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Tech tips

10 Mac settings you should definitely be using

If you are an Apple fan, you probably know a lot about the different features your iPhone or Macbook has. But, with so many fun and nifty features and settings, it’s almost impossible to know them all. Tap or click here for hidden iPhone tricks.

Some settings are more important than others. Like your location settings and how many notifications pop up on your phone at once.

Keep yourself productive and happy with your Apple products by discovering the most important features. Here are 10 Mac settings you should adjust ASAP.

1. Keep others out

If someone gets ahold of your Mac when you step away, they could look at sensitive information or install malicious software. That’s why you need to password-protect your machine.

To keep the information on your Mac secure when you are away from it, set it to require a password when it wakes from sleep. When you return to your Mac, enter your login name and password to continue working.

Here’s how:

  • On your Mac, choose the Apple menu > System Preferences.
  • Click Security & Privacy, then General.
  • Select “Require password… after sleep or screen saver begins.”
  • Click the pop-up menu and choose the time that passes before a password is required.

RELATED: Ways to protect yourself from hackers

2. Spotlight

Spotlight is a magical setting on your Mac that does not do just one thing but has dozens of handy uses that you should start using if you haven’t already. What can Spotlight do for you?

  • Launch apps.
  • Search by keyword.
  • Pull up contact details.
  • Look up calendar events.
  • Answer calculations.
  • Look up the weather.
  • Find out sports scores.
  • Find an exchange rate.
  • Play the stock market.
  • Get directions.

This isn’t all Spotlight can do either. It’s an amazing feature that you shouldn’t take for granted. Heres how to use it on your Mac:

  • Find the Spotlight icon on your computer. This should be on your menu bar, but if it’s not, you can press the Command and Space bar at the same time.
  • A search field will appear.
  • As you type, search results will appear.
  • You can click on the results that appear and choose from the following options:
    • Press the Tab Key to open a preview you can interact with.
    • See the results on your computer by clicking on them. These items will have the Spotlight icon next to them.
    • See the results on the internet in your browser. The search result will need to have the Safari icon present.
    • Open the item completely by double-clicking on it.
    • Find the location of the item by selecting it and holding the Command key down. You’ll then see the location at the bottom of the screen.
    • Copy the item by dragging it onto your desktop.
    • See all the possible results, scroll to the bottom of the search results and press Search in Finder.

You can also use Spotlight to convert currency or make calculations with the following steps:

  • Open the Spotlight feature.
  • Type your calculation in and see the results.
  • Type your currency conversion in, for example, 200 RMB in USD and see the results.
  • Repeat these steps for temperature or measurements.

3. Avoid being tracked

Our phones, computers, and most apps we use utilize some GPS tracking data. But you can minimize how often you are tracked and secure your privacy in a few different ways. If you want to learn how to protect your computer’s privacy, you can head here.

As far as your Mac goes, you can hide your location data so others can’t access it.

  • Head to System Preferences.
  • Select Security & Privacy.
  • Choose Privacy.
  • Tap Location Services.
  • Uncheck the apps that you don’t want to have access to your data.

4. Change notification settings

Have you clicked yes one too many times on your computer to allow notifications? Over time this can become a real nuisance, cluttering up your screen with unnecessary alerts that slow you down. Clean that up by adjusting the notification settings on your Mac.

  • Head to the Apple Menu.
  • Select System Preferences.
  • Click on Notifications
  • Choose an app that you want to stop receiving notifications.
  • Turn notifications off for the selected app.

5. Split view

Sometimes you need to view more than one window at a time. You can try to move them side by side clumsily, but Mac’s side-by-side split view feature will make your life a whole lot easier. For these instructions, you’ll need to be using macOS Catalina or later.

  • Hold your pointer over the full-screen button in the upper left corner of your window.
  • Choose Tile Window to the Left of the Screen or to the Right of the Screen.
  • Your window will automatically shift to fill only that side of the screen.
  • Repeat the steps to fill the other side of your computer screen.
  • Use both windows side by side.

6. Manage automatic starts

Automatic start-ups really slow your computer down. If you don’t manage them, tons of apps and processes can run in the background. They will slow down your computer’s overall performance, and you won’t even know they are there.

If you aren’t in need of all the programs that automatically start when your computer does, turn them off:

  • Head to the Apple menu.
  • Choose System Preferences.
  • Select Users & Groups.
  • Choose your account.
  • Select Login Items.
  • Choose Remove a login item.
  • Click the Remove button.

7. Use Siri practically

Most of us underestimate Siri’s usefulness. She can do just about anything you ask her to and help you with simple things like what the weather is like outside. If you need to open a specific application, ask Siri.

Want to launch an app? You don’t need to swipe; you can ask Siri. Now, if you prefer to keep Siri muted, that’s an option as well. Here’s how:

  • Launch System Preferences.
  • Find and select “Siri” in the menu.  
  • On the left, under “Siri,” deselect the check from “Enable Ask Siri” — this will turn off Siri completely. 

8. Using Air Drop

There is a reason Apple users tend to be very specific about buying everything on-brand. Apple customizes every product to integrate perfectly with each other, and they come with some handy features.

If you need to transfer anything between one Apple product to another, you can use the AirDrop feature. You’ll need to have your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features turned on each device for it to work. Here’s how to access it on Mac.

On your Mac

  • Open the Finder window.
  • Click on AirDrop to open it.
  • You’ll see all your options for sharing in the AirDrop window.
  • Drag files onto the profile you wish to share with.

9. Sidecar

Apple designs its products to work so seamlessly with each other that you can use your iPad as an extension of your Mac computer. Using Sidecar, you can connect your iPad to operate as a second screen for your computer.

If you’re an artist, you can draw on your iPad with Apple Pencil and have it appear on your Mac for editing. Or, maybe you need extra room to work with. Either way, Sidecar is easy and fun to use. Here’s how to start a Sidecar session:

  • Open Control Center.
  • Choose the Display Menu.
  • Click on your iPad.
  • You can move windows onto your iPad and use it as part of your computer.

10. Unlock your Mac with your watch

Apple Watches have a list of nifty features, but one of the most convenient is its ability to sync with your computer and unlock it, just with the flick of your wrist. You’ll need to have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on both your devices for it to work.

You’ll also need both devices to be signed into the same account and have two-factor authentication turned on. You’ll want two-factor authentication turned on anyways. It’s just one of many ways to protect yourself from hackers lurking nearby. Here’s how to set it up:

  • Click on the Apple icon.
  • Head to System Preferences.
  • Select Security & Privacy.
  • Choose General.
  • Choose Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.

Once it’s turned on, walk up to your Mac wearing your Apple Watch, toggle the mouse and presto, your computer is unlocked.

Bonus: Turn desktop folders into emojis

Some handy features are less about being useful and more about being fun! Did you know you could turn your desktop folders into fun emojis? While it might not improve your productivity, it will certainly put a smile on your face. Here’s how you can spruce up your Home Screen on your own computer:

  • After you’ve created a folder on your desktop, do a Google search for the emoji you want.
  • Drag the image you want onto your Desktop.
  • Double click the image to open it in Preview mode.
  • Press the Magic Wand Icon.
  • Click and drag a box around your icon.
  • Press edit, then select all.
  • Press Command and C to copy the image.
  • Navigate back to the folder you’ve created on your desktop and right-click on it.
  • Choose Get Info.
  • Press on the blue folder icon in the pop-up window and press Command and V to paste the image.
  • Your emoji will appear on your desktop.

Your Apple products have many features that can make your life easier, and these are just a few. If you are looking for more hidden features on your Apple gadgets, here are 12 secret features on your iPhone you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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