Useful Tips

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Knowing a few tricks will make navigating this course, and life, a bit easier.


Speed changes are easy with YouTube keyboard shortcuts: Simply press Shift+period key to increase speed. The more you press it, the faster it goes (up to 2x). To slow down the speed press Shift+comma. This should make it easy for you to follow any video, regardless of the instructor’s pace. The period and comma keys also allow frame by frame navigation if you need it and you can even use the numbers on the keyboard to navigate very generally to different places in the video.

Learning Hacks

This course is the product of experience and a lot of thought. It’s first priority is to be both lean and iterative, two educational concepts you don’t need to worry about but that I want you to know I have. After many years and hundreds of students, I’ve found that how is equally important to what we learn. Effective learning happens through repetition and application, and even elementary concepts can feel quickly “learned” but increasingly understood after years of application. Whenever you complete a project and begin the whole process again, you learn more cmprehensively the second time through do the to structure already in place and the ability to more meaningfully place and connect the content you’re learning with the whole. My aim, in many of these advanced topics, is to provide you with 20% of the information that makes 80% of the difference. Or at least equip you with an understanding sufficient enough that you can Google meaningful questions where you want more depth. Contained here are “industry secrets” or the honest truth about the very least you can do to get the most result, especially when it comes to application of budget gear to professional use. The 💡”Pro”-labeled topics don’t promise the same return. In other words, the time it takes you to master them or really understand them won’t be as proportionate to the improvement in your work. They are generally more technical topics which provided needed understanding but aren’t as essential. In some cases, it’s these “Pro” topics that will differentiate the quality of your work from more consumer work, but my aim is to get you as far as I can as fast as possible so your own success motivates your education.

Mac Hacks


Launch programs using spotlight (Cmd+Spacebar). You can also use this handy tool to perform math, look up word definitions and search the web.

Global Menu Search

Cmd+Shift+/ will search all menus in the current application. It’s a very handy way to find a specific command without perusing menus and submenus.

Useful Keyboard Shortcuts

  • The “Command” key on a Mac is usually substitutable for the Control key on a PC when performing keyboard shortcuts.
  • Cmd+Shift+D will navigate to the Desktop in Finder (Mac OS built-in file explorer).
  • In Finder, Cmd+2 will arrange by list view and command 3 by column view
  • For Function keys to work properly in applications that use them, you may have to enable “Use F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys”:

Cycling Between Windows

A given application’s windows can be cycled between via Ctrl+Tab to move to the right. Add “Shift” to that combination to move to the left. Cmd+T opens a new window. These work in something like Finder as well as in Google Chrome.

Cycling Between Apps

Cmd+Tab cycles through the available open apps. “Mission Control” (three finger swipe or Ctrl+Up Arrow) can be used to access a similar feature but displaying every window of every currently open app all on one screen.


When you maximize (make full screen) a window on Mac, it occupies a new “Space”, basically another desktop which allows you to keep things separated. In the above screen capture of mission control, the spaces (only one in this case) are listed at the top. Spaces can be navigated via a three-finger swipe or Ctrl+Arrow keys.

Closing Windows

To close an application on a Mac, use the menu or the keyboard shortcut Cmd+Q. Simply clicking the red “x” button often closes only the active window, but not the application. Check the upper left, next to the Apple Icon to see which app is currently active.

Activity Monitor

This useful application lets you see what applications and processes are most affecting system performance. You can force close applications just like you can with “Task Manager” in Windows. You can see CPU usage and display by highest usage (over 100% simply indicates usage of more than a single core). You can see RAM usage, including total system RAM, RAM used by open applications, RAM cached to disk (“swap used”), “wired” memory (cannot be cached because it’s vital to system performance, and more. Cmd+2 for monitoring CPU load and Cmd+4 for GPU history are useful here.

You do not need to understand what all of this means, but it’s good to remember that Activity Monitor exists and can help you narrow down problematic apps should you encounter issues.

Window Snapping

MacOS Sierra introduced a very basic “snapping” of windows but it’s not terribly useful. It basically just doesn’t let you overlap two window edges if you hover one next to the other temporarily. An inexpensive app I use all the time for window organization is called Better Snap Tool and Better Touch Tool.

Formatting A Drive

Using Disk Utility to format a hard drive is a great life skill.

“Mac OS Extended (journaled)” is simplest way to format a drive if you know you’ll use it only on Apple machines. If you don’t know what to pick here, this is what I’d recommend.

This formats your drive using HFS+, the older of Mac’s native file systems, which won’t work on Windows computers which use the NTFS file system. If you need to use a drive between Mac and Windows the simplest solution (while not as robust) is to format as ExFAT using DiskUtility on a Mac. I don’t recommend this for anything but thumb drives and memory cards though.

“Paragon” is software that allows write access to NTFS drives from a Mac, but it’s not built in to the operating system. You won’t be able to format an NTFS drive using DiskUtility (since you have no write access) so format as ExFAT from a PC if you need to get access to it on a Mac.

Choose APFS if you know the drive you’re formatting is a solid state drive (SSD).

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Other useful things to remember on Mac include:

  • “Enter” renames a file; CMD+O, or double-click, opens it.
  • Cmd+I gives you file information.
  • Spacebar can be used for a quick preview of a file without opening it.
  • Most applications can open a file from Finder via drag and drop into the app. Cmd+Tab comes in handy here.
  • Application installers mount as “volumes” which often have to be manually “ejected”. Don’t worry though, the app itself is installed to your “Applications” directory (Cmd+Shift+A in Finder).
  • Right click a file/folder then hold “Alt” to copy its location or “path name” on your hard drive. It’s also useful in Finder to enable the “Path Bar” from the view menu.
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