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. More by David Chartier
As of the Mountain Lion version, Apple’s Mail is better than ever at helping you manage your email. And Google’s Web-based Gmail is also pretty good—but how do you combine the two in just the right way so as to get the best of both?
The answer is simple—follow my guide below, wherein I describe my favorite way to balance a few features and compromises to make Mail and OS X work best with the Gmail Way.
As a doctor, educator, and administrator, I attend a lot of meetings. That means taking lots of meeting notes and, after those meetings are over, making sure that all of the action items we’ve decided on get done. Over the years, I’ve tried many different ways to do so.
For ages, I regularly hauled my MacBook Pro along with me, and relied on a variety of apps to capture notes and to-dos. Next, I transitioned to taking handwritten notes with the Livescribe Echo smartpen; that pen translated my scrawl into computer-readable graphics. But—true to the physician stereotype—I have awful handwriting, and my notes were illegible. To make matters worse, that workflow offered me no good way to hand over my action items to OmniFocus, my task manager of choice.
Finally I hit upon an effective workflow: Using an iPad coupled with a Zagg Folio keyboard, I take notes that are immediately available on all my other devices in a format I can search quickly, and to-do items get into OmniFocus almost seamlessly. Here’s how it works.
Backing up your data is the most important thing you can do with your computer—even more important than tweeting or posting on Facebook. If you don’t back up your Mac regularly, you may lose those photos that you want to share; you may find that your latest holiday videos are missing; and your music library may go poof!
Time Machine is a great tool for ensuring that your data is safe, and it’s pretty easy to set up and use. But for some users, the basic Time Machine interface isn’t enough. As with most of OS X’s functions, there is a command-line tool that lets you do many things with Time Machine. Here’s how you can use the tmutil command to control and tweak Time Machine from Apple's command-line tool, Terminal.
Feel like shopping? Both the Mac App Store (Apple menu > App Store) and the iTunes Store (accessed through Apple’s iTunes) may appear to be applications, but they are actually websites. That means you don’t have to fumble through menus or wait for iTunes to launch in order to access the stores. It also means that you can use powerful Web-based tools—like Google search—to find apps, music, movies, and more. Here are six tips for using a Web browser to access the stores more quickly and efficiently.
1. Search from the Web
When you want to search the Mac App Store and iTunes Store apps, the limitations can be frustrating. For example, iTunes doesn’t let you search for record labels. If you’re looking for a song that’s been covered by 100 bands that makes it hard to find the version you want. Try Google to search instead.
It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it: find overlooked OS X tricks. Sometimes I hunt for them; sometimes I just run across them. Here’s a collection that I bet includes items you’ve missed, too.
Joe Kissell is a senior editor of TidBits and the author of numerous ebooks in the Take Control series. More by Joe Kissell
You love your iPad, and chances are good that you need to use Microsoft Office for work. You have lots of options for editing documents created in Microsoft Word and Excel on your iPad, but what about the third major component of Microsoft Office, PowerPoint ()?
If you need only view a PowerPoint document, you can use almost any iOS app that displays documents (including Apple’s Mail and Safari). iOS can natively display, though not edit, PowerPoint (.ppt and .pptx) documents—but it shows them as a continuous scroll rather than as individual slides. You also won’t be able to see any animations, builds, transitions, or other special features. For displaying an existing PowerPoint presentation, a better choice is the free SlideShark app, which preserves most major PowerPoint features but still doesn’t allow editing.
When you need to edit a PowerPoint presentation or create a new one from scratch, your alternatives fall into three main categories: Keynote, a third-party office suite, or a virtual copy of PowerPoint for Windows.
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
As I’ve outlined over the many years we’ve produced these Automator tips, this fine utility can be used in powerful ways to make your work easier. However, in the hands of the office prankster it can also be used as a useful tool on the first day of April.
The following workflows require that you have access to your target’s Mac and user account. No one but a fool would leave their Mac open in such a way, but finding such fools is exactly what April Fools' Day is all about, right?