Personalizing your Mac - Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)

Mac Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts in easy steps (2015)


Personalizing your Mac

Like home decorating, you will want to have your Mac looking exactly the way you want. In this section we will explore the various options for wallpapers and screen savers, clock display, sounds, icon size, and more.

Customize the Login Screen

You can change many aspects of the Mac’s look and feel, starting with the login screen (the one you see when you start the Mac).

Add a message to the Login window

This Terminal command enables you to add a message of your choice to the login window.

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText “Your Message”

Replace “Your Message” with the message of your choice. Don’t make it too long. To revert back to the default:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText “”

Disable Automatic login?

Logging in automatically saves you time but means your Mac is accessible to anyone. It is better to disable Automatic Login, which means you must enter your administrator password to access the Mac.

To switch Automatic Login on and off

imageGo to System Preferences > Users & Groups

imageClick your account name and select Login Options


Change the Clock

The menu bar clock can be configured in a variety of ways:

•Digital or analog

•Display the time with seconds

•Several other options

To change the configuration

imageGo to System Preferences > Date & Time

imageClick the Clock tab on the right

imageCheck or uncheck until the clock is the way you want it


Analog clock



Wallpaper is basically the term given to the picture which appears on your Mac’s Desktop. The wallpaper images are stored within your Pictures folder.

You can also access the images supplied by Apple which are shown in the window on the left (System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver).

To change the Desktop image

imageOpen Desktop & Screen Saver

imageMake sure the Desktop button is active

imageSelect the image you wish to use from the folders on the left under Apple (Nature, Plants, etc.)

imageYou can also choose images from your iPhoto folder or from any other third-party source, e.g.


Screen Savers

In the old days, if you left an image on the screen for too long it would leave a permanent image on your screen. In order to avoid this, screen savers were developed to create a moving image which would prevent screen burnout.

Apple provides a number of screen saver options

imageGo to System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver

imageClick on Screen Saver

imageChoose from the various options depending on your personal taste

imageYou can even generate your own message to be displayed when your Mac goes to sleep (Click Screen Saver Options...)



If you are away from your Mac and the screen saver kicks in, it is a good idea to force the Mac to use a password to wake it up. Otherwise, anyone can view your files when you are away from your Mac.

Desktop Icon Size

The Desktop icons can be made larger or smaller and can even be configured to take up a specific layout.

Adjusting the size and layout of the Desktop icons

imageGo to View > Options

imageAdjust size of the icons by using the slider bar - moving it left or right

imageAdjust Grid spacing

imageYou can alter other settings, e.g. the size and position of the text, and whether to show icon preview



Notifications are very useful if you want to be reminded about calendar events, new Tweets, and other incoming data. However, with several apps having access to Notifications, you could be inundated with notifications all day long.

For this reason, it is useful to prune notifications using:

imageSystem Preferences > Notifications

imageScroll down through the list of apps using the Notification Center in the left-hand pane in the window

imageClick on each one individually and see how notifications are shown

imageIf you want to disable notifications, simply click None and that app will not send a notification

imageIf you prefer banners in the middle of the screen, select Banners and if you prefer alerts to be shown at the top right of the screen, click Alerts


Save Energy using Energy Saver

Saving energy is important, especially when using a laptop. By adjusting the Energy Saver System Preferences you can control when your Mac goes to sleep, when the hard drive spins down, and other energy-saving features.

imageGo to System Preferences > Energy Saver

imageReview the options shown in the window

imagePutting the computer to sleep for around 10-15 minutes is fine, and you can adjust the display sleep time to suit your needs - usually two or three minutes would be long enough

imageYou can ask the Mac to put the hard disks to sleep wherever possible to save power, and you can also allow the Mac to dim the screen slightly whilst running on battery power to save some energy

imageIf you enable Power Nap while running on battery power this will let your Mac check for new emails and other events even while asleep

It is a good idea to show your Battery Status in the menu bar. Checking this box will show all the battery power remaining as an icon and also as a percentage.


System Sounds

The Mac has a number of sounds built into the system which are associated with various alerts on the Mac.

Changing the alert sound

imageGo to System Preferences > Sound

imageScroll through the various alert sounds provided and choose the one you want

imageYou can also adjust the Alert volume and Output volume

imageYou can also mute the Mac from here

This System Preference also controls the Output, letting you choose between the built-in internal speakers or, if you have Apple TV, you can use AirPlay to listen to music and other sounds on a TV.

You can also plug in microphones and other peripherals such as keyboards and select those as the sound input device.


Bring Back Save As...

With OS X 10.7 (Lion) Apple changed the way files are saved, removing Save As... from the File menu. Many people have expressed a desire to bring this back and you can reactivate Save As... (allows you to open a document, edit it and save as a different name).

To use Save As...

The old way of doing this was Shift + Command + S (or it could be accessed directly from the File menu). With Yosemite you need to press Shift + Command + S and then press Option. Duplicate will change to Save As...

This is slightly cumbersome and you can change to a full restore of Save As...


The only problem with this is that the edits you make to the second document are transferred to the original document. So this is still not a true Save As... (correct at the time of printing).

Create a new shortcut for Duplicate

Open the Keyboard system preferences and go to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Select the Application Shortcuts section and then click the + button to create a new shortcut for all applications. In the menu title field type Duplicate and then set a shortcut of your choosing for this feature, e.g. Shift + Command + D or Option + Shift + Command + S.