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OS X El Capitan: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Shortcut Menus, Action Menus

It’s part of the Mac’s user-friendly heritage: You can do practically everything using only the mouse. Everything is out front, unhidden, and clickable, whether it’s an icon, a button, or a menu.

But as in rival operating systems, you can shave seconds and steps off your workload if you master shortcut menus: short menus that sprout out of things you click, offering commands that the software thinks you might want to invoke at the moment, as shown in Figure 2-14.

These pop-up entities used to be called contextual menus, but Apple started calling them “shortcut menus” a few years ago, perhaps because that’s what they’re called in Windows and Unix.

Figure 2-14. These pop-up entities used to be called contextual menus, but Apple started calling them “shortcut menus” a few years ago, perhaps because that’s what they’re called in Windows and Unix.

To summon one, just right-click or two-finger click something—an icon, the desktop, a window, a link in Safari, text in a word processor, whatever. You can also trigger these shortcut menus with special clicks on your trackpad or Magic Mouse; see The Complicated Story of the Function Keys for additional options.

In any case, a menu drops down listing relevant commands: Get Info, Move to Trash, Copy, and so on. You can click the command you want, or type the first couple of letters of it and then tap the space bar.

These menus become more useful the more you get to know them. The trouble is, millions of Mac fans never even knew they existed. That’s why there’s a second way to access them. At the top of ...

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