Why OS X Is Awesome

Why OS X Is Awesome

OS X is Apple’s desktop UNIX operating system. It’s loved by many professionals for combining the ability to use advanced Terminal tools found in Linux that are necessary for web development with the availability of top software, like the Adobe Creative Suite, ProTools, Ableton, Final Cut Pro, Microsoft Office, AutoCAD, and more.

OS X has a thriving developer community full of great exclusive software, like Sketch, which has become an industry standard in web design for vector graphics, Affinity Designer and Photo, and Pixelmator.

Apple has taken an interesting and productive approach to touch with trackpad gestures for going between virtual desktops and fullscreen applications. The experience is smoother, more fluid, and natural than any other desktop OS, and no one has mastered the trackpad like Apple. The OS is designed to be both user friendly and power user friendly, with features like a universal menu bar that has the same commands for different applications located consistently. With some leg work, it’s highly customizable, but out of the box is understandable and beautiful.

If you’ve got an iPhone or any other Apple device, content syncs seamlessly. You can take phone calls from your laptop, recieve both iMessage and SMS texts (arguably a far better experience with a keyboard and mouse than your thumbs), and instantly load whatever content you're currently browsing on another device. The second you’ve taken a photo with your phone, you can edit it with your computer using Photos and iCloud. Setting a reminder or alarm with Siri will prompt you from your desktop as well.

Spinning Hard Drive vs Fusion vs Solid State

Solid State Drives use flash memory chips, just like your phone, making them incredibly fast, silent, and impervious to drop damage. With an SSD, your computer will boot faster, apps will load quicker, and everything will just feel snappier than with a HDD. They're also quite expensive and in low capacity, so a 1TB drive is going to be $500, rather than a typical hard drive's $50 price tag. Apple ships mostly 128GB SSD's as their baseline. I always recommend upgrading that to 256GB, which is a lot more manageable. If you like speed, reliability, and silence, get an SSD in your iMac or Mac Mini (they're standard across MacBooks and Mac Pros).

Hard Disk Drives use spinning platters with a spindle, and have been the top storage medium for 30 years. They're incredibly cheap, last a long time, but will die from much of any shock, and are generally 1/10th the speed of a modern SSD. I don't recommend buying an iMac with just a HDD, it'll be disappointing, and is very difficult to replace with an SSD. The Mac Mini is much more user upgradeable in this regard.

Fusion Drives contain both a 128GB super fast SSD, and a high capacity, slower spinning hard drive. Apple's software combines the two disks into one, intelligently placing your most used files and applications on the SSD, and lesser opened stuff on the hard drive. This can give you the best of both worlds, but also doubles your chance of failure - if one of the drives dies, you lose your data, and if you have more than 128GB of daily accessed data, you'll notice the slowdown of the hard drive.


Upgrading Your Mac

iFixIt is a great website with detailed guides on repairing almsot every Mac from the past 15 years. Parts are abundant on eBay, Amazon, and iFixIt's own store.

All non-retina MacBook Pros (model year 2012 and prior) and plastic MacBooks have user access to the RAM, hard drive, and optical drive (this allows a second hard drive slot). Its highly recommended for all users to upgrade to an SSD. 4GB of RAM is a must on the current OS X Yosemite, and 8GB is noticeably better for those of us that don’t close tabs as we go. All MacBook Airs and retina MacBook Pros have user accessible storage, but the RAM is soldiered onto the motherboard. On 2010-2012 Airs and Retina Pros, OWC offers a 3rd party SSD upgrade. On late 2013 to current Mac models with PCIe SSDs, there are no 3rd party replacement options, but you can easily find one taken from another computer on eBay, allowing you to upgrade the SSD. You’ll need a pentalobe screw driver for the bottom and a torx driver for the SSD’s single screw. 2014 MacBook Pro and Air parts are fully interchangeable and identical (and they use the same drive as the Mac Pro and iMac). 2015 MacBooks use the same slot, but with a faster SSD, so order one that says 2015 if you’ve got a 2015 Mac.

The 2015 retina 12” MacBook has no upgradeable parts.

The classic (2006-2012) Mac Pro was a fully upgradeable desktop PC tower, with PCIe card slots for standard PC graphics cards. socketed CPUs, 4 SATA hard drive slots, and quick RAM upgrades. The 2013 current Mac Pro is more proprietary, but still modular and upgradeable, with a standard socketed CPU and RAM, and socketed Apple SSD interchangeable with other Mac models, though it uses proprietary graphics cards with no signs of future upgradability, and no PCIe slots.

Pre-2012 iMacs were easily user upgradeable through a magnetically attached front glass panel, socketed CPUs, multiple internal SATA hard drive ports, and external RAM doors on all models.

On 2012-current iMacs, only the hard drive is upgradeable on the low end dual core 21”. The quad core 21” iMac has upgradable RAM, though you’ll have to carefully separate the glued on glass panel from the body, then do a near complete tear down to access it. The 27” has easily accessibly RAM from a pop-out panel on the back, so don’t bother paying Apple for more RAM than the default. The 27” also has a socketed CPU, though again, you’ll have to make it behind the adhered display first. Overall, we recommend always ordering your iMac with a Fusion drive or large SSD, and any 21” with the amount of RAM that will take you through its lifetime.

Hardware Experience

I’m not a fanboy, I don’t let tech give me personal judgements, and I accept Google and Microsoft both make some pretty cool stuff. No one should love any corporation, as a publicly traded company, their motive is solely profit based, and that’s the law. But I do recognize good hardware and software, and many Apple products offer a lot of benefits beyond “appearance”.

Battery Life

It’s nice to charge a laptop like you ideally could your phone by just leaving it on the charger at night and using it in a thousand and one positions during the day. No need to worry about toting a cord around or having a wire stick out, being tethered to an outlet. It becomes a lot more mobile of a powerhouse.


The screen on the rMBP makes text look sharper than a printed page and colors accurate and vivid. It has essentially no washing out from intense viewing angles like most laptop displays. For me at least, as the thing I’m looking at 9 hours a day reading, browsing, and writing, the screen is pretty important. The 5K iMac has a display that sells for the same price as Apple sells the entire computer for ($2k), and it of course includes a mid range desktop PC (about $900 in parts) built into that display.


The trackpad is a massive productivity tool with gestures, spaces, fullscreen applications that occupy one space allowing you to swipe with 3 fingers between them, pinch to zoom as smooth as an iPhone, two finger swipe back between pages, mission control, launchpad, etc. No other OEM has perfected two finger scrolling yet, let alone all of the above. Windows is really best with a tradition desktop mouse or using metro mode with a touchscreen. Mouses are great for gaming, but I prefer using my trackpad in OS X for most things and a combination when video and photo editing. Again, as the main input peripheral, it’s quite important.


The MacBook Pro is fast and well priced - most of it’s competition like the Samsung Series 9 and Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro use weaker 15W ultrabook class processors, get half the battery life, use lower end HD-class (rather than Iris) graphics barely capable of driving the pixels, and have fuzzy looking pentile displays with 2/3 the real amount of sub pixels, giving you the graphics demand but not the quality. UI scaling is still a mediocre experience on Windows. While I’ve never encountered currently maintained software on OS X that doesn’t support scaling, even some of the top Windows applications have issues with HIDPI. This makes a Windows laptop with a good display not yet a good idea. The MacBook Pro uses top of the line PCIe SSD’s, with read/write speeds well above 1000Mbps, while most of its PC competition still uses limited SATA drives. The iMac is commonly called a laptop in an all in one form factor. The fact is, it uses desktop CPUs. The 4GHz i7-4790k is one of Intel’s highest end processors, and is found in the 5K iMac. You can even upgrade them, they’re socketed, like any PC.

Resale Value

5 year old $1200 MacBook’s sell for $600 on Craigslist and eBay. $120 per year of use. 32 cents a day. If you’re like me, 3.5 cents an hour of entertainment and work. It’s quite difficult to get anything for a 5 year old PC laptop.

Wrap Up

If you’re not a gamer, the thing that matters most to you is not the FPS you’d get gaming. It’s the display, OS and ability for the OS to not bog down, battery life, build quality, and longevity. These are things Apple works hard on, and give the average user an objectively better experience.

The Best MacBook For You

The Apple Refurbished online store offers strong discounts without comprising on anything but packaging. The products arrive indistinguishable from new and with the same warranty. In general, if you can get a refurbished late 2013 Mac specced higher than a 2014 for the same price, you should do it. The 2014 MacBooks were merely pricing changes and negligible processor clock speed improvements. Otherwise, they contain all the same parts, and are of the same Haswell Intel processor generation. The 2015 13” Pro and MacBook Air have newer, better processors and integrated graphics cards, and aren't yet available on the refurbished store, but will be soon enough. We recommend all but the lightest of users choose 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD at order, and the heaviest of users upgrade to 16GB of RAM, as it can’t be upgraded after your order it.

13” retina MacBook Pro

Easily Apple’s best all around laptop, with a gorgeous display, great trackpad (with Force Touch) good keyboard, and a huge port selection. Its still just as thin as the Air (but uniformly thick rather than tapered), just half a pound heavier, and has a smaller footprint than it. The processor and GPU are about 20% faster than the Air, strong enough for short 4K video editing and most modern games at medium settings, and by the time you add 8GB of RAM to the Air, it’s not much cheaper than the Pro. Real life battery life is still great, with 7-8 hours, compared to the Air’s 10-12. Don’t bother with the i7 upgrade here, it’s still dual core, and thus barely faster.

15” retina MacBook Pro

The 15" Pro uses quad core processors, and at the low end Iris Pro graphics - about double the performance of the Iris in the 13", and at the high end true dedicated graphics. The highest end 13" won't perform nearly as well as the lowest end 15" in any professional or gaming setting. The 2015 uses the same processor as the 2014 and 2013 models, with the only difference being Force touch, and a faster SSD. The dedicated GPU on the highest end 15” switched from Nvidia to AMD, but it’s not actually a better or newer GPU. There will be a slight improvement in most gaming and Final Cut Pro performance thanks to better OpenCL, but Adobe Premiere performance will be worse due to the lack of CUDA, an Nvidia hardware acceleration technology that Adobe takes advantage of. Go refurbished 2013/2014 on this one if you use Premiere or After Effects. The 15” uses quad core processors and either the Iris Pro or dedicated graphics, which put it in a completely different category from the 13” at double the performance. If you’re a heavy user, gamer (though still, gaming should be a secondary use, its not a gaming laptop), do 3D work or heavy video editing, the 15” is your option. The Iris Pro is closer to a dedicated card than the Iris in the 13”, but a true dedicated chip still does wonders for graphical work. Battery life is a little worse than the 13”, and it’s a pound heavier, making it arguably a worse laptop for typical use.

MacBook Air

The Air is a legacy product. The only attention it’s received since 2010 has been spec updates. The screen has poor viewing angles, color reproduction, contrast, and a low resolution compared to the Pro. The speakers, keyboard, trackpad, and port selection, while still good, are not quite that of the Pro. Its greatest advantage is the 12 hours of battery life. The 11” fits a cheap and tiny powerhouse category that no other Apple product can take, but the 13” is too similar in price, size, and weight to the Pro for me to recommend. Don’t bother with the i7 upgrade here, it’s still dual core, and thus barely faster.

12” retina MacBook

It’s Apple’s newest, lightest, thinnest laptop, and also their least powerful one, with similar performance to 2012 Airs. It has a poor webcam and keyboard, but a great display, speakers, and new ForceTouch trackpad. Its base configuration, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, is higher than the Pro and Air, and a great balance for most users. If you’re browsing the web, watching Netflix, reading email, and doing light Photoshop and coding work, this is a great experience. Anything heavier will make you feel the limits of the fan-less laptop. The single USB C port is an issue for some, but if you rarely use ports on the go, it makes it more easily docked into a desktop setup than any other MacBook. Real world battery life is 6-7 hours, which is the worst in Apple’s lineup, but still great compared to most PC laptops. If you’re interested in this laptop, you might want to wait for the next generation. Check out my full look at the 12” MacBook here.

13” 2012 MacBook Pro

Don’t buy it. It’s an obsolete product that hasn’t received a spec update in 3 years, and is basically the same laptop as it was 7 years ago. Thick, heavy, and less powerful than the current Air in all regards, with terrible battery life to boot. Sure, you can upgrade the RAM and HDD, but the core is rotten.

The Best Mac Desktop For You

The Apple Refurbished online store offers strong discounts without comprising on anything but packaging. The products arrive indistinguishable from new and with the same warranty.

Mac Mini

If you’re going with a Mini, be sure to upgrade it to 8GB of RAM, it’s soldiered on the motherboard, and 4GB is getting quite cramped. The hard drive isn’t too difficult to replace with an SSD, you just need a couple Torx screw drivers and the ability to follow an iFixIt guide. If you’re a typical web browsing, document and light photo editing user, the baseline 1.4GHz and HD 5000 isn’t too bad, and the 2.6GHz/Iris 5100 option is only 20% faster. This isn’t the workstation previous quad core models were, but it’s fast enough for most users.


The entry level iMac just isn’t worth it. It’s a prior generation MacBook Air without the SSD, so quite a bit slower. The RAM is soldiered onto the motherboard, and like all 2012-present iMacs, it's very difficult to replace the HDD with your own SSD. Every other iMac model uses quad core desktop CPUs and more powerful mobile GPUs that will age more gracefully. The 2.7GHz quad core 21” with Iris Pro graphics is a pretty good deal, but we always recommend an SSD or Fusion Drive and using the refurbished store. If you’re going to be gaming or video editing, go for the Nvidia dedicated GPU option.

On the 27” model, you can either go for a 2560x1440 display with Nvidia graphics, or a 5120x2880 display (which scales so everything is the same size, but 4x crisper) with AMD graphics. The 2.5K model is a good deal on the refurbished store, starting at $1,500, but if you value a great display, the 5K iMac is worth the premium. RAM is fully and easily upgradeable on 27” models, so never bother paying for upgrades on it from Apple.

Mac Pro

Apple’s desktop workstation remains fairly user upgradeable, despite the change from a standard PC tower form factor to a custom “trash can” design. Don’t bother with Apple’s CPU upgrades from the quad core 3.7GHz. They charge a hefty premium, and you can do it yourself without voiding the warranty. Apple charges $3,500 to upgrade to the 12-core model, yet you can get the exact same Xeon E5-2690 for $2,300 online. The 10 core E5-2660 is available for $1,400 online, $600 cheaper than Apple’s 8 core upgrade. The proprietary GPUs are a different story. Get what you need on order. If you’re going to be editing 4K videos and driving 4K monitors, you’ll definitely want to upgrade them to the D700s. Do RAM upgrades yourself, they’re dead simple and cheaper everywhere else.

The 2009-2012 Mac Pro is still a good option on the used market, with standard PCIe slots that allow you to upgrade the machine to modern technologies, including USB 3, Thunderbolt, and newer graphics cards, including the latest from Nvidia. You’re most held back by the slow SATA 2 hard drive bus that will restrict SSDs from being truly beneficial, but there are even PCIe solutions to that. The dual processors and RAM are entirely upgradeable to be just as fast as the current high end Pros.

Disabling Gatekeeper To Run Apps From Unknown Developers

In OS X Mountain Lion 10.8, Apple instituted a new security default that requires app developers to get a certificate from Apple in order to run on Macs by default. The program costs $100/year, so many legitimate developers choose not to comply with Apple’s profit-minded extortion.

To disable it, first open System Preferences. You can quickly find it by clicking on the Apple logo in the upper left, and finding System Preferences.

Then, go to Security & Privacy in the first row, sixth column.

Click the gold lock icon in the lower left of the window, and fill in your password. Now, allow apps downloaded from Anywhere, and hit the lock again to apply your change.

If you do not want to completely turn off Gatekeeper, you can open unidentified applications by right clicking on them in Finder, and selecting “Open”. It may ask you for your password.

Take Screenshots and Change Screenshot Save Location

By default, screenshots save to the desktop. They stack up quickly, and are an eyesore. To change the save location, first open the application Terminal (either search with Spotlight in the top right or go to Applications/Utilities/Terminal). After Terminal is open, simply paste the following in:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Pictures/Screenshots

Then, paste this:

killall SystemUIServer

Now, take a screenshot with one of these. The folder “Screenshots” will automatically be created in your user account’s Pictures folder. You can drag that folder from Finder to both the Finder sidebar and right section of the dock for quick access. Pictures can be dragged from Finder or a dock stack on top of icons in your dock (like Photoshop) to quickly open them in that application.

⌘-Shift-3 (creates screenshot of entire screen)

⌘-Shift-4 (lets you draw an area to screenshot, release mouse button to take the screenshot)

⌘-Shift-4-Spacebar (lets you select a window to screenshot, highlighted in blue, click to take screenshot)

Add Control to any of those to copy the screenshot to your clipboard, meaning you’ll be able to paste with ⌘ V or right click -> paste.

Must Have Applications

Use Safari. Seriously. It has the best battery life, the best performance, syncs seamlessly with your iPhone, and integrates best with trackpad gestures and the retina display. I feel similarly about using iWork over Microsoft Office. I still keep Chrome, Firefox, and even Opera on my computer, but mostly as a web developer. Pinned tabs are coming in version 9.

BetterTouchTool - create any custom trackpad gesture, ForceTouch ability, or keyboard command, including application specific and system wide ones. I’ve got opt-,/./m for snapping left, right, and maximizing windows, and a three finger click for middle click abilities (close tabs, open link in new tab, etc). Includes Windows Aero-style snapping by dragging a window to either side or the top of the screen. Infinitely customizable. Free!

Flashlight - make Spotlight search and do essentially anything (currently not working on 10.10.4 and 10.11, fix hopefully coming soon)

The Unarchiver - replaces the default archive utility and will open essentially any compressed filetype, rather than just .zip.

Mailbox (also available for iOS and Android) is a great free email client. Alternatively, Airmail is my favorite paid mail client, with the beta available for free if you want to try before you buy.

Pixelmator - a $30 alternative to Photoshop that does almost everything as good or better than Photoshop. 30 day free trial.

Free desktop Twitter client - Twitter

CloudApp - Menubar app with simple drag and drop upload to a cloud service to share images and other documents

RDM.app (direct download link) - Retina Display Manager that allows you to select all of the available resolutions from the menubar

Play essentially every movie file type ever - VLC

ClipMenu - clipboard (copy and paste) history.

Lightweight, fast, and open source Bittorrent client - Transmission

Plex Media Server - obtain your own copies of movies and TV shows and view them streaming from your Mac to your Roku and or phone with this, creating an experience that looks and feels like Netflix with local files. Often easier than plugging a cable into your TV to your laptop.

AppCleaner - while applications are contained, the user preferences of them are stored in the Library folder, meaning if you ever reinstall them, you’ll have the same settings as before. If you know you’ll never do that, use this to find and delete those files. Simply drag and drop the application you want to delete on it.

Excellent open source code editor - Brackets

Sketch - $99 vector graphics application with a free trial, great for web design.

Improve Performance On Slowing Hardware

The most drastic thing you can do to most Macs to improve performance is upgrading the spinning hard drive to an SSD. Solid State Drives use the same technology as current MacBooks and mobile devices, providing read and write speeds 10x that of the hard drive most computers have shipped with until recently. This means your computer will boot, wake from sleep, and load applications and documents far quicker. All modern Mac portables besides the Air and Retina Pro have used 2.5” SATA drive slots, and most take less than 5 minutes to do the job. A typical 256GB SSD costs about $80-100, like this great one from Crucial.

If you find your Mac becoming especially slow with multiple tabs and applications, you probably need more RAM. 4GB is the minimum I would recommend using on 10.7 Lion or newer. MacBook Airs and all Retina MacBooks are not upgradeable. Check out our guide on upgrading RAM.

Without changing the hardware, there are still a few things you can do. If you’ve been using your computer for a few years without one, a complete backup, formatting of the drive, and reinstall can be very beneficial.

Learning The Basics of Using a Mac

OS X has a dock on the bottom (though you can move it to the right or left side and autohide it), menubar on the top, the ability to have multiple virtual desktops, and applications that are either windowed on a desktop or in fullscreen mode, making them an entire virtual desktop space.

The Dock

Finder, the OS X file browser, will always be open on the far left of your dock. Your desktop is considered part of Finder, and external hard drives will show up on both it and in Finder.

To the right of Finder is all of your pinned applications. If there’s a dot below the application, its open. You can unpin an application by dragging it half your screen off the dock, and you can pin an application by dragging it to your dock. You can rearrange icons by holding and dragging your mouse. Secondary (right/two finger) clicking on an app in the dock will open a contextual menu to quit the application, go to it in Finder, unpin it, etc. Applications you open that you haven’t specifically pinned to the dock will stay there until you quit them. You can pin them by either dragging them to a different part of the dock or right clicking on the icon, going to options, and hitting “Keep In Dock”.

To the right of your pinned and open applications, beyond the vertical line separator, lay your stacks and trash can. Stacks are folders dragged to the right of the dock for quick and easy access. It’s nice to have applications, downloads, documents, screenshots, and other frequently accessed folders here. They’re presented graphically in one of several ways, including a fan, grid, and list. Right click on the folder in the dock to change how they’re displayed and sorted. You can add an alias to any folder here by dragging it from Finder to this portion of the dock. I keep my screenshots, downloads, and iCloud Drive/Pages folders in my dock for quick access and ability to drag and drop into a text or onto an application icon to instantly open it there. OS X is seriously cool. You can adjust the size of the dock by dragging the divider line up or down.

The Menubar

The menubar is at the top of the screen, though it autohides in fullscreen applications. You can access while in fullscreen applications by dragging your cursor to the top of the screen. The Apple menu to the far left is how you shut down, log out, restart, and sleep (though a press of the power button or closing of the lid will do the same). It also has quick access to recent apps and documents, the App Store (which is where you update your Mac), System Preferences, and your computer’s specs and serial number.

To the right of the Apple logo is the application specific universal menubar. You can find any command through the File/Edit/View/Share/Window menus, and can quit the application or change the apps preferences through the menu labelled the app’s name. The Help menu acts as a search bar for all of these menus.

To the right of those application menus is the place for 3rd party menubar apps, tiny little programs like F.Lux for changing screen color temperature, ClipMenu for saving your copy and paste history, and SMCFanControl for controlling your fan speed. After that, you’ll find system information, letting you control Bluetooth, WiFi, sound, view battery life and time. Then, Spotlight search. Both the Dock and menubar color can be changed to a dark theme by going to System Preferences>General>Use dark menu bar and Dock.

Spotlight search can also be accessed with ⌘Space, and is the universal search for Mac. Type the first couple characters of an app name, hit return when its up, and it’ll open. It’ll also suggest websites, iTunes and Rotten Tomatoes data for music and movies, and soon weather. On 10.10.3 and below you can expand it to do essentially anything with Flashlight. It’ll show the documents for an application like Pages on the right column. It’s the quickest way to open to your apps and documents.

To the right of Spotlight, using the hamburger icon, is the Notification Center. It’s got two sections. Today, with customizable widgets for weather, iTunes music, stocks, calendar, and 3rd party applications, and notifications, a log of your alerts.

Spaces and Mission Control

Mission Control can be accessed by swiping 3 fingers up, hitting the keyboard button for it (F3), Control Up Arrow, or tapping with two fingers twice on a Magic Mouse. Alternatively, you can set up a button on a 3rd party mouse to get you there. It’s a birds eye view of all your open windows, virtual desktops, and fullscreen applications. You can drag windows from the currently selected desktop to the thumbnails of the other desktops, rearrange by dragging and create new desktops by hitting +, and enter any space, fullscreen app, or window by clicking on it.

You can move through Spaces/virtual desktops and fullscreen applications by swiping with three fingers left or right on a trackpad, or two fingers on a Magic Mouse. You need to experience it to know how cool it is. Alternatively, you can set up a 3rd party mouse’s wheel tilt buttons to do the same. Control Left Arrow/Right Arrow will also go between them.

Fullscreen mode is great for focusing on one document, project, or web browsing session. You can enter fullscreen mode by hitting the green button in the top left, or on 10.7-10.9, hitting the expand button in the top right of the window.

Without entering fullscreen, you can make a window bigger by double clicking on the top grey “chrome” of it, option clicking on the green button, or on 10.9 and below just clicking on the green button. I suggest BetterTouchTool to enable window snapping and the ability to set a keyboard command for maximizing a window without entering fullscreen mode.


Launchpad is a simple, iOS style application launcher, accessible by a 4 finger-in pinch or F4. I don’t find it that useful, considering the Dock, Finder, Stacks, and Spotlight exist, but every users differs. It contains a "just type" application search feature that can be faster than Spotlight.

Right Click

In OS X, right click to bring up a contextual menu is called secondary click. On 3rd party mice, it will work as expected. On some Apple mice, it’s disabled by default. Go to System Preferences>Mouse and view the picture of your Apple mouse. Notice the left and right buttons both say “Primary Click”. Change the right one to secondary. Note, these mice use touch sensing to know which button you’re pressing, so you need to life your left finger to right click.

On trackpads, two fingers pressing down acts as a secondary click. You’re often scrolling with two fingers, so it works quite well. You can mess around with trackpad gestures, tap to click, and other settings in System Preferences>Trackpads

Keyboard Commands and Trackpad Gestures

Remember, almost all of these commands have one or two other ways of doing them through the menu bar and secondary click.

⌘-c (copy), ⌘-x (cut), ⌘-v (paste), ⌘-z (undo), ⌘-a (select all)

⌘-p (print) ⌘-T (new tab), ⌘-N (new window or document), ⌘-W (close window), ⌘-O (open), ⌘-tab (switch application), ⌘-` (switch window).

⌘-b/i (bold, italic text), ⌘+/- (zoom out/in or if text is selected increase/decrease size), ⌘-K (create hyperlink)

⌘-1,2,3,4,5,etc (goes directly to the sites in your favorites in chronological order) ⌘-D (add bookmark)

⌘-Shift-N (new incognito window)

Ctrl-tab (switch browser tab)

⌘-tab (switch application)

⌘-` (switch window in current application)

⌘-option-esc (force quit menu)

⌘-Spacebar (Spotlight) Extend it with Flashlight


Will save to desktop by default. Change with this guide.

⌘-Shift-3 (creates screenshot of entire screen)

⌘-Shift-4 (lets you draw an area to screenshot)

⌘-Shift-4-Spacebar (lets you select a window to screenshot)

Add Ctrl to any of those to copy the screenshot to your clipboard.



MS Windows programs run with each window being a separate process. When all windows have been closed, the program is not running. On OS X, the entire application is unified by one universal menu bar at the top of the screen and one icon in the dock. For this reason most applications are quit using ⌘-Q, right clicking on the icon in the dock and hitting quit, or clicking on the name menu in the menu bar and clicking quit. Some applications that only ever have one window and don’t run background processes, like System Preferences, will quit on a window closing.

Force Quit Menu:


Trackpad Gestures

2 finger click - right click/contextual menu. Unlike Windows, you can execute a menu item in one single right click and drag.

2 finger scroll - follows content, not scrollbars.

2 finger pinch to zoom - exactly like mobile devices to zoom in Safari, changes % scale by 25% like ⌘+/- in Chrome.

3 fingers moving up - Mission Control, shows all of your open windows grouped by application as well as applications in fullscreen mode. Allows you to drag the position of fullscreen apps.

3 finger swipe to either side - move between fullscreen applications, your desktop, and Dashboard. The fullscreen app button is at the upper right in 10.7-10.9 and occupies the green button on the left in 10.10+.

4 fingers pinching away from middle - show desktop 4 fingers pinching from the outside to the middle - show launchpad, an application launcher

2 finger pinch out in Safari - tab birds eye view mode

2 finger swipe from the right side aluminum to the left of the touchpad - show notification center

3 finger tap (2008-2014)/Force Touch (2015) - tap with three fingers or ForceTouch on a word to get a definition, Wikipedia article, and preview of a webpage link.

Remove Adware From Your Mac

AdwareMedic - If you notice ads popping up where they shouldn’t be and other browser-related strange behaviors, you probably have adware, like Geneio. This tool quickly removes any adware from your computer.

Build a Hackintosh

Building a PC tower that runs Mac OS X isn’t too difficult. It breaks Apple’s terms of service, but unless you’re creating a large commercial enterprise around building them, they won’t come after you. Any Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processor, RAM, powersupply, case, and hard drive/SSD will work, and if you choose a motherboard, GPU, and Wi-Fi card known to work, it’ll be mostly plug and play, arguably easier than installing Windows. TonyMacx86 is a great resource for all things Hackintosh, with simple guides on hardware, installation, and forum support. reddit.com/r/hackintosh is another community for troubleshooting and bragging.

Factory Restore

On recent versions of OS X, a recovery partition allows you to factory restore. Shut down your computer, and hold ⌘R from the second you hit the power button to when the Apple logo comes up. Once it’s loaded, select Disk Utility to continue with, select your main partition (usually Macintosh HD), go to the Erase tab, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and erase. Once its done, close Disk Utility, and choose to reinstall OS X on your newly erased partition.

Selling a Mac

One of the great things about Macs is that they hold resale value for years. There are 3 main options when selling your computer: eBay, Craigslist (or similar classifieds), and all in one services like Gazelle or store trade ins. I only recommend the former two, as the difficulty of selling does not justify introducing a middle man. You can often get more from the buyer on eBay, and you won’t see haggling unless you click the option to enable it, but eBay and PayPal will take about 13% from your sale, which takes away nearly $100 on a typical $700 sale of a several year old Mac. You’ve also got to think about shipping if you go with eBay, and unless you’ve got some positive feedback from prior transactions on eBay, you’ll be avoided. Craigslist costs the seller absolutely nothing. You have to deal in cash, there’s some sense of danger with meeting a stranger (always do so at a café), but as someone with extensive experience selling computers on both, I’ve faced fewer scammers on CL than eBay. Both have their pros and cons and will ultimately net you about the same amount of money.

No matter what, factory reset the operating system, thoroughly clean the computer using a micro fiber cloth with 50/50 water and isopropyl alcohol, and find your best camera and cleanest table with a good source of light for your photos. Good photos stand out among search results. If you’ve got the box it came in, include that in one of the photos and the sale, it increases resale value and shows you're the original owner. Format your description well, with specs at the bottom. Show them you know what you’re talking about. If you’ve upgraded it to an SSD, mention how great of a speed boost that is. Price slightly higher than your competition, as your effort will stand out. Recognize that you may be haggled down a few bucks.

Factory Restore

On recent versions of OS X, a recovery partition allows you to factory restore. Shut down your computer, and hold ⌘R from the second you hit the power button to when the Apple logo comes up. Once it’s loaded, select Disk Utility to continue with, select your main partition (usually Macintosh HD), go to the Erase tab, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled), and erase. Once its done, close Disk Utility, and choose to reinstall OS X on your newly erased partition.