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Mac users, are you ready to talk about your favorite tips for Mac gaming?  This post includes some top tidbits just for you such as right-click, cursor tips, and splendid world of screen resolutions.  

Mike here.  First and foremost, I’d love to hear what tips and tricks my fellow Mac gamers out there have found the most useful.  Please don’t be shy about leaving a comment below and shout that awesome Mac tip from the mountaintop.  Whether you’re a novice or an old hand Mac aficionado, someone else is reading this post right now who’d find your tip amazing.

As for me, I can’t claim to be a Mac aficionado – or even a particular fan of computers generally.  Now, there’s an old 1973 Lincoln Continental sedan sitting in my driveway that I’m slowly restoring. I’m definitely a fan of that.

It’s a classic so I rarely drive it and have a different vehicle for everyday use but, wow, is it ever lovely just look at and sit in.  Inside that Continental’s like my own Fortress of Solitude (for you Superman fans out there).

That’s not the way I feel about computers.

Still, I do know Macs well.  Even though to me computers are just a tool rather than a thing of beauty like my Lincoln Continental, what I can get out of that tool is awesome.  Above all, in my universe, that means games – lots of games.  From my old Apple II and Amiga 3000 back in the day to the brand new OS X 10.8 MacBook Pro that I type from today, every computer I’ve ever owned has seen its fair share of video games.  In this first tips and tricks post, I thought it’d be useful to share some shortcut goodies that other Mac gamers might find as useful as I do:

Keep in mind that Apple has a full list (quite massive) of Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts but this here boils it down to my top essential basics:

1) Command+Click = Make browsing any list of games a breeze

Let’s say that you’re on the website browsing through the latest sale on games.  It’s a long list and there are quite a few that look interesting.  Rather than clicking on a game link, going to that game page, and then having to press ‘Back’ in the browser to get back to that list and do it all again with another game, use Command+Click.

When you hold the [Command] key on your keyboard and then click on a link, it opens the link in a new tab while keeping the page you’re looking at now open.  By doing that, you can keep that list of sale games visible, click, click, click on each game that interests you, and then look at each game page tab that you’ve opened.  No more back and forth or wondering, “where was I in this list again?” 

2) Control+Click = Yes, Macs can right-click to rotate that jigsaw puzzle piece

Before joining the Mac QA team I worked in Customer Support here at Big Fish troubleshooting Mac technical issues.  Often folks would write in to let us know that they can’t finish a game because one of the mini-puzzles asks for a right-click but they’re on a Mac (which traditionally has just one button).  In their wisdom, Apple thought of a solution to this conundrum and it’s not only useful in games but in nearly every aspect of using your Mac.

By pressing the [Control] key and clicking the mouse, the Mac behaves the same as a right-click on a PC.  Many games these days are moving away from right-clicking all together, and there are certain games out there which don’t accept the Control+Click alternative, but for the most part when you come across an instance in a game that’s calling for a right-click this is your best bet.

Actually, even better if you have a track pad (such as on a MacBook), you can enable a Secondary Click in the System Preferences menu and do a two-finger click to have the same effect.


3) Command+Option+Esc = You mean, I don’t have to unplug my Mac to stop this frozen game?

Now, it’s pretty rare around these parts but any of us who’ve been around the block playing quite a lot of games know that occasionally there can be hiccups.  Shutting down the computer abruptly isn’t great for the machine so what do you do when the game’s stuck and the Exit button won’t respond?

When you press the three keys, [Command] [Option] [Esc], all at the same time your Mac will bring-up a Force Quit window.  This feature allows you to quit any application – even when it’s stopped responding.

4) Assorted Cursor Tricks = Be the master of text navigation

Many Macs have compact keyboards which can leave some recent PC converts wondering, “Where’s the ‘Home’ button?”  This one isn’t quite gamer specific, but they’re all so useful that it just wouldn’t feel right leaving them out. Here’s a number text navigating shortcuts that’ll get you where you want to go but quick in a document.

Command +    —   Moves the cursor to the head of the current line of text
Command +    —   Moves the cursor to the end of the current line of text
Fn + Delete          —   Forward delete (deletes the character in front of the cursor)
Command + A     —  Highlights all of the text
Command + C     —  Copies the highlighted text (such as a Coupon Code or Password)
Command + V     —  Pastes the copied text
Command + F     —  Find text on the page


5) Command+Shift+3 = Take a picture of your entire screen

I take a lot of screenshots.  While testing a game that’s usually just to show the Game Developer a bug that needs fixing, but I also tend to take a lot in other situations such as to capture an epic win in a game, take a snapshot of a game character that I enjoy, or perhaps just some funny dialogue or moment that I want to share with friends.  If playing a game is like a mini vacation from the world’s stresses, then the screenshot function is my trusty Polaroid camera.

6) Option+F2 = Lowering your screen resolution might be just what the doctor ordered

This is a keyboard shortcut to the Display Preferences where the screen resolution (how big things appear on the screen) is shown.  In certain cases, lowering the screen resolution will get a game display just right when it’s having trouble.

Even more useful, though, is that opening the Display Preferences window is also a quick shortcut to other System Preferences (such as those to set Wallpapers and Screensavers).

7) Spacebar = Get a glimpse into a picture or document file before firing up the whole darn application

This is another one that’s not quite game particular but it’s one more that just can’t be left out. Ever have trouble remembering what was in a file?  By clicking once on that file and then pressing the [Spacebar] key, the Mac will show you a quick look into that file or show you the picture without having to open the application needed to run the full file.

8) Finding a Game’s Save Data = Yep, the game save’s in a different place than it installs … and sometimes it’s helpful to find

This last one’s not so much an everyday necessity (unless you happen to be a Mac Game Tester) but it’s certainly a useful one to keep in your back pocket for that one rainy day.

For certain technical issues, it can be helpful to delete the save folder (where all of the player profile info is kept), reinstall the game, and start from scratch.  The thing is, that save folder’s usually in a separate place from the main game file.  Game developers do that so that all of your progress in a game isn’t lost whenever the game’s uninstalled.  Now, the save location can often be hidden and hard to find unless you know where to look.

Here’s how to find it:

a) Click on an empty spot on the Desktop to show the Finder Menu Bar at the top of the screen (or, click the Finder icon in the Dock; or, click Option+Command+Spacebar to open a Finder Search Window)

b) When you see ‘Finder’ displayed at the Menu Bar, click ‘Go’

c) When the Go Menu drops down, press [Option] on your keyboard to show the ‘Library’ folder and click on that to bring up the Library Finder Window

From here it’s smooth sailing.  Inside of that ‘Library’ folder, the save folders are typically found in either the ‘Preferences’ folder or the ‘Application Support’ folder.

d) To get yourself quick and easy access to that ‘Library’ folder going forward, you can drag the folder from the Path Bar (at the bottom of the Finder window) to the Sidebar on the left.
• If the Path Bar isn’t showing at the bottom of the Finder window, you can get it showing in the Finder Menu Bar at the top of the screen: click ‘Finder,’ then ‘View,’ and then ‘Show path bar

Let’s hear your tips & tricks!  Comment below.

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