10 things you didn’t know your mac could do

That MacBook on your desk is more powerful than you think. Get the most out of your Mac with these incredible iOS features.

1. Digitally sign documents

If you’ve ever needed to sign anything online, then this iOS feature will change your life. You’ll never have to pay for Docusign again or have to go through the painful process of printing, signing and scanning just to get a digitised signature. iOS allows you to sign PDFs with nothing more than a pen, paper and a webcam; just sign a white piece of paper in black ink and hold it next to your webcam. Once you’ve done this, you can save the digital version of your signature on your Mac and then drag and drop it onto documents whenever you need to sign and return them.

  • Launch Preview on your Mac, then open the Preferences menu and select Signatures.
  • Click on Create Signature and then hold your signature up to the webcam on your computer.
  • Line it up so it looks like you signed on the digital line on the screen, and then click Accept to save it to your computer for further use.

2. Have your computer read to you

If you’re someone who benefits more from auditory learning, or you’re just too lazy to read through chunky texts online, then this feature is perfect for you. One of the accessibility features in OS X is its ability to read text aloud. Highlight the section of text you would like to have read to you and then select Edit from the top of the page, followed by Speech and then Start Speaking.

You can even change the voice of your narrator by going into the System Preferences on your computer and then selecting Dictation & Speech. Push the boat out if you're feeling adventurous!

3. Speak to your computer and let it do the typing for you

This feature has been a lifesaver for me. When you’ve been typing straight for over 6 hours (yes, you may have left that deadline dangerously late), to be able to simply speak to your laptop and have it do the typing for you can really break up a long stint of work. Additionally, you can even try this feature in a lecture and just sit back and relax...

  • Dictation works surprisingly well on Mac OS X. Just press the function (fn) key twice, start speaking and press fn one more time to convert speech to text.

4. Quickly summarize text

Where has this feature been all our lives? Amazingly, Mac OS X allows you to quickly summarize long pieces of text in just a few seconds.

  • To enable the summary feature, click on the app name in the status bar (“Chrome” for instance) > Services > Services Preferences… > scroll down and check “Summarize”.
  • To summarize a text first select it, right click on the selection and click on “Summarize”. A small summary of the text will appear, and Macbook users can select either dense or sparse as per your preference.

5. Disable notifications with one click

We all need to be free of distractions at times and when the group Whatsapp is popping off, this can be very, very difficult. iOS has you covered. By holding ⌥ and pressing the Notification Center icon in the menu bar (the one with three lines in the top-right corner of your screen), you can switch off your notifications in one click. Once you’ve done that, you will see that the Notification Center icon is not grey instead of black, which means that you won’t see any notifications until you turn it back on. You won’t ever have to battle against the temptation of those little fly-ins again.

6. Emojis

Spruce up your lecture notes with some fun emojis - yes, emojis! You probably know how to add emojis in text messages and emails but you can also add them anywhere else you can imagine by simply pressing Control-Command(⌘)-Spacebar. Press those three keys and you’ll see your emoji menu pop up, complete with smiley faces, a smiling pile of poo, a flying genie – whatever else strikes your fancy.

7. Instant dictionary

Always be in the know with the iOS Dictionary shortcut. There is now an even faster way to look up words than the Dictionary application. Simply hover over a word, such as "polysyllabic," and hit Command-Control-D to see a little pop up window with the definition. Alternatively, there is a keyboard shortcut that’s even simpler. If you prefer to take the gesture route, you can get the same little window by hovering over a word and clicking down on your trackpad once with three fingers simultaneously. Expanding your vocabulary has never been easier!

8. Multiple desktops

Switching between different documents and those 15 browser tabs open on your desktop is enough to send anyone’s head into a spin. iOS has created an ingenious feature to allow you access to multiple desktops at once.

This feature allows you to set up multiple work environments that you can move between with ease. So you can have your internet browser in Desktop 1, your essay open in Desktop 2 and a PDF of an essential article open in Desktop 3.

  • To enable multiple desktops, you’ll first need to set one of your hot corners to “Application Windows”.
  • To do this, click on System Preferences and then on “Desktop & Screen Saver.” Once you’re there, you should see a little button in the lower right hand corner that says “Hot Corners.” Click this, and you’ll be provided with a pull-down option menu for each corner of your screen.
  • There are several different options - activate the Application Windows hot corner. You’ll notice at the very top of your screen a series of squares. The first one says “Dashboard” and the second one says “Desktop 1.”
  • If you drag your mouse all the way over the right side of this row (even move it off the screen) you’ll see a plus sign appear. Click on that plus sign and you’ll create a new desktop.

9. Put you at the front of the print queue

We all know how painful the library printer queue can be. Rather than sending documents to just one printer, you can select all the printers in the office and have your document print on the first one available. Go to System Preferences and then Printers & Scanners. Select your favorite printers on the network and then create a printer pool that includes them. Next time you print, select the pool rather than an individual printer.

10. Adjust the volume in smaller increments

The difference between volume settings can actually feel pretty big - especially if you're driving some meaty external speakers. Hold down ⌥ and ⇧ as you tap those keys, though, and the increments become much smaller.

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