20 more technical terms every Mac user should know

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Last week I introduced you to 20 computer terms you should know. In addition to a few “thanks for that” responses, I also received a few “Yeah, but what about…” queries. And each is worth our time. So, have another round on me.

Peripherals

Not all hardware devices have simple names like printer and keyboard. A few go by their acronyms.

Audio formats

The audio world hasn’t escaped the alphabet soup of acronyms. You’re sure to encounter a number of these audio formats on the Mac as well as on the Web.

AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format): Audio files broadly come in two flavors—compressed and uncompressed. Compressed files are usually missing data that you can’t easily hear (though if you compress a file enough, you’ll certainly hear the difference). Uncompressed audio files reproduce the audio without performing tricks to remove data. They are therefore larger than compressed files.

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20 computer terms every Mac user should know

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Throughout the life of Mac 101, we’ve talked a lot about Apple technologies and terms. But with the gentle persuasion of this column’s readers, I’ve come to realize that—all too often—terms and acronyms that many of us take for granted leave users new to technology scratching their heads. Let’s rectify that now with a meander through some common tech terms.

Connecting computers to peripherals

For many of us, our Mac isn’t a one-stop shop. We routinely attach things like printers, cameras, and external hard drives to it. Below, I discuss the technologies that support such connections.

Wired and wireless networking

Magic is the word some people use to describe the ability to connect your computer and mobile devices wirelessly to the Internet. But other—and more specific—means and protocols include the following.

Ethernet: This wired standard is used in local computer networking (that is, in networked devices that are located in the same physical space and share a common router address). An ethernet connector looks like a large telephone plug; and like a telephone plug, it snaps into its host receptacle. The most common forms of ethernet are 10Base-T, 100Base-T, and 1000Base-T (also known as gigabit ethernet). These forms differ considerably in speed. 10Base-T operates at a limit of 10 megabits per second (mbps), 100Base-T bumps that limit up to 100 mbps, and 1000Base-T offers a limit of 1000 mbps (or one gigabit per second).

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What every Safari user should know

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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In the previous two lessons, I took you through Safari’s interface and offered a glimpse of the browser’s most important preferences. This week we wrap up Safari with a few techniques that I hope you’ll find helpful.

Read it later

Store webpages you wish to read later in Safari’s Reading List.

Try these keyboard shortcuts

One road to becoming a more accomplished Mac user is memorizing and using keyboard shortcuts. Safari has a few that I’d like to recommend.

Email this Page (Command-I): Press this command, and your default email application will open, create a new message, and insert the Web address for the page you’re currently viewing into the message. Just address and send the email to share the page.

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Exploring Safari's preferences

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Last week, for the sake of completeness, I took you on a tour of Safari—an application that you likely used to read the lesson. This week we’ll dig deeper and explore some of Safari’s most important preferences. To begin, choose Safari > Preferences.

General

The General tab is your gateway to choosing a default browser, selecting a search engine, and choosing what you see when you first launch Safari, and creating new windows and tabs. Here are the settings you’ll see:

Passwords

The Passwords preference is closely related to the Autofill preference we just looked at. When you visit a website that requires you to create a username and password, Safari will prompt you to save that information by default. If you choose to, that information will be stored in something called the keychain. This is OS X’s secure system for storing such data. When you click the Passwords preference, you’ll see the names of any sites you’ve stored usernames and passwords for. Along the left side of the window is the address of the site, the username follows to the right, and finally you see a series of dots, which represent your hidden password. (For security, the number of dots does not correspond to number of characters in your password.)

If you can’t recall a password and you need it for some other purpose (you want to enter it on your iPhone or iPad, for example), enable the Show passwords option. You’ll be prompted for your account password. Enter it, and all the passwords in this window will be exposed. Once you have the password you need, disable that option immediately. Waving your passwords around for all to see is a very bad idea.

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Getting started with Safari

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Throughout these lessons I’ve casually thrown around such phrases as “launch Safari” and “when you do this, Safari will open and take you to….” And I’ve felt reasonably confident in doing so because, after all, if you’re currently sitting in front of a Mac there’s a very good chance that you’re reading these words within Apple’s Web browser.

Still, that doesn’t mean that we can skip over Safari, particularly given how much time you’ll spend with it. So on to Safari we shall go. In this lesson I’ll examine Safari’s major interface elements.

The view from above

Navigation options

As with a bag of M&M’s, one nibble leads to another, and before you know it you’ve traipsed from one end of the World Wide Web to another. You have a couple of ways to make your way back along the path you trod. One is to use the Back and Forward navigation buttons to the left of the search/address field. A single click on the Back button takes you to the previous page you visited. Click Forward, and you reverse course and move to the page you just retreated from.

If you use a trackpad with your Mac, you can swipe two fingers left or right to move between recently visited webpages. And speaking of gestures, if you have multiple tabs open, you can view a large preview of each: Just pinch two fingers together, and open tabs will be reduced to elements on a single screen. Use two fingers to swipe between them. Click the one you want to view, and it enlarges to fill Safari’s window. The other windows become tabs.

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Diving into Dashboard

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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This week we turn our attention to the screen on the left and the items it holds—Dashboard.

“Wait, screen on the left? What are you talking about?” I hear you silently demanding.

In the early days of Mac 101, I explained the purpose of the Mission Control application. By way of refresher, with Mission Control you can create separate desktop environments (or spaces)—one that displays open Mail, Contacts, and Calendar applications; another for Safari; and yet another for iPhoto and iMovie. By default, Dashboard occupies the first Mission Control space.

Adding third-party widgets

Sharp-eyed readers who’ve clicked the Plus button to add a widget have spied the More Widgets button at the bottom of the Dashboard screen. When you click this button, Safari launches and takes you to Apple’s Dashboard Widgets page. Here you’ll find categories of available widgets. Select a category, choose the widget you’d like to add, and then click the Download button that appears below the widget. You’ll be asked if you’d like to install the widget in Dashboard. You wouldn’t have gone to all this trouble if you didn’t want the thing, so click Install. The widget will be added to the list of available widgets on the Add Widgets screen. Just click it to place it on the Dashboard screen.

Grab more widgets from Apple's Dashboard Widgets page.
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Making video calls with FaceTime

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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As we’ve traveled along OS X’s byways and thoroughfares, we’ve encountered a couple of ways to communicate—via email and through text with Apple’s Messages application. In this lesson we’ll explore a third method: FaceTime, Apple’s video chat technology.

Described by some as “Jetsonian” and “the future come to life,” FaceTime allows you to place and receive free video calls. It’s a feature bundled with Mac OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, and it’s found on iOS devices that include a front-facing camera. (On an iPhone it’s implemented within the Phone app.) To use FaceTime with your Mac, your computer must be connected to a camera. It can be a built-in FaceTime camera (formerly known as an iSight camera), as found on Apple’s laptops and iMacs, or you can use a Mac connected to a compatible USB or FireWire camera.

Configuring FaceTime

Adding and organizing your contacts

If the number or address you click isn’t associated with FaceTime, you’ll see a message indicating that the person is not available for FaceTime. Regrettably, this “not available” message isn’t always helpful—and not because it’s possible that the item you clicked really is associated with the person’s FaceTime account. It’s just that they’ve switched off FaceTime on the devices they use to receive FaceTime calls.

A more helpful message would state: “I’m sorry, but no FaceTime account is associated with this item.” In the end, the onus is on you to obtain from your pals their FaceTime contact information, much as you’d ask them for their email address and phone number.

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