Give Yosemite a quick boost with these crafty tips
Yosemite is packed with options, features and modes that can radically change the way you use your Mac. These tips are a simple yet sure-fire way to improve your Mac experience for your personal needs, rather than fighting with defaults that might make life more difficult than it has to be.
The Accessibility pane in System Preferences contains a range of options designed primarily for users with impairments or disabilities. This causes most Mac users to overlook these options, which is a mistake because there are some options here that are useful to a wider audience. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display to access a whole bunch of interface settings. Some, like Invert Colors are a bit too radical, but options like Increase Contrast, Use Grayscale and Reduce Transparency have practical benefits. Try combining the options here with the dark mode (go to System Preferences > General and turn on ‘Use dark menu bar and Dock’) to create a stylish alternative to the regular look.
2 Enhanced Dictation
While OS X doesn’t support Siri, you can dictate to it as an alternative to typing on the keyboard. Use the Shortcut command (by default, press the ƒ key twice) to bring up a microphone window. Speak whatever you want and it’ll be converted into text and dropped in at the insertion point in the active window. Dictation is surprisingly versatile, so don't be afraid to try it out in apps like Maps, Safari and Mail – say “Show commands” to see the instructions you can give in the current context. You can improve the experience by turning on Enhanced Dictation in System Preferences > Dictation & Speech, which enables you to use the feature when you’re offline.
3 Automatic updates
Software updates often improve the performance, reliability and security of your Mac. Open System Preferences > App Store and put a check in the boxes next to ‘Automatically check for updates’, ‘Install OS X updates’ and ‘Install system data files and security updates’. You can also choose to install updates for apps purchased from the Mac App Store and, if you don’t want updates to automatically install, you can have them download in the background so that they’re ready to install when you want to.
4 Search current folder
Finder’s preferences are easily overlooked because they aren’t located in System Preferences. That’s a shame because they include practical changes that make a world of difference. One tweak we like is to adjust the search bar so it looks in the current folder instead of the whole Mac by default. Click the desktop to switch to Finder, choose Finder > Preferences > Advanced and then change the bottom option to ‘Search the Current Folder’.
5 Manage Extensions
Extensions enable you to quickly send information from one app to another, or to share it online. Open System Preferences > Extensions to see those that are installed. Beneath each one are checkboxes that control where they appear, such as the Share menu and Notification Center’s Today view. Drag them up and down to change the order in which they appear in the corresponding part of OS X.
6 Additional gestures
In System Preferences, choose Mouse or Trackpad to view the gestures available for Apple’s trackpads and Magic Mouse. Some are turned off by default. Move the pointer over an option to see a video that demonstrates how that gesture works. Put a check mark in the box next to any gesture you want to activate.
OS X’s Accessibility preferences include options that are useful even if you don’t have difficulties with mobility, sight or hearing.
Some very useful trackpad and Magic Mouse gestures are turned off by default.