Mac users: How the Option button can save your day
Never ever ignore the Option (⌥) Alt key button on your Mac. It has the power to save your day. What follows are just a few essentials from among all the many useful tricks you can unlock with this button.
Selected an item in Finder and you want to unselect it? There’s an Option tip for that:
Command-Option-A and the item(s) you have selected will be unselected.
Find that file
Here is the quickest way to find any file on your Mac: Command-Space to open Spotlight.
Here is another quick way to find a file (when in Finder): Command-Option-F, this will open a new Finder window but your cursor will be placed in the search field – just start typing the item you seek.
Navigate nested files
Most of us keep files (documents, images and so on) inside folders which we then keep nested inside other folders.
This can make it difficult to find things (though you can search for items).
Sometiems you’ll have numerous folders inside a folder when you open it in List view, and you won’t want to manually open each one. You don’t need to, just
Option-Click the little triangle in a folder to open it and all the folders it contains.
Unlock the Menu bar
Everything in your Menu bar – from application menu items to Wi-Fi and beyond – may have hidden features you can only get to if you press Option while clicking the item.
Take the Wi-Fi icon. Click on this and you’ll normally see your available networks.
However, click this while depressing the Option key and you’ll see lots more information on your connection and a range of diagnostic tools. It’s worth exploring all the application menu items you use most to see what’s hidden there, such as:
When you reload a website Safari will sometimes load elements of that site from its cache (store of opened things), but you can override this with the Option key. Usually when you tap the View item you can Reload the Page. However, tap the View item and Option and you’ll find you can Reload Page from Origin, which means you get a completely fresh page.
(You can also increase and decrease text size now).
Another useful one is that when you press Option and tap the Safari menu you’ll see an option to Quit and Keep Windows.
Working in an application and want to hide all the other open ones on your Mac? Just tap the application in your Dock and then press and hold the Option button – a new item appears called Hide Others. Tap this to remove all your other active applications from view. (You’ll also see a new Force Quit option).
Make and take space
When working in an app you can resize it by dragging the corners – but if you hold down the Option key when doing so you can resize the window from its central point.
The benefits of this may not be immediately obvious – where I most use this is when working in multiple windows/apps, when I might try to minimize the size of all the windows I need in order to make all of them as easy to see as possible – using Option to do this means the content I want to focus on can occupy the window more centrally.
Try it to see what I’m attempting to explain.
Options to get things done
Most creative apps have Option-based secrets to help you in your work. For example, Pages lets you Option Drag to copy graphics, Option and an arrow key (L or R) lets you navigate text by word, rather than by character, or use the Up/Down arrows to skip through paragraphs. EXPERIMENT in the applications you use most to find more.
When you Save an image in Preview, you’ll be given seven different formats to choose from in the Format drop down box. However, tap Option while choosing the image format and you’ll find 18 choices you can select. (Oh, and when Saving an existing image, Preview gives you a new way to access the Save As command when you tap Option and the File menu).
You can use copy and paste to take a file from one folder to store it in another. Tap Command-C to copy the item, and then tap Command-Option-V to move the original file to its new location.
Get out of trouble
If an application causes your Mac to freeze, always remember to try pressing Command-Option-Escape to access the Force Quit Applications menu. Alternatively you can try Option-clicking the application icon in the Dock.
Do Not Disturb
Hold down the Option key and click on Notification Center to immediately enter Do Not Disturb mode. (You’ll see the icon grey out). This is the quickest way to enter (and exit) this mode.
Change default app
Did you end up being tricked into always opening items of a specific file type in a specific application but want to open them up in another?
Get back to the light – find a file in the file type you want to manage and right-click it. Hold down the Option key when the contextual menu appears and you should see an Always Open With item – click that and pick the application you want to use in future with this file type.
Don’t forget, most applications hold their own Option/alt secrets. Experiment to find the ones you need!