Mac OS

Move windows around on a Mac with keyboard shortcuts and SizeUp

20090608spaces-11-1Some utilities fill their niche so well that they quickly become an indispensable part of your daily computer use and SizeUp is one program that falls into that category for me.

The concept is simple enough — this tiny program (4.1Mb) lets you resize and position windows on the Mac OS Desktop using keyboard shortcuts — and some new features added by its most recent update prompted me to write a bit about it. (more…)

Keyboard shortcuts for rating iTunes songs

20090413picture-5I’m on the hunt for a good Mac to-do list/GTD manager and while I’ve yet to settle on one of the multitude that are available, the search did lead me to a handy utility I’ve been looking for for ages. It’s called I Love Stars and it puts an iTunes star rating tool in the menu bar so you can rate songs as they’re being played without going into iTunes. Better still, you can assign keyboard shortcuts that work in any application — something I’ve had zero success with using Mac OS X’s own keyboard shortcut feature. (more…)

How to upgrade a Mac OS Time Machine drive

20090329time-machine-step-0Since it’s wholly automatic and completely transparent, it’s silly not to make use of the Mac OS Time Machine utility — as long as you’ve got a large enough external drive for it to work with, of course. I’ve been using it with a 320Gb Seagate FreeAgent Pro external USB drive, but this only gave a backup history of about a month with my 320Gb MacBook Pro drive (which has about 90Gb in use).

So, since I also had an old 500Gb Western Digital MyBook drive lying around, I thought I’d use that for backups instead — not only would its greater capacity offer a few more weeks’ backup history, but its FireWire 800 port should make Time Machine a bit quicker to work with, too.

Rather than simply plug in the MyBook and use it as a new Time Machine drive though, I wanted to transfer my old backups and simply add to them. There’s no obvious way to do this, but it can be done easily enough — here’s how. (more…)

How to make an external monitor the main display on a MacBook

mac-dual-displaysRunning a dual-monitor set-upon a MacBook is easy enough — just plug in the monitor and go to System Preferences > Displays to configure it. The first thing you’l need to do is click the Arrangment button and drag the external monitor so that it’s position is Displays matches that on your desk — so that it sits to the right, left or wherever of your MacBook screen, in other words. But if you want to use the external display as the main display, how do you move the menu bar and Dock from the MacBook screen?

Easy. Just drag the white menu bar from one monitor in the Arrangement pane of Display preferences from the display it’s on to the display you want it to appear, and the Menu bar and Dock will follow. Oh and don’t forget to disable ‘Mirror Displays’ if you want a different image on both displays…

How to sync an iPhone with two computers

apple-iphoneUnless you’re using over-the-air Microsoft Exchange syncing with your iPhone (via Google Mobile Sync, NuevaSync or a corporate Exchange server), you’re probably keeping its contact and calendar information in sync with Outlook or iCal using iTunes.

This works well enough, but what if your calendar and contact data is stored one computer (at the office, say) and your iTunes library is stored on another (maybe at home)? Try plugging the iPhone into both and you’ll quickly discover that iTunes is fond of erasing the data put in place by the other iTunes on every sync.

Fortunately, you can successfully synchronise an iPhone or iPod Touch with iTunes on two separate computers — here’s how. (more…)

Custom keyboard shortcuts in Firefox for Mac OS are broken

picture-8I complained at length about keyboard shortcut inconsistencies in Mac OS X the other day — an OS that’s supposedly ultra-consistent — but it appears that the Apple isn’t wholly to blame. I singled out Firefox and NeoOffice as particular offenders (largely because as a new-ish Mac user, they’re the two apps I use the most), but I have now found an explanation for Firefox’s keyboard shortcut misbehaviour. (more…)

How to enable hibernate mode on a Mac

SmartSleep.prefPaneUnlike Windows, Mac OS doesn’t offer a hibernate or deep sleep mode – selecting Sleep from the Apple menu just puts a Mac into a low-power state (suspend to RAM) that, while quick to resume, still keeps the contents of memory in memory.

This isn’t much of a problem on a desktop Mac that’s plugged into the mains, but it is a problem for MacBooks that are being used on battery power.

A MacBook in sleep mode still draws power, which means if you close the lid (the standard way to trigger sleep mode on a MacBook) and put an unplugged MacBook aside for a few days, you may come back to a flat battery.

As it turns out, more recent MacBooks do actually enter a hybrid sleep mode when you close the lid. Apple calls it Safe Sleep (much like that used in Windows Vista) and the contents of memory are written to disk before the MacBook enters its low-power sleep state. This is an insurance policy for those times when leave a MacBook in sleep mode away from the mains until the battery runs flat. When you power on, the MacBook will still resume to where you left it, but it will take a little longer as it’s restoring data from disk rather than RAM.

So, if Mac OS already has a hibernate mode, why can’t it be activated manually? Well, it can… (more…)

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