Automator workflow of the month: DIY security cam

Christopher Breen Senior Editor 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.
More by

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.)

Read more »

13

How Mac experts organize their files

Lex Friedman Senior Contributor, Macworld

Lex uses a MacBook Pro, an iPhone 5, an iPad mini, a Kindle 3, a TiVo HD, and a treadmill desk, and loves them all. His latest book, a children's book parody for adults, is called "The Kid in the Crib." Lex lives in New Jersey with his wife and three young kids.
More by

Lex's file system

How do I organize my files? This single folder full of 742 unsorted Macworld articles gives you a clue.

Computers are the ultimate file cabinets. My own Mac stores oodles files of all types—my photos, my music, and thousands of text and Word documents. That said, a stack of papers in my home office’s To Be Filed box could make a grown man cry; I’m afraid the files on my Mac are organized no better. Macworld Senior Editor Dan Frakes literally shuddered as I described how I store all my articles for Macworld in a single folder, with no other taxonomy in place.

Read more »

16

iOS

iCloud backup tricks for the iPhone and iPad

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.
More by

It’s important to back up your iOS device, just as you should your Mac. You can back your iPad or iPhone up to your computer using iTunes, or you can back it up to Apple’s iCloud. If you do the latter, the device backs up whenever you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, keeping your data well protected.

But iCould has its limits, namely the measly 5GB of free storage you get to cover all devices associated with your Apple ID. You might find yourself running out of space, especially if you have more than one iOS device and use iCloud for email and document storage. Here are some tips for optimizing your iPhone and iPad backups.

Turn on iCloud backups

Read more »

28

Troubleshoot Apple's Touch ID fingerprint reader

Serenity Caldwell Associate Editor, Macworld

Serenity has been writing and talking and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, writes, acts, sings, and wears an assortment of hats.
More by

There’s been a lot of talk about Touch ID troubles in the news lately. Ars Technica’s Christina Bonnington wrote an excellent explainer about the iPhone 5s’s sensor itself, along with some typical issues users might run into over time, while engineer and pundit Dr. Drang wonders if your recorded fingerprint data might decay after a few months of misreads, given that the Touch ID sensor is continually trying to improve the information it has on your fingerprint.

Touch ID certainly isn’t perfect: As someone who’s been using it since I picked up my iPhone 5s on launch day, I’ve had my fair share of frustration—especially because I swapped out my simple 4-digit passcode with a multi-character alphanumeric version.

But despite its occasional malfunctions, Touch ID has become one of my favorite features on the iPhone. To make sure it stays one of yours, too, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve found to keep Touch ID working properly, as well as some advice about when you shouldn’t use it at all.

Read more »

27

Save time with OS X's sidebar

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.
More by

OS X’s Finder is your window onto the documents, spreadsheets, photos, and other files you’ve tucked away on your Mac and other connected computers and drives. One often overlooked Finder tool is the sidebar, the left-hand section of every Finder window where you see small icons and names for folders or other items. The sidebar is intended to give you one-click access to the items you use the most. To make sure it does, tweak the way the sidebar displays and what it contains.

See more or less

Choose what you want to see in the Finder sidebar by using this preferences window.
Read more »

20

Automator workflow of the month: An easier way to burn movies to DVD

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.
More by

It’s no secret that Apple has little-to-no interest in DVDs. Just take a look at the removable media drives...now missing from all new Macs. However, there are still many Mac users who not only wish to play these discs, but also create them, especially now that the holidays are at hand. What some have found particularly irksome is that iMovie 10 () has no option for sharing movies to iDVD. Although this feature is unlikely to return, you can create something a bit like it with Automator. Here’s how.

Work the workflow

To begin, you’ll naturally need to have a copy of iDVD. You’ll find it bundled with older copies of the iLife suite. (Updates are available on Apple's site, but require a previous copy of the app.) If you don't have a copy lying around, you can buy iLife '09 from Amazon.

Read more »

6

How to add your PDFs to iBooks and organize them

Serenity Caldwell Associate Editor, Macworld

Serenity has been writing and talking and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, writes, acts, sings, and wears an assortment of hats.
More by

Thanks to the new iBooks app in OS X Mavericks, it’s easy to store and read your ebooks—be they purchased from the iBookstore or elsewhere (as long as they’re in the .epub or .ibooks format). But you can also keep PDFs in iBooks, too, and even organize them to your liking—though Apple’s tools still leave a bit to be desired on that front.

Add your PDFs

Adding PDFs to the iBooks app is easy. Just drag and drop them onto the iBooks screen, or go to File > Add to Library (Shift-Command-O) and select the applicable file.

Read more »

8