top of page

8 Mac Tricks for Students Cramming for Finals

Whether you are new Mac user or a seasoned pro there are always different tricks that can let you get more out of your computer experience. It is my hope that these 8 tricks will make your life easier. I've picked these 8 specifically to help with the task of studying. Feel free to leave a comment if these help you or if you have a question.

Before I get to the list, make sure you have the latest Operating System (OS) installed. If you haven't given in to Apple's constant request to update your software, you can check your version by clicking the little Apple logo in the upper left of your screen. A dialogue box will appear that will detail your computers specs. In my case running a 2012 MBP Retina with OS 10.12.1 - Sierra.

Now that we've got that out of the way, here they are. I know... an internet list that isn't clickbait!

1. Use Siri to perform a simple task and avoid the distraction of your phone

Let's say you're doing some homework, perhaps math or English. You have access to Siri in the upper right corner of your screen. It should look like the button above. Use Siri to perform simple tasks like doing a math calculation or look up a definition.

2. Back up your files

Don't fall victim to losing your documents because you forgot to back them up. There are plenty of "cloud" type services such as DropBox or Google Docs. Both now integrate with your computer by mimicking a folder on your desktop or in Finder. I added my DropBox to my Finder to make it quick and easy to get to. If you save your paper to your DropBox you can begin writing at home and not have to worry leaving it on a flash drive or your hard drive when you go somewhere else.

3. Keep calm and Command + Z

I was in a computer store once, for the sake of anonymity lets call this place Dork Heaven, and this place is known for its lengthy lines full of impulse buy items. One such item was an all black t-shirt with white words that read "Keep calm and Control + Z". The dork I am I felt ashamed I didn't know what that shortcut did. Control + Z on a windows machine, or Command + Z on a Mac, will undo your last action. If you accidentally delete something like an several paragraphs or an entire file, just remember, Keep calm and Command + Z.

4. Zoom in on just what you need

The older you get the worse your vision is, and staring at screens all day at class or work doesn't help. If you need to magnify part of your screen hold down Control and while using two fingers in the center of your trackpad and slide them to opposite corners. If you're on a desktop hold control and scroll your mouse.The zoom feature has gotten progressively better over the years. Now, you can have multiple tabs open in your web browser and zoom in on specific pages. This helps if you're reading multiple articles and some are written in really small text!

5. Speaking of your trackpad, save time with swipe motions

If you're using a mac laptop you should be using swipe motions on your trackpad.

  • Swipe four fingers up to see all your open windows. You can click on any window you want to open by selecting it, or swipe four fingers down to return to what you were working on.

  • Swipe four fingers right to switch to a second desktop. This is helpful if you're working on two distinctly different tasks and want to keep everything organized.

  • Swipe two fingers down (or up) to scroll on a page.

For detailed instructions click the Magnifying glass in the upper right area of your screen and type in "Trackpad". A list of tricks will appear with helpful videos.

6. Quickly turn off your display

Even though it's 2016 chances are if you are a student you still use things like books, notecards and study sheets. If you go from studying from a book to looking stuff on your computer often the brightness of the monitor can be an awful distraction and actually hurt your eyes. If you want an easy way to quickly dim your screen without having to use the F1 & F2 dim keys, use the following combination.

Control + Shift + Power (or eject)

This will turn off your display. To turn it back on just move your mouse or hit any key. This has the added bonus of saving you battery life if you're studying on the go.

7. Use screen shots to save important information for later

Apple has easy shortcuts for grabbing either all or a portion of your screen and saving it as an image to your desktop. Hit Command + Shift + 3 to take a screen shot of your entire screen. When you do so you should hear the noise of a camera lens. If you just want a portion of your screen, Hit Command + Shift + 4 and your cursor is turned into a crosshair. Use this to draw a rectangle around the area you want to capture.

8. Copy and paste text to match your documents style

Let me preface this by saying "Don't be that student who copies and pastes directly from the internet!" This is really just meant to help you if you paste a chunk of text from a website to to later incorporate it into your work.

If you use the Command + C and Command + V shortcuts to copy and paste text into your documents, you may want to use Command + Shift + Option + V. Apart from being an awkward set of keys to have to hit all at once, this shortcut is helpful if you want to take any text you copy and match it to the style of your document. Now you can copy text from a website, rework it into your paper, and not have to worry about rewriting it so the font size/style matches. Just don't forget to cite your sources!

I hope this helps! Good luck and don't forget to post a comment if you found this helpful. I also welcome your questions.

Featured Posts
Check back soon
Once posts are published, you’ll see them here.
bottom of page