Automator workflow of the month: Automate kiosk presentations

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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Increasingly we find video monitors in offices and stores that play looping slideshows. All too often these things must either be started by the first people to arrive at work in the morning (and stopped by the last person leaving) or, worse, are left running 24 hours a day. With Automator you can make presentations automatically switch on and off at exactly the times you specify. Here’s how.

Fine-tune your presentation

To begin, create a presentation in Apple’s Keynote that includes all the slides you desire. Within Keynote choose View > Show Inspector and click the Document tab (the first one) in the resulting Inspector window. Enable the Loop slideshow option and from the Presentation pop-up menu choose Self-playing. Configure the Transitions and Builds fields so that each slide plays for the length you want before moving to the next one. Save the presentation and quit Keynote.

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iOS

Beyond Siri: Dictation 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.
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You’re probably familiar with using Siri to make calls on your iPhone, as well as to open apps on your iOS device, get information, and set up appointments. But you may be less familiar with iOS’s other dictation feature, the one that lets you talk to your iOS device while it converts your words into text.

I’ve long used dictation on my iPhone, because I have fat thumbs and find the keyboard too slow to use. As long as I’m in a not-too-noisy environment, it works quite well. I have to make corrections at times, but I can dictate long emails, short text messages, and even use dictation to enter search terms in Safari or to enter text in text fields on webpages. Better still, in my early tests, dictation in iOS 7 seems much more accurate. Here’s how you can use dictation on an iOS device and save a lot of time typing.

Turn on dictation

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10 tips for managing minimized windows

Sharon Zardetto , Macworld

Find several of long-time Mac author Sharon Zardetto's current ebooks at Take Control Books.
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Do you minimize your windows with abandon, crowding your Dock with miniature documents? Do you rarely minimize anything, crowding your screen with multiple windows? Knowing the big and small options for this basic window-wrangling feature can save you both time and space.

1. Minimize windows with a double-click in the title bar



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Six great TextEdit tricks

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 don’t write all the time, then you probably don’t need a full-featured word processor, such as Microsoft Word () or Apple Pages (). But you still may want a flexible tool for handling text that lets you compose résumés and recipes, letters and flyers. You know what? You already have one: Apple’s TextEdit.

This text app comes as part of OS X, and can meet many of your writing needs. It doesn’t offer advanced page layout features such as columns and image wrap, but it does provide most of the fundamentals. Simplicity comes with benefits, too. TextEdit is sleek and fast. It takes a half-second to launch, and it doesn’t lag even if you have a document containing hundreds of pages. On top of that, TextEdit can save documents to Apple’s iCloud, so if you have a desktop Mac and a laptop, you can work on your documents at home and know they’ll still be at hand when you’re on the road.

Still need convincing? Here are six TextEdit tips that show off what this free, easy-to-use program can do.

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Take control of startup and login items

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 turn on your Mac, various apps, add-ons (such as menu extras), and invisible background processes open by themselves. Usually these automated actions are exactly what you want, but you may sometimes see items running—either visibly or according to a listing in Activity Monitor (located in /Applications/Utilities)—that you don’t recall adding yourself. Where do they come from? Because such items can increase your Mac’s startup time (and may decrease its performance), you’ll want your machine to load only items that are useful to you. Here’s a quick primer on the various kinds of startup and login items and how to manage them.

Login items

Open the Users & Groups pane of System Preferences and click the Login Items tab, and you’ll see a list of apps (and even files and folders) that open every time you log in. (This list is different for each user account on your Mac.) More often than not, items appear in this list because apps added them to it. Most apps that do so ask you for permission first or offer an ‘Open at Login’ checkbox for you to check, but not all are so well behaved. In any case, you can add an item to the list manually by clicking the plus sign (+) button, or remove an item by selecting it and clicking the minus sign (-) button.

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Automator workflow of the month: Automatically file downloaded items

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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Like all good Automator workflows, this one is hatched from something I find to be an annoyance. I download a lot of files—disk images, songs, pictures, and books. All of them go into the Downloads folder within my user folder. After downloading them I don’t always retrieve these files, but rather let them molder away for days or weeks. When I finally get around to using them, I rummage around in this folder, which now contains hundreds of files. Wouldn’t it be easier if all the disk-image files were in one place, pictures in another, and so on? With Automator you can make that so. Here’s how.

Create the workflow

In the Finder, create two folders on the Desktop. Name the first Disk Images and the second My Pictures.

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Help with OS X's Help

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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No matter how proficient you are with OS X and the apps you use, there will still be moments when you need a helping hand. The quickest way to find out how to accomplish a task is to get help; the kind that’s included with OS X. Using OS X Help is easy, but there are some tricks that will help you use it more efficiently.

Help!

You’ve certainly noticed the Help menu everywhere in OS X: it’s the rightmost menu in every app. The menu that displays when you click on Help may vary from a simple menu with a search field and a menu item to provide help for the current app, to a menu with links to a developer’s website, support page, user forums, manual and much more.

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