The 4 Mac Techniques You Need to Master

There are four basic techniques that every pro Mac user knows and practices every day to get the most from their Mac. Learn how to use these four techniques to use your Mac more productively and efficiently.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: The 4 Mac Techniques You Need to Master.

Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let's look at the four techniques you need to master to be more productive on your Mac.

There are certain basic actions that every Mac user knows. For instance you know to click to select something, double-click to open something up, and you click and drag to move things around. But there are some slightly more advanced actions that you need to be able to master to really be productive on your Mac. Most of the questions I get about how to do something or where something is located really come down to just understanding these actions and how to use them.

The first one I want to talk about is drag and drop. A lot of people know this is there but they don't realize how much you can use it in all sorts of situations. So, for instance, if I wanted to drag this file into a folder of course you would drag and drop it into the folder. Most people know to do that. But there are so many other ways you can use drag and drop. So let's look at some examples.

Say you wanted to export a photo from the Photos app into a file. You select one and look for export functions and things like that. It's much simpler. You just drag and drop. So here I've got the Finder window. Here I've got the Photos app. I drag the photo here and it exports it and puts it as a file there. That's all you need to do. You can even do it for a group of photos. So I can select two photos here. Drag and drop and it exports them into the Finder. You can see them both there. So that's real easy.

You can also use them to bring photos into things. So for instance let's look at Pages. I've got a blank document here. I can drag this photo into the document and it appears. Pretty easy.

You can also open up things using the Dock and dragging and dropping there. For instance this text file here, normally if I would double-click it it would open up in TextEdit. But say I wanted to open it up in Pages instead. I can drag to the Dock, go over to Pages, drop it on Pages and now it opens up the Text document in Pages rather than in TextEdit.

You can do things like, say, what happens if I would drag and drop this PDF to Mail. What's going to happen then. Well what will happen then is that it actually creates a composition window, puts the document there, and this would happen with an image as well, and puts the cursor right there on the To line so I can start addressing the PDF to go to whoever I want.

You could also, if you were composing something here and you wanted to drag and drop something into that, like I wanted to do an attachment, instead of using the attachment button or some menu item you can drag and drop into a mail composition window like that. You can put a PDF in there, a text file, any file you want into it.

You can do even things like System Preferences. Under System Preferences you've got Desktop and Screen Saver and you've got this little drop zone here. If wanted to drag and drop you can see you get that little plus button there. I can make this picture my desktop background simply by dragging and dropping in there. So a lot of people get confused. How do I do it? Is there a button for me to be able to do this? No, you just drag and drop onto the obvious thing to perform the action with the file that you wanted.

You know you could even, instead of going to the Finder or from the Finder, you can go directly sometimes from app to app. So here on a webpage, for instance, if wanted to go and take an image and put it in a Pages document I open the Pages document, I open Safari and say take this image here, I drag right from Safari right into Pages. So I didn't have to actually go and use the Finder as an intermediary. You can go between apps.

Now the next thing you need to master is using Menus. So Menus are always at the very top of the screen and there are usually tons of options wherever you are. So here I am in the Finder, if I wanted to go into an app like Pages there are tons of options here and there are Menus with submenus and those submenus have submenus and things like that. So there are plenty of functions in here and most of the time when somebody asks me how to do something there is actually a menu item for it. They just haven't taken the time to look through it.

So I encourage you not only to search through it and try to make sense of these here. If you are trying to format text obviously all of the options are under Format. But other things, like sometimes with the Window menu and the View menu can seem like they have similar types of functions. So it is just important to be patient and look through these menu items to find what you want. It's usually there.

Now there is a trick though that you can use to find something quickly. It's this Help menu here. The Help menu here has got Search. You would think that Search would search documentation and it does. But it also searches for the menu items. So, for instance, let's say I wanted to type some text here and I wanted to make this 77 squared. So I wanted to do superscript here. I know there's a menu item here for superscript. But where is it? Well, I don't actually have to search for it beyond going to Help and start typing superscript. As soon as I start typing it you can see it comes up with menu items and Baseline Superscript and it will, if I roll over it, show me where it is. So I can see it's there under Format, under Baseline, and there's Superscript. I can actually select it from here or I could leave this Help menu and go and find it on my own.

The third technique is the Context menu. So what is the Context menu? Well the universal way to get to the Context menu is select something and then Control click on it. Use the Control key, not the Command key but the Control key on your keyboard and click on it. It brings up this which is called the Context menu. The reason it is called that is because it contains commands that pertain to what you have selected.

So, for instance, let me hide Pages here and go into the Finder and I can select a document. I can Control click on it and I can see things that pertain to this as a document. You can Open it, you can Open With, you can Compress it, I can Rename it. Things that make sense for a file. This works in all sorts of different situations. I can go to Photos and Control click on a photo and I can see things that pertain to this photo. So many functions are easy to get to if you just Control click on the item but people forget that you can Control click on almost anything.

Now, I say Control click. If you got to System Preferences and you go to either Trackpad or Mouse, I have a Trackpad hooked up to this Mac so I'll go to Trackpad, what you'll find is called Secondary click. Secondary click on the Trackpad I can change it and I can set it to Tap with two fingers, bottom right corner, bottom left corner. If this were the Mouse and not a Trackpad I was setting I can set Secondary click to be the right click if there is a right Mouse button or the right side of the single button that is on an Apple Mouse that it. So I can set the Secondary click up to be anything I want. The one universal place you can find it is by holding the Control key down and clicking. No matter how you have things set that's always going to bring up the Context menu.

So it is important to master the Context menu and always think of it as a go to when you need to do something and you don't know how to do it right away. Try Control clicking on the item you trying to do something with and see what comes up. Sometimes not only is it the easiest way to get to something but sometimes it is the only way to perform certain functions.

Now the fourth technique is Copy and Paste. You may think that you have this one down already. Right, because you're in a document here. You select some text. You Command C to copy. You go somewhere else and you Command V to paste and you've done it. But Copy and Paste can be used for so much more than text.

For instance, in the Finder here you can select File and you can copy that file. Now go somewhere else and you can Paste it. You've just made a copy of that file there. So you can use copy and paste for files. You can use Copy and Paste for all sorts of other things.

For instance, I can go into this Numbers document here and say this is a great chart. I want to put this in my Pages document that I'm composing. I can select it, I can copy it, and you know what. I can go over to Pages, a completely different app, and I can Paste. And it pastes that entire chart. Not only does it paste it. It's not just a graphic. I can actually edit the chart data here and you can see it's picked up the data so it actually really has pasted this as an object, not just a graphic. So you can use Copy and Paste for tons of different things in tons of different places.

When you need to get something from one place to another place on your Mac you may want to try Copy and Paste because very commonly that is the simplest way to do it too.

So there is four techniques that you need to master to be productive on your Mac. You need to learn how to drag objects and drop them places. You need to learn how to look through the Menus and use the Help Search to find Menu commands. You need to learn how to Control click on the item to bring up Context menus. You need to learn how to Copy and Paste items. Once you've mastered those four techniques you'll be able to do so much more on your Mac and so much more efficiently.

Comments: 14 Responses to “The 4 Mac Techniques You Need to Master”

    3 years ago

    This is a good intro to OSX for switchers, even though much of this works the same in Windows.

    Jean H
    3 years ago

    Excellent. I am aware of the four techniques you mention but not all the applications of each technique. Thanks!!✩✩

    3 years ago

    What an excellent tutorial. Learnt so much and it is so easy….


    3 years ago

    lost focus when the puppy & a-bomb-in-Limon pics appeared :)

    3 years ago

    Thanks, simple but important things especially when changing from PC to Mac. Always learn something new.

    Henry Uys
    3 years ago

    Thank you, Gary. Excellent tutorial and covering many applications I was totally unaware of.

    3 years ago

    Excellent tutorial but is there a way to do super and subscripts in MAIL?

    3 years ago

    Mike: You can do them in Pages or TextEdit, and then copy and paste into your Mail composition window. Once you have done it once in a message, you can always copy and paste something from one part of the message to another and change the text.

    Rob Mayer
    3 years ago

    Very good summation. I’d like to add my favorite, which is a subset of your copy-and-paste category: cut-and-paste. This is one of the few things I miss from Windows, where you could just ctl-X for Cut, then paste the object somewhere, removing it from its original location. On the Mac, you can do this, but you have to do it by starting with Copy (Cmd-C), but ending with Option-Cmd-V. That will do the same thing as Ctl-X, then Ctl-V in Windows.

    Ed Thorsland
    3 years ago

    Rob, You can use command X to cut.

    Gary, One of my favorites you didn’t mention is option click and drag which allows you to copy the item into wherever you drag it without erasing it from the original location.

    Rob Mayer
    3 years ago

    Ed, I wish that was universal but unfortunately Cmd-X only works within applications (and I’m not even sure if that’s in all apps). It does not work on the file level – you can’t use it to move files as you can in Windows.

    Linda Lyn
    3 years ago

    Thank you Gary
    So very useful
    So many things I could learn from you.
    For make do things easier
    Thank you again

    3 years ago

    Hi Gary,
    In iCloud for Pages and Keynote, is there a way to drag files into folders from the > File > Open menu? I can open Keynote on my iPad, hold down a presentation, then drag it into a folder. I know I can use the ‘save to’ function in OS X, but my workflow would really benefit from being able to drag and drop. Thanks!

    3 years ago

    Jörg: Yes. Try it. Run Pages on Your Mac. Then Command+O for File, Open. Then go to iCloud on the left sidebar. Now you can drag and drop those files out of that Window into the Finder or into the left sidebar. You can also drag items from the Finder into the left sidebar of the Open window.
    But you may like the title bar even more. Click on the Title bar at the top of a Pages document and you can use the Where field to move the current open document anywhere, without even closing the document.

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