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.)
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 Friedman
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.
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.
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 Serenity Caldwell
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.
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.