How to pin files and folders to the Finder menu bar on macOS

Finder has a sidebar that is omnipresent and that users can pin frequently accessed folders to. A single click will take users to the folders that are pinned under the Favorites section. 

The Favorites section is reserved for folders though so if you want a quick way to access files, you will probably use a menu bar app that helps launch frequently used apps and files. The app isn’t necessary though. Finder allows users to pin files and folders to the menu bar. 

The menu bar, like the left bar in Finder, is omnipresent which means the file or folder can be accessed from anywhere you have a Finder window open.

Pin file or folder to Finder menu bar

To pin a file or folder to the Finder menu bar, follow these steps.

  1. Open two Finder windows.
  2. In the first Finder window, navigate to the file or folder that you want to pin.
  3. In the second Finder window, right-click the top bar.
  4. Select Customize toolbar from the menu.

  1. A panel will open. 
  2. From the second Finder window, drag & drop a file or folder on to an empty area.

  1. Click Done and the file/folder will be pinned.
  2. Click the file/folder and it will open.

Remove pinned items from Finder menu bar

The pinned items can be changed at any time. If a file or folder is no longer needed you can remove it as easily as you added it.

  1. Open a Finder window.
  2. Right-click the menu bar and select Customize Toolbar.
  3. Once the customize panel opens, drag and drop the file/folder you want to remove on to it.
  4. Repeat for all items that you want to remove. 
  5. Click Done to close the panel. 
  6. The pinned files and folders will be removed. 

Conclusion

The Finder menu bar can act a lot like a bookmarks bar that you’d find in a browser like Chrome. Unlike a browser’s bookmarks bar though, it is also home to other buttons that give users access to Finder’s tools/features.

The space should be used carefully. It may be tempting to pin lots of items to the Finder menu bar but you won’t be able to see them all even if the window is maximized and it may all eventually become clutter.

Try to pin folders to the Favorites section in the sidebar instead of adding them to the menu bar. If you do need to pin a lot of files for quick access, it may be worth getting a menu bar app to do the job instead. You can also create a custom folder that shows recent files and add it to the sidebar.

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How to pin an app to virtual desktops on macOS

Virtual Desktops on macOS are excellent for multi-tasking; they’re easy to switch between and they allow you to segregate apps when you have to use one-too-many of them all at once. 

Virtual desktops are great for keeping work organized e.g., a different Chrome profile can be kept on different desktops and users can switch between them with a swipe or a keyboard gesture.

Pin app to virtual desktop on macOS

Users can easily, and freely move an app between virtual desktops on macOS, and the apps can be moved at any time. Of course, no one likes to organize apps across virtual desktops which is why it’s easier to pin an app to a virtual desktop. 

  1. Go to Mission Control on your macOS desktop (Control+Up Arrow or three-finger swipe up).
  2. Create as many desktops as you think you will need.
  3. Open the app you want to assign to a desktop.
  4. From Mission Control, move the app to the desktop you want to assign it to.
  5. Right-click the app’s Dock icon.
  6. Go to Options>This Desktop.
  7. The app will be pinned to the current desktop.

Pin/show app on all desktops

An app or app window once moved to a different virtual desktop, will only appear on that desktop. Of course, not all apps allow you to run multiple instances and some apps have to be used on all desktops.

Switching to, or remembering which desktop the app is open on becomes counter-productive. To make work easier, you can pin or show an app on all desktops. 

  1. Go to Mission Control (Control+Up arrow or three-finger swipe up).
  2. Create at least one virtual desktop i.e. you should see two desktops in Mission Control.
  3. Open the app you want to pin or show on all desktops.
  4. Right-click the app’s icon on the Dock.
  5. Go to Options and select All Desktops. 
  6. The app/window will now appear on all virtual desktops.

Conclusion

Virtual desktops are great not just because they divide work and keep apps and windows organized but also, from a multitasking point, they’re easy to work with even when you’re trying to switch between app windows. 

Virtual desktops have been a part of macOS for years and it has been refined to the point where you won’t find it lacking in much. The desktops can be rearranged, they can work seamlessly with Spaces, and they can self-organize. The only thing missing is an option to name desktops.

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How to find screenshots on macOS

macOS has the best stock screenshot utility of any desktop OS in the market today. You can get impressive, third-party, feature-rich screenshot tools for Windows 10 but there is little that can beat having a great tool out-of-the-box on your OS.

The macOS screenshot tool can take screenshots, record screencasts, save images in PNG or JPG, take HD or retina screenshots, include/exclude the cursor from screencasts, and more.

Find screenshots on macOS

Screenshots on macOS all save to a single location. Users have complete freedom to decide what that location is, or they can set it up so that a screenshot is automatically inserted into Mail or Messages. 

The screenshots, once taken, can be moved to other folders and that’s when you might lose them. 

To find all screenshots on macOS, follow these steps.

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Navigate to the folder you want to search or select your Mac from the column on the left to search the entire system.
  3. Click inside the Finder search bar and enter the following;
kMDItemIsScreenCapture:1
  1. Tap Enter and all screenshots that are present on the Mac will appear in the search results.
  2. You can click the plus button under the search bar to refine the results or create a smart folder out of the search.

Other ways to search for screenshots

You can use the kMDItemIsScreenCapture:1 command in Terminal (mdfind kMDItemIsScreenCapture:1) or in Spotlight to search for screenshots. With Terminal, the list is clipped to show only recent screenshots. With Spotlight, you will see all screenshots but Spotlight isn’t the best way to scroll through files. 

Find screenshots on iPhone or iPad

Although unrelated to macOS, something similar exists on both the iPhone and the iPad. Neither devices have a Terminal and the Files app doesn’t compare to Finder but there is an easy way to view all screenshots on your phone or tablet.

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Go to the Album view.
  3. Look for and open the Screenshots album.

Note: iOS also has a dedicated ‘Selfies’ album.

Conclusion

Moving a file from its default location is often necessary but with screenshots, you never know when you will need the file again, and finding it again can be hard. The command used above basically makes use of a system-applied tag that’s added to screenshots. 

If you’ve received a screenshot from another Mac user, chances are that this command will be able to find it as well. Finder allows you to customize the search results so you can narrow them down by date.

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How to link an Apple ID to a Mac account

An Apple ID isn’t essential if you use a Mac. Some Mac features require an Apple ID e.g., the Mac App Store, Find my Mac, iCloud, iMessage, Facetime, etc., but if you do not use any of these services, you can do without an Apple ID.

Most Mac users will create and use an Apple ID simply because Apple ensures their data is not tracked and is protected. The features that an Apple ID gives access to on macOS are another great reason to use it.

An Apple ID can also be used to recover the password to a Mac account. It has to be set up in advance i.e., if you’ve never linked your Apple ID to a Mac account, you won’t be able to use it to recover your password when/if you forget it. 

Link Apple ID to Mac account

Before we proceed, you should understand that an Apple ID is linked to a Mac user account, and not the system itself. For each user that is set up on a Mac, a different ID can be linked to each one. 

  1. Sign in to the Mac account you want to link an Apple ID to.
  2. Open System Preferences.
  3. Make sure you’re signed in with an Apple ID. It should appear on the top row in System Preferences.
  4. Go to Users & Groups.
  5. Click the padlock icon at the bottom left.
  6. Enter the password to your Mac user account.
  7. Enable the “Allow user to reset password using Apple ID’ option.

Recover Mac password with Apple ID

Now that you have an Apple ID linked to your Mac account, you can use it to recover your password.

  1. On the login screen, click inside the password field. 
  2. Click the question mark button that appears next to the field.
  3. Select the ‘Reset it using Apple ID’ option.
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts and reset your Mac account’s password.

Conclusion

Apple doesn’t force its users to link an Apple ID to their Mac and those that have one configured in the Mac App Store, or for Find My Mac, will find that it doesn’t try to sign users in on other apps. Windows 10 works in stark contrast to this where Microsoft urges users to use a Microsoft account, the account pops up and interferes with all sorts of features on the OS, and it collects quite a bit of user data. Apple has the upper hand here.

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How to save Messages to PDF on macOS

Chat conversations happen mostly on our phones with the exceptions of iMessages which sync to a Mac. They do still, for the most part, happen on an iPhone but since they’re syncing to a Mac, you can view them there and export them as PDF files.

Saving a message, regardless of which app was used to send/receive it, is simple since you can take a screenshot of it. Screenshots can later be stitched together if you need a conversation in one place (for legal reasons) but stitching so many images together is tedious.

Save Messages to PDF on macOS

To save a series of messages that you have synced to the Messages app on macOS, follow these steps. 

  1. Open Messages on macOS.
  2. Double-click the message thread that you want to export a conversation from.
  3. Scroll up so that the message history loads. Load as much of the conversation as you want to export.
  4. On the menu bar, go to File>Print.

  1. In the window that opens, select the number of pages from the total that you want to export. Use the page range to limit the messages that are exported to the PDF.
  2. Open the PDF dropdown at the bottom.
  3. Select Save as PDF.

  1. Select where the PDF file should save, and click Save.
  2. You can password protect the file by clicking on Security Options before clicking Save.
  3. Open the PDF file and the conversation will be there, complete with images.

About exporting messages

When you use Messages to export a message, the conversation is what is saved. Timestamps for when a message was sent or received are not added to the PDF.

Date breaks remain part of the PDF files so you will be able to tell what day and date a series of messages were sent/received over.

Images may be split over two pages so this is a very poor and unreliable way to save photos.

For photos that need to be downloaded in the Messages app, you will need to download them before you export messages or the PDF file will have a placeholder in place of the image.

If you’ve disabled Message history or limited it to a certain time frame, you will only be able to export the messages that are still in your message history.

The PDF file can be edited in a PDF later.

The PDF file may or may not be accepted as evidence in a court of law. Consult a legal expert and to be safe, keep the message on your device for as long as you can to preserve it as proof.

If you’ve taken screenshots, you can use Preview to add them all to a single PDF.

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