Tag: Mac OS X

Originally, this was going to be a tip about how to remove the addresses used previously inside Mail. I found the preference file, an application to edit the database, and even wrote up a post for MacOSXHints. Then Rob Griffiths — the legendary hints master running the site — sent me an email to say that everything I had done was accessible from the single menu item you see here. Once inside that window, you can search, remove and edit any addresses you have used to send email.

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I’m writing this today as a public service. You may notice that your mail client typically contains 3 address entries: To, CC, and BCC.

To is self explanatory, but the other two are often misused. CC, or carbon copy, sends the same message to whatever addresses are in that field. What people often forget is that everyone who receives the email can view all the addresses associated with the message. To solve that problem, every email client uses BCC or blind carbon copy. This sends the same message to all the addresses, but hides them so that it appears that they are the only one receiving the email. This is great for sending a message to your entire address book without everyone knowing who you have contact information for. Sadly, spammers have also capitalized on this feature, as many now send messages in this way.

Next time you send emails to multiple people, remember the benefits of using BCC. Otherwise, people may know you’re friends with iamawesome83636@aol.com.

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It’s been just over 1 year since I waited in line on October 27, 2007 for Leopard. Now that I’ve had 52 weeks to use and abuse the operating system, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve come to like, dislike and can’t live without.

The Good

This tiny little addition to the Finder has changed the way I open files. Having the ability to preview a movie, view a PDF and view inside a ZIP archive (with plugins) has made working much easier. Moving to a Mac still on Tiger is quite annoying now because any file I wish to preview must be opened in its original application. It also makes viewing slideshows of folders full of images exceptionally easy.

Time Machine
Fortunately, I haven’t had the need to restore my entire computer from a Time Machine backup. What I do use the utility for, however, is to restore revisions that have gone awry. Most files, programs or projects contain numerous versions that need to be organized, and when a version gets unusable for any reason, I can easily go back in time to restore the original copy. Having a constant update is always comforting, and this is truly one of the “set it and forget it” kind of applications. I’m sure it has saved many other people from having to start over from scratch, and that is precisely what it was meant to do in the first place.

New Finder Sidebar
Some people love it, some people hate it. I’ve found the network share part of the sidebar to be incredibly useful. Having one-click access to other computers or hard drives on the network has proven to be consistently fast and effective in most network setups. However, the other element of the new sidebar, Search for, is rather annoying, because it cannot be removed. Sure you can collapse it, but it doesn’t free the same space that erasing it completely would.

Preview is here because of a single addition: the change size tool. Writing blog posts, updating websites and general media work requires a lot of image resizing, and having the ability to resize images quickly, efficiently and with high quality results saves a lot of time over opening Photoshop.

The Bad

I’ve yet to fully make use of Spaces. Right now I have 2 Spaces, with all my primary work being done on Space 1, and use full screen apps like Parallels or VNC on the second space to make things more organized. It works nicely, but that’s all I can see myself using Spaces for. What would help me adopt it more readily would be providing the option for disconnecting a specific application from all Spaces. What that could mean is choosing Finder in Space Y opens a new window instead of going to back to the Finer window in Space X. Some applications you want to open normally regardless of what is open around it.

Front Row
Recently I’ve gotten into the whole Network Area Storage media center thing by getting a 750GB drive connected to my Airport Extreme (more details on that to come in a later post). This is great for sharing all my media in a way that I can access it from anywhere in the house, and even view the shows on my TV by streaming on my MacBook. It’s like having an TV without having an TV. But after using Front Row more and more, I’ve found some rather basic things that could improve the app significantly.

First, TV shows that I have carefully labelled and organized inside iTunes don’t display the order you might expect. You’d think that the natural order to display TV shows is by Season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In a TV show with 4 seasons, the links are displayed Season 4, 2, 3, 1 which is very weird. On top of that, you can’t tell you’ve entered the wrong season until clicking through because Front Row only displays the show name rather than the season. By adding the ability to sort by show, then season, navigating the system would be made a lot easier. Another annoyance is Front Row’s inability to use network shares or other storage medium with the Source menu. The only way to view media outside iTunes, iPhoto and the Movies folder is to use an alias (I’ll explain that later too). I hope Apple makes some of these changes for the upcoming versions, as these basic modifications could make using a Mac for a media center even more elegant.

iCal information
My final beef represents the largest step backwards from Tiger to Leopard. In iCal versions predating 10.5, editing activities and events was as easy as opening the drawer on the right side of the window. This meant that to edit a new event, you only needed to select the item on the calendar, and the drawer would update accordingly. That all changed with iCal 3, as changing an event now requires the Command+I keystroke, or for you to double click the event on the calendar. Not only is this an extra, unnecessary step, but it covers up space on the calendar that is likely needed to compare events. In terms of usability, it is definitely a step back.

I don’t know if Apple has any of these changes in store for Snow Leopard, but let’s hope that they keep the great stuff, and find a way to improve the features that aren’t quite as useful as they should be.

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With the transition to Intel processors, Apple made it easy for users to dual-boot Windows and OS X on the same computer. Earlier I gave some suggestions of which method to use, and also fix the install problems when using Boot Camp. Now I’d like to back up just a little and add 2 suggestions if things don’t go as planned.

Unplug everything

On that same installation, we made it to the configuration panel of XP, but we were unable to make any changes. After restarting the procedure a number of times, we realized that having peripherals connected to the MacBook was the cause. There was a USB mouse and printer/scanner/copier connected, and apparently XP uses whatever external devices are connected, but it doesn’t load the correct drivers, leaving your inputs in limbo. Unplug whatever devices you have plugged in, use the internal controls and continue as usual. If you’re using a desktop Mac, the drivers should load properly and you can use your keyboard and mouse without problems.

Use a copied disk

When I was installing XP on a friend’s MacBook using a brand new disk, the installer would never get to the good part. It would always lock up and force a restart to do anything. Shortly after I cruised the forums in search of a solution and noticed that people were having trouble with disks that used the Microsoft hologram on them. As strange as it sounds, I copied the disk to another blank one, and the drive read it without issue! Copying can be done with a single burner computer with software like Toast, or with another computer with dual drives. Somehow the shiny finish must interfere with the drive mechanism.

Hopefully these two suggestions help you with what can sometimes be a troublesome installation.

[tags]Boot Camp, MacBook, Intel, Windows[/tags]

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After downloading iTunes 8, I wrote some of my initial opinions based on my first few hours with the program. While the overall message was that iTunes 8 is an excellent update, I found something today that Apple can do to improve the application (besides changing the visualizer, which is now stunning).

While sitting in class today, a friend said that their iPod touch was dead, and I helpfully suggested that they could use some of the power from my MacBook while it was sleeping in my bag. They loved the idea, and I connected media player and laptop with little difficulty. Once I opened iTunes, however, I was inundated with messages that said This iPod is not set to sync with this computer. Rather than replace my friend’s data with my music collection, I pressed No on every dialog that came up.

Later on, I realized how simple it would be for Apple to make this a much better experience. Surely there are times when users just want to charge their iPods without overwriting everything. Why not make a dialog box come up when you plug the player in that allows you to sync should you choose, but also to turn off all other messages and simply use the connection to power the battery? This would eliminate those accidental data overwrites and make powering up a breeze.

How about it, Apple?

The dialog box shown above is not really in OS X. I created it using Applescript with the help of this tutorial.

[tags]iPod, iTunes, Apple, Applescript[/tags]

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