5 Advanced Mac Tricks

Mac OS X, now named macOS has become remarkably popular in the last several years since its official debut in 2001. Even though the OS is intuitive to use and many users consider themselves “experts,” I have five advanced tips you’ve likely never used.

Coming from the YouTube video? You probably don’t need to read the whole article. Here are the raw terminal commands for reference. If needed, scroll below for context.

Tip 1: Change screenshot file type .png is too darn huge

By default, screenshots save as .png files in Mac OS X. They look great, but they’re not very compressed—and with increasing screen resolutions—they take up a lot of disk space. If you’re sharing to Facebook, Twitter, etc. and don’t care about absolute maximum screenshot quality, you can change the file format to .jpg.

Open Terminal (search in Spotlight or find in your Utilities folder) and paste the following command:

You can also use other formats like .tiff, .pdf, etc. Just change the last letters of the code to your preference.

Tip 2: Encrypt any file on OS X Security is neat

Encryption is important when it comes to moving senstive files such as financial information, passport photos, and more. While there are standalone apps that encrypt files, OS X is capable of encrypting right from the Terminal!

Open Terminal (search in Spotlight or find in your Utilities folder) and paste the following command:

Be sure to change {path-in} and {path-out} with the files you plan to encrypt/decrypt. The easiest way is to drag-and-drop the file you’d like to encrypt into the window and Terminal will write out the path automatically.

Need to decrypt the file now? Easy! Just change -e to -d; or paste the command below!

Tip 3: Fetch Updates More Often Mac App Store is lazy by default

By default, Mac App Store only checks for updates once per week. To power-users, that can be annoyance; especially if we’re looking for new app and system updates with frequency. Rather than check manually, you can tell Terminal to change the interval at which your Mac checks for updates. Handy, eh?

Open Terminal (search in Spotlight or find in your Utilities folder) and paste the following command:

In our example above, we’ve set the interval to 1. Therefore, our machine is set to check for updates every day. You can change the number of days, though, we don’t recommend you go for longer than the default of a week (7).

Tip 4: Change audio device quickly The menubar is so handy!

Despite using Mac OS X for over 14 years, I didn’t discover this trick until last year. Instead of entering System Preferences and clicking the Sound panel in order to change your output/input devices (e.g. bluetooth speaker, headphones, external mic, etc.), you can simply hold down the option key and click the volume button in the menubar. A little list will pop down that will allow you to change audio devices on the fly!

Tip 5: Give your Mac caffeine Don't fall asleep until I say so!

Sometimes, you don’t want your computer to fall asleep automatically. Perhaps you’re uploading a YouTube video, downloading Steam games, or torrenting. Rather than fiddle around with your Power Saver preferences in System Preferences, you can caffeinate your Mac so that it doesn’t fall asleep until you say so!

Open Terminal (search in Spotlight or find in your Utilities folder) and paste the following command:

You can give your Mac a break once it is done by hitting Control+C in the Terminal or quitting Terminal altogether. Yes, this command only continues to work as long as Terminal stays open.

Perhaps you need your computer to stay awake for a few hours but want it to go to sleep after a set time when the task it needs to finish completes. It’s easy. All you have to do is enter the following command:

The number at the end represents the number of seconds. So, 3600 = 1 hour. If you need it to stay awake 5 hours, 3,600*5=18,000. Get it? Easy peasy.

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