How to Use Your Mac More Efficiently

A field of wind turbines.

Time is of the essence, regardless of whether you’re using your Mac in a professional capacity or simply logging into YouTube. As such, figuring out how to use your Mac more efficiently is a smart idea for practically everyone.

In this post, we look at some approaches to speed up the way you use your Mac. However, first let’s talk about why you’d want to use your Mac in a more optimal way.

Why You’d Want to Use Your Mac More Efficiently

Quite simply, the more time you have available, the greater number of things you can do. As a real-world example, consider opening a new app and closing the old one.

Without any of the efficient features of macOS, you’ll need to head to your Applications folder or the Dock, open the app you want, go back to the Dock to the other app, and close it from the menu. We estimate it would take about 60 seconds.

A minute may not seem long, but it’s an eternity when considering the alternative. The most efficient way to open and close apps would be to:

  • Open Spotlight and search for the app to open.
  • Once it’s loaded, use the App Switcher shortcut to highlight the app you’d like to close.
  • Hit a shortcut to close the app.

This is potentially five functional key presses, not counting any additional typing. As such, learning how to use your Mac more efficiently is something you may want to consider.

How to Use Your Mac More Efficiently (Three Ways)

Next, we look at three different ways to use your Mac more efficiently. Fortunately, each method is already built into macOS.

1. Open Apps and Files Using Spotlight

The common consensus is that the Dock is the place for all of your applications – at least those you use regularly. However, this author’s Dock doesn’t fit the mold.

A minimal macOS Dock.

You’ll notice there’s nothing sitting in the Dock apart from already open apps (one of which is the Finder). There are two reasons for this.

The main reason is because the Spotlight search tool is a quicker way to open apps, files, and practically anything else on your Mac (or the web in some cases). Simply press the Command + Space shortcut, a new Spotlight bar opens, and you can begin typing.

What’s more, not using the Dock impacts your Mac’s resources less. As an aside, keeping files off your Desktop and out of your Downloads folder keeps resources free too.

The “System Preferences -> Spotlight” screen is great for tailoring your experience to your specific requirements.

Mac Efficiently Spotlight

For example, if you didn’t want to include music within your search results, you can simply uncheck the box and filter accordingly.

For power Spotlight users, Alfred is practically essential and supercharges what Spotlight can do for your efficiency.

2. Find the Best Way to Switch Between Apps

This next method is simple, yet effective and powerful. The App Switcher is a shortcut that requires the Command key to always be held down. However, it offers a boost to using your Mac more efficiently.

The macOS App Switcher.

It lets you change the app you’re using from any that are open. You can also close out apps here too.

It’s accessed by holding the Command key and pressing Tab. You’ll see the App Switcher cycle around your open apps. To cycle backwards through apps, you can use the Command + ~ shortcut.

3. Learn the Most Essential Keyboard Shortcuts (And Use Them)

Finally, a classic suggestion is to use keyboard shortcuts to speed up how you navigate your Mac. This is because it’s arguably the number one way of using your Mac more efficiently. The good thing is, we have a cheatsheet for that. You can also create your own custom keyboard shortcuts.

Here are some extra tips to pass on:

  • The Command key is Apple’s Control key, and many of the same Windows shortcuts can be adapted.
  • You’re able to set app-specific shortcuts within the “System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts” screen.
  • The Keyboard screen also contains a way to “remap” modifier keys, such as the Caps Lock and Option key. Try remapping your Escape functionality to the Caps Lock key and keeping your hands on the keyboard to exit out of dialog boxes.

Finally, if you’re worried about forgetting all of the shortcuts found in an app, check out the CheatSheet app.

The CheatSheet app.

By holding down the Command key for a few seconds, you’ll get a pop-up overlay showing all the active keyboard shortcuts for the app you’re in. It’s a stellar app that you often forget is running.


While efficiency and productivity may be the hallmark of “life gurus,” it’s actually a good goal for everyone to have. Users willing to learn how to use their Mac more efficiently through learning keyboard shortcuts, how to switch apps, and Spotlight’s capabilities will ultimately benefit.

If you’ve been bitten by the productivity bug, we have a list of the best iOS productivity apps available. Are you looking to use your Mac more efficiently? Share you stories in the comments section below!

Tom Rankin
Tom Rankin

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses. When he's not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.

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