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.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Creating Live Links in Documents

Sometimes it’s useful to create a hypertext link within your documents. You might, for example, make a link that automatically opens a Safari web page when clicked, or one that generates a pre-addressed email message.
Here’s how to create a link in TextEdit, your Mac’s word processing program: First, select the text you’d like to use as your link. Next, go to the Format menu and select Text, then Link. In the pop-up that appears, type the URL you’d like to link to. (Your linking text needn’t be a URL itself. For example, you could link to the same location either by typing: “Get more info at,” or “Get more Apple info here.” Press OK, and you’ve got your link.
Live Links1
You can generate an email just as easily. In the Link destination field, type “mailto:” followed by the email address, with no spaces, like so:
TextEdit boasts a new feature in Leopard: Smart Links, which automatically creates links from email addresses and URLs as soon as you type them. To activate it, select Preferences from the TextEdit menu, make sure the New Document tab is selected, and check the Smart Links box in the lower right corner. Now Leopard will automatically generate a link in TextEdit each time you type a URL or email address. (You may need to restart TextEdit to enable this change.)
Leopard also lets you create live links in Mail. First, highlight your linking text. From the Edit menu, select Link, then Add… and enter the desired web address in the popup.
Live Links2
In Pages, the advanced word processing program included in the iWork ’08 package, there’s an extra layer of sophistication: You can forge links by selecting Hyperlink from the Insert menu, or create them via the Inspector window. You can also create bookmarks that link to other locations within a multi-page document, or generate email with the subject field already filled in.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Browse in Privacy with Safari

Under normal circumstances, Safari retains records of your web browsing activity. It remembers the pages you visit, the data you download, and your web searches. It may also store your personal data in order to automatically complete online forms.
While these features can save time and help you retrace your online steps, there are occasions when you might prefer to leave no footprints — for example, when browsing on a public computer.
The solution is simple: Before you begin browsing, go to the Safari menu and select Private Browsing. When the warning box appears, click OK. Now Safari stores none of the aforementioned info.
Privacy with Safari
What if you decide you need privacy after you’ve been browsing? You have several options: You can remove individual pages from Safari’s page-view history, erase the entire history, or clear all traces of your activity, including any cookies and cache files you may have accumulated.
To review the pages you’ve visited and delete them as desired, go to the History menu and select Show All History. Here you can select pages and clear them with the Delete key. To wipe the entire Safari history, select Clear History from the History menu. For a completely clean slate, go to the Safari menu and select Reset Safari.
Note that the Private Browsing option does not prevent Safari from collecting cookies (the preference files automatically generated by many websites). The Reset Safari option clears all cookies. If you want to delete only certain ones, choose Preferences from the Safari menu, click the Security tab, and then click Show Cookies. You can select and delete individual cookies from the list that appears. Careful, though — if you’re a frequent web user, this list can be very, very long.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

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.
Screen 1
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.

Screen 2
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.
Screen 3
Finally, navigate to the destination where you’d like to save the document, and press Export.