The Mac operating system we use today was introduced 21 years ago. Whether you’ve been using the Mac longer or just bought your first MacBook M1, macOS is a great operating system and there are tons of hidden features you can take advantage of to help you get things done.
Here are 10 macOS tips and features you may not know about or may have forgotten that can help you get more out of your Mac. Some of these are old, some just arrived last year, but all of them are incredibly useful to keep in mind. your arsenal.
The menu bar is a good way to quickly access settings and other frequently used features. To get the most out of it, you can rearrange the order of the icons in your preferred locations. To move an icon, hold down the Command button, and then click and drag the icon to where you want it.
Some menu bar items cannot be moved, such as the date and time, Siri, and Control Center. All the icons to the left of those immovable icons can be rearranged.
Customize (and localize) your cursor
If you’ve been using the Mac for as long as I have, that black and white pointer cursor is a familiar sight. In fact, you can give it a bit of personality with some customizations in the Accessibility settings.
In it To show Section from Accessibility, there are settings for Pointer, which modify the Mac cursor. You can make the cursor bigger, and you can change its outline and fill colors. Have a little fun and make your Mac a little more personal.
And here’s a bonus tip: Inside the Pointer tab, you’ll find a checkbox for “Shake mouse pointer to locate.” Turn it on and you can quickly move your mouse back and forth to briefly enlarge the cursor. This is great if you often can’t detect the cursor.
tile your windows
One of the main reasons users prefer to work on a Mac over an iPad or iPhone is that macOS is designed for multitasking and working on multiple apps at once. For example, I’m typing this in Apple Pages while switching over to Pixelmator Pro to view and edit screenshots.
I have a single screen on my Mac and use the Tile Window feature so I can see both apps clearly. Tile Window is available in every Mac app, and to turn it on in the app you’re using, go to Window in the menu bar and select Mosaic window on the left (either Right) of screen.
The app you are in will move to one side and the other side will display the other available app windows. Click on one of those apps and its window will fill that side of the screen. (If a running app has nothing open, it won’t show up as a selection. The app must have a file or window open.) To exit this view, press the Escape key on your keyboard.
Change subtitle style
My audition is not what it used to be, and I also watch more international shows than ever. So I’ve been watching TV with closed captions and I’ve been able to enjoy the show without worrying about misunderstanding what someone is saying. But the default subtitle style of the Apple TV app is too annoying for my liking.
The way to change the subtitle style is not in the TV app preferences, but in System Preferences > Accessibility. In the scroll window on the left, scroll to the Audience section and click Subtitle. Apple offers four subtitle styles and you can select one of them. Or you can click the “+” and create your own style.
Please note that the subtitle style set here affects only Apple applications such as TV. If you watch a YouTube video, for example, you are subject to the style that YouTube implements.
Create and customize Memojis
Memojis are considered an iPhone/iPad thing, and while they’re a bit more functional (and fun) on those devices, you can still create or make them on macOS. That is how.
Launch System Preferences (located in the Apple menu).
Your account should be at the top of the System Preferences window. If you hover over your profile picture, “edit” should appear. Click it.
In the window that appears, there is a list of different profile picture options on the left. Make sure Memoji is selected.
Your available Memoji appears on the right. If you already have a Memoji and want to make changes to it, select it and click the button Edit button. To create a new Memoji, click the “+” button.
You will be presented with a set of features that you can modify, from Skin to Clothing. Review each one and make your selections.
Click Done when finished.
After creating a Memoji, you can also set a Pose or a Style (which is basically a background color). If you want to set up Memoji and your Mac’s user profile picture, select it so it appears in the bottom left corner. Click Save.
If you’re using iCloud and your devices are on the same account, your Memoji will be transferred to your other devices.
Copy text on a photo
In macOS Monterey, Apple introduced Live Text, the ability to select and copy any text on an image. For example, if you took a photo of a sign, you can open that image in the Preview app, move the pointer over the words on a sign, and the pointer changes to the text selection tool. You can then select the text, copy it, and then paste it into a text document. You can learn more about how Live Text works in our overview article.
Turn on iCloud Private Relay
Apple created iCloud Private Relay to help preserve your privacy when you browse the web. When you use Safari, the data that is sent is encrypted and then travels through two interception relays, points on the Internet through which the data travels, to help hide your location, IP address, and browsing activity to prevent a profile about you being created. The second relay is done by a third-party service to prevent Apple from knowing the user’s information. It’s not exactly a VPN, but it’s a great privacy tool.
To turn on iCloud Private Relay, go to System Preferences and click your Apple ID. In the checklist on the right, find Private Broadcast (Beta) and check the box and click the Options button. There is also an IP address location setting that you can modify. Learn more about what iCloud Private Relay can do in our FAQ.
Internet Private Relay is still a beta feature, which means it can be used, but it still has some obvious issues to work out and Apple could at any time make a major change to how it works. Requires an iCloud+ subscription, which costs as little as $1 a month for 50GB.
Accessible by right-clicking, control-clicking, or two-finger tapping on the trackpad, the macOS context menu is great because it can let you do some tasks right away, saving you a few steps. It’s not just about system features, though: When you install an app, it often adds features to the context menu.
You may see some app-related actions at the bottom of the pop-up menu, or when you right-click a file and select quick actions, a list of tasks related to the application appears. When an app adds this kind of functionality, it’s adding an extension to macOS. But sometimes there are items in the menu that you never use, or you may not know that there are features available that you might be using.
To manage the context menu, go to System Preferences and open extensions. To specifically manage the Quick Actions section of the context menu, go to the Finder section. There are other sections in the left column where you can add to delete tasks. For example, in the Share section, you can add apps to the Share menu.
Customize the touch bar
If you’re using a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you can customize the Touch Bar’s features. That is how.
Go to System Preferences > extensions.
In the left column selection touch bar.
Click on the Customize control strip button.
A new screen will appear with a selection of buttons at the bottom of the screen. This is the set of Touch Bar buttons that appear when the Control Strip is collapsed.
For add a button, click and drag the button to the bottom of the screen. The Touch Bar will display the new button.
For remove a button, move the cursor to the bottom of the screen until a button is highlighted, then move the cursor left or right to select the button you want to remove. Click and then drag up on the screen and the button should appear labeled “Remove from Touch Bar”. Release the button to remove it.
To customize the Control Strip when it is expanded into the Touch Bar, follow the steps above. In step 4, expand the Touch Bar and the set of buttons will fit on the screen. Below is a quick video of what these steps look like.
Erase all content and settings
We all run into issues on our Mac that could use a factory reset. If you’re using an Apple silicon Mac or an Intel Mac with a T2 security chip running macOS Monterey, there’s a quick way to erase your Mac’s settings, data, and applications while keeping the operating system currently installed. This doesn’t wipe a Mac completely, just your personal stuff.
Open System Preferences (apple menu > System preferences), and then with the System Preferences window in front, go to the menu bar and click the System Preferences menu. In About system preferences there is a new item called Erase all content and settings. It works just like it does on iPhone and iPad: select it when you want to erase your personal information without erasing and reinstalling the entire operating system.
You will need to enter an administrator password and you will need to follow the steps of the Wipe Wizard. Your Mac will restart and guide you through the setup process. If you don’t want to set up your Mac, press and hold the power button to turn it off.