You’re working too hard – relax and try out these 10 amazing Mac easter eggs

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Through history, the best artists included easter eggs in their works. Little hidden messages, or inside jokes. Steve Jobs was an artist. If you’re fortunate enough to own one of the very first Macintosh computers, you might find the signatures of the original Macintosh team inside the case — it’s well documented that Jobs had his team sign the case mold.

If you think about Steve Wozniak’s playful nature, it makes complete sense that the culture of easter eggs would fit perfectly within Apple’s culture. Well, that was the case in the early years. When Steve Jobs returned to an Apple on life support in the 90s, he put a stop to easter eggs, going so far as to remove them from the Mac operating system. He argued that engineers were wasting too much time and system resources on them. Apple required a renewed focus to pull out of its nosedive.

Thankfully, those days are over and if you’re reading this on a Mac, you’re about to have a lot of fun. If we missed any really good ones, please let us know.

All of these easter eggs were tested on Mac OS X Mountain Lion version 10.8.2

The Blue Screen of Death

If you mainly use the “List” view in Finder, you might not have noticed the tongue-in-cheek way in which Apple represents PCs on your home or office network. What appears to be an unassuming blue display on a CRT monitor icon from afar, is actually the infamous “Blue Screen of Death” message Windows displays when it experiences a fatal error. Sick burn.

  • Open Finder
  • Press: Shift + Cmd (⌘) + K
  • Press: Cmd (⌘)+ 4
  • Enlarge the Cover Flow window

The Steve Jobs famous quotes LP

Have you noticed the LP login picture before? It seems to have first made its appearance in Lion. Look closer and instead of track names, you’ll find popular phrases Steve Jobs used to drop in his legendary keynote speeches. “Magic”, “Revolution”, “Boom!” and “Unbelievable.”

The picture can be found inside Users & Groups.

  • Open System Preferences
  • Open Users & Groups
  • Click on the display picture next to “Change Password…” and scroll down to the LP icon

Now, for a closer look:

  • Open Finder
  • Press: Shift + Cmd (⌘) + G
  • Paste the following directory: /Library/User Pictures/Instruments/Turntable.tif and click Go
  • Open the Turntable.tif image

Mac OS X looks better in slow motion

Much of OS X’s animated flourishes happen so fast, it’s often hard to fully appreciate their beauty. Whether or not the function to slow down OS animations was created for fervent testing purposes or purely to show off the workmanship that went into them, it’s easy to slow things down.

For example:

  • Hold Shift and click your web browser’s yellow “minimise” icon
  • Hold Shift and click the Downloads icon on the dock
  • Hold Shift and press your Mission Control shortcut (F3 on a MacBook)

The window animation that sucks

You already know about the “Genie” and “Scale” effects that happen every time you minimise or maximise an app, but did you know there’s a third effect called “Suck”? The effect is considered to be faster than Genie and more flamboyant than Scale.

  • Open Terminal (Look in Applications > Utilities)
  • Copy and paste the following line: defaults write com.apple.dock mineffect -string suck and hit Return
  • Copy and paste the following line: killall Dock and hit Return

To go back to one of the two default animations:

  • Open System Preferences
  • Open Dock
  • Select the desired effect next to “Minimize windows using:”

“Tell me a joke”

Although your Mac won’t win any standup awards, we found it to be pretty proficient at telling knock-knock jokes. Be sure to go through the calibration process and be patient — it had some trouble understanding our non-US accents.

  • Open System Preferences
  • Open Accessibility
  • On the left-hand size, scroll down to “Speakable Items”
  • On the right-hand side, set Speakable Items to “On”
  • Click on “Calibrate” and follow the process to ensure optimal speech recogniton
  • Hold the Escape key and say: “Tell me a joke”

The many faces of the weather widget

When OS X Tiger was demoed for the first time, Steve Jobs made the Dashboard weather widget show a bunch of different weather conditions.

Here’s how he did it.

  • Open Dashboard (Look in Applications or press F4/F12)
  • Click the bottom, left “+” icon
  • Choose Weather
  • Hold the option (Alt) and Cmd (⌘) keys, and click anywhere on the widget

January 24, 1984

As we mentioned before, legend has it that when Steve Jobs returned to apple in the 90s, he put a stop to Mac OS easter eggs. Luckily, they seem to be back in this, the most recent one to be discovered.

  • Open App Store
  • Start a download of any app not installed on your Mac
  • Quickly open Finder
  • Open Applications or press: Shift + Cmd (⌘) + A
  • Scroll down to the name of the app you are downloading

Recognise the date? January 24, 1984 is the birth date of the original Macintosh. The date was first announced in Apple’s award-winning TV ad.

“Here’s to the crazy ones…”

Take a close look at the TextEdit icon. It contains the narrative from Apple’s Think Different ad campaign that ran during the late 1990s. If you’ve never seen it before, watch the video below, it’s something really special. You can also read the full text.

  • Press: Shift + Cmd (⌘) + G
  • Copy and paste the following line: /Applications/TextEdit/Contents/Resources/ and click “Go”
  • Open the Edit.icns file

or

  • Open Applications
  • Scroll down to TextEdit
  • Click on TextEdit to highlight the app
  • Press Spacebar
  • Click on the fullscreen arrows top, right

The narrative can also be found on the All My Files icon.

  • Press: Shift + Cmd (⌘) + G
  • Copy and paste the following line: /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/Resources/MyLibraries and click “Go”
  • Click on the All My Files icon
  • Press Spacebar
  • Click on the fullscreen arrows top, right

“So, sue me”

This little sound bite has a huge history behind it. A homophone of “so sue me”, the sound was first included in Mac System 7 OS in 1991 as a display of defiance in the face of an arduous trademark battle between The Beatles’ Apple Corps record label and Apple Computer — now Apple Inc. The battle that raged between 1978 and 2006 was finally concluded in 2007, but not before it sparked the Sosumi sound bite as well as a CSS class used for legalese on Apple’s website.

Read more about Sosumi.

  • Open System Preferences
  • Open Sound

Viewing the source of Apple’s website also reveals the below.

One egg to rule them all

This egg is a fun way of learning about Mac OS’s Unix heritage. If you look at the first lines of the output you’ll notice the FreeBSD reference. Mac OS X consists of a Mach/BSD-based kernel, apps based on FreeBSD, and additional frameworks that provide UI and application-level services. You’re therefore likely to find this egg on other BSD-based systems. Read more about Mac OS’s history here, or pick up a copy of Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs biography.

The output isn’t a timeline — Lord Of The Rings fans will notice all the dates are wrong — as much as a fun list of significant events.

  • Open Terminal (Look in Applications > Utilities)
  • Copy and paste the following line: cat /usr/share/calendar/calendar.lotr and hit Return

One more thing

These aren’t Mac OS-specific easter eggs — if you can even call them that — but they are way too fun to exclude from this list. Emacs, the cross-platform text editor is included with every copy of Mac OS, and ships with a bunch of quirky and just plain awesome applications written in the Emacs Lisp programming language.

For Tetris:

  • Open Terminal (Look in Applications > Utilities)
  • Type: emacs and hit Return
  • Press the Escape key
  • Press X
  • Type: tetris and hit Return

For Snake:

  • Open Terminal (Look in Applications > Utilities)
  • Type: emacs and hit Return
  • Press the Escape key
  • Press X
  • Type: snake and hit Return

To talk to a virtual psychotherapist:

  • Open Terminal (Look in Applications > Utilities)
  • Type: emacs and hit Return
  • Press the Escape key
  • Press X
  • Type: doctor and hit Return
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