To shut down your Mac when it's not responding, hold down the power button for more than seven seconds.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Top tips and tricks for Macs

May 11, 2008

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard

   Last week I gave PC users a sampling of my favorite tips and tricks for Windows. Mac users are in the spotlight this week, with my top tips and tricks for Apple's computers.
   NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Create an Applications folder in your home folder and put all your programs in there. You can drag them over if they are already installed somewhere else. (Exception: Don't do that for Microsoft Office. It won't be able to update itself.) When your home folder gets backed up, your own applications will be, too.
   BACKING UP IS EASY: Add an external hard drive to your Mac and back up your home folder at regular intervals. If there are other users, back up their home folders, too. But don't back up anything else. Everything outside the home folder will be replaced when you reinstall OS X. (Bonus tip: If you have the newest version of OS X, called Leopard, you can use the Time Machine backup program that comes with Leopard.)
   YOUR OWN START MENU: Drag the Applications folder to the right side of the dock. To produce a launch menu, click the dock version of the Applications folder.
   RAPID WAIT LOSS: If no other user is logged on and you have no documents open that have not already been saved, you can shut down your Mac by pressing Ctrl-Option-Cmd-Eject and walking away.
   POWER USER: To shut down your Mac when it's not responding, hold down the power button for more than seven seconds.
   LOOK IT UP: Leopard users can type a word into the Spotlight search form. Spotlight will quickly show you the dictionary meaning of the word.
   SHOT SPOT: Preview, the image application included with the Mac, can also make screen shots. Click the File menu and choose "Grab.".
   IT'S A DRAG: Apple Mail keeps track of where you drag messages. To automatically move selected messages to the same folder used previously, press Option-Cmd-T.
   HIDE THE EVIDENCE: Hiding applications is a great way to get them off the screen while still keeping them running. You can do this with just about every application. Press Cmd-H to hide an application. Unhide it by clicking once on its dock icon.
   EASY COME, EASY GO: Make the toolbar and sidebar disappear in any Finder window by toggling the show/hide button at the top right. Another click makes them come back.