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
) 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
, Cover Flow jumps to
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
) 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.
Use command-F to search iTunes
One of the things I love about OS X is its consistency. Consider File: Open (command-O), Edit: Copy (command-C), and File: Print (command-P). It doesn’t matter which application you’re using, you know exactly what those menu commands and shortcut keys will do. The same goes for the shortcut command-F—it always activates Find or Search. At least, it does in Apple’s Safari, TextEdit, and iPhoto, as well as in probably 200 other programs I could name.
Try it in iTunes, though, as I used to do by force of habit, and you get the full-screen iTunes interface. That’s quite a surprise when you’re expecting to see the cursor jump to the Search box. You might think that I could simply reassign the shortcut, using the handy Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard & Mouse pane in System Preferences (see “Make Your Own Shortcuts”). Unfortunately, if you go to enter the name of the Search menu command, you’ll find that there isn’t one! But never fear: you can use Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/) to reassign this shortcut.
The first step is to change iTunes’ View: Full Screen shortcut from command-F to something else. Quit iTunes and open the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane. Select the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, and click on the plus sign (+) to add a new shortcut. Set the Application pop-up menu to iTunes, type
in the Menu Title field, and then put your cursor in the Keyboard Shortcut box and press a new key combination—command-shift-F, perhaps. Click on Add, and you’re done—you can now use command-shift-F to access iTunes’ Full Screen mode.
Now launch Terminal (make sure iTunes isn’t running) and copy and paste
defaults write com.apple.iTunes
NSUserKeyEquivalents -dict-add "Target Search Field" "@F"
Press return. That’s it; you’re done. Open iTunes and press command-F—the cursor will jump to the Search box.
If you ever decide you’d like the old behavior back, you don’t need Terminal at all. Just quit iTunes, go back to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane, and use the minus-sign button (-) to delete the entry for iTunes’ Full Screen menu. The next time you launch iTunes, command-F will invoke Full Screen mode again.
Make your own shortcuts
You know you waste time whenever you reach for the mouse to activate commonly used commands. But what if the command’s keyboard shortcut is awkward, or there isn’t one for something you do a lot? Try the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane.
Change a Shortcut
It’s easy to reassign a shortcut if it’s listed in the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane’s Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Just double-click on the existing shortcut and then press the combination you’d rather use. For instance, if you think that command-shift-control-3 (which copies a picture of your screen to the Clipboard) requires too much finger gymnastics, simply double-click on the entry and try a simpler replacement.
You can use the Keyboard Shortcuts tab to change not only program-specific but also systemwide shortcuts. This can be helpful if a standard shortcut is hard for you to remember, or when a shortcut in one program has a completely different function in another. For example, consider command-L. If you’re in Apple’s Safari (and most other browsers), that shortcut places your cursor in the address bar, so you can start typing the URL of a Web site. But in iChat, command-L is the shortcut for logging out—and immediately ending all your current conversations.
To prevent that, you can assign a new shortcut to logging out of iChat. First quit iChat, and then switch to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane. Click on the plus sign (+) at the lower left corner of the window, and a small shortcut-definition window will appear. Click on the Application drop-down menu and select iChat from the list. In the Menu Title field, type
Log Out of AIM
. Note that you must
match the name of the menu item, including any capitalization. Put your cursor in the Keyboard Shortcut box, and press the new shortcut you’d like iChat to use—perhaps command-shift-L, which is still easy to remember but hard to type accidentally. Click on Add, and the next time you launch iChat, look under the iChat menu. You should see your new command-shift-L shortcut.
Create a New Shortcut
The Keyboard Shortcuts pane is also useful when you want to create shortcuts for commands that don’t have them—even a systemwide command such as Sleep. To make a Sleep shortcut, click on the plus sign in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab and set the Applications pop-up menu to All Applications. Type
(again, capitalization counts) in the Menu Title field, and then go to the Keyboard Shortcut box and press the shortcut you want to use. I use command-control-O. Click on Add.
You will need to restart all programs that were running when you created the shortcut, including the Finder, before they can see the shortcut. If you don’t have much open, you can just log out and back in (Apple menu: Log Out
). If you have a lot of programs open, it’s quicker to open Activity Monitor (/Applications/ Utilities/), select the Finder and all programs in the list of processes, and then click on the Quit Process button in the toolbar.
Senior Editor Rob Griffiths runs the