Thursday, November 22, 2007

Exposé Show-Off Trick #1

Showing off Exposé to a friend or co-worker who uses a PC is more than a blast, it’s your duty, because even Windows XP still has nothing like it. But if you really want to be a major hambone, before you press F9 to invoke Exposé, start a QuickTime movie clip, have a DVD playing, or have iTunes playing a song and click on the Visualizer (heck, have all three going at once). When you press F9, the QuickTime clip (DVD, iTunes, etc.) keeps playing even when miniaturized. It’s fun to watch their face as it changes from “Cool!” to “Why doesn’t Windows have that?”

Screen capture

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Move All Your Stuff to a New Mac — Quick

In the past, if you bought a new Mac, moving all your files, music, photos, and well...everything from your old Mac to your new Mac was quite a production, and I saw it reduce many an NFL lineman to tears.

Well, in Tiger, that’s all a thing of the past. Now, when it’s time to make the “big move,” just connect the two Macs with a FireWire cable, then go to your new Mac and look inside the Applications folder, then go to the Utilities folder, where you’ll find an application called Migration Assistant. Double-click on it and since it’s an assistant, it will lead you through a series of screens with questions about what you want to do. (Don’t worry, they’re pretty simple questions; however, some of the most critical questions are entirely in French. Kidding.) That’s it — answer the questions and it’ll make the move (including copying your settings for things like email, bookmarks and more).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Narrowing Your Search by Giving Spotlight a Hint

If you want to narrow your search right off the bat, you can add a category when you type the term in the Search field.

Screen shot

For example, if you’re looking for a song named “Vertigo” (by the band U2), there’s no sense in having Spotlight bring you a list of email messages from your ear doctor, right? So if you give Spotlight a hint as to what you’re looking for, you can get just songs as your Spotlight search results. Here’s how: Type “kind:music” (with no space in between or quotations), then add one space and type “Vertigo” (again, you don’t need the quotes). So your search will look like this: kind:music Vertigo. Now it will only search songs, and you’ll only get song results. Schweet!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Focusing Your Searches

By default, Spotlight pretty much searches everything on your Mac, from songs to email, to contacts and system preferences. It’s annoyingly thorough (if it were human, it would make a great book editor). Anyway, if there are certain areas you don’t need it to search (for example, if you don’t want it rummaging through your songs), you can tell it what to search through and what to ignore. You do this by first going to Spotlight’s Preferences. Just click on the Spotlight icon in the menu bar, type a search word, and from the bottom of the list of found items choose Spotlight Preferences. When the dialog appears, turn off the checkboxes for the areas you don’t want searched.

Screen shot

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Printing From the Desktop (Without a Desktop Printer)

Don’t want a printer icon cluttering up your desktop, but you still want to print files from the desktop or a Finder window (kind of greedy, aren’t you)? Then try this little trick: Control- click on the file you want to print to bring up a contextual menu. Now just choose Print from the menu. Once you choose it, it will either start printing or take you directly to the default application’s Print dialog.

Screen shot

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stickies Will Spell It for You

If you’re working in Stickies and you’re not sure you’ve spelled a word correctly, just Control-click on the word and a contextual menu will appear. At the top of this menu will be choices for what it believes to be the proper spelling of that word (if it’s actually misspelled and it recognizes the word in the first place). If you agree, just move your cursor over that word, release your mouse button, and your misspelled word will be replaced. Mighty handy.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Opening? Saving? Spotlight Is There

Okay, it’s time to save a file, so you choose Save As and the typical Save dialog appears. You want to save your document in a particular folder, but you can’t remember exactly where that folder is. No sweat, because Spotlight lives in the Save (and Open) dialog as well (it’s everywhere!). Just type the name of the folder you’re looking for in the Spotlight field in the upper right-hand corner of the Save As dialog and all the folders with that name appear in your Save window, so you can get right where you want blindingly fast. Nice.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Smart Mailbox Idea: Mail Older Than One Year

If you’ve got email that’s more than a year old just clogging up your Inbox (and taking up valuable space), you can use a Smart Mailbox to help you do some fast email house cleaning.

Just Control-click on the email account (or your Inbox if you don’t have multiple accounts) that you want to clean up, and then choose New Smart Mailbox from the contextual menu. When the Smart Mailbox dialog appears, from the first criteria pop-up menu on the left, choose Date Received. From the next pop-up menu over, choose “is before the date,” and in the final field, type a date that is approximately one year before today. Click OK and all your email that is one year old (or older) will appear in that Smart Mailbox. To delete that old email, just click on the Smart Mailbox, press Command-A to select all the email, then press the Delete key on your keyboard.


Now, the nice thing is that tomorrow more one-year-old email will appear in that Smart Mailbox (thanks to its live updating), and the next day, and the next day, and so on, so your mailbox never has more than one year of archived messages. So, about once a month, click on that Smart Mailbox and easily delete all the old email.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Getting a Transcript of Your Chat

There are a dozen reasons why you might want a written log of your text chats; maybe someone gave you instructions, a recipe, or just typed a bunch of stuff that cracks you up. Well, luckily, you can ask iChat to keep a running log of your text chats — go under the iChat menu, to Preferences, then click on the Messages icon, and turn on Automatically Save Chat Transcripts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Power Copy-and-Paste

In previous versions of Mac OS X (and Mac OS 9 for that matter), if you clicked on a file, copied it (Command-C), then opened an application (like Mail) and pasted it (Command-V), it would only paste that file’s name. Now, in some applications it pastes the actual file, so you can copy-and-paste a file from a Finder window or the desktop right into your application. Okay, so what if you do want just the name (which happens from time to time)? Just click directly on the selected file’s name (to highlight it) and press Command-C to copy it. Now you’re copying just the name. It’s a Power Pasting thing!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Email Attachments Made Easy

If you want to attach a file to an email message, you can drag the file directly to Mail’s icon in your Dock. This opens Mail and creates a brand-new email message window with that file already attached. Sweet! Better yet, even if you drag multiple attachments, they all attach to just one email message (rather than creating one message for each attachment, as in previous versions of Mac OS X).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Keep an Eye on Things, Live From the Dock

Do you like to know what’s going on “under the hood” of your Mac (stuff like your CPU usage, disk activity, memory usage — you know, total geek stuff)? If you do, you can keep an eye on things right from within the dock using Mac OS X’s Activity Monitor. It’s found in the Applications folder, under Utilities. Once you’ve found it, drag it into your dock, then click on it to launch it. Once it’s launched, click-and-hold for a moment on its dock icon. A menu will pop up, and you’ll see a dock icon menu item. This is where you choose which activity you want to monitor from its live dock icon. Choose it, and a live graph will appear in the dock that’s updated dynamically as you work.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Finding the Right Special Character

Okay, let’s say you’re in Mail, and you’re writing the word “résumé,” which used properly should have that little accent over the “é” like I have it here. You know it needs an accent, but you have no idea which keyboards combination will create an “e” with an accent above it.

Here’s a trick for finding any special character: When you’re typing, and you need that special character, stop typing and click the Fonts button at the top of the Mail window. When the Font dialog appears, go to the Actions pop-up menu (its icon looks like a gear near the bottom-left corner of the dialog) and choose Characters to bring up the Character Palette. At the bottom of the Character Palette dialog, you’ll see a small search fIeld. Type whatever you need, such as “acute accent” (without the quotes), and in just a moment a menu of different accents will appear. Double-click on the accent you want and the palette will jump to the mark you need. Close by you should see the character you need. Click on it and then click on the Insert button (or Insert with Font button if you’re searching in Glyph View) just to the right of the search fIeld. Now that letter “é” will appear in just the right place in your email message.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Instant Slide Shows Wherever You Are

Let’s say you open a window and there are 20 photos in that window. Want to see a quick slide show of those photos? Just press Command-A to select all the photos, then Control-click on any photo and from the contextual menu that appears, choose slideshow. A full-screen slide show of those photos (complete with a nice smooth dissolve transition) will appear onscreen.

If you want to see only some of the photos in a slide show, instead of selecting all the images, just Command-click on the photos you want in your slide show before Control-clicking on one and choosing slideshow. To quit the slide show in progress, just press the escape key on your keyboard.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

From EPS to PDF in No Time Flat

This trick is pretty much just for graphic designers who work with EPS images from applications like Adobe illustrator, Coreldraw for Mac, Freehand, and Photoshop. If you want to convert your EPS image instantly into a PDF (ideal for emailing), just drag it onto Apple’s Preview application icon in your dock (or in your Applications folder) and Mac OS X automatically converts your Postscript file to a PDF on the fly. When you choose save from the File menu, it will save as a PDF.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Go Directly From Your Video Camera Into QuickTime

There’s a very cool feature that sneaked into QuickTime Pro 7 that has kind of flown below the radar so far. It’s the ability to record directly from your digital video camera (or a microphone) right into a QuickTime fIle, without having to go through iMovie, Final Cut Pro, or a third-party application.

Just connect your digital video camera (or even your iSight camera), launch the QuickTime Pro Player, then from the File menu choose New Movie Recording. A QuickTime window will open showing you a preview of what your camera is seeing. Now just click the round red record button at the bottom of the QuickTime window and it starts recording. Click the stop button when you’re done and you’ve got an instant QuickTime movie. It works the same way for recording audio using your Mac’s built-in microphone (provided of course that your Mac actually does have a built-in mic), but instead of choosing New Movie Recording, you’ll choose New Audio Recording. Note: you have to upgrade from the standard QuickTime to QuickTime Pro to have access to this feature.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Finding Where the © and ™ Symbols Live

Since nearly the beginning of Mac-dom, when you wanted to find out which key combination produced a font’s special characters (stuff like ©, ™, £, ¢, ‰, ƒ, etc.), you used a utility called KeyCaps. More than a decade later, KeyCaps is still a part of Mac OS, but a better way to access these special characters is through the Character Palette. You can access it two ways: (1) From within Mac OS X business apps (like Mail, TextEdit, Stickies, etc.), just go under Edit and choose Special Characters or click on the Actions pop-up menu at the bottom of the Font Panel and choose Characters; (2) add Character Palette access to your menu bar, so you can access it when you’re working in other applications (like Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign). You do this by going to the System Preferences in the Apple menu, under International, and clicking on the Input Menu tab. Turn on the checkbox for Character Palette and it will appear in the menu bar along the right side.

Either way you open it, here’s how you use it: When you open the Character Palette, choose All Characters from the View menu, then click on the By Category tab. The left column shows a list of special character categories and the right column shows the individual characters in each category. To get one of these characters into your text document, just click on the character and click the Insert button in the bottom right-hand corner of the dialog. If you find yourself using the same special characters over and over (like ©, ™, etc.), you can add these to your Favorites list, and access them from the Favorites tab in the Character Palette. To see which fonts contain certain characters (they don’t all share the same special characters), expand the Character Palette by clicking on the down-facing arrow next to Font Variation on the bottom-left side of the palette. This brings up another panel where you can choose different fonts. you can also ask that this list show only fonts that support the character you have highlighted.

Finding where the © and ™ Symbols Live

Monday, November 5, 2007

Searching by Color Label

Besides the visual benefits of having certain files tagged with a Color label, there’s a hidden benefit: You can search for files by their color. For example, let’s say you misplaced an important file for a project you were working on. You can press Command-F to bring up the Find function, and from the top-left pop-up menu, choose Color Label.

Then, click on the color for the files you labeled in that project, and it will instantly find and display all the files with that color. Searching by color—only Apple is cool enough to come up with a search like this!

Color Label Search

Creating Aliases Without the Word “Alias”

Do you find it as annoying as I do that Mac OS X adds the word “alias” every time you create an alias? (I know, previous versions of the Mac OS did that as well, and it annoyed me there too.) Well, you can bypass the “adding-the-word-alias” uglies altogether by holding the Option and Command keys and clicking-and-dragging the original file outside the Finder window it’s currently in (I usually just drag mine to the desktop).

This creates an alias without the word “alias” attached. (Note: Don’t worry, you’ll still know it’s an alias, because its icon will have a tiny arrow at the bottom left-hand corner.)

Creating Aliases Without The Word “Alias”

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Ultimate Customize Toolbar Shortcut

If you want to customize the items in your toolbar (and there’s nothing wrong with that), just Command-Option-click the little white pill-shaped button at the top right of your window’s title bar, and the Customize Toolbar dialog will appear, right there in your window. Now you can just drag-and-drop icons onto the toolbar.

The Ultimate Customize Toolbar Shortcut

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dropping Text on the Dock for Fast Results

Let’s say you’re reading an article online, and you read a sentence that you want to email to a friend. Don’t do the copy-and-paste thing. Instead, just highlight the text and drag-and-drop it right on the Mail icon in the Dock. It will open Mail and put that sentence into a new mail message. This tip also works in other Cocoa applications like TextEdit, Stickies, and Safari. For example, if you’re reading a story and want to do a Google search on something you’ve read, just highlight the text and drag-and-drop it on the Safari icon in the Dock. It will launch Safari and display the Google Search Results.

Dropping Text on the Dock for Fast Results

Friday, November 2, 2007

Address Book: See Which Groups They’re In

If you have a contact that appears in more than one Group, you can instantly see which of your Groups this individual appears in by simply clicking on his or her contact and holding the Option key. When you do this, every Group that they appear within will become highlighted.

This is handy if you want to clean up your Groups by deleting extra instances of people who appear in multiple Groups.

Address Book: See Which Groups They’re In

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What If You Don’t Want To Open The File?

The idea behind Spotlight is that it will find the file you want, and then open that file for you, so you can start working on it immediately. But what if you just want to know where the file is, and not necessarily open it? (For example, what if you just want to know where it is, so you can burn a backup copy to a CD?) To do that, once the results appear in the spotlight menu, just hold the Command key and then click on the file. This will close Spotlight and open the Finder window where your file is. Or if you want Spotlight open, just click on the file and press Command-R, which will open a Finder window with the file selected, leaving the spotlight dialog open.

What If You Don’t Want To Open The File?