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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quoting text when replying to an email!

By default, when you reply to an email in Mail, the content of the email is included in your reply. If you only want to quote a part of the email, you can just select what you want to include and when you hit Reply, it will only include the selected part. You can change that behavior in Mail Preferences, under Composing.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ctrl-Tab in Firefox!

Ctrl-Tab is a Firefox add-on to visually switch between tabs. The Ctrl-Tab shortcut already works in Firefox, but once the add-on is installed, you get a preview of all tabs in the currently active window. You can also get a grid with a preview of all tabs open in Firefox with "Command - Shift - A". You can get more info or download the add-on here from Mozilla's website.

Screenshot of "All Tabs"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tethering a Blackberry to a Mac!

I know there are more and more options for tethering the iPhone, but I don't think they work well enough right now. There is one official app that is not for sale anymore and it didn't offer complete internet. It worked through a proxy. Other options are only for jailbroken iPhones and often have the same limitations. It is one of the reasons why I switch between an iPhone and a Blackberry. Blackberry tethering is not easy to setup, but once it is all done, it works very well. Here are the steps to get it going:

1. Download the modem scripts for your Blackberry phone and drop the scripts in this folder: Macintosh HD:Library:Modem Scripts. You can find the modem scripts for the Blackberry 8100, 8700 and 8800 and where to drop the script here. If you have links to modem scripts for other Blackberries, please post about it in the comments.

2. Pair your phone with your Mac through Bluetooth.

3. Select your phone and click on the gear in the Bluetooth Preferences. Choose "Edit Serial Ports".

4. Add a serial port. Change the Protocol to "Modem" and the Service to "Dialup Networking". Check the box next to "Show in Network Preferences".

5. Go to "Network Preferences" and select the serial port that you just created. It is called "BlackBerry8110-BlackBer-1" for me.

6. In "Telephone Number", enter the APN of your service provider ( for Rogers Wireless), the User Name in the Account Name field (wapuser1 for Rogers) and the password (wap for Rogers). You can Google that information for your service provider.

7. In Advanced, select the Vendor "Research in Motion" and the Model that matches your phone.

8. That's it! Click Connect and it should log on. You really should get additional info from service provider. Not all wireless service provider included tethering and you don't want to end up with a huge bill.

Here are screenshots of everything:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Compressing Pages documents!

There are many features in OS X that are just not included with Windows, like PDF. Another one is zip. You can right-click on any file to compress it and it will create a zip of that file. If you are going to transfer a Pages document to a Windows or Linux computer, it is really better to zip it first, because Pages documents are actually folders. I often store documents on my Linux server and when the files come from iWork, I always use the "Compress" feature. The way it works is actually very useful as you can access all the media that is stored in the folder. You can look through the folder on a Mac as well using the "Show Package Contents".

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Finder windows open!

There are some useful preferences that are not in System Preferences but in Finder Preferences. You can get it in the Finder menu, under Preferences. The one I want to talk about today is "New Finder windows open". This applies to when you open a new Finder window using "Command - N". You can change it to any folder on the hard drive.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New widget!

I received many emails about the fact that the widget started linking to the comments feed instead of the content this week. Nothing changed with the widget so I think something changed with Blogger. I have updated the widget and it seems to be working now. You can download the new version here from MacUpdate.

Facebook chat!

I talked about using the Facebook chat in a chat application like Adium and I thought it was really cool. I have figured out that it is not the best thing. It seems that the Facebook chat is not designed to be used to replace iChat, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, etc. The problem is if you leave Adium Facebook chat open and browse Facebook in the web browser at the same time. I couldn't figure out why I was always getting logged out of Facebook and I really thought it was bugs in the new interface. I finally figured out that the best thing to do is to log out of Adium Facebook chat before browsing Facebook in the web browser. The problem seems to be that Facebook doesn't accept two sessions open at the same time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bandwidth monitoring for Videotron!

A tip sent to me by Nick P. (posting it as a bonus tip because it only applies to Videotron users). Here is what Nick wrote:

I saw you posted a Mac Tip about bandwidth monitoring, and I have a solution for a few Canadians like myself....

If you are in Canada and using Videotron as your ISP, you can download a widget that fits into your dashboard from the apple site.

Just plug in your account info and it should work perfect!

Thanks for the tip Nick!

iTunes and an external hard drive!

A great tip sent to me by Christian Underkoffler. Here is what Christian wrote:

I love iTunes, I have a small hard drive and it take up a lot of space, so music was always a problem. I've been looking for a way to continue to use iTunes while freeing up space on my hard drive. What I've learned, is that you can "Reference" your music, if you had it in another folder or put it on an external hard drive, your movies and music will still play in iTunes, without taking up space. Getting to the point:

I did it with an external hard drive hooked up to my time capsule, so it's wireless.

In iTunes, go to preferences.

Under the "Advanced" tab, there should be a check box that says, "make a copy of the file when added to iTunes" or something like that. The point is to uncheck it. If you FIRST put all of your music files onto your external drive, THEN delete all of the song listings in iTunes itself so it shows no duplicates, and in the actual "iTunes music" folder to delete the actual files off of your hard drive.When iTunes is clear, connect to your external drive, and drag the music files from your external drive, to the iTunes library, it will "reference" the songs, without adding or copying the actual files to itunes. Basically, iTunes will read off of your external drive, it's really great if you need to save space, and if you have a time capsule, it makes it really nice.

Thanks for the tip Christian!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Moving a downloading file!

That is one thing that is not a good idea: moving a downloading file! I did it accidentally today with a file downloading in Firefox. While the file is downloading, all the data is stored into a second file ".part". To my surprise, the download continued after moving the file and the data continued to be saved in the ".part". Once the download was done though, Firefox couldn't save the ".part" data. Since all the data was downloaded, the whole file was in the ".part". I just renamed the ".part" file to the extension the file was supposed to have and it worked great. All of this was tested with Firefox.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monitoring bandwidth usage!

ISPs around the world are more and more implementing bandwidth caps. We've had these caps in Canada for years, but bandwidth monitoring is even more important now that most ISPs are going in that direction (Comcast with the 250 GB limit). I still haven't found anything that really works well for monitoring usage directly on the router, but there are quick and easy options for monitoring it on your Mac. Of course, there are numerous disadvantages: all bandwidth going through Airport is counted, including file transfers between Macs and you have to monitor it on each computer separately. The one that I use is not ideal because it resets every time you restart your Mac. There are probably better applications that don't do this, but this one just appeals to me because I use it anyway for many other things. It is iStatMenu. If you add the Network menu to your menu bar, iStatMenu will keep track of bandwidth used and you can access it at anytime in the menu. It works pretty well for me because I don't use Airport for file transfers (Ethernet is fast for that!) and I nearly never restart. The same application also provides Uptime in the CPU menu so you can get an idea of the period of time that bandwidth was used. More info and download link here on MacUpdate.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Stocks widget!

There is a setting at the back of the Stocks widget included with OS X to change from the change value to the change percentage. There is another way to switch. You just have to click on the red or green rectangle.

The iPhone stocks widget also works in the exact same way.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Skype with a USB headset!

There are many ways to use Skype: headset, headphones and internal mic, bluetooth headset and Skype phone. The headphones and internal mic is great because it makes Skype available to everyone. It is not the best configuration however. The problem is that even though Skype has separate settings for Ringing and Audio Output, there is no way to set headphones and internal speakers as separate audio outputs. Using any of the other options solves this problem because it is recognized as a separate audio input/output. The USB headset is what works best for me. I don't why, but the sound quality of bluetooth is terrible compared to how bluetooth works with my iPhone.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New from clipboard!

Preview has a great feature, "New From Clipboard". It works great for just copying and pasting into a new picture. I wish that feature was also in Photoshop, but there is a quick way of doing the same thing. Once the picture is copied, you just have to create a new picture. Photoshop will automatically choose the preset "Clipboard" that contains all the right settings for the picture in the clipboard.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Apple ProRes QuickTime Decoder!

Apple Pro-Res is a great format for editing, but it use to have the disadvantage of not being readable on a Mac that doesn't have Final Cut installed. When I needed the video files to be reviewed by someone who doesn't have Final Cut before the final editing, I had to convert the videos to something like H.264 and that took a long time (even on my Quad!). Apple solved everything in August with the release of Apple ProRes QuickTimes Decoder. It is a plugin for both the PC and the Mac version of QuickTime and it lets computers without Final Cut play videos encoded with ProRes. Apple doesn't publish system requirements, but playing HD video requires a powerful computer (dual core or better). More info and download link here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Google Chrome on a Mac!

If you want to check if your websites are compatible with Google Chrome and you only have a Mac, there is an alternative (doesn't require Parallels or VMWare). CodeWeavers has successfully made Chrome run in virtualization but without the need of any virtualization application. They have used the code Google distributes as open source and repackaged it as CrossOver Chromium. It doesn't run that well, because it is not running natively, but it is still useful for checking if websites are compatible or just for checking out what Chrome is all about. It takes like five minutes to load the first time, but once the install is done, it loads usually pretty fast. One thing that I have noticed is that Flash doesn't work in it right now. You can check it out here on MacUpdate.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Importing music from CDs in iTunes!

One default setting that I change very quickly in iTunes is the "Import Settings...". Hard drive space is so cheap nowadays that there is just no reason to encode music at 128 kbps anymore. There is a preset that you can switch to so that future CDs that you import in iTunes are encoded at 256 kbps. The Custom settings will let you go up to 320 kbps. The Import Settings are in the General Settings.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Renaming files in OS X!

One thing that I hate about OS X is when I try to rename a file in list view and it won't even let me write the name of the file. It just doesn't stay in rename mode. That happens often in a folder that contains many videos. What happens is that the icon preview is being generated. You can see it as the icon on the left of the name of the file is blank. Each time an icon appears, it switches back out of renaming mode. The only way I have found to rename a file when that happens is to wait for all icons to appear. I really hope Apple will fix this, but in the meantime, it is the only way I have found to rename the files.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The best iDisk replacement: Dropbox!

This iDisk replacement is so good, that I use it instead of dotMac even though I pay for dotMac. The free account includes 2 GB of storage. The way it works is it creates a folder on your Mac that is synched back to the cloud and to every other Mac, Windows and Linux computers that it is installed on. You really have to give it a try to understand how great it is. You can even restore deleted files through the web interface. You just have to download the software and you can create your account through the app.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Audio language in iTunes!

iTunes has an audio language default setting and it is great for videos that contain multiple audio tracks. An application that can create these QuickTime videos is Handbrake. It lets you select up to two audio tracks.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Displaying only new podcasts!

The new grid view in iTunes 8 is great for podcasts because of the option called "New". What it does is it only displays podcasts that have unwatched episodes. It is the "New" tab in the top bar.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kameleon now part of the bundle!

MacUpdate has extended the bundle for an additional 48 hours and added the application Kameleon. Kameleon lets you customize the look of OS X Leopard. The default look is automatically backed up if you want to go back to the standard look. More info here on MacUpdate.

Podcasts settings in iTunes 8!

The settings in iTunes 8 no longer include a Podcasts tab. To change the Podcasts settings, you have to click on "Settings..." in the lower left corner of the Podcasts window. This "Settings..." buttons was always there, but in iTunes 8, it is the only way to access the Podcasts settings.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New visualizer in iTunes!

One thing that was pretty much unannounced in today's keynote is the new visualizer in iTunes. The rumors had talked about it, but that's pretty much it. If you want to check it out, it is the default visualizer in the new iTunes 8. iTunes 8 is not yet available through Software Update, but you can download it from Just going to "View", "Show Visualizer" will launch the new visualizer. It is simply called "iTunes Visualizer". Here is a screenshot:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sorting the Firefox bookmark bar by name!

There is an easy way of sorting all bookmarks in the Firefox bookmark bar by name. The feature is right there when you right-click on the bookmark bar: "Sort by Name".

If you are interested in the MacUpdate bundle, there are two days left. All the apps are now unlocked.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Open DNS!

There are pretty much two things that you can do to increase the speed of your internet connection: buy a higher speed from your ISP, or change the DNS. Changing the DNS addresses is easy and depending on how fast you current ISP's DNS are, can really improve speed. What I use is OpenDNS. It is free, reliable and very secure. To start using it, you simple have to add the following DNS addresses to either your wireless router or to your Ethernet/Airport settings on each Mac:

Here is how:

1. Go to Network, System Preferences.
2. Choose "Airport" (or Ethernet).
3. Click on "Advanced" and go to the DNS tab.
4. Add the DNS addresses in the left text box "DNS Servers".

An advantage of adding it to the Airport settings of a specific Mac is that you'll still be using the Open DNS addresses when you are using any other wireless network.

You can also create an account at and it will let you filter out some websites. You can also whitelist some websites to make sure they are not blocked by their filtering. No filtering will happen if you don't sign up for it on their website though!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tab stops in Apple Pages!

One thing that is useful, but sometimes annoying, in Apple Pages is when moving tab stops in the top bar. What happens is that the tab stops move in steps, going from 0.5" to 0.625" to 0.75". It is a lot more precise, but what if you want something in between. You can get smooth scrolling of the tab stops by holding down "Command".

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Review of Mellel!

Mellel is part of the MacUpdate bundle. Mellel is being touted as the leading word processor on OS X, so I really wanted to give it a try and see for myself how good it is. At first glance, it does look pretty great. I really have to work on a project in Mellel to know if I'll use it on a daily basis, but it looks feature complete. It integrates with the bibliography application Bookends, another app included in the bundle. It also includes export to the Microsoft Word format, but not to Apple Pages. More info here on MacUpdate.

Converting RAW files to DNG!

RAW files are not open and are exclusive to each camera manufacturer. Adobe released an open RAW format called DNG. You can easily convert your photos to DNG using the "Adobe DNG Converter". The conversion is completely lossless and you actually save hard drive space. The advantage is that there are a lot more chances that DNG will still be readable in years than a closed format. You can get the Adobe DNG Converter here from MacUpdate.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Inspector in QuickTime Player!

I don't think I have ever talked about the Inspector in QuickTime Player, but I use it all the time. I do a lot of video and the Inspector in QuickTime really gives you all the info about what the file really is. You can also figure out if a file is playable on an iPod/iPhone by seeing the size and the data rate. It also displays info about frames per second and codec. The feature that I like the most in that Inspector is Current Size. I didn't really understand the point of the Current Size at first, but I now use it a lot. The way I use it is that I often work with HD files that I know will end up being further compressed and resized to a smaller size. I want to get a preview of what the file with look like. I really just have to resize the open QuickTime window and the current size will update with the info about the size at which it is displayed on screen. You can access the Inspector through the keyboard shortcut Command - I.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Review of Contactizer!

Contactizer was just unlocked and is now part of the MacUpdate 10 applications bundle. I didn't know Contactizer before I heard of this bundle, but I was surprised. It is the application we have always wanted from Apple, and even more advanced. It lets you manage emails, contacts, calendars and more, all in one complete application. You can quickly retrieve emails from specific contacts. It even lets you place Skype calls directly from the application. Not everyone needs that much power in this kind of application, so I really recommend you check out the trial. Overall, if you are looking for this kind of app, it is a 5/5. More info about the bundle here.

Privacy settings in Adium!

Adium is a great replacement for many instant messaging applications. I use it every day to replace Microsoft Messenger. One thing that I have noticed is that I have started getting a lot of spam. By default, Microsoft Messenger blocks everyone that is not on your contact list. Adium works the other way around, but you can change that setting:

1. Go to Adium, Privacy Settings...
2. Change "Privacy level" to "Allow only contacts on my contact list".

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Checking for purchases in iTunes!

If you purchase videos or files on iTunes that are large to download, you might not always have time to download the whole file. You can resume downloads with iTunes purchases though. If the download is not done, you can even restart the whole download. To do so, you just have to right click on the "Purchased" list in iTunes and choose "Check for purchases...". It will connect to iTunes, ask you to log in if you are not logged in and check if you have any purchases that weren't downloaded. Backing up is a must once files are downloaded though, because you won't be able to redownload once the download is completed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Scroll wheel and tab bar in Firefox!

I know it is the second day in a row that I post a tip about Firefox, but I just discovered it and I think it is really awesome compared to how Safari handles tabs. In Safari, if you have more tabs open than how wide your Safari window is, an arrow with a dropdown menu will appear. In Firefox 3, an arrow also appears and it lets you move left to right in the tab bar, but there is a quicker way. If you have a mighty mouse, a recent trackpad on a laptop or any mouse that lets you scroll horizontally, you can move through the tab bar when it has too many tabs open just by scrolling. Your mouse simply has to be on top of the tab bar.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Review of DEVONAgent!

DEVONAgent is part of the MacUpdate 10 applications bundle. DEVONAgent is really a weird application when you are not used to this kind of app. The application is very advanced however. I am slowly getting used to it. I don't think the application is for everyone, but it does find very relevant search results. If you do a lot of searches that don't come up with a lot of results and many results have dead links, it is definitely a great improvement. It takes more time than Google because it doesn't just look in a database, it actually reads every search results, making sure the link is still alive and enhancing even further relevance. Overall, I would say it is 4/5. Link here.

Downloading in Firefox 3!

If you have the status bar enabled in Firefox 3 (View menu and "Status Bar"), you'll get a quick preview of the status of downloads in the status bar. What is displayed is the number of active downloads and the time remaining. Clicking on the info will open the Downloads window.

Brain Toniq. Clear the head fog
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