As we waltz through our digital lives, we tend to accumulate files and folders, and folders full of files. While a portion of this accumulation is the kind of effluvia that we won’t need next week, much less five years from now, for many of us a large chunk of it is data that will be as important tomorrow as it is today. Think long term business projects, financial files, and databases, for example. If you’re an organized person, you’ve created a logical file structure that allows you to locate files many years from now. If you’re not so organized, you have to search for what you want.
OS X’s Spotlight feature provides the means for doing this. Just press Command-Spacebar and enter the name of the file you seek in the resulting Spotlight field. But what happens when you can’t recall a file’s name? You could enter a search term that seeks a particular text string within the file—finances 2012, for example. But this method could turn up a large number of results, leaving you to weed through scores of files. Worse yet, you may not recall a line of text that will produce your file via Spotlight.
Thankfully, you can tag files to give your future self a leg up with such searches. Automator makes this very easy. Here’s how:
They arrive by Twitter, by RSS, and by email. They're passed around on social networks. They’re embedded in online articles and blog posts. I’m talking about all of those links to things you'd like to read but can’t. Making time to read everything you find on the Web the moment you find it is hard, so you probably don’t read it at all—unless you use a read-it-later service like Instapaper.
Instapaper makes it easy to save online articles for later reading: Just click a bookmarklet in your browser, and the story you’re looking at is saved, stripped down to just its text and essential images. You can then access your saved articles on the Instapaper website or using the Instapaper apps for iPhone and iPad.
Early Mac screens weren’t cluttered. But then, early Macs let you open only one application at a time—and sometimes only one window!
OS X's Mission Control lets you manage the screen clutter that accompanies today’s advanced computing environment by providing a bird’s-eye view of all your open applications and windows. You’re the one really in control when you learn how to manage Mission Control’s features.
“When your data passes through a public network—such as the Wi-Fi at the coffee shop or airport—it is at risk.” I’ve been writing variations on that sentence for 10 years now, and I expect I’ll be writing it for many more. That’s because it’s easy to snoop on such networks, and the data on them isn’t safeguarded against those prying eyes. You have to take action to keep your data safe. Fortunately, doing so doesn’t have to be hard.
You could encrypt networked data one service at a time, by securing your email sessions or configuring your Twitter and Facebook accounts to use HTTPS. (Actually, I recommend both steps regardless of whatever other security measures you take.) But that means adjusting settings in lots of different apps, one at a time. There’s a more comprehensive solution: a virtual private network (VPN).
When you set up a VPN on your Mac or iOS device, client software encrypts all of your outbound data (wrapping it in something often called a secure tunnel) and sends it to a secure server. That server has the appropriate encryption keys and other credentials to unwrap the data and send it along to wherever it’s supposed to go. Likewise, the server returns data—requested webpages, email messages, or even streaming audio and video—to the client through the same tunnel; only the client can unravel those responses or streams.
Google launched Google+ last summer to save us all from Facebook and Twitter. Twitter is too much like shouting in a coffee shop, Google argued, and Facebook’s garden, large and beautiful as it may be, has walls that are too high and opaque—particularly to Google’s search bots.
Google pitches its social network as an alternative that both simplifies and empowers the way we share things with each other. People are giving the new social network a try—the site’s traffic grew 27 percent this March to 61 million visits. But as with much technology, it’s still easy to get lost or overwhelmed.
Here are some ways to get a handle on your Google+ activity to make using the site a more useful and appealing experience.
If you’ve ever sent, or received, a big file via email, you’ve undoubtably encountered a zip file. Double-click one of these and it expands to show files hidden inside. A zip file, or archive, takes up less space than the original files, so that your documents, images and whatnot are easier to send or store. But what do you do if a file won’t expand or you come across a different type of archive? Here are answers to frequently asked questions about working with compressed files on Mac OS X.
Q: How does compression work?
A: File compression technology looks for repeated data and writes archives that eliminate these repetitions to save space. You’ll find some files shrink a lot—compressed text files can be half the size of the originals—and others not so much. If you try to compress a JPEG file, for instance, you won’t see much benefit, as the JPEG format already includes compression.