10 MacBook Pro tips for beginners

The Macbook Pro is a very powerful laptop; one thing that can increase your productivity many times over. But it can also be a bit complicated, especially if you’re used to working in a Windows environment. In this article, we’ve put together 10 helpful tips to help you get used to this sleek, modern block of aluminum.

Note: We are currently using a 2018 model running macOS High Sierra for this article, so there may be some features that you may not be able to access if you are using an older MBP model or an earlier version of macOS. .

Also, we have made a video on our YouTube channel that covers some of the key points below. Be sure to check it out.

1. Work faster with Multi-Touch Gestures

The first thing you’ll want to get used to is the large touchpad, which is smooth to the touch. There’s a reason why the MacBook Pro’s trackpad is so big, and why it feels so different from other laptop trackpads.

It can actually support multi-touch gestures, just like your smartphone or tablet. Yes, there are some Windows 10 laptops out there now that can do that too, but the MacBook Pro has been supporting multi-touch for many more years, and the implementation is simply better.

Put multi-touch to work now. Using the trackpad, hover your mouse pointer over any non-clickable objects on this article (try spaces). Now, bring your thumb and forefinger together (while touching the keyboard) and then expand like you zoom in on an image on your smartphone.

Notice how everything expands as you zoom in (because you’re there). Bring everything back to its original size by doing a pinch.

Trackpad More Gestures window with pinch gesture

You can also get almost the same effect by simultaneously double-tapping the unclickable space on the page with two fingers. That will zoom in on the page. Zoom out by double-tapping again with two fingers.

Trackpad Gestures window other than double-tap is circled

You can learn (as well as configure) other trackpad gestures by navigating to Apple Menu > System Preferences.

Apple Menu System Preferences....

Then click Touchpad.

Trackpad icon in the Settings window

Then you will see Point & Click, Scroll & Zoomand More Gestures top tabs.

2. Let Siri do some tasks for you

Even if you’re new to the Apple ecosystem, you’ve probably heard of Siri, the virtual assistant that answers questions and even performs some tasks for you. Siri first debuted on the iPhone but has now found its way to iPads and other Apple devices, including Macs.

You can access Siri by clicking its icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

Siri icon

Once launched, Siri can start answering questions/requests such as:

  • Show my Downloads folder
  • Make the screen brighter
  • How fast is my Mac?
  • FaceTime Bob
  • What’s the weather like tomorrow?
  • And such

Siri uses artificial intelligence (AI) that allows it to learn more as you keep using it. Once you get the hang of it, it can really help you get more done.

3. Erase key is not broken

On a Windows keyboard, when you want to use Delete to delete a character, you would normally place the cursor to the left of that character and press Delete Key. Oddly enough, if you did that on a MacBook Pro keyboard, the cursor would just move left.

Worse still, if a character is to the left of the cursor, that character is deleted – just like what you would expect if you did that with Windows Backspace Key.

Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Well, if you’re used to Windows then that’s for sure. To achieve the same effect as Windows Delete key, just press fn + Delete. Once you get used to that, it won’t be counter-intuitive anymore.

Press fn + to delete the character to the right of the cursor, delete to delete the character to the left

4. Right click = Tap once with 2 fingers

The right-click function is one of the most useful features on Windows, allowing you to launch a context menu that displays the choices you need at a given time – or context. Unfortunately, that functionality isn’t available on your MacBook Pro by default. Nothing happens if you try to right click on the touchpad.

But don’t worry. The Mac equivalent of right-clicking is equally easy. Remember the double-tap with two fingers we taught you earlier? Well, if you reduce that to a single tap, you can get the same effect as a right click. Try it out. Tap once with two fingers when the pointer hovers over this article. You will immediately see the context menu appear as soon as you make the gesture.

Also, be sure to check out my other articles on Mac programs with other Windows equivalents.

Tap with 2 fingers to bring up the context menu

5. Take a screenshot

Sometimes you may want to take a screenshot to use in a document or presentation. To take a screenshot on your Mac, you can do any of the following:

  • To capture the entire screen, press command + shift + 3
  • To capture part of the screen, press command + shift + 4and then, when a crosshair appears, touch and drag it over the area you want to capture. Once you have covered the area you want to capture, release. Easy as pie.
Capture the screen window that appears on the desktop

Usually, your images will be stored on the desktop. However, if you have a screen capture tool like Snagit, the image will usually be pasted there. See my more detailed post on other keyboard shortcuts in OS X.

6. Plug in more devices using Thunderbolt

So far, we’re focusing on what you see on the screen. Move somewhere else on your MacBook Pro unibody. Look at the side, especially that oddly shaped power jack. Apple didn’t shape that jack to simply look like the Thunderbolt port next to it. IT IS a Thunderbolt port. Both ports are exactly the same.

2 Thunderbolt ports on the side of your Mac

So you can actually charge your laptop through either of those ports, and you can plug in any compatible device (e.g. external drive, external monitor, external microphone, etc.) ) into one of those two ports.

Having a Thunderbolt port as the power jack can be very useful, especially if you’re using the smaller 13-inch MacBook Pro, which only has 2 Thunderbolt ports. For example, let’s say you want to record through an external microphone AND still have an external monitor to view – let’s say your scenario – while ALSO using the home screen to display the application.

To do this on a 13-inch MacBook Pro, you can temporarily unplug your power cord, plug in one of these devices instead, and then plug the other device into the other port. MacBook Pro has great battery life, so you can get more done even with the MBP removed.

7. Bring on emojis!

If you’re Millennial or Gen Z or just anyone who just likes to show off through smileys, facial expressions, and the like, you’ll be glad to know that your MacBook Pro has hotkeys to launch Apple’s extensive emoji collection. Just press Control + Command + Space. That will give this:

Emoji window

Most apps allow you to simply tap an emoji to use it. For others, you may have to drag the emoji into place.

8. Quick search with Spotlight

Usually, when we want to search for something on the Web, we launch our favorite web browser and then type our search in the search bar. Then, if we want to search for a file (in Windows), we open Explorer or go to the Start menu and search there.

macOS puts all search functionality in one place. You can do all searches in Spotlight. To launch Spotlight, just press Command + Space. That will launch the Spotlight search bar, where you can type anything you want to search for, be it a file on your file system or something on the Web.

Spotlight search window

If you can’t find the file you’re looking for but are 100% sure it’s on your system, you might just need to re-index your drive. But that’s for another article, so stay tuned for that.

9. Work More Efficiently with Split Screen

Power users often have 2 or more external monitors to work more efficiently. With 2 or more screens, you can easily:

  • Compare documents,
  • Use one screen as your main workspace and another to display references,
  • Use one screen to edit and another to display the output,
  • And such.

But what if you don’t have any external monitors? Well, you can always split the screen into two monitors. To achieve this, you first need to put the two apps you want to put together Full screen method. Just tap that green circle in the upper left corner of each app.

Green button activates full screen mode

When two apps are in full screen, tap F3 button to enter Mission Control mode as shown below. As soon as you’re in Mission Control, put the two apps/desktops side by side. If you don’t see any apps/desktops in the top row, hover your mouse pointer over that area.

When the two apps are side by side, drag the app on the right to the left until it overlaps the app on the left. Release.

Mission Control window

Once they’ve matched, tap the screen that surrounds the two apps. Then you will see your two apps in split screen like the image below.

Split-screen mode on Mac computers

10. Where can I find all my apps?

Speaking of apps, let’s end this article by showing you where you can find apps in your MacBook Pro. The long road is the launch seeker and go to Applications.

But if you want a faster way, just click the gray icon with the rocket in the dock. That will give Launchers. Scroll horizontally by swiping two fingers horizontally on your trackpad and tapping the icon to select an app.

Launch Pad window

You can also assign a shortcut to LaunchPad by going to System PreferencesKeyboardShortcutsLaunchPad & Dock. Another good option to access your apps quickly is to go to Finder and drag the entire Applications folder to your dock.

Applications folder in Dock

When you click that icon now, it will upload all your apps directly from the dock.

Clicked icon in toolbar showing all apps

That’s it for this article. I hope you like it! We’ll be writing more in-depth tutorials on how to use your Mac sooner.

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