Utility software

Mac 911 - March 2007

Sync Address Book without .Mac

I use a Power Mac G5 at home and an iBook on the road. Both run OS X 10.4.7. Because I enter data in both machines, depending on where I am, I’d like to be able to synchronize my copies of Address Book. What do you recommend?—Via the Internet

The obvious answer is a .Mac account, with which you can synchronize Address Book contacts, as well as iCal calendars and Safari bookmarks. Because that data is synced over the Web, you can update it from anyplace with an Internet connection.

But .Mac isn’t free, and I like free. If you do, too, I suggest you take a look at Stephan Kleinert and Markus Brand’s free address-o-sync. This handy little utility—which must be installed on each Mac you want to synchronize contacts with—uses Apple’s zero-configuration networking technology Bonjour to establish a sharing relationship between Macs on a local network. Fire up address-o-sync on each Mac, tell it what you’d like to sync (all contacts or just selected groups of contacts), and click on the button with the familiar swirly sync icon; then the utility will get to work (see “Staying in Sync”). If duplicate contacts in your copies of Address Book contain different information (perhaps you’ve updated a phone number or an e-mail address on one of your Macs but not on the other), you’ll have the opportunity to choose which data to keep.

A Macworld.com forum member suggests another option: Plaxo, a free Web-based service that lets you synchronize your contacts (via an Address Book plug-in) between multiple computers. Unlike address-o-sync, the free version of Plaxo won’t merge and remove duplicate contacts; however, the $50-a-year Plaxo Premium will.

Find missing iPhoto pictures

Whenever I load new photos into iPhoto, I immediately put them into a new album for later viewing in iPhoto and for easier access from the Media Browser in iWeb and iMovie. Unfortunately, my wife doesn’t do the same, so some of our photos seem to go missing. Is there an easy way to see which pictures have not been included in an album? If there is, I could use it to quickly sort my wife’s pictures into albums.—Barrett Clark

Smart albums to the rescue! Just choose File: New Smart Album, create the condition Album Is Not Any, and click on OK. All pictures that don’t belong to any album will appear in the resulting smart album (see “Only the Lonely”). But be warned: Because smart albums update themselves, pictures in this Not Any album will disappear if they’re sorted into another album.

Fix fonts in TextEdit

When I type something in TextEdit and print it (no matter what font size I choose) the text prints in extremely small type. The same problem sometimes happens when I print from Safari. What’s going on and how do I fix it?—Shane Saylor

In TextEdit, this is intentional. By default, TextEdit bases text wrapping on how wide the document window is on screen. To see this in action, type a couple of long sentences and then drag the bottom right corner of the TextEdit window to make it narrower. The text should rewrap itself to fit in the window. If you print this document, that printout will match what’s on screen, down to where the words wrap. If you put a mess of text on a single line, TextEdit will automatically decrease the font size on the printout so all the text fits on that one line.

This is useful if you’re entering lines of code and need those lines to print without breaking. But it’s not so hot if you’re using TextEdit as a word processor rather than a text editor. Fortunately, you can change TextEdit’s line-wrapping behavior by choosing Format: Wrap To Page. When you do, the text will wrap to the size of the page specified in Page Setup (File: Page Setup), and fonts will print at the chosen size. (If you’d like TextEdit to always behave this way, choose TextEdit: Preferences and enable the Wrap To Page option in the New Document pane.)

As for Safari, you can increase the size of printed text by increasing the size of the browser’s text on your Mac’s screen. Just press Command-equal sign (=) to increase text size or Command-hyphen (-) to decrease it. Your printouts will mimic what you see on screen.

Ethernet and AirPort

Is it possible to hook up an Ethernet switch to an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station in order to connect more than one computer with an Ethernet cable? Will the router in the base station assign an IP address to each of the wired computers?—Stuart Landay

Sure—that’s one reason Apple included the Ethernet LAN port on the back of the base station. To get the full lowdown on how to set this up, I strongly suggest that you download Apple’s very helpful Designing AirPort Extreme Networks PDF document.

For those of you who are averse to reading documentation, the basic idea is this:

String an Ethernet cable between your DSL or cable modem and the base station’s Ethernet (WAN) port. Run another Ethernet cable between the base station’s Ethernet (LAN) port and one of the ports on the switch. String yet more cable between the switch and the computers you want to connect.

Run the AirPort Setup Assistant (in /Applications/Utilities). If the answers you provide work, great. If not, launch the AirPort Admin Utility (also located in the Utilities folder), select the base station, and click on Continue. In the Internet tab, choose Connect Using Ethernet, and then, from the Configure pop-up menu, choose either Using DHCP or Manually, depending on your circumstances. If you have a dynamic IP address, you’ll pick Using DHCP. If you have a fixed address, you need to configure things manually, entering that IP address as well as the sub-net mask, router address, and DNS servers in the appropriate fields.

As for assigning IP addresses to your com-puters, that magic happens in the Network tab. Enable the Distribute IP Addresses option and choose either Share A Single IP Address (Using DHCP And NAT) or Share A Range Of IP Addresses (Using Only DHCP). If you choose the first option, the base station will dynamically serve, by default, IP addresses within the range 10.0.1.2 to 10.0.1.200. The second option lets you define the specific range of IP addresses if that’s what you want.

Now you need to configure the computers you’re connecting to that switch. If you’ve decided to share a single IP address, open the Network preference pane on each computer, choose Built-in Ethernet, click on the TCP/IP tab, and choose Using DHCP from the Configure IPv4 pop-up menu. The computers will then grab dynamic IP addresses as needed from the base station via the switch. If you’re sharing a range of addresses, choose Manually from the Configure IPv4 menu and assign a specific address within the range you specified in the AirPort Admin Utility. You’ll also want to enter

255.255.255.0
in the Subnet Mask field,
10.0.1.1
in the Router field, and the address(es) of your DNS server(s).

Run Windows safely

My wife just purchased a new iMac. She uses OS X about 90 percent of the time but also uses Parallels Desktop to boot into Windows for a few work tasks that require it. My wife never uses a browser on the Windows side, but the computer is connected to the Internet 24-7. Is Windows still vulnerable to viruses and spyware in this situation? What protection do you recommend?—Christopher Hosford

Yes, Windows is still vulnerable. To prove it, try this: Without running your browser or your e-mail application, perform some normal tasks on your Mac and keep an eye on your DSL or cable modem’s activity light. That blinking indicates that your computer is conversing with the Net, even if you aren’t browsing the Web or exchanging e-mail. Furthermore, while your wife may swear she’ll never launch a browser while running Windows, there’ll likely come a time when she’ll need to check something online and won’t switch back to OS X to do it. Finally, your mention of your wife’s work tasks should set off alarms. Where do these files come from, and how are they shared? A burned CD can carry a virus just as easily as an e-mail attachment.

The point is that Windows on a Mac is still Windows, which means that it’s still vulnerable to all the same cooties that can plague PCs. With that in mind, if you’re using Parallels Desktop, you need to behave like a regular Windows user and take precautions. Fortunately, doing so need not cost you a nickel. I have a living, breathing Windows PC sitting next to my Mac, and I’ve protected it for next to nothing.

Although you can buy firewall software with more bells and whistles, the free version of Zone Labs’ ZoneAlarm is an easy way to block incoming threats. I rarely use a Web browser on my PC, but ZoneAlarm has logged more than 105,000 attempts to access my computer (granted, the majority of them were innocent). It also alerts you when applications or utilities try to make Internet connections and asks you for permission before it’ll let them do so.

As for viruses, I used to run the Windows version of Symantec’s Norton SystemWorks on my PC, but I let the subscription lapse because there are enough free alternatives. The one I chose was Grisoft’s AVG Anti-Virus. If you choose a free program, you won’t get virus updates as fast as you would with a product you paid for, and you won’t be able to tweak settings as much. But for my limited Windows use, it’s plenty good enough.

For dealing with spyware, I take yet another cheapskate route: Lavasoft’s free Ad-Aware SE Personal. It works only after the fact—that is, after the spyware or adware has infected your system and you want to get rid of it. The for-pay options—Webroot’s $30 Spy Sweeper, for example—can block spyware and adware before they have a chance to touch your computer.

Staying in Sync: With address-o-sync, you can easily synchronize the Address Book contacts on multiple Macs on the same local network.Only the Lonely: Using a smart album, you can easily identify which iPhoto pictures you haven’t yet placed in albums.
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