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by Tom Nelson

Has this ever happened to you? It’s late at night and everyone in your home is fast asleep, except you. With no prospect of sleep in sight, you decide to turn on your Mac, to play a game or check the news. But as soon as your Mac starts up, the thunderous sound of the startup chime reverberates through the house, waking everyone, including the cat and the dog.

InternalSpeakersAdjustment

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Apple didn’t mean to wake the entire house; it just wanted to be sure that you could hear the startup sound, and with good reason. The chime, which usually means your Mac has passed the startup diagnostic test, can instead be replaced by a sequence of audible tones that signal various hardware failures, including bad RAM or EFI ROM (Extensible Firmware Interface Read Only Memory).

Read more on About: Macs.

 

by Tom Nelson

It’s been a while since the refurb store has had the 15-inch MacBook Pro or the Mac mini in stock. Unfortunately, that trend continues this week, leaving these two popular Mac models off the table for back-to-school purchases.

On the bright side, the iPad mini 3 is currently in stock, and there’s a nice selection of 27-inch iMacs that will allow you to have a large Retina version of the iMac at a very nice discount over the retail price.

2015macbookair

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our first deal is for a 2015 model of the MacBook Air at a very attractive price. Although it only has a 128 GB SSD, it should prove more than adequate for most of you who are looking for this lightweight and sturdy Mac. If you need extra space, you can add an external drive to store all of your media files.

Up in the second deal spot is a 2015 27-inch iMac with Retina display. The 2015 version is the economy leader for this Mac model, offering all the benefits of a huge Retina display, but with a slightly slower CPU and a single 1 TB 7200 RPM internal drive.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

I’ve been using one or more digital cameras for years, ranging from my favorite, a Canon DSLR, to a smartphone, or even our iPad’s built-in camera. One thing they all have in common is susceptibility to creating digital noise in low light conditions. Not surprisingly, the Canon fares much better than the smartphone or iPad when it comes to low light photography, but it’s not perfect, and since I like taking pictures in the dark (fireflies and distant thunderstorms in the summer, night skies in the winter), noise is always an issue.

NoiselessIcon

Image courtesy of Macphun

But it’s not just nighttime photography; photos shot under other less-than-ideal lighting conditions are also subject to noise (unusually light pixels in dark areas of a scene).

That’s why I was intrigued by Noiseless from Macphun.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Resume, first introduced in OS X Lion, is meant to be a handy method to quickly return you to what you were doing in an application the last time you used it.

Resume can be very useful; it can also be one of the most annoying of OS X’s new features. Apple needs to provide an easy-to-use interface to manage how Resume works with individual applications, as well as the overall system. Until that happens, this tip will give you some control over Resume.

Resume

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

What’s to Like About Resume

Resume will save the state of any application windows that were open when you quit an application, as well as any data you were working with in the application. Say it’s lunchtime, and you quit your word processor and the report you were working on. When you return from lunch and fire up the word processor, you’ll be right back where you left off, with the document loaded and all of the application’s windows in the same places.

Pretty cool, right?

What’s Not to Like About Resume

What if before you leave for lunch, you’re working on a document that you don’t want anyone else to see; perhaps your letter of resignation, an updated resumé, or your will. What if your boss stops by your office right after lunch, and asks you to show him the proposal you’ve been working on for a new client. You launch your word processor, and thanks to Resume, there’s your letter of resignation, in all its glory.

Not so cool, right?

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Hiding active applications is a nice trick for keeping your desktop uncluttered as you work with multiple applications. You can hide any application by clicking in the application and pressing the command + h keys, or by selecting Hide from the application’s menu. For example, in Apple’s Mail app, you would select Hide Mail from the Mail menu.

TranslucentDockIcons

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

I tend to hide the Mail app quite often, but because its Dock icon includes a badge showing unread emails, I can easily keep up with incoming messages.

(A little red badge on a Dock icon indicates an alert for the app, such as a Calendar event reminder, an update in the App Store, or new messages in Mail.)

Once you have a few application windows hidden, it can be tough to figure out which applications are hidden, and which applications are merely covered by another window or have been collapsed (minimized) to the Dock. Fortunately, there’s an easy Terminal trick that allows the Dock to use a translucent icon for any application that has been hidden. Once you execute this trick, you’ll have a quick visual indication in the Dock of which active applications are hidden. And even though a hidden app will now have a translucent Dock icon, any badge associated with the icon will still function.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

OS X Lion changed the default behavior of scrolling within a window or application. Scrolling is now performed using what Apple calls a “natural” scrolling method. Based on how multi-touch iOS devices scroll, the method will seem backwards for Mac users who have mostly or only worked with indirect pointing devices, such as mice and touchpads. With multi-touch devices, you use your finger directly on a screen to control the scrolling process.

ScrollingDirection

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

In essence, natural scrolling reverses the standard scrolling direction. In pre-Lion versions of OS X, you scrolled down to bring information that was below the window into view. With natural scrolling, the direction of scrolling is up; in essence, you are moving the page up to view the content that is below the view of the current window.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Facebook has a built-in chat system that allows you to keep in contact with your confirmed Facebook friends. The only problem with this chat system is that you need to keep your Facebook web page, or at least your browser, open if you use the Facebook Chat pop-out window.

MessagesFacebook

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

There’s a better way. Facebook uses Jabber as its messaging server, and both iChat and Messages can communicate with Jabber-based messaging systems.

All you need to do is create an iChat or Messages account specifically for use with Facebook. Once you have either messaging system set up with a Facebook account, you can contact all your Facebook friends with the messaging system you’re most familiar with using.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Printing with a Mac is a pretty straightforward process. Open a document or app, select the Print option from the File menu, and you’re on your way to printing from a single page to hundreds of pages. If you have multiple documents that need to be printed, just repeat this process. Open the document, select Print, and if needed, adjust a few printer options. Continue to repeat this process as needed.

PrintersandScanners

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Desktop Printer Features

It wasn’t always this way. In versions of OS X that preceded Leopard (10.5), there was an option to create a desktop printer, an icon that sat on your desktop and provided both drag-and-drop printing capabilities and quick access to monitoring and fixing any printing issues that may have occurred.

Drag-and-drop printing is a very useful feature, especially if you have a number of documents to print at once. This form of quick printing will work for most document types, including text, photos, and spreadsheets.

Read more on About: Macs.

 

by Tom Nelson

With the school season edging ever closer, the Apple refurb store is seeing quite a bit of turnover as parents and students snap up the Macs they need, at a nicely discounted price.

This week, we have our usual listing of good buys, but we’ve also started including some top-performing models in each Mac category. The baseline models don’t suit everyone’s needs, and although they cost more, some options, such as larger SSDs, more RAM, faster processors, or a Retina display, may be well worth it.

2014macbookair

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

The first deal is for a 13.3-inch MacBook Air. This lightweight and very portable Mac offers plenty of performance when properly equipped, and this model includes a faster i7 processor, large flash-based storage space, and plenty of RAM.

The second deal is for the slightly larger and bulkier MacBook Pro. This model comes equipped with a Retina display, a fast 3.1 GHz i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and plenty of flash-based storage.

If a portable Mac isn’t what you’re looking for, there’s also a 2015 27-inch Retina iMac for the low price of $1,699.00.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Tembo from Houdah Software is a front-end for the Mac’s built-in Spotlight search system. Now, you may be asking yourself why you need a search system when you already have Spotlight; and why a new front-end, isn’t Spotlight good enough?

TemboIcon

Image courtesy of Houdah Software

Spotlight is indeed good, but Tembo is better, at least at organizing and displaying search results. Since Tembo uses the same search engine as Spotlight, the search results will appear just as quickly as they do with Spotlight.

But Tembo offers a wealth of categories and filters well beyond those available in Spotlight, to help you quickly find and organize search results.

And perhaps best of all, unlike Spotlight, you can place the Tembo window wherever you want it, and it won’t disappear if you click away from it.

Read more on About: Macs.

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