How to increase productivity: 10 tips to get the most from your Mac

Improve your working outputs and work smarter, not harder or longer. Your Mac is a powerful tool: Maximize the benefits of using one to improve Mac productivity. 

Top 10 Mac productivity hacks 

1. Use keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can save an enormous amount of time. 

Shortcuts such as the hyper key, which creates shortcuts for opening various apps. For example, Caps Lock + X opens Xcode, and Caps Lock + S Safari. 

There are dozens of keyboard shortcuts for Mac. There are even apps that keep them in one place, so you can adjust what you need according to your own preferences. 

2. Copy screenshots to clipboard 

Screenshots automatically get saved to the desktop. But what if that isn’t particularly useful to you? 

Using the following keyboard shortcut, you can save screenshots you want to go elsewhere to the Clipboard: Command + Control + Shift + 4

This way, you can drop a screenshot into a document or another folder. All you need to do is press paste. Just make sure you do this before copying anything else.

3. Become a digital minimalist 

Keeping your Mac as uncluttered as possible is the best way to reduce stress and stay productive. 

One way to achieve this is to carefully weed out anything you don't need. An app worth downloading that can help you do this is CleanMyMac X. ProductHunt website even calls this app “Mary Kondo for your Mac” referring to the minimalism guru, Mary Kondo from Japan.

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (for free, here)
  2. Run a Smart Scan 
  3. It will pick up duplicate files, apps that haven't been used in ages and other clutter and junk taking up space
  4. Delete everything you know isn’t needed 

Doing this every 6-months or so is a great way to keep your Mac free from junk and clutter. Making yourself more focused and productive. 

4. Color code and label folders 

This hack isn’t really a hack; more common sense that saves time. 

How easily you label something can save loads of time when looking for what you need. macOS already comes with a handy color coding option for folders and documents. Make use of this to indicate how important or urgent something is. When it comes to labels, be logical in how you apply them, highlighting where something is in your workflow. 

Only when sending something to colleagues or clients should you re-label something for external consumption. Within your Mac, make labeling and colors easy to follow and use to save time looking for what you need. 

5. Use a password app 

How many passwords do you have? If the answer is “too many to count”, then there is a good chance that you’d benefit from a password manager app, such as 1Password. 

Password manager apps are more secure. They can generate passwords unique to each online account you have. And they will log-in automatically. You can also sync them across every device, saving even more time. All you need to remember is 1 password, the password to log-into the manager app itself, to add new accounts or make changes to passwords within the app. 

6. Divide and conquer 

Seeing everything side-by-side can be incredibly useful when jumping between documents or other workflow items. 

One way to use this is to download an app, known as Divvy. Very handy for dividing Mac screens. Or you can use a series of keyboard shortcuts: CMD + Opt + Left and Cmd + Opt + Right. With these, they automatically resize the window so that you can view separate items on the left and the right-hand side. You can also toggle between desktop items more easily. 

7: Run Maintenance Scripts

Mac’s need help to keep running at peak performance. 

An app we mentioned earlier can help with this: 

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (for free, here)
  2. Run Maintenance Scripts 
  3. This quick fix should restore your Mac to working order. 

It should now run faster, smoother, and not overheat when operating too many apps. All of this helps to increase productivity. 

8. Automatically set-up Do Not Disturb 

Being productive either means responding to everything you've got coming in quickly; or it means a period of prolonged deep work. It depends what you've got going on and whether you need to be responsive or reflective.

If you need a few hours, or whole day or more of deep work, then constant distractions do not help. One way to prevent these from pinging into your mental workflow is to set the Mac to Do Not Disturb. Here is how you do this: 

  1. System Preferences > Notifications
  2. Do Not Disturb is to first option in a series of controls 
  3. Use this to set a time-period when you want this switched on
  4. Once the time is reached that you set, it will automatically switch off 
  5. Remember to turn this off when you want the Mac back to normal (go back to System Preferences > Notifications)

If you are logged into cloud-based email or messaging platforms, you may need to log-out of these separately to avoid distractions from them too. It’s rare that something is so urgent that you can’t get productive work done for a few hours. 

9. Stay synced with iCloud 

It saves time to have whatever you need on every device, wherever you are. 

There are loads of ways you can do this, of course. So many cloud-based storage apps. People used to carry USBs about, or email work to themselves, but that isn't necessary anymore. Depending on what you need to sync and how often you need to do this, you could sign-up to one or more storage services. 

Or you could use what is already built-into macOS and iOS: iCloud Drive. With this, you get 5GB free; whereas for $9.99 per month, you can get 1TB of storage. 

All you need to do is ensure every device is logged into the same Apple ID. Once that is done, when you save something on one device, it saves on the other. Be careful though, if you delete something on one device, the same happens on every other device. 

10. Shut your Mac down more often 

This might sound counterintuitive, when it comes to staying productive. But your Mac needs sleep, real sleep, just like you. This way, it clears out caches and gets to organize its files properly, ready for a new day or week of work. 

So if you've been experiencing a Mac that is slowing down, or spinning its wheel once too often, it usually means a complete shutdown is in order. At the end of a working day, go through the shut down sequence (not simply logging off or closing the lid so that it sleeps), so it will work more effectively when you need it next. 

One of the apps mentioned earlier, CleanMyMac X is a useful ally in the fight to improve productivity.

It makes Mac’s more effective to run, faster and it removes apps and files you no longer need. This way, you can benefit from the other hacks mentioned and use CleanMyMac X to steadily improve Mac performance.

CleanMyMac X
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.