Run Office on your iPad

Dan Miller Editor, Macworld

Dan is Macworld's Executive Editor and, thus, the senior Dan on staff.
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When you want to edit Microsoft Office documents on your iPad, you’re not limited to Apple’s iWork, Google Docs, and third-party office suites. Three apps, in conjunction with their respective cloud-based services, let your iPad connect to a virtual Windows server running in the cloud and run the Windows version of Microsoft Office remotely: CloudOn; nivio; and OnLive Desktop. Here’s how they compare.

CloudOn

Opening up CloudOn, you don’t feel like you’re connecting to a remote Windows desktop. Instead, it looks like a file browser. CloudOn connects directly to your Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive cloud-storage account, and the app opens with a directory listing of those accounts.

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Automator workflow of the month: Create a suggestion box


If you were to break into an office building not occupied since the mid-70s, there’s a good chance you’d see tacked to the wall a pine-based receptacle labeled Suggestion Box. This padlocked box would have a slot on top that allowed for the insertion of small slips of paper—each one containing a hastily scribbled note complaining about Fred in Accounting.

The physical suggestion box has largely disappeared, but there’s no reason for its functionality to, particularly if you’re willing to spend a little time with Automator. In the following few paragraphs I’ll show you how to construct and automate a virtual suggestion box so you can get employee feedback. These instructions work in both OS X 10.7 (Lion) and OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

Make the digital box

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How I organize everything with plain-text notes

Like everyone else, I need to keep track of lots of bits of information. Some of those bits are as simple as the brand of salad dressing my wife likes; others are as complex as an outline for a multi-year project at work. Whatever the size, origin, and purpose of these bits, I keep track of them all by saving them in a reliable system of plain-text notes—a system that enables me to find any bit of information whenever I need it, in a form that makes sense to me when I do.

This system is based on two simple principles: All notes are saved in plain-text files, and I follow some basic but strict guidelines for creating and storing them.

What is a note?

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Editing Word documents on an iPad

Unlike the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad was designed with the needs of typists in mind. The screen size, the large virtual keyboard in landscape orientation, and the support for external keyboards make the iPad a natural choice for word processing on the go. For many people, that means reading, editing, and saving Microsoft Word files. Even though there’s no iPad version of Word, you can work with Word files on your iPad if you’re willing to accept a few compromises.

Read Word files on your iPad

Just need to read Microsoft Word documents? All you have to do is get the documents onto your iPad; Apple’s iOS can display them natively. For example, you can email documents to yourself as attachments, or use an app designed for transferring and viewing documents, such as Avatron Software’s $10 Air Sharing, Good.iWare’s $5 GoodReader for iPad, or Readdle’s $5 ReaddleDocs for iPad ( ).

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Encrypt any disk in Mountain Lion

One of the more interesting—and less visible—new features in Mountain Lion is the ability to encrypt almost any disk. OS X has long offered the ability to encrypt your startup disk using Apple’s FileVault, but Mountain Lion extends this feature to other disks, even to simple USB flash drives. Here is an overview of how this feature works, how you can encrypt and decrypt a disk, and what options you have when doing so.

Encrypt a disk from the Finder

This new full-disk encryption feature is well hidden in Mountain Lion. Typically, you use Apple’s Disk Utility (in /Applications/Utilities) to work with hard disks or other types of removable media. Disk Utility can erase, partition, and repair hard disks, but curiously, it cannot encrypt a hard disk.

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Tech to take with you

It’s a common notion that when we go on vacation we want to “get away from it all.” But take a closer look and you may find that what you really want to do is get away from it all with the technology you love. But what gear should you haul along with you? That depends a great deal on how you’re getting from here to there, whether this is a working vacation, where you’re going, and who you’re visiting along the way.

Packing tips

The means you choose to travel will influence what you take. If you’re flying, you’ll want to pare it down so that valuable gadgets—camera, laptop, tablet, and portable entertainment device—can be placed in your carry on. I prefer to throw that stuff in a backpack that fits under the seat in front of me, thus saving an overhead bin for a bag containing items that I won’t need during the flight. Placing the bag within reach ensures that can get to your toys at all times (except during takeoff and landing, of course) plus relieves you of the worry of it being tossed around by careless baggage handlers.

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Nine tips for taming text in Pages

Far more than Apple’s “version of Word,” Pages ( ) is full of powerful, time-saving features that help you make great word processing documents quickly. Three of the best are styles, templates, and tables. Gain some familiarity with these features and you’ll make better documents in less time than ever before. Here are nine tips to get you started.

1. Apply styles quickly

Use styles to format text quickly and consistently. Paragraph styles affect an entire paragraph, whether you’ve highlighted every character of it or simply clicked anywhere in it. Clicking is faster, so don’t bother with the careful selecting. To apply a style, you can use the Styles Drawer (View -> Show Styles Drawer), or better yet, use keyboard shortcuts. With the Styles Drawer open, control-click a style name and then, in the menu that appears, choose Hot Key, and select from the shortcut choices in the menu. Now, applying a style is as simple as clicking in a paragraph and pressing this key.

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