Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best Wishes on the Year to Come!!

L.E.E. Design wants to wish you the best in the new year to come!! We look forward to making the year beautiful & prosperous for you!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Speed Navigating in Save As, Part 2

Want to speed things up by using the keyboard to get around in the Save As dialog? There’s just one thing you have to do first — press the Tab key. That removes the highlighting from the Save As naming field, and changes the focus on the sidebar (notice the blue highlight rectangle around the sidebar shown here). Once the sidebar is highlighted, you can use the Up/Down Arrow keys to move up and down the sidebar. Press Tab again and the search field is active. Press Tab once more and the Column (or list) view is highlighted, and you can use the Arrow keys on your keyboard to quickly get right where you want to be. When you get there, press the Tab key again to highlight the Save As field so you can name your file, and then hit the Return key to “make it so!”

Note: if you don’t see the sidebar or viewing modes, click on the little blue down-facing arrow button to the right of the Save As field.

You’re Two Clicks from a Photo’s EXIF Data

When you take a photo with a digital camera, the camera embeds info directly into the file, including the make and model of camera, the exposure, shutter speed, and a host of other info (called eXiF data). That info is usually viewed within an application like Photoshop or iPhoto, but now you can view it right from the Finder.

Just click on the photo’s icon, then press Command-i to bring up the info dialog. When it appears, click on the right-facing triangle beside the words “More info” and the basic eXiF data will appear.

You’re Two Clicks from a Photo’s EXIF Data

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?

PDF: The Smaller PDF Secret Control

This is another one of those “secret, buried-in-a-vault” killer tips that addresses something Mac OS X users have complained about: The file sizes of PDFs that Mac OS X creates are sometimes too big (vs. Adobe’s Acrobat PDFs). believe it or not, there’s a way to get smaller PDFs. Here’s how: launch TextEdit, then choose Print from the File menu. From the PDF pop-up menu in the bottom-left corner of the dialog, choose Compress PDF. That’s it. It’ll compress the PDF and call it a day.

However, if you’re charging by the hour, and let’s pretend you are, you have a wonderful time-consuming option: Choose Print from the File menu, and from the second Presets pop-up menu choose ColorSync. From the Quartz Filter menu that appears, choose Add Filters. Click on the three-oval icon in the top-left corner of the dialog that appears, click on the filter named Reduce File Size, and then click-and-hold on the arrow button to the right of the filter and choose Duplicate Filter. This creates an unlocked filter you can edit.

Now click on the triangle to the left of the duplicate filter to show its options; this is where you choose what you want. I recommend clicking on the arrow to the left of Image Compression and dragging the magic slider that lets you control the amount of JPEG compression your PDF images receive. For smaller file sizes, drag the Quality Slider toward Minimum. Now go back to TextEdit and in the Print dialog, choose Colorsync from the second Presets pop-up menu, choose your new filter from the Quartz Filter pop-up menu and click Print. That’s it. (Whew!)

PDF: The Smaller PDF Secret Control

See Your File’s Hidden Info

Want more info on your files than the standard icon view provides (after all, it just gives you the file’s name in icon view)? Then turn on Show Item info. This adds an extra line of information below many files and folders that can be very useful. For example, now not only do you get a folder’s name, but just below the name (in unobtrusive light-blue, 9-point type), you’ll see how many items are in that folder.

If the file is an image, the Item Info shows you how big it is. MP3 files show how long the song is, etc. To turn on Item Info for your current Finder window, press Command-J to bring up its View Options. Then turn on the checkbox for Show Item Info. If you want to show the item info for every window (globally), then choose the All Windows button at the top of the dialog.

See Your File’s Hidden Info

One-Click Long-File-Name Fix

If you’re working in a window set to Column view, you’re going to run into this all the time — files with long names have the end of their names cut off from view, because the column isn’t wide enough. That doesn’t sound like that big of a problem, until you start working with more descriptive file names, and you can’t see which file is “European Front End Silver Car” and which is “European Back End Silver Car” because everything from “European” to “Silver Car” is cut off.

Luckily, there’s a quick fix — just double-click on the little tab at the bottom of the vertical column divider bar, and the column will expand just enough so you can see even the longest file name of any file in that column. Option-double-click on the tab, and every column expands to show the longest name in each column. Pretty darn sweet!

One-Click Long-File-Name Fix

Giving Your Photos Keywords

If you’re using Preview to sort your digital camera images, here’s another helpful feature — the ability to add keywords to your photos. These keywords will even show up in Spotlight, so if you want to search your hard disk for images using keywords, you can.

Here’s how it works: When you have an image onscreen that you want to rate, just go under Preview’s Tools menu and choose Get info. Click on the Keywords tab, then click the Add button to add a field. Enter your keyword in the highlighted field, click in the white space to finalize your keyword, and you’re done.

Giving Your Photos Keywords

Preview: Assigning Color Profiles

Preview lets you color manage photos. You can assign an ICC color profile for any open JPEG or TIFF image by going under the Tools menu and choosing Assign Profile. This brings up a dialog with a pop-up menu of available color profiles. To assign a specific profile, just choose it from the pop-up menu, then click OK.

If instead you want to change the color profile to match a specific ColorSync profile, then go under the same menu, but instead choose Match to Profile. A dialog will appear where you can choose the source, and which profile you want to match.

Preview: Assigning Color Profiles

iChat AV: Audio Chatting? Drop It to the Dock

If you’re doing an audio chat, do you even need the iChat window open? Well, if you close it, you’ll quit the chat, but if you minimize the chat window to the dock instead (press Command-M), you can continue your chat, even though the window is no longer visible. When it’s time to end your chat, just click on the minimized chat window in the dock.

Audio Chat Dock

iChat AV: Fixing Bad Audio Chats

This is an old trick, but I forgot to include it in the previous edition of the this book... so... here it is:

If you’re having an audio chat, and the audio becomes garbled or is dropping out a lot, you can have iChat try to improve the connection using this simple trick. Just click the Mute button for just a second, then unmute it by clicking it again. This causes iChat to reassess the connection and that will usually do the trick.

iChat AV: Fixing Bad Audio Chats

Drag and Drop Import from the Title Bar

Just because you have a file open in Photoshop or Word or any other program, doesn’t mean you know where that file is saved on your hard drive. For example, you may have double-clicked on a file inside your email client and found yourself editing an image in Photoshop or an RTF document in Word.

But what if you now want to import that image or text file into Adobe InDesign? No problem: After you save any edits in your document, move your cursor over the little icon to the left of the file’s name in the title bar. Now hold down the mouse button and begin to drag the icon. You can drag that “proxy” icon into any other open window, including an InDesign document. If you can’t see the window you’re aiming for, keep the mouse button held down and press Command-Tab (the Mac OS X application switcher) to switch applications or use Exposé to find the window you want. This drag-and-drop technique is only available on Mac OS X, and only after you have saved a file.

Drag and Drop Import from the Title Bar

Keep Your Images in RGB As Long As Possible

When you convert an RGB image to CMYK, you lose flexibility because you’re targeting it to a specific press condition. For example, if you convert to SWOP Coated, you’re assuming the image will end up on a Web offset press with very specific inks, paper type, and paper color. But you’ve limited yourself because you may need that same image on a sheetfed press or later need to repurpose it for on-screen delivery. It’s much better to leave your images in RGB mode as long as possible — even all the way to your page-layout application.

Yes, it really is okay to place RGB images directly into Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. Both of these programs have great color management systems that can convert the image to CMYK when you print or export as PDF. In the case of InDesign, the results are typically identical to what you get when you convert in Photoshop! So save yourself time and energy and keep your images in RGB as long as you can.

If your output provider is color management savvy and can handle RGB PDFs, then send them PDF/X3 files (which maintain the original color spaces). If they want CMYK files, then make sure you convert to a CMYK destination when you export your PDF files. For example, exporting as a PDF/X1-a file ensures that all your colors are converted CMYK for your printer. Of course its also a good idea to check with your printer to ensure you are converting the the right kind of CMYK for your print job (SWOP, Sheetfed, etc).

Keep Images RGB

Why Use OpenType Fonts?

One of the oldest myths in desktop publishing is “never use TrueType fonts for professional publishing.” Perhaps that was true in the early 90’s, but there’s no reason to avoid them now. However, there’s an even better type of font format you should be using: OpenType. OpenType fonts are great for a number of reasons:

  • They have just one file per font, eliminating the need to manage separate screen and printer font files.
  • They’re cross-platform — you can use the same font on both Mac and PC.
  • They can contain thousands of characters, so you no longer need separate expert fonts.
  • They can contain intelligent characters, such as automatic fractions, special characters, and character pairs that change depending on where they appear in a word (such as a swash character).
  • They allow OpenType-aware applications to follow special instructions inside the font called glyph variants and automatically swap out characters when relevant. For example, in a script typeface, the application would be smart enough to use one kind of “t” when it appears at the beginning of a word and a different version when it’s in the middle of a word (so that it smoothly attaches to the letters around it). Applications that are not OpenType-aware — such as older versions of QuarkXPress or PageMaker — will still work with OpenType fonts, but without the advanced glyph features and intelligence.
Open Type

In an OpenType-aware application, the characters you see in this font (Adobe Bickham Script Pro) change depending on context. Here the “t” and “h” characters change form depending on whether they’re at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.

ColorSync Utilities

Mac OS X contains a number of useful utilities that can enhance creative workflows. In the root-level folder /Library/Scripts/ColorSync are editable AppleScript utilities that perform various common design tasks.

Say, for example, you have a collection of images in a directory that you would like to prepare for the web by embedding the sRGB color profile. Rather than open the images individually to assign the profile, you could use the "Embed chosen profile" script instead by simply dragging-and-dropping your collection of images on that script's icon in the Colorsync folder. A real time-saver when dealing with hundreds of images. And, because these scripts are editable, you can customize them to be specific to your workflow needs.

Screen Shot Screen Shot

The Immaculate Desktop

Are you the sort of neat-freak who abhors Desktop clutter? Who keeps all apps and docs in carefully organized folders? Consider diving deeper into onscreen clean by making your mounted drives and discs disappear from the Desktop and accessing them instead via Finder windows.

Here’s how to try it: From the Finder, pull down the Finder menu and select Preferences — or just press Command-comma [⌘ ,] from within the Finder. Click the General tab and uncheck Hard disks; CDs, DVDs, and iPods; and Connected servers.

Next, click the Sidebar tab and check the boxes next to all the items you unchecked under the General tab.

When you want to access a drive, disk, or server, just open a Finder window by pressing Command-n [⌘ n] from within the Finder. And when you close the Finder windows, your desktop will be spotless. (Remember, Command-w [⌘ w] closes a Finder window, and Command-Option-w [⌘ ⌥ w] closes all Finder windows at once.

Immaculate Desktop

Are you the sort of neat-freak who abhors Desktop clutter? Who keeps all apps and docs in carefully organized folders? Consider diving deeper into onscreen clean by making your mounted drives and discs disappear from the Desktop and accessing them instead via Finder windows.

Here’s how to try it: From the Finder, pull down the Finder menu and select Preferences — or just press Command-comma [⌘ ,] from within the Finder. Click the General tab and uncheck Hard disks; CDs, DVDs, and iPods; and Connected servers.

Next, click the Sidebar tab and check the boxes next to all the items you unchecked under the General tab.

When you want to access a drive, disk, or server, just open a Finder window by pressing Command-n [⌘ n] from within the Finder. And when you close the Finder windows, your desktop will be spotless. (Remember, Command-w [⌘ w] closes a Finder window, and Command-Option-w [⌘ ⌥ w] closes all Finder windows at once.

Immaculate Desktop

Type Like a European

Do you know the simple way to add accents, tildes, umlauts, and other non-English diacritical marks to your text document?

In Apple’s Pages and TextEdit applications, go to the Edit menu and choose Special Characters. In Microsoft Word for Mac, go to the Insert menu and choose Symbol.

Up pops a cool Character Palette that includes most of the symbols you’re ever likely to need. Just place your cursor where you want the symbol, select your desired symbol from the palette, and click Insert.

So much for the simple way. How about the fast way?

You can drop symbols right in line as you type — without interrupting your flow to sift through special menus — by memorizing a few simple key commands. If you frequently type foreign words, it can be a real time-saver.

When you want to add a letter with a symbol in just about any Mac OS X application, hold down the Option key and press the appropriate symbol key. Release the keys and type the letter you want to receive the symbol. Take café — you type c, a, f, then press Option-E (to get the right-leaning acute accent), then e. Same for résumé, fiancée, or blasé.

As in most of these combinations, the acute accent key command is linked to the letter most likely to need the symbol in question — in this case, the letter e. But if you need to type the Italian limóne, say, you press Option-E, then o. For Spanish está, it’s Option-E, then a.

The left-leaning (grave) accent is simple to remember, because it has its own key: the ` above the Tab key. Just press Option-`and then the target letter: Voilà!

Some more easy ones:

  • Option-C produces the cedilla in façade and curaçao.
  • Option-N plus n yields the tilde in España and mañana. For the tilde in São Paulo, press Option-N plus a.
  • Option-I plus i creates the circumflex in huître, while Option-I plus e gets you fenêtre.
  • Option-U plus u puts the umlaut in German words like Übermensch. Follow Option-U with an o or an a to get the umlauts in Götterdämmerung.
  • Option-O gives you the stroked o in Nordic words like the Norwegian nevø.
  • Option-? and Option-1 create the inverted question marks and exclamation points that start some Spanish sentences. ¿Comprendes? ¡Sí!

Need to type a capital letter with an accent or other diacritical mark? Just press Option plus the appropriate key for your symbol, then press Shift as you type the letter you want. For example, to type Évian-les-Bains, use Option-E followed by a capital E.


The Special Characters window in Apple Pages and TextEdit.


The Symbol window in Microsoft Word for Mac.

Create a Custom Desktop Slideshow

Changing your Desktop picture is easy: Just click the Apple menu and choose System Preferences. Select Desktop & Screen Saver and click the Desktop tab. Then select Choose Folder and navigate to the folder containing the picture you desire.

You can also create a custom desktop slideshow by putting the images you’d like to use inside a new folder, navigating to it as described above, and selecting one of the images. Before you close the Desktop & Screen Saver window, select the Change Picture checkbox. Using the pull-down menu, specify how quickly you’d like the images to change and whether you’d like the images to cycle in random order.

To keep things tidy, you may want to store your new custom picture folder in the same location as your default Mac OS X desktops. They reside in your root-level Library folder, in the folder called Desktop Pictures.

Custom Slideshow

Hide in Plain Sight

Whether you have a sudden desire for privacy, want to conceal confidential information, or just like to feel organized, sometimes you need to clear your Mac’s desktop in a hurry. Here are some handy methods.

Clicking the minimize button in the center top left corner of an open window or document makes it vanish from the desktop and hide in the Dock. You can do the same thing by typing Command-M. Either way, click the window’s icon in the Dock to return it to full view.

Need to conceal an entire application? You can hide most Mac apps in their entirety, no matter how many individual windows or documents are open, by typing Command-H. The windows don’t move to the Dock, but they reappear when you click on the application’s icon in the Dock. All Apple apps behave this way, though some third-party programs use different commands. (Adobe Photoshop, for example, uses Command-Control-H.) You can find an application’s Hide command in the application menu.

Want to quickly make iTunes, iChat, Safari, and your mahjong game disappear while leaving that budget spreadsheet open? Hide every open program except the one that’s currently selected (in this case, make sure it’s the spreadsheet app) by typing Command-Option-H.

To hide everything instantly, use the Desktop command that’s built into Exposé in Mac OS X. The default assignment is the F11 key, but you can reassign it by choosing System Preferences from the Apple menu and clicking the Dashboard & Exposé tab. Press the same key again to make everything reappear.

Hide in Plain Sight

Some programs, such as Adobe’s Photoshop, have unique hide commands.

Opening Moves

In most cases, double-clicking a file on your Mac automatically opens it in the appropriate application. But sometimes you may want to overrule your Mac and open a file in something other than the default.

For example, say you’ve edited a series of images in Photoshop, and now you want to take a quick look at them. You might prefer to view them in Preview, a Mac OS X program that opens in an instant, rather than the larger, slower-to-load Photoshop application.

To quickly specify your app, Control-click the item you want to open, then choose Open With from the pop-up menu that appears. This takes you to a list of every application your Mac considers capable of reading the file. Choose the name of the application you want, and the file opens in that program.

If you think you’ll be opening the file repeatedly in that program, you may want to specify an ongoing Open With preference. To do so, select the file and press Command-I to see the file’s Info window. Click the Open With tab and choose your program. Now the file will always open with your preferred application. And if you click the Change All… button, every file of the same type will open with this application.

Open With Screenshot

Control-click any file to specify the application in which it opens.

Create Your Own Icons

You don’t have to live with the icons your Mac displays by default. Instead, personalize your folders, files, and drives with custom icons using just about any graphic file you desire, whether it’s a jpeg, gif, png, Photoshop or Illustrator file, or even a PDF.

First, choose an image you want to use and open it in Preview. If the file doesn’t open in Preview by default, select the image in Finder, select Open With from the File menu and then select Preview from the drop-down list.

Once your image has opened in Preview, press Command-C to copy it.

Next, select the file, folder or drive whose icon you want to change, and press Command-I to show its Info window.

Click the file, folder, or drive icon at the top left corner of the Info screen, then press Command-V to replace this icon with your chosen image.

Close the Info window. The new image should appear in place of the old icon on your desktop or Finder window — even in List view.

To make your icons appear larger or smaller, go to the Finder and select View Options from the View menu. Use the slider in the pop-up window to change your icons’ display size on the desktop or in Finder windows.

You can also copy icons from the Info window of one file, folder, or drive to another. Just select the desired icon, copy it, then select the icon you want to replace and paste. Want to revert to the default Mac icon? Select your custom icon in the Info window and press the Delete key.

More Icon Tips: The most successful icons are clear, small images without too much detail, like a close-up photo of a face or a flower. You may want to crop an existing image down to a single detail in an image-editing program to create a better-looking icon — or use one of the thousands of purpose-made icons available in various online collections.

Keep in mind that using a large image as an icon increases the file size of your destination folder or file. For example, using a 3.4 MB photo as an icon for a 36 KB document increases that document’s total file size to 92 KB. Try creating a lower-resolution or smaller version of your image instead.

Change Icon Change Icon

Using Mac OS X Zoom for Demos

If you’re a trainer or you need to demo a technique in front of a group of people, there is nothing worse than losing your audience because they can’t see your cursor or the detail you’re pointing at. Fortunately, Mac OS X has a built-in solution for this problem: screen zoom.

To enable screen zooming, open System Preferences, click on Universal Access, and click On in the Zoom area. You are immediately ready to zoom: Press Command-Option-= to zoom in and Command-Option-hyphen to zoom out. If you click the Options button in Universal Access, you can fine-tune how Mac OS X displays the zooming effect – for example, you can set how far the screen should zoom in.

Zooming in and out is a great way to draw your audience’s attention to just what you want them to see.

Zoom Demos

While Zoom was originally designed for visually impaired users, it is also very useful for people who need to demonstrate Mac OS X applications.

Mouse-Free Folder Moves

One of the best tricks for speeding up your computer work is to keep your hands on the keyboard, not the mouse.

It’s not a macho, anti-mouse thing, but a simple matter of efficient motion. Using the mouse or trackpad means moving your hands off the keyboard, locating the cursor, making your move, and then shifting your hands back to the keys. If you can skip these steps, things tend to go faster.

There’s no better example than navigating folders within Finder windows. You can select, open, and browse folders from the keyboard for greater speed and less multi-window clutter.

Test it out yourself: In Finder, open a new window by pressing Command-N. To view the folders in List view, press Command-2. (Command-1 lets you view by Icons, while Command-3 changes the view to Columns.)

In List or Columns view, choose a folder that contains several subfolders, and open it by pressing the right arrow key. You can move up and down between folders or documents by pressing the up and down arrow keys. Close folders (or navigate backwards, if you’re in Columns view) with the left arrow key.

When you’ve located the file you want, speed your work even more by opening it with Command-O instead of double-clicking. In most Mac applications, you can close the file again by typing Command-W.

Once you’re accustomed to navigating through folders and files with key commands, you may be surprised by how fast you can move around, mouse-free, on your Mac.

Mouse Free Moves

Try opening and closing folders with the left and right arrow keys instead of double-clicking.

Saving Documents and Web Pages as PDFs

Adobe’s PDF format offers a great way to save and send electronic documents, from formatted business letters to product brochures. PDF documents appear identically on all computers, so you don’t have to worry about things like whether the recipient has access to the same fonts as you or if your company logo and other graphics will display properly.

PDFs are also an excellent way to quickly save “snapshots” of web pages for future reference. Since some web pages change frequently, PDFs are a useful way to capture or archive content that might be hard to find again later.

To save a document or web page as a PDF, open it and press Command-P, just as though you’re going to print the page. But instead of clicking Print or pressing the Return key, click the PDF button in the lower left corner of the Print dialog. Choose Save as PDF at the top of the menu, navigate to the location you’d like to save to, and click Save.

The PDF button also contains other useful options. Mail PDF opens a new message in Apple’s Mail program, with the PDF already attached. Encrypt PDF lets you protect your file with a password. And Compress PDF creates a more compressed version of the file — great for emailing large, multi-page PDFs.

Save As PDF

Setting High-Quality Fractions

When was the last time you saw a cookbook specify .125 teaspoons of salt? No, in virtually all non-metric publications, this would be written 1/8 tsp. That’s not so bad on a web page, but in print, regular-sized numbers separated by a slash looks clunky and unprofessional. Instead, you should use true fractions, such as ½ and ¼. But how do you get these special characters?

Most fonts contain two or three few special fraction characters, and both InDesign and QuarkXPress 7 offer a Glyph palette that lets you find them by searching through all the characters in the font. You can also use the hidden Character Palette to find these characters in other programs.

But the easiest and best way to get professional-looking fractions is to use OpenType fonts that enable intelligent fractions. When you’re using this kind of font, and you’re using an OpenType-aware application (such as Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress 7) you can select a regular fraction in your text and choose Fractions from the OpenType menu. (In InDesign, this menu is in the Control panel or Character panel flyout menu. In QuarkXPress, it’s in the Character Attributes tab of the Measurements palette.)

In general, it’s not a good idea to turn on Fractions for a large range of text—you should only apply it to true fractions. The reason: Turning this on can occasionally cause other numbers and some punctuation in your text to shift from its baseline.

Screen Shot

Converting a regular fraction is as easy as choosing from a menu, as long as you have an OpenType font that supports this kind of substitution. Note that the regular slash is also automatically converted to a fraction virgule.

Go with the Flow

Leopard gives you the option of viewing your files in an iPod-style “Cover Flow” view—so now you can flip through your files like a stack of CDs. This view is especially useful for searching through photos and other graphics files.

You may already know how to switch Finder windows between Icon, List, and Column views by using the keyboard shortcuts Command-1, Command-2, and Command-3, respectively. (If not, try it! It’s guaranteed to accelerate your Desktop chops.)

To switch a Finder window to Cover Flow view, just type Command-4. You can also change views by clicking the Icon, List, Column, and Cover Flow icons at the top of each Finder window, but key commands are generally faster.

Cover Flow

Once you’re in Cover Flow view, here’s how to navigate:

  • Click any image to select it and bring it to the foreground. Double-click to open it.
  • Scroll through the images using your trackpad or your mouse’s scroll wheel, or by dragging the onscreen navigation bar beneath the images.
  • You can flick through the files one at a time using your Down- or Rght-Arrow key to move left to right. Use the Up- or Left-Arrow key to move in the opposite direction.
  • If your folder contains many items, you may it find it useful to scroll through the contents without changing your selection. To do so, move your cursor to the list view beneath the cover images, and scroll up and down with your trackpad or scroll-wheel mouse.
  • Clicking a Sidebar item in a Finder window jumps you to that location without exiting Cover Flow view. If you browse through certain folders on a regular basis, you may want to create Sidebar icons for them. To do so, just locate the folder in a Finder window and drag it into the Sidebar. To remove a Sidebar item, simply drag it out of the Sidebar.

Create an iCal Event from Apple Mail

Leopard is smart—smart enough to recognize dates within the text of an email in Apple Mail.

When your cursor hovers over a date in the body of an email, a dotted rectangle surrounds the date, and a small arrow appears. Hold on the arrow, and up pop two iCal options: Create New iCal Event and Show This Date in iCal.


Choosing Create New iCal Event generates a dialog box. Its default name is the subject line of the original email, though you can change it here. You can also specify the location and duration of the event and add additional notes. When you’re finished, choose Add to iCal. Leopard adds the date to your calendar—without even opening iCal.

Not sure if you’re available? Choose Show This Date in iCal. This opens iCal at the date in question, but doesn’t add the event to your schedule.


The Instant Email Slideshow

Have you come to dread a certain type of email? You know—the “what we did on our vacation” letter comprising a brief message and a jumble of attached photos?

Here’s how to make quick sense of such missives in Apple Mail, using one of Leopard’s new Quick Look functions.

First, click the Quick Look button in the email’s header.


All attached images now appear in a convenient and attractive slideshow. The icons along the lower edge of the slideshow screen let you play the slideshow, step through the images one at a time, view them simultaneously in a photo grid, expand them to fill your screen, and add your favorites to your iPhoto library. You can also scroll through the images using your left- and right-arrow keys.


Creating Web Clip Widgets

Leopard makes it easy to create a Dashboard widget from a segment of a web page. For example, you can capture a “new releases” list from a media website, or the “latest posts” field from an Internet discussion group. These Web Clips appear, automatically updated, whenever you open Dashboard.

Here’s an example, using, a cool music software website. We navigated to their home page in Safari and clicked the Web Clip button (next to the address field).


The entire page darkens save for a bright rectangle. Drag the rectangle from its center and edges until it covers the segment you want to capture. Then click Add and Safari sends your Web Clip to Dashboard.

(If Safari doesn’t display the Web Clip button, choose Customize Toolbar in Safari’s View menu and add the button to Safari’s toolbar.)


Now the Web Clip appears as a new widget in Dashboard. You can still edit it: Move your cursor over the widget’s lower-right corner until a small letter i appears. Click it to resize or reposition the content, or customize its border using built-in styles.

Instant To-Do Lists

Thanks to Leopard, Mail boasts amazing new superpowers. One of the best: the ability to create and manage to-do lists as easily as writing an email.

In fact, you can create a to-do item directly from an email. Simply Control-click (or right-click if you have a two-button mouse) anywhere in the background of the email, and then click the New To Do button that appears.

A yellow field appears at the top of the email. Here you can enter a name for the to-do item, or click the red arrow to set a due date, assign a priority level, or enter the note on a particular calendar.

The item now appears in the to-do list in Mail’s Sidebar. (If you can’t see it, click the triangle next to the word REMINDERS to reveal it.)

Another slick trick: If you select any text from the email before you Control-click to reveal the New To Do button, the selected text becomes the name of the new item. Here we highlighted the book title in the email, then Control-clicked to create a new to-do item.

Get Instant Maps

In Leopard, your Address Book doesn’t just tell you where to go—it shows you!

To get an instant map to any address, just control-click on the address field of a contact card (or right-click if you have a two-button mouse). Then select Map Of.

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This command opens Safari (if it’s not already open) and reveals the address in Google Maps.

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This trick isn’t just confined to Address Book: Leopard can detect street addresses within Mail as well. When your cursor hovers over a street address in an email, a dotted rectangle surrounds it and a small gray triangle appears. Click on the triangle and select Show Map... to see the address in Google Maps.

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Create Custom Email Stationery

Leopard’s enhanced Mail program has a cool new feature: a set of professionally designed stationery templates you can use to spiff up your email.

But you can also create your own custom stationery templates. Here’s how.

Create a new email message. Add the elements you’d like to appear each time you load the template, like a signature line. You can also add dummy text to delete later, if you wish.

Under the Format menu, choose Show Fonts and Show Colors and use the Font and Color palettes to specify fonts, text size, colors, and type effects to suit your taste. (Note that the colors you choose for backgrounds might not show up until you’ve saved your stationery and opened a new message.)

Use the Format menu to set text alignment and styles. You can even add graphic elements, such as photos or logos. When you’re satisfied with your work, choose Save as Stationery from Mail’s File menu. The program will prompt you to name your creation.

When you want to load your template, create a new message and click the Show Stationery button. You’ll see the Apple templates, organized in folders. (You may need to scroll down to see all the folders.) At the bottom of the list is a new folder, Custom, where your template resides. Any additional templates you create will be stored in the Custom folder as well.

Select the Custom folder, double-click on the icon for your stationery, and the template appears, ready for you to add new text. When you’re done writing your new message, send like any other email.

Remember, though: The design professionals who created the Apple templates are professionals for a reason.

Mail Templates

Make the Most of Quick Look

One of the biggest time-savers in Mac OS X Leopard is the Quick Look, which gives you an instant preview of any file. It’s great for finding the right document, image, or mp3 when you’re not sure which is which, or choosing the correct version from a series of files with similar names.

To use Quick Look, simply select an item in the Finder and press the Space bar, or type Command-Y. An image of the selected item appears. (In the case of mp3s, the sound file also plays.) You don’t even need to open the document’s usual application. If it’s a photo, for example, you can see it without waiting for iPhoto or Preview to open.

To close the Quick Look preview, simply press the Space bar again, or click the x in the preview window’s upper-left corner. Alternately, you can type Command-Y or Command-W to close the image.

A few more tips to help you get the most from this amazing feature:

  • If you want to preview additional items, don’t close the preview window. Just highlight a new file in the Finder, and the open preview window displays the newly selected object.
  • Quick Look lets you view multiple-page documents. For longer files, a navigation scroll bar appears along the preview window’s right margin. It even works with PDFs and Keynote presentations.
  • You can preview multiple items simultaneously. Just select several items in the Finder by lassoing them with your cursor. Or open one item in Quick Look, then use the up- and down-arrow keys to display other files in the same folder.
  • You can combine searches and Quick Look. Simply type keywords into a Finder window’s Search Box to reveal files whose names or contents match the search terms. Select some or all of the results, open Quick Look via space bar or Command-Y, and use your up- and down-arrow keys to switch between the selected previews.

Annotating PDFs in Preview

Annotating PDFs in Preview

You may already know that Preview is a terrific application for viewing PDF files. But did you realize it’s also great for annotating PDFs? It’s a fast and efficient way to share comments when collaborating on group projects.

Under Preview’s Tools menu, you’ll find the options Mark Up and Annotate. Mark Up lets you highlight, strike through, or underline selected text within a PDF. Annotate allows you to draw circles and rectangles around parts of a PDF, append Stickies-style notes, and add hyperlinks.

PDF Annotation

To use Mark Up, choose the Text tool from Preview’s Toolbar. Select your target text with the cursor, and then choose a Mark Up option from the Tools menu (the choices are Highlight Text, Strike Through Text, and Underline Text).

To add shapes, links or comments, select a command from the Tools menu’s Annotate list (the options are Add Oval, Add Rectangle, Add Note, and Add Link).

If you’ve selected Add Note, simply click anywhere on the PDF. A colored tag appears in the left margin alongside the spot where you clicked. Its default text consists of your user name and the date, though you can alter or add to this by double-clicking on the note. To move notes, double-click their icons (those little cartoon-style balloons) and then drag them. When you double-click a note icon, you can also specify the note’s color and other attributes. To remove a note, double-click its icon and press Delete.

All Mark Up and Annotate tools can be summoned via key command. Also, if you use these tools frequently, you may want to add them to Preview’s Toolbar. (By default, they are not shown.) To add them, select the View menu’s Customize Toolbar command, then drag the tools you want from the pop-up onto the Toolbar.

Tame Your Tabs With Key Commands

If you sometimes find your desktop cluttered with multiple browser windows, try using tabs in Safari.

Tabs let you open multiple web pages in a single Safari window, so you can easily flip between them. They’re one of the best ways to amp up your web-browsing experience — especially once you’ve tamed them via a few simple key commands. This tip covers the basic moves.

First, make sure Safari is configured for tabbed browsing. From the Safari menu, select Preferences and click on the Tabs icon. Select the “Opens a link in a new tab” option, but leave the others unchecked for now. But take a moment to read the fine print, since it covers some of the tricks we’re about to tackle.


Now open a web page in Safari and try it out. Click on a link while pressing the Command key, and the link opens in a new tab nestled behind the current page. Holding down Command-Shift creates a new tab and brings the new page to the front. You can also open an empty tab by typing Command-t, then type in a URL or load a bookmarked web page. To close a tab, select it and type Command-w, or click on the small x on the left side of the tab.

You can reorder tabs within the Tab Bar simply by dragging them to the left or right. And you can switch from one tabbed page to another via key commands: Type Command-shift- ] (or Command-Shift-Right Arrow Key) to move forward to the next tab to the right, and Command-shift- [ (or Command-Shift-Left Arrow Key) to go to the next tab to the left.

For more cool tab tricks, try Control-clicking on any tab. Or simply right-click Mighty Mouse, and use the contextual menu that appears to create new tabs, close them, move them to new windows, reload them, or bookmark them.


iCal: Your Powerful Personal Assistant

When you add an event to your iCal calendar, you can do much more than simply name it and specify a date and time. Like a good personal assistant, it can remind you of upcoming events, help round up others for meetings, and even ensure that you have essential files in front of you at just the right moment.

To access iCal’s hidden superpowers, just double-click on the event’s name (or select it and type Command-i), then click the Edit button.

To invite other participants to an iCal event, just type their email addresses into the Attendees field. If you prefer, you can open iCal’s Addresses panel by typing Command-Option-a, and drag names from your contacts list. When you’ve added the desired contacts and event details, click Send, and Apple Mail will email the event request. If the event changes, you can send an update with the revised information.

Ical Assistant

There are many options here. For example, you can assign customized, color-coded categories to help keep track of work projects, personal appointments, and other commitments. You can set up recurring events via the repeat menu, which allows for custom recurrences (say, the last Tuesday of May every ten years) in addition to daily, weekly, monthly, and annual events. To create an event that continues over one or more days, click the “all-day” checkbox.

You can ask iCal to remind you of your upcoming events through a powerful alarm function, which issues one or more event reminders via pop-up messages or email. When pop-up reminders appear, you can “snooze” them for as little as one minute or as much as a week. You can even schedule the iCal alarm to automatically run a script or open a file on your computer at a specified time.

You can also attach documents, graphics, or other files to an event — pictures, maps, spreadsheets, or whatever — and include any relevant URLs. Finally, you can insert additional text into the Note field: anything from a phone number to an entire meeting agenda. (Though this field initially displays as a narrow strip, you can type or paste in as much text as you like.)

When you’re finished, click Done. All the data you added will appear next time you double-click on the event.

Editing Word Files — Without Word

It’s easy to work with Microsoft Word files on your Mac, even if you don’t have Microsoft Word installed on your computer.

TextEdit, your Mac’s built-in word processing program, can open MS Word files (which are often distinguished by a “.doc” or “.docx” suffix). Simply double-click the document icon. It will automatically open in TextEdit if that’s the only word-processing program on your computer. If you have several, you can specify which program to use by Control-clicking on the file icon (or right-clicking if you have a two-button mouse) and selecting your desired program.

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Now you can edit the file just like any other document. However, if you want to share your file with MS Word users, be sure to save your work in Word format. Here’s how.

From the File menu, choose Save As… or type Command-Shift-s. Click-hold on the File Format tab and choose one of the Word formats. Press Save.

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If you own iWork ’08, you can use similar techniques in Pages, Apple’s advanced word processor. But instead of using the Save As… command, select Export from the File menu. Choose the Word option and press Next.

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Finally, navigate to the destination where you’d like to save the document, and press Export.