3 Tricks to Use with Your Mac

1. Change the color or icon of your favorite applications and folders


Have you ever felt bored with the monotonous blue folders that macOS gives you by default, feeling that your French folder speaks more of a deep red? Or are you more of the prankster who has always wanted to know how to change the Spotify icon on your friend’s computer with the iTunes symbol so that he is left totally confused when he opens his favorite application, but did not know how? Well, it is really easy. To change a folder’s/application icon, simply press the control key and left-click on your folder (or use whatever shortcut you have for a “right-click” for your Mac; for some, it may be command + left-click). Once you have done that, click on “Get Info”. To change an application’s icon that is in your Dock, you’ll still have to press the control key and left-click on your application, but you’ll have to put your cursor over Options since the “Get Info” option does not show up yet and then click on “Show in Finder”. In the Finder window that pops up, do control + left-click again and click on “Get Info”.  Once you have your “Get Info” window, look at the folder/application icon next to your folder/application name at the top of the window that pops up. The simplest thing you can do if you want to change the icon for the folder or application is to change it into a ready-made image (images without backgrounds come out the best). Find your favorite image online and drag it to your Desktop (you can copy it directly from the Internet, but it is hard to tell if the image actually has no background until you drag it to your Desktop). Open the image and then copy it (do not copy the image before opening it; it will copy something else entirely). Once you have copied the image, go back to your “Get Info” pop up and click on the folder/application icon next to your folder/application name again. Paste your image where that icon is (command + v) and voila! Your icon for that folder or application is now that image! Note that if you want your application’s new image to appear in your Dock, you’ll have to get rid of your application in your Dock and put it back from Finder so that its icon will reset.


However, what if using an image icon in place of a folder icon confuses you, and you still want your folder icon to look like a folder, but customized so it’s not just another blue folder that looks like the others so that you can easily tell the French folder from the Statistics folder? What you would do is when you first open the “Get Info” window, you would click on the folder icon next to your folder name and copy it (command + C). Then, you would open Preview. In Preview, you would go to File and click on “New From Clipboard”. A series of slides with folder icons will pop up. All you would need is one slide with a folder. For starters, if you would like to change the color, go to Tools and click on “Adjust Color” (or click on the little briefcase icon on the window panel and then click on the pyramid icon underneath it) and play around with the scales until you find something to your liking. Use the “Tint” scale to get a good base color, which Preview offers as green or pink, and use the “Temperature” scale to solidify your folder as having a warm or cold color. Slide the “Highlights” scale to the right to make your folder bright and pop out, or slide it to the left and make it appear more muted. As expected, using the “Sepia” slide will make the folder have more of an orange or reddish tint to it. You can also add shapes and emojis to your folder too. Simply click on the briefcase icon at the top of the window, and click on the shapes icon if you would like to add shapes, or click on the textbox symbol (the square with a “T” in the middle), then click on Edit and then Emojis and Symbols, and then double click on the emoji of your liking after scrolling through them and paste it into your textbox. To make it bigger, change the font size. Once you are done, click on the slide you worked on itself and then go back to your “Get Info” window, clicking on the folder icon next to your folder name as before. Paste what you have, and now you have a customized folder! You do not even need Photoshop, although you can choose to use it if you want to get fancy and change your folder icon in a similar manner.


2. Take a video of what you are doing on your screen


You might wonder how I was able to create the video in the previous trick I showed you. Long gone are 2009 and 2010, when prevalent were those glossy, white, plastic computers that matched the latest iPods that anyone born in the late 90s’ and early 2000s’ would instantly associate with Apple. Gone are the days when you could easily video chat or instant message your other friends with Macs through iChat, or be able to insert the Sims into your built-in CD drives without having to buy a separate drive. However, technology has advanced to make things, in some ways, much easier than it ever was before. For example, many laptops do not come with CD drives just like how laptops stopped having floppy disk drives: new technology has replaced the old. We have USB flash drives to replace our CDs, and even those are becoming more obsolete.


Taking a video of your screen has not always been this easy. I remember when I was part of this technology club in the fifth grade when they gave us each a white 2009 Macbook to use during the school year and that we had to download an outside application, Jing, just to take a video of our screen, which was very important for us to do because it was a way for us to help other people from different places of the world with their computer issues. The funny part was, I was often the one who asked for help with how to use my computer because Windows was all I used. I had a bright pink Dell Inspiron that I held dear to my heart, and I thought my mom’s IBM ThinkPad that she got through work was the best thing ever. I was forever grateful when my mom had bought the Disney Dream Desk PC for me when I was younger. As you can tell, my family really values technology. Engineering has always been something that has transcended generations in my family.


2009 is gone, and 2019 is in. In a decade, things have become much easier, like screen recording. To screen-record, all you need to do is open QuickTime (version 10), go to File, and click on New Screen Recording. You can also take a video of yourself, or just record audio as well. You do not have to download any outside applications and everything is right at your fingertips. This is a new era indeed.


3. Change Keyboard Shortcuts


Open System Preferences and then click on the Keyboard icon. There, you can decide how you want to change your shortcuts. Say you are a new Mac user, coming from Windows, and hate using “command” instead of “control” when you are copying and pasting. While in the “Keyboard” tab of the “Keyboard” window, click on Modifier Keys, and a window with dropdown menus will show up. Go to the dropdown menu next to “control” and choose the “command” option. Now for every shortcut that your Mac requires you to use “command” for, you can use “control” for with the other keys.


But what if you want certain shortcuts just for certain applications? Simply click on the “Shortcuts” tab, click on the “+” sign towards the bottom of the window, and choose the application you want to make a shortcut for from the dropdown menu that will appear. Then make sure that the menu command of the application that you are trying to change actually exists (check the spelling and check to see if the command is named as you expect), and then in the Keyboard Shortcut textbox, press the keys that you want to use to perform a certain function. Note that you cannot change the keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Word through System Preferences. For that, you would have to go to Tools in Word itself, then to “Customize Keyboard”…, and choose which menu commands you want to change the keyboard shortcut for. Word offers a much easier approach to changing keyboard shortcuts anyways, so this should be no issue.