Mac troubleshooting: What to do when the Trash won’t empty

Joe Kissell Senior Contributor, Macworld

Joe Kissell is a senior editor of TidBits and the author of numerous ebooks in the Take Control series.
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When you drag files or folders to the Trash icon in the Dock, OS X doesn’t delete them immediately. Just as you can pull something out of a physical trash can before the garbage collector arrives, you can remove files from the Trash until you decide you want to get rid of them for good (and thereby recover the disk space the files were using). When that time comes, you choose Finder > Empty Trash.

Ordinarily, emptying the Trash is immediate and uncomplicated. But occasionally something goes wrong and your Trash won’t empty; the Finder may display an error message indicating a reason (though not how to fix the problem). If that happens to you, here are several solutions you can try.

‘The file is in use’

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Keep track of important messages with Mail's VIPs

Kirk McElhearn Senior 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.
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If you get a lot of email, you know how hard it can be to spot messages from friends and family, or from your most important contacts. The recently introduced VIPs feature, added to Mail 6 in OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6, can alert you when you get emails from your most important friends and colleagues, whether you’re using your computer, iOS device, or even iCloud mail on the Web. Here's how to use it.

Set up VIPs

The VIPs feature works on Macs running Mountain Lion, on iOS devices running iOS 6, and on iCloud on the Web. You can have up to 100 people listed as VIPs.

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Six quick Safari tips

Sharon Zardetto , Macworld

Find several of long-time Mac author Sharon Zardetto's current ebooks at Take Control Books.
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Little things mean a lot—especially when tiny tips save time. Ramp up your Web-browsing skills with these speed-friendly techniques for Safari 6.

1. Open a link in a new tab

When you type something into Safari's Address Search Field and click Return to see the top search hit, the new page replaces the current one, as you'd expect. But if you want to keep the current page around, you can: Press Command-Return to open the top hit in a new tab, or press Shift-Return to open it in a new window.

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Get your software up-to-date and keep it that way

Sharon Zardetto , Macworld

Find several of long-time Mac author Sharon Zardetto's current ebooks at Take Control Books.
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An easy way to keep your Mac healthy is to keep your apps current. Why? Bug fixes, security updates, new features—need I go on? Resolve to stay on top of updates in the new year.

Upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion (if you can)

If you haven’t gotten around to upgrading to Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), now’s the time to forge ahead to get new and improved apps and features. Not sure which OS version you’re running? Choose About This Mac in the Apple menu; and in the window that appears, look beneath 'OS X' to see the version number. Mountain Lion is 10.8.x; Lion is 10.7.x. The two previous systems are Snow Leopard (10.6.x) and Leopard (10.5.x).

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Work it: LinkedIn endorsements explained

David Chartier Contributor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

David has been covering Apple and how to get the most out of its products since 2005. Now a freelance tech writer, he runs Finer Things in Tech, jots down thoughts at, occasionally starts outlining the great American tech novel, and might still get to snowboard Breckenridge one more time.
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The way we find jobs and pitch ourselves to prospective employers is changing rapidly, and LinkedIn is trying to help you stay ahead of the game. The “social network for professionals” recently introduced a new feature called Endorsements that, with a little help from your coworkers and close friends, can help you catch the eye of recruiters who are short on time but long on candidates.

When you go to the LinkedIn website, you'll be prompted to endorse your connections' skills.

Give a quick overview of your skills

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New year's resolution: A clean Mac

It’s that time again when Mac users make their New Year’s resolutions. How about a simple pledge to keep your computer clean? I’m not talking about deleting cache files or removing old apps you no longer use. I’m talking about your Mac’s screen and keyboard, or its dusty, grungy innards. It’s not difficult to do, but keeping a clean Mac can help it run smoother, and keep you from getting sick as well. Here are a few ways you can keep your Mac looking new and fresh.

Clean that keyboard

It’s fair to say that the dirtiest part of your Mac is its keyboard. Even if you wash your hands every time you sit down to type, the keyboard collects the germs and sweat from your fingers, and the dust in your room or office. This can make for sticky keys and transfer cold viruses, or worse.

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Automator workflow of the month: Sending holiday greetings

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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While the holiday season can bring both comfort and joy, it can also be one of the most hectic times of the year—one where you may be so distracted by one task that you neglect another. Take those holiday well-wishes that many of us email to friends, family, and business associates, for example. All too often we leave them to the last minute and, worse, remember them only when we’re on the road to grandma’s without laptop or Internet connection.

Not only can you compose your season's greetings weeks before the holidays, but you can schedule when they’re sent, thus ensuring that they hit your loved ones’ inboxes at the perfect moment. The means for doing this is OS X's Automator. Here are the steps for creating and automatically sending your holiday email messages with Mountain Lion.

Begin your festive workflow

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