9/28/219:00 am 10 Weird macOS Features That Are Somewhat Useful There are some strange and hidden features in macOS. Here are 10 that are also somewhat useful. Learn how to make uyour Mac speak the time, summarize articles, speak in odd voices, show hidden Finder sorting columns and more. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Here are some strange things in macOS that are actually pretty useful. MacMost is brought to you thanks to a great group of more than 1000 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you can read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. So there are some features of macOS that are really strange but they actually do have some uses. Let's start off looking at Finder Windows. If you switch a Finder window to Icon View, this only works in Icon View, you could actually set a background color or image. Go to View and Show View Options or Command J. At the bottom you'll see Background and you can set it to a color and then choose any solid color you want or you could set it to a picture and then drag and drop an image in and it will set it as a background picture. I could see the color part being actually useful in maybe giving you a hint as to which folder you're looking at. But it only works in Icon View. It could be useful if it actually showed that color somehow in List and Column View as well. Now the top right hand corner of your Mac screen you'll see the time. But you could also have your Mac speak the time every fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes. So go into System Preferences and from there go to Dock and Menu Bar. Then scroll down until you see Clock. Then there's Announce the time. Select that and you can select On the Hour, On the Half Hour, or On the Quarter Hour and select which voice. Then you could get a spoken time. This could actually be really useful to help you keep track of time during the workday. Maybe to encourage you to take breaks every once in awhile. Now if you select Text and Copy it, of course, you've placed it in the Clipboard. But what if you don't remember what's in the Clipboard. Well one way to find out is actually go to the Finder which is an odd place to have this. You'd think you would be able to see that here in TextEdit or in Pages or whatever you're using to edit text. But switching to the Finder, where you manage your Files and Folders, is where you can actually view it by going to the Edit Menu and then there's Show Clipboard. It brings up this little resizable window showing you exactly what's in the Clipboard. It works well with text. It works with some other types of media as well but not all kinds or media. Now macOS is built on top of a version of the Unix operating system. There's a lot of stuff hidden in the system that's just left there when macOS was built. If you go to Folder and you select /usr/share/calendar you're going to end up in a folder that shows all of these calendars. They are actually just text files with lists of holidays. So, for instance, I could select this one. If I Control click it and choose Open With I can open it with TextEdit and you can see an easily readable list of US holidays. Now it could be useful to look at other holidays from other countries. But there's also a couple of weird things in there like for instance this gives you a list of events that happened in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Now macOS has a built in summarize feature where you can select text say in an article like this just Control click on it and under Services you should see something called Summarize. Bring that up and it shows that text in this little window. Then you can drag this to have it shorten the text, including what it thinks are the most important parts. Of course it's just using an algorithm to figure that out so it may or may not be accurate. But if you're faced with reading a ten page document in less than a minute before a meeting it could be worth giving a try instead of just giving up. If you don't see that feature go into System Preferences, then Keyboard, and then Shortcuts. Look under Services and find under Text the Summarize option there and make sure it's checked. Now the Music App has a weird feature called the Visualizer. It's been around since the early days of iTunes. Basically if you're playing some music you can go to Window and then Visualizer. You could choose actually here between two different types. The original and an updated version that came out years later. The Visualizer looks like this. You can make it full screen if you want by clicking there. You can also use Shift and Question Mark to bring up Help and then you can see there's some keyboard commands to change what you see. This could be useful if your Mac is playing music but you're not using it for anything else. Like if you have your iMac in the corner or a room and you're having friends over and you're listening to music. But you could also screen record this and then take the recording and use it as an animated background in iMovie. Now you can select some text in almost any app, go to Edit, Speech, start speaking and it will speak the text. (An American inventor and businessman). You could also change the voice that's used. You go to System Preferences, then to Accessibility, Spoken Content. You can change the voice that's used. An odd thing in Big Sur is you get Siri voices listed here but they don't work in Speak Text. So it's going to default to one of these. But they're also some really odd ones. You can get the odd ones by going to Customize and then if you scroll down you'll see Novelty Voices. So I've selected three here and downloaded them and added them. These voices have been around since before macOS 10. So if I were to change say to this one and then have it speak text that's what I get. They're really strange and were probably just used for demonstration purposes in the early days of text to speech. But now you might actually find some use for them if you have trouble concentrating on what's being spoken and you want to kind of switch it up and have it read to you in a weird voice that you have to pay a little more attention to. So, of course, you know you can use the Preview app to open images and pdf's. But if you put Preview in the Dock or just have the icon somewhere available you can drag other file types to it as well. So, for instance, you could drag an application to Preview. So what happens when you do that. Let's drag the Calculator app into Preview. It will open it up and give you access to the icons imbedded in the app. With some apps it will give you even more than that. If you drag iMovie into it it's not only going to give you the icons but it will give you all sorts of other graphics that are part of the iMovie app. While we are here in the Applications folder there's an app called Photo Booth that's been around for awhile and was used to demonstrate the webcams when they first started appearing as part of Macs. Now you can still use it to actually capture images from your webcam. It only works with a built-in webcam like on MacBooks and iMacs. But you could take pictures. You can do a quick recording and you could use filters as well. It's fun to play with but it's also very useful if you need a quick picture of yourself or you want to record something really quick to send to somebody. Okay, so here's probably the weirdest one but maybe the most useful of them all. Let's say you want to sort a folder by the duration of the video or maybe the dimensions of a photo. You click here in the Column Headings when you're in List View. That's where you can sort and Control clicking will allow you to change which columns are present. But you could see there's no duration or dimensions here. However, if I were to go to the Movies folder and then Control click here I do have duration for videos and under Pictures I do have dimensions. How do I get those extra columns anywhere but the Movies and Pictures folder. Well, all you need to do is rename a folder Movies or Pictures to get them. So let's go into Example files here and let's say I want to get those special columns. I could go and change the name of the folder, temporarily, from Example files to Movies. Now when I go into List View, Control click, I get those extra items. So let's add Duration. You could see I've got Duration now. There are only two videos in this folder so I just see those two duration times. Now here's the cool thing. I could go back and change the name of this folder and it still remembers the Duration column. So it sticks with this folder until I remove it and close the window. So, I've got Duration. I could also go and change the name to Pictures. Then go to List View. Add Dimensions. Now I could see I've got a column for that. Let's go and change the folder name back to Example files. Now you could see I've got both Duration and Dimensions and I could sort by either one. Even if I change to another view and go back to List View it remembers. Even if I close the window and open it again I could go in and you could see it still remembers those. So I permanently added those columns in List View to the Example Files folder using this special trick. So as you can see with macOS it's not always what you see is what you get. There's some weird features built-in and sometimes they could be quite useful.Related Subjects: Finder (285 videos) Related Video Tutorials: No related posts. Comments: 8 Responses to “10 Weird macOS Features That Are Somewhat Useful” Lorenz Rychner 2 years ago Gary, speaking of weird behind-the-scenes, have you ever addressed the history of the "sosumi" system sound and how/why it has only just recently been renamed "sonumi"? Lots of fun stuff in the former, not so sure about the latter. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Lorenz: I think I've mentioned it a few times in various places. I think the new name is just "nu" as in "new." Myron Gochnauer 2 years ago "Speaking" text is more than *somewhat* useful! It's a great way to proofread anything you write. For most people it is much easier to hear writing errors than see/read them. John Konopka 2 years ago Another useful feature that has been around for a long time is Text Clippings. Select text in an app such as Pages, click and hold for a bit then drag that selection to the desktop. It creates a file with that text. Later you can drag that back anywhere you need text. This preserves the formatting better than the clipboard. Often,if you select text in one application and paste it in another the formatting will be lost or changed. Text Clippings will do a better job of preserving formatting. nick 2 years ago Gary, unless I'm mistaken, at one time, couldn't you access the Clipboard through Spotlight Search? And I think it used to show a history list of text on clipboard. I find it strange that Clipboard is hidden away in Finder and it doesn't even show a keyboard shortcut, although I'm sure one can be created. Copying and pasting text into messages, emails etc is probably one of the most common tasks I do on a Mac, and I would have thought that Clipboard would be a useful tool for a lot of users. nick 2 years ago Forgot to ask...would there be a way to place a Clipboard icon on the upper right taskbar? thx Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Nick: what do you mean? What are you looking for this icon to do? If you use a third party clipboard manager, they usually do add an icon to the menu bar. Gary Rosenzweig 2 years ago Nick: (answering you let previous comment): there was never a Spoltlight function to access the clipboard and there is no previous clipboard function in macOS. But I definitely recommend getting a clipboard manager. I’ve been using CloudClip, but there are many other good ones in the App Store. Comments Closed.