7 Ways To Increase Productivity On A Mac

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Tailoring your computer to suit your own habits is one of the easiest ways to increase your productivity. Finding solutions to mundane and repetitive tasks on your Macbook can sound like a dull task in itself, but in the long run it can save you hours of time.

Here are a few of my favourite ways to get up to speed on my Mac machine:

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Install Alfred. Now.

Apple may have an already powerful system wide search tool in Spotlight, but Alfred takes the idea of a system-wide helper and extends it's capabilities into something absolutely indispensable. Alfred is single handedly the most important application that I use on my Macbook and the first thing I download on any new machine.

With one simple keyboard shortcut, followed by any of the keywords known to Alfred, I can search on Google, do quick math, find the definition of any word in the dictionary, turn on and off the lights in my office, play and navigate through my music as well as the standard things such as finding and opening a file on my machine.

The thriving Alfred community means that people are always expanding on what it can do. You can get a script to read the latest design news, get football scores, find the weather & local time for a specific city. And literally thousands more. And again its all one keyboard shortcut away.

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Forget Most Of Your Passwords

Most people don't immediately consider an increase in security as a form of productivity. But knowing your data is protected and accessible quickly can save huge amounts of time.

Passwords are of constant annoyance to me. Most people only have the capacity to remember 4 or 5 good ones, yet even that doesn't mean that people actually abide by that. Reading a list of the most popular passwords ('123456' and 'password'), you can almost begin to understand how needlessly difficult & cumbersome it currently is to keep your information safe online.

1Password is a well-designed password management application, and it's vital for me on a daily basis. It's not an entirely bulletproof system, but I'm comfortable enough to use it knowing that it makes breaking into my accounts even a bit more difficult. I don't know my Twitter, Facebook, Email passwords. I know, incidentally, only one password. That one password unlocks a 'vault' which stores and decrypts my login information.

I know one strong password which gives me access to my logins on the desktop. While on my phone, I can use my fingerprint to auto login on any website that I have credentials on 1Password. Whenever I need I want to create a new login, I can use the random password generator, a 21 character long password is entered (the length is my preference), saved in 1password and I never have to think of my place of birth or my favourite movie again. And even better, since each password is different, if one is obtained without my knowledge, its rendered almost useless to the attacker. That generated password is of no significance to me. It's not repeated, and therefore of no threat to the security of my other passwords.

1password can also save information about you such as emails, addresses, and phone numbers so you don't have to enter them in manually in your browser. 1password can even notify me if a site that I have used has been a victim of a password breach or exploit and can again help me quickly change them when and if it happens.

SERIOUSLY : If you're not going to use a password manager over security reasons or, I don't know, a brief lapse in sanity, at least make your password difficult to obtain and/or guess. Change them regularly, and use a mixture of uppercase letters & lowercase letters and digits.

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Use An Email Client That Doesn't Leave You Defeated

Email is an antiquated piece of technology, not because its not effective, but because so many people read them in applications that have been left in the past.

Not since Sparrow was acquired by Google was I as impressed with a email application more than I am with Mailbox, which recently came to OS X in beta form. It has its flaws – *cough* needs media query support *cough* – but its minimalism is its greatest asset. It doesn't have a billion buttons for quick access to mail merge features, it has one button to compose an emails and a list of all emails sent to me.

Swipe right over an email in the list to archive, swipe left to delete. That is literally all there is to it. Well, and click an email to read it, but who does that these days?

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Share Screenshots Quickly In Dropbox

Working remotely as a designer means that I need to send screenshots to my co-workers quickly. Luckily Dropbox makes it possible without having to do anything other than using the shortcut you are already given using a Mac.

In Dropbox Settings, under the Import tab, check the button next to Save Screenshots to your Dropbox.

Next time you create a screenshot, either of your screen (Cmd + Shift + 3) or a selected area (Cmd + Shift + 4), that screenshot will be saved to your Dropbox and a link will be ready to paste for quick sending.

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Make The Finder Less… Shit

Finder, no matter how much we nerds complain, is still clunky, archaic, and feature-lacking. I've been using Total Finder for a few years now and I still love it, even though many of the features have (eventually) made its way into the Finder.

Total Finder brings small useful details to the Finder on Mac such as Chrome-style tabs, shortcuts to hide/show hidden files (handy for my job), the ability to move folders to top. It also allows me to view two windows side my side if I ever need to copy files from one directory to another a lot. It's $18 but that money is repaid if you're like me and use it daily for 3 years.

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Organise Your Dock

I love the dock on OS X. It gives me quick access to the apps I use daily and it's hidden from sight when I don't need to use it. But a quick glance at the icons in the dock isn't always enough time to find what you want. Which is why I separate the apps in my dock with blank spaces in order to organise them in a way that makes sense to me.

Media - Reading - Work

To add blank spaces, open the Terminal.app, located in /Applications/Utilities and paste in the following command

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-apps -array-add '{"tile-type"="spacer-tile";}'; killall Dock

Then just drag the spacer around your dock and sort your applications. If you ever want to remove the tile, just drag it off of your dock and it disappears.

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Manage Your Windows Using BetterSnapTool

I'm not much of a fan of Windows these days, but one thing I really miss from using it is the snapping feature, which gives the ability to drag a window around the desktop into one of the corners and have the application fill either half or the entire screen.

Using BetterSnapTool, or a variety of others, you can mimic this feature on OS X and place apps side by side or dedicate all of your screen space to a single application, helping you focus and do your job more efficiently.

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Most Importantly- Do Your Own Thing

Theres no magic wand when it comes to increasing productivity. The methods outlined above work for me, and could work for you, but the best way to gain productivity on a Mac is to use your computer in the way you understand, find out what works for you and stick with it.

If you have any tips to share that make your computing habits easier, leave them in the comments below.

Written By

Sean O'Grady

Sean O'Grady, is the übergeek & designer behind the Lovin Group

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