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Efficiency

 

See also "Tips" and "Good Practice".

This is in no specific order.

Task Example What to do
Click "OK" in a dialog box you have typed in several fields and now want to click the "OK" button. press the Enter key. This avoids that you have to leave the keyboard, move the mouse over the "OK" button and click it.
Sometimes the return key also works, but Enter is the correct choice.
Getting space on the screen Many windows of many documents cluttering the view. Do not move windows around to find other windows hidden behind them.  Use hide/show of applications (in the application menu), use -tab to rotate in the active applications, use -~ to rotate in the windows of the active application.  Moving windows makes life difficult and wastes attention time.
Editing a document Correcting an error in a web page; changing an image You can use any text editor on a text document:  Tex-Edit or Word will work just as well as Golive.  Remember that a document has a type and any application that can deal with that type can also edit it, you do not necessarily have to use the document's creator.
Selecting the next field in a form Filling in user-password dialogs Type tab to pass from one field to the other.  Tab will also highlight the text that was in the field so you can just type over it, you do not need to select it again.
Selecting text selecting a large block of items in order to copy or move them Use shift-click to extend a selection.
Seeing highlighted text or objects clicking and dragging to highlight Make sure you have a highlight colour set that you can comfortably see.  Compare these:


Use System Preferences Appearance to choose a highlight colour that allows you to see clearly the beginning and end of selections for the work that you usually do.

Repeating an operation Closing a window you no longer need Keyboard shortcuts exist for many operations.  They are much faster than using the mouse.  Learning them makes you more efficient.  Example: to close a window, type -W.
Rearranging windows Useful windows hiding other useful windows Use Exposé (System Preferences) to get an overview of all available windows.

Use -tab to rotate in the active applications, use -~ to rotate in the windows of the active application

Scattering objects on the desktop Save a document in a hurry Don't do it.  If you really are in a hurry and can't avoid using the Desktop, then take time to file documents properly as soon as the memergency is over, and while you still know what it was all about.
Knowing where you are talking to a support person over the phone Know which application is the active one:  its name is the first menu after the in the menu bar.  There may be no windows of that application open, so the screen may show windows of another than the active application.  Knowing where you are is essential to good communication with support.
Knowing the terminology talking to a support person over the phone Get to know a little vocabulary.  This is not Mac-dependent:  a lot of it is universal.  Learn the meaning of the terms cursor, insertion point, menu, menu item, window, title bar, resize box, dialog box, ... Read the glossary.
Switching between active applications Copying from one window to that of another application If a window of the other application is visible, simply click in it.  If none is visible, click the application's icon in the dock to bring it to the front.  If the dock is hidden or far away, use -tab to rotate in the active applications.
Doing something to several items set several pieces of text to an emphasis style if there is a tools palette that lets you do this operation, move it close to the place where you are going to use it.  This avoids long travel with the mouse between each use of the tool.  If there is a keyboard shortcut and you do this operation daily, learn the keyboard shortcut.  If there is no keyboard shortcut, but the application can be customised with new keyboard shortcuts, define a comfortable shortcut.
Knowing how to switch between windows of the active application inspecting several large images If windows of the same application hide each other, e.g. a set of large images viewed in Photoshop, use -~ to rotate in the windows of the active application.  There is usually also a Window menu which lists all open windows.
Keeping your bookmarks Set up a web page stored on your computer.
Refresh your memory After a month of work with a new system After one month, take some time to go again through all your preference settings.  You will find that your way of working probably benefits from different settings than the ones you chose at the start.  Repeat this process every six months.
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next planned revision: 2009-01