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Archive for March, 2015

by Tom Nelson

Ever since  Leopard, OS X has a cool feature called Live Preview, which displays a thumbnail image of a file’s contents as the file’s icon. Live Preview lets you quickly see what a file holds, whether it’s a Microsoft Word doc, a PDF, an image, or some other type of data. That sounds like a great idea, and it is, unless your desktop is littered with files. In that case, your Mac may behave erratically during the startup process, as it tries frantically to display thumbnails of the contents of all the files scattered across your desktop. Not that I personally have ever experienced this problem, but you may want to try to avoid it.

desktopbefore

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

During the boot process, OS X will look through each and every file on the desktop, in order to build its associated thumbnail icon. If there are too many files, your Mac may short out (figuratively speaking), slowing down the startup process, and leaving you staring at a beach ball icon for a painfully long period of time.

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by Tom Nelson

The Mac has long had the ability to capture screenshots by pressing the command + shift + 3 keys (that’s the command key, plus the shift key, plus the number 3 from the top keyboard row, pressed together at the same time). This simple keyboard command captures an image of your entire screen.

MapsScreenCapture

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The other commonly used keyboard combination for screenshots is command + shift + 4. This keyboard combination lets you draw a rectangle over the area you wish to capture.

There’s a third screenshot keyboard combo that’s often overlooked, yet it’s by far the most powerful. This keyboard combo lets you capture a screenshot of a particular window element. When you use this keyboard combo, each window element will be highlighted as you move your cursor over it. Click the mouse and you can capture just that element. The beauty of this method is that the captured image requires little or no cleanup.

As long as the window element is present when you press this keyboard combo, you can grab an image of it. This includes menus, sheets, the desktop, the Dock, any open window, and the menu bar.

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by Tom Nelson

The refurb store’s stock remains stable this week, with only minor changes; most notably, Mac minis are no longer in stock. The strange bit of news is the continuing lack of 15-inch MacBook Pros in the store. Ever since Apple announced the new MacBook, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air lineups a few weeks ago, the 15-inch MacBook Pros have gone missing. Hard to believe there isn’t any stock of one of the most popular refurb store models.

2014macbookair

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

This week’s deals include a 2013 13-inch MacBook Air with a 256 GB SSD. This has to be one of the most popular configurations in the MacBook Air lineup. The 256 GH SSD provides enough room for the OS, with plenty of room for apps and documents. Don’t forget to buy an external drive for backup and additional storage, if you need it.

Our second deal is a 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro that requires a compromise. You get a bit more processor and graphics horsepower for your money, but a smaller 128 GB SSD for storage.

The final deal this week is for one of the new 2014 27-inch iMacs with Retina display. This model has the optional Quad Core i7 running at 4.0 GHz, and a 1 TB Fusion drive, a very nice combination for the price. Once again, pick up an external drive for backup use.

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by Tom Nelson

Pixelmator is a photo-editing app for the Mac that stands out on both cost, ease of use, and versatility. Wait, that’s three things. That’s the problem with Pixelmator; once you start listing its attributes, you can’t stop.

Pixelmator3

Image courtesy of the Pixelmator Team

Pixelmator is an extremely powerful image editor that makes use of Apple’s Core Image APIs to manipulate graphics with amazing speed. Even better, the Core Image engine knows how to use your Mac’s graphics card to really put the zing in performance.

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by Tom Nelson

Finder views underwent significant changes when OS X Leopard was released a while ago. The most notable change was the addition of Cover Flow view, bringing the list of Finder views up to four possibilities. Apple retained Icon view as the default, but the three additional views (List, Column, and the new Cover Flow) are Finder views that can open up new ways of looking at the files and folders you have stored on your Mac.

finderviewbuttons500x353

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Using Finder Views

Finder views offer four different ways of looking at the files and folders stored on your Mac. Most new Mac users tend to work with only one of the four Finder views: Icon, List, Column, or Cover Flow. Working in one Finder view may not seem like a bad idea. After all, you will become very adept at the ins and outs of using that view. But it’s probably much more productive in the long run to learn how to use each Finder view, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each view.

In this guide, we will examine the four Finder views and how to access them, and learn the best time to use each type of view.

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by Tom Nelson

A bootable copy of OS X on a USB flash drive is a great emergency backup tool to have on hand. It allows you to be ready to go almost immediately should anything happen to your existing startup drive.

sandisk_flash_drive

Image courtesy of SanDisk Corporation

Why a flash drive? A bootable external or internal hard drive works well for desktop Macs, but presents a cumbersome problem for notebook Macs. A flash drive is a simple, inexpensive, and portable emergency OS X boot device. Even if you don’t use a notebook, you may want to have a bootable USB flash drive on hand.

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by Tom Nelson

Screen sharing capability is built in to the Mac. With it, you can access a remote Mac’s desktop, and view and manipulate files, folders, and applications, just as if you were sitting in front of the remote Mac.

ScreenSharingFinder

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

This makes Mac screen sharing a go-to application whenever you need access to a remote Mac. For example, it’s great for helping someone troubleshoot a problem. With Mac screen sharing, you can see exactly what is happening on the remote Mac, and help diagnose and fix the problem. Mac screen sharing is also an excellent way to access documents and applications on your Mac when you’re in another location. Let’s say you use Quicken to track and manage your family’s finances. It would be nice if you could update your Quicken files from any Mac you have at home, but Quicken wasn’t designed for multiple users accessing the same data files. So, when you’re sitting in the den and you decide to make an online purchase, you have to remember to get up and go to the home office, and update your Quicken account.

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by Tom Nelson

The Mac’s printing system is pretty robust. In most cases, it’s downright easy to install printers and scanners with just a few clicks. Even older printers that don’t have current printer drivers can be installed using a manual installation process. But despite the easy setup process, there may be times when something goes wrong and your printer fails to show up in the Print dialog box, no longer appears in the Printers & Scanners preference pane, or is listed as offline, and nothing you do brings it back to an online or idle state.

ResetPrintSystem

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

First, try the usual printer troubleshooting methods:

  • Check the printer for ink/toner and paper.
  • Cycle your printer off and on.
  • If it’s a USB printer, disconnect it and then reconnect it.
  • Use Software Update or App Store (under the Apple menu) or visit the printer manufacturer’s web site to see if there are any newer versions of your printer’s software or drivers available.
  • Delete and reinstall the printer in the Printers & Scanners preference pane.

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by Tom Nelson

The Apple menu’s ‘Recent Items’ sub-menu lets you quickly access applications, documents, and servers you have recently used. This is a handy feature that saves a few steps in locating and then launching applications or documents.

RecentItemsLocations

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

In previous versions of Mac OS X, the ‘Recent Items’ list didn’t actually help you locate files or applications, it just let you access them quickly, without revealing where they were physically located in your Mac’s file system. In Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) and later, the ‘Recent Items’ sub-menu has a new trick up its sleeve. If you know the secret, the ‘Recent Items’ sub-menu will show you where items are actually located.

Read more on About Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Last week, we reported on price drops for the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Prolineups. This week, we’re happy to see more price reductions, this time in the Mac accessories department, which has dropped prices on all of Apple’s AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and Time Capsule products.

2014macbookair

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

This week’s deals start off with a 13-inch MacBook Air with a 256 GB SSD. This has to be one of the most popular configurations in the MacBook Air lineup.

Our second deal is a 13-inch MacBook Pro that requires a compromise. You get a bit more power for your money, but a smaller 128 GB SSD for storage.

The final deal this week is for one of the new 27-inch iMacs with Retina display. This model has the optional Quad Core i7 running at 4.0 GHz, and a 1 TB Fusion drive, a very nice combination for the price.

Read more on About: Macs.

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