Photo Booth power user features

You may have forgotten about Photo Booth, but Apple sure hasn’t. In Lion, Apple updated its software for quickly capturing photos from your Mac’s built in camera, adding full-screen mode and new visual effects that leverage face-detection features. But while Photo Booth’s feature set is still pretty simple, there are a few power user tricks to the software that may help you get more out of it.

First of all, there's the flash. When you snap a photo with Photo Booth, the software briefly makes your Mac’s display go bright white, to simulate camera lighting. But there's a new option in Lion to disable that flash permanently: Go to the Camera menu, and deselect Enable Screen Flash.

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Hidden Lion gesture switches to previous space

One of Lion’s hallmark features was its introduction of a slew of multitouch gestures. By now, you may well have learned most of them. But Keir Thomas discovered one you probably don't know about, a hidden gesture that lets you quickly return to your most recently used space. If you use the four-finger swipe to move from your main desktop to another, or to a full-screen app or the Dashboard, you can quickly go right back to where you were before by executing a four-finger double-tap.

But if you try that right now, it won’t work. First, you need to fire up Terminal and paste in this command:

defaults write double-tap-jump-back -bool TRUE;killall Dock
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Fix Lion's erroneous autocorrections, permanently

Sometimes, one person’s hint is another person’s incredibly obvious feature. In this case, I was the guy who needed a hint that—once it was pointed out to me—I felt silly for not thinking of on my own.

I was getting frustrated by Lion’s built-in, iOS-style autocorrection. I normally like the feature, which corrects misspellings as you type, but it was making life difficult for me when I searched my email for messages from Macworld senior editors Chris Breen and Scholle Sawyer McFarland. When searching for messages from Chris, I’d type “from:breen” into Gmail; for Scholle, I’d type “from:scholle” instead. Lion unhelpfully wanted to replace their names with “green” and “school,” respectively.

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Determine which base station you're connected to on a bridged network

Many folks use a second wireless router as a bridge to expand the reach of their main Wi-Fi network. Apple makes such a setup painless; it takes just a few clicks in Airport Utility, for example, to make an Airport Express extend your Airport Extreme’s wireless network. When you bridge a network this way, both base stations share one network name, and your Mac (or other Wi-Fi device) automatically switches between the base stations based on signal strength. But what if you want to know which base station you’re on at a given moment? Since the two bases sport the same name, that would seem to be impossible. Thanks to a tip from Macworld senior contributor Glenn Fleishman, I now know just how to do it.

First, you need to determine your base stations’ BSSIDs—the Basic Service Set Identification code that’s unique to each base. If you’re using Apple base stations, fire up Airport Utility, and note the AirPort ID for each base station listed. (Mine were different enough that I needed only to remember the first two characters for each base station.)

Next, launch the hidden Wi-Fi Diagnostics app included with Lion (which is found in the /System/Library/CoreServices folder and which we’ve covered in a previous hint). Choose the Monitor Performance option and click on Continue.

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Start dictation by lifting your iPhone 4S to your ear

Fresh out of the box, your iPhone 4S can launch Siri in one of two ways: You can press and hold the Home button, or you can simply lift your phone up to your ear, and Siri should start listening. An anonymous hints reader discovered that Siri’s Raise to Speak feature works for text-entry, too.

Whenever your iPhone 4S displays the on-screen keyboard, there’s a microphone icon at the bottom left; if you tap that icon, Siri will begin transcribing whatever you dictate. But you can save yourself that tap by lifting your iPhone to your ear when the keyboard appears on the screen. A single tone will sound (as opposed to Siri’s more traditional double-beep) to indicate that your 4S is listening and ready to transcribe. When you’re finished dictating, simply lower the phone again.

Remember that the Siri’s Raise to Speak option may contribute to battery drain. That’s a reasonable possibility, because the technology works by constantly checking the phone’s proximity sensor to see if an ear happens to be near. If your phone's battery life is suffering, you can disable the option in Settings -> General -> Siri—though then this hint won't work.

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Enable iTunes track notifications in the Dock

A variety of third-party utilities can display details about the track that's currently playing in iTunes. But Hints reader Keir-thomas discovered a secret preference setting built into OS X Lion that allows song notifications to pop up over the iTunes Dock icon. Here’s how to enable them:

First, quit iTunes if it’s already running. Fire up Terminal (from /Applications/Utilities/) and paste in the following command, then hit Return:

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Toggle between iTunes Match and local syncing

When you enable iTunes Match on an iOS device (Settings -> Music -> iTunes Match), you'll see a warning that “iTunes Match will replace the music library on this device.” When iTunes Match was still in beta, that message was true to its word: Any music you had on your device was indeed deleted, in favor of the library you'd uploaded to the cloud via iTunes Match. But in the official version of iTunes Match released Monday, that’s no longer the case. In truth, any music that was on your iOS device before you enabled iTunes Match will still be there—and that fact can save you on time and bandwidth.

In our testing, this message is a big fat lie.

After you've enabled iTunes Match, it downloads songs to your iOS device on an as-needed basis: When you tap on an individual song, iTunes Match downloads it first, then starts playing it. (That accounts for the slight delay you'll notice before the track begins; iTunes is buffering the download.) After you've played that song once, the downloaded copy stays on your device. The next time you want to play it, it’ll already be there; it doesn't need to be downloaded again. Tracks that are available via iTunes Match but haven't been downloaded yet are marked with an iCloud icon. Once you tap to play them, that icon disappears.

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