The Ultimate Guide for switching from a PC to a Mac
(Part 2 - coming soon)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Widgets without dashboard!

A great tip submitted by Luke Peet: Widgets without dashboard! The problem with dashboard is that sometimes, when I am using the calculator widget, the other widgets are hiding the information I am looking for. This new downloadable widget will solve the problem by bringing the widget of your choice to the desktop. It modifies the dashboard so that widget can run as an application without needing dashboard. When you load the widget, it looks like this:

You only have to press the red "off" button. It'll reload the dashboard. Once it is reloaded, you only have to click and hold on the widget you want to bring to your desktop and press F12 to leave the dashboard. (If it doesn't work, try moving the widget a little before pressing F12 to make sure it's selected) The widget you selected will leave with you and you can use it as a normal application! You can bring the widget back to dashboard in the same way. You can also deactivate the feature by clicking the green "on" button. What is even better is that you can quit the "DashIt" widget once it's activated and you can still use the feature. Download DashIt here on the Apple site!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Mail on your iPod with an auto sync and eject!

This is finally the great Automator workflow I was telling you about: New Mail on your iPod with an auto sync and eject! It is basically a modified version of the previous workflow that automatically synched and ejected your iPod with iCal. So what it will do is it will retrieve your new email from Mail, copy the new emails as iPod notes, sync your iPod and eject it. This can be added to an iCal alarm so when you leave in the morning, you're ready to just pick up your iPod and your new Mail will be already preloaded on it. Starting in Automator (if you are not sure how to use Automator, you can check the previous Automator tips or ask a question in the comments) :

1. Add "Get New Mail" from the "Mail" actions.
2. Add "Find Mail Items" from the "Mail" actions.
3. In "Find:", select "Messages".
4. In "Whose:", choose "Read Status" and "Is" and "False".
5. Add "Combine Mail Messages" from the "Mail" actions.
6. Add "New iPod Note" from the "iTunes" actions.
7. Name the file that will be saved on your iPod each morning (I called it "New Mail") in the "Save As:" field.
8. Add "Update iPod" from the "iTunes" actions.
9. Add "Pause" from the "Automator" actions and set it to 30 seconds (The number of seconds it takes approximately to sync your iPod. It's better to have more than less).
10. Add "Eject iPod" from the "iTunes" actions.

The workflow should now look like this:

Then, go to "Save as Plug-In". Name the plug-in, for "Plug-In for:" , choose "iCal Alarm" and press "Save". You can now automate the startup of this plug-in with iCal:

1. Open up iCal.
2. Create a new event.
3. Select the date you want your script to start running.
4. Choose the time you want it to run.
5. In the repeat section, choose "Every day" and end "Never"
6. In alarm, select "Open file" and choose the plug-in you just saved in the iCal plug-in folder (If it doesn't bring you there right away, it is located in "Users/accountname/Library/Workflows/iCal").
7. Choose "0 minutes before".
8. That's it! The script should now run every day at the time you selected. It will upload your new Mail to your iPod, update and Eject it!
It should look like this in iCal:

If it asks if you want to change all the events in the recurring event, answer "All":

iCal doesn't even have to be running for this to work!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Easier dialing with address book!

A great tip submitted by Richie: Easier dialing with address book! In address book, you can click on the word next to the phone number (Home, Work, Mobile) and from there you can choose to display the phone number in "Large Type". The phone number will then be displayed in large numbers across the screen and it makes it much easier to dial from across the room. There is also another option which is "Dial with Skype" (It might only be there if you have Skype installed, I am not sure) and it will instantly open Skype and call that phone number. Thanks Richie for the tip!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Non-supported webcams!

A great tip submitted by Richard C. Haber: Non-supported webcams! Macs are definitely not the best at supporting third-party USB webcams. Many new macs include the built-in iSight, but for older Macs, or even for Mac Mini or Mac Pro users, a third-party USB webcam is still one of the cheapest options. A developer created an awesome driver that adds support for many third-party USB one. There is an extensive list of supported webcam. It makes it much easier to shop for a webcam for a Mac. Download the driver here on the developer's site. Thanks Richard for the tip!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Changing tab in Firefox!

A great tip submitted by both Bryan Chan and Nathan Palin: changing tab in Firefox! I had already posted about changing tab in Safari, but it didn't work in Firefox. The way to do it in Firefox is with "Command-1" or "Command-2", the number corresponding to the number of the tab you want. The same thing in Safari actually brings up the bookmarks in your bookmark bar. You can also change tab in Camino with "Command-Option-Left arrow" or "Command-Option-Right arrow". By the way, Camino is another browser made by Mozilla but it's exclusively for Mac. I really like the style that matches the Apple look and I find it faster than Firefox! Thanks Bryan and Nathan for the tip!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wikipedia in dashboard!

I had an awesome Automator workflow planned for today, but I am unfortunately not home and I wasn't able to take screenshots so it's coming but it will probably be this weekend! I have a great widget for today. What it does is that it brings the Wikipedia search in your dashboard. When I search for information on Google, the first hit is often wikipedia and I nearly always find what I am looking for there. This is what makes this widget so useful. Download here on MacUpdate! Screenshot:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cycle through the weather options in dashboard!

A great tip submitted by Peter Czosek: Cycle through the weather options in dashboard! It is more a fun tip than a productivity tip but it looks very cool in front of your friends who use PC. In dashboard, you just have to press "Command-Option" and click anywhere on the weather widget (the one included with the OS). The city will switch to "Nowhere" and if you continue to hold "Command-Option" and keep on clicking, you'll cycle through all the possible weather conditions. There are a lot! If you leave the dashboard and reopen it, the widget should come back to your original city. Thanks for the tip Peter!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Contacts in Address Book!

A great tip submitted by Hunter Evans (Hunter's website): contacts in Address Book! There is an easy way to quickly see in what Group are your contacts. This is especially useful if the contact is in more than one group. You simply have to select a contact and press Option. Every group that the contact is part of will become highlighted! Thanks Hunter for the tip!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Browsing in iPhoto by date!

Browsing through the iPhoto library can be a pain especially when it becomes really huge. If you know around when the picture you are looking for where imported into iPhoto, you can browse through the rolls using the calendar. You can bring up the calendar by clicking on the icon at the lower left, in the middle (it is highlighted in the screenshot):

It will bring up this calendar where you can select a month and only the rolls imported in this specific month will be displayed in your library:

If you click the triangle that points toward the right (or left), in the upper left, you can choose a specific day:

To change month or year, there are two arrows, one at the top left and one at the top right. If you want your library to come back to normal, you just have to click the "x" in the upper right!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Original iTunes look!

Many people weren't too happy when Apple dropped the Aqua look in iTunes 7. There is a cool modification called Aqua4iTunes that you can do to restore that Aqua look to iTunes 7. Note: according to the developer, the latest version of Aqua4iTunes is only compatible with the latest version of iTunes (7.1 or 7.1.1). Download the mod here on the developer's site.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Batteries in a wireless Apple keyboard and mouse!

This is a really cool widget to monitor the state of the batteries in your wireless Apple keyboard and mighty mouse. Once again, this tip is not for everyone so that is why I posted another tip earlier today. The widget will change color when the batteries drop under 25% and 10%. The free widget is called Mighty Monitor. Download here on MacUpdate!

PC Delete key on a Mac!

Since this tip only concerns portable Macs, a second tip will follow later today! A great tip submitted by Bryan Chan: PC Delete key on a Mac portable! There were many complaints about the fact that portable Macs don't have an equivalent to the PC delete key. The Mac delete key is actually the PC backspace key. There actually is a delete key on portable Macs: Fn-Delete. Thanks Bryan for the great tip! Don't forget to come back later today for the second tip!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Holidays from different countries in iCal!

One of the thing that bothered me the most with iCal at first is that the holidays are not written. Of course I understood the complexity since it varies all over the world. It wasn't a big issue but I still found it annoying. Well, it looks like Apple had already planned it from the beginning with holiday calendars that you can subscribe to on the web. The mistake Apple did with this is not asking the first time you open iCal if you want to subscribe to a "calendar feed". The easy way to get the holidays calendar is to click here to go to the Apple website. On this other Apple page, there are also sports and entertainment calendars that you can add to iCal! On the Apple page, you just click on the calendar you want to add and it will launch iCal automatically.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quick shut down or restart!

A great tip submitted by Diego Carmona: quick shut down or restart! This is a pretty cool keyboard shortcut that shuts down or restarts the computer without going through the dialog box that asks if you want to sleep, restart or shut down. The running applications will still ask if you want to save before quitting. To shut down, you simply have to press "Control-Option-Command-Eject" and to restart, its "Control-Command-Eject". You can also get the dialog box with "Control-Eject". The sleep shortcut is "Option-Command-Eject". Thanks Diego for the great tip!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Creating a new email with an attachment from the Finder!

This is a cool Automator script that enables us to create a new email in Mail with an attachment from the Finder. So, starting in Automator:

1. Add "New Mail Message" from the "Mail" actions. The workflow should look like this:

2. Choose "Save as Plug-in..." from the File menu. Name the workflow, choose Plug-in for: "Finder" and hit "Save".

And it's done! You can now right-click on any file in the Finder, go to Automator and choose "Attachment" (or the name you gave to the plug-in).

Mail doesn't even have to be running. It will start Mail and create a new email with the file you first right-clicked on as an attachment!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Force quitting an application!

It is less likely than on a PC but it does happen even on a Mac that an application freezes. I used to click and hold on the application icon in the dock to select "Force Quit". It worked well but it really wasn't quick. The other way was to go to the Apple menu, choose "Force Quit..." and a dialog box would pop up with the list of currently running applications. The best is the locked up app would even show up as "Not responding". That was still pretty long and I don't know why but when an app is not responding, it takes a very long time until the Apple menu decides to come up. There is a handy keyboard shortcut that solves everything, however: "Command-Option-Esc". It will instantly bring up the same window than if you go through the Apple menu, but it will take much less time.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cleaning up your hard drive!

This is a great tip that was submitted anonymously. It is a free application called WhatSize and it shows you exactly what is taking up space on your hard drive. You can very quickly browse through your hard drive and see useless files. After months of intense usage of your computer, it is incredible to see how the hard drive fills up with useless stuff. I wasn't sure how well the application would help clear up space, but it is incredible. Download here on MacUpdate.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Applications folder in your Dock!

A great tip submitted by Richard C. Haber: applications folder in your Dock! This tip offers a different way of launching applications that are used less frequently. There are many ways of doing this: QuickSilver, Todos or simply navigating through the Finder to the Applications folder. I really liked this one however, because it is very simple and it doesn't require any additional software. You basically only have to drag the Applications folder to the Dock but at the right, just beside the trash. Once this is done, you can choose an application by either "Ctrl-Clicking" or by clicking and holding on the Applications icon in the Dock. A menu will pop up with everything that is in the folder. You can also do the same thing by dragging any folder or file to this area of the Dock. Thanks Richard for the great tip!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Clear Dock!

I really like having the Dock hidden, but I also want to be able to customize it even further than the Finder lets me. I think a transparent Dock looks a lot better. The icons simply look like they are floating over the background. I also like changing the color of the triangle that is under the icons. This free application called Clear Dock is available on MacUpdate and does all this! Once it is installed, the customization can be done in System Preferences under "Application Enhancer".

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Automatically sync and eject your iPod!

This is a pretty complicated tip but it really shows the power of Automator (Automator is included with the OS and is in the Applications folder) combined with iCal! What the workflow is about to solve here is that when you wake up in the morning and get ready to leave for work, you don't want to have to lose the time of opening iTunes, clicking "Update iPod", wait until it is completely synched and click "Eject". So we'll start with a cool Automator workflow:

1. Add "Update iPod" from the iTunes actions.
2. Add "Pause" from the Automator actions. Enter "45" for the number of seconds (or the number of seconds you think the sync will take, it's better to have more than less).
3. Add "Eject iPod" from the iTunes actions.

The workflow should basically look like this:

Then, go to "Save as". Name the project, choose the Applications folder for the destination, choose the "Application" file format and press "Save":

You now just created a complete application that does exactly what you want it to. You now just have to automate its startup. The best option for that is iCal.

1. Open up iCal.
2. Create a new event.
3. Select the date you want your script to start running.
4. Choose the time you want it to run.
5. In the repeat section, choose "Every day" and end "Never"
6. In alarm, select "Open file" and choose the application you just saved in the Applications folder.
7. Choose "0 minutes before".
8. That's it! The script should now run every day at the time you selected. It will update your iPod and Eject it!

It should look like this in iCal:

This is when you choose the application to run in iCal:

If it asks if you want to change all the events in the recurring event, answer "All":

The best is that iCal doesn't even have to be running for this to work! You now just have to make sure your iPod is plugged in every night!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ejecting an iPod or a disk image!

One of the tips that I find is a real timesaver is "Command-Backspace" to send a file to the trash and "Shift-Command-Backspace" to empty the trash. The problem with that is when I came to eject a disk drive or an iPod and the shortcut didn't work. I looked for that for a long time until I realized it was built right in the operating system. With the disk image or the iPod highlighted in the Finder, you just have to press "Command-E" to eject it! A cool Automator script is coming tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Faster use of the Open/Save!

A great tip submitted by Jim Osborn: Faster use of the Open/Save! In any application, when in the Open or Save dialog, you can simply drag any folder from the Finder and it will instantly bring you there within the dialog box. Thanks Jim for the great tip! Here are screeshots showing exactly how it's done:

Monday, April 9, 2007

Gmail and Google Notifier!

I post this great tip submitted by Justin Goddard today as a second tip because it doesn't apply to everyone. It is if you want to add more sound options to Google Notifier when used with Gmail.

1. First off, you'll want to shut down the notifier in the menu bar by choosing the 'Quit All Google Notifiers' option.

2. Open your Applications folder and locate the Google Notifier application.

3. You'll then want to ctrl-click, or right click, on the application to bring up the contextual menu.

4. From that menu choose 'Show Package Contents.'

5. Afterwards, double click to open the 'Contents' folder, then double click to open the 'Resources' folder.

6. Simply add your custom sound file to the 'Resources' folder (I've tested this with both WAV and MP3 and both formats have worked).

7. Next, you'll want to launch the Google Notifier application.

8. In the menu bar, highlight the Notifier, then scroll down and open the 'Preferences' option.

9. Highlight the Gmail tab, then in the 'New mail sound' drop down menu, locate your custom sound and click on it to make it your new mail alert sound.

Thanks Justin for the great tip! Don't forget to also take a look at the video editing tip from earlier today!

Here is a screenshot showing the new sounds:

Extracting videos from an iMovie project!

iMovie creates a huge file containing all the videos in your project while Final Cut Pro creates only a small file that contains your cut and the videos are saved elsewhere (usually in a capture scratch folder). The iMovie way is very cool if you want to move a project from a computer to another, but it doesn't offer as much flexibility. When you import footage in iMovie, it is already divided into scenes most of the time. Sometimes, I would just like transfer some of these files or even use them unedited and uncompressed, but it's a long process in iMovie. I also often like to import in iMovie and continue the edition in Final Cut Pro. This is simply because, most of the time, I want the flexibility and options offered by Final Cut, but I also like the simplicity of importing in iMovie. What is really cool is that it can be solved very easily. The huge file created by iMovie is really only a package (most applications are packages as well). A package is really a folder that when you double-click on it, it opens up a specified file within the package itself. You can easily access its content by choosing "Show package content" when you right-click on it. It will then open up and show you the content that is within this kind of "folder". You can then go in the "Media" folder and all the video files are there. Screenshots:

Sunday, April 8, 2007

A dock that has every application!

A great tip submitted by Erik Reagan: A dock that has every application! This is a simple application called Todos that shows you all the apps in the application folder. Once it is launched (you can select it to start up on login), you can bring it up with "Ctrl-Option-Command-T". What I really like about it is that it only adds a small icon in the menu bar but it is not present in the Dock or the "Command-Tab". It is a free download here on VersionTracker. Thanks Erik for the tip!

Thanks also to Harold Thompson for spreading the word about A New Mac Tip Every Day on his blog Some Mac Blog.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Rolls in iPhoto, Podcasts in iTunes, Folders in the Finder!

iPhoto, iTunes and most Apple software have these little triangle at the left to see what is within a roll or a podcast.

Example here in the podcast section:

If you click on the triangle, it opens up like a kind of folder:

The tip here is that you can also "Command-Click" it and all the podcasts or all the rolls will expand up like this:

The Finder acts differently however. In the list view, when you "Command-Click" the triangle beside the folder, it won't expand all the folders in the window. You can however "Option-Click" it and it will instead expand the whole folder with all the sub-folders. Screenshots:

Regular folder in list view:

Simple click on a triangle:

What happens in an application like iPhoto with a "Command-click". This can't be done in a single click in the Finder:

This is what happens with an "Option-Click" in the Finder:

Friday, April 6, 2007

Browsing through the iTunes music store!

A great tip submitted by Hunter Evans (Hunter's site - coming soon): Browsing through the iTunes music store! In the iTunes store, there is the back and forward button and there is the path at the right showing you where you are within the store. There is also another option that is not as well known, you can click and hold the backward or forward button to see the history of how you ended up there. Screenshots:

Thanks Hunter for the great tip!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Creating alias or copying from the apps!

A great tip submitted by Damian Seagar: Creating alias or copying from the apps! In applications such as Preview and QuickTime, you can drag the mini icon that is in the top bar of the app right to the desktop or any folder in the Finder to create an Alias. You can also hold down "Option" (Alt) when dragging it and it will copy instead. You can do the same thing within the Finder to move a folder. Thanks Damian for the tip!

I forgot to upload the screenshots! So it's the small icon at the left of the name of the folder or file.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Remotely sleeping your Mac!

A great tip submitted by Omer Dolev: Sleeping your Mac from an Apple Remote! If you have a newer Mac that includes the Front Row Apple Remote, you can put your Mac to sleep from your remote. You just have to hold down the "Play/Pause" button for three seconds. It is very similar to sleeping an iPod! Thanks Omer for the tip!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Quick app hiding!

A great tip submitted by Matthew Short: Quick app hiding! In any application, you can hold down "Option" (Alt) and click on the desktop or another application and it will instantly hide the first application you were in. Thanks for the tip Matthew!

Monday, April 2, 2007

XML files on a Mac!

Macs took a huge hit when Microsoft released Office 2007 for Windows that saves in XML format but announced Mac would have to wait until Fall. We are basically in this transition period, we have no Universal Binary (Intel compatible) version of Office for Mac and it also doesn't support the new file format. The Intel issue is the same since Intel Macs were released and it's a pain but it's not the end of the world. The XML file format is a big problem however. More and more Windows users are moving to the more open XML. Thanks to open source programs, however, Macs can now operate a Universal XML compatible version of Office now for free. The solution is NeoOffice. I tried the application for a while and it works remarkably well and it doesn't even needs X11 (Open Office requires X11). This proves that the open source community has a better access to the required resources to update a software more quickly to support new technologies! You can download Neo Office here from MacUpdate!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

QuickSilver combined with Dock Dodger!

QuickSilver is one of the best application launcher available for Mac. What is even better is it's free. With QuickSilver, you can launch any application in a few simple keystrokes. There are also many extensions for iTunes, Mail and many other built-in Mac applications. One thing that it's really efficient at is to start a playlist from iTunes. The traditional way is to click iTunes in the Dock, wait until it launches, and finally double-click the playlist. With QuickSilver, you just hit the hot key (I chose the standard one Ctrl-Spacebar), enter the first few letters of the playlist name and hit Enter. It seems as long in the description but it's really much quicker. The results are also displayed much quicker than Spotlight. One of the only things I totally hated about QuickSilver is to have this extra software constantly running in the Dock and in the "Command-Tab" dialog. Dock Dodger is the solution to that! I activated "Launch on start up" in QuickSilver preferences and I used Dock Dodger to get rid of the Dock and the "Command-Tab" icon. The app runs in the background, but you really can't see it. It's now nearly part of the OS!

Brain Toniq. Clear the head fog
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