Categories

Jan 11, 2017

How to Work Faster & More Efficiently on a Mac

How to Work Faster & More Efficiently on a Mac

Recently I was using a friends brand new Mac and I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to navigate well. I offered to change a few settings on his computer and after we finished, workflow became lighting fast.

Knowing I make tutorials on YouTube, he said “You gotta make this into a tutorial”. So here it is.

In this video I will show you how I have my own computers set up to work faster and more efficiently.

If you have tips on increasing speed and efficiency, share them in a comment!
– Aaron Nace

General Preferences & Settings

There are many things you can do with the general settings on your Mac, here are the settings I recommend.

Mouse/Trackpad Tracking Speed – Go Lighting Fast!

It may be a little tough in the beginning, but I highly recommend setting your Tracking Speed on your mouse or trackpad as high as you possibly can. Then in a couple of weeks, try making it even faster.

Here is why – the faster the Tracking Speed, the less you have to move your hand to navigate your computer, this means you can get from one side of the screen to the other FASTER!

Hide the Dock

I suggest making the dock as small as possible and checking the box – Automatically hide and show the Dock.

When you need to access the Dock, simply bring your cursor to the bottom of the screen.

Congrats, you have just freed up 10% of your screen!

Mission Control & Hot Corners

Mission Control is one of the best productivity tools a Mac User can use. Mission Control allows you to use multiple desktops and quickly see and organize what is on each desktop.

For instance, you can have your internet browser open in full screen on one desktop, and Photoshop opened in full screen on another desktop – all while using the same monitor.

I have found that the easiest way to access Mission Control is through setting up a Hot Corner.

To set up Hot Corners, open the Mac Preferences and go to Mission Control. Click the ‘Hot Corners…’ button on the bottom left of the dialog box.

Here you can turn the corners of your screen into a shortcut. You have many options here, my preference is to set up the top right corner as “Mission Control.” This way, any time you bring your cursor to the top right of the screen, Mission Control opens and you can see all of your apps and desktops in one view.

Once you are using Mission Control, add more desktops by clicking the + Plus icon on the top right of your screen. Drag apps to the new desktops and use Mission Control to switch to the desktops.

You can also use keyboard Shortcut CONTROL + LEFT ARROW / RIGHT ARROW to cycle through desktops.

Apps for Efficiency

There are many apps that will increase efficiency on your Mac, in this tutorial we cover two of my favorite apps – “Better Snap Tool” and “Daisy Disk”

Better Snap Tool

The Better Snap Tool (Available in the App Store) allows you to snap windows to different part of the screen quickly and easily.

How often have you wanted two webpages open side-by-side on your screen? Better Snap Tool makes this very easy, just click and drag one window to the left side of the screen and the other to the right.

Need to make a window full-screen? Just drag the window to the top of the screen.

Daisy Disk

Daisy Disk (Available in the App Store) displays all of the files and folders on your computer in a visual layout. The layout looks like a pie chart, making it easy to see what files and folders are taking up more space on your computer.

There is also a built-in tool for removing any files or folders you don’t want, simply drag them to the bottom of the window.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are great time-savers. Instead of browsing through menus, simply press a few buttons and get the job done!

  • Switch Apps – CMD+TAB
  • Cycle through Desktops – CONTROL+LEFT ARROW / RIGHT ARROW
  • Spotlight – Search any app or file on your computer – CMD+SPACEBAR
  • Close Window – CMD+W
  • Close App – CMD+Q
  • New Window – CMD+N
  • New Tab – CMD+T

Related Tutorial

How to Be Instantly Better at Editing Pt.1 What You Will Learn Why a WACOM TABLET  makes editing in Photoshop so much easier Custom settings to get the best out of your device What tablet i...
5 Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts for Faster Editing! 5 Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts for Faster Editing! Learning keyboard shortcuts is the best way to work faster and more efficiently in Photoshop. In t...
Add Hours to Your Life With Keyboard Shortcuts Make Your Workflow Cheetah Fast A big part of being a professional photographer is making sure your Workflow is as efficient as possible. Even if you'...

65 Comments


user image You
(will not be published)

  • user image
    Sean Dolan

    If I’m in an App and I need to hide it fast, I hold the option key down and click on the desktop and it hides the App that is currently active. Boom! Ha

    • user image
      TGS

      Which suggests that you’re either looking at inappropriate stuff at work or you’re looking at inappropriate stuff at home. Or both.

  • user image
    Fernando Martins Ribeiro

    Great information Aaron. I would say that most of the suggestion are essencial to work on an iMac without a tracking pad or in a Macbook with a mouse.
    If you have a trackpad, to switch between desktops, just slide 3 fingers from left to right (or right to left). Slide 4 fingers up and you have mission control. That’s that easy

  • user image
    Charr

    Thank you so much for these great tips and app suggestions for greater productivity!

  • user image
    Richard Laurence

    Hold Cmnd then Tab to flick through open programmes. Alt > Tab for Windows.

  • user image
    Yves-CH

    Mission Control ok, but, one desktop, one apps, fix the desktop in DOK by right clic on apps icone, and Option / This desktop… so everyday the apps in the good desktop… Easy

  • user image
    757drivr

    Great episode Aaron! I actually used most of those suggestions. I had not been using Mission Control so that is a big help.

  • user image
    Bill

    How much memory can you put on a I mac. I do videos and web design. Can you put 2 Terabytes and a MAC?

    • user image
      Hans Kruse

      Are you asking about memory or disk space? On most modern Macs you can’t add memory, so I usually order the largest amount the model I am buying will support. That could be as little as 8G on a laptop. My MacPro has 64G (and could take more I believe).

    • user image
      Cole Mowery

      Memory is RAM, and no computer can manage that amount of RAM, even a windows PC. However, you CAN place 2tb of storage in an iMac, and even 3. Just be aware that if you opt for a full SSD, you will be paying far too much for it. It would be far more cost effective to get the base SSD option, and purchase a number of Samsung T3 drives, and attach them to the back of the machine with 3M tape. Then you will have an extra 500gb of SSD storage, and pay $500 less than what you would pay for only 2 tb internally. I’m a student, so price is a primary contender in my options, but you may not be in the same situation.

      I’m planning on getting a new 15″ mbp with everything but the storage upgraded as high as possible, and then purchasing a 2tb T3 for video editing.

  • user image
    Sharron

    I’m a decades-long PC user, recently migrating to iMac. This has been so helpful. I love that I can have multiple Finder windows open and put them all on their own desktop! WOW! That will save me a ton of time. Love the hot corners too. I’m wondering if the app, “Magnet” @ 99cents right now, works as well asBetter Snap Tool.

    • user image
      Kristoffer Linus

      I have both but I use Magnet every day. It’s a bit more simple. There’s not as much customization options as in BetterSnapTool, but you can customize the keyboard shortcuts.

  • user image
    tammy1

    Fantastic! Thank you! After using a PC most of my life, one of my obstacles to learning Ps is that I am also learning to use a Mac. Very helpful, thanks for sharing!

  • user image
    Yves

    Swap with 2 fingers on the left or th right go to the next desktop with Mision Control….

  • user image
    Trefor Hazlewood-Jones

    Using spaces and hot corners in mission control is a no brainer and why Mac OS has beaten Windows for years. You can also drag any open window into a different desktop. Most of the useful shortcuts are listed in the menus on the toolbar that you can now also hide when not in use. The Magic Track Pad is so much better than a mouse with all the gestures from the iPhone and iPad on the Mac: scroll up, scroll down, pinch for smaller, stretch for bigger. Works in Photoshop and Lightroom. Messages allows you to text from the Mac. Don’t forget Siri. You can now just tell Siri to open something or search for something or maybe play some music, send a text or e-mail or pretty much anything else. The real beauty of the Mac is that you can set it up to work for you in the way you like.

  • user image
    Hans Kruse

    In addition to the key-board shortcut for switching between desktops, I have my (Apple wireless) mouse set up to switch desktops with a two-finger swipe.

    Ctrl-up activates Mission Control

  • user image
    Burt

    I have always hated the default bottom position of the dock.. I have mine set to be on the right side of the screen, then reduced in size by about 50%. When I zoom a window to full screen, it avoids overlapping the dock. Helps that I have a 27″ monitor, but I have this setup even on our 13″ laptop.

    Also, I create a folder of aliases to frequently used apps. I then put that folder in the dock in the bottom position. This way I have dock access to all those 30+ apps, but I don’t have to crowd the dock to tiny size icons to fit them all on. Most frequent apps — on the dock directly. Those I use once a week or less — in the folder.

  • user image
    Sharron

    Thank you for these wonderful tips. I especially like it that I will be able to open up a bunch of the Finder Windows, and put them on their own desktop. Is Magnet (app) similar to Better Snap Tool? It is only 99cents. Thanks.

    • user image
      Sharron

      ooops. sorry for double posting. i failed to read the “awaiting moderation” warning, and thought i must have forgotten to click send!

  • user image
    Dawn

    Great episode. The command – space bar did not work on my macbook pro, but control – space bar did.

  • user image
    Nurb 2Kea

    Dock: See the divider line left from the Trash bin? Move over it with the mouse until you see a double arrow, click and hold and drag up and down and see what happens. This way you can make the dock very tiny and with magnification ‘ON’ (and high setting) my problem is solved. (Because hiding sucks,…to slow!) There are also some tools to make it even smaller than macOS can. I measured mine and it’s 5mm high.

    – SmoothCursor is an nice app for using with mouse and Wacom.
    – Magnet is a nice and tool for arranging your apps and windows…
    – HiddenMe for hiding desktop icons. (When on, can’t drag things to desktop!)
    – PopClip is a nice app to copy, paste, open in youtube, convert, mail and so on with the mouse selecting something.

    MY BEST TIP IS: TotalFINDER when copying or moving and so on with two tabs next to each other and many more tricks. I use it for ages and I never will miss it.
    It works with native tabs and the totalfinder tabs that can open next to each other, Together!!!

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Work Faster & More Efficiently on a Mac

    • user image
      peter

      Thanks for the tips and the other useful app suggestions!! I’m going to check them out.

  • user image
    Sharon

    If you like having the dock showing most of the time but want to get rid of it briefly, just hit option>command>D and it will disappear. Option>command>D will bring it back again.

  • user image
    Randall

    I always have four or five desktops running, but to move between them I just swipe across the top part of the mouse and the screen moves to the next desktop. Swipe in one direction to move forward, swipe the other way to move backwards. It’s so much easier and quicker than going to Mission Control.

  • user image
    Alex

    I already use a lot of these (do a lot of graphic design and printing work) but definitely loving the Better Snap Tool and a few of the other tips – going to start using them tomorrow! Thank you youre the man

  • user image
    Levi Thomas

    Great tute. I’ve been using Macs daily since 1984, but with each new OS comes more new (mostly better) capabilities and I try to keep up. I watched this to see what I might be missing and Yes! I have so been waiting for an app like DaisyDisk. Visually-oriented me will be much less frustrated; ADD me will be much better organized. So thanks for that! –And speaking of visually-oriented, I put a different picture on each desktop that I set up, that way I know at a glance where I am, even if there’s no program open. But maybe that’s just me….

  • user image
    Pete Esposito

    Hi Aaron, great tutorial today on speeding up the Mac. While I know you said you are not a Windows guy it would be greatly appreciated if you assigned someone to find out the Windows equivalent and make that tutorial. This way all of us can be fast. 🙂

  • user image
    Pauline

    Thanks Aaron for sharing..I use both the Mac and the Windows. No Mission Control in Windows, simply hovering over the mouse or pen on the icons in the taskbar and you will see from there programs/documents opened and just click on.

  • user image
    camila

    Hi, im wondering…. doesnt it take a lot of memory space the creation and the using of several desktops? i find it super organized and great, but i always wonder whether more stuff open and in use, make the computer slower… 🙁

  • user image
    ROCIO DOMINGUEZ

    Aaron the thing of the desktops, if i have for example photoshop in one of them, and i finish working and close it, tomorrow i will have to do it again right?

    • user image
      Michael Teak

      You can right click on Photoshop’s (or an other app’s) icon in the dock and assign it to always open in the current desktop. That way you don’t have to move it each time you open the app.

  • user image
    info490

    Dock: See the divider line left from the Trash bin? Move over it with the mouse until you see a double arrow, click and hold and drag up and down and see what happens. This way you can make the dock very tiny and with magnification ‘ON’ (and high setting) my problem is solved. (Because hiding sucks,…to slow!) There are also some tools to make it even smaller than macOS can. I measured mine and it’s 5mm high.

    – SmoothCursor is an nice app for using with mouse and Wacom.
    – Magnet is a nice and tool for arranging your apps and windows…
    – HiddenMe for hiding desktop icons. (When on, can’t drag things to desktop!)
    – PopClip is a nice app to copy, paste, open in youtube, convert, mail and so on with the mouse selecting something.

    MY BEST TIP IS: TotalFINDER when copying or moving and so on with two tabs next to each other and many more tricks. I use it for ages and I never will miss it.
    It works with native tabs and the totalfinder tabs that can open next to each other, Together!!!

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Work Faster & More Efficiently on a Mac

    • user image
      info490

      Forgot one thing:
      – HazeOver: nice app to focus on what are you doing by dimming the the other app windows that are not in focus, like you want.
      Works with every app, easy setup and cheap. Working like a charm.

  • user image
    Susie

    When you made your desktop full size, I watched it four times to see how you were doing it.

    I think it would be a good time to explain “Application Frame” in Photoshop. Did you have this turned on for your tutorial? I have watched about a bazillion Photoshop Tutorials and I think I have heard it mentioned once.

    I LOVE your lessons. I have a new Imac, and this was exactly what I was wishing I could do. Perfect timing,

  • user image
    Terry Fletcher

    Great tips as usual. One thing I’ve found is that if I MOVE Photoshop to a new Desktop, then, if later open a window within Photoshop (e.g. the History window), when I switch to another Desktop view, then that window appears on that Desktop too! The way I’ve found to work around this is to OPEN Photoshop from within the Desktop you want it to be in – don’t MOVE it. I may have missed something to prevent the Photoshop window moving between desktops, but this seems to work for me!

  • user image
    Mike

    Wonderful info as usual. I noticed your reference to Chrome and maybe this is off the path a little but do you prefer Chrome over Safari and if so why. I have noticed a lot of folks use it and wondered what are the advantages.

  • user image
    cecil

    To be even faster with mission control and your magic mouse, you can double tap on the top of the mouse with two fingers to open up mission control and swipe with 2 fingers on the left or th right go to the next or previous desktop.

  • user image
    Wim De Block

    Is there a way to save de multiple desktops configuration. When I have one desktop with Safari and another desktop with Photoshop and after quiting the two apps my 2 desktops are gone after restarting these two apps.

    • user image
      Michael Teak

      Right click on the app’s icon and you can set it to always open in the current desktop. That way every time you open the apps they open in their assigned desktops.

  • user image
    Brian Hartley

    Hi great tutorial. As I am only a novice but learning all the time. I have two screens but not sure best way to use them. If I create more than one desktop as you suggest how do I designate certain desktops to each screen? Also when you have set all this workflows systems up do you need to close everything down before switching off your Mac or do you leave everything set up so that it all appears on start up.
    Thanks Brian

  • user image
    seaspray843

    Thanks Aaron, this was so helpful! After two days of your changes, I can’t believe how much time I have saved and can now go play! Woohoo!

  • user image
    James Brown

    Really great tutorial – looking forward to some extra tips for using multiple monitors.
    Thanks Aaron.

  • user image
    Colleen

    This is great! Thanks so much. I’m going to post a link to it on Facebook; I bet a lot of my friends don’t know these tips.

  • user image
    Rodrigo

    when you’re using a track pad you can access mission control by swiping up with four fingers and close them by swiping down in the opposite motion. you can also swipe between desktops with with 3 fingers left to right or right to left, and go back page and forward page with two fingers. area a ton of time from having to have hot corners because you elongate reaching for anything at all. I use my hot corner for putting my computer to sleep when working on ” sensitive material” that you may not want seen by others. All great tips though that you once again!

  • user image
    Peter Prentice

    Awesome! I use shortcuts but never knew about multiple desktops. Thanks.
    I’m forwarding this link to my 3 photocopies.

    Thanks Aaron!

    Peter’s

  • user image
    info595

    After a week of using some of the ideas you have on the video, I must say that hot corners and the Better Snap tool made a huge difference on the way I work.
    I’m also becoming more familiar with Spotlight, allowing me to go less to the launchpad (which is hidden now). Thank you for taking the time.

  • user image
    Elfi

    Hi Phlearn-Team
    I saw your youtube Training ‘creating soft and Dreamy Photos’ and tried out the smart Filter Iris-blur’. But in my Application i can not see the circle and adjusting dots for adjusting the range of the Filter. Where do i have to set a ✅ to get this guidelines? Many thanks for helping me out. Have a nice day. Elfi

  • user image
    jitu

    Hi Aaron, I am the greatest fan of yours tutorial shared on you tube. I am just a beginner or intermediate user of mac. I have a little doubt while using mac and window in photoshop in shortcut key and i.e –
    while using in windows Alt is used to drag down the sub option example – if i want to use sub option of image and go to adjustment and then mode and then to RGB , simply press ALT key and then press underlined letter of menu . for Image menu its I + a + m + r

    My question is How do i do in MAC ..?
    Alt key doesn’t work in underlining the menu …
    Is any other key to do this ..?
    this affects my workflow ..

    kindly help Aaron

  • user image
    Kelly

    LOVE the hot corners!!! I feel silly that I didn’t have my Mac set up that way all along – great tips as always! Thank you!!

  • user image
    Eric

    (apple + `/~) will switch between open windows in finder and most Adobe Programs as well – it helps when copying and pasting between documents and just when you’ve got a ton of stuff open

    • user image
      Eric

      also ‘ESC’ after typing in a text box will give you access to your tool shortcuts again in Illustrator and InDesign – note in Photoshop ‘ESC’ will delete the text you just entered though – irritating

  • user image
    Kim

    Wow…..Thank you, Aaron! I am in awe. I was so in the dark before I watched this! I cannot believe how much easier my life has become! ha ha!