small medium large xlarge

Mac Kung Fu (2nd edition): Over 400 Tips, Tricks, Hints, and Hacks for Apple OS X


Cover image for Mac Kung Fu

Mac Kung Fu (2nd edition)

Over 400 Tips, Tricks, Hints, and Hacks for Apple OS X


Squeeze every drop of juice from OS X with over 400 quick and easy tips, tricks, hints and hacks in Mac Kung Fu: Second Edition. Exploit secret settings and hidden apps, push built-in tools to the limit, radically personalize your Mac experience, and make “it just works” even better. In addition to core OS X technologies, this significantly revised and expanded update to the best-selling first edition dissects new OS X Mountain Lion tools such as iCloud, Notifications, Reminders, and Calendar.

See The Unofficial Apple Weblog review here.

Customer Reviews

All levels of Mac users will enjoy this book. I particularly like the types of tips that the book offers that boost productivity, customize the working environment, and just make using a Mac more fun!

- Fred Daoud

Author of Stripes...and Java Web Development Is Fun Again

Mac Kung Fu, Second Edition contains a plethora of excellent Mac advice. It is accessible to new users, and even experienced Mac enthusiasts will find ways to make their lives simpler and more efficient.

- Loren Sands-Ramshaw

, Orglist

Keir Thomas has compiled one of the most useful and interesting assembly of Mac tips and tricks available today. Packed with how-to insights and easy-to-follow steps, Mac Kung Fu, Second Edition is a knowledgeable guide to have by your side every step of the way.

- Mike Riley

Advanced technologist and author of Programming Your Home

See All Reviews

About this Title

Pages: 424
Published: 2012-11-28
Release: P1.0 (2012-11-28)
ISBN: 978-1-93778-507-9

Mac Kung Fu: Second Edition will blow your mind with secret hacks never before made public and little-known tricks that will change the way you work forever. From big tasks through everyday jobs, this book will improve your productivity and refine your workflow. You’ll customize and manage the OS X interface, boost the power of built-in apps, efficiently handle the filesystem, implement important security tricks, and much more.

Working with files in iCloud? We have tips to help. Managing program windows on your desktop? Hacks will make life easier. Creating reminders or notes? Use our tricks to make the process more productive. Emailing, tweeting, browsing, printing, word processing, testing and exploiting hardware, working with photos, movies, and documents… There’s no area Mac Kung Fu: Second Edition doesn’t touch upon, making it a unique and utterly necessary addition for any Mac lover’s bookshelf.

Each tip is deliberately short and readable, often detailing things even Mac Geniuses don’t know, and you can dip in and out whenever you want. Most tips take less than a minute to complete, yet the results last for a lifetime of better computing.

What You Need:

A Mac running OS X Mountain Lion and above.

Q&A with Keir Thomas, author of Mac Kung Fu, 2nd edition

Who should read Mac Kung Fu? Everybody and anybody! From somebody sitting in front of their Mac for the first time, to people who’ve been using Macs for 20 years. Most of the tips in Mac Kung Fu can be implemented in about 30 seconds and anything more complicated is explained in easy-to-follow steps. I’ve received emails from readers thanking me for this “hand holding” approach. It really does open up to absolutely everybody some of the more sophisticated tricks!

In 20 words or less, describe Mac Kung Fu. Extraordinarily cool tips, tricks, hints, and hacks that will change the way you work and play with your Mac… Forever!

Why should I buy this book? Because Mac Kung Fu is astonishingly helpful and user-friendly. It’s totally unique and comprehensive—there really are virtually no tips and tricks that aren’t included in its pages. One of the book’s reviewers said I’d squeezed all the juice out of the Apple! But he was wrong. I squeezed out all the juice, and then squeezed some more!

Is Mac Kung Fu a book for programmers and hard-core techies? Not at all. Mac Kung Fu is a book for regular Mac users who want to improve their skills to work more efficiently and simply have more fun using their Mac. Read all its pages and you really will become a power user—the envy of all your friends!

How did you come up with over 400 tips? There are many methodologies I use, from simply clicking things that aren’t supposed to be clicked, to using special tools to examine the code of a program to uncover hidden or experimental features. Then I write it all up in an entertaining and interesting way. I really enjoy doing this and the “Wow!” moment when I discover something new and cool is addictive. But the key thing is this: I’ve done all the hard work so YOU don’t have to!

Surely some of the 400 tips are there just to fill space?! The rule when I was writing Mac Kung Fu was this: If a tip isn’t genuinely useful then it doesn’t get into the book. I and my editor stuck to this rigidly!

Tell me more about “hidden or experimental features.” The Mac OS X operating system is full of hundreds of hidden features, and Apple simply never mentions them. I guess they assume people will stumble upon them. For example, highlight a phone number in the Contracts app, hold down the Ctrl key and click it, and select Large Type from the menu that appears. The phone number will fill the screen so you can write it down easily. That’s astonishingly useful, but Apple expects that people will somehow figure it out themselves! Other features are put into the program code yet not actually made available to users, so a hack must be used to “unlock” them. Why they’re hidden is a mystery. They might be experimental, or maybe somebody at Apple just changed his/her mind about including them at the last moment.

What’s your background? Since 2005 I’ve been writing computer books full-time and have published about 15 in total, but I formerly worked as editor on a handful of newsstand computer magazines. In recent years I’ve blogged professionally for IDG sites such as PCWorld and MacWorld, as well as independent blogs like Cult of Mac. My entire career has been built around educating and informing ordinary computer users. You can learn more about me at

Are you really a Mac “genius”? I have huge respect for the guys in blue t-shirts who work at Apple stores but I’m not one of them. I’m just a guy who knows a huge amount about Macs and other Apple products. I once went into an Apple store for a warranty claim on a faulty product and ended up teaching a few tricks to the Genius who helped me. He was like, “Wow! I didn’t know you could do that!” That’s when I realized I could write an interesting and useful book using the Mac knowledge in my head…

What’s new in this second edition of Mac Kung Fu? The biggest change is that there are over 100 new tips, making over 400 in total! In fact, there are even more than this because with this 2nd edition we introduced “Supertips,” which are single tips covering a particular program or technology but that contain lots of smaller tips. All the tips are written and tested against the latest OS X Mountain Lion operating system, although a great many of them will work just fine with older versions of OS X.

I have a MacBook Pro. Is Mac Kung Fu for me? Mac Kung Fu is for every kind of Mac—all MacBooks (including the Pro and Air ranges), all iMacs, Mac Pros, and Mac Minis.

I’ve just switched to Mac from Windows. Is Mac Kung Fu for me? Yes! Mac Kung Fu is the perfect introduction to getting the most from your new Mac.

How many Macs have you owned? Many, many, many! Right now I’ve got it down to a MacBook Pro and an iMac. But I’d own even more if I could and am slowly equipping my family with Macs (it means I have to do less tech support). My dream is to own a mint quality original Mac from 1984, or maybe even an Apple Lisa. I’d probably set up a Mac museum if I had the time and money to spend buying what are turning into astonishingly expensive antiquities.

Do you have a blog? Yes I do! I run a Mac tips, discussion and news blog at Drop by and take a look!


Contents & Extracts


Keir Thomas is an award-winning author with more than ten computing books to his name, two of which have been published through Pragmatic Bookshelf. A former computer magazine editor, his work has been published around the world and translated into many different languages. He has blogged professionally for the MacWorld and PCWorld websites, among others. He previously wrote the best-selling Ubuntu Kung Fu for Pragmatic Bookshelf.