5 hidden secret features in OS X

5 hidden secret features in OS X

Every year Apple ships a new version of OS X packed full of new features. Most of these are well publicised, however a few slip through largely unnoticed.

Many of these secret or hidden features are incredibly useful and make completing everyday tasks more streamlined. Others can alter the appearance or behaviour of OS X to better suit the tastes of the user.

Here is a selection of the most useful and little-known secret features that have been included in all the most recent versions of OS X.

List of audio devices connected to your Mac

Quickly switch between audio input/output devices by holding down the Alt key and clicking the volume icon.

1. Quickly switch between connected audio devices

Using the volume icon in the menu bar you can switch between multiple audio sources without needing to go into system preferences.

To do this, hold down the Alt key and click on the volume icon. Depending on exactly what audio devices you have connected or built in to your Mac, you should see a menu that looks something like the image to the right.

2. Bring back "Save As..." as an option in the File menu

When Apple introduced auto-saving and versioning of documents in OS X 10.7 Lion, it caused a significant amount of confusion to long term users accustomed to the old way of saving and duplicating documents.

From OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and onwards however, you can bring back the old Save As... option to the file menu, albeit temporarily. To do this, open the File menu and hold down Alt on your keyboard. This particular trick only works in Applications that have a Duplicate... option in their File menu, however holding down the Alt key often reveals hidden options in Application menus across OS X.

3. Hide the OS X Menu Bar

Most Mac users are familiar with the ability to auto hide/show the Dock through system preferences, however a recently introduced option in OS X El Capitan brings the same functionality to the global menu bar which sits at the top of your Mac's screen.

To toggle the hiding/showing of the menu bar, open System Preferences -> General and check the option that reads Automatically hide and show the menu bar.

Insert an Emoji on Mac OS X

4. Bring up a menu for inserting Emojis

This tip requires a more recent version of OS X (Mavericks onwards). On Mac, like on iOS, you can insert Emoji characters into almost any text field. With the text field in focus, hold down Ctrl + Cmd and then press Space.

A menu containing the full range of Emoji characters available will popup. Later versions of OS X (Yosemite and El Capitan onwards) have a larger range of Emojis available.

5. Enable slow motion animations

OK, so this one isn't a particularly useful feature - but it looks cool! Animations are used extensively throughout OS X, and by holding Shift you can engage a secret slow motion mode for many of them including minimising windows and opening or closing a stack.