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7 macOS Tweaks to increase your productivity

The Apple icon on an iMac Pro screen.
Hadrian / Shutterstock

Changing habits takes time and discipline, but it only takes a few seconds to change some macOS settings, and it can instantly increase your productivity. Here are some tips to make your Mac life easier.

Increase the cursor size

It may sound trivial, but size is important when it comes to your marker. The pointer is easy to drop, especially when the operating system automatically hides it as you type. But you can make things easier for yourself simply by increasing the size of the cursor under System Settings> Accessibility> Display.

Use the “Cursor Size”

; slider to increase the size of the cursor until you are happy with it. Even a small boost can make a big difference. You can also shake the cursor to find it, but it takes a little more time and effort than just looking at the screen.

An animation that shows

This is especially useful if you use a “scaled” display mode under System Settings> Display, where the perceived resolution is increased to fit more on the screen.

Arrange the doll vertically, not horizontally

By default, macOS puts Dock at the bottom of the screen. Although it looks good, it can result in a lot of wasted space, as Macs now have widescreen displays. If the dock is not full, you have gaps on both sides that the windows never occupy. At the bottom of the screen, the doll takes up more space than if you were to move it to the left or right.

Placing the Dock vertically on either edge of the screen can recover much wasted screen properties. To fit your icons in the reduced vertical space, macOS compresses things slightly. You can always adjust the dock size further under System Settings> Dock.


Whether you choose the left or right edge largely depends on whether you are right- or left-handed. If your right hand is dominant, you have more space on the trackpad to move from left to right because your fingers naturally rest on the right edge of the trackpad.

Moving the bridge to the left may become more natural for those who use an alphabet that reads from left to right. MacOS The Apple logo and Windows Start menu follow the same design principle.

Attach useful things to the doll and ditches everything else

By default, macOS places some questionable “useful” apps in the Dock. If you decide you no longer need an icon in the dock, click and drag it to the center of the screen, then release. You can also right-click an icon and then deselect Options> Keep Docking.

Similarly, you can do the opposite and add all apps to the Dock so that they will always be there. This is especially useful for opening files in apps because you can just drag a file over an app icon to do so. Right-click on an app and check Options> Hold Dock to make it a permanent fixture.

An animation of an app that is dragged from the Dock to the center of the screen and deleted.

Now turn to the right (or bottom, depending on your orientation) edge of the Dock. You can place folders here for quick access and open them as a list or grid. To do so, simply drag a Finder window to the area beyond the Dock divider.

Right-click (or Control + Click) on the folder to customize how folders are displayed. You can change the arrangement, select the grid (extended preview) or list view and decide how to sort items. These folders can also be destinations – just drag and drop a file into the folder you want to move it to.

Organize Windows by keeping apps on specific desktops

If your desk is a sea of ​​ever-changing windows, you can never find anything. If you do not use the macOS “Spaces” feature that allows you to place apps and windows on multiple desktops, you will miss out!

You can see your available desktops via Mission Control. To start it, press F3 or swipe up with three fingers on the trackpad. At the top you should see a numbered list of desktops. Click the plus sign (+) to add more or hold the mouse pointer over a desktop and then click the “X” to close it.

Four desktops

You can also use Mission Control to dump apps on specific desktops by dragging them into place. For example, you might want your primary browser to be on your first desktop and apps like Slack or Evernote to be on your second or third.

To switch between desktops, use a horizontal swipe with three fingers or press Control + right or left arrow.

To prevent an app from moving to another desktop and clutter in the workspace, right-click (or click and hold) the dock icon, and then click Options> Assign to> This Desktop. When you click on the app’s icon in the dock, you will be taken directly to that desktop and app.

Animation that shows a right-click on an app and then

After a while, you instinctively know where apps are based and on what desktop they are located. You can jump to a specific desktop by holding down Control and pressing its number. For example, to go to Desktop 3, just press Control + 3. You can also use these keyboard shortcuts when dragging windows, tabs, or files.

The ultimate goal is to avoid juggling multiple windows on a single desktop. You can have up to 16 different desktops on your Mac, and they even work with multiple monitors, so use them!

RELATED: Mission Control 101: How to use multiple desktops on a Mac

Group Windows as tabs

Many macOS apps now allow you to group separate windows as tabs, so you can keep everything within the same interface. Click View> Show Tabs to see if an app supports this feature. A plus sign (+) is displayed if this function is available; click on it to open a new tab in the app. You can also use the traditional Command + T shortcut to do this.

If you already have a bunch of windows open on your desktop, you can merge them into a single-tab interface by clicking Windows> Merge All Windows. To turn a tab into a window again, just click and drag the tab bar outside the window.

An animation that shows how to add windows to tab interfaces.

It works well in Safari and other browsers, but it also applies to Apple’s iWork suite (pages, numbers, Keynote), Apple Maps, TextEdit and Mail. You can also change the default behavior so that apps like this open new windows that tab each time. To do this, go to System Preferences> Dock and select “Always” instead of “Lecture tabs when opening documents.”

Authorize your Mac with your Apple Watch

If you have an Apple Watch, you can use it to unlock your Mac automatically. You need an Apple Watch running watchOS 3 and a compatible Mac for this to work (most models produced after 2013 should be fine).

To set it up, go to System Preferences> Security & Privacy and enable the “Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac” option.

When your Mac feels close, it unlocks automatically without you having to enter your password. You can also use your Apple Watch to approve administrator requests on your Mac, such as editing locked settings or running sudo commands in terminal.

Force Safari Reader view on specific websites

The web is distracting. You may be looking for instructions on how to create a summary chart in Microsoft Excel, but in the end you will read a super interesting article about hosting your own VPN instead. Some sites are just full of great content, you know?

Safari’s Reader View can help you focus only on the content you were looking for by eliminating distractions. You can force Safari to enter Reader View on specific websites. When you do, only the articles are affected – you can still surf the main page normally.

To do this, go to a website that you read frequently read, click on an article and then look for the browser icon in the address bar. Click on it to see a preview of the reader mode. If you click and hold it, you will see an option to “use the browser automatically” when you visit the site you are currently viewing.

An animation that shows how you can force browser mode in Safari on specific websites.

With this enabled, by default, every time you read an article on that domain – whether you get there via the main index or via a web search – comes as a reader view. You can also click “Safari” in the menu bar and go to Settings> Websites> Browser to set the browser settings.

Work smarter, wherever you are

Taking a moment to fine-tune your workflow can make a big difference in your productivity.

But these tips only scratch the surface – there is much more you can do to make working from home on your Mac an easier and more enjoyable experience.

RELATED: 12 tips for video conferencing while working from home

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