If you adjust the volume, brightness, or keyboard backlight on your Mac, it changes in one of sixteen stepped increments. Sometimes, however, you might want something a little more fine-grained.

Using a simple keyboard modifier, you can actually adjust those settings in quarter-step increments, for a total of 64 steps. Let’s show you what we mean.

In the following GIF, you see the normal volume indicator. Each time we tap the volume up or volume down buttons, it changes in the aforementioned 16-step increments.

Now we’ll adjust the volume while holding down Option+Shift on the keyboard. Notice how the volume indicator changes in quarter steps, meaning each time we tap the volume buttons, each step has four increments.

You can do the same thing with the brightness controls (as well as the keyboard backlight). Simply hold Option+Shift to adjust them in quarter-step increments.

While this may seem like a routinely simple trick, it’s very useful. There are many times where you want to take the smallest bit of edge off the volume but tapping the down button softens it too much, or you want the screen to be just a couple shades brighter but one step makes it too bright.

In any event, using Option+Shift you can make those minute adjustments and alleviate any frustration.

Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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