12 super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan

Think you know everything about Mac OS El Capitan? Think again. Here are 12 fantastic secret El Cap tips that even experienced power users might not know about - and they will transform the way you use your Mac

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  • os x el capitan 6 Advanced tips
  • iclouddrive iCloud Drive
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  • mailsplit Split-screen power use
  • threefingers Three fingers
  • photosapp Photos animation
  • photobrowser Photo Browser
  • silentclicking Silent clicking
  • fullscreenreminders Reminders
  • ipv6 IPv6
  • bluetooth Bluetooth
  • savepassword No password
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Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan

Six months is a long time in tech, and most of us now find Mac OS X El Capitan as comfortable and comforting as a warm pair of slippers. But the not-quite-as-new-as-it-used-to-be dog still has a few tricks hidden away that even power users might not know about. And some of them might just change the way you use your Mac.

For this article we've rounded up 12 fantastic advanced tips for your delight and edification: secret El Capitan tricks and techniques that will transform your user experience and wow you friends and colleagues.

Read next: 23 tips & tricks for Mac OS X El Capitan | Mac security tips

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Next Prev os x el capitan 6

Six months is a long time in tech, and most of us now find Mac OS X El Capitan as comfortable and comforting as a warm pair of slippers. But the not-quite-as-new-as-it-used-to-be dog still has a few tricks hidden away that even power users might not know about. And some of them might just change the way you use your Mac.

For this article we've rounded up 12 fantastic advanced tips for your delight and edification: secret El Capitan tricks and techniques that will transform your user experience and wow you friends and colleagues.

Read next: 23 tips & tricks for Mac OS X El Capitan | Mac security tips

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Know what iCloud Drive is doing

In El Capitan it's much easier to see when iCloud Drive is syncing - which is to say, uploading, downloading, or deleting files. For example, at the side of the iCloud Drive heading under Favorites in Finder you'll see a little pie chart when iCloud Drive is doing something. This shows iCloud Drive's current progress. Even if you haven't got iCloud Drive selected in Finder you’ll still see this, so can see at a glance whether iCloud Drive is syncing.

Not only that, but if you have the Status Bar visible within Finder (click View > Show Status Bar), Finder will tell you how much free space you have available in iCloud (not just in iCloud Drive!) and how many files are syncing (including those in the upload queue), along with the progress - shown as the current KB/MB uploaded vs the total waiting to be uploaded or downloaded.

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Sort Notifications better

We'll bet you haven't spotted this one, but you can now sort the messages that appear in the Notification Center according to three separate rules: by the most recent, by the most recent and additionally sorted by app, or manually by app. You can choose between these by clicking the Notifications icon in System Preferences and then selecting the option from the Notification Center Sort Order dropdown list.

So what's the difference between them? 

Recents: As its name suggests, this simply shows the most recent notification at the top of the list, regardless of the app. The ones beneath are again strictly ordered according only to when they appeared.

Recents by App: The app with the most recent notification appears at the top of the list and beneath this are all the other notifications from that app - regardless of how old they are (and some might go back months or even years). Beneath the first app will be the next app with the most recent notification, and so on.

Manually by App: Notifications appear in the order the apps are listed at the left of the System Preferences window, and you can drag each up or down to rearrange the order (note: you're not allowed to drag them around in the actual Notification Center). You can drag the Mail app icon to the top so that you always see Mail's most recent notifications, for example, even if another app has a more recent notification to give you.

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Mail split-screen power use

We've discussed the new split view of El Capitan before, but it can really prove its usefulness if you're a heavy emailer.

The compose new mail window that appears when you click File > New Message can be viewed in split view alongside the main mail window - perfect if you want to compose a new email while quickly referring to previous messages. Not only that, but if you need to quickly send another email, without discarding your existing draft, tapping Cmd+N will open the additional mail composition window as a pop-up in the main Mail part of the split view.

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Three fingers

A useful feature of pre-El Capitan versions of OS X was the three-finger drag. This was an option within the Trackpad section of System Preferences - although in El Capitan it appears to have vanished.  

Amongst other things three finger dragging let you move windows by positioning the mouse cursor over the title bar and dragging three fingers on the trackpad (note: that's NOT clicking and dragging). You could also drag files from one place to another with three fingers 

In the best traditions of Apple’s continuing OS development it turns out this feature is still around. It’s just moved to the Accessibility section in System Preferences - click the Accessibility icon, then select Mouse & Trackpad in the list on the left, click the Trackpad Options button, put a check in Enable Dragging, then select Three Finger Drag from the dropdown list alongside.

Notably, three-finger drag in El Cap isn’t quite the same as the old days. Because it's now an accessibility feature there's a slight delay when you lift your fingers, during which the feature remains active. In other words, drag a file somewhere via a three finger drag, then lift your fingers, and the icon will still be in move mode for around a second. Give it a try to see what we mean. However, this doesn't impact too much if you simply use three-finger drag to move windows around.

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Reduce Photos app animations

As with iOS, the Photos app on the Mac makes heavy use of visual effects. Photos zoom out of their thumbnails when you double-click them, for example.

Perhaps mindful that some people desire a sedate experience, opening the preferences dialog box in Photos (tap Cmd+comma) lets you turn off these special effects. Just put a tick alongside Reduce Motion. From now on, photos will fade into view although many other effects - such as photos sliding left when you click the Edit button - will stick around. Still, it's a step in the right direction.

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Browse your Photo library from within Notes

Perhaps surprisingly, it's always been possible within the Notes app to insert pictures, and this was true even before El Capitan's rich text editing overhaul. For some time it's been possible to simply drag and drop a photo from anywhere on to a note and it'll be inserted at the cursor position.

However, new to El Capitan is the standard OS X Photos Browser window by which you can view your entire iCloud library and quickly insert what you're looking for. To open the browser, just click Window > Photo Browser. It exists as a floating inspector-style window so you can leave it open while editing your note and use it only when you need to.

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Silent clicking

If you've got a fancy new MacBook or MacBook Pro with a Force Touch trackpad, El Capitan offers a very useful additional feature: silence. Just open System Preferences, click the Trackpad icon, ensure the Point & Click tab is selected at the top of the screen, and then put a tick in the Silent Clicking checkbox.

You'll still feel and even hear a noise, but it won't be as loud or noticeable as the usual click - a click that's little more than a synthesized noise produced by the trackpad's Taptic Engine!

Read next: 13 ways to use Force Touch on the new MacBook

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Remind yourself - full screen

It's the little things that make all the difference in El Capitan, so how about this one: while most built-in OS X apps have been compatible with full screen mode for years, Reminders has only received the full-screen love in its El Capitan incarnation.

We suspect this is because Apple suspected people would want to use it in split view mode alongside other apps (and to be honest if you switch the app to full screen mode on its own - just select the option at the bottom of the View menu - it looks a bit daft because there's simply no need for all that space within its user interface).

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Use IPv6 for internet sharing

IPv6 is the internet addressing and routing system designed to replace the ages-old IPv4, and it's coming to the internet near you whether you like it or not.

British Telecom has said that by the end of 2016 its entire network will be IPv6-compatible. What does this mean to the rest of us? Well, pretty much nothing at all - but you might be pleased to hear that El Capitan lets you experiment by sharing your Mac's internet connection solely by IPv6. In other words, you can make your home or office's network entirely IPv6 should you want to (or if you're just bored.)

To do so, open System Preferences, click the Sharing icon, and then hold down Alt (Option on some keyboards) while clicking the Internet Sharing checkbox. Then put a check in the Create NAT64 Network box too. From this point on any computer that wants to connect to your Mac to share its internet connection will have to do so by IPv6. Good luck!

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Totally reset Bluetooth

Bluetooth has never been completely reliable, especially on Macs, but Apple’s taken some steps to ease the pain in El Captain. You can undertake a hardcore reset of Bluetooth hardware and software components with just a few clicks. This will remove any devices you have paired and essentially return the Bluetooth system to factory-fresh state, so consider it a last resort if other trouble-solving steps haven’t worked.

Obviously, if you use a Bluetooth keyboard and/or mouse you'll need to either use your Mac's built-in keyboard and trackpad for these steps, or temporarily attach USB devices. You'll need the Bluetooth menu icon visible too. If it isn't, open System Preferences, click the Bluetooth icon, and then put a check in the box marked Show Bluetooth In Menu Bar. 

Then hold down Shift+Alt (Option on some keyboards) and click the Bluetooth icon on the menu bar. On the menu that appears click Debug > Remove All Devices. At this point any existing devices you have paired will stop working. Click the menu again with Shift+Alt held down and this time select Debug > Reset the Bluetooth Module. Then reboot your Mac. When it restarts, add your Bluetooth devices as if setting up a new Mac via the Bluetooth component of System Preferences.

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: No password required!

Both the Mac App Store and iBooks have gained the ability in El Capitan to download items that are free without pestering you each time for your password. To set up the App Store so it's password-less, open System Preferences and click the App Store icon. Then select Save Password from the Free Downloads dropdown list. Within iBooks open the preferences dialog box (Cmd+comma), select the Store tab, and then click Save Password in the Free Downloads dropdown list.

Note that you will have to enter your iTunes/iCloud password when prompted in either case when you select this option.

 

Super-advanced tips for Mac OS X El Capitan: Import images correctly

OS X has contained an app called Image Capture for many years, and it's proved the most reliable way to get images into your computer from things like digital cameras or mobile phones. Because of its age it perhaps doesn't receive the update love that other apps in OS X get… Well, not until now.

In El Capitan it gains an astonishingly useful new feature: you can select to import images from a device into a specific subfolder named after that device. In other words, attach an iPhone and the photos will be imported into a folder named after your phone, but when you attach your Canon camera then the pics will be imported to a different folder. To activate this feature, simply attach your device or camera via USB and then open Image Capture, which you'll find in the Applications list. Then select Make Subfolders Per Camera from the Export To dropdown list. Easy!

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