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7 awesome things you forgot your Mac could do

7 awesome things you forgot your Mac could do
© Michał Rojek | Dreamstime.com

Do you own a Mac computer? You probably know that Apple's feature set for its macOS always grows steadily with every update, adding functions and options that make our computing lives so much more convenient and efficient.

As such, there are features that you may have missed but could make a big difference in your everyday tasks. From text messages and printer sharing to sending files instantly, there's probably that little essential option that you haven't used but it's there all along. You just need to look at the right place!

Here are seven great features that you may or may not know that your Mac can do.

1. Send and receive texts on your Mac

Apple's iMessage has long allowed you to message other iPhone users from the iMessage app on your Mac but you can also send and receive any kind of SMS text messages right from your Mac. So when friends text you, regardless of what brand of phone they are using, you can now read and reply from your Mac as well as your iPhone.

All the messages that appear on your iPhone now show up on your Mac, too, so your conversation is up to date on all your devices. You can also start an SMS or iMessage conversation on your Mac just by clicking a phone number in Safari, Contacts, Calendar, or Spotlight. Group chats are now enabled, as well. Click Details to name a group chat, add or remove someone, and see friends who’ve shared their location on a map.

Just sign into your Mac with the same iMessage account that also has your phone number linked then turn on Text Message Forwarding for your Mac under Settings >> Messages on your iPhone.

2. Use Split Screen view

Sometimes one screen just isn't enough, but you don't have to resort to shrinking the size of your windows to display two applications on your screen at once.

Here's a quick way you can try to manage multiple windows on your Mac. This is great for juggling two tasks at the same time.

Left-click on the window's green maximize button (on the upper-left hand side), hold it, drag it either to the left or the right of your screen then pick another window to pair it with for the perfect split screen view, with both windows sitting side by side.

3. Take screenshots instantly

Do you need a quick snapshot of just about anything on your Mac's screen? Do it with these handy shortcuts!

To take a screenshot of your entire screen, just press Shift, Command and the number 3 at the same time.

To capture a specific area of the screen, press Shift, Command and the number 4 and a cursor will appear. Just left-click and drag that cursor over the area you want to screenshot.

To capture a specific window, press Shift, Command and the number 4 then hit your spacebar. A camera icon will appear then simply left click on the window you want to capture.

Note: On a Touch Bar-enabled MacBook Pro, you can press Shift, Command and the number 6 to take a snapshot of OLED Touch Bar itself.

4. Convert units instantly in Spotlight

It's easy to overlook the little magnifying glass that's perched in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. When you need to find a file quickly, you might remember it's there. But did you know this search tool does much more than help you locate things? For example, you can do conversions within Spotlight!

When you type in a dollar amount, measurement, etc., Spotlight will bring up some instant conversions. It makes its best guess as to which conversion you're looking for, but you can always adjust your search by making things more specific. For example, when you start by typing "12 feet," Spotlight automatically calculates a conversion to meters. However, if you type "12 feet to inches" you'll find exactly what you're looking for.

5. Airplay your Mac's sound and screen

If you have an Apple TV or Airplay-enabled speakers, you can stream your Mac's audio wirelessly to them. And with iTunes, you can stream audio to multiple AirPlay speakers simultaneously.

Simply click the Airplay icon on iTunes and you can select all the Airplay-enabled speakers and gadgets that are available on your network.

Newer Macs (2011 and newer) can also mirror their screen to an Apple TV wirelessly, great for presentations, video or a secondary monitor. Just click the little Airplay icon on the menu bar then select an available Apple TV.

6. Share your printer with other Macs

Do you have multiple Macs and just one printer? Don't worry, you can simply connect it to one Mac then share wirelessly throughout your network! No need to move it around.

To share your printer, open System Preferences >> Sharing then check Printer Sharing. From here, you can specify which printer to share and to whom to share it with.

7. Use Airdrop to instantly send files

Do you find email or network sharing a bit cumbersome for sending files? Well, with Airdrop you make file sharing so much simpler.

AirDrop is an Apple protocol that lets you instantly send and receive files between nearby desktop Macs and iOS gadgets like iPad, iPhone or iPod touch via Bluetooth.

To use AirDrop from a Mac, just right-click on a file in Finder, select Share >> Airdrop. Your Mac will then search for nearby gadgets that it can Airdrop with.

This includes Mac computers with OS X Lion or later installed, and iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices with iOS 7 or later.

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