Friday, December 31, 2010

Checking for Bad Fonts

If there’s one thing that can bring a document (or your system) to its knees, it’s using a corrupt font (meaning a font that accepts bribes — sorry, that was lame). Anyway, finding out which fonts on your system might be corrupt was no easy task, but in Tiger, it just got a whole lot easier. Here’s how to search for rampant font corruption: Go to your Applications folder and launch Font Book. You can either click directly on any font that you might think is suspect (look to see if the font is sweating), or Command-click on the fonts you want interrogated, then go under Font Book’s File menu and choose Validate Fonts. This brings up a Font Validation window and if your fonts are on the up and up, you’ll get a little round checkbox beside them. If there’s reason to believe something may be wrong, you’ll get a yellow warning icon beside a font. If it’s corrupt, you’ll get a round icon with an X in it, telling you not to use this font. Click the checkbox beside that font, then click the Remove Checked button to remove this font from your system.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stickies: Saving Your Text Colors

You’ve been able to colorize text in Stickies since at least Mac OS 10.1, but did you know that you could save your favorite colors and apply them with just one click? (Obviously, I’m hoping you didn’t or it really kills this tip.)
To do so, just highlight a word, then go under the Font menu and choose Show Colors. When the Colors dialog appears, choose the color you’d like. Then, click-and-hold in the horizontal color bar up top (where the color you’ve created is displayed), and start dragging slowly — a tiny square will appear under your cursor. Just drag-and-drop this square onto one of the white square boxes at the bottom of the Colors dialog.
This saves that color for future use, so when you want it, all you have to do is click once on that square (no more messing with the color wheel). This is a great place to save commonly used colors like red, solid black, white, etc.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Secret Screen Capture Shortcut

Okay, you probably already know the ol’ Command-Shift-3 shortcut for taking a screen capture of your entire screen, and you may even know about Command-Shift-4, which gives you a crosshair cursor so you can choose which area of the screen you want to capture. But perhaps the coolest, most-secret hidden capture shortcut is Control-Command-Shift-3 (or 4), which, instead of creating a file on your desktop, copies the capture into your Clipboard memory, so you can paste it where you want. (I use this to paste screen captures right into Photoshop.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

See-Through Notes

One of my favorite Stickies features is the ability to make a sticky translucent. Just click on a sticky and press Command-Option-T (Translucent Window). Then you can see right through your sticky to the items behind it. This is really handy if you want to see items in Finder windows that would normally be covered by any open Stickies. To turn off the transparency (pardon me, translucency), just press the shortcut again when Stickies is active.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

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, December 16, 2010

Sending Huge Attachments

Most email servers have a limit to how large an attachment they’ll accept. Most limit an attachment size to 5MB (some even less), and if you email somebody a 6MB file, it’s probably going to get “kicked back” to you as undeliverable. Want to get around that? Use iChat instead. Once you have an iChat session started with someone, you can go under the Buddies menu and choose Send File. Navigate your way to the file you want to send, click OK, and the file will be sent to the person you’re chatting with (and a link to download your file will appear in their iChat window). No matter how big the file size is, it’ll get there.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Create Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are such huge timesavers, but sadly, not all Finder commands have them. But they can, because you can create your own. Here’s how: Go under the Apple menu, to System Preferences, and choose Keyboard & Mouse. When the dialog appears, click on the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, then click the plus (+) sign at the bottom left of the dialog. Another dialog will appear. Choose Finder from the Application pop-up menu, and then type the exact name of the menu command you want to add a shortcut for. Now type the shortcut you want to use and click the Add button. It’s that simple.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is That Task Done Yet? The Dock Knows

Let’s say you’re working in a power-crunching app like Photoshop, and you go to apply a filter to a high-res image, and it’s going to take a minute or two to process your command. You’re going to get a progress bar so you can see how long the process is going to take, right?
Well, thanks to Mac OS X’s way-cool Dock, you can switch out of Photoshop to work on something else and the Dock will let you know when the filter is applied. How? Well, when a progress bar appears in Photoshop, the Dock automatically adds a tiny little progress bar to the bottom of the Photoshop icon in the Dock so you can keep an eye on the progress, even when you’re doing something else (like checking your mail, shopping online, or writing a letter).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Saving Spotlight Searches

Spotlight also lives in your Finder windows (right where the old Search field was in previous versions of Mac OS X), but when you search here, you get a little bonus — savable searches.
Screen shot
So, for example, you search for all the email, images, and other junk sent to you by your friend Alan. When you do this in a Finder window, the Finder window updates to show the results right there in your window. Oh, but there’s more. Now you’ll find a Save button near the top-right side of your window. If you click it, it saves your results in a folder in your sidebar, where you can re-access those files at any time. How cool is that! But this is no ordinary folder, my friend. This is a Smart Folder, which means the next time Alan sends you something (or you mention Alan in a document, email, etc.), it will automatically be added to that Smart Folder. It’s live, baby!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Seeing a Photo’s EXIF Metadata

When you take a photo with a digital camera, a boatload of background information is embedded into the file (called EXIF metadata), including when the photo was taken, the make and model of the digital camera, the exposure, shutter speed, lens focal length, whether the flash fired, and a host of other related info. Believe it or not, Preview can display all this EXIF metadata — you just have to know where to look. To see the EXIF data for the current image, just press Command-I, then click on the Details tab, and if you scroll down a bit, you’ll see a header for EXIF Properties, along with the full scoop on your image.

Screen shot

Friday, November 26, 2010

Search Inside Your Photoshop Documents

This one’s a mind blower. If you’ve got a layered Photoshop document (saved in PSD format), Spotlight will even search your Type layers to help you find the layered file that has the word you’re looking for (as long as you’re using Type layers — not rasterized layers, in which case they’re not Type layers anymore, so why did I even say that?). For example, here I did a search for the word “Spain,” which resulted in Spotlight finding my layered PSD file.

Screen shot

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

Faster Than Slide Show for Finding a Photo

By now you’ve heard that if your search results contain photos, you can see a slide show of those photos (by pressing Enter or clicking on Show All in the Spotlight menu once you’ve entered a search term, and then in the Spotlight dialog that appears, you can click on the little Play button to the right of the Images category).
Screen shot
The slide show thing is handy, no doubt, but you can also use it to get to a particular photo you want quickly. Here’s how: Start the slide show (click the little Play button), and then immediately click the Index Sheet icon in the slide show controls that appear along the bottom of your screen. This tiles thumbnails of all the photos in your slide show onscreen (giving you an Index Sheet view), so you can jump right to the photo you need, saving you the frustration of slowly wading through a slide show when you just want to quickly find one particular photo.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

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!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drag-and-Drop Desktop Printing

Want the ability to print a document right from your desktop (without opening the application first)? Go under the Apple menu, under System Preferences, and choose Print & Fax. When the preference pane appears, click on the Printer Setup button, and when the Printer Info dialog appears, press Command-L to show the Printer List dialog.
Screen shot
Your printer will appear in this dialog. Click on it, then go up under the Printers menu (in the menu bar) and choose Create Desktop Printer. A standard Open/Save dialog will appear asking you where you want to save it (I save mine on the desktop). Click Save and an icon for your printer will appear on the desktop. To print a document, just drag-and-drop it on this icon. Some documents, such as TextEdit files and PDFs, will go straight to the printer. Other files will launch their default application and open the Print dialog.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Adding Automation Through Folder Actions

At the office, I’m on a network and I have a Drop Box where my co-workers (freaks that they are) can send me files. However, for a long time, if a freak put something in my Drop Box, I wouldn’t know it unless they called or emailed me and told me so. But now anytime one of them drops something in my Drop Box, a message dialog appears that says, “Something freaky is in your Drop Box.” This is a simple AppleScript (think of an AppleScript as a built-in automation for your Mac, just like Photoshop actions add automation to Adobe Photoshop). Mac OS X includes some cool sample scripts (actions), or you can download about a bazillion from the Web for free.
To assign a script to a folder, Control-click on that folder and choose Configure Folder Actions from the contextual menu that appears. This brings up the Folder Actions Setup dialog, where you toggle various scripts assigned to folders on and off, or even edit scripts (if you know how to write AppleScripts). Click the plus sign (+) button at the bottom left of the dialog to add your folder to the list (this actually brings up a standard Open dialog showing your folder, so click on your folder in the dialog and click Open). Once you do this, a window will pop down with a list of built-in sample scripts you can assign to this folder, and their names give a cryptic description of what they do. Pick the one that sounds like what you want to do (to replicate my Drop Box warning, choose “add — new item alert .scpt”) and click the Attach button (you’ll see your newly assigned script appear in the column on the right of the dialog). Now click the Enable Folder Actions checkbox at the top-left corner of the dialog.This is a global on/off switch, so any folder to which you’ve attached scripts is now “activated.”
By the way, once you’ve applied actions to a folder, you can turn Folder Actions on or off globally by Control-clicking on any folder and choosing Enable Folder Actions or Disable Folder Actions from the contextual menu.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Making ZIP Files (Compressed Files) in One Click

One of my favorite Mac OS X features is the ability to create ZIP compressed files from within the OS (basically, this shrinks the file size, ideal for files you’re going to email — smaller file sizes mean faster file transfers). To create a compressed file, either Control-click on the file and choose Create Archive (which is Apple-speak for “make a compressed ZIP file”). Or you can click on a file, then go to the Action menu (the button that looks like a gear up in the Finder window’s toolbar), and choose Create Archive from there. Either way, it quickly creates a new file, with the file extension “.zip.” This is the compressed file. You can also compress several different files (like three, for example) into one single archive file — just Command-click (or Shift-click contiguous files) on all the files you want included, then choose Create Archive of X Items from the Action menu. A file will be created named “” (that’s it!). By the way, if someone sends you a ZIP file, don’t sweat it — just double-click it and Tiger will automatically decompress it.

Screen capture

Friday, October 22, 2010

Switching Apps Within Exposé

Screen capture
Once you have Exposé invoked (you pressed either F9 or F10), you can toggle through your open applications and Finder windows by pressing the Tab key. Press the Tab key once and the next open application and its miniaturized windows come to the front. Press Tab again, it goes to the next open app. Want the previous app? Press Shift-Tab.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Speed Tip: Faster Full-Name Viewing in List View

Screen capture
When you’re looking for files in either List view or Column view, it’s almost certain that some of your files with long names will have some letters (or even full words) cut off from view. Here is a tip that will save you from having to resize your List or Column view columns — just hold your cursor over the file’s truncated name for a few seconds and eventually its full name will pop up. So what’s the problem? The “few seconds” part. Instead, hold the Option key, then put your cursor over the file’s name, and its full name will appear instantly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Know Your Status (Any Time, In Any Window)

The status bar (the thin little bar that shows how many items are in your window and how much drive space you still have available) was at the top of every Finder window back in Mac OS 9. In earlier versions of Mac OS X (including Jaguar), the status bar was off by default, so you had to turn it on, and then it appeared at the top of your Finder windows. In Tiger you’ll find the status bar info displayed at the bottom center of every Finder window by default (well, that’s true as long as your toolbar is visible). If that’s the case, why is there still a menu command called Show Status Bar? That’s because, if you hide the toolbar, it hides the status info at the bottom of the window, so you need the old status bar back. It’s still off by default, so to turn on the status bar, first open a window, hide the toolbar (see previous tip), then go under the View menu and choose Show Status Bar. (Note: If you don’t hide the toolbar first, Show Status Bar will appear “grayed out.”)
Screen capture

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Set Search Priorities in Spotlight

With Spotlight, the powerful search function built into Mac OS X Leopard, you can quickly find anything on your computer: files, folders, emails, applications, even calendar events. And to help speed your searches even more, you can specify which types of data Spotlight should list first when you type in a search term. This is useful if you tend to search for certain items, such as documents or Address Book contacts, more frequently than you search for things like applications or system preferences.
To customize the order of your search results in Spotlight, open the System Preferences menu under the Apple icon, then click on Spotlight. A list of search result categories appears. You can rearrange the order in which Spotlight lists these types of data by simply dragging the category names up or down in the list. If you’d prefer Spotlight to ignore any of these categories during searches, just uncheck the box beside that item.
Figure one: The default order of search items in Spotlight.
Search Priorities
Figure two: A customized list of search result categories in Spotlight.
Search Priorities

Monday, October 11, 2010

Really Empty the Trash

It’s simple to delete unwanted files using Mac OS X Leopard: Just drag the files onto the Trash icon in the Dock (or select them and type Command-Delete), then choose Empty Trash in the Finder menu (or type Command-Shift-Delete). Alternately, you can double-click on the Trash icon to open it, then click on the Empty button.
Emptying the Trash in this manner clears room on your Mac for other files. But the data hasn’t actually been removed from your computer — the space occupied by these files is simply available to be overwritten by new information. Until this happens, it may be possible for someone to use data recovery software to restore your “deleted” files. And if this information is sensitive or confidential, it could potentially end up in the wrong hands.
That’s why Mac OS X Leopard provides another option for deleting data: the Secure Empty Trash command. Meant for those occasions when you want to permanently and immediately delete files, Secure Empty Trash overwrites your data with digital gibberish, ensuring that your deleted data is gone for good. It may take a few moments longer, but it’s a good choice for deleting data you’re sure you don’t need — and don’t want anyone else to see.
To delete your Trash securely, go to the Finder menu and select Secure Empty Trash. A pop-up will ask you to confirm that you want to permanently erase the items in the Trash. Click OK, and these files will be gone forever.
Empty Trash

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lock Your Data with Disk Images

Chances are you’ve encountered disk image files (indicated by the extension .dmg) when installing software on your Mac. When you double-click on this type of file, your computer mounts it as though it were a DVD or hard drive. In fact, you can think of mounted disk images as virtual drives.
The Disk Utility program in Mac OS X Leopard allows you to create your own disk images. Used to format, verify, repair, and partition disks and volumes, Disk Utility also lets you make safety copies of important CDs and DVDs, back up your hard drive, or create a virtual copy of a physical CD. (For example, you can make a disk image of the CD that authorizes your favorite computer game, so you don’t have to insert the physical disc each time you play.)
Best of all, you can add password protection to disk images when you create them. Without the correct password it’s nearly impossible to read the contents of an encrypted disk image, so it’s a great way to transfer data securely via email, FTP, flash drive, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM. This format is especially useful if you need to send sensitive information to a colleague, or travel with files you want to keep confidential.
To create a disk image from a folder on your Mac, first open Disk Utility. (You’ll find it in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder.) In the File menu, select New, then New Disk Image from Folder (or type Command-shift-N). Navigate to the desired folder, then click Image.
A pop-up menu prompts you to choose a name and save location for your disk image. It also includes two pull-down options: Image Format and Encryption. If you’re going to transfer your disk image (for example, as an email attachment), select Compressed under the Image Format pull-down. If you want to add password protection, select 128-bit or 256-bit AES encryption under the Encryption pull-down. (128-bit encryption is extremely secure; it would probably take a password-guessing computer many lifetimes to crack it. The second option is even more secure, but takes longer to create.)
Lock Your Data with Disk Images
Click Save, and Disk Utility begins to create the new disk image with the name and preferences you’ve specified. If you chose to add encryption, a password pop-up appears. Enter and verify the password of your choice. (As always, the best passwords are at least eight characters long, mix letters and numbers, and avoid dictionary words.) Disk Utility evaluates the password’s strength and gives you the option of remembering the password in your Mac’s keychain.
Now you can transfer the disk image easily and securely via email or other means. The only way to access the data inside the disk image is by entering the correct password.
Disk Utility can make disk images from folders, but not from individual files. If you want to create a disk image for a single file, just create and name a new folder, place your file inside, and make a new disk image from that folder using the steps above.
Please note: Don’t lose that password! If you do, you’ll probably never be able to open your disk image.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sharing Contacts with vCards

Electronic versions of old-fashioned Rolodex cards, vCards provide the fastest way to import contacts into your own Address Book or to share your Address Book contacts with friends, family, or colleagues.
Much like their physical predecessors, vCards contain basic contact information (such as name, address, phone, and email). But you can easily add information to enhance their value, including URLs, photos, or logos. And since the vCard format works cross-platform with many contacts programs, including Microsoft Outlook, you can exchange contacts with people who don’t use Address Book in Mac OS X Leopard.
To export a vCard from Address Book on your Mac, just highlight the contact and drag it to your desktop or directly into an email. (The file icon even looks like a Rolodex card.) To import a vCard into Address Book, drag the card-shaped icon into your open Address Book application or onto the Address Book icon in your Dock or Applications folder. Address Book opens (if not already open) and asks you to verify the import. Click Import to have Mac OS X store the vCard’s contact information in Address Book.

Spotlight Keywords Screenshot
Share contacts by dragging vCards to and from Address Book.
Want to export more than one contact from Address Book? Just Command-click to select multiple contacts, and drag them to the desktop or into an email. This method collects all the highlighted contacts in a single vCard file. (Note that although Address Book allows you to export multiple contacts in a single file, Microsoft Outlook only lets you import a single contact per file.)
When you drag this combined vCard into Address Book, all the contacts are added at once as separate Address Book contacts. So with vCards and Address Book, it’s as easy to share a large group of names as it is to share a single contact.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Super-Clean Screenshots

In Mac OS X Leopard, you can capture an image of your entire screen by typing Command-Shift-3. Typing Command-Shift-4 lets you choose a specific part of your screen to save as a screenshot: Click and hold to place the small cross-hair cursor at one edge of the area you want to capture, then drag horizontally and/or vertically to select. When you release the cursor, the screenshot is saved to your desktop.
Screenshot 1
But creating screenshots this way often means you need to crop or clean up the edges of the image later. That’s especially true if you’re planning to use it as a graphic element in a document or presentation. Fortunately, Mac OS X Leopard offers a way to save clean screenshots of individual elements on your desktop — such as Finder windows, menus, icons, or the visible portion of an open document — without capturing anything else in the background.
Hold down the Command, Shift, and 4 keys, then press the Spacebar. Instead of a cross-hair cursor, a small camera icon appears. When you move this camera icon over the element you’d like to capture, that element is highlighted. Click your mouse or trackpad, and you’ve captured a screenshot of just that element — no further cleanup required.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

All About Audio Chats

iChat is a great way to communicate and share files in real time with friends and colleagues, whether they’re across the hall or around the globe. With iChat, you can conduct text chats with anyone who has a MobileMe, AIM, Jabber, or Google Talk account. And if your Mac is equipped with a built-in iSight camera (or an external iSight or other FireWire camera) you can conduct video chats with up to three buddies at once.
But there’s another way to chat: via audio. You can invite as many as nine buddies to an audio chat, which makes it great for group communication. As with video chats, you can record audio chats with permission from the participants. Audio chats are especially useful for interviews, long-distance business meetings, family conferences, and other situations when you’d like to communicate verbally with more than a few people at once, or save an audio record of your conversation.
Audio chats require a built-in microphone or an external mic connected to the audio input port of your computer. If a telephone or camera icon appears beside a name in your buddy list, it means they too have the software and hardware needed for an audio chat. (A “stacked” telephone or camera icon indicates that your buddy’s computer has enough power to participate in a multiple-person chat.)
Audio Chat
To start an audio chat, open iChat and select the buddy or buddies you want to chat with. To choose multiple buddies, hold down the Command key as you click on their names. Then click on the telephone icon at the bottom of your buddy list, or select Invite to Audio Chat under the Buddies menu.
When they receive your invitation, your buddies simply click the Accept button to join the audio chat. All audio chat participants are listed in the chat window along with their buddy pictures. Each participant also has an individual sound level meter, which makes it easier to tell who is talking.
Audio Chat3
To enable recording in an audio iChat, select Record Chat under the Video menu. A message is sent to all participants asking for their permission to record the chat. To grant audio recording rights for this chat, your buddies click on the Allow button. When participants want to leave the chat, they just close the chat window. Recording stops when the person who initiated the recording exits the chat.
Recorded audio chats are saved by default in the iChats folder in your user’s Documents folder. You can change this default location under the General tab of iChat Preferences, and search for saved chats by date or title using Spotlight. You can also play your saved audio (and video) iChats in iTunes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Find Files Faster with Keywords

Savvy web surfers know that web pages, blog entries, and images posted online are often tagged with keywords: terms that help identify and locate relevant content via web searches. These keywords might not even appear in the text or file names—they’re simply attached as metadata, so search engines can “see” them.
In a similar sense, you can use keywords on your Mac to help you find any file when conducting searches via Spotlight. In Mac OS X Leopard, you can add your own keywords to text documents, audio files, images, or any other type of file.
For example, let’s say you’ve received a PDF of the latest company newsletter, which features an amusing photo of your boss, Mo, and the CEO, Bill. You’ve saved the newsletter on your computer, and you’d like to be able to locate this document in future using a Spotlight search. But the names Mo and Bill don’t appear anywhere in the newsletter—instead, the two men are identified in the photo as Mauricio and William.
Fortunately, you can easily add the keywords “Mo” and “Bill” to the document yourself. Select the document in the Finder and choose Get Info from the File menu, or just type Command-I. At the top of the Get Info window that appears, there’s a blank field titled Spotlight Comments. (Click the disclosure triangle to reveal the data field if it’s not already visible.) Simply type your desired keywords here, separating the terms with commas, then close the Get Info window.
Now when you search for these keywords in Spotlight, your newly tagged file will appear.
Spotlight Keywords Screenshot Spotlight Keywords Screenshot

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Make Your Mac Speak

Did you know that your Mac can read aloud to you? Mac OS X Leopard includes a cool Text to Speech function that makes the Mac speak selected text in text-based files — including web pages, email messages, spreadsheets, calendar entries, PDFs, text documents, Finder windows, and even iTunes.
To start, open the System Preferences panel under the Apple icon and click on Speech. Select the Text to Speech tab, check the option “Speak selected text when the key is pressed,” and click the Set Key option. Choose one modifier key — Command, Control, Option, or Shift — plus one other key of your choice, then click OK. Now each time you type this key combination, your Mac will read aloud any text you have selected. To stop the speech, type the same key combination again.
You can even choose your Mac’s voice. Mac OS X includes 24 human-sounding and novelty voices, from the suave Alex to the robotic Zarvox. (To see the complete list, click the “Show More Voices” option at the bottom of the pull-down System Voice menu.) You can also ask your Mac to speak more slowly or quickly by adjusting the Speaking Rate slider. Whichever you choose, listening to your text can be a surprisingly useful tool for editing and proofreading.
In addition to speaking selected text aloud, you can configure Text to Speech to announce when an application needs attention or to summon you if you ignore an onscreen alert. This function includes an adjustable delay between the text alert and the spoken announcement, which gives you a chance to tend to the alert before being verbally prompted. You can also have your Mac announce the time on the hour, half-hour, or quarter-hour. To set this up, choose the Clock tab under Date & Time in System Preferences and check Announce the Time.
Speech Settings Screenshot
Note that Text to Speech differs from VoiceOver, which provides more comprehensive control of speech and enables the blind or those with low vision to use a Mac. Also, some applications that come with Mac OS X Leopard — including Mail, Calculator, and Chess — and some other Mac programs, such as FileMaker Pro, are “self-speaking” and provide speech capabilities that you can configure independently of the Text to Speech System Preference.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spell-Check on the Fly

Mac OS X offers a really quick way to check the spelling of individual words in Pages, Numbers, Keynote, TextEdit, Mail, Stickies, and other text-based applications. In fact, you can check spelling on the fly without leaving the application you’re using. Here’s how.
When you misspell a word — or type one that doesn’t appear in the standard Apple dictionary, like the city of Tuscumbia, Alabama — Mac OS X highlights it with a dotted red line. To replace it with the correct spelling, right-click the word with your Mighty Mouse (or select it with your mouse and Control-click the word). A pop-up menu appears, offering a list of possible replacements. Click the correct spelling of the word to instantly update your document.
If you know a highlighted term — such as Tuscumbia — is spelled correctly, and you don’t want Mac OS X to highlight it in future occurrences, choose the Ignore Spelling option from the list. Mac OS X removes the highlighting below Tuscumbia wherever it appears, and won’t underline this word again if you use it subsequently in your current document.
If you want all text-based Mac OS X applications to know the correct spelling of Tuscumbia, you can customize the Mac OS X dictionary to include this correct spelling of the term. To do so, choose the Learn Spelling option. Mac OS X adds this spelling to its dictionary, and Tuscumbia appears in the pop-up list of correctly spelled terms, whether you’re using Pages, Keynote or any other text-based Mac OS X application that uses its spelling dictionary.
By the way, while this shortcut offers a quick way to check the spelling of a single word, you can always check the spelling of your entire document by pressing Command + Shift + ; (semicolon).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Managing Your Login Items

Your Mac lets you decide which, if any, applications open automatically each time you log into your account in Mac OS X Leopard. For example, you might want iChat and Mail to open every time you sign on. These automatically opening programs are called Login items, and here’s how to manage them.
From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences and click on the Accounts button. Click on your account name (if it’s not already highlighted), then click the Login Items tab. A list of all Login items appears.
You can remove programs by selecting them and clicking the minus sign, or add new ones by clicking the Add (+) button and navigating to the desired application. If you check the Hide box next to the program name, the application will open automatically, but won’t be displayed onscreen until you select it in the Dock or via the Command-Tab key command (which cycles you between all open applications).

Login Items
Login Items don’t have to be applications. You can also choose to automatically open individual documents, folders, or disks.
As you might expect, adding Login Items increases your startup time. Also, note that only a user designated as the computer’s Admin can modify Login Items.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Searchin’ Safari

Safari’s search features are more powerful than ever in Mac OS X Leopard.
To search a web page for text, type Command-f, which opens the Find banner near the top of the browser window. Type your search term. (No need to press Return.)
Safari instantly tells you how many times the term appears on the page. The first occurrence is indicated in your highlight color, and all subsequent ones are framed in white. The remainder of the page dims to gray.
You can advance from one occurrence to the next by pressing the Return key (or typing Command-g). Holding Shift while pressing return (or typing Command-Shift-g) steps you backwards between occurrences. When you’re finished, press the Done button next to the search field, closing the Find Banner.
For Google searches, just type Command-Option-f. This jumps your cursor to the main Search field, ready for you to type a search phrase.
It’s easy to revisit your Google search results. Each time you enter a new search, Safari remembers the search results page. Click through to as many pages as you like — if you want to snap back to the Search results, simply click the orange arrow to the right of the Search field.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Become a Spaces Cadet!

Become a Spaces Cadet!

Spaces, one of the coolest new features of Mac OS X Leopard, lets you switch among multiple desktops. For example, you might create a communication workspace for Mail, iChat, and Address Book, another for media programs like iTunes and iPhoto, and a third for video games. Then, instead of hiding/showing programs or dragging them around onscreen, you’d simply switch desktops. If you’re the sort of user who tends to have many applications open at once, Spaces is a godsend.
In fact, Spaces and Expose share a control panel. To access it, select System Preferences from the Apple menu and choose Exposé & Spaces. Click the Spaces tab.
This is where you set the key commands for activating Spaces and switching between your desktops. You can also specify the number of desktops and how they’re arrayed in columns and rows. (If you check “Show Spaces in menu bar,” you can switch desktops using the menu bar icon as well as key commands.)
You also have the option of permanently assigning a program to a particular desktop. If, say, you always want iTunes to open in its own window, click the Add (+) button, navigate to the iTunes application, and click Add. Click-hold in the Spaces field to assign it to a desktop. Here, for example, whenever iTunes is opened, Space 4 will automatically be displayed.
Whenever you type your Spaces key commands, you’ll see a translucent overlay depicting the available desktops. Switch between them using the key commands you’ve assigned in the Preferences panel.
If you get confused about what’s assigned where, don’t panic — just press the Activate Spaces key command (the default assignment is F8). This opens a global view of all your desktops. Just click within any desktop to open it. You can also move items from one desktop to another simply by dragging them between windows.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mailing iCal Events

Want to share a calendar event with friends or colleagues? You can send notifications directly from iCal. Here’s how.
Control-click on any iCal event (or right-click if you have a two-button mouse). From the contextual menu that appears, select Mail Event.
This opens the Apple Mail program and prepares an email message with the iCal event attached. The subject line and text field are already filled in, though you may change them if you like.
Enter the email addresses of your recipients, then press Send. When the recipients open the email, they’ll see the name, date, and time of the event. And if they’re using OS X, they can simply click on the attached iCal event to add it to their own calendars. When they do, their copy of iCal opens, and a pop-up prompts them to choose a destination calendar for the new event.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welcome to Wikipedia!

Your built-in Dictionary application now includes not only an excellent dictionary and thesaurus, but also instant access to Wikipedia. That means you can conduct Wikipedia searches from within any OS X Leopard application that supports Dictionary, including TextEdit, Mail, and Pages.
For the uninitiated, Wikipedia is a revolutionary online encyclopedia written, edited, and revised by its users. Though inaccurate information inevitably creeps in at times, on the whole it’s remarkably reliable. And since it’s continually updated, it’s a great source for updates on current topics that haven’t yet made their way into traditional reference books. (Note that the Wikipedia data is not stored on your computer, but is accessed via the Internet, so you need to be online to use this feature.)
Try it! Open the Dictionary application, type in a search item, and click the Wikipedia tab. Double-click on the entry that best relates to your search.

This takes you to the relevant Wikipedia page.
You don’t even need to open the Dictionary application to initiate a Wikipedia search. In a text document such as a TextEdit file or an email, just select the term you want to look up. (If it’s a single word, there’s no need to select the text —simply place the cursor on top of it.) Control-click the word or phrase (or right-click if you have a two-button mouse) and choose Look Up in Dictionary. This allows you to look up the term in the Dictionary, a Thesaurus, an Apple glossary, or Wikipedia.