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.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Switching Apps Within Exposé

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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?”

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Speed Tip: Faster Full-Name Viewing in List View

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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.”)
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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.