Sometimes documents just don't print properly. My latest example: After filling out an expense report in Microsoft Excel, I tried to print it, but the document came out cut off on all four sides. I tried printing it again, specifying in the printer dialog that I wanted to scale the document to fit on one page; it still didn't work. I didn't know where the fault lay: Was it an Excel issue, a printer issue, or something else? But I didn't have time to investigate; I needed to get that expense report in the mail. My solution: I remembered a recent hint about opening two copies of a PDF at once, and used a variation on that to get the report to print.
In Excel, I went to File -> Print, and then clicked the Preview button at the bottom left. (Excel, like some other apps, uses that Preview button instead of an Open PDF in Preview option in the PDF dropdown; the functionality is the same.)
With a PDF version of my spreadsheet now open in Preview, I tried printing the document again—still specifying that I wanted the expense report shrunk to fit. This time, the spreadsheet printed exactly as desired. The same trick should work in any app that isn't printing properly. If you're facing printer frustration and don't have the time or inclination to resolve them, opening a PDF version of your file in Preview and then printing that can be a quick and functional workaround.
Ever tried to open two PDFs side-by-side in Preview? The app normally only lets you open a single copy of a document, so if you want to keep open a second copy—say, for easier footnote retrieval, or continued access to the table of contents—you would seem to be out of luck. We showed you one workaround a couple of months ago: running two copies of Preview simultaneously. Now an anonymous Hints reader as figured out an even easier solution.
The trick takes advantage of the PDF drop-down in any OS X Print dialog box. Open the PDF you'd like to see double in Preview. Then go to Preview's File menu and choose Print. From the PDF menu button in the lower left corner, choose Open PDF in Preview (not Print as PDF). Preview will open up a copy of the same PDF document you've been reading, which you can then arrange side by side with the original window. When you're done with your copy, you can just close it as you normally would.
One added benefit of this trick: the Open PDF in Preview command doesn't create a new temporary file that you'll need to clean up later.
An anonymous Hints reader was flummoxed: He (or she) used iTunes to sync pictures from iPhoto to his (or her) iPhone. But when he looked at the pictures on his phone, iPhoto Events didn't appear in the order he wanted. As far as he could tell, neither iTunes nor the iPhone offered any option to change the phone's photo-sorting behavior.
As the anonymous reader discovered, however, there is a solution—one that's less obvious than it might appear at first. The iPhone will honor whichever sorting option you select within iPhoto. To change the sorting order there, launch iPhoto, select Events, and then choose View -> Sort Events. You can then sort Events by date (in chronological or reverse-chronological order), alphabetically by name, or in a manual order of your own creation.
But, wait, there's more: If you switched to iTunes now, your photos still wouldn't be in the order you wanted; they'd be out of order on your phone, too. You must first quit and relaunch iPhoto. Once you've done so, iTunes will notice the new sort order you've set for your Events. When you sync your iPhone this time, events will appear the way you want them to.
Mac OS X makes opening .zip files simple: you double-click them, and the OS quickly unzips them. But one thing has always bugged me: After I unzip it, the original .zip file—for which I no longer have any use—is still there. I'd rather my Mac clean up the zipped versions of files automatically after I expand them, instead of leaving me with one more thing to get rid of.
I'd known about the Archive Utility app—the Mac's default application for unzipping files, which only runs for the duration of the act of unarchiving and then quits automatically. And I know we've talked about tweaking its settings before. That's where I found the solution to my problem.
Archive Utility is really tucked away, in System/Library/CoreServices. Once I'd found it, I opened it and selected Archive Utility -> Preferences. There, I selected Move Archive to the Trash from the After Expanding drop-down. (I could have chosen Delete Archive, but that seemed too final. I could also have chosen to move unzipped archives to another folder—Old Zips, for example—if I wanted to maintain an archive.)
It's easy to take lots of photos with your iPhone. But when you're ready to wipe the slate clean—without wiping out other photos you've synced to your device—there's no obvious way to completely (or even selectively) use your Mac to delete the photographs you've taken with the phone.
A couple of years ago, blogger Colin Devroe came up with a clever way to make that happen. His solution relies on OS X's oft-neglected Image Capture utility. (I like to use Image Capture to prevent iPhoto from launching every time you sync your iPhone.) To implement it, connect your iPhone to your Mac and launch Image Capture. That app will see your iPhone as just another camera.
In Colin's original hint, you'd then download all the photos and tell Image Capture to delete them all when it's finished. Turns out Image Capture now offers an easier, faster way to do that: You can selectively delete photos without ever importing them from your phone. (I've been unable to ascertain exactly when this became possible.) In Image Capture, Command-click all the photos you want to delete. If you really want to delete everything, just hit Command-A or choose Edit -> Select All. Then, at the bottom of the Image Capture window, click the delete icon—it's the red No symbol. Image Capture will ask you to confirm that you want to delete all those photos. And if you tell the app that indeed you are ready to bid all those pictures adieu, it will delete them immediately.
When the power goes out and you're faced with a houseful of futilely blinking clocks in desperate need of setting, your Mac can help. Hints reader jsdetwiler figured out a clever way to turn his Mac into a talking clock. When the clocks go out, he can dial his speakers way up and run a little command line script, then move leisurely from room to room, synchronizing all of his clocks to his Mac's time.
To accomplish this yourself, launch Terminal (Applications/Utilities), paste in this code, and press Return:
while [ 1 ];do z=`date +%S`;if [ `expr $z % 5` -eq 0 ];then say `date "+%l %M and %S seconds"`;fi;done
For a variety of reasons—frugality, environmentalism, laziness—I try to avoid printing documents whenever possible. That can get tricky when someone needs my signature. For example, I recently joined Macworld as a full-time staffer and was immediately sent a massive 80-plus page PDF welcome packet. Buried within those 80-plus pages were eight forms that I had to fill out and return to HR. That meant pulling individual pages out of a single PDF, then digitally filling them in.
You probably know how to combine PDF pages in Preview; separating pages is just as easy. To start, make sure the sidebar is showing (Command-Shift-D if not) and that it's displaying thumbnails of the pages in the document (if not, Command-Option-2). To pull a page out of the PDF, open it in Preview, click on the appropriate thumbnail in the sidebar, and drag it to your desktop. Preview will create a new file with just that page, giving it the same name as the original file with (dragged) as a suffix. If you Command-click to select multiple (even non-contiguous) pages from the sidebar and drag them all to the desktop, you'll create a single new PDF containing all of those pages.
Once I'd extracted the forms from the surrounding document, there were several ways I could add my signature to them; for example, we've written before about how to insert a scanned signature into a PDF. I prefer another way: I create a custom font in which one of the characters is actually my signature.