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by Tom Nelson

Starting with OS X Lion, Apple changed how scroll bars work and are displayed in any window that has a need for scrolling. This is different from the issue of natural vs. unnatural scrolling, which is a fancy way of saying which way a window’s contents move when you scroll.

ScrollbarPreferences

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

I’ll let others argue about natural and unnatural scrolling, which can be successfully argued by either side; in other words, I think it’s a toss-up.

But the issue of scroll bars not appearing, or only appearing if you’re in the process of scrolling, is a user interface mistake on Apple’s part. Apple may have gone a little too far in its zeal to bring all things iOS to the Mac OS.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Mac minis and 13.3-inch MacBook Pros are out of stock this week, leaving a spot in the store for some of the more popular Mac models. At the same time, the Macs that are present and of recent vintage are priced at or near the standard 15% savings seen in the refurb store for current models. That made picking our weekly deals a bit harder.

So, we selected our deals this week based on configurations that we don’t usually see in the refurb store, but that should appeal to many of you.

RetinaMacbookPro

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our first deal is for a current generation 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display that also includes an adequately sized SSD for storage. This would make a very powerful portable Mac, with the bonus of a gorgeous display.

Our second deal also includes a gorgeous display, but this time it’s found in a desktop iMac with a huge 27-inch Retina display. But it wasn’t the Retina display that got our attention; it was the 4.0 GHz i7 processor coupled with a 3 TB Fusion drive. This configuration is going to make someone very happy as it has plenty of fast storage space, and a fast processor to zip through tasks.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Affinity Photo is a brand-new photo editing application from Serif, maker of the popular Affinity Designer illustration app for the Mac. Affinity Photo may be new, but it was in development for five years, and had an extensive public beta before its official release in early July of 2015.

AffinityPhotoIcon

Image courtesy of Serif, Ltd.

Affinity Photo has been called a Photoshop killer. It provides many of the features and capabilities that photographers and others who edit images would normally turn to Photoshop for.

These tasks can now be performed in Affinity Photo, both more quickly and at a far lower cost.

Read more on About: Macs.

 

by Tom Nelson

The 27-inch iMacs introduced in late 2009 included the first version of Target Display Mode, a special feature that allowed iMacs to be used as displays for other devices.

imac-retina5K

Image courtesy of Apple

Apple originally hinted at the iMac being used with DVD and Blu-ray players as an HDTV display, and even as a display for another computer. But in the end, Target Display Mode became an Apple-only technology that allowed Mac users to drive an iMac’s display from another Mac.

Still, it can be quite compelling to see your Mac mini making use of your older 27-inch iMac as a display, or for troubleshooting an iMac having display issues.

Read more on About: Macs.

 

by Tom Nelson

Spotlight is the Mac’s built-in search service. You can use Spotlight to find just about anything stored on your Mac, or any Mac on your home network.

Spotlight can find files by name, content, or metadata, such as date created, last modified, or file type. What may not be obvious is that Spotlight also supports the use of Boolean logic within a search phrase.

SpotlightMetadataSearch

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc

Using Boolean Logic in a Phrase

Start by accessing the Spotlight search service.

You can do this by clicking on the Spotlight icon (a magnifying glass) in the menu bar at the top right of your screen. The Spotlight menu item will open and display a field for entering a search query.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Mac Pros from 2006 through 2012 shipped with four 3.5-inch internal hard drive bays. Each drive connects to a SATA II (3 Gbits/sec) controller. In addition, the Mac Pros also have at least one optical drive, plus space for a second optical drive. The 2006 through 2008 Mac Pro optical drives use an ATA-100 interface, while the 2009 through 2012 Mac Pro optical drives use the same SATA II interface as the hard drives.

HD install - 15

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Conventional Drive Expansion

The most popular method of expanding the Mac Pro’s internal storage is to add hard drives using the built-in drive sleds supplied by Apple. This method of upgrading is a snap. Pull out the drive sled, mount the new drive to the sled, and then pop the sled back into the drive bay.

The About: Macs web site already has a detailed step-by-step guide for installing an internal hard drive in a Mac Pro. Please refer to that guide for installation details; it will be part of the process for many of the storage upgrades we’re going to mention in this guide.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

Ever since OS X Lion, the Mac operating system has supported the same method of adding diacritical marks to characters that is found in iOS devices. Now when you need to add an umlauttrema, or other glyph to your writing, you no longer have to use a font character viewer to gain access to the appropriate diacritical mark.

AccentMarkPanel

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

This simple process is part of OS X’s auto correct spelling feature. As such, it should work for the vast majority of existing applications that use the Mac’s built-in text handling.

No doubt there are a few applications that won’t support this new feature, likely because the developers have rolled their own text manipulation package, instead of using the one provided by OS X.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

OS X allows you to assign applications to open in specific desktop spaces. This can be very helpful for those of us who use multiple spaces for specific uses; for example, a space for working with correspondence might have MailContacts, and Reminders open. Or perhaps a space for working with photos would be the home for Photoshop, Aperture, or Apple’s Photos app.

DockSpaceAssignment

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The way you organize and make use of your spaces is up to you, but as you work with Spaces (now part of Mission Control), you’re likely to run into apps that you would like to have opened in all of your active spaces. This will allow you to switch between your spaces, and have the same apps available in all spaces, in addition to the ones you assigned to specific spaces.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

iMacs continue to be well represented in the refurb store, with a wide selection of both the 21.5-inch and 27-inch models. Likewise, the cylindrical Mac Pro has some fantastic configurations available, including one that makes our deals of the week.

imac2014hero

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our deals this week are all for desktop Macs; that’s not to say there aren’t deals to be found in the MacBook lineup, only that nothing unique, unexpected, or unusually priced caught our eye this week.

Our first deal is for a 2014 27-inch iMac with Retina display. This model iMac has been on our deal list before, and represents an excellent value for the Retina iMac models.

Our second deal is for a 2013 Mac Pro. This is the cylindrical Mac Pro with an 8-Core processor, dual D500 graphics cards, and a 1 TB SSD. It’s a great middle-of-the-road Mac Pro that would fill the needs of a budding multimedia producer.

Don’t forget that for any Mac you buy, you should consider an external drive for backup and additional storage, if you need it.

And one final note: All of the Macs included in our Steals & Deals list will run OS X El Capitan, now available as a public beta, and formally released to all in the fall.

Quantities are limited, so if any of these tickle your fancy, be fast on the trigger to make a purchase.

Read more on About: Macs.

by Tom Nelson

NetSpot from Etwok is a Wi-Fi site survey app that can map out your home’s Wi-Fi coverage, allowing you to discover weak reception areas and areas with excessive interference. With the help of the site surveys you perform, you may be able to adjust your Wi-Fi coverage to meet your needs just by making changes to AP locations, or if necessary, adding wireless access points to pick up the slack in coverage.

NetSpotIcon1

Image courtesy of Etwok, LLC

NetSpot is available in both pro and enterprise versions, as well as two free versions. This review will look at the free NetSpot version available as a download directly from the NetSpot web site, and not the version that’s available from the Mac App Store. I chose to look at the NetSpot web site version because of the limitations imposed by the Mac App Store on the product, which causes it to be missing a few important features. And since both versions are free, let’s look at the best available version.

Read more on About: Macs.

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