You may use your Mac for serious work, but sometimes it’s a good thing to add a touch of whimsy to it. Here are four quick tips for customizing OS X and making it a bit more fun to use.
1. Try the iTunes Artwork screensaver
When you’re not working, by default your Mac’s screen turns black with a subtle, shifting white Apple icon and a bit of text, usually your username. But you need not settle for that. To pick something different, go to Apple menu > System Preferences, select Desktop & Screen Saver, and then click the Screen Saver tab. You’ll find a lot of fun options to explore here, such as “Word of the Day.” If you’re a music fan, though, try the iTunes Artwork screensaver, which displays a collage of random album covers from your iTunes library.
When it comes to quickly taking care of daily tasks, the command line can be both powerful and dangerous. Take today’s commands as an example: the rm command allows you to remove (or delete) files. The rmdir command does the same to directories (also know as folders). But be careful: unlike when you move files to the Trash from the Finder, there’s no way to get them back if you use these commands. Still, if you want to tap into Terminal's powers, this is a command you can't overlook. I’ll show you how to add a safeguard to ensure that you only delete files you really want to delete.
Why bother deleting files with the command line?
Deleting files with the Finder isn't too difficult, plus you can always fish files out of the Trash if you change your mind. So why bother using the command line? Here are some reasons:
I usually lose all enthusiasm for the shiny new habits of the new year by about January 4, giving me the rest of the year to feel like a failure. But I’m much more disciplined in work than in my personal life, so when it comes to my home business, I think I have a better chance for success. If you’re considering adopting (or shedding) a habit or two, let my seven resolutions be food for thought.
The command line—that hidden world of code behind your Mac’s pretty OS X face—sometimes offers a quicker way to do everyday tasks. You’ve learned how to navigate files and folders with the command line and get help when you need it from man pages. Today, I’ll show you how to copy and move files, common operations that often come in handy. I’ll also show you how to create directories (that’s Unix-speak for folders), so you can move files to new places.
Why bother with the command line?
It’s certainly easy to copy and move files in the Finder, but there are a number of reasons why you might want to do this from the command line instead:
If you’ve read Macworld for any length of time—particularly our OS X Hints blog or any other story that asks you to use Terminal—you may have wondered to yourself: How do you learn about all those mysterious commands, such as ls or cd? Is it some kind of arcane knowledge, handed down only to initiates after grueling initiations? Well, no. Actually, anyone can learn about Terminal commands, if they know where to look. Today, I’ll tell you where.
The key to Terminal wisdom is the man command. It summons manual (or man) pages for almost any command; they’re the equivalent of a help system for the command line. In fact, man itself is a command, whose role is to format and display this documentation.
If you’ve been using a Mac for any length of time, you know that it’s more than just a pretty point-and-click, window-and-icon interface. Beneath the surface of OS X is an entire world that you can access only from the command line. Terminal (in your /Applications/Utilities folder) is the default gateway to that command line on a Mac. With it, instead of pointing and clicking, you type your commands and your Mac does your bidding.
Why would you want to do that? For almost all of your computing needs, the regular graphical user interface is enough. But the command line can be handy when it comes to troubleshooting your Mac, to turn on “hidden” settings, and other advanced chores. Many of the hints we publish on the Mac OS X Hints website require the use of the command line. It’s a good idea for anyone who isn’t an utter beginner to be familiar with it.
If you aren’t already familiar with OS X's command-line interface, this week we'll get you up to speed. The plan is to cover the most important commands you need to know and show you how to use them. First up: How to navigate the file system from the command-line prompt.
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. More by Christopher Breen
Among its many benefits, the holidays compel us to visit friends and relatives who may live more than a short drive away. But during our time away we sometimes want to keep tabs on things on the home front. For example, with the office closed up and heat turned down, is your beloved ficus freezing? Or have the cats destroyed your home in between visits from the sitter? With a Mac configured correctly and Automator’s help you can keep tabs on things while you’re away.
A camera, an iCloud account, and a little know how
On a Mac that has a built-in FaceTime camera (or attached webcam) create a folder on the desktop and call it Shots. Launch iPhoto, choose iPhoto > Preferences, select the iCloud preference, and enable the My Photo Stream option. (You must have an iCloud account for this to work.)