OS X Yosemite tips and tricks you need to know

Some tips to get the most out of Apple’s new operating system.

yosemite intro
Credit: Shutterstock
A seamless design

OS X Yosemite is Apple’s latest take on a desktop operating system, and seeing as how we’re living in an increasingly mobile world, it should come as no surprise that OS X Yosemite is designed to work seamlessly with iOS 8. As with any new major OS X update, Apple has added a plethora of new functionality. Here are some tips on tricks for making use of the cooler OS X Yosemite features.

yosemite 1
Sign a PDF using your trackpad

OS X Yosemite makes it incredibly easy to sign a PDF document straight from your laptop’s trackpad. To do so, simply open up a PDF document in Preview and then go to the Tools menu. Next, follow this selection tree: Annotate > Signature > Manage Signature.

As a nice touch, Preview can remember your signature and paste it back in for future reference. It’s also possible to add a signature via the signature icon. New in OS X Yosemite is the ability to do this directly from within the Mail app.

yosemite 2
Dark Mode

If you're looking for a darker computing aesthetic, OS X Yosemite has you covered. With OS X’s new Dark Mode, the traditionally grey-colored menu bar, menu windows, and dock become black.

To activate dark mode, go to System Preferences > General and then select "Use dark menu bar and Dock." You should see the option located beneath the Appearance tab towards the top.

yosemite 3
Screen sharing from within Messages

Mac users have long been able to screen share, but OS X Yosemite makes it easier than ever. When two users are both using the Messages app, screen sharing can be activated by clicking on the "Details" option on the upper right and selecting the "screen share" icon, indicated by two overlapping rectangles. From there, you can ask someone to share their screen or offer to share your screen with them.

yosemite 4
Find Movie showtimes and locations with Spotlight

Spotlight in OS X Yosemite has been completely revamped, though you can still access it by pressing the command and spacebar keys. One cool new feature is that if you simply type the word “movies” in Spotlight, you’ll immediately be presented with a list of where and when current movies are playing. Even better, you can also view trailers from a specific movie within the Spotlight window.

yosemite 5
Create an instant personal Wi-Fi hotspot

OS X Yosemite makes it easy to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot right from your Mac. Note that this feature only works when your Mac is within Bluetooth range of your own iPhone running iOS 8. In such a scenario, all you have to do is go to the Wi-Fi menu icon at the top of the screen and you'll see your iPhone device name listed under a "Personal Hotspot" section. This is great for when you want to get work done on your laptop but don’t have an Internet connection handy. Note that for this to work, your Mac and iPhone must be connected to the same iCloud account.

yosemite 6
Show all open tabs in Safari

With no shortage of things to visit on the web, it's all too common for users to have a myriad of tabs open at the same time. As a result, it can quickly become difficult to keep track of which tab is where, especially if you're prone to using multiple browser windows. Safari makes viewing all open tabs easier than ever. To do so, simply click on the “Show all tabs” icon located far to the right of the address bar (to the left of the “+” sign). Doing so will bring up a window showing all of your open tabs, grouped together by website.

yosemite 7
Mail Markup

With the new Mail Markup feature in OS X Yosemite's Mail app, it's extremely easy, and dare I say fun, to add annotations, notes, and drawings to inline mail messages. Simply put, Mail Markup gives you some photo editing tools directly within the Mail app. To access Mail Markup, open up an email with an attached photo and simply click the downward-facing arrow located at the top right corner of the photo. Once selected, annotation tools will present themselves, allowing you to draw circles and add arrows or text photos.

yosemite 8
Rename multiple files at once

At last, OS X Yosemite makes it easy to select a group of files and rename them all at once. To take advantage of this great time-saving feature, select a group of files and control click on the selection. When the contextual menu appears, you'll see an option to "Rename Items." Select this and you can then proceed to select what type of formatting you prefer for the file names. One such option includes the ability to place numbers, in sequential order, before each successive file.

yosemite 9
Make phone calls from your Mac

To enable this feature, first open up FaceTime. Then, go to FaceTime > Preferences and toggle on the “iPhone Cellular Calls” button located towards the bottom. From here, if your iPhone is within Bluetooth range, you can make calls by clicking on inline phone numbers on Safari, clicking on a phone number from within the Contacts app, and also via the Messages and Calendar apps. You can also initiate a call by dialing in a number directly via the FaceTime app.

yosemite 10
Credit: iDownloadblog

Borrowing a feature from iOS 8, OS X Yosemite now includes QuickType word suggestions. To access it, simply press the "escape" button as you're typing and a list of context-specific word suggestions will appear. For now, it only works in some Apple apps, such as TextEdit and Messages.

yosemite 11
Enhanced Dictation

Siri may not be on the Mac just yet, but enhanced dictation in OS X Yosemite should help tide you over. Dictation in OS X provides a great way to enter text into apps like TextEdit without having to pound away at your keyboard. You can enable the feature by going to System Preferences and opening up "Dictation & Speech." Next, toggle the Dictation setting to "On" and you're good to go. To activate Dictation from within an app, simply press the Function Key twice in quick succession.

Note that if you want to use enhanced dictation in OS X Yosemite while offline, you must first download a separate 1.2 GB file.

yosemite 12
Quickly access Safari favorites and frequently visited sites

Click on the address bar in Safari and you'll see a grid layout of your Favorited websites along with your most frequently viewed websites.

yosemite 13
Use Spotlight for quick unit and currency conversions

You can use Spotlight for an assortment of interesting tasks, including conducting quick unit and currency conversions. Want to know how much $50 is worth in Euros? Simply start typing "$15 dollars" into the spotlight menu and equivalent currencies will appear. Similarly, if you type something like "22 c" into Spotlight, it will tell you the equivalent temperature in Fahrenheit.

yosemite 14
Close opened tabs on your iPhone/iPad directly from your Mac

Thanks to Handoff, if you have an embarrassing or perhaps processor-heavy webpage left open on your iOS device, the continuity features in OS X Yosemite makes it easy to close it directly from your Mac. To do so, simply fire up Safari on your Mac, create a new tab, and you'll see a list of opened tabs on any iOS devices you have nearby. Per usual, both iOS devices need to be on the same iCloud account and within Bluetooth range for this to work.

yosemite 15
Record audio in Messages

In yet another iOS 8-inspired feature, OS X Yosemite makes it easy to send audio messages from within the Messages app. To do so, simply click on the microphone icon located next to the compose window and you’re good to go.

yosemite 16
Credit: iPhonehacks
Record your iOS device's screen

This is a nifty little addition to OS X. Users can now use OS X Yosemite to record screen footage from their iOS device. To get started, connect your iOS device to your Mac with a lightning cable. Next, open up the QuickTime app and go to the File menu. From there, select "New Screen Recording" and you'll see that your connected iOS device is now a selectable option. The feature is great for those attempting to showcase iOS tips, record gameplay footage, or even document app glitches. As an added touch, the iOS menu bar during a recording is "cleaned up" with a full signal and full battery life indicators.

yosemite 17
Send 5GB email attachments with Mail Drop

The Mail app in OS X Yosemite lets users send attachments as large as 5GB, and the way it works is quite clever. When sending a large attachment, the attachment is uploaded to a user’s iCloud. In the process, a link to that file is created and then sent to the recipient, whereupon it can be downloaded to a new computer. It's sort of like Dropbox, but free. Even better, it doesn't count against your iCloud storage. While some email services like Gmail put a cap on the file size of attachments, Mail Drop skirts around it.

yosemite 18
Restore the traditional green maximize button

In OS X Yosemite, pressing the green “stop light” button now works to take a window into full-screen mode. If you’d like to revert back to its traditional functionality – maximizing the window without entering full-screen mode – you can do so simply by clicking the green button while pressing the option key down.

yosemite 19
Credit: OS X Daily
Show full web address in Safari

In an arguably misguided attempt to remove all distractions, the default URL bar in Safari only displays the domain name of a website and not the full webpage URL. Accessing the full web address, however, can be accomplished if you open the Safari Menu, select "Preferences," click on the “Advanced” tab, and select "Show Full Website Address." Problem solved.

yosemite 20
Keep browsing private with Duck Duck Go

Though not a mainstream name like Google, Duck Duck Go is a search engine that keeps all of your browsing private and doesn't collect user data the way Google is prone to do. To make Duck Duck Go your default search engine, you can simply click the magnifying glass located to the left of the URL bar.