Focus on a Single App

This function is very similar to the on in the last tip, only it focuses on all of the windows in a given app, making them larger and dimming the windows from other apps. To accomplish this, hover over a cluster of windows and scroll up.

31. New Desktop with Selection

In Mission Control, if you hover your mouse in the top right, a little “+” tab appears to create a new desktop. If you ever have a window that you want to toss in a new dedicated desktop, simply grab it and drag it to the “+” tab.


New Desktop with selection

32. Drag Files to Mission Control

While you’re dragging a file, launch Mission Control and drop the file on an application to have it opened with that specific app.

Oldies But Goodies

33. Instantly Show an App in Finder

When I’m writing a review of an app, I always need to grab its icon for the post. This means going into the Applications folder and sorting through the million things that I have in there to land on the one I’m looking for, which can be a pain. My old solution was to right-click on the app, go Options and click Show in Finder.

However, there’s a much better way to go about this: simply Command-Click on any app in your dock and a Finder window will pop up with that app selected.

34. Kill and Yank

I’ve mentioned this one before on AppStorm but it’s good enough to repeat. Have you ever had a situation where you needed to cut and paste something, but didn’t want to lose what was already occupying your clipboard? With Kill and Yank, you can!

Select the bit of text just like you always would, but instead of cutting the text, hit ⌃K to “kill” it. This is essentially like cutting it to an entirely different clipboard that doesn’t affect your default clippings. Once you’re ready to bring it back, “yank” it with ⌃Y.

35. Option-Click Icon in Dock to Show/Hide App

Option-clicking on an app in your dock has some interesting functionality. If the app isn’t currently showing, the frontmost app will hide and the app that you clicked on will be shown. If the app that you click on is already the active application, then it will hide.

36. Change Volume Without the Pop

When you adjust the volume via the keyboard, you get these little popping noises that help you identify just how loud the volume currently is. If you want to be a little more covert about it, you can adjust the volume without these noises by holding down the Shift key while changing the volume.

It use to be the cast that ⌥⇧Volume Keys would allow for incremental volume changes on a smaller scale than your typical click. Unfortunately, Apple axed this feature in Lion.

37. Quick Access System Preferences

Along the same lines as the previous tip, try holding down Option while hitting your volume or brightness keys to be taken to their corresponding System Preference panel.

38. Extra Menu Bar Info

Holding down Option while clicking on an OS X system menu bar item will often reveal some hidden information and options. For instance, performing this trick on your MacBook’s battery icon will show you the health of your battery. Also try it on the sound, Airport and Time Machine menu bar items.


Hold option to see more information

39. Move Menu Bar Items

Follow the same steps as the last tip, only this time hold down the Command key instead. This will give you the option to rearrange your menu bar items! Note that this typically does not work with third party menu bar apps.

40. Auto Complete F5

This one is extremely handy for those of us that can never spell words like “bureau” and “rendezvous” right on the first try. As you’re typing in TextEdit or iChat, hit F5 or Option+Escape to bring up an autocomplete menu where you can select from various possible completions to the word you’ve started.



41. Delete Last Word or Line

When typing in OS X, to quickly delete the last word that you typed, hit Option+Delete. You can also hit Command+Delete to eliminate the entire current line of text.

42. App Switcher Tricks

You probably already use ⌘Tab to move to the next application in Application Switcher, but did you know that with the switcher still open you can switch to ⌘` to move your selection backwards? You can also use the arrow keys and even quit/hide applications all right from the switcher.

43. Disable Caps Lock

Do you ever really use Caps Lock? Me neither, but I do accidentally turn it on frequently. To prevent this from happening, you can actually disable the action entirely. Go into System Preferences and click on Keyboard. Then click on the Modifier Keys… button near the bottom of this window and change Caps Lock Key to none.

What Did We Miss?

At this point you’ve either been blown away by a flood of amazing new knowledge regarding how to get the most out of your OS X experience, or you’re patting yourself on the back for already knowing about all forty-three tips. If you’re in the latter category, it’s your turn to try to impress us. Leave a comment below and let us know about all your favorite hidden tricks!

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Add Yours
  • Just further to tip #35…


    If you hold [option] and click on 1) any APP WINDOW that is NOT the current app, OR 2) click the desktop: the current app will hide and the focus will go to the app whose window you clicked on.

    (It’s essentially the same as using the Apple+H shortcut, except it works even for apps who have Apple+H connected to a different function than hide – such as Photoshop or Pro Tools.)


    Do the same as above, except use [option]+[command] while clicking on another app. This time, all apps will hide except for the app whose window you clicked.

  • @ 19. Delete Apps in Launchpad
    click and hold works just
    why not just press option key? it does the same but much faster or lets say it shows the delete button on every app instantly.

  • Hold down Ctrl and two-finger scroll up or down to zoom the whole screen in or out. As my eyes get older my fondness for this one grows…

    • It’s actually a one-finger scrolling action, but obviously a second finger doesn’t make any difference. (That’s on my Macs anyway.)

      • It appears 2 fingers are needed – maybe it’s based on the laptop you have

      • It’s whatever the Mac uses as the scrollwheel. That’s two fingers on a trackpad, one on a magic mouse. You can turn it on and off (and change the modifier) in System Preferences -> Universal Access -> “Seeing” tab -> Options (under Zoom) ->Use scroll wheel with modifier keys to zoom (checkbox at the bottom)

    • This only works for me if I hold down the Option button instead of Control. Not sure why.

      • To Zakirah,

        If you want it to work by pressing Control ( or any other key ), go to System Preferences –> Accessibility –> Zoom and change the modifier key under the “Use scroll gesture with modifier key to zoom”

      • You can change the zoom options even more than that.
        System Preferences -> Accessibility –> Zoom -> MORE OPTIONS.

        Very fun to play around in there. You can have it so the zoom feature is only on the left of the screen, or in an adjustable box on the screen instead of zooming on the whole thing.

        Very nice if using screen capture or for a presentation.

  • O.O Wow! This stuff is incredible. Thanks so much guys!

  • Merge Folders. Solid gold….

    • When I try to merge two folders using option-drag, I don’t get a button for “merge”. If I drag the folder itself I get asked if I want to replace subfolders with the same name. If I select all the subfolders and drag them, it pastes copies renamed with a 2 at the end in the second folder, and leaves the original unchanged. it’s a copy-paste-rename procedure, not a merge. Then I have to go back and trash the original. I don’t trust the process so I feel obligated to go in each subfolder and check to make sure the stuff is really in the second folder. This doesn’t save a lot of time and is more hassle to me than renaming the subfolders first and then moving them, which is a waste of time. What do I have to do to get the merge button to appear?

    • The fact that the Apple OS does not merge by default has been one of the most frustrating and upsetting issues I have with OSX.

      I lost more files that I want to think about due to not being aware that this basic Windows, Novell, Banyan, etc… feature is missing in OSX.

      I have seen the word Merge as an option on my new MacBook Pro 15 Retina; and I love it when this is an option, but, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for when this option appears.

      I have moved most of my backing up of files and other file management back to windows machines due to OSX missing this most basic file system feature.

      As a Windows user who moved to Mac; this is the hardest leaning experiences I have ever had….

      Does anyone know how to set the file manager to force the merging of files when there are duplicate folders in the copy, move option?

      The Option Move does not work on my new and updated mac.

  • in App. stack (Dock) you can hit cmd button with any letter and the app will be popped up. for example, if I like to open Yep app I hit cmd+Y and voila!

  • Yeah, “super secret”… half of those is either in plain sight or from the list of Lion features.

    • Indeed. I knew all of these.

    • You might be well versed in iOS features, and all that is mentioned above seems quite obvious to you, but there are many such as myself who are not quite as familiar with these features or how to discover them (recent migrant from Windows to Mac). So please flaunt your ego when it comes to your personal achievements, and not in a public forum intended to inform the community.

    • Did you really mean to sound like such a smug smarty pants?

      Everyone else……. thanks a lot for the tips.

    • Not everyone is well-versed on Mac OSX like you.. to me these are all new.

    • Also, english grammar is in plain sight, but it didn’t stop you from writing “half of those is” instead of “half of those are…”


    • In fact, I didn’t know most of them :(

    • WOW…being an Apple Consultant, I love dealing with super nerds that pretend to know it all on a daily basis. Lighten up and stop pretending you know it all; it really is not flattering…you might try smiling, too.

      Leave the mean geek stuff to the PC crowd. :-)

  • I don’t know if this is widely known but…
    If you hold CMD+SHIFT+4+SPACE you can take screenshots of windows instead of the whole screen. Useful if you want a clean shot of a particular window.

    • Thanks for posting this – use cmd+shift+4 a lot, adding the space bar makes it even sweeter ;)

    • Very cool. Had no idea about this little trick. Thanks.

      • You can also add ctrl to that combo (or any screenshot keyboard shortcut) to have the image copied to the clipboard and not saved to the desktop.

        So in this case, you hit ctrl+cmd+shift+4, space, then click and your window is now ready to paste.

    • I use this a lot too. But without the SPACE bar. Just Cmd+Shift+4.

    • personally, I prefer Grab – gives you lots of options and lets you save it where you want it…

    • If you are using CMD+SHIFT+4 and start dragging a selection, and you hold down SPACE after you have started dragging, the selection will reposition instead of getting bigger … just release SPACE again, when your starting corner is in place and finish your selection. I use this a lot, when I want a particular selection.

  • TRY holding SHIFT while doing any thing like when u hit space to preview some thing or much more other stuff , it makes it slow in a cool way , try it with mission control.

    • Haha! Strangely satisfying! :)

      I guess that’s for when you’re doing presentations, just ease it in…

  • Not really “SUPER SECRET!”
    But a handy list.

  • You can Spotlight as a calculator. Cmd+Space and type an expression you need to calculate, e.g., “23 * (56.5 / 13.4)”

  • Do you have a tip how I can make it work again, that my all my application windows show, when I click and hold its dock icon (the way it used to work in Snow Leopard)? I know I can achieve this by double-tapping, but I have a 4 year old MacBook that doesn’t support this multigesture stuff. Besides I think douple tapping is not as handy as clicking and holding.

    • Right click on the dock icon > show all windows.

      Not very convenient, but if you’re trackpad doesn’t support multi-touch you’re out of luck.

      At least you can assign a keyboard shortcut to view all windows of the current app. Actually, if you do that, you can hit that and then switch to any app’s by clicking it in the dock, as in Snow Leopard.

      • The default shortcut key is CTRL & DOWN ARROW

        Works well. Good tip!

  • “36. Change Volume Without the Pop”
    There is a System Preference checkbox in the Sound settings to turn this off permanently. That is literally the first thing I do when I get a new system. I can’t stand hearing that noise every time I change the volume.

  • That screenshot of Launchpad illustrates, yet again, how broken it still is. The fact that some apps don’t get the “X” is ridiculous, as is the complete uninstallation of apps directly from Launchpad. It should at least be an dialogue box.

    • The reason for this I believe is that only “simple” apps can be deleted like that. Most of the apps that I installed with a *.mpkg file do not have an x, because their files are distributed in multiple areas. Apps where all I needed to do was “drag and drop” into the Applications folder do have an x because deleting them is tantamount to deleting any other folder on the drive.

      • Ah, thanks for noting your observation. Makes sense.

  • Command-click/drag a background window to move or interact with it without losing focus of the current app!

    • Wow i never knew that. Thanks, that’s really useful!

    • You have changed my life with this one comment.

  • title is misleading :S

    • Welcome to the Internet

  • Awesome!

  • How did you change the display font in Lion and what font did you use?

  • Sweet list of tips. I knew some of them already, but a few of them will come in handy. Its nice to see a list of them all in one place.

  • Muy útil, gracias.

  • invert screen colours: cmd + alt + ctrl + 8

    • That is f’d up. Thank you.

  • When using Quick Look on an item in Spotlight (hover the cursor over the item), press Option and Command for a moment to see where the item is located (it appears at the bottom of the Quick Look window)

    • This is the best OSX Spotlight tip ever! I always Command+click the item in the list to pop a new Finder window

      • Also, just Command on the selected Spotlight item shows what criteria Spotlight matched for your query. This is really handy when seemingly strange results appear in your list.

    • Thanks for both tips! These are very handy! I love to use Spotlight but never thought it could locate the item location.

      And also the search criteria. Fantastic!

  • Change the order of the spaces just by dragging them in Mission Control.

    It’s not really a hidden feature but strangely it was not possible when Lion was released. I believe they fixed it with an update.

  • Change the order of the spaces just by dragging them in Mission Control. Does not work with my first (outer left) space.

    It’s not really a hidden feature but strangely it was not possible when Lion was released. I believe they fixed it with an update.

  • #16 is system-wide actually.
    The only one I didn’t know about is application category sorting :-)

  • on number 42 you can also use command-shift-tab to go backwards

  • Heh… when I sort applications by category, I get 333 of 432 items in the “Other” category.

  • For those getting old, buying larger monitors, but can’t see the mouse pointer anymore. System Preferences:Universal Access:Mouse & Trackpad.

    Unlike in Snow Leopard, zooming the mouse cursor/pointer no longer creates a very pixelated pointer. All the pointers—the arrows, the cursor, the Mickey Mouse glove, the “plus signs” when copying/dragging files—are smoothly rendered.

    • You just helped me recover a feature I’d been crying about since I upgraded to Lion!!

      Looking at the “Trackpad Options” I noticed an option for “Dragging” and next to it, a drop-down menu for “with Drag-Lock”. YESSSS!!!

      I have an older 17″ MBP and when Lion came on the scene I noticed I couldn’t select text or move windows without having to click the bottom trackpad button. I HATE using the trackpad button. But now that I found the Drag-Lock feature again I’m in hog heaven.

      “May you live to be a thousand years old, sir.” – quote from luggage salesman from Joe Versus the Volcano

  • @42 it works to go backwards if you already have command tabbed, but if not, it works really well to “tab” between windows of the same application.

  • ⌘` doesn’t move backwards in the application switcher, ⌘+Shift+Tab does. ⌘` Moves between open windows within one application. You should also mention that to quit an application from the switcher, you just need to hit Q while holding ⌘.


  • Burno

  • Tips 5–7, 13, 16–17, 29, 32–33, 35–37, 39, 40–43 are nothing new.

    Many of these tips aren’t even mildly secret, they’re obvious but to the newest of Mac users.

    Please don’t exaggerate so f*cking much. I’m sick of people constantly exaggerating. Modesty is a precious rarity these days.

    • Modesty is a precious rarity? Pot, meet kettle.

  • In system preferences, trackpad, turn on “Three Finger Drag”. It is fantastic for anything you would normally click and drag (resizing windows, moving files or windows, highlighting text, panning maps).

    I turned it on not sure if I’d like it but now I love it and I keep finding new ways to use it. Try it.

    • This is amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever need to press the trackpad again (the sound it makes on new MBPs is so much louder than what I’m used to with the button ones).

      I dismissed this option for some reason when I got the new computer but you’re absolutely right.


      P.S. If you’re a designer this option will change your life.

      • Worth noting though that you’ll lose other three-finger functionalities (like mission control and swiping between desktops) so will depend on your usage.

        I’m used to using hot-corners for exposé anyway so I’m fine with that.

  • #42. Command+` is not for choosing other apps you launched in reversed order, but for choosing other windows (if any) within the current app. I’m pretty sure but unfortunately I don’t have a mac with me right now. Can somebody check and confirm this for other readers to come?

    • It’s a context sensitive shortcut. It does what you say for windows, it also does what I say in the App Switcher.

  • 37. Enable Native iTunes ‘Now Playing’ Notifications

    Step One
    Launch Terminal from your Applications:Utilities folder.

    Step Two
    Input the following commands:

    defaults write com.apple.dock itunes-notifications -bool TRUE

    defaults write com.apple.dock notification-always-show-image -bool TRUE

    killall Dock

    Step Three
    After your Dock has been restarted you will notice now playing notifications appear above the iTunes icon.

    To remove notifications, input the following commands into the Terminal window:

    defaults write com.apple.dock itunes-notifications -bool FALSE
    defaults write com.apple.dock notification-always-show-image -bool FALSE
    killall Dock

    Im sure you will all love this as much as i do..

    • Is there any way to get the album art to replace the iTunes icon?

      This is a really cool trick, thanks!

  • My favorite keyboard shortcut for OS X that I’ve recently learned: shift+alt+8 inserts the degree (°) symbol. Very handy. Now if only long-pressing the ‘o’ key would let you insert it like you can in iOS…

    • Alt-0 (zero) does the same thing, inserting the º symbol

      And in iOS, it is actually long pressing the zero that gets you the º symbol. But unfortunately that doesn’t work in Lion.

  • Forwarded Messages and their Vertical Line or Lines:

    To eliminate unsightly forward lines—

    In the forwarded message, highlight the entire message and go to “Format” in the top gray bar (menu bar), and click “Indentation.” In side bar, click “Decrease.” It is done.

  • I must add:

    In some cases, “Decrease” has to be hit more than once for total elimination.

  • 24. Turn off “Natural” Scrolling

    If you are behind a iMac with a USB mouse you can’t turn off “Natural” Scrolling. That part of the settings isn’t available! You need bluetooth mouse or trackpad.

  • Yes I was wondering. when I am uploading a file to email or to a website aka pic, or pdf file. When i am the option of choosing my file is there a way that i can preview the entire file not just a small snapshot that i see in the window. On a PC I could right click and open the file to see it. I have not been able to find a way to duplicate that here. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • You could try highlight the icon for the file and pressing SPACE.

      SPACE brings up a preview of anything that’s highlighted, whether it’s an image, or a text file, or an MP3. Very handy!

  • Does anyone actually use Launchpad?

  • What I want is an easy way to force all of my finder windows to sort alphabetically (folders first) and by kind. So it would look like this:

    Folder A
    Folder B
    Folder C

    I loathe the ‘sort by kind’ feature that breaks them into different panes. I want all my files visible.

    • Have you checked out TotalFinder?

      • try ‘clean up by…’

    • One step closer of this: control + command + 2
      For group by kind

      And: control + command + 0
      For reverse it.

    • I want this, too. I get around it by preceding all of my folder names with a space, but in the cases of application-installed folders, it doesn’t work. Within my documents, though, it gets me what I need.

  • Hold down Command and click the title of the window (Safari, Finder etc.) to be able to see the page history (Safari), file path (Finder).


  • For #36, you can turn off the popping sound altogether in System Preferences > Sound > Sound Effects by unchecking “Play feedback when volume is changed.” That way you don’t have to hold Shift every time to change the volume without making the noise. Once you turn off the noise, you can hold Shift to hear the sound (it switches functions).

  • Fantastic article on the new lion features, Apple are really stating to refine specific apps such as preview. About time!

  • In #21 (Different Launchpad Backdrops):
    The shortcut is control + option + command + B.

    In #40 (Auto Complete F5):
    Just the esc will do the auto completion. No need for the option key.

    Tested on 10.7.3.
    Anyway, I learned a lot from these tips. Thank you!!

    • yayyy i couldnt figure out how command b did it good work

    • Thank you for that!

  • always a comfortable decision to let someone else hold on to your business data. thanks.

  • There aren’t a lot of arguments that go against using a cloud based app, except for concerns regarding security and cost.

  • El fondo de mi Illstrador que por lo general es transparente de un momento a otro se hizo gris como se ve la aplicación en pc y no puedo revertirlo si alguien le ha pasado o sabe como resolverlo le estaría muy agradecido.
    Muchas Gracias

  • I have another tip:

    If you have a minimized app, and then try to COMMAND & TAB to that app, it switches to the app, but the app itself remains minimized.

    If you want to switch to a minimized app and have it come up immediately…

    COMMAND & TAB to it, and before letting go, hold down the OPTION key.
    Let go of COMMAND & TAB while still holding down OPTION, and it will switch to the app and bring up the app window!

    Another tip, this one may be more obvious:

    When you COMMAND & TAB through the apps, before letting go of COMMAND & TAB, press the UP key. This reveals all the windows for that app, including any that are currently minimized (any minimized windows are shown at the bottom half of the screen). Click on the window you want, and it will bring it to the front.

    Great tips! Thank you!

  • A really useful article. Thank you.

  • In case you are in the search results business stay search engine neutral, or create multiple sites for several engines like google.

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  • #36 i dont know about any body elce but [It use to be the cast that ⌥⇧Volume Keys would allow for incremental volume changes on a smaller scale than your typical click. Unfortunately, Apple axed this feature in Lion.] i can do this i didn’t even know you could until i tried it and you can do it with the screen and backlight brightness as well but i cant really notice a difference anyways its a shame as i would like to incramentaly make the screen darker then apple set it to go

  • Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

  • I wish they didn’t remove the little toggle on the preview in the finder when viewing a file. In snow leopard, if you didn’t want a preview, you could toggle the preview off, but in lion, you can remove the “Whole” preview column, but for people who use mac’s in a professional environment, it’s not good enough, as you still might need the image info, just not the preview thumbnail.

    • Darren, I couldn’t agree more. I’m amazed there isn’t more of an uproar over this. Trying to navigate and browse through giant photos on a network drive use to be a fast and easy. Now I’m stalled every time I land on a photo. I’m hoping someone can find a hack to disable this.

      We have Quicklook, why do we have to always have a thumbnail too?

  • does anyone know how to re-add the spaces icon in menu bar on lion

  • I’ll never qualify as an advanced user.
    Would like to ask again a question I see various places.
    How, can one have ‘date photo taken’ or, ‘date digitized’ (if that is practically the same) as a column in folder view? I think the answer is, ‘one cannot’ based on my searching but possibly there is a trick there.
    If find the creation date and modified date to be useless in my folders containing photos, unless that data is next to date picture taken. I use EXIF Viewer and Picassa to determine date if needed, but would prefer it in folder view. Thanks.

  • Some of these that are tagged new in Lion, for what it’s worth, have been around for ages, and so will also work for those still on older OS versions. Namely:

    Close all finder windows has been around since the classic days.

    Option-drag crosshair in text edit has been around AT LEAST since Leopard, for all I know since the start of OS X. Never tried command-click selections, but I bet that worked before too.

    And this was tagged as old, but there’s more to Emacs navigation than just kill and yank — control-d lets those of us on laptops have a forward delete, control-a goes to the top of a line, etc. There a lot of emacs navigation shortcuts which I am too lazy to look up at the moment, but they’re a quick google search away.

    Incidentally, the command and option text functions described above also work for navigation — command combined with an arrow moves in the specified direction one line at a time, option-arrow is one word at a time, and both can be combined with shift to do text selections.

  • Now if somebody can show me a way to disable Versions / Autosave then I’ll actually upgrade to Lion. I don’t care if it requires digging deep into the UNIX shell and hacking OS X all to hell – I’m willing to do it. But I’m not willing to use an OS that lacks a simple Save As.

  • I know cmd+clicking an app will let you find it in Finder, but my issue is you could previously right click in preview on a document and hit ‘Show in Finder’ and have it pop up.

    I noticed now with Lion that the option isn’t available. Is there any way to bring it back or a way to do that?
    It was really an essential part of my use of preview in the first place and for the life of me I can’t seem to figure out how to do it without manually searching for the file, which is terribly inconvenient when you want several files.

    • In Mountain Lion you can right-click (or Cmd-Click) on the filename in the very top to get a list of the parent folders for the file path. Clicking now on the next parent folder opens up the folder where the file is located with the file selected.

  • I want to turn off using the “Command” + delete together. Is this possible?

  • Lovely shortcuts and all, with a few new ones.

    I’m really bummed out about the scrolling though.
    I’ve always used Google Chrome, with the cmd+t to open a new tab, control(+shift)+tab to toggle tabs and the three finger swipe to go page back and forth. Luckily Lion still has all that, only the thing that I really hate is the new three finger swipe to go to the previous or next page. It’s a lot slower, more like turning an actual page. Snow leopard also let you open the previous or next page in a new tab if you held down the cmd button while swiping with three fingers, that option has just vanished in Lion.
    Is there anyone who would know if this ‘slow swiping’ is reversible, or if there’s an option for it?
    I couldn’t find it…

  • How do you darken the screen completely through keyboard hotkeys? I was able to do it on my 15″ MBP on Lion but not my 27″ iMac….very annoying since I listen to music while trying to sleep yet it won’t let me dim the screen competely….someone else also mentioned this limitation and downgrade..VERY annoying and I don’t want to set the monitor to go to sleep in 5 minutes…

    • Hey Elph, there’s a little free app called Brightness Control that will let you turn the brightness all the way down!

  • Correction. Option+Shift+Volume Up/Down is working in Lion. I an on 10.7.4.

  • I would love to print this info to a PDF and keep in my PDF Library. But the first part of the document gets overlaid with link nonsense. Any idea how to keep that from happening?


  • If you hold down the Shift and Option button at the same time and increase/decrease your volume, it will increase/decrease by 1/4 units instead of 1 units at a time.

  • GREAT list — and #1 was sorely missed by me. However, I got the Status Bar back but no icon size slider. Any suggestions? (please email me – thanks!)

    • yes you get the icon slider when you go to the view menu and choose the left most selection the one with the 4 little boxes

  • Change the desktop in Launchpad?? no matter what i try it doesnt work….
    Command B …..hummmm weird

    • Thanks to Ryan Lei above:

      In #21 (Different Launchpad Backdrops):
      The shortcut is control + option + command + B.

  • I cant get the Kill and Yank feature to work i presume ^ = control so control K control Y doesnt seem to do anything what am i missing

  • Hi

    I’ve been trying number 21 (changing the launchpad background) but it doesn’t seem to work. Has anyone else had similar problems/ has any fixes or alternatives for this?


    • Unfortunately, I don’t believe that works in Mountain Lion, though it did work in Lion…

      • I am running Lion 10.7.4 ….. maybe it was for an earlier version?

      • I looked it up and the new key combination for 10.7.3+ is Control-Option-Command-B

  • thankyou thankyou thankyou!! for the info on how to get the slider bar back in finder!! it is such a pleasure to use it at work (as a photographer) and now i can do it on my macbook at home! no more ‘preview’ windows to work out which shot out of thousands i want to work on next!!! YAY

  • They brought back 36 B in mountain lion. (option+shift+volume up or down) for smaller increments.

  • I just downloaded lion and now I am unable to convert an avi file to my iTunes account. When I go to export to iTunes, it gives me an error.
    Any help!

  • I HATE the new “finder!” I don’t care about “seeing” a document I am looking for – I need to know WHERE IT IS! The old system provided a location…..any suggestions? I don’t want to have to open it, do a “save as” every time….AND if you are looking for a folder, that “fix” doesn’t work. Any help appreciated!

    • “Show Path Bar” in the View menu of Finder?

  • Hey all –

    I used to be able to navigate a list of items using three finger swipe up/down on my Trackpad, but now it doesn’t seem to work on Lion. Any clue? I used to use it a lot on the Mail app in particular when navigating through my inbox messages.


  • I want to put the Bluetooth Mouse icon either in the dock or the menubar. Why? because when my mouse battery burns out, or I swap in the rechargeable, it never reconnects on its own and I have to use another mouse to set it back up. At least with something in the dock or menubar, it would cut down on the steps. Or is there a better way to get the dang thing to reconnect?

    • Press Ctrl-F8 (depending on your keyboard settings you need to press Ctrl-Fn-F8 to NOT start iTunes). That activates the input focus to the system menu bar. Now just go to the Bluetooth icon with the cursor right, pull it open with cursor down and further cursor down to enter the pop-up menu until you find your “Connect xxx” menu point.

  • I am searching for a shortcut to move a window to next/previous desktop (like shift+ctrl+alt+arrow on ubuntu). Anyone an idea?

  • 1. when you boot from the recovery hd in Lion 10.7.4 and below, and click Mac OS X Utilities>About Mac OS X Utilities, it shows a snow leopard picture, not lion.
    2. In 10.8.2, go to your desktop and select “Finder” in the menu bar and click “About Finder.” The Version will say 10.8.1 instead of 10.8.2.

  • When you Save a document, I seem to recall, after the save window pops up, to being able to click a folder on the desktop (must have held down keys (??)) … and the location would switch to that in the save (save-as) window ….

    Anyone know that trick ? cant seem to recall. tx

  • I’m old-school and do not like the slider bar. How do I get the scroll arrows in the corners back instead of the slider bar?

  • I found a way to avoid double mouse movement for tip 8.


  • I am looking for a “recent places” feature in Finder – running OS X v.10.7. Every time I need to access a file or save one within my Documents Folder structure, I have to traverse multiple folders – this is a real pain! Any smart tricks around that one?

  • Hoping someone knows the answer to a problem that’s been bugging me for a while… I frequently use to “Recently Viewed Items” part of the App Expose screen (where all windows open in, for e.g., Preview show in large at the top and all recently viewed documents show in thumbnails along the bottom). Is it possible to have this feature in Word 2011? Activating Expose only shows me windows open, but it would be so much more useful to be able to skip back to documents I’ve used recently but have closed. The recent documents menu (which I have in my dock) works ok, but doesn’t isolate just the Word files I’ve recently opened.