Are you using the best feature in OS X El Capitan?

OS X El Capitan desktop image

Which feature would you say is the best in OS X El Capitan? There is one that could completely change the way that you work with your Apple Mac and it is unusual and revolutionary.

The Apple Mac has always displayed the menu bar at the top of the screen for as long as anyone can remember. It is a standard feature of the operating system that has never changed. No matter what app you run, the menu bar is always there.

However, in recent versions of OS X it has been possible to run apps full screen and this changed the way that we work withour Mac. Apps have that little bit extra screen space in which to display their window contents. It is surprising how much bigger the screen seems to be when apps are expanded to fill it.

Full screen apps are more important to MacBook users than iMac owners because of the limited screen space on the laptops. You need full screen apps more on 12 to 15in screens more than 27in ones.

Now there is an equally important change. It probably came about because running apps full screen is so useful and now the menu can be hidden without making apps full screen.

The menu bar can be made to slide out of the way and it disappears at the top of the screen. Push the mouse to the top of the screen and it reappears and can be accessed again. Sliding out of view when you have finished.

Now all apps have that extra bit of vertical screen space that did not exist before.

This feature is clearly aimed at MacBook users and when you are working on a small screen it can be difficult seeing much of an app’s window when the Dock and menu bar are on the screen. It has long been possible to make the Dock auto-hide when it is not being used in System Preferences and now with El Capitan the menu bar can too.

1 System menu

Click the Apple logo in the top left corner of the screen and select System Preferences on the menu.

OS X El Capitan

2 System Preferences

When the System Preferences window opens, click the General icon in the top left corner.

System Preferences in OS X

3 Hide the menu bar

Tick the option to Automatically hide and show the menu bar. If you have ever set the Dock to auto-hide you will know exactly how this works.

Not having a menu bar at the top of the screen does seem to be very strange at first. It is especially weird if you also hide the Dock and don't have any icons cluttering up the desktop. The screen is completely empty apart from the desktop background and it just looks odd.

It is because we are not used to it and after working with an auto-hiding menu bar for a few hours you will come to apreciate the extra screen space and it will not seem so strange.

There is another little tweak here and you can choose to make the menu bar and Dock dark instead of the usual white background. Some people prefer it this way, so try it and see

At first sight it might seem like the feature is a direct copy of the auto-hiding taskbar in Microsoft Windows, but it isn't. It might have been inspired by it, but the Mac's menu bar is anot a taskbar and Windows menus cannot be hidden. Office applications have an automatic ribbon toolbar that appears when needed and disappears afterwards and this OS X feature is similar to that.

 

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