Mac OS X Quick Tips

Top 10 Tips From Mac User Guide



Mac Users Guide brings you a series of Mac OS X Qucik Tips via its feed on Audioboo.fm. In the next phase of Mac Users Guide we are opening iLearn by Mac Users Guide, a training program designed to bring valuable information through hands-on instruction. The workshops are designed to expand on the concepts and how-to articles found on Mac Users Guide and offer you, the user, the opportunity to learn with a real Apple professional who can answer your questions about Apple’s Mac OS X and wide range of equipment and applications. We offer 1-hour private classes or weekly 2-hour group classes that focus on specific applications and help beginners get started or experts deepen their knowledge of Apple hardware and software concepts. Learn more at http://iLearn.MacUsersGuide.com

The following are a series of Mac OS X Snow Leopard quick tips that we will be covering in our upcoming workshop.

Language and texts in Snow Leopard
Ever run into needing a symbol shortcut…like lets say the copyright symbol. I do almost on a daily basis. To solve this problem simply open System Preferences, choose Language & Text. In Leopard a new tab was added called Texts and it has a Symbol And Text Substitution feature. For instance type ( c ) and you get © among other commonly used symbols. You can also make your own custom shortcuts! Like type “awesome” to substitute it for Carl Berkeley! Also comes in handy for your name or address.
iLearn by Mac Users Guide

Selecting Multiple Files
Most of us long time Mac users know that if you want to select something you just click on it to open or move it. What if you want to move or open more than on file? To select groups of items select the first item in a folder and while holding down shift select and click on the last one. If you want to be more specific hold down Command and Click on only select items in a folder. While selecting items in this manner you can also select groups of items next to one another. Simply hold the Command and Shift buttons down at the same time as you click. With a little practice you will be a power selector!

Set a poster frame in iTunes
What is a poster frame? It is a still based frame taken from your video. You can add them to new movies and TV shows in iTunes or iTunes automatically creates an image to display as that video’s icon. What if you want to customize this image? I have had a a studio logo come up or the auto select landing on something not very descriptive. A simple solution to this problem is to choose another frame of the movie to use as the poster frame. To do this, just start the video playing in iTunes, go to the frame you want to use and then pause it. Then just right-click on the video and choose “Set Poster Frame.”

Cisco VPN Support
If you work from the road, or from home, you know how important Cisco VPN is. Did you know that Snow Leopard has it built right into the OS. To set up your VPN start my getting your setting from your IT Department. Next navigate to System Preferences > Network. Click on the small plus sign (+) in the lower-left corner. Choose VPN in the Select Interface drop-down. This is much better than opening a third-party application to get on the office server from home.

Image Capture Device Control
Image Capture transfers images between your digital camera, iPhone or scanner and your Mac for use in iPhoto and other applications. You can download all or any portion of the contents of your digital camera, crop images to a variety of sizes, and delete unwanted pictures from your camera. You can also set iPhoto to open for one device, and Aperture for another… or nothing at all.

Dock Exposé
One “ooooohhhh, aaaaaahhhhh” feature in the Snow Leopard is that you can simply click and hold an icon in the Dock to trigger Exposé to show all of the select application’s windows. This way you can avoid having to use a keyboard shortcut. This can be especially useful if you’re trying to quickly sort through all your Finder, Web browser, or word processing windows.

Battery Status
If you’ve secretly suspected that your MacBook’s battery isn’t working correctly, Snow Leopard can tell you what your geek senses have known all along. Now in the menu bar you can not only check the status of your battery but also see if it needs service. Just hold down Option and Click. Hopefully you not see the “Service Battery” warning :(

Screen Saver Photos
Here is a quick way to customize your Mac. As Apple users we have always had the option to shuffle through different Desktop pictures, but now you can set your screen saver to shuffle through different iPhoto, MobileMe, Flickr, Facebook, and Aperture Library. Simply organize your photos in either iPhoto or Aperture libraries and add your favorite social networking outlets or add them directly to Desktop and Screen Savers by click on the plus sign. Check Use Random Screen Saver then click on Shuffle. Then just check the boxes of the image libraries you want shuffled as screen savers.

Get Specific with Spotlight
If you use Spotlight a lot to find files, you know it’s slightly annoying when you type a file name into the Spotlight search field in your Finder window, only to have it search everywhere. In the Finder navigate in the menu bar to Finder > Preferences, click on the Advanced tab, and change the default search location from Search This Mac to Search the Current Folder.

Put it back!
Accidentally put an item in the trash? Simply select the item in the Trash. Right-click on the item and select Put Back from the contextual menu. The file will return to its original location before you throw it away.


Macintosh Troubleshooting

Make a bootable Mac OS X USB flash drive for repairs



I am always on the go working on a variety of Macs. As reliable Macs can have their bad days and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. We have all been there, and it only takes that one time faced with a repair not having the right utilities or maintenance tools. I always have a USB flash drive with me that is ready for all situations that require me to diagnose, repair or maintain Mac OS X.

The best device I have in my arsenal of repair equipment is my Iron Key USB flash drive loaded with a bootable copy of MAC OS X. With this clean installed system you can pin point most problems that the main drive might have troubles isolating. I tend to have 3 or 4 of these USB keys, one for each Mac OS (10.4, 10.5 and 10.6). I used to lug around a big bulky portable drive but with more reliable USB flash drives available portability has become a great added tool.




Getting Started
To start you will need to have a USB based Mac, either Intel or PowerPC based on what you plan on repairing and at least a 16GB USB flash drive, I use the a S200 16BG Ironkey from Amazon. SanDisk also carries a reliable drive. Lastly you will need a version of Mac OS X.

  1. Plug in your USB flash drive to your Mac.
  2. Open Disk Utility (Applications > Utilities)
  3. Select your flash drive in the list on the left.
  4. Click on the Partition tab and select “1 Partition” from the Volume Scheme drop-down menu.
  5. Enter a name for your USB flash drive (I called mine “Lifesavor OS X”)
  6. Under Format select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”. Make sure the size is somewhere around +/- 16GB.
  7. Below the partition display click the ‘Options’ button.
  8. Choose “GUID Partition Table” from the popup window and click OK.
  9. With you setting chosen click the ‘Apply’ button. Disk Utility will take a minute or two to complete this task.
  10. Insert your Mac OS X installation disc.
  11. Double-click the ‘Install Mac OS X’ icon and progress through the installer until you get to the screen that says “Mac OS X will be install on…”
  12. Click the ‘Show All Disks’ button and select your USB flash drive.
  13. Click on the ‘Customize’ button and a new window will appear.
  14. Un-check all of the items except ‘Essential System Software’. Save space and don’t check ‘Rosetta’ and ‘QuickTime 7’.
  15. Click OK to Install. The rest of the process should be automated and might takes about 30-60 minutes.
  16. Once Installation is complete test the flash drive by booting it up. Restart your Mac and hold down the Option key to choose your flash drive manually. HINT: You will need to do this in the future also to boot to the drive.
  17. After restarting using the USB flash drive follow the set up prompts just like you would a new computer.
  18. Once the OS is running launch Software Update and make sure that your flash drive OS is up-to-date.
  19. Finally install any third party diagnostic utilities you may have. For example, Alsoft’s DiskWarrior is an invaluable tool going beyond what Disk Utility has to offer.


DONE! Although booting to a flash drive is a bit slow it does the job and is convenient; a lot lighter than dragging a book of CD/DVD’s around. Hopefully you will never have to use it but having it available is a great portable emergency too for troubleshooting your Mac.



Getting Started with a Macintosh Laptop


Macintosh Laptop Setup Guide for MacBook and MacBook Pro


Got a new MacBook or MacBook Pro? If the answer is yes or even if you are just setting up a used Mac laptop here are some pointers to keep in mind. I setup new Macs on a daily bases and have my own new MacBook Pro 17-inch. The most important thing to remember after getting your new Apple laptop is setting it up properly. Before you get to far past the packaging here area few tips to keep in mind as you set up your new laptop.

Unpacking and Preparing
Carefully removed your new Apple Portable from the box place it on a sturdy work surface and near a power supply. You will want to locate the power adapter and connect it to the appropriate MegaSafe or adapter insert on your laptop and plug in the adapter portion into a wall outlet. Your connector should have a indicator light to let you know that the battery is charging. Connect your laptop to the internet by Ethernet, phone, tethering or have Airport connection info handy. To maximize the life of your battery please refer to my MacBook Calibration instructions.

Recalibrating MacBook Battery

Powering On and Setup
If you don’t already have your laptop open, open it. The latest MacBook line doesn’t have a latch button it will simply just open. Press the power button on the top right corner of the keyboard. Once on the Setup Assistant will appear and walk you through how to set up the basics for your Account. Setup your primary account and please for me, setup a password. I can’t tell you how much trouble that causes when someone brings in their machine with a corrupt or failed system and the password is missing. If you have another Mac and are planning on transferring information from it to your new laptop you can use the Migration Assistant. If you want to do this later you can find it in under Applications > Utilities > Migration Assistant. Once complete repair permissions.



Up and Running!
Once you are up and running check out my tips and tricks to learn more about Mac OS 10.5 and Mac OS 10.6. If you are a brand new users Follow my weekly Mac OS X QuickTips on Twitter or my audio based Mac OS X QuickTips. Hope you have fun using your new MacBook, MacBook Pro or other Apple portable!

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