Mac OS X Hints - Aug. 2007

Speed up iPhoto image burning

It’s easy to select an album or a bunch of photos in Apple’s iPhoto and then click on Burn to create a disc of images. But what if you want to combine iPhoto images with other files, such as Word documents and movies? The obvious solution is to use the Finder’s Burn Folder feature. In the Finder, select File: New Burn Folder, and drag the images you’d like to burn from iPhoto into the folder. Then drag in the other files you want to include. Insert a blank CD or DVD into your drive and click on Burn; then you’re done.

There’s only one small problem. When you drag items from most Finder windows into a burn folder, the Finder creates an alias of the original file. But when you drag an image from iPhoto, the Finder actually copies it. Copying (and later deleting) these potentially big files takes extra time. So instead, after you start dragging the images from iPhoto, press and hold the 1 and option keys. Keep holding them down until you drop the images into the burn folder, and the Finder will create aliases of the originals. (You can tell that a file is an alias by its icon, which will have a small arrow in the lower left corner; see “Faster Burn Folders.”)

Borrow a drive from another Mac

Say you want to install a program on the old Mac the kids use, but the program is on a DVD while that Mac has only a CD drive. Or say you absolutely must install a program from a CD, but your computer’s optical drive has given up the ghost. You might be able to work around these obstacles if you have another Mac in the house.

FireWire Target Disk mode lets you boot one Mac in Target Disk mode (by holding down the T key while starting up), and then connect it to another with a FireWire cable. The Mac booted in Target Disk mode will appear as a FireWire hard drive to the other Mac. This is a great way to transfer lots of data between two Macs, because FireWire connections are superfast. (Not all Macs can be put into Target Disk mode; see the list.) But there’s an added bonus with most recent Macs: you can access not only the target Mac’s hard drive but also its optical drive.

You need additional software, such as Roxio’s $100 Toast 8 (   ) to use this drive for burning. I also wasn’t able to use the drive to watch a DVD movie. But you can install that urgently needed software package or grab some files off a backup disc.

Navigating iTunes’ Cover Flow

iTunes’ Cover Flow view (View: Cover Flow View), introduced in version 7, gives you a new way to look through your music library—by album cover. Just drag the scroll bar to the left or right to flip through the album art for your music. But there are also two less obvious ways to peruse your collection.

If you’ve got a large library and are looking for something specific, first make sure that iTunes’ browsing pane is active by clicking on any song in the library or in a playlist. Once you’ve done that, type a few letters, and Cover Flow will jump to a matching CD in your collection (see “Cover Flow Browsing”). The sort order of the library or the playlist determines the match. For example, if I click on my Album column and then type

no c
, Cover Flow jumps to No Code, by Pearl Jam. If I sort by artist, those same characters take me to the first album I have by No Doubt (albums are sorted alphabetically). And if I sort by song name and type the same thing, I jump to the album Faded Seaside Glamour, by Delays—because that album contains a song titled “No Ending.”

Alternatively, if you like to flip randomly through your albums when you’re looking for something to listen to, give your scroll wheel a spin and watch the covers go flying by. If you use a third-party mouse, you might have to use its configuration software to slow down your scroll rate. If you’re using a laptop that supports two-finger scrolling, just drag your fingers across (or down—it doesn’t matter which) your trackpad.

Quickly set up Remote Desktop

Apple’s $299 Remote Desktop 3 desktop-management package (   ) requires a lot of clicking to set up each user on a machine. First you go to the Sharing preference pane, click on Apple Remote Desktop, and click on Access Privileges. Then you have to select the On option next to each user you want to authorize, and decide which of the ten optional capabilities you’d like that user to have. Each capability has its own check box (see “Remote Control Options”). So if you’re setting up five machines with six users on each machine, you’re looking at 300 mouse clicks to grant everyone all privileges!

So here’s the time-saver: hold down the option key before clicking on the On check box next to a user’s name. When you do, all ten of that user’s capabilities will be automatically activated. Repeat the process, and you’ll disable all ten capabilities, as well as remove that user’s access. This is a much faster way to enable all privileges for users (or even most privileges—just deselect the privileges you don’t want to grant).

Use Preview to create image files

By default, Apple’s Preview opens most of the PDFs and images you come upon. But that’s not all Preview can do—it can actually create images, at least in one very specific situation: when you have an image on the Clipboard. After you’ve copied a graphic, open Preview and press command-N. Preview automatically creates a file from the contents of the Clipboard. Use File: Save to save the image in the format and location of your choosing.

This can be handy, for example, if you use Apple’s Keynote and want to create an image from a slide. Press command-C with the slide highlighted in the navigator, switch to Preview, and press command-N. Ta-da!—the slide is now an image. Also, if you ever grab a portion of a screen and send it to the Clipboard (using the shortcut command-shift-control-4), and then decide you’d rather have the image be a file of its own, just switch to Preview and press command-N—there’s no need to grab the screenshot again.

Faster Burn Folders: Typically, the Finder makes copies of any images you drag out of iPhoto and into a burn folder (A). If you want to speed things up and save hard-drive space, press and hold 1-option as you drag the images to the folder. The Finder will quickly create aliases of the originals instead (B).Cover Flow Browsing: Use your keyboard to quickly jump to a specific album in Cover Flow view. If I type dark, for instance, I jump to a classic Springsteen album. Your sort order determines the match iTunes makes.Remote Control Options: Save yourself some mouse clicks when using Remote Desktop. Press and hold the option key while clicking on a user’s On box to enable all privileges for that user.
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