16 Easter Eggs Hidden in Apple Products

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Apple designers and programmers have hidden some fun Easter eggs—you just need to know where to look.

1. PLAY MINI GAMES

You have the ability to play a few mini games that are hidden deep inside your MacBook. It requires a little bit of rudimentary programming, but let's walk you through the process: 

1. Inside Applications, go into the Utilities folder. That’s where you’ll find a Terminal to launch most of these Easter eggs.

2. Once a Terminal is open, type “emacs” (without the quotes) and then hit enter. Press the esc key and the X key at the same time. Once it prompts you, type “tetris” and get ready to spend hours playing. 

3. To play other games, repeat all of these steps, but type in “pong” or “snake” instead of “tetris.”

2. SLOW MOTION ANIMATIONS

Mac OS X’s animations make it seem like applications are moving faster than they appear to be. If you minimize a window, you can see the operating system’s “genie effect” take hold of the app. You can actually slow down this effect to truly marvel at the operating system's beauty. Simply hold down the Shift key as you minimize the window.

3. TEXTEDIT LETTER

Apple’s attention to detail can be felt throughout all of Mac OS X’s icons. Its TextEdit app icon features paper and pen, but if you look closely enough, you can actually read a quote from Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign from 1997. Read the letter below:

“Dear Kate,

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes — the ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing that you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. 

Take care,

John Appleseed”

If you’re wondering, Kate is short for “KDE Advanced Text Editor” and John Appleseed is the alias of Mike Markkula, the second CEO of Apple Computer, Inc.

4. RECORD ICON

In current versions of Mac OS X (in System Preferences and under Users & Groups), you can choose a record icon as your avatar. If you look closer, the song titles on the vinyl read "magic," "revolution," "boom," and "unbelievable." These were Steve Jobs’ most frequently used words during Apple keynote addresses.

5. SOSUMI

The Sosumi sound effect—which can be found in System Preferences under Sound—stems from the long legal battle between Apple Corps (The Beatles’ record label) and Apple Inc. The legal dispute started when Apple Records sued Apple Computer for trademark infringement in 1978 and ended when the latter settled out of court in 2007. The sound effect was created in 1991 and is Apple Inc.’s way of saying, “So sue me.”

6. THERAPY

Your Mac can even play the role of therapist in your life. Just fire up Terminal (found in your Utilities folder) and type in “emacs” and hit enter when prompted. Then hit esc and X at the same time, and type “doctor” as a follow-up.

Your Mac will ask you to please describe your problems and Mac OS X will listen—and respond when you hit the return key twice.

7. PC'S BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH 

Apple and Microsoft are fierce rivals, so if your Mac discovers a PC on the shared network, it will display a clunky computer with Microsoft’s “Blue Screen of Death” error message on its screen in your finder's network hub.

8. FAMOUS DATES IN HISTORY 

If you want to read fun facts for every day of the year, fire up a Terminal again. Simply paste this line of code: “cat /usr/share/calendar/calendar.history” (without the quotes) to unearth this fun Easter egg.

9. STEVE JOBS' GLASSES

Steve Jobs’ glasses are now the icon for the “Add to Reading List” feature in iOS 7. It’s a lasting tribute to Apple’s co-founder.

10. SIRI'S FAVORITE MOVIES

Apple’s voice command feature Siri responds to any of a user’s questions. Apparently, Siri is a big fan of the science fiction movie genre. If you ask Siri about the plot of Inception, Siri responds with, “Inception is about dreaming about dreaming about dreaming about dreaming about something or other. I fell asleep."

11. STAR WARS

Open Terminal and then simply type “telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl” (sans quotation marks) and hit enter. Your Mac will re-enact the original Star Wars in its entirety as ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) art.

12. MACINTOSH DEBUT

Whenever there’s an incomplete or in process app download in Mac OS X, the modified date that appears is January 24, 1984, which is the date Steve Jobs introduced the original Apple Macintosh.

13. VULCAN

In iOS 8.3 (or higher), you have the ability to unlock a Vulcan salute as a hidden emoji in the iPhone keyboard. It requires a long work around to unlock it, but it’s completely worth it if you’re a Star Trek fan. Open this tweet on your iPhone, copy the “Live Long and Prosper” emoji, and then go to “Settings” on your iOS device. Click “General,” then “Keyboards,” and then select “Shortcuts.” Hit the + icon and then double-tap the “Phrase” section and paste the Vulcan emoji. Now enter the shortcut like "llap" (Live Long and Prosper) or “vsal”(Vulcan Salute) and then finally “Save.”

Now every time you type the shortcut, the Vulcan emoji will appear.

14. LORD OF THE RINGS

Now here’s a precious Easter egg. If you want to know the exact timeline of The Lord of the Rings, launch a Terminal from the Utilities folder in Applications and simply paste in the following line of code: “cat /usr/share/calendar/calendar.lotr” (without the quotes), and hit Enter. A long list of key events from The Lord of the Rings will now appear.

15. VOICE MEMO

The icon for the Voice Memo app for iOS 9 is a recorded waveform of the word “Apple.”

16. APPLE WATCH “RICKROLL”

Hidden on Apple’s support page for the Apple Watch, you’ll find a clever message in the “Add a Friend” section for messaging at the very bottom of the website. Take a close look at the initials of the smaller icons to see the song title “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Apple just Rickrolled you!

A version of this story ran in 2014.

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March 21, 2016 - 10:00am
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