The Cutting Edge Tech Blog

10 Things You Probably Didn’t know How To Do On Your Mac by Xptiger

10 Things You Probably Didn’t know How To Do On Your Mac

This article/tutorial will show you how to do some pretty epic and useful stuff with your Mac (providing you have a Mac and are running Mac OS X 10.6). In this article/tutorial we will be covering some security features of your Mac, How to snaz up you’re working environment and some generally useful tips.

The First topics that we will be covering are security (password stuff). In this section I will be showing you how to lock down any files that you don’t wish people to accesses, making for a safer computer.

1. Finding files using their addresses

First off I’m going to quickly show you how to locate a folder by typing its address. This is one of the features of finder and I will be using it in the rest of my tips to make it quicker!

Step 1.

Make sure you’re in finder and then go to the go menu and select the item in the drop down that says ‘Go to Folder…’ or you can hit ‘Shift + Command + G’ (when your on finder) this is just the shortcut. This will bring up a text field as shown in the image below. This text field can be used to enter the root directory of a folder. If your familiar with the folder system used on website URL then you should get the hang of this pretty quickly but if not do not fear as I will explain. Here’s an example folder address “/Users/oliver/Documents/images” if I were to enter this into the text field and press go it would take me to the folder images. The images folder is in the folder documents which is in the folder oliver etc… So the folder address is just instruction on how to find a folder.

Step 2.

As you may have already guessed the next step is just to press go or hit enter/return and your folder will appear in finder.

Securing Your Mac

Mac’s aren’t the easiest things to protect your stuff since there’s no simple way of whacking a password on a folder therefore limiting access to those files. But all is not lost as there are some ways of doing this although they aren’t the most practical way they do the job and give you some piece of mind.

2. Password Protecting a Folder

This is a fairly long-winded and slow process and requires you to uncompressed your folder every time you want to view its content but will place a password on your folder.

Step 1.

Head into your applications folder and find the folder named utilities. Inside that folder there will be an application called Disk Utility. Once you’ve located it open it up as this will be the application we will be using to create our password-protected folder. you can also use the folder address below using the go to folder function I showed you below.

/Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility

Disk Utility Icon

Step 2.

The window that will greet you is shown below;

Ignore the array of complicated buttons and icons and head to the file menu then New and select new Image form Folder or use the shortcut ‘Shift + Command + N’. A new window will open and ask you to select a folder. Now select the folder you want to be password protected and hit return or press image.

Step 3.

A new window will appear, apply the following settings to the folder to add a password and allow you to remove items from the folder once you’ve password-protected it. In the image format drop-down menu select read/write and in the Encryption drop down select 128-bit AES Encryption (recommended). The First drop down allows you to edit the items in the folder and the second drop down is what adds the password to the folder. Then hit stuff.

Step 4.

Now 2 new windows will appear. The first will display a progress bar and the second will have 2 fields and a tick box in. MAKE SURE YOU UN-TICK THE BOX, this is important as otherwise the password is stored on your computers key chain and so will be entered for you and you will not see the effect. Next enter your password into the fields above As shown below

Step 5.

Your folder will now have been turned into a .dmg and will have been placed in the location of your original folder unless you specified otherwise.

To view it’s content double-click to open it up, type your password in and your files will appear. Once you’re done with simply eject the disk and your files are protected again, Simples!


Thats it all of your precious files and folders are now protected.

3. Password protect an image

You may have an image or images or even a PDF document that you don’t want anyone snooping around on your computer to find. Well, don’t worry because again I have the solution!

Step 1.

Find the image or PDF file that you wish to password protect and open it up in Preview.

Step 2.

Go to save as and select .PDF file in the drop-down (purple/blue), Tick the button that says Encrypt (Green), type your password in (Red) and press save.


Your images are now safe from snooping eyes.

Make Your Mac Experience Snazzier

I know that you’re all saying “but how could my Mac get any better” and i admit that it is already a beautiful and enjoyable experience using your Mac, but I’m here to make it more fun and probably easier to browse your files. in this section we’re going to look at changing file and folder icons and other cool but maybe more pointless things you can do with your mac!

4. Changing Your File & Folder Icons

So here’s the scenario: you have a folder and inside that folder there are hundreds of other folders, but they all look the same and being the lazy type you want to be able to find the folders you want super quickly and without having to read any text. Sounds familiar doesn’t it! But do not worry as I am here to show you how you can do that by re-decorating your folders and files. There is some software out there that will do this for you but this method is very quick and simple to do and gives you the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

Step 1.

Locate and image that you wish to be your icon, This should be 512 x 512 as this is the image size of the icons that are already used by your Mac this won’t make a difference as the 2 options i will give you for creating your icon will convert you’re image to the correct size anyway it’s better to have an image that will look good no matter how big you make it! head over to /Developer/Applications/Utilities using the go to folder function if you installed the developer tools when you setup your Mac initially and open the app called Icon Composer. Or head over to iConvert and upload use their free converter if you do not have the developer apps installed.

Step 2. (Applicable if using Icon Composer Only)

When you open developer composer a new window will appear as shown below. Drag your chosen image into one of the darker gray boxes and then from that box into the other smaller boxes. This will convert your image into the 5 different image sizes that your Mac uses to make sure your image is looking it’s best at all sizes.

After doing that you should end up with something that looks like this

Now all you need to do go to the File menu and the press Save and you will have your icon ready to whack onto your file or folder.

Step 3.

Now you’ve got your icon it’s time to stick it on your file or folder. This is fairly simple and can be done in 2 steps.

The first thing you need to do is open your new image up in whatever you want, I’ll be using preview as it’s the default image viewer on your Mac and you don’t need to do anything powerful. Once your image is open you’ll need to select it so hit ‘Command + A’ to select it all; it should look like the image below once you’ve done it, and then ‘Command + C’ To copy it.

Step 4.

Now the slightly more tricky bit. Right click the file or folder you want to change the icon on and then find the menu item that says ‘Get Info’ and press it. Now you need to select the icon you want to change in the top left-hand corner and hit ‘Command + V’ to paste your new icon on top and you’re done.


You now have beautiful files and folders that make it really, really easy to find the files you want and it only took 4 steps. Now all you’ve got to decide on is what images to put with what files!

Tips & Tricks

In this section I will show you some little things that could save you space on your computer and make your life generally easier.

5. Secure Trash

Secure trash deletes more of the file than just normal trash. When you empty the trash all it actually does is allows over files to be saved over the top of the items that you’ve deleted. With secure trash turned on the file is removed from your system completely making file saving much faster and allowing your computer to run much more smoothly.

Step 1.

Make sure you’re in finder then head to the Finder menu item and select ‘preferences’. Then go to the advanced menu in the new window that appears. Finally tick the box the says Empty trash securely. Thats it!

Now when you empty your trash the file is completely removed. Although this takes quite a bit longer it’s well worth it!

6. Super Clean Window Screenshots

When you take a screenshot on your mac there are 2 options you might go for. you may just want to tak an image of your whole screen or you might want to take just a portion. The trouble with taking a portion is the hassle of  lining the crosshairs up with the corner of your windows and even if you do it super neatly you’re still likely to have a messy edge. But, fear no more there is a solution.

Step 1.

Hit ‘Command + Shift + 4’ to go take a screen shot of a portion of a window.

Step 2.

Hit space and watch the magic, there should now be an icon like the one shown below instead of the crosshairs. Now all you have to do is hover over the window you want to screenshot, ‘Click’ and all the work is done for you!


It’s as easy as that! now you never need to worry about scruffy edges on your images. The great advantage of this technique is it keeps the shadow on the window giving your images that extra wow factor.

7. Alternative Menu

This is a super quick time saver, enabling you to use alternate menu items when you bring up the dock icon menu.

Step 1.

Click and hold the Dock icon of the application you want to bring up the menu for.

Step 2.

Hit and hold the ‘alternate/ALT/option’ key.

Step 3.

Press one of the two new buttons that appear, but which will you choose, ‘Force Quit’ or ‘Hide Others’.


Wasn’t that easy!

8. Forcing a document to open with an application

This is a fairly useful feature. Say that you have a document and you know for a fact that one of your applications will open it but it doesn’t show that application in open with menu. At this point you’re probably thinking “arghhh i can’t be asked said application and open it via the other menu” or if you’re the gaming type “arghhh I CBA”! Well yet again i have an answer for you!

Step 1.

Locate the file you wish to deploy in an application

Step 2.

Check that your application is either in the dock or open in the finder window.

Step 3.

Drag the file you want to open onto the icon of the application that is either in the dock or in a finder window as shown below.


Hey presto your file has been forced to open in that application. Pretty cool isn’t it :P

9. Adding new shortcuts to applications

This is a very useful trick and has been made very easy to do by apple. This trick will work on most applications but unfortunately doesn’t yet work on all applications. All the software you will need on this is already on your Mac, unless you’ve deleted it which would be slightly worrying considering what we need!

Step 1.

Open system Preferences.

Step 2.

Go to keyboard and then keyboard shortcuts.

Step 3.

Press the Plus button under the white box, The select the application you want the shortcut to work on in the drop-down menu, Type the exact name of the menu item; you only need the menu item name not the address or anything special. Next press the shortcut box and press the keys on your keyboard that you want to be the shortcut. Finally press Add.

You may need to restart the application for the shortcut to take effect and yes you can add shortcuts to bookmarks on your web browser such as The Cutting Edge Tech Blog!


Thats it you can now speed up your work speed since moving your hand from your keyboard to your mouse takes time, and that is why there called shortcuts!

10. Adjusting volume and Brightness by minute amounts

Have you even needed to adjust the volume and brightness by only a small amount instead of only by the present squares? well don’t worry because i have the answer to you worries!

Step 1.

Press and hold SHIFT and ALT

Step 2.

Whilst still holding SHIFT and ALT press either the volume of brightness controls of your keyboard and hey presto minute adjustments


I’m not sure there is much to conclude but here goes anyway! You now know how to control the keyboard triggered adjustments on your Mac with greater accuracy and control.

Overall Conclusion

Here are just a small selection of what you can do with your Mac and I’m sure there are hundreds of more things that you would like to know so please feel free to leave a comment and suggest them. I’ll then have a little rummage around the internet and see whether I can help you.

Thanks for reading


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