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El Capitan tips

IT’S been a week since I upgraded to El Capitan (OS X 10.11) on my MacBook Air and I’m still stumbling onto some of its new features that are not immediately obvious. Most of these are fairly minor features, but taken together, they can make your Mac just a wee bit easier to use.


Where did my cursor go?

It doesn’t happen a lot, but once in a while, I lose track of my cursor. With El Capitan, I no longer have to squint at the screen to find it. All I have to do is shake the mouse or rub the trackpad a few times, and the cursor grows larger, just long enough for me to spot it.


A new way to rename.

Linux and Windows users have long been able to right-click on a file and choose “rename.” Oddly, that option has not been available on Macs—until now. Is that really any easier than clicking on a file name in finder, or hitting the Enter key with the file highlighted? Perhaps not, but it’s good to have that option.



This one is mostly for propeller heads who like to use Terminal, but every so often, I’ve wanted to have a feature like this, too. To copy a file’s full pathname to the clipboard, just right-click on the file to call up a contextual menu. Then, tap the Option key to get “Copy Pathname” as an extra option.


Hide the menu bar

Mac users have long been able to auto-hide the Dock at the bottom of the screen, tucking it away when it’s not needed to gain a little more desktop space. Unlike on Windows or Linux, however, the Mac’s menu bar was constant and immutable. This too has changed. To get the menu bar to autohide, simply go to System Preferences > General, then check the box next to “Automatically hide and show menu bar.”


Move the Spotlight window

On Yosemite, the Spotlight search bar appeared dead center near the top of the screen. This isn’t always the best spot for it, though, because it often gets obscured among other open windows—and there was no way to move it to another location. Now on On El Capitan, you can move the Spotlight search bar like any other window by dragging it to a new spot on the desktop. If a results window is attached to it, you can drag that as well. Unfortunately, once you’ve opened up a results window, that bumps up the search bar up—which is also where it will appear when you summon it next (with Command+Space). To restore the search bar to the default spot front and center, just hold down the magnifying glass icon on the menu bar.


You’ve got Mail.

I have to confess that I have not used the Mac’s built-in mail program (preferring to use Thunderbird for consistency, since that is what I use on my Linux desktop) but some new features that El Capitan added piqued my curiosity.

These include the ability to open multiple mail tabs in full screen mode, if you’d like to work on several e-mails at the same time, simply by typing Command+N.

Like you would on an iPad, you can now delete and e-mail by swiping across it from right to left—only instead of swiping on the screen, you can perform the gesture on the trackpad.

Mail also enables you to add an event to the Calendar application with just one click if it detects a date in your incoming mail.


Search as you speak?

A cool feature of Spotlight is that it is now supposed to be capable of doing natural language searches such as “stuff I worked on today.” In practice, however, this has been a hit-or-miss affair for me (mostly miss), maybe because my primary language, English—without specifying US, UK or Australia, is not any of the supported ones. Too bad. Chin Wong


Column archives and blog at: http://www.chinwong.com

Topics: El Capitan , Mac OS

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