I’m not going to get into an eleven-sided shirt and define productivity here, but let me define what is not productive. If we have to walk around with several applications sharing information among them, we have a small monitor (like an 11-inch MacBook Air) and we need to see a lot of information on the screen at once, time will go back and forth. In this post I want to give you some tips on how to improve productivity , since time is money, especially our leisure time.
Virtual desktops and maximized applications
If you come from iOS, you’re used to having an application that takes up the entire screen. From Mission Control we can create new virtual desktops , in which we can place maximized applications that we are running. If we use a Magic Trackpad or the Trackpad of the laptops, the gestures of three fingers are our friends. By sweeping left or right we’ll go from one virtual environment to another, much faster than switching windows.
On the Mission Control screen you have the following options: configure the Dashboard as another virtual desktop (if you don’t use widgets, it’s better to leave the option off), rearrange spaces according to the most frequent use (if you have a lot of spaces, it’s almost the same to turn it on and off), when you change applications go to the environment where it’s located (good option, especially if we use the mode to switch between applications with cmd+tabber, or better switch between maximized applications with the three fingers on the trackpad) and group windows by application (in case we don’t have them maximized).
Hide or move the Dock, that’s the question
The Dock is a utility for having applications, files and folders at hand . No one is indifferent to it, either you love it or hate it. If you have it on screen and you don’t have the option to have it auto-hide selected, it will take up space. A valuable space that is even more so on widescreen. So you can always place it on one of the sides with ctrl+click on it, and select position. If you choose to have it auto-hide, you’ll be able to access its contents by lowering the mouse to the bottom of the desktop. Regardless of whether you have the option activated or not, if you have the application maximized you can access the Dock by lowering the cursor to the bottom of the desktop, which gives us the best of both worlds.
So that we don’t have to resort to the Dock so much, the truth is that it’s almost easier to pull Spotlight if we want to launch a new application. The keys cmd+space allow us to type a few letters of the application and press enter . This will launch the application without taking your hands off the keyboard. Others will use Quicksilver or Butler, but I don’t really use either of them.
And, speaking of keyboards, if we want to auto-hide the dock, here’s another trick. The combination cmd+alt+d makes it auto-hide or show up on the screen. And, since the best way to be productive is to use keyboard combinations instead of the mouse, to learn such combinations nothing like EVE. A program that will show us through Growl or with the Notification Center which key combination is equivalent to each action we perform with the mouse. In the end we will end up knowing many more combinations. Try it and in a short time you will have learned a lot of new shortcuts.
Having more than one monitor, or using your iPad as a second display
Having more than one monitor can prevent you from switching from one application to another. Even if they are iOS device displays. As we saw when we talked about iDisplay, if we have an iPad we can have an extended desktop, using its screen as an additional desktop . The weight of an iPad Mini (or a retinal iPad and we will have an excellent resolution) is not too big if we have to work, and you may want to take it with you to work more comfortably on your laptops. At home we can look for a stand or hang it next to the monitor, thus expanding the desktop. It is also possible to do it with the iPhone but, except for instant messaging applications or Photoshop tools, I do not see much sense.
Another alternative to iDisplay is Air Display, which some of you commented was also going quite well in the comments of the previous entry.
Sharing (the screen) is loving
We can use some of those applications that always open the windows in the same place, so that we can use several on each desktop, side by side or “tiling” them in position. At Apple we have already talked about some of them, like Swiss Arrows or Spectacle, although I must admit that I have not used them either, and I prefer the trick of maximizing the applications and moving from one to another by finger (Big horse, walk or don’t walk).
Dust and straw free desks
The best way to be productive is to be ordered. We’ve also seen some tips and tricks around here, which in many cases involve leaving as few items as possible on the desk . Thus, we talk about Unclutter, which allows us to have a “Tailor’s Drawer” where we can save all the things (files, folders), as well as access to a notebook and the last element we have put on the clipboard, whether it is an image or a text. The advantage is that, if we are in a maximized application, if we want to access some elements we won’t have to change our desktop. And we can also leave those elements in a floating window, above the others.
Hides the windows of all applications except the active one
Another keyboard shortcut worth learning is cmd+alt+h . If we press this we see that all the windows that are not from the active application will be hidden as if by magic, helping us to focus on the current application.
If you are going to use a lot of files, Raskin can be your friend
Raskin is a work environment that completely replaces the desktop, and we already saw it in this Apple post. The possibility of sorting, ordering and previewing files makes it an interesting option when working with multiple files.
Automator, another friend you shouldn’t forget
Automator can help you automate certain tasks. For example, thanks to the folder actions we saw in this post, all the images I drop into a folder on my desktop are automatically resized to 650 pixels wide. And since we’re talking about productivity, there’s nothing like recording a series of actions and repeating them at will, as we saw in this post.
I’ve shown you some tricks and tips that I use every day, but I’m sure you can think of more tricks to improve productivity, save effort and above all gain time. We invite you to tell us about them in the comments of this entry.
- Virtual desktops and maximized applications
- Hide or move the Dock, that’s the question
- Having more than one monitor, or using your iPad as a second display
- Sharing (the screen) is loving
- Dust and straw free desks
- Hides the windows of all applications except the active one
- If you are going to use a lot of files, Raskin can be your friend
- Automator, another friend you shouldn’t forget