A Pair of Cool-But-Semi-Hidden OS X Yosemite Features

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #114


Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite has gotten better since its initial release… But I notice that several of useful features are semi-hidden by default. For example, your Mac can take dictation and turn your words into text without having to buy Dragon Dictate. But it’s disabled by default.

To enable it, launch System Preferences; select Dictation & Speech; and then click the Dictation tab.


  1. Click the On button.
  2. Enable the Use Enhanced Dictation checkbox if you want to use dictation without an Internet connection.
  3. (Optional) Choose a language.
  4. (Optional): Choose a keyboard shortcut to toggle dictation on and off without revisiting System Preferences’ Dictation & Speech pane.
  5. Finally, choose a microphone by clicking the little inverted caret below the microphone icon and selecting the mic you want to use.

These five simple steps enable dictation on your Mac.

The mic icon becomes your audio level meter; make a loud noise like a clap or a whoop and watch it bounce up and down.

Now, to dictate to your Mac, launch your favorite word processor and turn on dictation using the keyboard shortcut you created. Now just start talking and watch the words appear on in your word processor document like magic!

But wait! There’s more!

You can enable advanced dictation commands to do even cooler stuff like edit text and control other functions on your Mac using only your voice. I know you’ll want to enable that feature as well, so launch System Preferences again, but this time select the Accessibility pane.

  1. Click Dictation in the list on the left.
  2. Click the Dictation Commands button.
  3. Check the Enable Advanced Commands checkbox.

Just three more steps to enable Advanced Commands.

Now you can speak advanced commands such as:

  • Select the next or previous word, sentence, or paragraph.
  • Go to the beginning or end of a word, sentence, paragraph, or document.
  • Undo; Redo; Cut, Copy, or Paste
  • Switch to or launch applications
  • And many, many more.

While it’s not as powerful as and lacks many advanced features you'd find in dedicated speech recognition programs like Dragon Dictate, it still works well enough. And you can’t beat the price (free).

Another cool semi-hidden Yosemite feature is batch file-renaming — which is something I do almost every day. Here’s where it’s semi-hidden:

  1. Select the items you want to rename.
  2. Right- or Control-Click one of the items.
  3. Choose Rename Items from the shortcut menu.

The Rename Finder Items windoid appears with three options for renaming files:

  1. Replace text with new text
  2. Add text before or after the current file name
  3. Format all the files with the same new name, adding either a number or date before or after the new name. (I almost always use this option.)

When everything in the Rename windoid is to your liking, click the Rename button and your files are renamed in the blink of an eye.

Batch renaming is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

There is one last thing: I demonstrated both of these (and 2½ other semi-hidden Yosemite features) in Episode 2 of The BobLeVitus.TV Show

And that’s all he wrote…