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Archive for the ‘macOS’ Category

by Tom Nelson

For some reason, it seems as if iTunes is the app people love to hate. So when macOS Catalina drove a stake through the heart of the iTunes app, splitting it into three different apps, I expected peals of joy from the masses. Instead, it seems more like a bit of gloom and doom. Many are worried about their vast collections of music already stored in iTunes becoming inaccessible, or that the new Apple Music app is going to cut them off from music not originating with Apple.

Fear not; the Music app is akin to iTunes, retaining many of the same features, though the interface has been modernized, requiring some effort to adjust to for diehard iTunes users.

Using the Apple Music App

When you upgraded to macOS Catalina, the Music app acquired your existing music collection. Every song you purchased, ripped, or uploaded; no matter how you acquired the tune, if you imported it into your old iTunes library, it will be available in the new Music app. You’ll also find your playlists, ratings, and any music file metadata, such as composer, writer, lyrics, or artwork, that you may have.

You may notice some content appears to be missing. Actually, Apple just reorganized things a bit, and some media types are now handled by the new Podcast and TV apps, as well as the Finder.

The Music app is dedicated to music, including content stored locally on your Mac, as well as music you may have in the cloud, such as from iTunes Match or from the streaming Apple Music service (subscription required).

MusicLayout640.jpg

A typical Music app display showing the user’s music library organized by album. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The Music app interface is much easier to use than the cumbersome iTunes app. It has three basic panes:

Toolbar: Located on the top of the Music app window, the toolbar contains the basic playback controls: volume control, current track info, and an Up Next menu and Lyrics menu.

Sidebar: Located along the left side of the window, the Sidebar is used to control the type of content that will be displayed in the main viewing pane. Currently the sidebar allows you to select from the three basic Music app services: Apple Music, the subscription streaming service; Library, which allows you to access both local music and music you’ve stored in iCloud; the iTunes Store, which lets you purchase new music.

There are other optional categories that can appear in the Music app sidebar, depending on how you use the app. If you have playlists, they will be listed in a Playlist category, and if you connect an iPod, iPad, or iPhone, it will be listed in the Devices section. CDs or DVDs will appear in the Devices section as well.

Main Viewing Pane: This centrally located windowpane lists the content of whatever function you’ve selected in the Sidebar. You can browse Apple Music content, select Apple Music Radio channels to listen to, see your music library lists by artist, album, song, or by recently added, visit the iTunes Store to purchase new music, or manage your playlists.

Playing Your Music Library

Use the sidebar to select one of the possible Library functions: Recently Added, Artists, Albums, or Songs.

The main pane will display your library content as selected in the sidebar.

  • By Album: Hover over an album title to display a Play button.
  • By Artist: Select an artist’s name to view all of their content. You can click the Play button and select individual albums and songs, or click the Play button at the top of the page to play all of the artist’s content.
  • By Song: Double-click or tap an item from the song list to start playing the music.

You can also use the Sidebar to select a playlist, which will provide the options to play the playlist in the current order, or to shuffle the list when it plays.

Playing the Apple Music Service

If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, you’ll find the usual controls for the streaming service in the Music sidebar:

AppleMusicBrowse640.jpg

Apple Music’s subscription service is available from the Music app’s sidebar. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

For You: Apple Music can use your musical history, that is, the songs and artists you’ve already been listening to, to suggest new artists or songs you may enjoy.

Browse: The Apple Music subscription service has over 30 million song titles. Go ahead and browse through them. Apple Music will lend a hand, guiding you through the vast music collection, organizing music genres, tastes, what’s new, recently added, or updated. Or, you can plow ahead on your own.

Radio: Beats 1 is the primary radio offering, with DJs from around the world programming music content to match your preferences; or, you can be bold and strike out to find new curated selections of music, interviews with leaders in the music industry, music news, and more.

The Radio offering is much more than just a music channel. It’s a great way to be exposed to new music as well as listen to your old favorites.

iTunes Store

Not much has changed with the iTunes Store; you’ll find the usual Best of the Week, Top Songs, Top Albums, featured new music, and music by genre. You can still buy and redeem gift cards.

You can access the iTunes store from the Music app sidebar.

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by Tom Nelson

A bootable version of the macOS Catalina installer is one of the often-overlooked tools a Mac user should have on hand before upgrading to or performing a clean install of Catalina. The bootable installer you create in this guide will be housed on a USB flash drive, but you can use any bootable device you may have lying around, including internal or external drives.

Image of a small OWC flash drive

A bootable flash drive is the preferred method, however; here’s why:

  • It’s small and easy to store in a safe place.
  • It’s inexpensive. You can buy a new USB flash drive large enough for this project for less than $10.
  • All current Macs support booting from a USB port. Macs with Thunderbolt 3 can also use a USB flash drive as bootable media (an adapter may be required).

Why Make a Bootable macOS Catalina Installer?

There are multiple reasons for having a bootable macOS Catalina installer. The four primary reasons are:

  • It allows you to perform a clean install of the operating system on your Mac using the existing startup drive. By booting to the installer, you can perform a full erasure of your normal startup device before installing the new OS.
  • It lets you install the OS on multiple Macs without having to download the installer multiple times.
  • It allows you to archive a copy of the macOS installer, which you may need if you ever want to downgrade to the version on the installer. You may have noticed that with each new version of the macOS that’s released, there are usually some users who have one or more issues with it and wish to return to a previous version. This can usually be done provided you have a copy of the installer for the version of the Mac OS you wish to return to. This bootable installer meets that requirement.
  • It can be used as a bootable troubleshooting tool, letting you access the same apps that are found in the Recovery Volume.

What You Need to Create a Bootable MacOS Installer

The list of items needed to complete this project is fairly basic, and I suspect you may already have everything you need.

A connection to the Internet: You’ll need an Internet connection for downloading the installer from Apple.

A USB flash drive: 8 GB is the minimum size required, at least for all the versions of the macOS through macOS Catalina. Future versions may require larger flash drives, but for now, 8 GB is big enough. Going larger isn’t a bad idea, though; you can use the extra space on the flash drive to store apps and utilities you may need for troubleshooting purposes.

You should also consider using a fast flash drive. A USB 3 flash drive with fast read speeds would be a good choice.

CatalinaInstaller640.jpg

Be sure to quit (Command + Q) the macOS Catalina installer if it starts up after the download is completed.

A copy of the macOS Catalina installer.This is usually downloaded via the Software Update preference pane (macOS Mojave and later), or the Mac App Store (macOS High Sierra and earlier). If you’re working with the beta of the OS, you can find the downloadable version either on the Apple developer site, or Apple’s public beta web site.

About 30 minutes of your time: The amount of time it will take is difficult to estimate; making the bootable flash drive is dependent on the speed of the flash drive you’re using, and whether you’re including the time it will take to download the installer, which is dependent on your Internet connection speed and how much traffic exists when you’re downloading. So, take my 30-minute estimate with a grain of salt.

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by Tom Nelson

The Apple Maps app has been included with the Mac OS since the release of OS X Mavericks. The Maps app provides mapping services that include directions, turn-by-turn navigation, transit time for car, public transit, and walking, 3D modeling of terrain and buildings, trip planning, Flyover, traffic, and quite a few other features.

MapsIcon256.jpg

While the Maps app for the Mac is a powerful mapping tool, it really shines when paired with an iPhone or iPad as a navigation aid. You can even make use of an Apple Watch to guide you to your destination.

Maps History

The Maps app hasn’t always been a hit; some would go so far as to say the original implementation was a flop, with so many errors in the underlying map base that it wasn’t uncommon to hear about people being directed onto farms, or into fields or lakes as part of a route to get from here to there.

Over the years, Apple has been making improvements to the Maps app, adding features and correcting underlying problems with the map base. Eventually, Apple came to the conclusion that mapping was more than a feature needed for Apple devices; it was a core technology needed for the future of Apple.

In 2018, Apple announced that it was rebuilding Maps from the ground up, using mapping data that it was generating from Apple mapping vehicles, as well as crowd-sourced location data gathered from participating iOS users.

Apple has already started rolling out the new mapping data, incorporating it into current versions of Maps, and slowly replacing the mapping data provided by third-party sources, such as TomTom.

Using Maps

We’re going to take a look at a few of the features found in the Maps app for the Mac, specifically for versions included with macOS Sierra and later, with an emphasis on Maps 2.1, which was released with macOS Mojave.

Maps has many uses, including looking up locations, making travel plans, and getting directions. The Maps search bar is likely to be where your trip begins.

If you haven’t already done so, launch Maps, located in the /Applications folder, or click on the Maps icon in the Dock.

Search: Maps includes a search bar located front and center at the top of the Maps window. Click in the search bar and enter the location you’re interested in. You can try searching on addresses, business names, parks, schools, street names, cities, states, and countries.

As you enter the search criteria, Maps will generate search suggestions. You can select from suggestions as a shortcut to entering a full name.

If the search query returns a result (and it usually will), Maps will display the location and drop a red pin, indicating its exact location on the map.

Favorites: Over time you’ll likely build up a number of locations you keep returning to. You can make returning to these locations easier by adding them to your list of Favorites.

Favorites640.jpg

Store the places you keep returning to in your Favorites for quick access. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

  • Add to Favorites: Favorites are added from within the information card associated with a red pin or a pin you drop on the map. Click or tap the information icon in the banner next to a pin. If no banner is visible, try clicking or tapping the pin to make it visible. Once the information card is displayed, select the Favorites button to add the location to your list of favorites.
  • Accessing Favorites: In the search bar, click or tap the magnifying glass. From the dropdown suggestion list, select Favorites. A list of your favorite locations will be displayed.
  • Deleting or Editing Favorites: Bring the list of Favorites up using the instructions above. At the bottom of the list, click the Edit button. You can delete a Favorite by clicking or tapping the remove (X) icon to the far right of the favorite’s name. You can edit a favorite’s name by clicking or tapping its name and then entering a new name. Click the Done button when finished.

Pins: Pins are used to mark a location and are helpful for getting directions to a location, or as marking points of interest on a route. Pins you add are purple in color, while location pins generated from the search bar or favorites list are red. You can only have one purple pin in a map at a time. Pins you add are temporary, and will be deleted when you quit the Maps app. To make a pin available to use later on, add the location as a favorite.

  • Add a Pin: Place the cursor at the location where you wish to add a pin. Right-click or control-click and select Drop Pin from the popup menu.
  • Remove Purple Pin: Place the cursor over the purple pin and right-click or control-click. Select Remove Pin from the popup menu.

Directions: Getting directions to and from a place are one of the most often used Maps features. Maps offers a number of useful direction options. To access directions, it’s best if you start with the map oriented on one of the start or end points, but this isn’t a requirement.

Directions640.jpg

 Maps supports turn-by-turn directions for driving, walking, and taking public transit. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

  • Select the Directions button in the Maps toolbar or in your Mac’s Touch Bar (if so equipped). If a location pin is currently showing, it will be used as the end point of the directions. If you would like to use a dropped (purple) pin as the end point, select the purple pin’s information banner and choose Directions.
  • Your current location as determined from the Mac’s location service (if enabled) will be used as the start of the directions.
  • You can change both the start and end points by typing in new locations. When you manually enter a start or end point, the text field takes on the same characteristics as the search bar, making suggestions and giving you access to your favorites and recent searches.
  • You can choose to have the directions tailored to driving, walking, or taking public transit by selecting the appropriate button.
  • One or more directions will be listed in the Directions sidebar, each with a time estimate and distance traveled. You can see turn-by-turn instructions for each route by selecting the Details button to the right of each set of directions.
  • Clicking or tapping each step in the directions will highlight that point on the map.
  • Directions Options: You can tailor the directions to avoid tolls or highways, as well as change public transit options, by using the View, Driving Options or Transit Options menu.

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by Tom Nelson

Beginning with macOS Catalina and iPadOS 13, the new Sidecar service allows you to utilize your iPad as a secondary screen. If you’re thinking this is not new, that third-party developers have already been providing this service in apps like Duet Display, Luna Display, or Air Display, you’re more or less correct; Sidecar, though, offers a few extra features you’d be hard pressed to find in the others.

But that doesn’t mean you should toss the other dual display apps away. Sidecar has a number of restrictions that aren’t present in its competitors, so either keep those apps around or look into them if your Mac or iPad doesn’t measure up to Sidecar’s requirements.

Special Features

Sidecar sounds pretty good; it allows to use your iPad as a second display. Even better, Sidecar allows you to use the iPad Pencil and, I imagine, other styluses (although I haven’t tried them) as drawing input devices. This means you can open a Mac drawing app on the iPad and use the stylus for drawing, as well as make use of a limited amount of touch-based input from the iPad.

Sidecar isn’t meant to provide a full touch-based interface to your Mac, and so far, at least in the betas, no one will be thinking it does. It does, however, place the Touch Bar controls on the iPad screen even if your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar built-in.

You can use Sidecar to expand your desktop and hold an apps tool palettes freeing up screen space on the main display. (Image courtesy of Apple.)

Apple says that any Mac app that supports stylus input will work with Sidecar and will accept the iPad’s Pencil input, as well as Touch Bar input. Apple has a preliminary list of Mac apps that will work with Sidecar, the Apple Pencil, and the Touch Bar on the iPad:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Affinity Designer
  • Affinity Photo
  • Cinema 4D
  • CorelDRAW
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Maya
  • Motion
  • Painter
  • Principle
  • Sketch
  • Substance Designer
  • Substance Painter
  • ZBrush

Sidecar Requirements

Sidecar appears to be limited to use only with fairly recently released Macs. While Apple hasn’t yet released an official list of supported Macs and iPads, Steve Troughton-Smith, a High Caffeine Content developer, suggests that the following Macs make the grade:

  • iMac 27-inch 2015 or later
  • Mac mini 2018 or later
  • Mac Pro 2019 or later
  • MacBook Pro 2016 or later
  • MacBook Air 2018 or later
  • MacBook 2016 or later

So far, a list of supported iPads hasn’t been discovered, but it’s a fairly good bet that any iPad that will support the new iPadOS 13, announced at WWDC in the summer of 2019, will be able to be used as a Sidecar display.

If your Mac isn’t on the list for supporting Sidecar, there’s a simple workaround that, at least in the beta, can get older Macs working with Sidecar with just a Terminal command or two. We’ll present the Terminal workaround a bit later.

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by Tom Nelson

Starting with macOS Catalina, Screen Time is making the transition from an iOS app to the Mac. Screen Time can monitor app and device usage. Mac users can think of it as similar to the old Parental Controls used to restrict and monitor Mac usage for children.

Screen Time does a lot more than just limit access, though. It provides daily and weekly reports you can use to see just how you’re using your Mac, as well as any of your iOS devices. That’s right; you can use Screen Time to monitor and set limits for other devices you use, or that other family members use.

Screen Time icon

Screen Time replaces Managed Accounts and Parental Controls on the Mac, though when I looked at the beta of Catalina, I didn’t see any way to transfer Managed Accounts or Parental Control settings to Screen Time. It’s very early in the beta process, though.

Here’s an overview of an early beta of Screen Time and what it can do for you.

Screen Time

Screen Time is both a monitor that can build usage reports for each user account, reporting how much time is spent with various apps, and a way to limit app usage, and limit communications, either in general or from specific contacts. It’s also capable of enforcing some much-needed downtime, ensuring that users spend some time away from their Mac, iPhone, or iPad, doing other things.

All of the Screen Time settings on the Mac are controlled via a preference pane. This includes creating limits, as well as viewing usage reports. In order for Screen Time to do its thing, the app needs to be enabled.

Weekly report showing app usage over the first two days of testing. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Turning Screen Time On or Off

Launch System Preferences by clicking the System Preferences icon in the Dock, or selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

Select the Screen Time preference pane in the System Preferences window.

If this is the first time you’re accessing the Screen Time preference pane, you may see a list of Screen Time features. Click the Continue button.

Click or tap the Options button near the bottom left corner.

Click or tap the Turn On button to enable Screen Time for your Mac, or the Turn Off button to disable the service.

Screen Time Across All Your Devices

Screen Time works across all of your Mac and iOS devices, allowing you to monitor how much time you’re spending with apps, social media, entertainment, or other services, no matter which device you’re using. Screen Time reports are shared via iCloud, and require that you be signed in with the same Apple account on each device.

To enable Screen Time across devices, return to the Screen Time Options screen and place a checkmark in the Share Across Devices box.

Don’t forget you need to be logged into the same iCloud account for sharing.

Screen Time’s Options are where you turn the service on or off, enable other devices to use Screen Time, set passwords, and use Family Sharing to monitor other accounts. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Password Protect Screen Time

Screen Time settings can be password protected, preventing anyone who doesn’t know the password from making changes. This can be helpful for those using Screen Time to monitor and control usage for their children. The password can also be used to extend the time an app may be used. This is a very handy feature when the time limit on an app is up, but you need a few more minutes to complete a task.

From Screen Time’s Options screen, place a checkmark in the Use Screen Time Passcode box.

A sheet will drop down asking for a four-digit passcode to be entered. Supply a passcode. You’ll be asked to reenter the passcode. Once it’s reentered, the passcode will be saved.

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by Tom Nelson

macOS Catalina, the new Mac operating system, was announced at WWDC 2019. It has so many new features and changes to existing ones, that it really can’t be summed up in just one article.

So, we’re going to start by telling you how you can get your hands on macOS Catalina, and then we’ll tell you about the features that caught our eyes.

Apple Beta Software Program

There are two ways you can participate in the beta program for macOS Catalina. First, you can become an Apple developer and receive the beta for evaluation. Apple developers already have access to macOS Catalina, as well as a number of other beta software apps. But if you’re not a developer, and you don’t have an app you’re just waiting to unleash on the world, you can still take part in the Catalina public beta program.

macOS Catalina with auto dark mode enabled. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The public beta program is open to just about everyone. You just need to sign up for the program, download the software, and give the beta a try. But remember, this is beta software and can cause issues for you and your Mac. You can find out how to get your Mac ready for beta software in the Rocket Yard guide: How to Get Your Mac Ready for the macOS Mojave Beta.

And yes, that’s for last year’s Mojave beta, but the same principles apply.

The macOS Catalina public beta is expected to be available sometime in July, so if you’re interested in trying out the beta, sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program now.

And now, some of our favorite new features.

Sidecar

Using multiple displays with your Mac is nothing new; even the ability to use an iPad as a display has been around for a bit, using third-party apps such as Duet Display, Luna Display, or Air Display.

Now Apple is getting into the act with Sidecar, a feature of Catalina that allows you to use your iPad as a secondary display for your Mac. Sidecar can work wired or wirelessly with your iPad, and will also allow the iPad to be used as a drawing tablet and touch input device. The touch input can be used with any app that supports touch-based input, including those that make use of the Touch Bar found in the newer MacBook Pros.

Project Catalyst

Project Catalyst is not a feature you’ll actually see, but you’ll make use of its capabilities. Project Catalyst is a development tool that allows developers to easily port their iPad apps to the Mac OS.

The News app is an example of an iOS app making the transition to the Mac. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

If you’re using macOS Mojave, you’ve already seen what Project Catalyst can do; it was the method Apple used to bring News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos iOS apps to macOS Mojave.

Now Apple will put Catalyst in the hands of Apple developers and allow them to take their existing iOS apps and transition them to run under the Mac OS.

What Catalyst is not is an iOS emulator that can run iPad or iPhone apps on the Mac. Developers will have to do some work to allow their apps to make use of Mac features that aren’t available to the iOS version of their apps.

Catalyst is by no means a simple recompile, where the developer hits a few switches and the iPad app magically becomes a Mac app. But it does make the process easier by reusing the vast majority of an app’s existing code.

Look forward to a flood of great iPad apps making the transition to the Mac.

Music, Podcast, Apple TV apps

Say goodbye to iTunes; it’s dead, an ex app, it’s pushing up the daisies, and not a minute too soon in the view of many Mac users, including me. In its place, Apple announced three new apps: Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV.

The Music app is focused on organizing and playing back your music no matter what the source. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The Music app gives you full access to your existing music library of both purchased music and tunes you added via other methods.

The iTunes Store is available for buying new content; access to the Apple Music subscription service is still available, too.

Podcasts allows you to access the podcast library that was once part of iTunes. The Podcasts app adds browsing, viewing chart toppers, and seeing curated content from Apple.

Apple TV is a lot like the Apple TV app found in iOS devices, or in the Apple TV streaming device. The new Apple TV app gives you access to TV and movie content that used to be in your iTunes library. You can also browse new content and TV channels, such as HBO, Showtime, or Starz, rent or buy new release movies or TV shows and watch content in 4K HDR format.

Apple TV gives you access to all the TV shows and movies you may have rented or purchased, as well as an ever-expanding collection of Apple-curated content. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

If you used iTunes as a method to sync content between your iOS device and your Mac, that function has been picked up by the Finder, which will now have syncing options in the Finder sidebar.

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by Tom Nelson

Mission Control, originally released with OS X Lion, allows you to organize your windows, apps, and virtual desktops, as well as run small apps known as widgets, in a dedicated space. If it sounds like Mission Control is the Mac’s built-in window manager for users, you’re on the right track, but Mission Control does a good deal more.

A Bit of Mission Control History

Mission Control is actually a conglomeration of three earlier OS X Technologies: Dashboard, Exposé, and Spaces. Exposé, the oldest of the features, dates back to 2003, and the introduction of OS X Panther.

  • Exposé allows you to hide documents and app windows, or just as easily expose a window, app, or document you need to work on.
  • Spaces lets you create and manage virtual desktops, allowing you to organize activities to specific desktops, and then switch between them as needed.
  • Dashboard is a dedicated desktop that can run mini-apps called widgets. These small apps were based on web technologies: HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

Mission Control united these similar technologies under a single roof, or in this case, a single preference pane, to control, configure, and make use of the windows and desktop management system.

What Mission Control Does: The Basics

Mission Control’s main task is to help you de-clutter your desktop and be able to work more efficiently, even when you have dozens of apps or windows open.

There are six key tasks that Mission Control allows a user to do:

  • View all open windows: Display all windows as thumbnails to ensure every window can be seen at the same time.
  • View all windows of a specific application: Displays all windows used by a single app. If needed, the windows will be displayed as thumbnails to ensure all of the app’s windows can be seen at once.
  • Hide all windows and display the desktop: All windows are hidden, revealing the underlying desktop.
  • Manage windows across multiple monitors: Allows windows to be moved to additional displays.
  • Manage apps and windows across multiple virtual desktops: Multiple desktops can be created, each having its own set of apps and windows assigned to it.
  • Manage Dashboard widgets: Controls how Dashboard widgets are displayed.

Mission Control uses a combination of keyboard commands, gestures, and mouse shortcuts to control its various capabilities. Learning the various shortcuts is the basis for making effective use of Mission Control and its ability to help you manage the workflow on your Mac.

Mission Control allows you to find any open window no matter how many other windows it may be hiding behind. Clicking or tapping one of the thumbnails will switch you to that window. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Setting Up Mission Control

The heart of Mission Control is its preference pane, which you can access using the following method:

Launch System Preferences by clicking or tapping its icon in the Dock, or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

In the System Preferences window that opens, select the Mission Control preference pane.

The Mission Control preference pane allows you to configure basic options as well as assign shortcuts to the various functions.

Place a checkmark in the box to enable any of the following functions:

  • Automatically arrange Spaces based on most recent use: If you’re going to use multiple virtual desktops (Spaces), this allows the most recently used desktop to be the easiest to access.
  • When switching to an application, switch to a Space with open windows for the application: This rather convoluted description just means that if an app you want to use is already open on a virtual desktop, it will switch to that desktop.
  • Group windows by application: When viewing all windows in Mission Control, have the windows organized by app.
  • Displays have separate Spaces: If you have multiple monitors you can assign each monitor its own virtual desktop.
  • Dashboard: This dropdown menu controls how the Dashboard feature is used. You can find out more in the Rocket Yard guide: Get Dashboard Up and Running Again in macOS Mojave. Although the article was written for Mojave users, its information is general enough for understanding the Dashboard options.

The Mission Control preference pane lets you customize shortcuts and adjust options. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Besides configuring the basic options, you can also set up shortcuts to use Mission Control by selecting a shortcut from each dropdown menu. You may have one or two dropdown menus for each item listed below. The second dropdown menu allows you to assign an alternate shortcut for the specific function. The alternate options are usually present when you have input devices with many I/O options, such as a multi-button mouse:

  • Mission Control: Use the dropdown menu to assign a shortcut to open Mission Control and display all open windows.
  • Application window: Set the shortcut that will be used to open Mission Control and display the windows of a selected application.
  • Show Desktop: This shortcut you assign will hide all windows and display the current desktop.
  • Show Dashboard: If Dashboard is enabled (see the option, above), this shortcut will display the Dashboard.

You’re not done assigning shortcuts to access Mission Control yet; you can also assign the corners (Hot Corners) of your display to be shortcuts to access Mission Control, as well as a few other functions of your Mac. Hot Corners are activated when you move the cursor into the corner of the display. If a Hot Corner is assigned for that corner, the function is activated.

Use Hot Corners to assign Mission Control features to the four corners of your monitor. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Click or tap the Hot Corner button in the Mission Control preference pane.

A sheet will drop down, displaying a thumbnail of your desktop with dropdown menus at each corner.

Use the dropdown menu to assign a function to any of the corners. The available functions are:

The first three are Mission Control options; the remaining ones involve other Mac OS features that are dependent on the version of the operating system you’re using.

Make your selections; you can then close the Hot Corner sheet as well as the Mission Control preference pane.

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by Tom Nelson

Smart folders and the Dock just seem to be made for each other. You can configure a smart folder to display just the files or folders that meet your specific criteria. Need a folder that just shows the image files you worked on this week? Or perhaps a folder that only shows new music you’ve added to your Mac? Add these smart folders to the Dock, and you’ll have a quick way to view and work with their files without having to browse through the Finder to find them.

If you’ve been following Rocket Yard guides, you may remember that you can use the Terminal app to create Recent Items stacks for the Dock that can show recently used apps, documents, and servers. And while the premade recent items stack is helpful, it doesn’t allow you to use your own search criteria to create the items in the stack.

Smart folders give you all the power of the recent items stack, but with complete control over what the content of the smart folders will be.

Creating Smart Folders
Let’s start the process by exploring how smart folders are created. For an example, we will create a smart folder that displays image files you’ve worked with over the past week.

Start by having the Finder as the active app; you can do this by clicking on the desktop or opening a Finder window. Once the Finder is the front most app, follow these instructions:

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

From the Finder menu, select File, New Smart Folder.

An empty smart folder window will open. In the window’s toolbar, make sure Search is set to This Mac.

At the far right of the window, click or tap the plus (+) sign. This will display filters you can use to build the smart folder’s search criteria.

Use the first dropdown menu to select “Date Last Opened,” and the second dropdown menu to select “this week.”

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

 

The smart folder will be populated with any files or folders that meet the above requirements of being opened in the last week.

To further refine the search, click or tap the plus (+) sign at the far right of the window.

A second search filter will open. Set the first dropdown menu to “Kind,” and the second dropdown menu to “Image.”

A third dropdown menu will appear that you can use to select the type of image  (JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG); for this example, select the “All” option to display any of the image file types.

At this point, you’ve created a basic smart folder that will show any image file you’ve opened in the last week. And while this may be all you need, there are further refinements to the search filters you can make.

Hold down the option key. You’ll notice that the plus (+) sign has changed to display ellipses. Click or tap the ellipses to add additional restrictions to the current search criteria. You’ll see two filter sets appear.

The first allows you to select Any, All, or None, if the following conditions are true. The second criteria set allows you to set the conditions that are being tested. As an example, if you don’t wish to have any PNG image files included in the smart folder, you would set the menus as follows:

Set the first dropdown menu to None.

Set the second group of menus to Kind, Image, PNG.

You’ve created a smart folder that will display all of the image files you have opened during the last week, except PNG files.

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by Tom Nelson

With the release of macOS Mojave, the ability to take screenshots underwent a bit of a change. Gone is the old Grab screenshot utility; in its place is the new and improved Screenshot app. And while the new Screenshot app brings new capabilities, the old keyboard shortcuts that you’re used to using are still present, and work as expected.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

That makes transitioning to the new Screenshot app a fairly easy task.

In this Rocket Yard guide, we’ll look at how to take advantage of the new Screenshot app, with a number of tips and a few tricks.

Screenshot App
Let’s start with what hasn’t changed. Although the app has a new name (Screenshot), it’s still located in the /Applications/Utilities folder. If you used to have Grab installed in the Dock, you can drag the Screenshot app to the Dock as its replacement.

All of the keyboard shortcuts you used for screen capture will still work as expected.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Command + Shift + 3: Captures the entire screen.
  • Command + Shift + 4: Captures selected area.
  • Command + Shift + 4, and then tapping the spacebar when the cursor is over an item, captures the selected window, menu, Dock, or other UI element. The element you wish to capture needs to be present on the screen before you invoke this keyboard shortcut.
  • Command + Shift + 5: Launches the Screenshot app.
  • Command + Shift + 6: Captures the Touch Bar, if your Mac is equipped with one.

So far, from a keyboard shortcut perspective, the Screenshot app isn’t much different from its predecessor.

Screenshot App: The Basics
Let’s take a look at what the Screenshot app can do. Launch the Screenshot app by using the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + 5, or navigate to /Applications/Utilities and double-click or tap the Screenshot app.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The Screenshot app will open, with a floating palette positioned just above the Dock. The palette contains 8 buttons that perform various tasks. Starting from the left-hand side and moving to the right, the buttons are:

X: Close or quit the Screenshot app.

Image of a screen: Capture the entire screen. When clicked or tapped, the cursor will change to a camera icon. Clicking or tapping again will grab a screen shot of the entire screen.

Image of a window: Captures a selected window; when this button is selected, the cursor changes to a camera icon. As you move over various UI elements, such as the desktop, window, menus, or dock, each element will be highlighted. Clicking or tapping will take a screenshot of the selected element.

Image of a dotted rectangle: Captures a selected area; when clicked or tapped, a selection rectangle will appear on the screen. You can then use the handles on the rectangle to resize the selection as needed. You can also drag the selection rectangle about by placing the cursor within the rectangle; once the cursor changes to a hand, you can move the selection about. To take the screenshot, use the Capture button in the Screenshot palette.

Image of a screen with a round camera lens in the corner: Records the entire screen. You can start the recording by selecting the Record button in the Screenshot palette.

Image of a dotted rectangle with a camera lens in the corner: Records selected portion. Use the same methods as outlined in dotted rectangle, above, to select an area to record. When ready, click or tap the Record button in the Screenshot palette.

Options: Provides a menu to select various Screenshot options, such as where to save, timer delays, or Microphone selection for video recording. Options should be selected before taking a screenshot or recording the screen.

Capture or Record: This button’s name will change depending on the Screenshot function you’re using: Capture for taking screenshots or Record for taking video. The button can also be absent when it’s not needed.

Screenshot App: Advanced
Most of the advanced features can be found within the Screenshot app’s Options button. The items listed under Options will change, depending whether you’re taking a screenshot or a video recording.

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by Tom Nelson

The utility folder is chock full of handy apps that perform a wide spectrum of tasks, from monitoring the performance of your Mac to giving your Mac a voice.

In this first of a two-part article, we’re going to look at the first ten apps Apple stores in the Utility folder. And if you haven’t guessed, the second part will look at the remaining ten apps Apple provides.

The Utility folder located at /Applications/Utilities may actually contain more or less apps than what we will list here, that’s because the number of apps can vary by Mac OS version. It can also contain additional apps placed in the utility folder by third-party developers.

To access the Utility folder open a Finder window and browse to /Applications/Utilities. You can also get there by using the Go menu in the Finder.

Activity Monitor
By far one of our favorite utilities so much so that we can recommend setting it as a login item for your user account so it automatically launches whenever you log in.

Activity Monitor can be used to monitor the performance of your Mac including monitoring memory usage, a great way to know if you would benefit from adding additional memory to your Mac. You can also monitor processor performance, energy use, disk, and network usage.

But its benefits don’t stop with just monitoring performance; Activity Monitor provides, details about individual apps, services, and daemons that are running on your Mac. You can use this information to see which app or service is using the most memory, hogging processor performance, using the storage system or accessing the network. You can even use Activity Monitor to detect and kill wayward apps that may be involved in a nefarious activity or those that are just not working well and hogging resources.

AirPort Utility
If you’re using an Apple AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express or AirPort Time Capsule, the AirPort Utility is the app you use to set up, monitor, and make changes to your wireless network.

From this central app, you can control all of your Apple supplied networking devices as well as set up and share USB based storage devices, connect a USB printer to the wireless network, stream iTunes content via AirPlay, and manage IPv6 settings as well as all of the usual Wi-Fi network settings.

If you’re not using AirPort-based wireless devices you will find Airport Utility less useful though you can still launch the app and see your basic network configuration including connection status, router IP address, DNS servers, and the search domain name (if set).

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