Dictionary has been part of Mac OS X since 10.4 and there is a feature that not many Mac users know about.
When you are in any of Cocoa (Mac native) applications you can hover your mouse above a word and press Ctrl-Cmd-D on your keyboard. You will get the Dictionary description for that word. Just move your mouse over to any other word and the Dictionary description for that word is displayed instantly.
You don’t need to have the Dictionary open at all.
A few examples where this works are; Safari, Mail.app, MacJournal, TextEdit, Text Wrangler, Comic Life, iWeb, etc. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with any of the Mozilla applications, including Firefox, Camino and Flock.
Another function that not many Mac users know is “Invert screen”. Just press Ctrl-Option-Cmd-8 on your keyboard and see your Mac invert its colours.
One could ask – Why would you ever want to do this? It comes very handy when your eyes are tired and some genius has been experimenting with background and text colours on his or her website … MySpace anyone?
It is also irreplaceable tool in photography, during the post production editing. If you have a large, bright picture and you are trying to locate any dark spots that you need to clone out (e.g. sensor dust, birds in the sky, etc.) it gets really tough on your eyes after a few minutes. Reverse colours and look for bright spots on the dark background – they stand out like Christmas lights at night.
It would be funny if you did this in Apple store and watched the salesperson freaking out.
When you want to minimise a window, simply click on the yellow button in the top left corner. The window quickly goes down to the right end of your dock using either scaled or genie effect.
But if you hold down the shift key while clicking the window will minimise in slow motion, approximately five times slower than the normal speed.
I love telling this to my friends Windows users. I ask them how would they save a piece of text from the document they are viewing at the moment, for example a web page.
Their answer is usually something like: “Oh, easy. You select the text, right click and copy. Then you go to the desktop, right click and select New | Text file, give the file some name and click away. Now you double click the file to open it, paste the text in there and save it. Simple, isn’t it?”
Then I show them how to do it on Mac. I select the text and drag it to the desktop and that’s it. Dropped jaws everywhere.
If you want to include this text somewhere, say in an email, you simply drag the file into your composed email. Simple as that.
This is my favourite of the Mac goodies. There are few ways to capture the screen on Mac.
Firstly, you can capture the whole screen. Simply press Cmd-Shift-3 on your keyboard and the screen will be captured in a PNG file and saved on your desktop as something like Picture 1.png. As of Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) this file is named Screenshot-<date>-<time>.png.
You can also capture a selection, just press Cmd-Shift-4 on your keyboard and you will see a small cross hair selector on your screen.
Select the area you want to capture and let go, the file will be saved on your desktop, again something like Picture 1.png. As of Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) you also get the infomration on the picture size (in pixels) which changes as you move the crosshair.
And finally you can capture the active window. Simply follow the steps above and once you see the cross hair, press the space bar and you will get a camera icon. Hover the camera above any window and the window will get the gray overlay indicating it’s in hot-spot. You can even capture the window that is in the background, as long as a part of it visible and allows you enough room to hover the camera icon over it. Click on it and the window will be captured.
Again, the file will be safely placed on your desktop as … good guess, Screenshot-<date>-<time>.png
However, if you’d like to capture the screen (or part of it) to the clipboard rather than to desktop, simply hold the Control key down while capturing, i.e. Shift-Ctrl-Cmd-4.
This is very handy when you need to paste it straight into an email or any other document.