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Apple OS X Tips

Tips and tricks for Apple OS X

The following tips may help users with their Apple computer. If you require more assistance the please contact your local College or departmental support or .

Accessing Special Characters

OS X has support for a wide range of languages and characters that can be accessed from Special Characters in the Edit menu. Characters are grouped together by theme and Recently Used and Favourites sets make it easy to reuse previously chosen items. Select a character and drag it into a document or right click and choose Copy.

Screen Shots, Audio & Screen Recordings

OS X provides functionality to take both screen shots and recordings. To take screen shots either use Grab from /Applications/Utilities or use the following key combinations:

  • Shift-Command-3  - Take a picture of the whole screen
  • Shift-Command-4 - Click and drag to define the screenshot area. Release the mouse button to take the shot
  • Shift-Command-4 then Space - Highlight the window (turns blue) and click to take the shot
Screenshots are saved to the Desktop by default with the above key combinations.
To take a screen movie use Quicktime Player from /Applications/Utilities/ and select New Screen Recording from the File menu. Follow the prompts on screen. When saving the file you will have various export options.
To make an audio recording choose New Audio Recording from the File menu in Quicktime Player. Again export options are available when saving the file.

OS X Key Combinations

Apple provide an extensive list of keyboard shortcuts on this page.

Forcing Applications to Quit

Occasionally an application can get itself into a stuck state and will ignore the normal methods to close it. OS X provides a Force Quit option accessible from the Apple menu or by pressing the key combination Command-Option-Esc. An application highlighted in red has hung and must be force quit. Any unsaved work will be lost.

Showing the User's Library folder

By default the Library folder in each user's home directory is hidden. There are times when it is useful to access this folder.

To temporarily access the folder:

  1. Hold option (alt) while selecting the Go menu in Finder
  2. Select Library from the list of locations

To show it permanently in the Finder listings (Mavericks only):

  1. Open a Finder window and navigate to your home directory
  2. Choose Show View Options from the View menu
  3. Tick Show Library Folder.

This setting only affects the current user.