macOS Monterey For Dummies
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Whether you’ve purchased a new Mac with macOS Monterey pre-installed or you’ve upgraded from a previous version of macOS, you’ll find that Monterey makes your Mac easier to use and offers myriad improvements to make you more productive.

This Cheat Sheet includes information on things you should never do to your Mac; a compendium of useful and timesaving keyboard shortcuts; a discussion of when folders are too full and when (and when not) to create subfolders; recommendations for backing up data; and a short discussion of iDevices and Continuity.

What not to do with your Mac running Monterey

Treat your Mac and macOS Monterey with care. To keep your work and leisure projects safe, never do any of these things with your Mac:

  • Never shut off your Mac by pulling the plug. Always use the Shut Down command from the Apple menu in Monterey (or press the power button and then click the Shut Down button).

    If you’re using a laptop, you can usually get away with pulling the plug while it’s running because the battery automatically kicks in. The only caveat is that if your battery is totally depleted, damaged, or missing entirely, you could suffer directory damage or data loss by pulling the plug. Just use the Shut Down command, and you’ll sleep well.

  • Never bump, drop, shake, wobble, dribble, drop-kick, or play catch with a hard drive while it’s running Monterey. Don’t forget that your desktop Mac has a hard or solid-state drive inside it, too.
  • Never get up from your Mac without saving your work. Just before your butt leaves the chair, your fingers should press Command+S (the keyboard shortcut in macOS that saves your work). Make it a habit.
  • Never keep only one copy of your important documents. Make at least two backup copies and keep one of them in another physical location. Period.
  • Never clean your monitor with a glass cleaner, such as Windex (or another product not designed to be used on a video display). And nix the paper towels or tissues, too. Use a soft cloth (microfiber is best) to avoid scratching the display.
  • Never pay attention to anyone who says that Windows is just like the Mac. Yeah, right. And a Kia is just like a Porsche.

Handy keyboard shortcuts for macOS Monterey

Make your work go faster with these macOS Monterey keyboard shortcuts. Print this chart and refer to it while using macOS Monterey.

Command Keyboard Shortcut
Add Selected Item to Dock Command+Control+Shift+T
Add Selected Item to Sidebar Command+Control+T
Close All Windows Command+Option+W
Close Window Command+W
Copy Command+C
Cut Command+X
Duplicate Command+D
Eject Disk Command+E
Empty Trash Command+Shift+Delete
Find Command+F
Get Info (on selected item or items)

Get Info Inspector (on multiple selected items)



Go to Recents Command+Shift+F
Go to Applications Folder Command+Shift+A
Go to Desktop Command+Shift+D
Go to Documents Folder Command+Shift+O
Go to Home Folder Command+Shift+H
Help Command+Shift+?
Hide Current Application Command+H
Hide Other Applications Command+Option+H
Log Out Current User Command+Shift+Q
Make Alias Command+L
Minimize Window Command+M
Mission Control: All Windows Control+Up Arrow (F3 on Apple keyboards)
Mission Control: Application Windows Control+Down Arrow (Control+F3 on Apple keyboards)
Mission Control: Show Desktop F11 (fn+F11 on laptops) (Command+F3 on Apple keyboards)
Move to Trash Command+Delete
New Finder Window Command+N
New Folder Command+Shift+N
New Smart Folder Command+Option+N
Next Window Command+`
Open Command+O
Paste Command+V
Quick Look (at selected item) Command+Y or Spacebar
Redo Command+Shift+Z
Select All Command+A
Show Original (of selected alias) Command+R
Show View Options Command+J
Show/Hide Dock Command+Option+D
Show/Hide Path Bar Command+Option +P
Show/Hide Sidebar Command+Option +S
Show/Hide Status Bar Command+/
Show/Hide Tab Bar Command+Shift+T
Show/Hide Toolbar Command+Option+T
Turn VoiceOver On/Off Command+F5 (fn+F5 on laptops)
Undo Command+Z
View Window as Columns Command+3
View Window as Gallery Command+4
View Window as Icons Command+1
View Window as List Command+2

Tabbing around Monterey's Save and Save As sheets

In the expanded view of macOS Monterey’s Save or Save As sheets, if you press the Tab key while the Save As field is active, it becomes inactive and the Tags field becomes active. Press Tab again, and the Search field becomes active. Press Tab again and the sidebar becomes active. And if you press Tab again, the Save As field will, once again, be active.

That’s because the Save As field, the Tags and Search fields, and the sidebar are mutually exclusive, and only one can be active at any time. You can always tell which item is active by the thin blue border around it.

When you want to switch to a different folder to save a file, click the folder in the sidebar or click anywhere in the file list box to make the file list active. The following tricks help you get a hold on this whole active/inactive silliness:

  • If you type while the file list box is active, the list box selects the folder that most closely matches the letter(s) that you type. It’s a little strange because you won’t see what you type: You’ll be typing blind, so to speak.
  • When the file list is active, the letters that you type don’t appear in the Save As field. If you want to type a filename, you have to activate the Save As field again (by clicking in it or using the Tab key) before you can type in it.
  • If you type while the sidebar is active, nothing happens. You can, however, use the up- and down-arrow keys to move around in the sidebar.
  • Pressing Shift reverses the order of the sequence. If you press Shift+Tab, the active item moves from the Save As field to the Sidebar to the Search box and back to the Save As field again.

Creating subfolders in macOS Monterey . . . or not

How full is too full? When should you begin creating subfolders in Monterey? That’s impossible to say, at least in a one-size-fits-all way, but having too many items in a folder can be a nightmare — as can having too many subfolders with just one or two files in each one.

If you find more than 15 or 20 files in a single folder, begin thinking about ways to subdivide it. On the other hand, some of your biggest subfolders might contain things that you don’t often access, such as a Correspondence 2001 folder. Because you don’t use it often, its overcrowded condition might not bother you.

Here are some tips to help you decide whether to use subfolders or just leave well enough alone:

  • Don’t create subfolders until you need them. That way, you avoid opening an empty folder when you’re looking for something else — a complete waste of time.
  • Let your work style decide the file structure. When you first start working with your Mac, you may want to save everything in your Documents folder for a while. When a decent-size group of documents has accumulated in the Documents folder, consider taking a look at them and creating logical subfolders for them.

Dr. Mac's backup recommendations

When working in macOS Monterey, would you like to ensure that you won’t lose more than a little work no matter what happens — even if your office burns, floods, is destroyed by tornado, hurricane, or earthquake, or robbed? If so, you might want to follow the setup described here.

I am continually testing new backup solutions, so the software I use can change from month to month. I’ve tried most of the popular backup solutions and many of the more obscure ones, but before I say anything about my current setup, here is what I’m trying to accomplish (at a minimum): I want at least three (reasonably) current backup sets with copies of all my files.

I update two of them every day and keep the third somewhere offsite, such as in a safe deposit box at the bank. Every month or two, I swap the offsite backup for the latest backup from home — and then reuse the older backup disk.
Note that after I set up the following programs, they run automatically in the background with no further action on my part. Think of this as a “set and forget” feature.

  • My first line of defense is macOS’s excellent Time Machine. There’s no excuse not to use it. But although Time Machine maintains multiple copies of files, they’re all stored on the same disk. If something’s worth backing up to one place, it’s worth backing up three times.

    Note that you can add a second or third backup disk (or more) to Time Machine if you like. Just click Select Disk in the Time Machine System Preferences pane, select the disk, and choose Use Both (or All) in the dialog that appears so that Time Machine rotates among the disks. Alas, even if you have two or more Time Machine backup disks, they’re still all stored in the same room.

  • And so, in addition to Time Machine, I use the excellent Backblaze ($6 per month for unlimited cloud storage). I use it to back up everything that matters, so I have a copy in the cloud, just in case. I consider it a bargain at $6 per month.
  • Every night at midnight, Carbon Copy Cloner ($39.99) clones (duplicates) my startup disk to another hard drive. This provides me a bootable backup I can use with almost any other Mac.
  • Finally, I use Dropbox to synchronize current projects among several Macs and my iPhone and iPad, giving me additional backup copies of important files. This also ensures that the most current version of the file is available from all my devices.

One last thing: I test the integrity of each backup regularly, and so should you. Just restore a few files and confirm they’re usable. Carbon Copy Cloner has a setting that checks every file for corruption, which I use once a month to ensure that the files in my backups aren’t corrupted or damaged and can be restored successfully.

10 favorite websites for macOS Monterey users

To learn about all things Macintosh and macOS Monterey, hop onto the web, check out these sites, and stuff your brain with Mac information:

  • The Mac Observer offers insightful opinion pieces in addition to the usual Apple news and product reviews. The quality and depth of the writing at The Mac Observer is superior to most other sites covering the Apple beat.
    Disclosure: I’m proud to be a columnist at The Mac Observer, and even prouder to have been doing it for nearly two decades.
  • The Apple support site and Apple support communities are treasure troves of tech notes, software update information, troubleshooting tips, and documentation for most Apple products.
  •, the site formerly known as VersionTracker is the place to go to find freeware, shareware, and software updates for macOS. If this site doesn’t have it, it probably doesn’t exist.
  • Macworld describes itself as “your best source for all things Apple,” and it’s not far from the truth. Macworld is especially strong for comparative reviews of Mac and iPhone/iPad products. If you want to find out which inkjet printer or digital camera is the best in its price class, probably has feature comparison charts and real-world test results.
  • TidBITS bills itself as “thoughtful, detailed coverage of everything Apple for 30 years,” but there’s much more to TidBITS than just news. You can also find thoughtful commentary, in-depth analysis, and detailed product reviews, written and edited by pros who really know the Apple ecosystem.
  • Six Colors is Jason Snell’s magazine on the web. The former editor for Macworld magazine for over a decade, he and his team provide daily coverage of Apple, other technology companies, and the intersection of technology and culture. Six Colors has been around for a few years, and the writing continues to get stronger, more opinionated, and even more fun to read.
  • Wirecutter is where I go to see what experts consider the best peripherals, tech tools, and toys. Now a New York Times company, Wirecutter has the resources to objectively evaluate many products in a category and declare one of them the “best.”
  • Other World Computing is my favorite maker of accessories and peripherals for Macs. They have a wide array of storage upgrade kits and memory upgrades that are guaranteed for life, as well as great documentation and instructional videos.
  • DealMac is the place to shop for deals on Mac stuff. With a motto like “How to go broke saving money,” this site is often the first to find out about sale prices, rebates, and other bargain opportunities on upgrades, software, peripherals, and more.
  • Apple’s Refurbished and Clearance Store can save you up to 30 percent on like-new Apple products.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Edward C. Baig is the former Personal Technology columnist at USA Today and current contributing writer at AARP. He makes frequent appearances on TV, radio, and podcasts and is the author of Macs For Dummies.

Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus has written or cowritten over 90 popular computer books, including macOS Monterey For Dummies and GarageBand For Dummies. He has also written for the Houston Chronicle and Mac Observer for over twenty years.

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