MacBook Pro tips, tricks and best hidden features 2017: Get the most from your shiny and expensive new MacBook Pro with our comprehensive selection of tips, diving into hidden features of MacOS Sierra, Apple’s fresh new Touchbar and more.
Splashed out on Apple’s newest MacBook Pro for 2017? In that case you already know what a wonder machine it is (as we also pointed out in our original Macbook Pro review and our three-month long term review). What you might not know, and what those of you thinking about buying one will want to know, is that there are loads of hidden gems in there that makes this the best MacBook Pro yet.
Running Mac OS El Capitan, or Mac OS Sierra, you will have access to Apple’s latest software delights. On top of that, you’ll have the marvellous new Touch Bar if you splashed out for more than the entry-level MacBook. For those who opted for the higher end MacBook Pro, the Touch Bar offers lots of tweaking options to make the machine even easier to use and more customised to your style of button bashing.
These tips and tricks will help you get the best out of the the MacBook Pro 2017 laptop.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Get better battery life from the Pro
If you find your MacBook dying while you’re still halfway through that video edit or gaming session, there are plenty of steps you can take to identify the main culprits and extend your battery life. MacOS Sierra has more built-in tools than before, to work out which apps are draining your battery. Plus there are various energy saving options that you can enable, to get an extra hour or so of life per charge.
Check out our in-depth MacBook Pro battery saver guide for all you need to know.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Talk to your MacBook Pro
Thanks to Siri integration, talking to you MacBook Pro can make interactions easier. Siri is limited in what she can do, admittedly, but the software is always learning and offers quick access to the likes of turning on and off Wi-Fi. She can even check the weather or even find files directly without clicking through folders the usual way.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Customise your MacBook Pro Touch Bar
Since the Touch Bar is a glorified screen, you can change what is displayed there to suit your needs. Reorder the layout, change the size and even individually pick out buttons – all can be done in the customisation options. Adjustments can be made within apps such as Photoshop so you can make your preferred buttons for that application more accessible.
To make your Touch Bar more you, go to the Apple logo in the screen’s top left, select System Preferences and then Keyboard.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Sign PDFs on your MacBook Pro
Who owns a printer these days, right? Or at least, who keeps paper and ink in that printer? So when a ye olde document arrives you need to “sign and print” you are stuck. Not with a MacBook Pro.
You can simply drag the document into Mail, right click and select the markup option to sign. This is the fun part, you can either hold up a signed piece of paper to the webcam to find it or just draw it on the trackpad. Perfect.
You can also scribble your signature onto a PDF in Preview with the latest version of MacOS. Just open the document in question, tap the Toolbox icon in the top right corner of the screen and poke the Sign icon (which looks like a dinky signature).
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: How to rename loads of files at once
If you copy loads of photos (or some other kind of files) to your MacBook Pro and they’ve all got stupid names – usually a long string of seemingly random characters – don’t go through them renaming them all individually. Using this quick tip, you can rename a group of files or photos in one simple burst.
What you need to do is highlight all of the files, either by dragging a box over all of them or hitting Command-A. When they’re all highlighted, right-click or Ctrl-click on one of the files and hit ‘Rename (number of files) items’. This allows you to set a standard name and indexing method for the group.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: How to use Split Screen with apps
A multitasking master of machinery like yourself should never be reduced to dragging and dropping windows for ease of use. Apple knows this and has introduced Split Screen in its Mac OS update, which is really easy to use and super helpful.
Simply left click and hold on the green expand icon at the top left of any window and it will appear over a shaded split, allowing you to pop it on the left or right. Click a second window and the two will snap side by side for easy multi-screen viewing. To cancel just click the green icon again and you are back to how you started.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Use Siri faster with the MacBook Pro Touch Bar
Tapping on the siri button, waiting to give a command and then waiting for the AI to process is one way to voice search, sure. A better way is to use the Touch Bar. Instead, press and hold the Siri button and speak your question or command while still holding it. Once done, lift your finger off and your helpful AI assistant will immediately process and carry out your every wish. Well, the ones supported anyway.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Let your MacBook Pro remember your passwords
Can you remember every login and password you use for every website and app on your computer? If so, they are probably insecure. Instead, keep them complicated and let your Mac do the memory work. This can be done by activating the iCloud Keychain, meaning it will work across all your Apple devices.
This will not only remember all your logins and passwords for websites, it can also store your payment cards for faster payments too. It is all super Apple-level secure so you never need to worry about losing anything either. Initially you will need to input a lot of information, but just the once.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Control someone else’s Mac using your MacBook Pro
Does your parent want help with a task on their MacBook Pro? You can use El Capitan’s Screen share feature to show them how it’s done, without having to leave the comfort of your home.
Simply open Screen Sharing via the Spotlight magnifying glass icon in the top right and then enter the Apple ID of the person you want to contact. This is found in the iCloud pane of System Preferences – where they can also make sure Screen Sharing is enabled. Once permission has been confirmed, away you go.
Read next: Best Touch Bar apps and games
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Scrub video using your MacBook Pro Touch Bar
Zipping forward and back through videos is super easy using the Touch Bar, thanks to a built-in scrubbing tool. This bar graph-like icon will appear left of the Control Strip when available. This works for plenty of apps and in the case of Safari will even let you skip those pesky ads before videos.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Adjust volume in smaller amounts on your MacBook Pro
You can use the Mac buttons to increase and decrease volume, but this does it in fairly large chunks that may be too loud or too quiet for your tastes. More subtle adjustments can be done using the keyboard.
Simply hold down the alt and shift keys as you press the volume keys and the increments that the volume changes by will be smaller. If you have turned off the sound for volume changes but want to check it is working, when doing normal increments you can hold down the shift key as you tap the volume up or down and it will make a sound temporarily.
MacBook Pro 2017 tips and tricks: Disable in-app Touch Bar changes on your MacBook Pro
The Touch Bar will automatically change to offer varying controls to suit the apps you are working in. If you want to go old skool and keep those buttons the same no matter what apps you’re flitting between, you can.
Simply go to System Preferences then Keyboard and click on the Touch Bar drop-down menu. Now select the option from App Controls that suits you best: Control Strip, Expanded Control Strip or App Controls.