Last year, roughly around the same time, I switched to a Mac after spending nearly a decade with Windows. And over the last few months, I’ve installed and uninstalled a myriad of utilities and applications to replicate the experience I’m accustomed to. In this exploration process, I have discovered a bunch of nifty workarounds and tools for various everyday tasks which you probably haven’t heard of yet. Here are eight of those.
Being a Windows user for so long, one of the first few shortcomings of MacOS I came across is its limited multitasking abilities. Unlike Windows which lets you simply snap windows anywhere, in any size, MacOS takes a more restricted approach and requires you to hold down a key. In addition to that, the split-screen features function as individual, separate workstations. While that does prove helpful at times, I found myself coveting Windows’ straightforward and versatile functionality more often than not.
Fortunately, there’s an app which brings Windows-like multitasking shortcuts to MacOS. It’s called “Magnet” and it allows you to snap windows by dragging them to the edges. More importantly, it’s compatible with multiple sizes and even lets you easily fit in four apps if needed. The app also has a menubar presence so you don’t always have to drag the windows, you can just click the option or make use of a keyboard shortcut. Easy peasy.
There are a plethora of creative tools for editing screenshots available for MacOS. However, I am generally in the search for something which has a lot more streamlined focus rather than an exhaustive feature set. Until recently, I was employing the software’s inbuilt Preview app but I later stumbled upon an app called “Annotate”.
Annotate comes with all the essential doodling and editing tools you would need. But its biggest highlight is that it can be integrated with MacOS’ native shortcuts. Therefore, as soon as you take a screenshot, Annotate pops open an editing window and lets you save instantly with the changes. In addition to that, there’s a share option called “Drag” which allows you to quickly send the file without saving it permanently on your computer.
Searching for Screenshots
If you find yourself constantly struggling to locate that one particular screenshot, here’s a tip — download Screenotate. Screenotate is a lightweight Mac and Windows tool which comes with a slew of handy features for making your screenshot-taking experience less painful. For starters, the app has an inbuilt Optical Character Recognition engine which scrutinizes all your screenshots and logs them based on the content they contain. This also allows you to search the pictures by simply typing a specific keyword.
Moreover, Screenotate even catalogs the app it was taken on, the time, window title as well as the URL if it’s a browser. Screenotate processes all this information offline. Hence, you don’t need to worry about it misusing the content. It stores all the collected data in an HTML file instead of the usual PNG. You can still, of course, go ahead and extract just the image by launching it in a browser window. But you probably won’t do that since Screenotate also adds a little menu pane for quickly sharing your screenshots. All you need to do is click on its icon and drag the screenshot to the particular app or website.
Keeping it From Falling Asleep
One of the more baffling shortcomings of MacOS that there’s no setting for preventing it from falling asleep. Even with the one present in the Energy Saver preferences, the computer will at least log you out. This, as you’d guess, doesn’t play well with activities like lengthy downloads.
Therefore, I recommend installing an intuitively titled app called “Caffeine”. It does one and only one thing — prevent your computer from falling asleep. It silently lives in the menu bar for when you need to activate or deactivate it. Other than that, you’ll find a minuscule set of settings for configuring specific time periods and to specify whether it should be automatically enabled on startup.
Tussling with the Clipboard
On Windows, one of my essential apps was a little clipboard manager which allowed me to access all the recent text or files I’ve copied. Sadly, the same app is not available on Mac but I did find the next best thing — CopyClip.
CopyClip is a simple clipboard manager which preserves all your previously copied content and can be accessed from a menu bar drop-down. Furthermore, it’s compatible with shortcuts. Hence, for instance, if you’d like to retrieve the second last text you copied, you can simply press command+2 instead of clicking the item from the list.
Peeking the Calendar
Another minor feature missing natively from MacOS is the ability to view the calendar from the menu bar. For that, I ended up installing “Itsycal”, a free Mac utility that adds a handy, little calendar on the menu bar. It also comes with a dynamic icon which is updated to the current date. Itsycal even integrates with Mac’s inbuilt Calendar app and displays upcoming appointments as well.
One Mac gesture I’ve grown exceedingly used to is the three-finger drag and surprisingly, not everyone is aware of this. The three-finger gesture lets you drag windows, files and copy text by simply hovering over it instead of holding the left-click and then moving it. You won’t realize how significantly more convenient this but trust me and just give it a whirl once.
The most probable reason why the majority of users don’t know about this is that its setting is not available in the general trackpad preferences. To enable it, you’ll head into “Accessibility”, then select “Mouse & Trackpad” from the left pane, and then, click “Trackpad Options”. There, check the “Enable dragging” option with “three finger drag” in the drop-down menu.
Looking up Emojis
Another MacOS feature a lot of users are yet to discover is the inbuilt emoji palette. Whenever you’re typing, all you need to do to access it is press the Ctrl, Cmd, and Spacebar keys together and it will pop right up. It even has a search bar if you want a lookup a specific one. The panel also has all the special characters like the copyright if you need. There are no settings required for this, it’s enabled by default.