Backup basics: The quick, something-is-better-than-nothing backup system

Joe Kissell Senior Contributor, Macworld

Joe Kissell is a senior editor of TidBits and the author of numerous ebooks in the Take Control series, including the just-published Take Control of Apple Mail.
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If you have no backups at all, you probably already realize your data is at risk. Any number of random things—a theft, a hurricane, or a hacker with too much time on his hands—could wipe out everything on your Mac. But you may be reluctant to start backing up because it seems like a big, scary, and possibly expensive undertaking. If that describes your situation, read on for tips on setting up easy, inexpensive backups in as little as 10 minutes. This isn’t a comprehensive strategy by any means (for that, see for my article “Bullet-proof backups”), but it’s a good starting point for anyone seeking a quick fix.

Drop it in the box

Let’s start with your day-to-day files. For file backups, I’m a huge fan of online backup services. My favorite is CrashPlan (), but among the other excellent options are Backblaze and Dolly Drive (). These services are fairly inexpensive and easy to set up; and if you choose one of them, you can skip the remainder of this section. But if you want the simplest, fastest, cheapest option, let me suggest a different type of product: Dropbox ().

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Building better reminders: Quick to-dos and audible alerts

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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Lion’s iCal and Mountain Lion’s Calendar applications have made creating events easier by way of the Create Quick Event feature, which allows you to use natural language such as “lunch with Dan tomorrow” to set up an event. But more convenient still is the ability to create an event or reminder from within any application with the press of a couple of keys. I’ll show you how to do both. Even better, I’ll describe how to enhance one of those methods to make it even more useful…and audible.

Create reminders quickly

Mountain Lion's to-do items no longer live in Calendar, having earned a spot in their own Reminders application. Yes, you can click Reminders in the Dock and then click the plus-sign (+) to make a new reminder. But with the help of an easy Automator workflow, you can keep your hands on the keyboard and make reminders using a keyboard shortcut. It works this way:

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Stay on top of the Web with read-later services

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 DavidChartier.com, occasionally starts outlining the great American tech novel, and might still get to snowboard Breckenridge one more time.
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Between new-product reviews, tutorials for a timesaving trick, posts from your favorite blogs, updates from the sites you have to follow for work, and—because everyone needs a break, right?—the latest YouTube meme, it can be hard to keep up with everything you want to read online. No wonder people clamor for a “TiVo for the Web.” Enter read-later services: When you see something important, click a browser button or email the link. Then, at the end or beginning of the day, open the read-later app on the device of your choice—typically a smartphone or a tablet—and download all the content you flagged earlier. Now you’re set to read on your commute, during a plane trip, or just about anywhere, even if you don’t have an Internet connection while you're on the go.

You can choose from a range of features with these services, which include Instapaper, Pocket, Readability, Quote.fm, Evernote Clearly, and Safari’s Reading List. Do you simply want to maintain a reading list, or could you use help from friends to find more interesting things to read? Do you want archival access to the items you’ve read in the past? How about tools for sharing your favorite articles with buddies or adding the stories to the other apps and services you use?

There are more questions to answer than you might think, so I’ll try to help you get started.

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Eight ways to connect to a server

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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When you have to copy files from one Mac to another, make big files available to others, or get files from your company’s shared volumes, you need to connect to a server. It may be a file server, a NAS (network-attached storage device), or just another Mac on your network. You probably already know a basic way to perform this everyday task, but is that method the quickest and most convenient? Here are eight ways you can connect to a server.

1. Connect from the Finder

Connecting to a server for the first time? You'll see this standard 'Connect to Server' dialog box.
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Essential accessories: Clutter busters and travel-bag basics

Dan Frakes Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Dan writes about OS X, iOS, utilities, cool apps, and troubleshooting. He also covers hardware; mobile, audio, and AV gear; input devices; and accessories. He's been writing about tech since 1994, and he's also published software, worked in IT, and worked as a policy analyst.
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Our increasingly wireless lives are still dependent on physical connections. And that means cables—lots of cables. As the editor who does most of Macworld's accessory coverage, my office is overrun with cables, connectors, and chargers. Few warrant a full review or an article of their own, but that doesn't mean they should go unnoticed. Whether you're looking for worthy candidates for your travel bag or you just want to clean up your desk, here are some of the best accessories I’ve come across recently for connecting, charging, and more.

Compact cable kits

Short cables are lightweight, take up less space in a bag, and are less likely to tangle. Thankfully, it's no longer necessary to hunt down short versions of essential cables on your own, as a number of companies sell handy kits.

Oodles of options for iPhones, iPads, and iPods

When Apple’s new Lightning connector debuted with the most recent iPhones and iPods, it meant that iPhone and iPod accessories originally designed for the older 30-pin dock-connector port would no longer work with the latest devices. And, of course, scads of devices out there still use the 30-pin port. If you don’t want to go out and buy new speakers and chargers for your new iPhone, hold on: We’re starting to see adapters for newer devices to work with older gear. And many vendors are still making new accessories for older devices.

Lightning adapters: Apple sells a $29 Lightning to 30-pin Adapter and a $39 Lightning to 30-pin Adapter (0.2 m), a 20cm cable version of the adapter. Both let you use older audio and charging accessories with the latest iPhones and iPods. But if you need something longer, CableJive’s $30, 20-inch DockBoss+ is designed to let you use your iPhone 5 or new iPod with 30-pin-dock speakers and chargers. You connect the DockBoss+’s 30-pin female connector to your speaker or charger, and then connect your iPhone’s Lightning-to-USB cable to the DockBoss+’s USB port—suddenly you have audio and power. (If your speaker dock is older and employs analog audio, use the included 3.5mm audio cable, which connects from your iPhone’s headphone jack to a separate audio plug on the DockBoss+.) It’s not elegant, but it works.

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Mountain Lion's Calendar: Your questions answered

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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Today’s Calendar application is more than a simple date book. With it you can view your life’s doings in multiple ways, enter events in nearly natural language, receive alerts to events by unexpected means, and add multiple bits of information to your events. Not everything about OS X's Calendar app is obvious, however. Here are answers to some of the questions I hear the most.

Q: What's the quickest way to create events?

A: In Lion’s iCal and in Mountain Lion’s Calendar, one quick way to create an event is to press Command-N or click the plus-sign (+) button at the top of the window. In the resulting Create Quick Event field, enter something like Brunch w/ Claire March 17 11 AM and press Return. This instruction creates an event for that date at 11 a.m.

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Do more with Mountain Lion’s Contacts

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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Among the many things your Mac is tasked to do is to help you stay in touch with other people. And the first step in doing so is to have some notion of how to contact them—through email, snail mail, phone, chat, FaceTime, and social networking services. The repository for this vital information is Mountain Lion’s Contacts application. Formerly known as Address Book, Contacts is often overlooked, since many people think that the job it handles is mundane. But Contacts has hidden depths, including the ability to pull in Twitter handles and Facebook friends automatically, sync Google contacts, display a map of a contact’s address, and help you put faces to names.

Get rid of the leather look

Those who feel that a computer’s address book need not be slathered with the look of a real-world address book may find Contact’s leather theme tiresome. Thankfully, you can dump that theme—and best of all, no Terminal is required. Just use Fredrik Wiker’s donationware Mountain Tweaks utility.

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