Kirk McElhearnSenior Contributor, Macworld

Senior contributor Kirk McElhearn (@mcelhearn) writes The Ask the iTunes Guy column and writes about Macs, music and more on his blog Kirkville. He's also the author of Take Control of iTunes 11: The FAQ.

Ask the iTunes Guy: Compression and lossless encoding

The iTunes Guy answers questions about tagging basics, removing artwork, adding large descriptions in tags, and more.

Customize shortcuts for Mission Control, Dashboard

The Mission Control preference pane offers a limited set of keyboard shortcuts for triggering both Mission Control and Dashboard. But if you want to use a shortcut not included in that limited palette, there is a way.

Clean Writer Pro lets writers focus on writing

Clean Writer Pro 1.2 is simple and offers limited formatting options, letting writers worry about writing rather than formatting.

OmmWriter Dana helps you focus when writing

It's difficult for the developer of a minimalist writing app to peg exactly what a particular user will like and which features can be removed. But if OmmWriter's interface decisions work for you, it's a solid writing tool with a couple unique features for helping you concentrate.

Auto-convert songs at higher bit-rates in iTunes 10.6

Among the new features in the iTunes 10.6, one in particular is good news to anyone with lots of lossless tracks: The ability to convert those tracks at higher bit-rates when syncing to an iPod or iOS device.

Ask the iTunes Guy: Album art and tagging

The iTunes Guy answers questions about tagging basics, removing artwork, adding large descriptions in tags, and more.

Use OS X linen pattern for desktop background

You know that dark linen-pattern background that Apple's been using everywhere lately--the Lion login window, for example? If you like it, you can use it as your desktop background. Kirk McElhearn explains.

Philips SpeechMike Pro LFH3200

Philips recently released Mac OS X software for their SpeechMike Pro LFH3200 handheld microphone allowing it to be used with Macs and with Nuance's Dragon Dictate.

Add Finder labels via drag-and-drop

There are plenty of ways to assign a color label to a file or folder in the Finder. But one OS X Hints reader seems to have found a new one.

Ask the iTunes Guy: Work with playlists

The iTunes Guy answers questions about gaps between songs, copying playlists on a USB stick, combining multiple playlists into one, and more.

Smultron is a capable and inexpensive text editor

Smultron is a capable, inexpensive, and easy-to-use text editor with iCloud support built in, although it could use some improvements when working with multiple files.

How to convert a POP email account to IMAP

If you want to see the same email messages and folders, no matter what device you're using, you've got to have an IMAP email account. Here's how to make the switch safely.

Correct spelling from the keyboard

OS X's built-in spell-check is nice, but it usually requires you to move your hands from the keyboard to the mouse to select the correct spelling. But one OS X Hints reader found a way to select the correct spellings from the keyboard.

Byword is a solid text editor for Markdown-focused writing

Though not ideal for non-Markdown writing, if you use Markdown and want a minimal tool to write with, Byword is a good choice.

Use iTunes to rip audio from videos

Have some videos from which you'd like to save just the audio? A Hints reader uncovered a iTunes menu item that does just that.