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Six Clicks: Cool stuff buried in OS X

Six simple - but effective - tricks that will help boost your OS X productivity.

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Topic: Apple
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1 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Introduction

The more you know about an operating system, the more you can get out of it. Here are six little OS X secrets that should help you get more from the platform.

Most of these tips relate to OS X Mavericks 10.9, but some will work for earlier versions of OS X.

Previously on Six Clicks:

(Image source: Apple)

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Keeping an eye on power-hungry apps

Are you relying on your Mac's internal battery to power your computing needs? Want to keep an eye on power-hungry applications so you can kill them and get better battery life? No problems! Click on the battery icon in the menu bar.

For me, this is almost always Google Chrome!

If you want more information on what's eating at your battery life, open the Activity Monitor (which can be found in the Utilities folder) and tap on the new Energy tab.

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Finding your way around Finder

I find that I tend to end up with multiple Finder windows open in OS X. A quick way to manage this is to merge them all into a single windows by clicking Window and choosing Merge All Windows.

Now that you have a Finder with multiple tabs, what better time to discover that using tabs in the Finder app is a great way to streamline productivity. If you open a window in Finder you can then open a new tab by hitting Command+T and you can then drag files from one tab to another.

To do this, start by drag the files of files from one Finder window into the tabbed area at the top, and wait for the app to switch over to that tab. Now complete the drag and drop by putting the file or files in the area you want.

If you want to bring up a new Finder windows quickly, hit Command+T.

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Sign documents

Signing documents used to be a pain. It used to mean printing them out, singing them, and then either faxing them back ("Daddy, what's a fax?") or scanning them in back for digitizing.

Ugh.

The OS X Preview app simplifies this. Launch the app, open Preferences and select the Signatures panel. To input your signature click the + button and follow the on-screen instructions (which essentially boil down to write your signature on a bit of paper and hold it in front of the Mac's camera so a photo can be taken.

This is a massive timesaver.

This feature dates back to OS X 10.7, so if you're not using the latest and greatest release, you can still take advantage of this.

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Add character to your documents with special characters and emojis

While I think that overuse of emojis and special characters can mean they get real old real fast, used with care they can brighten up a document, email or chat, and even help you get your point across better.

To bring up the special characters panel, hit Command+Control+Space.

Make this panel more compact by clicking the button in the top-right of the windows. To restore, click it again.

There’s also an option to show the Keyboard and Character Viewers icon in the menu bar. To do this go to System Preferences > Keyboard and under the Keyboard tab check Show Keyboard and Character Viewers in menu bar.

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Be my guest!

Guest accounts are a great way to allow someone else to borrow your Mac to check their email or browse the web without giving them access to your entire system.

You can enabled this feature by going System Preferences > Users and Groups. This then puts the Guest User account on the login screen (to do this you may need to click on the padlock on the bottom-left of the screen and enter your password).

Now guests can use this account, and they great thing is once they're finished, OS X  wipes all traces of the session from your Mac.

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Keeping your digital kingdom secure

The iCloud Keychain encrypts and saves all your website usernames and passwords for use on all your devices, and can also fill them in for you when you revisit the site. On top of that it also has an on-the-fly Password Generator.

Activate this by going to System Preferences > iCloud and check the Keychain entry in the list. You'll be prompted to enter your Apple ID password. Now, every time a website asks you to input a password or create a new one, Safari will generate one up for you.

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