Intermediate

Frustrations, Oh the Frustrations!

My computing life since Yosemite arrived has been a HEADACHE!

Did you notice that I did not say “since I installed Yosemite?”

My problems cannot be blamed on Yosemite. Instead, I will blame myself, some bad luck, and some unsafe downloading and some bad timing!

If I were to write about the whole thing, I suspect you would read a page or two and loose interest. So instead I’ll tackle a problem or two at a time.

We’ll begin today by talking about critical software. My critical software probably won’t be your critical software. But, if you have software that you depend on, make sure—double sure, it will work in the new operating system software.

For me, and for Dr. Mac Consulting, our critical software is Mac Helpmate. If you are our client, you probably have Mac Helpmate installed on your computer. It is the application that allows us to see and control your computer. While we can also use screen sharing via Apple’s Messages application, it can be difficult to set up, especially with novice users.

Since there was a public beta of Mac OS 10.10 Yosemite, I signed up and gave it a try, but not a great try since I do not have a recent Mac that is not in critical use. I did install the beta on a flash drive—and I ran it (slowly) several times. I did download Mac Helpmate — and it seemed to run.

However, after upgrading to Yosemite, I found out it just would NOT run. We’ve been working with Dean Shavit for over ten years. Mac Helpmate had been bullet-proof software — it just worked. We occasionally had server issues, but those can be expected, especially in the late afternoon and evening hours when everyone is using Netflix to clog up the web.

Dean’s company is very small. When there are only a few people who do the programming, it is reasonable that it can take a week for new software to be completed. However, that week was one of frustration!

I have a large SSD card in my MacBook Pro. It is possible to make a partition on a working hard drive and it is possible to run Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks on one partition while running Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite on the other. It is not possible to run either one when the SSD drive gets flaky.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why. I don’t even want to know how, but I have some advice for you. If your drive is reporting block count errors in Disk Utility, even if those errors can be fixed, there is a problem! It is time to back up the drive and prepare for a day (or more) of working on your Mac—not fun work, just hours and hours of backing up, formatting, installing, configuring, downloading, updating and re-copying.

I did it. I survived. It wasn’t pretty. Mac Helpmate is working—and working beautifully. I am back to helping clients. I’m happy!

If you have not upgraded to Yosemite, make sure your hard drive or SSD drive is in good condition. Make sure your critical software will work. Then download Yosemite. The interface is a bit different than Mavericks, but it will quickly grown on you! If you need help, we at
Dr. Mac Consulting are around and ready to help!

—Pat
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Answering reader questions about the arrows on screenshots

I get lots of questions about how to do things on Apple products. In this case, the reader asked:

In her article…”Dealing with Adobe Flash Player" Pat uses some red arrows to illustrate items in the Safari Preferences/ Extensions section. Are those arrows made with Skitch, or if not, what program ? They really help to pinpoint what to look at.

While others extoll the wonder of Skitch, I try to use Apple's included programs as much as possible so that I can easily explain them to others.

For those screenshots, I started with a screen shot made using Command - Shift - 4. This command changes your cursor into crosshairs on your screen. It also shows the position of the cross hairs on the screen.

crosshairs

There is another keyboard combination, Command - Shift - 3. It will take a shot of the entire screen. I seldom use it because I usually want just a portion of the screen.

I have my Mac set to open Preview when I double-click a graphic. To set this up, highlight the file.

select_icon

Now go to the File menu in the Finder . Select Get Info…

Finder_File_Info

You will then see a box similar to this:

info

In the Open with menu button, select Preview. Below that button, there is an button to “Change All… Select that button if you would like all graphics to open in Preview.

When you open the graphic in Preview, the tool bar may be too short to show the Edit tools. In that case, click and drag the lower right corner of the window (notice the red circle below.

resize

The last item in the standard Preview toolbar is Edit. It is possible that you will not see the entire toolbar unless you open the window to a wide view.

When you click the Edit button, it will turn blue and many icons will appear. You will want to open the window wide enough to see all the icons.

editing_tools

You can see the tools and what they control in the above picture. Notice that I snuck in an extra, the Text tool. While its color is controlled by the Color button, the font choice and size are controlled in the Preview > Tools menu

fontsshow_fonts

When you are finished making changes to the picture, Save it.

You can add questions and comments to blog articles by clicking the word Comments at the end of the article.
comments

It will open an additional area where you can type. I use the Disqus commenting system. You may already have a Disqus account if you leave comments on other web sites.
add_comment

The reader asked several other questions. I while I will be answering the one about 1Password here on the blog, another question is specific to his computer. In general, I do not answer that kind of a question here. If you want specific help, please consider sending a request for help. We can use our special software to take a look at your computer to teach you how to do something. The cost is $60.00 per hour. Send us a message at urgentrequest@boblevitus.com or give us a call at 408 627-7577.

--Pat
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Putting icons on the desktop and sidebar

Back in earlier Macintosh Ddays, we tended to have several things on our Finder (desktop), placed there by the operating system. Soon, some people began to think of the desktop as a place to store things. Some people took it to the extreme. Their desktops began to look like this:

desktopclutter

While it might be useful (?), it also causes the computer to continually redraw the icons to keep track of them. When your desktop looks like this, it is slowing your computer down.

To remedy the problem, the engineers at Apple decided to unclutter the desktop by turning off some icons. While a clean desktop is the ideal, there are times when having some icons visible on the desktop is desirable.

If I teach you how to put some icons back on your desktop, will you promise not to leave it looking like this the screenshot?

When you would “prefer” to have your computer act in a different way, you need to work with the “Preferences” There are lots of preferences on your Mac and in order to change them, you need to look for Preferences in each application. They are stored under the application’s name.

preferences

Open the Finder Preferences, choose the button for General. Place a check in each of the boxes and your hard drive and any connected devices will appear on your Finder (Desktop)

general_preferences

Click on the button for Sidebar. I have checked every item. It simply makes it much easier to navigate around my computer and our home network if I can see all these items in my sidebar.

sidebar_preferences

I would recommend marking all the items in “Favorites” and “Devices”. If you have a home network, the items under “Shared” will also be useful.

Look for a coming blog post where I talk about fonts.

--Pat

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Do you need anti-virus software?

This is the second of a four part series on Mac Security

I find it amusing that we learn about supposed Macintosh security problems from companies like Kapersky, Norton, Sophos and Intego. These are the companies (along with a few others) who sell antivirus software for the Mac.

In several cases, these same software companies have released proof-of-concept malware on the Internet to demonstrate how we “need” their products.

The dirty little secret about their software is that it cannot automatically protect you from the newest malware. These companies have to find the virus or exploit and then they have to write the code to block the problem. So, while their software can protect you from older malware, it does not protect you from today or tomorrow’s problem.

They must also rely on you to keep their software up-to-date and they have to depend on you not to exit a virus scan. If you’ve used antivirus software, you know that the software will always need to be updated when you are in a hurry and cannot wait around for it to download the newest update, install it, restart your computer, then run the virus scan. All too often users will circumvent this lengthy process because they are in a hurry.

Ask me how I know, since I don’t run Mac antivirus software. I have several applications that I must run in Windows, so I use Parallels to run them. I seem to encounter these issues every time I boot into Windows--and I routinely find myself disabling the antivirus software. I know I am un-protected when I do it, but then I never access the web, read email, or download files when I am using Windows on my Mac. Can I guarantee I won’t do the same things if I am relying on Mac antivirus software? I know I would occasionally slip!

Apple has built security software into Mac OS X 10.8 MountainLion. Because I keep my computer up-to-date, Apple has a mechanism to download and install new antivirus definitions in the background, at the deepest level, to keep my Mac protected. They don’t have to rely on the Internet to warn then of exploits. The best method of protection is obscurity. Apple protects my computer without any publicity. They do not rely on me to learn about a problem and then hunt for a solution. Their silent service is the kind of protection I like!

Bob adds: I haven't used anti-virus software since OS X was introduced more than ten years ago and have not been infected with malware or viruses. I don't like running anti-virus software. It always seems to intrude at just the wrong time, and it often intrudes for no good reason. And even the best ones (don't ask; I don't use any of 'em) use some of my precious RAM and processor power. So far I've had no regrets (and no viruses or malwares), but I reserve the right to change my tune someday. But unless or until something really bad gets loose in the wild, I'm perfectly happy with the protections afforded by OS X.

If you have installed anti-virus software that is hopelessly out-of-date, we can help you remove it. If you still want to run anti-virus, we can help guide you to the best product for your needs and get it installed properly. If you encounter something unexpected or strange and you need some help we are available. We offer trouble-shooting, technical support and training over at Bob LeVitus Consulting. Tutoring costs only $60.00 per hour. We have special software that allows us to see your computer and we can work on the things you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.

--Pat--and Bob
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Is your Mac Secure?

Is Your Mac Secure?

This post will be the first of a series about Macintosh security. It is not meant to be exhaustive. My audience for this series is the beginning to intermediate Mac user.

Macintosh computer security has been a big news topic this spring. Look at sites such as Google News, Yahoo News or even your local newspaper. You will find several articles each week detailing supposed Mac failings.

How secure is your Mac? It’s generally well-protected if you follow a few rules.

FIRST, keep your Mac up-to-date. If your computer is capable of running the latest version of the operating system, install it! The current operating system is Mac OS 10.8, Mountain Lion. It has been out for almost a year. While there were a few (very few) problems the day it was released, those issues have long been fixed.

If your computer cannot run Mountain Lion, make sure it is running the latest OS it can. Apple is still providing updates for Mac OS X 10.7, Lion , but they are not putting as much effort into Lion as they are for Mountain Lion. All bets are off for support in Snow Leopard and Leopard.

I hear all sorts of reasons (excuses?) why Mac users have not upgraded. Some still want to use Appleworks or a graphic application such as older versions of PrintShop (note that The Print Shop 2 from The Software MacKiev Company works fine under Mountain Lion). Some have an older printer or scanner that may not work with newer operating systems. Others think there is too much to learn when they upgrade to a new OS. Those are poor excuses, and they leave your computer vulnerable.

SECOND, be choosy about where you visit and who you accept files from. I have seen a few instances of Mac malware on client computers. In every case, the Mac owner admitted they had frequented some “sketchy” places on the Internet. You are more likely to run into malware downloads on porn sites, on gambling sites and on file sharing sites. If you see an advertisement for software to check your computer for viruses and malware, DON’T CLICK THE LINK. If there is a link for a new version of Flash or Adobe Reader, DON’T CLICK THE LINK! If you get a message about a funny picture, DON’T CLICK THE LINK. Instead, go to Adobe, Facebook or Twitter by going directly to that site. Type adobe.com, facebook.com or twitter.com directly into the address bar. Don’t be fooled by links to Adob3, FacebOOk. or Tw1tter. While carefully checking the address might spot the irregularity, the URL difference may be even more subtle!

THIRD, be password-wise. In the earlier days of the Internet, a six letter password was thought to be secure. Times have changed! Today, in addition to password length, it is suggested that we include both upper and lower case letters, a number or two and, in a few cases, a special character such as a ! or # or & is required. Today you need to have several passwords--and they should not be the same everywhere.

Look into a program such as 1Password to help you remember and enter your passwords. It can work everywhere--on your Mac or Windows computer, on your iPhone or Android device, even on your iPad!

If you prefer not to use a password application, plan your password strategy. Think about having different passwords for different levels of security. Think about a series of related passwords. But, whatever you do, don’t put them in a file called Passwords on your desktop or as an entry in your address book!

FOURTH, Keep your Internet connection secure. Just like your computer, your Internet equipment has software updates and it should have passwords. My modem is from Cox. It doesn’t do anything but deliver an IP address to my router. Your setup may be quite different from mine. If there is an antenna on your modem, then it is both a modem and a router and it can give you a wireless network. That network should require a password for access to the Internet. There are several different methods of keeping that password safe. The oldest software to keep that password from being easily hacked is the WEP protocol. It is easily cracked and provides almost no security. is WAP. It is much more difficult to hack.

Your router will occasionally require a software update. These updates are critical since the are patches to make your network more secure. A really good router is Apples line of AirPort devices. Since Apple is in charge of those updates, they are very easy to install. They are a part of your system software and Apple will tell you when a new one is released and the update is easy to install.
If your router is from another manufacturer, it is up to you to seek out the updates. You won’t get any notice that they are needed and available. Even worse, they rely on your Internet browser to configure them. It seems as though each router model must be configured in a different way.

While Apple’s AirPort routers may be a bit more expensive to buy, you won’t need a consultant or technician to help you with installation. It generally takes an hour or more to configure and update a router. So, any money you save is quickly eaten up.
The last piece to the puzzle is your firewall. With a Mac, the firewall is a part of the computer’s operating system. So when you travel, your firewall travels with you. You configure your firewall through the System Preferences.

In closing let’s review that list. Keep your computer up-to-date, watch where you browse, and plan your passwords. These simple rules will help keep your Mac secure.

If you need some help with checking on your Mac’s security, we are available. We offer trouble-shooting, technical support and training over at Bob LeVitus Consulting. Tutoring costs only $60.00 per hour. We have special software that allows us to see your computer and we can work on the things you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.

--Pat
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Taming PDF file sizes

Many posts on MacMousecalls are due to client questions on the Bob LeVitus Consulting web site. I answer them here because I think many of our readers will find them interesting. This recent message from Kevin is one such topic. He wrote:

Writing pdf files from word (file - print - pdf) results in pdf files 10x size of the original word document? This seems to have started since installing a Kodak Hero 3.2 printer. My system - 'new' Mac desk top machine. Office for Mac 2011. Having searched the net big pdf files seem to be a common problem. I don't get the same problem on PC. Help!

The first issue is Office for Mac 2011. Although I own it, I have never installed it on my computers. It’s here in case I get a call to fix a problem that I cannot fix unless I am using Microsoft Office.

This seems to be an issue that is not tied directly to Office. Instead it is one of how to use features that Apple built into Mac OS X. One of the nicest Mac features is the ability to turn any document that can be printed into a PDF. I use this feature all the time! It helps me to keep from printing out reams of paper that would be difficult to search and difficult to store.

When I buy something online, I make a PDF file and store it in a receipts folder in my Dropbox. When I find a technical article I want to save, I make a PDF file and place in my Technical Support folder. When I need to share a document with a friend, I often make it a PDF file so that they can read it even if they don’t user the same word processor as me.

While PDF files that I make from web sites are usually small in size, the ones I make with a word processor such as Microsoft Word or Pages can be quite large, especially if they include photos or graphics.

Using Pages, I added three photos to a blank page. Then I used the Export command found under the File menu to make some tests.

Pages_export pages_pdf

I also made a PDF using the Print function.

Pages_print

The resulting files are interesting. Using the Export command and Good in the dialog box produced a file that was only 116 KB. Using Best or making a PDF through the print dialog box resulted in a file that was 7.6 MB.

pdf_file_sizes

It is difficult to show you the quality of the images in each of the PDFs. The smallest file was “flat” and a little grainy. It would have worked to show someone the photos, but they were certainly not good enough to print.

Many programs such as Microsoft Word do not have an Export to PDF command. The only way to easily make a PDF is using the Print dialog option. If the images in the document are large, the PDF will be large. However, the Mac OS doesn’t leave you hanging. It is still possible to reduce the size of the file, but you will need to use Apple’s Preview application to make the changes.

Preview is a free application from Apple that is installed when you install the operating system. You can find it in the Applications folder. I suggest dragging it to the Dock so that it is easy to find and work with.

preview

Open your file, either through the File > Open menu or by dragging the document over the Preview icon in your dock. Go to the File > Export command in Preview.

preview_export

In the File > Export dialog box there is a Reduce File Size option.

preview_quartz

Let’s take a look at the file sizes again. Using the Export > Reduce File Size option produced the smallest file.

pdf_file_sizes2

It’s time to learn more about the Quartz Filter. One of my favorite places to look up such things is Wikipedia. Click
here to view the article. Essentially the article says Quartz is a pair of OS X technologies that send instructions to the Mac OS X graphics engine.

While those tiny PDF files will sometimes work, they can really mess up graphic files. Doing a bit more research, I located
an article that offers some help. It includes a link to some additional Quartz filters that you can download and install to give your more options in the Quartz Filter dialog box.

preview_export2

Installing the filters was a bit scary. Normally, you do not directly add things to the Library of Mac OS X. Things are added by installers and your are asked to fill in your computer password. In this case, I needed to add the Filters file. I got a dialog box similar to this one.

add_to_library

Clicking Authenticate allowed me to enter my password and move the folder. I did it because I knew what I was installing and I had checked to see if the files were okay. However, if I am not anticipating such a dialog box, I click Cancel and do some investigating. Such a dialog box should make you stop to learn why something is trying to modify your Library!

If you encounter something unexpected or strange and you need some help we are available. We offer trouble-shooting, technical support and training over at Bob LeVitus Consulting. Tutoring costs only $60.00 per hour. We have special software that allows us to see your computer and we can work on the things you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.

--Pat

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WD-40…Who knew!

There are several things we can’t seem to do without around our home. Our arsenal of things we can’t do without includes things like duct tape, PAM cooking spray, Shout carpet cleaner and…WD-40.

This topic came up because I ran into
this photo that my sister commented about on Facebook. I Googled WD-40 and found a great PDF file about 2000 uses for it on their Web site. You can check it out here. This made me wonder if there were places where I shouldn’t use WD-40. A little more Googling led me to this site.

When I attended the Macworld | iWorld Expo a few weeks ago I found that MacKeeper was one of the sponsors of the event. That set off alarms for me.

There are plenty of cleaning products for your Mac these days. Ads for them seem to pop up everywhere! Some of them are serious threats. Remember MacDefender? It is a Trojan horse.

While MacKeeper gets some good reviews, it is hard to find a Mac professional who has it or any similar product installed on their computer. Google it and you will find lots of users with horror stories. Zeobit, the developer of MacKeeper assures us that the bad press is courtesy of one of its competitors.

I have my own experiences with it on client’s machines. I am not impressed with its effects on their computers, much less the way Zeobit attempts to get it installed on your computer. If you go to their Web site, there are several big download buttons. No where does it tell you what it does or how much it costs. You must dig pretty deep to find the answer. There are several price plans and all offer some version of live support. That is were the trouble really starts. I have gotten a number of calls from clients who were told to do things that they recognized as being dangerous for their computers. Zeobit wants to sell you an extended service plan. They do not tell you who the service techs are or how much training they have had. They also don’t offer any guarantees. One client ended up with some real problems after he installed the program. When he called their geek he was asked to purchase an additional annual plan that cost hundreds of dollars. After he paid it and spent many hours with the tech, his problems got worse and worse. He finally called me and we spent even more hours cleaning up the mess that the software and the geek had made! The ironic part is that before he installed the software, his computer was working very well. The client bought the software because it looked like it could do so many things--things that he really didn’t need to do to his computer at all!

Do I use products like MacKeeper?

Absolutely not! And I don’t use them on any of the family computers that I support. Macs are NOT Windows machines. We do not have registry errors and all those other problems that you hear about. In fact, modern Macs, left to do their own maintenance are usually VERY stable.

So, how do you keep your Mac happy?

  • Keep the desktop reasonably clean.
  • Don’t overfill your hard drive.
  • Make sure you have enough RAM. Today you cannot buy a Mac that has less than 8 GB of RAM.
  • Don’t use the software CD that came with your printer. Instead, use “Print and Scan” in the System Preferences to let your computer tell you what it needs.
  • Run the latest version of the Mac OS that your computer is capable of running.
  • Keep up with OS and software updates.
  • Avoid the temptation to constantly tinker with and tweak the OS. Also avoid software that modifies the operating system
  • Don’t turn you computer off at night, but let it sleep so that it can run its background maintenance tasks.
  • Remember, if you are having a problem, the first thing to do is to RESTART YOUR COMPUTER.
  • Buy AppleCare from Apple when you buy new devices.
  • Plug your computer into a good UPS to keep your power steady and clean.

And remember we are here to lend you a hand if you run into problems that are not covered by AppleCare!

Back to MacKeeper

It is a well-known fact that some bloggers get free hardware and software in exchange for reviews. It can be difficult to write a critical review when someone has been nice enough to give you something for free! A less well-known fact is that some companies actually pay for reviews.

I have not tried to make this blog pay for itself. While I occasionally receive free products at Macworld | iWorld, I have never been given software for the express purpose of writing a review. I do occasional reviews for User Group magazines, but I do not write for any sites that pay their writers. I have friends who have been offered money for writing reviews. I have read their reviews for products that I like and I know that my review would be just as positive. However I always feel squeamish when I read their positive review of a product that I find lacking.

In the case of MacKeeper, there are a number of very positive reviews of their product. Interestingly, if the writer allows feedback, most of those reviews contain negative comments regarding both MacKeeper and of the review itself. I have looked through many reviews and there are two sites that I think might be worthwhile for you to read. The
first is from The MacFeed. Sadly, that site closed its doors in the middle of 2012. They are missed. However, they have kept their previous work online. The second is from Thomas’ Tech Corner. His blog is primarily focused on Mac security, so the anti-virus portion of MacKeeper is of the most interest to him. If you read either of these sites, be sure to read the comments as well.

There will always be lots of software that supposedly cleans something on your Mac to make it run better or faster. They even sell some of it in the Apple App Store. But do you really need it or is it an effort to give you something to do with your computer besides create neat stuff and connect with people?

The older, long time Apple users among us grew up having to tweak things to keep their computer going. Apple began changing that when it introduced Mac OS X. We are now at 10.8. Apple has had lots of time to get it “right” and they have accomplished it! Gone are the days filled with frantic phone calls because someone’s Mac won’t work. While we get a few of those calls, most are remedied with a quick reminder to restart your Mac before giving us a call.

If you hear about a fix-it-all product, be a bit wary. Google it and read lots of reviews and the comments made by other readers. Make sure it really does what you need and expect it to do.

--Pat
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Clean up your desktop…

There are some things that just make sense, even if they are not easy! Keeping bedrooms and the playroom picked up when my children were young was a constant battle. Today, I battle my desk, my sewing table and my computer desktop.

desktop

Flat spaces draw stuff. Although my computer desktop is vertical, it makes a great place to store the things I am working on. There are always pictures for the next blog post, URLS that I want to reference when working with a client or writing and several folders generated by software to keep saved calls and audio notes nearby.

Storing things on the desktop can seriously slow a computer down. While a dozen files won’t have much of an impact, a hundred or even thousands can lead to spinning beach balls!

Just before the holidays I received a message from Pat. He was having all sorts of computer issues and beach balls. Although Pat lives in Ireland, we can use our software to take a look at a client’s computer screen. Imagine my amazement when I saw not tens, not hundreds but almost 4 thousand items piled on Pat’s desktop!

I opened a Finder window, pointed it to the desktop and got to work. The first thing I needed was a new folder. I named it Pat’s Stuff. I put a space before “Pat” so that the folder would be first if I sorted the files by name. I arranged the two windows so that I could easily move files to the new folder.

FinderScreenSnapz001

I began dragging the files and folders to the empty folder. When I dragged the files over, we got a spinning beach ball and it took several minutes before we could see the folders moved to their new location. With each set of files that were moved, the process shortened. When we had only the new Pat’s Stuff folder and the Hard Drive icon on the desktop, the computer was very speedy. The spinning beach ball disappeared!

Unfortunately, cleaning the desktop by shoving everything into a new folder is only a temporary solution. In fact the clutter is still there, but the computer is not having to deal with all of those icons.

Think of each file on the desktop as a separate window because, in fact, the Macintosh OS treats each one that way. It’s no different in Windows. Files stored on the desktop need to be redrawn and kept track of, just as if there were that many open windows.

So how do you deal with all those files? I give frequent presentations and so I often need to clean up the clutter. My solution has been to make that new folder and begin it with a date. Then I drag all the files from my desktop into that folder. If I am not careful, I end up with this, folders inside of folders, but the files still need to be put away!

nested_folders

I was at the Macworld | iWorld Expo last week. I attended a session given by Chris Breen of Macworld Magazine. He suggested an Automator workflow that aids in desktop cleanup, but that is a little complicated for this blog entry. Perhaps I will tackle that later.

Today, while surfing the web, I ran into an interesting application called Unclutter. When it is installed, it adds a tiny jeans pocket to the menu bar at the top of the screen. Click it and you see this menu:

Unclutter

If you pull down to “Open Panel, you see this:

FinderScreenSnapz001

Drag files up to the icon in the menu bar and this happens. Notice the panel opened and you can see the files being placed there:

unclutter_working

It’s very easy to drag files in and out of the window--and they are not being stored on the desktop. If you need a file, just click on the icon, drag down to “Open Panel” and then drag the files to a new location--even back to the desktop.

There are a few more features. The black panel is the last thing you copied to the clipboard and the yellow panel is a place to write quick notes. You can also get the window to open by using the scroll gesture. Take the cursor to the icon in the menu bar. Place two fingers on the trackpad or mouse and pull down. Unclutter will open.

I have not used Unclutter long enough to know if it will solve my cluttered desktop, but I am willing to give it a try!

Unclutter is available in the App Store. It is on sale for $1.99 through February 7. After that it will cost $2.99.

App Store

I keep talking about helping people. That’s because I am a consultant. I work with Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus. We offer trouble-shooting, technical support and training over at Bob LeVitus Consulting. Tutoring costs only $60.00 per hour. We have special software that allows us to see your computer and we can work on the things you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.

--Pat
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AppleWorks doesn't work anymore--now what?

Apple stopped selling AppleWorks in 2007. In computer life, that is at least a century ago! It was a great program in its day. By the time Apple stopped selling AppleWorks the computing world had changed.

We wanted programs that made fancier documents. Unlike the earlier days, we often sent digital files to people. We needed links that were clickable, spreadsheets with more than one table and we wanted presentations that had transitions, build and outflows.

Apple replaced Appleworks with the iWork suite. It contains three separate programs, Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Many people were upset when Apple did away with their favorite do-it-all program. Some users clung to older computers that could still run AppleWorks. They refused to move forward.

Now, six years later, their old computers are dying. When they replace them with a new Macintosh those users assume that they can easily move to Microsoft Office because they are still angry that Apple killed Appleworks.

Sorry, guys. It doesn't work that way! Newer versions of Microsoft office can’t even open many of the older Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

While there were companies that produced software that would translate older files to the latest formats, their business dried up long ago. Most of those companies have disappeared.

The only real answer is Apple’s iWork suite.

Start by dragging the icons for Pages, Keynote and Numbers into your dock.

AppleWorks1

Now we need to find some Appleworks files. Start by going to the Finder menu. Choose Preferences. Click on the Advanced panel and make sure there is a check in the box “Show all filename extensions.”

appleworks2

Let’s go find some files. Every Finder window has a search box. We are looking for files that end in .cwk, so type that into the box.

appleworks3

Wow! It found 190 files on my computer! The next problem is that a .cwk file could be a document, a spreadsheet, a presentation or even an image file. You will have to take a guess about what the file might be. Drag it over the Pages, Keynote or Numbers icon in your dock. If the icon turns dark, that program will try to understand that file.

It worked very well for most of my files, but do you see the one named island.cwk? I know what that file is. It is a drawing of how I wanted our home builder to configure the island in my kitchen. Unfortunately, nothing on my computer will open that file.

appleworks4

I often remind clients that it is important to save really important files into a format such as .rtf, .rtfd or .pdf. Those kinds of files do not rely on a specific program to open them. Fortunately, my island was completed 8 years ago. That drawing isn’t really important anymore!

--Pat





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Recipes everywhere

In the first blog post of this series I showed you how to find great recipes on Pinterest. In the second one, I showed you ways of saving recipes and displaying them on your computer. In this post we will explore ways of accessing your recipes not only on your computer, but also on iPads and iPhones--and you can even use these recipes on a friend’s computer.

While I would like to be able to tell you about a text editor on the iPad and iPhone that would read the rtfd files that I taught you to make on your Mac, unfortunately, that application does not exist -- yet. There are several apps that can handle .rtf files, there is nothing that can handle rtfd files, the ones that contain both text and pictures. They can also be saved without those pesky page breaks that are a remnant of the printed past.

So now we need to find an application that can be used anywhere, that doesn’t use page breaks and one that is platform and device agnostic. I know of only one app that meets all those requirements,
Evernote. Even better, the basic application is free. When you download Evernote, you will need to establish an account. The free Evernote is the place to start. It allows you to add up to 60 MB of content per month (as of 1/2013), and displays a "usage" meter. While a free account allows the user to share notebooks, only paid accounts allow others to edit notebooks. The biggest problem for free account users is that files on iOS and Android are not available when you are not on a WiFi connection. The premium service is available at US$5 per month or $45 per year.

This is the Evernote interface on my computer:

Recipes_Everywhere_1

Here it is on my iPad:

IMG_1050

This is on my iPhone:

IMG_2743

Because there are thumbnails for these files, it is easy to visually identify the recipes.

Now let’s take a look at a recipe, first on the computer:

Recipes_Everywhere_4

On the iPad:

Recipes_Everywhere_5

And on the iPhone:

Recipes_Everywhere_6

They all look good! The text wraps nicely, the pictures re-size appropriately and there are no huge white spaces. This is fine for a small to medium size recipe collection. The search function makes it easy to find a word:

Recipes_Everywhere_7

As your collection grows, adding tags help to narrow the list down:

Recipes_Everywhere_8

Evernote will work well for many people. There is much more to Evernote. Even if you don’t choose to make it your place for recipes, it is a very good way to collect bits and pieces of information. When I help someone set up a new iPad or iPhone, Evernote is one of the first applications that I suggest to them as a must-have item.

I keep talking about helping people. That’s because I am a consultant. I work with Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus. We offer trouble-shooting, technical support and training over at
Bob LeVitus Consulting. Tutoring costs only $60.00 per hour. We have special software that allows us to see your computer and we can work on the things you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577. Or send an email to urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.

--Pat
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Solving iPad, iPhone, iPod and problems

People are often surprised when their iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad develops a problem. We get quite a few calls for help in fixing these issues.

The first thing I ask is when the person last restarted the device. Just like any other computer, problems are often solved by simply restarting the it.

To restart your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, press the Power button for several seconds. Wait for it to turn off completely and then press the Power button for several seconds to turn it back on. Notice that I said “a few seconds.” It takes more than a quick push. On my iPhone 4, it takes 3 seconds, counted one elephant, two elephants, three elephants.



That solves many problems. Try a quick restart if your device is acting up.

Some problems are a bit bigger. They require a new copy of the iPhone software (the operating system) to resolve the problem. That is called a Restore. Connect your iPhone to your computer. Select the iPhone in the rightmost column of the iTunes application window. Then select the Summary tab in the main window.



You will see the Restore button in the middle portion of the main window. Clicking the button may bring up this dialog box:




In general, I usually let iTunes complete this backup. It can take a minute or two.

Once the backup is completed, you will see this box:



This is the one to think about. In order to restore the iPhone, iTunes must erase EVERYTHING that is on the device. Putting things back in place can take a bit, possibly several hours. This is NOT the procedure to perform when you need to be at a meeting, with your phone, in 10 minutes! It is not such a bad job if you can let it take place when you won’t be needing your iPhone for a while. I tend to restore iPhones and iPads at bedtime!

Let’s focus on the small print:



At the end of the restore, you will have two options. The first is to use the backup file that iTunes made to restore everything to your iPhone. Although it can take a while, it is pretty painless. HOWEVER, if the problem is not the iPhone software itself, but a problem in one of your data or settings file, restoring the iPhone from a backup will NOT solve your problem!

I have had several instances when erasing the iPhone or iPad and restoring it from the backup did not fix the issue. It was only solved when I set up the device as if it were brand new.

If you want to try restoring from the backup, click that button and sit back.

If you decide to do the complete replacement, you will loose all your preferences, game scores, and data. While this can be disconcerting. Many games such as WeRule, WeFarm and MyTown store your data on their server. You device only stores the login and password. Other games such as Solitaire City store all of your data on your device, so setting up again will mean that your high scores disappear.

In the case of things Evernote or DropBox, your data is stored on their server, so you will need to log in to retrieve it. If you are using applications such as Bento, be sure to sync your device with your computer before you do a restore.

If you have decided to leave your old data behind, then click “Set up as a new” iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.



Sometimes if seems as though iTunes takes off on a run! To prevent that, scroll down in the main iPhone window until you see this area:



Click the box to manually manage music and video, then go to each of the tabs across the top of the iPhone window and make your selections.




Use the Apply button at the lower left corner of the iPhone window to begin the process of moving things back to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.


If you are having a problem with your device and you want Apple to replace it, they will ask you if you have done a software restore and if you have set it up as a new device. If that does not solve the issue and if it is truly a problem, Apple will generally replace the unit if it is in the initial warranty period or if you have purchased AppleCare.

If these directions still seem intimidating, we can give you a hand. This kind of help qualifies as a tutorial. While our rate for troubleshooting at Dr. Mac Consulting is $120.00 per hour, tutoring costs $60.00 per hour. We specialize in hand-holding and we explain exactly what is happening as we work. Most important, we are extremely patient! Give us a call at 408 627-7577 or send us a message at urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.


--Pat

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AirPort Wireless a bit slow?

I keep an eye on the most recent Apple technical articles using this link. While the articles may not be interesting or relevant every day, I often find good information for learning more about the hardware and software that we use on our Macs.

I have been setting up a number of Apple Time Capsules and AirPort Extremes in recent weeks and I had wondered which Wireless Security scheme was better. Lets take a look.

Note: The method I am showing supposes that you use an Apple wireless base station of some sort. You will need to refer to the user manual for your wireless device if you are using another brand.

You will need to open the AirPort Utility. My usual method is to click on the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of the screen and enter the first few letters of the thing I am looking for:




This method is convenient because it quickly shows you not only the application, but also a number of items that might be related. Another way to get to the AirPort Utility is to use the “Go” menu in the Finder to open the Utilities Folder:




A third way to get to it is to open a Finder window, open the Applications folder, then locate the Utilities folder and open it. Give the magnifying glass a try--it is definitely the fastest and most direct way!

When you open the AirPort Utility, you will see a list of Apple wireless devices in the left column. If you see more than one, choose the “main” device. You will also want to make similar changes in any other devices.

Click on the “Manual Setup” button:




In the next window, choose the “Wireless” tab at the top of the screen:





Now, click the “Wireless Security” button and choose WPA Personal.




That will cause the Update button to become active. Click it.




You will then see this dialog box. Click the “Continue” to make the change.





I am sure you are wondering what you just did and why it matters. The answer is in Apple’s Technical Knowledge Base article TS3361, but let me try to simplify it.

The rules for how devices and settings work are set up in industry standards. The standard being used in current Apple wireless devices is 802.11n. The standard includes rules for how fast data can be transmitted and rules for security settings. According to that standard, when a wireless device is using WPA or WEP, the fastest speed that data can travel is 54 MBps. While that is fast, 802.11n devices are allowed to transmit data at a much faster rate if the device is using WPA2 Personal.

If you choose WPA/WPA2 Personal, then your AirPort Base Station transmissions are capped at 54 Mbps when there is a device that is using only WPA on your network. If there are no devices present that require WPA, then your wireless speed can increase up to a theoretical maximum of 300 Mpbs.

I have also noticed that web pages open much faster when WPA2 Personal is enabled. That seconds-long pause that frequently happens when a link is chosen is greatly reduced. I cannot find anything definitive in technical literature to support my experience, but Ted Landau also noted it in a recent article at Macworld.com

However, there is one possible “gottcha.” If you choose WPA2 Personal, then devices that use WEP or WPA are locked out of your network.

Since all of the computers in my home are fairly new, and all of them can use WPA2 Personal, I have our network set to do just that. If you have a PC or an older Mac (Intel Core Duo or PowerPC processor), you may need to use WPA or even WEP.

Because my Time Capsule is fairly new, it can be set to allow for a second guest network. While guests can get wireless access, they cannot get to our family’s computers for file sharing or printing. In general, I leave the guest network security set at WPA/WPA2 Personal. However, if a friend has a really old PC, I occasionally have to take all password protection off to allow them to see and use our network.

Apple’s latest Time Capsules and AirPort Extreme Base Stations cost a bit more than generic Linksys or Netgear wireless routers, the ease of setting them up, updating them and being able to set up guest networks make them a real bargain for me.

Just in case you are wondering, I do not get any special prices or deals for my computer equipment. I go to the Apple Store or order it online at regular prices.

If you would like to discuss the information presented here or if you need help to make sure your wireless network is operating at maximum speeds, consider booking a tutoring session with us at Bob LeVitus Consulting. We can use our special software to take a look at your computer and we can advise you on future purchases. The cost is $60.00 per hour. Send us a message at urgentrequest@boblevitus.com or give us a call at 408 627-7577.

--Pat

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Taking notes on your Mac and iPhone: iCal

While storing notes about people or companies in the Address book on the Mac (or in Contacts on the iPhone) makes perfect sense, some information just doesn't belong there.

For example, I am taking a Frontier Airline flight to Macworld later this week. I received a confirmation email from Frontier after I booked my flight:




While I might put the telephone number and URL for Frontier in Address Book, information about my flight to San Francisco would be easier to locate in iCal or the iPhone Calendar. I used copy and paste to put the information into iCal:




Then I waited for MobileMe to sync the information to my iPhone:




One of the most interesting things is that although the links from the email do not appear in the iCal event, they are visible and available on my iPhone. The links open to Google maps in Safari. Just think of how convenient it could be to have such easy access for maps to hotels, restaurants etc.

Note that I edited the screenshots to remove personal and identifying information from the images above.

Both Bob LeVitus and I will be at Macworld later this week. Look for blog posts, Twitters and updates as we learn about new products for the Mac, iPhone and iPod Touch. I will be traveling with my husband, Ron--if we don’t get snowed in by yet another DC storm.

--Pat

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Should I defragment my hard drive?

I received an email from a client this morning with that question. It’s good one for writing this blog entry. First, here is a little background. James purchased his first Macintosh a couple of years ago. He is a long-time and very experienced Windows user.

The question of defragmenting hard drives also comes from long-time Mac users who recently made the switch to Mac OS X.

In the case of Windows computers and Macintoshes running Mac OS 9 and earlier, over time, hard drives slow down when the user tries to open, save or copy large files. On those computers, files are stored around the hub of the drive in the order in which they were saved.

The directory file on the hard drive keeps track of where files are stored and it keeps track of free space.

When a file is edited, the new version is saved to a different area of the hard drive. The directory is updated, and the space where the old file was stored is marked as free space.

When the user saves a file to the hard drive, the directory looks for the first space large enough to fit the new file and uses that space. If there is extra space from the old file, that area is left empty.

Over time, as files are written and rewritten and as files are deleted, there are more and more little chunks that are too small for new files to be written into. Then the OS for the computer begins dividing large files into smaller chunks or fragments to be able to store them. The directory then has to remember where the fragments are stored and it has to pull them together when the file is opened or copied.

There are utility programs that can be used to clean up this file mess. They are called disk optimizers or disk defragmenters. They re-write the files stored on the hard drive to put files of the same type together. In the process they eliminate the free space so that there is room for new large files. They also put files that are stored in fragments back together.

In Mac OS X, files are arranged in bands around the drive, depending on their function. In between the bands, there is free space for future files of the same type. Defragmenting utilities tend to pack all the files, regardless of their type, tightly around the hub.

Mac OS X is written so that it uses some of its free time to keep your hard drive organized. When your computer is on but asleep, Mac OS X is working in the background to defragment and rearrange the files to keep your hard drive running at its best.

An optimizing or defragmenting program will rearrange the files according to what its programmer thinks is “right.” When you quit the program, Mac OS X will take over again and rearrange the files the way the engineers at Apple determined was “right.” This is not good!

There are some drives situations in which it is you want to use a defragmented drive. If you are trying to capture audio and video files for serious editing in programs like FinalCut or Logic, it is best to use an empty drive as a working drive for capture and editing. Because there are no other files, these large files will not be fragmented as they are written.

After you are finished editing the file, you move it to a regular hard drive for storage and the working drive is erased the drive with Apple's Disk Utility before new files are added and processed.

It is also helpful to have an empty drive for Photoshop to use for the temporary files it produces as you edit images. If Photoshop is working correctly, the temporary files are deleted when you quit. If the temporary files are not discarded properly, erasing the hard drive where the temporary files are store can speed up Photoshop.

Apple has an area on its web site called Support. It stores articles about questions like this one. This article is a little old--but things have not changed. If you would like further information, read:

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1375

There are lots to things to know about Mac OS X. While there are lots of articles and resources available, some of us do better with hands-on learning. If you would like a bit more help, consider booking a tutorial session with me at Dr. Mac Consulting. The cost is $60 per hour and we will cover just what you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577 or send us a message at urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.

--Pat
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Editing iCal Events

An update to the Macintosh operating system sometimes leads to complaints. That was certainly the case in iCal in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Suddenly it became much more difficult to edit events. There had been a "drawer" at the side of the calendar in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger that made it easy to quickly edit events.

In Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the drawer was replaced by a pop-up. This pop-up remains in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard



While it is useful for adding the event, making changes with it is inconvenient, especially if you are making multiple ones. To make changes with it, you must double-click on the event in the calendar, then click the edit button. If you wan to change another event, you must repeat this action:



Apple must have heard the complaints because they have added a new Edit menu item, Show Inspector, in Snow Leopard:



The iCal Inspector does not have an edit button. You can make changes by simply clicking on an item. If you need to make changes in another event, just click on the event and continue editing.



There are lots of new, hidden features in Snow Leopard. Check back soon for more tips.

-- Pat
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Snow Leopard: Do I need Rosetta?

One of the least-understood things about Snow Leopard is its dropping of support for PowerPC processor-based Macs. Let's take a quick look at the issue.

First of all, let's divide PowerPC into its two components, hardware and software.

Hardware

Over the life of Macintosh computers, there have been three different chip types.

The first Macs used Motorola 680x0 chips. They are also called 68K Macs. These chips were used in the Compact Macs, the Macintosh II series, the Macintosh LCs, 500s, Centris, Quadra, and Performa computer with 3 digit names, and early PowerBook computers. Apple discontinued using this chip in 1996. Mac OS 8.1 was the last operating system that could run on 68K Macs.

The Motorola PowerPC was the next processor line to be used. They were used in a wide variety of computers with these chips were produced from 1996 until August 2006.

Apple introduced the first Intel chip based Mac, the Mac Pro in August of 2006. This line of processors is still in use today and it will be used for the future.

It is the PowerPC (and 68K) hardware that cannot use Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

Software

The other use of PowerPC is its programming code. It is included in many of the applications that you are using on your Mac today. That element of PowerPC is not being dropped in Snow Leopard

When Mac OS X 10.0 was released in March of 2001, Apple included the Classic evironment, – translation software, that allows applications that were compiled for Mac OS 9 to run in Mac OS X. That feature was available until Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was introduced in March of 2005.

When the Apple moved to the Intel processor from the PowerPC they introduced Rosetta which allowed code written for the PowerPC processor to be run on Intel processors. Although we do not expect Rosetta to be around forever, there are many applications that are still being used that contain PowerPC code. One group of applications that comes to mind is the Adobe CS3 suite. Another is AppleWorks, and still another is Quicken 2006.

How can you tell what kind of applications you have on your computer? The easiest was is to use the System Profiler. The easiest way to get to it is through the More Info… button in About this Mac:




It will look something like this when you open it:




Locate Applications in the left column and click on it:




Notice the scroll bar indicates that there is a lot of the window that is hidden. Use the re-size tab in the lower right corner to drag the window until it is much wider:




You can change the size of columns by dragging on the line in the column header:




You can change the order of columns by clicking on the column title and dragging it to a new location:




You can change the sort by clicking a different column:




You can change the sort order by clicking the small arrow at the right end of the column:




Taking a look at my list of applications, you can see that I have several different types:




My Quicken 2006 is really old in software age. Parts of it will even run on a 68K Mac! I need to replace it, but I am waiting on Intuit to release a new version of Quicken (hopefully Quicken 2010) soon!




Many of my PowerPC applications are parts of Adobe CS3, which I will retire when Adobe CS5 is released. However, scrolling through the list, I have found a number of applications that I will be deleting. Do this cautiously! Make sure that the item you are deleting is a stand-alone application--that is not a part of something like the Adobe CS3 suite!

PowerPC applications run in Rosetta.

Still another kind of application is Universal. These applications contain code to run on both PowerPC Macs and Intel Macs.




These applications include both PowerPC and Intel versions of the code. When a x is present in their Get Info window, tney rely on the Rosetta software. If you have an Intel Mac, you do not want to be running apps using Rosetta.



The last kind of application is Intel. These will only run on Intel Macs. Many of these applications were added when I upgraded to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. These may be are smaller (because they do not contain the code for PowerPC) and many are much faster because they run in 64 bit mode. (I will talk about this in a future blog entry.):




So, do you have to get rid of Classic or PowerPC applications? Not necessarily. My Classic version of Quicken is hidden deep inside the Quicken 2006 package. If I remove it, I might break my ability to run Quicken 2006, so I plan to just leave it alone. I have plenty of room on my hard drive and it takes up only 10.7 MB. The slash through it means that it will not launch on my Intel Mac:




I will be keeping an eye on my PowerPC and Universal applications to see if they have been updated. Over time, developers will release newer versions without the PowerPC code. They will be smaller and they should run faster.

However, in my quest to improve my computer usage, I frequently ask myself--


Am I spending my time working on my computer -- or with my computer?

I have noticed that many computer users spend most of their time tweaking the little things while photos, blogs, movies, email and even work are pushed to the side. Someday all of us will stop using our computers. What will be your legacy? I hope mine includes memoirs, photo albums, movies and projects to pass on to my children and grandchildren! They won't really care how clean or fast my computer was!

If you need some help with your computer -- or help learning to do new things, consider booking a tutorial session with me at Dr. Mac Consulting. The cost is $60 per hour and we will cover just what you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577 or send us a message at urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.


--Pat

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Snow Leopard: Slow to empty trash?

Whenever Apple releases a new version (or even an update) to the operating system, all sorts of strange things seem to happen. While some problems can be blamed on a bug in the newest software, other issues occasionally appear, but it is difficult to point to a cause for them.

I have seen several reports that the trash can take forever to empty in Snow Leopard. However, I have not seen it happen on my computers or those of any of the clients of Doctor Mac Consulting.

So, what is causing the problem, and how can you fix it?

When you put a file into the trash and use the empty trash command, your file is not really erased. Instead, the name is removed and the space is marked as available in your hard drive's directory file. The file can be recovered if that area of the hard drive has not had a new file written to it.

Sometimes users want a file to really be deleted. They want to make sure someone cannot easily recover the file. In Mac OS X, there is a Finder command to securely empty the trash.



Since there is an ellipsis at the end of the phrase, a dialog box will appear:



But, just what does Secure Empty Trash do? It writes 1's and 0's over the information in the file eight times. If a file is large, or if there are many items in your trash, that can take a LONG time!

Some people want every file that they throw away to be securely erased. There is a finder preference to do just that:



If the check is present, be prepared to wait--and sometimes wait--and--wait--and--wait!

If you only occasionally want a file to be securely erased follow this procedure:

  1. Empty the trash.
  2. Place the file to be securely erased into the trash.
  3. Use the Finder > Secure Empty Trash… command.

Until just a few years ago, data that was over-written eight times was considered to be unrecoverable, even for government security purposes. However, today they require 32 overwrites for a file to be considered unrecoverable.

Mac OS X Snow Leopard has lots of hidden new features. While there are lots of articles and resources available, some of us learn better with hands-on learning. If you would like a bit more help, consider booking a tutorial session with me at Dr. Mac Consulting. The cost is $60 per hour and we will cover just what you want to learn. Give us a call at 408 627-7577 or send us a message at urgentrequest@boblevitus.com.

--Pat

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More Option key menu bar tricks in Snow Leopard

In my last blog post, The Option key does even more in Snow Leopard, I told you about a cool new feature that I found in Mac OS X, 10.6, Snow Leopard.

Since holding down the Option key brought up a whole new Sync menu, I wondered what other secrets might be hidden in the Menu bar. I started with the Spotlight icon:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




There's no change here. Let's try the clock:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




There is no change here either. Maybe I'm on the WRONG track? Let's try one more, the Battery icon.

Without Option key:




With Option key:




Now we are getting somewhere! Holding down the Option key caused the battery condition to be reported. Since I had no idea what might be reported if the condition was not normal, I did a bit of searching. I went to the Apple Support page for Snow Leopard at http://www.apple.com/support/snowleopard/. I entered "Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard battery condition" in the Search Support box:



I was lead to an article, Mac OS X v10.6: About the Battery menu bar extra for portable Macs. You can find it at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3782.

On to the Volume icon:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




This is pretty neat! I can actually change the sound inputs and outputs without opening the Sound Preferences. This can be important if you use a microphone, headphones or an external speaker.

Let't try the AirPort icon:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




This is some seriously cool information. It's a bit geeky, but it will be really helpful in troubleshooting AirPort connection issues.

On to the TimeMachine icon:

Without Option key:




With Option key:




This is an interesting one! I will have to check out this feature. Does that mean I can recover files from other computers on my network that are using different backup drives?

I also checked out Displays, iChat, and Keyboard. The Option key did not cause changes in those.

I have lots more to explore in Snow Leopard, but this is enough for today! I hope you are enjoying Snow Leopard if you have it installed. If you are waiting, just look at all the hidden new features!

Pat

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Using Speak Text in Snow Leopard

My transition to Mac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard has not been entirely trouble-free. While I await the release of Bob LeVitus new book, Mac OS X Snow Leopard For Dummies, I am doing a bit of searching to find features that have moved in this new version of the Mac OS.

One feature that I use every time I write an entry for this blog is "Start Speaking Text." This useful command means that my computer will read text that I select to me. When I am editing a new post, I will often read over my mistakes. But when the computer is reading the text to me, I can spot errors in what I have typed and I can hear places where what I have written is awkward or unclear. I also use this command to have text from the Internet and emails read to me.

Getting to this feature was not easy in Mac OS X 10.5, Leopard, but I had learned how to get there:
Click here to read more...
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Traveling with your Mac

I spent the last week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with our extended family. Seventeen of us spent 7 days at a beautiful beach house. We swam, played on the beach, did some sight-seeing, ate – and we “computed.”

In taking our family to the beach we packed 6 Mac laptops (and two Windows PCs), 6 iPhones (plus 3 Blackberries and 3 assorted cell phones), a Nintendo Wii, 3 Nintendo DS and at least 4 iPods.

While we did not spend our entire week with the “electrons,” our family was certainly “connected!” Add 11 digital cameras to the mix, and our days were well-recorded.

Taking all those electronic devices to the beach and expecting them to work requires a bit of packing. Since six families were involved, there were a few “forgotten cords, cables, and adapters.

Let’s make a quick checklist to help you pack for your next trip.
Click here to read more...
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Do you back up your external drives?

I participated in a presentation for Washington Apple Pi last Saturday. I was a part of a panel on tips and troubleshooting. In preparing for the session, I packed a bag of my favorite computer hardware.

Along with a few other pieces of hardware, I took my favorite portable hard drive and my favorite drive gadget, the NewerTech Voyager Q.


Click here to read more...
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Printing from blogs and other long pages

I gave our old PowerBook to my 90 year old aunt several months ago. This has been a true adventure for her as she had never really used a computer before. Actually, I gave her the computer, an older AirPort Extreme, a printer and even an iSight camera. Aunt Lee lives in California--and I am in Virginia, so we have used iChat screen sharing many times as I teach her more about her computer.

The other day I sent her a link to one of my favorite blogs, Bakerella. If you have not seen it and you enjoy baking or cake decorating, this is a wonderful site. Aunt Lee discovered a recipe for Lemon Bars. Of course, she needed a printout to use while she cooked.
Click here to read more...
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Is your Internet connection down? Part 2

Did you read Part 1?

There can be lots of other problems with Internet connections besides those listed in Part 1. While that article dealt with problems that affect both wired and wireless connections, today we will focus on wireless problems.

Years ago when I bought my first Apple AirPort, no one else around me had a wireless Internet connection. My PC neighbors were amazed that I was able to be on the Internet without having a cable connected. Some of them eventually bought wireless set-ups of their own and they were stunned by the difficulties in setting up their new routers while my AirPort made the task so easy.

After a time things began to get ugly. Instead of being able to “see” one wireless network, I had several to choose from in my AirPort menu item. Soon I began having problems with drops in my AirPort signal strength and sometimes I could not even “see” my own network! Click here to read more...
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Is your Internet connection down? Part 1

You know the drill.

You launch Safari and all you see is a spinning beach ball. Or you’ve been away from your computer and then you come back to go to a web page. All that you get is a spinning beach ball.

So what is going on?

Why can’t you get that web page?

Did your computer mess up--again? Click here to read more...
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Keep your MacBook and MacBook Pro batteries happy and healthy

The latest sales figures from Apple show that more and more people are using a portable computer as their primary machine.

My last four “main” computers have been Apple laptops. I bought a G3 iBook in May of 2001. It was replaced with a 15” PowerBook G4 in the fall of 2003. Then I bought a Core 2 Duo 17” MacBook Pro in late 2006. I recently purchased the new unibody 17” MacBook Pro.

During my years of ownership I have changed from a computer lab environment to being on the road every day and now to working from home.

Each setting required spending at least some time running my computer from the battery instead of from the power adapter. During some days I found myself eeking the last bits of energy out of my battery, so I have learned ways to stretch battery life to its fullest potential.

So how do you make a battery charge last longer? Click here to read more...
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Capturing YouTube Videos

The emergence of a new star in the Britan’s Got Talent show last weekend has captured the imagination of the entire world. Susan Boyle has won the hearts of fans everywhere and many of us want to share her story with friends and family.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY&fmt=18

There are several ways to capture YouTube videos. While some are geeky and complicated, CosmoPod, an inexpesive software package, makes the task quick and easy. Click here to read more...
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Taking iPhone Screenshots

There are lots of iPhone screenshots appearing on the web these days! It seems as though everyone wants to know about the changes coming in the iPhone 3.0 software.

Carl, one of our Dr. Mac Consulting clients sent me a tweet :



The ability to make screenshots was added in the iPhone 2.0 software. To make a screenshot: Click here to read more...
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Creating and editing PDF files

There is some great information available on the web! Do you to save it for future reference and further study?

I do! I often use that information to learn a new technique. I also use it to prepare presentations for my user group, teach a class, ore even write a blog post.

Most of the information that I save will never be printed out. I will read it on my computer screen. I will want to be able to search the information. I will want the option to add comments or highlighting and I want to preserve the links in the article. I might also want to be able to combine several articles into a single document. Click here to read more...
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Windows switcher or Mac virgin?

One of the effects of my being a consultant with Bob LeVitus Consulting is that I get a window into the habits of Mac users that most writers never see.

Today brought an interesting email from one of our clients:

Pat, I have made this mistake over and over. When visually looking at your iCal in monthly view, the appointments hug the left side of the date box and (it) is confusing as the date next to the text is the previous day. I can't begin to count the mistakes I had made by looking at appointment and seeing the date next to it (date is right justified). Is there some setting that can either move date to right or appointments to the left. It is visually wrong and quite unlike Apple.


When I take a look at my calendar, it is difficult to see the problem:
Click here to read more...
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Removing False Invaders

In my previous blog post I answered a question from a Doctor Mac client regarding strange icons that appear in the Sharing section of the sidebar in Finder windows.




I explained what the icons were--but I did not explain how to get rid of them. I thought about it, but I had spent several days on that post and it was time to get it online. When I publish a post, I usually mention it on Twitter. As I was getting ready to write, this message came up in my Twitter Stream:




What a coincidence! I tweeted this back:

Click here to read more...
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Who is invading my computer?

The subjects for new posts on MacMousecalls come from many sources. Carl, one of our clients at Bob LeVitus Consulting sent me a screen shot of the sidebar on his Mac, wondering about an odd icon that appeared in the Sharing area:




I have a similar icon:

Click here to read more...
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How to change the highlight color for text

Nicole asked a good question in her recent comment:

Hi Pat,

This is an older post but hopefully you may get this: I see in this post you say that the default for TextEdit's highlighting color for the Find function is yellow.

Well, when I restore to default the color I get is this almost invisible pale blue-gray. Which makes "finding" tend to involve lots of squinting and hunching and glaring at my page. Why won't the default color yellow work as my Find default? I'm on a MacBook 10.4, if that helps.
Click here to read more...
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New MacBook Pro 17" First Thoughts

At about this time yesterday morning I was delighted when I heard a knock on my door and saw the FedEx truck in front of my home.



My new 17” MacBook Pro had arrived! It was time to begin my new adventure. Click here to read more...
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Time for a new Mac?

It wasn’t that many years ago when a computer was a nicety instead of a necessity. Of course, that was before the Internet became the center of communications for us.

Think of the changes! Click here to read more...
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Need an Editor? You Have One - Part 2

In the last blog post I discussed Services, a technology that allows applications to interact to share common dictionaries and tasks. While that post dealt with grammar and spell checking turned on through the Preferences in TextEdit, there are far more Services that can be shared between applications.

Under each application’s menu is a sub-menu called Services. Click here to read more...
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Need an Editor? You Have One - Part 1

There have been lots of Twitter tweets in the past two days about editing writings. While some of the comments have been about correct word usage, other comments have been wishes for someone to be an instant editor--always available to do a quick check of what has been written.

As the mother of five children I had built-in readers for many years. Now, they are all off on their own and I can’t for them to come home to read my writings. My husband is usually available in the evening, but that is seldom convenient. I need an in-home editor – and I have one! Click here to read more...
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Is Your Mac Slow? - Old Programs?

While there are many things that can cause your Mac to run slowly, this blog entry is aimed at users who have migrated from earlier Macs.

At Bob LeVitus Consulting, we work with many customers. More than a few have been using Macintosh computers for many years. They may have owned four or even more earlier Macs. When they purchase a new computer, they use the Migration Assistant that appears as a part of the set-up process to move their older files and applications to their new computer. Click here to read more...
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Do You Know about the Control Key in iPhoto?

When a new version of software comes out, it is a good time to learn about its new features. However, it is also a great time to review features that you may have missed or forgotten about.

This has certainly been the case with iPhoto ‘09. I really love the Faces and Places additions. I am excited by the updates to the Edit features and because I am looking through photos that I may not have viewed in a long time, I am finding photos that I want to print out, edit, and even add to my web pages.

One of the iPhoto features that many users may not be aware of is the ability to edit photos in different picture editing program simply by selecting the photo and then clicking the Edit button in the toolbar at the bottom of the iPhoto window.
Click here to read more...
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Did They Tell You About the Option Key?

There is a “magic” key on your Macintosh keyboard. Have you ever seen it? It sits in the bottom row of keys, but it doesn’t say Magic. Instead, it is labeled Option.

While this little key sits quitely between the Control and Command keys, you may not have discovered its hidden powers. Click here to read more...
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Finding things near you with Google

Do you know where the nearest Starbucks is? I don’t -- I am not a coffee drinker, but when out of town friends arrive, that is a frequent question.

To find out where a particular store or restaurant is located near you, type in its name and your zip code. Google will return a map the addresses of locations near you, and even telephone numbers. Click here to read more...
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Paragraphs, Tabs and Lists

I wrote a blog entry back in November in which I talked about formatting documents. For that entry I used TextEdit. That entry focuses on the differences between word processing and using a typewriter. I worked with a client this week who uses Pages, a part of Apple’s iWork suite. Since the tools for paragraph setup in Pages are a bit different from those in TextEdit, let’s take a look at the tools in Pages. In the coming weeks I will try to do blog entries about the process in Microsoft Word and even AppleWorks. Click here to read more...
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When is it time to reformat a hard drive?

I was listening to a recent episode of a friend’s podcast earlier this morning. He was discussing Macworld and his experiences there. Unfortunately he had a bit of trouble with his hard drive. I still have not finished listening to the podcast, but I just had to stop to write this blog post. Click here to read more...
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Bee Docs timline 3D sale

I am a real fan of timelines. I frequently find myself making them to keep track of all sorts of things.

Right now, I have one for our family. I have recorded the dates of significant events in our lives. I find this very useful in my project of getting all of our family photos and mementos in order. Many of our early family photos have no dates on them and most are in boxes instead of albums, so as I sort new ones, I find myself adding lots of dates to my timeline. Click here to read more...
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Email Returned? Need to send the same message to multiple people?

You know the drill. You compose an email and send it out--and then suddenly you get a message like this one in your mailbox:
Click here to read more...
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Christmas Cards Addressed?

December 2???

Where did the year go? Have you started your Christmas card list? Would you like to print the envelopes out easily?

Getting ready to send out the cards can be a lot easier if you spend some time getting ready, then use your computer and printer to streamline the process.

The first task is to clean up your address book a bit.
Click here to read more...
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iPhone Battery - Getting the most out of a charge

When I got my new iPhone back in July, I was amazed how quickly I could run the battery down! Just talking to a few people, watching a video, playing a game and checking my calendar left a dent in my battery. A day of heavy use meant I had to go running for my charger.

It was time to get energy smart! Although each successive version of the iPhone software has caused the battery to go longer between charges, I quickly found that some power management techniques would go a long way in assuring I had enough battery life to not worry about my iPhone going dead.

Here are some things you can do to increase the battery life of your iPhone. While doing all of these things will give you the longest running time for your iPhone, just implementing one or two will help. For each technique, I will list all the steps, so some pictures, particularly those of the home screen and settings window will be repeated several times.
Click here to read more...
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How to indent paragraphs

Far too many of us learned to format our writing using paper and a pencil. Remember learning to write in kindergarten – or maybe first grade? My teacher taught us to put our index finger at the left border of the paper, then to start writing beside it.

When I took typing in high school, my teacher told us it press the space bar 5 times, and then begin typing. If we were using one of the fancier typewriters, there might be a tab key. It automatically skipped forward five spaces… Click here to read more...
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Where, oh where did my icons go? - Part 1

I do my best and most consistent blogging if I write my entry before I begin my day. This morning I was reading the latest TidBITS Talk messages and today’s topic was the question posed in the first message I read:

Mail window with icons

I have been asked that same question several times in the past few days, so I know some of you probably have had the same problem. And even if you knew the answer, it is pretty easy to forget some of the tiniest details of the Mac OS X interface.

Do you see that tiny little “jellybean” in the upper right corner of the window above? That little tiny icon is the source of the problem! Click it and the toolbar is gone – just gone! Click it again and the missing icons will quickly reappear. But if it has been a while since you accidentally clicked that jelly bean, it can sure make simple tasks difficult!


Mail window without icons

Of course, not every window has a toolbar at the top. If there is no toolbar, there is no jellybean:

Address Book window

Here are some other windows with toolbars and jelly beans. This one is Pages:

Pages window


This is Word 2008:

Word 2008 window


Even more interesting is the Finder window. When you click the jellybean, the left sidebar also disappears:

Finder window with icons

Finder window without icons

Next time the icons are “just gone,” remember the jellybean!

Pat

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Did you know iCal could do this?

There has been a search function in iCal since it was released. It works by typing in a few letters that are in the title of the event into the search area at the top of the iCal window. You will then see a list of events with those letters in their title at the bottom of the window.

But, how can you make a list of events from one or more calendars?

First you need to select the specific calendar (or multiple calendars) by selecting them. You can show or hide calendars events by checking or unchecking the box by the calendar’s name.

Now, if you want a list of events, how do you get that?…
Click here to read more...
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Making sense out of SMS or text messages

Okay – I will admit it – I am not a member of the under 20 crowd, I am not a member of the under 30 crowd, I am not a member of the under 40 crowd. But that is as far as I will go.

My five children fall into some of those age groups, and they are much more likely to embrace new technologies a bit more quickly than I do. However, being a technologist means that I have to stay current to help you.

One of the newer things is text messaging. Everyone under 30 seems to just get it, and those over 50 probably need a little help in figuring this one out.

Three of my children don’t have land line telephones. Their cell phone is the only way to reach them. They also attend lots of meetings and appointments when having their telephone ring is not appropriate… Click here to read more...
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iPhone and iPod Touch - How to update an application

There is a bug, either in the software for the iPhone or in iTunes that may cause applications on the iPhone not to update properly. I started to write this post several weeks ago, but decided to wait until the iPhone 2.1 software update was released to see if it fixed the problem. The new software has been released – and I am still having issues, so I suspect some of you are too.

This is the easiest way I have found to get iPhone and iPod Touch applications to update properly… Click here to read more...
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What do you keep under your MacBook?

Recently I have taken part in several online discussions about MacBooks and MacBook Pros and just what to set them on.

In each discussion, various objects and surfaces have been suggested as the perfect thing to keep under a portable computer. Notice I did not call them laptops. These days Apple and most other manufacturers call them portables. They get to hot to comfortably rest them on your lap!

There were lots of suggestions for different articles to place under the computer. One gentleman suggested placing the computer directly on a wooden desk and rationalized that the desktop would act as a heat sink. Another woman said she uses her MacBook sleeve, made out of wetsuit material, to protect her legs from the heat. Another person said they use a thick coffee table book. All of these suggestions are BAD ones!…
Click here to read more...
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Taking notes from the web

Isn’t the web wonderful? What did we do without it? I know that I spend far less time in the library looking for information--and I spend far less money and use far less space since I don’t have to rely on photocopies to keep information.

There are many ways to capture and store information from the web. For example, if I go to a recipe site on the web I can use their tools to store my flies on their website. However, I vist too may sites to find this an effective method of storing recipes!…
Click here to read more...
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How to add custom paper sizes

In my last blog post, I explained where paper sizes are stored and gave you an exhaustive list of papers and envelopes along with their sizes. That post took forever to write since I had to make sure that all of the sizes were expressed in decimals.

I hope you checked out a few print dialog boxes. If you did, you probably found that there are lots of papers and sizes that were listed, but your applications did not have them in their list…
Click here to read more...
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Just what size is it?

Paper and envelope sizes confuse me! While I know that US letter paper is 8.5 x 11”, and US Legal paper is 8.5 x 14”, that is only the start of the sizes that can appear in a print dialog box.

Of course, just where to select a paper size in a Macintosh application is also undergoing changes. In TextEdit, paper size is selected in File -> Page Setup. The size choice will look similar to this if you have not selected a specific printer:…
Click here to read more...
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Training, Training, Training

I am always looking for ways to learn about new programs for my Macintosh, but I want the training to be reasonably priced. While Apple provides training on Apple products in the stores and Lynda.com provides training on Apple and Adobe products, where do you go to find training on software and web services such as Evernote, TextExpander, and Fluid. Even more difficult, were can you find information about how to expand the capabilities of your AppleTV with ATV Flash?

Don McAllister creates weekly videos on these programs and a lot more at
ScreenCastsOnline. His programs are well-done and easy to follow. While there is a free edition of his programs, the videos offered with a membership to ScreenCastsOnline offers so much more! The videos are larger in size, sometimes offer extra content, and there are members-only shows. Click here to read more...
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Computer Troubles or Power Problems?

Just what is the problem? You’d think Apple Inc. could make a program for the Mac without any bugs! What are those coders up to! Yeah, yeah, yeah – its all Apple’s fault!

Now, wait just a darn minute! Are you sure some of the blame isn’t yours?

I have been getting lots of calls about Macs not working as they should. These are the same kinds of problems that I saw at about the same time last year – and the year before – and the year before.

I am hearing about Time Machine backups that fail, computers that are having hard drive catalog errors, and programs that suddenly quit. When I run Disk Utility First Aid on the drives, I am seeing lots of errors. I haven’t seen this many hard drive errors since early last fall. In fact, I have even had trouble with my own computers.
Click here to read more...
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Rethinking Periodic Maintenance.

There are lot of good sources of Mac information and there are some people who you come to trust and respect. The crew over at Macworld produce an outstanding web site and magazine and Dan Frakes, who joined the staff in recent years, is one of the people I regard as a true Mac expert.

The July issue of Macworld magazine has a series of very good troubleshooting articles. Much of the content has also been made available on the web site. Dan Frake’s article, Five Mac maintenance myths has brought quite a few comments. In reading them, I was compelled to add my own. This is what I wrote: Click here to read more...
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The case for using TextEdit as your word processor, Part 1

We have a new client. He bought a new iMac and somehow, the person who helped him install his new computer managed not to move any of his files or old applications such as AppleWorks.

That technician should be drawn and quartered! There are always things that need to be moved to a new computer and leaving a client without his "past" is cruel and heartless!

One of the things this gentleman is missing are his templates as they were called in AppleWorks or his stationary pads, as they are called in Mac OS X.

Are you still using AppleWorks? It will run in Mac OS X Leopard, but it is so ancient that it is probably past time to put it out to pasture. It must be run in Rosetta these days, and that makes your newer computer work much harder. Newer products take advantage of the features built into Mac OS X such as the ability to search a document using Spotlight and to view a document in the finder without opening the application itself. Applications that run natively in Mac OS X use common interface elements such as FontBook and the ColorPicker as well as Inspectors which make it much simpler to use advanced commands and features. Click here to read more...
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Aging eyes and tiny type on the web and in Safari

Darn, this getting older is not much fun! Back when I turned 40, I began to notice that small type was getting harder and harder to read. That was just a few years ago, but sometimes I land on a web page that must have been produced by someone with unbelievable visual acuity!

Sometimes it is not the whole site, but just a particular section: Click here to read more...
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Does your computer do strange things?

One of the listservs that I read each day is the MacRogues On-Line Mac User Group and OS X DISCUSSION LIST. I while occasionally provide an answer, I am often frustrated that the all-text listserv format does not make it easy to "show" someone how to fix a problem. The topic that caused me to want to "show" the answer this time is the problem of screen flashing on Macs.

The message writer said "The screen will freeze before flashing a solid blue and then return to normal." Several people responded, most suggesting a hardware problem. Click here to read more...
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Bob LeVitus is presenting seminars in metro Washingtion DC

It is always fun when Bob LeVitus comes to Washington DC. This year he will be doing two days of seminars for my user group, Washington Apple Pi.

These seminars will be much like attending his seminars at Macworld Expo, except the price is MUCH cheaper!
Click here to read more...
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Know when to fold 'em!

Running a consulting business with my friend, Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus, can lead to a few strange nights! Since I live in the eastern time zone, our friends in the Pacific time zone are just getting to their personal computers about the time that I am getting ready for bed! Of course, since our Skype telephone number has a 408 area code, it can really confuse everyone!

The truth is that I may head up the stairs around 10 in the evening, but that does not mean that I put away my computer till a few hours later. I just love the convenience of a MacBook Pro, a good wireless network and Skype! I do some of my best reading and writing curled up in my bed. Of course, my husband is totally tied to paper, but who needs to hold paper to read and write these days! Click here to read more...
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iWork '08 vs Microsoft Office 2008

Tomorrow morning I will be half of the presenting team that will do a presentation comparing Microsoft Office 2008 and iWork '08. I will be needing to share a lot of links with my friends from Washington Apple Pi, a Macintosh User Group that serves Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.

In looking for ways to present a lot of material in a very short time, I finally decided to let some others do the work for me!

First, let's take a look at the two applications and what they provide.

No none can speak better for office than the Microsoft Mac Business Unit. Head on over to view a comparison of the three versions of Office 2008: Click here to read more...
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The best tool for Mail is back!

The day I installed Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was a bittersweet one for me. I had come to rely on a little tool, Mail.appetizer, to make sure that I immediately saw any messages coming into my Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus Consulting email mailbox. Unfortunately, the old version broke in Leopard.

Because Mail.appetizer was a beta application and it had not been updated since July 2005, I held out little hope of seeing a new version coming soon.

This morning I received a message from Stefan Schüßler of Bronson Beta, the developer of Mail.appetizer. He has just released a new version that works with Leopard Mail! It is still a beta, but it seems to be very stable. Click here to read more...
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Fragmentation - Do I need to De-frag my Mac?

There is nothing that causes more debate in a roomful of Macintosh geeks that the topic of hard drive defragmentation!

The most interesting part is that you can almost divide the room into the anti-defragging group vs. the "you must defrag" group based on the color of their hair!

Now just wait a minute--before you begin thinking age discrimination, you need to know that not all of us gray-haired people people are in the defrag camp, it is just that there are way too many of us there. Click here to read more...
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Saving files to the right folder, easily

Has this ever happened to you?

You are making a document on your computer and now it is time to save it. You know where you want the file to be placed, and in fact, you have that folder open. But when you go to the Save command, the application you are using takes you to the last folder that you used. For example, this:
Click here to read more...
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Where is that darn Quick Look button?

Eventually, in the life of every Mac user, that "something" disappears. In the case of Terry, a recent potential Bob LeVitus Consulting customer, it was the loss of the Quick Look Button in the toolbar of each window.

Now, while we are in the business of making money by fixing people's computers, answering question and giving tutoring sessions, there are many questions that are so easy to answer that we simply cannot charge for them.

Bob answered this one, using a great new program, Skitch, to take a screen shot and annotate it. These were his instructions:
Click here to read more...
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What is this SUID thing?

We get questions – lots and lots of questions over at Bob LeVitus Consulting. While many people really need help (and that's why we exist), there are some questions for which the answer is so simple, that I put up an entry here on my MacMousecalls blog.

In the case of SUID warnings, just what they are and how to fix them would require a LOOOONNNNGGGG explanation, but Apple Inc. provides an easy answer in its Technical Information Library article #306935 – just ignore them!
Click here to read more...
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How to write a date

Back in elementary school, we learned to write dates by putting the month, then the day, then the year. That date form works just fine for things like letters, and although it was a little inconvenient, it works just fine for hand-sorting things like checks. But it is terrible for sorting things by date on a computer.

While many things can best be sorted by a title, many items that we store on our computer work best by date. For example, each time I buy something on the Internet, pay a bill, or receive a password, I make a pdf of the document and store them is a folder that I call Passwords and Receipts.
Click here to read more...
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Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks - Part 2: Aligning Paragraphs

I recently helped a newcomer to the world of word processing. Her techniques were definitely rooted in the days of the typewriter and applying the rules for document layout that she had learned so many years ago definitely made editing her documents difficult!

The first problem was centering a title. In typewriter days students were taught to position the carriage in the center of the platen and then to spell out their title in their head, pressing the space bar once for every two letters in the title. Gosh, that sounds like a bunch of techno-babble. I am not even going to try to explain it. Instead, lets take a look at the modern universal sign for line placement. This screen shot is from TextEdit.
Click here to read more...
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Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks – Part 1: Fonts and Spacing

I am so old that back when I was in high school learning to type, a computer took up a whole room. To type a school paper you used a typewriter, a device that many of today's children may never have seen).

Much of a typing class was spent learning how to lay out a document. Students learned the rules for spacing, paragraph format and page layout. Times have changed with the use of computers and word processing software, but many of the old-time rules are still used. Unfortunately those rules help to produce documents that are impossible to correctly format in a modern word processor. I will take a look at some of those old rules over the next few blog entries and show you the current way to handle text in a wide variety of applications.

We will begin with spacing after punctuation marks such as periods, colons and semicolons.

Back in the days of typewriters, most had a "well" of bars that contained the letters. Click here for a picture. Each of these bars were the same width and so all letters produced by the typewriter were the same width. The font produced by using the typewriter is called a monospace font today. Here is a example of what type would have look like along with the same line in a proportional font Click here to read more...
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Checking your spelling

One of the really nice features of Mac OS X is the system-wide dictionary that is available in all applications that are written in Cocoa, Apple Inc.'s programming environment for programming.

For you, the end user it means that when you make a spelling error, the same database is used to check the spelling of a word. This means when you add a word to your user dictionary in an application such as Mail, that same user dictionary is used to check the spelling of the same word in TextEdit, Pages, Keynote and a wide variety of third party applications.

For example, each time I type my last name, Fauquet, it is underlined with red dots as shown in the illustration below. Click here to read more...
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Quick Look - Making it Easier

After I installed Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, I spent some time learning my way around the new operating system and assessing its features. One thing that really did not impress me is Quick Look. My daily working computer is a 17" MacBook Pro.

I make use of every inch of my screen real estate. I keep several application windows open and position them carefully so that I have instant access to the tools I need. While some users enlarge every window to fill their screen, I keep windows large enough to be useful, but small enough that I can move between applications by simply clicking in their window. Click here to read more...
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Desktop, Sidebar and Toolbar Printers

Do you remember back to the days of Mac OS 9 – and probably 8.5 – when we could have a printer icon sitting on our desktop?

Now, that was a pretty cool trick. If you had a document to print, you could just drag its icon over the desktop printer. The document would print without opening the application and choosing the Print command in the File Menu.

The feature is back in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and it is even more useful! It is a great way to deal with documents that you print on a regular basis. For example, directions to your home or office, a favorite recipe, or perhaps some sort of form like a cover sheet for your fax.

Unfortunately, if you are trying to adopt that clean desktop look for your Mac, it is one more thing to clutter it up. There are several alternate things you can do to give you the functionality of desktop printing while keeping the clutter down and we will discuss those after we have made a desktop printer to try out.
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Fancy Type

As a long-time Macintosh user, I have used AppleWorks for years. For those who are not familiar with it, in addition to word processing, Appleworks also contains several other modules including both draw and paint.

Now that Apple has issued an End-of-Life for AppleWorks, it is time to learn how to do some of those special projects in the iWork suite.

My project for today is to make a decorative heading for MacMousecalls. Click here to read more...
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I lost my arrow!

Remember the good old days? Computer screens were no bigger than 640 x 480 pixels, we generally had only one window open, our eyes were better!

NOT!

I couldn't do without my 17'" MacBook Pro with a screen resolution of 1680 x 1050. I love having that 20 HDTV that connects to my computer and functions as a second monitor. I don't know how I could work if I could only use one program at a time, but I hate not being able to find that little tiny arrow that is my cursor. It gets lost among the windows and among photos of the grandchildren that are my frequent finder backgrounds.

I give lots of presentations from my computer and being able to locate my cursor needs to be easy and effortless. My favorite cursor locator is a freeware application, Mouse Locator from 2Point5Fish.com. Whenever Mouse Locator pops up during a presentation I am sure to get several questions regarding exactly what that neat "thing" is that appeared on my screen. Click here to read more...
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All the wrong information

I had an interesting call recently. The client complained that whenever she tried to fill out a form on the Internet, Safari seemed to have all the wrong information.

So, where does Safari get its information? It uses your entry in the Address Book: Click here to read more...
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Too many fonts!

Font lists that are too long case frequent call from Macintosh users who like to keep things simple. While designers and graphic artists love having lots of fonts to choose from, many Mac users are dismayed at the length of their font list.

Over the years we have received many calls from clients who decided to take the matter into their own hand and suddenly their computer or their favorite application will no longer work. This is not a good situation. It requires doing an archive and install of the operating system to correct the problem. If an application such is Microsoft word begins acting strangely, you will need to re-install it.

So just which fonts are needed?
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Labels and how they work

We are back to the email that we received at Bob LeVitus Consulting over the weekend. John asked how to change the label on an icon. In the previous entry, I explained all about changing icon names. But, perhaps, that was not the real question.

Back in the days of Mac OS 9, there was a feature that allowed the user to add a color label to icons of folders, documents, and even applications. While they make your screen more colorful, they can also be very useful in making items stand out. While this feature was missing in the earliest versions of Mac OS X, it was eventually re-introduced. Click here to read more...
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Hooray for Expose!

As a Macintosh user, it is not uncommon for me to have dozens of windows open on my computer. I usually have several Finder windows open so that I can copy files between different folders and hard drives. I probably have two or three different Safari windows, at least a couple in Mail, my Address Book, iCal, and at least a couple of windows open for any application that I am using.

Trying to get to the desktop can be a daunting task. With the advent of Mac OS 10.3, Apple Inc. introduced Expose´. Suddenly pressing one key (F11) cleared away all the window and let me get to the files on my desktop!
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How full is too full?

We have had several calls in the past week in which the client cannot boot their computer after a crash. When they use their System CD to restart their computer and run Disk Utility, they are met with the message that their disk catalog is corrupted and it cannot be repaired. So what is going on? How can a drive that was working suddenly just stop working?

When they call and we begin unraveling their problem, some will tell us that they were downloading a huge file from the Internet. Others will recount that they had been seeing a message that indicated that their startup drive was almost full, but they did not know what to do, so they ignored it or they were waiting to call us in the morning. What should they have done? When is a hard drive too full?
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Advanced Google Searching

Have you ever wanted to find a particular file on the Internet? You might be looking for a specific music file, pdf, or photo. Normal Google searches show you web pages. This tip will allow you to search for directories with specific files.

The type of search we are going to perform is one using the "intitle:" query. And for our example, we are going to search for the song "Happy Birthday."

Our search query will look like this:

intitle:"index.of" (mp3|aac|mp4)happy.birthday -html -htm -php

Of course, each space or lack of space is VERY important, so let's take it apart.
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Can't Get on the Internet?

It happens to all of us -- and all to frequently to those of us who live in thunderstorm country where surges, spikes and brownouts cause electrical disrutptions.

You were on the Internet yesterday (maybe even earlier today) and now you can't get online. So what in the heck is going on?

Our first reaction is to call our ISP (Internet Service Provider). And their first reaction is to make changes to your computer settings. DON'T!

I have a favorite motto: If you were on the Internet yesterday, you will probably be able to get there tomorrow, but today may be a problem. But if you start messing around with settings, you probably will not be on today or tomorrow!
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Printer won't work?

Printing problems are the source of many calls we receive from clients. Somehow, their printer has stopped working.

This first thing I ask is "Is the printer turned on?" This is sometimes the problem for clients who have ink jet printers. All ink jet printers should be turned off when they are not in use to prevent the ink from drying out and clogging the printer heads. However, in our days of wireless computing, this means you need to go to the printer to turn it on and off each time you print. If you dislike having to turn your printer on and off, consider a laser printer. These are now very reasonably priced.

If the printer is on, and you still cannot print, the printer may have been "stopped" in the printer utility. Each time you press the command to print, a file is sent to the printer. You can check the status of your printer after choosing Command-P by looking in your dock. You will see an icon that probably looks like your printer. As the file is sent, you will see a picture of a sheet of paper: Click here to read more...
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