Mac OS X Hints

Create Subgroups in Address Book

In both Panther (OS X 10.3) and Tiger (OS X 10.4), Address Book supports nested groups. That is, you can create a group and then place that group within another group. This is a great way to combine lists of people whom you occasionally need to contact en masse.

For instance, assume that you have two existing groups—Family for your relatives, and Friends for, well, your friends. If you sometimes invite all these people to parties, then with each invitation, you’d have to put both group names into your new Mail message’s To field. You can save time by creating a third group in Address Book.

Click on the plus sign (+) under the Group column and name your new group “Friends and Family.” Now drag both groups, Family and Friends, into the new group. To reach the whole gang, you can now simply address a new message to “Friends and Family.”

In Panther, subgroups are basically like aliases in the Finder—when you delete one from a group, its original entry remains. Tiger, however, gives you choices: it lets you either remove the subgroup from the group or delete the subgroup altogether, so be careful.

Search Smart in Mail

In Apple’s Mail, search options seem needlessly limited—you can search either all mailboxes or the current mailbox, but nothing in between. Here’s a quick way to search exactly where you’d like.

Start by selecting the mailboxes you want to check: Command-click to pick noncontiguous mailboxes, or shift-click to pick contiguous ones. If you’re running Panther, click on the magnifying glass next to the search box. When you do, you’ll see that the top section of the pop-up menu now reads Search Selected Mailboxes. In Tiger, there’s no pop-up menu. Instead, if you run a search after selecting multiple mailboxes, Mail will search only those mailboxes.

Avoid Account Mix-ups in Mail

If you use Mail to check more than one e-mail account—your work and your personal accounts, say—chances are you’ve sent messages from the wrong account by accident. Mail is actually trying to help you when it causes this annoying mistake. Normally it notices which mailbox is currently selected, and it uses this as your default sending account when you create a message. The mishaps begin if you work with your inbox selected so you can see all your mailboxes in one consolidated view. In that case, Mail uses whatever message is selected to determine the sending account.

You can, of course, select the correct account from the Account pop-up menu whenever you create a new message. You can save a bit of time, though, by making sure you’ve selected the proper account or message before you start a new message.

Get Creative with Pages’ Table Cells

When you’re working with tables in Apple’s new word processor, Pages, you can resize cells by dragging either the horizontal or the vertical dividing bar. Just click on the divider and then drag it.

Here’s a trick to open up some more creative cell sizing: try holding down the option key before you click on a divider. Instead of selecting the entire divider, Pages will highlight only the portion of the divider associated with the nearest cell. You can now drag and reposition this portion of the divider. No longer are you constrained to tables in which every cell in a column or row must be the same width or height; you can have a large image in a cell that’s directly above a narrower cell, for instance. This allows you to get very creative with the look of your tables.

Note that this technique won’t work on all cells. A row must be of a certain minimum height before you can move portions of the horizontal divider (you may have to increase the whole row’s height first). Also, some borders may not be movable, depending on how they’re positioned relative to other lines. Still, by using option-drag, you can create some very free-form tables.

Slim Down iPhoto’s Window

iPhoto 5’s new bottom toolbar is a great time-saver—if you’ve got a big screen and you run iPhoto in a large window. But if you shrink the iPhoto window so you can multitask in other applications, the toolbar icons that don’t fit vanish to a subtly marked pop-up menu.

If you prefer a smaller iPhoto window but still want to see all the toolbar icons, two tricks can help. Your first option is to hide the Source column. Locate the small dot on the bar that divides it from the photo-viewing area. Then drag the dot to the left. The Source column will vanish, providing more toolbar space.

Another option is to remove the icons you rarely (or never) use. Some icons can’t be disabled, but you can see the ones that can (and others you may not have discovered) by selecting Share: Show In Toolbar. If you don’t have a .Mac account, for instance, make sure the HomePage and .Mac Slides options are disabled. Don’t ever e-mail images from iPhoto? Toss that option. When you’re done, you may find that you have room to add an additional button, such as Send To iDVD, and still see the full toolbar on screen.

Find Movies Anywhere with Sherlock

Sure, the latest Star Wars release is old news, and the next Harry Potter movie is still on the horizon, but if you’d like to spend $9 or so on a couple of hours of wide-screen entertainment, Sherlock’s Movies tool is quite handy for finding theaters and show times in your area. By default, the Find Near field uses the address from your card in Address Book. If you’ve entered your address there, the Movies tool will display a list of locally playing movies without your having to do a thing.

But what if you’re traveling with your laptop? You know what city you’re in (I hope), but you may not know the lay of the land. Sherlock’s Find Near search has a couple of features that can help. First, you can search by landmarks—not everything is in there, but many big names are. A search for Space Needle , for instance, shows you movies in Seattle; Disneyland nets you the Anaheim, California, area; and Epcot will get you a list of theaters near Disney World’s Epcot in Orlando, Florida (see the screenshot).

The real power of the Find Near field comes from its ability to work with zip codes—just enter the one you’re in, and you’ll see a list of all the local theaters. Between the zip code and landmark searches, there’s no reason not to go to the movies tonight—unless, of course, there’s nothing worth seeing.

By entering the name of a landmark in the Find Near field of Sherlock’s Movies tool, you can find films playing nearby, even if you don’t know precisely where you are.
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