As you may know from some of our previous blogs we just love an Apple Mac product here at DTL. Macbooks are just lovely machines and we really enjoy working with them. If you’ve tried one, then you know that there are some differences from a PC and while some are minor some can be pretty major. We’ve put together our favourite hints and tips for working smarter on a Mac. Once you start using these hints and tips you’ll thank us. Not only will it help you work more efficiently, but you’ll also look like a total pro!

Hint 1: Create a PDF

You can do this really easily using the print function without having to install any new software. Go to print as normal and on the bottom left is a tab saying PDF. Click the drop-down menu and select Save as PDF. You can then save your new PDF.

Handy hints for Mac users Create PDF DTL

Hint 2: Find Menu Bar items quickly

Do you sometimes want to do something in an application, and you know you’ve done it before, but you can’t remember how you accessed it. Instead of trawling through menu after menu after menu trying to find it again, simply type the topic into the search box under help and all the resulting options will be highlighted for you. Then just choose which option you want.

Hint No. 3: Forward Delete

This is a handy one to know. Press fn + delete to delete the word in front of the curser rather than the word behind it.

Hint 4: Hashtag

Have you ever gone on to Twitter or Facebook, composed the perfect tweet or post and then looked around for the hashtag to finish it off only to be completely lost because you can’t find it? Well, if you press alt + the hashtag will appear. Easy right?

Hint 5: Keychain

This is another cool application that stores all of your passwords. If you forget one you can just look it up by opening this programme. Don’t worry though, to view the password you will need to put in your Keychain password which you would have set up when you set up your Mac, just don’t forget that one!

Hint 6: Parental Controls

If you have young, or not so young, children they will be desperate to use your really cool Mac. The only problem is that they will have access to all of your documents and data, and more importantly, unrestricted access to the internet and we all know that in this day and age that is just unacceptable. Well, on a Mac there is a solution. You can set up a profile for them and restrict the access they have to certain programmes. HERE is a tutorial to how to do this.

Handy hints for a Mac user Parental Controls DTL

Hint 7: PC Programs

Got a favourite programme from your PC days that simply will not work on a Mac, unfortunately, this does happen but fear not. With some cool software, you can have that programme up and running. HERE is a list of the different software you can use to run PC programs and while there may be a cost it is worth thinking about investing in one.

Hint 8: Preview

This is a pretty great app that comes included when you buy a Mac and can get overlooked because you will mostly use it to view PDF’s and images. There are many more cool things you can do with this handy little application though. Here are our favourites.

  • Electronic Signatures: Isn’t it annoying when you receive an email with a PDF that needs signing. If you’re lucky you have a printer and a scanner but what do you do if you only have a Mac? Well, again it is quite easy to do. You can create an electronic signature by clicking on Tools > Annotate > Signature > Manage Signatures. You can then either write your signature on a white piece of paper and use the camera to capture it or you can use the mouse or trackpad to create it electronically, go slow when doing it this way to make sure your whole signature is captured properly. This can then be added to this, and any future documents.

Handy hints for a Mac user Signature DTL

  • Removing backgrounds: Using the Instant Alpha tool (sometimes called the magic wand) you can easily highlight the background of an image and then press delete. HERE is a really cool instruction on how you can easily do this.

Hint 9: Print Screen

One of our favourite tips for a Mac is the ease with which you can print the screen. We’ve even written a basic tutorial on it before HERE but we’ve learned so much more since then. There are a few options to choose from and they’re all easy to do once you know how.

  • Press Cmd Shift to print the full screen. This image will be saved to your desktop.
  • Press Cmd Shift and select an area to print. This image will be saved to your desktop.
  • Press Cmd Shift then spacebar. This will print any open window, without any surrounding information such as the Menu Bar. Hover over the window you want to print. This should turn blue. Then click and an image of that window will be saved to your desktop.
  • Press Cmd Control Shift, and + (for whole screen), or + (for selected section), or + 4 spacebar (for selected window). This will save the image to your clipboard and then you can easily paste it into a document when needed.

Hint 10: Spotlight Search

In the top right of the screen is a magnifying glass icon. Clicking on this opens Spotlight Search. This is a really cool tool that you can use this to find and open applications, documents and much more. (calculations, definitions, currency conversions, like a mini google without opening a browser). You can also customise your searches in your system preferences to include (or exclude) certain search criteria. HERE is a cool guide to how to customise your Spotlight Search tool.

Handy hints for a Mac user Split Screen DTL

Hint 11: Split Screen

Working with two programmes at once but don’t want to Cmd + tab between them all the time? Well, left-click on the green, maximise icon at the top left of the wind and drag to one side or the other. The other open programmes will then display on the other side and simply click on the one you want to work with and it will appear in the other side of the screen. To get out of this view press ESC and the screen will return to normal.

Handy hints for a Mac user Split Screen DTL

Hint 12: Tab between documents within the same programme

If you’ve worked with a PC then you know already how to switch between programmes with Cmd tab. However, on a Mac, if you have multiple documents open within the same programme, such as Word or Excel, then this won’t help you. Press Cmd to switch between these open documents easily.

Hint 13: Tab between multiple sheets in Excel

If you’re used to working with your keyboard they if you have to use a mouse or a trackpad for actions it can be frustrating, particularly when you have an excel document with lots of sheets in it. Press alt + left or right arrow to quickly tab through these sheets quickly.

Hint 14: Trackpad

There are so many cool features about the Trackpad and HERE is a good tutorial provided by Apple on how to do all of the functions. The one that we really like though is double-tap with two fingers to instantly zoom in on the screen. In Word/Excel/etc. you can zoom to the maximum view, in Safari another double-tap will return the screen to normal.

Any final thoughts?

So, there you have it. Our current list of favourite hints and tips on a Mac. Have we listed your favourite tip here or do you have one to share? Please comment below. Or why not share with your friends by clicking the icons.



We have discovered a handy new print screen option. Press Cmd Shift to bring up the print screen options, including the ability to create a video of what is happening on your screen. This can include sound and a countdown if required. This video will be saved to your desktop as a .mov file. This can be quite large but can be converted to an .mp4 video online. How cool is that!?


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