Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tips & Tricks for Macs: Favorite Custom Settings Part 1

There are a lot of things you can do on a Mac that, when used properly, produce "ooo"s and "aaahhh"s from friends, students, and colleagues. I will outline the configurations of my Mac for you in this blog, but understand I do not propose everyone do what I do... make your computer your own. Not changing the settings I mention below is like looking over someone's shoulder and seeing the old stock Windows background on their desktop.

*First and foremost: If you break anything follow these steps to fix it.

Instant screen lock. 
This is a tricky one. First I will turn on the screen saver with hot corners, then tell my computer to wake screen saver with a password. The end result is my ability to wiggle my mouse down and right and lock my computer with a password. Perfect for teachers, office workers, and anyone who needs instant security.

  1. System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Savers > Screen Saver Tab 
  2. Now look to the lower right and click Hot Corners.
  3. I like to use the lower right corner for a Enter Screen Saver. 
  4. System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Check the box for Immediately Require Password. 
Spaces, not just for goofing off. 
This one is a seriously useful one for teachers to understand. Whether looking over a kid's shoulder or observing with Remote Desktop, kids are tricky. Spaces allows you to build multiple workspaces or desktops on a single computer. This means you can Facebook during a meeting and when people walk by flip back and forth to what you are supposed to be doing! 
  1. Applications > Mission Control > click the plus sign in the upper right. 
  2. Now you will have two desktops or spaces. 
  3. Open your "fun" browser with Facebook and drag the window to the right. You will stop and then bounce to the second space. You can now click and hold on the browser and slide to Options > Open in Desktop2. This will tell your computer that this application always lives in the second space.
  4. Now switching between the spaces is as easy as clicking the app on your dock or hitting Command + Tab. 
  5. You're Welcome. 

Just to explain my purpose of this, let me tell you how I use this in the average day. 
  • Space One: 
    • Safari - logged into ASTE Google account; logged into Apple ID for LYSD; logged into security cameras at DO; general "in front of a crowd" browser. No auto-fill, no history, no mishaps. 
    • First Class - work email
    • Skype - Open at all times.
  • Space Two: 
    • Firefox - logged into network monitoring tool; logged into LYSD Google account; logged into shared dropboxes with technology partners.
  • Space Three: 
    • Chrome - logged into personal Google account; personal Apple mail application; Yahoo Chat; etc.
  • Generally roaming, and depending on the time of day, location, etc, I will drag windows (applications) to different spaces. At any given time though, I can fast switch (Command+Tab) to any app and know the space associated.