12 ways Siri helps you control your Mac

Siri doesn’t yet give you spoken word tuition as you learn to code.

Are you getting the most out of using Siri on your Mac?

The Apple voice assistant can be a great help, but you need to know what it is capable of, and one way it really comes into its own is in controlling what you can do on your Mac.

How Siri can check iCloud storage

Are you worried about how much iCloud storage space you have available?

You can ferret through iCloud settings on iPhone or Mac, or visit the service online to check if you like, but the fastest way to find this information is to invoke Siri on your Mac and ask “How much iCloud storage do I have left?”  You can also ask how much storage you have left on your Mac.

How much battery life?

Ask Siri, “How much battery life

Continue reading “12 ways Siri helps you control your Mac”

Mac users: Do you know this three finger drag trackpad tip?

When you want to shift things around in the Finder, on the desktop, or even within something you are working on it’s likely you click and drag the item, right? That’s fine, most of the time, but if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or another repetitive strain injury (RSI) the action of clicking can be uncomfortable, or even painful. That’s why I use this little-known Accessibility feature, it’s called Three-Finger Drag.

What is three finger drag?

Apple has designed this as an accessibility feature, mainly for those of us who do endure RSI-like problems. (I’ve suffered from RSI for many years. It has certainly impacted my career).

The gesture lets you use three fingers to select and drag any item on your Mac that you are able to click and drag.

When enabled all you need to do is hover your cursor above a page header, Finder item, or

Continue reading “Mac users: Do you know this three finger drag trackpad tip?”

10 ways Mac title bar icons help you get things done

Almost every Finder or document window has a small icon at the top of the title bar, it’s called a “proxy icon”.

They’ve been around for years, so it’s possible you’ve been aware of them but somehow never stopped to figure out if you can do anything with them. The time has come to learn about them, and what you can do with them:

What are proxy icons

These two images show you what I mean by proxy icons.

A document:

A folder:

What can you do with them?

Once you save the item, its proxy icons behaves just like the Desktop icons you already use. That means you can do all kinds of things with them, from dragging them between applications to placing them in the Dock, saving them to a drive – anything that supports drag-&-drop. Here are some examples of what they can do for Continue reading “10 ways Mac title bar icons help you get things done”

macOS 101: AirDrop Tips for Mac and iOS Users

AirDrop is a peer-to-peer file sharing system for local Mac and iOS users. It’s easy to set up with just a click or two; no special information or settings are needed. Just drag-and-drop a file to share with others.

In this Rocket Yard Guide, we’re going to take a look at AirDrop’s history, the basics of its use, and a tip or two for improving its use, including adding AirDrop to the Mac’s Dock for easy access.

AirDrop History
Originally developed for the Mac and released with OS X Lion, AirDrop made use of a new Wi-Fi standard called PAN (Personal Area Network) that allowed for the creation of an ad-hoc wireless network. To make setting up the network automatic, Apple made use of its Bonjour service, which allowed Macs to broadcast that they were part of the Wi-Fi network and could receive files from others.

When iOS 7 was

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How to get a ‘Save As’ command back on your Mac

Making Save As great again

One of the first customers at Apple’s new Shinjuku store, but I don’t think he is using Save As

Apple’s decision to remove the Save As command from the File menu on Mac apps was probably designed to make using iOS and macOS feel more similar. The idea was that whatever you happened to be working on would automatically save in the background, just like on iOS. That’s fine, but there are times when most Mac users still need the flexibility of Save as, such as when saving items in different available formats.

What’s this about?

Starting around 2011, Apple removed the Save As item as a default choice in the File application Menu bar. That’s why most of the applications you use these days only seem to offer a generic ‘Save’ command. There are exceptions to this – a newly created item will offer Save As so you can

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7 ways to use your Mac trackpad better

Mastering Multitouch

Are you getting the most out of your multitouch Mac?

Apple makes it possible to achieve so much using the Multitouch trackpad on its notebooks, but are you getting everything you can from them? Here are five swipe gestures many Mac users may have missed:

Fast Notifications

You know you can access Notifications when you tap its icon top right of your screen, but why squint? Just swipe with two fingers from the very right-hand side of the trackpad to open Notifications. Or, if Notifications are open, swipe with two fingers from the center to the right of the trackpad to close them again.

Launchpad at your fingertips

Want to get to your Launchpad? Just pinch into the center of the trackpad with three fingers and a thumb to open it up. Swipe out to get rid of it again.

Desktop tickle

Swiping out with three fingers and a thumb Continue reading “7 ways to use your Mac trackpad better”

How to make your Mac start-up faster

Speed your Mac

Accelerate Mac startup with these easy tips c/o Flickr

Is your Mac starting up slower than it used to? Have you already run Disk Utility to check the condition of your machine, and it seems to be OK? Here’s a few things you can try to:

How to make your Mac start-up faster

Control login items

You may have some applications, server connections and background processes that launch whenever you login to your user account on your Mac. It speeds up start-up time if you get rid of those if you no longer need them. To do so, open System Preferences>Users & Groups, and select Login items. To get rid of one or more of the login items you might have installed, select them and then click the minus icon. (You may need to enter your Apple ID).

Reopening old apps

You can accelerate Mac start-up times by changing Continue reading “How to make your Mac start-up faster”

Mac: Do you use these (sometimes) useful Finder windows tips?

A little Mac tip

A little Mac tip

I’m sure you’re familiar with resizing windows on your Mac: Hover the cursor at the top, side or corner of the window until the resize arrows appear, then you drag it to the desired shape. What happens is that the window will expand or contract in the direction you are going, which is fine, but it’s not always where in the window you want to be.

You’re not doing it wrong

There are some more ways to resize a window so what is at the center of the window remains visible:

Watch ‘A New Hope’, Play Tetris Directly from a Mac’s Terminal

With an impending snowstorm beginning to bear down across the country, cabin fever will be reaching fever pitch this weekend.

To help temporarily stave off boredom, we have a couple of simple Mac Terminal tricks to check out.

Watch ‘Star Wars Episode IV’
Want to watch “A New Hope” from Terminal? It’s quite easy.

1) Open Terminal

2) Type the following command (without quotes) “telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl” and watch Terminal go to work! Note, there is no sound but there are subtitles.

Play Tetris and Other Games
Playing games like Tetris or Snake from Terminal takes a bit more work than watching Star Wars but is simple nonetheless.

1) Open Terminal

2) Type the following command (without quotes) “emacs” and then hit enter. Then you will need to type fn and F10 simultaneously, and then follow with “t” and then “g”. From there you will be able to choose a game

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How to recover your deleted files most of the time

How to recover deleted files most of the time

How to recover deleted files most of the time. Image thanks to Flickr/Lisa Nottingham

If you use an Apple product you probably also use iCloud, and if your iCloud is set to sync your Documents & Desktop files from your Mac then you can easily recover accidentally deleted or lost items, thanks to iCloud online.

Memories last forever

Apple has woven iCloud inside almost every single one of its products.

While I think the 5GB allocation the company provides is disappointing, this integration has some excellent advantages for users of its services. The one I want to talk about today is the capacity to use iCloud to recover those deleted files.

Apple keeps items you have deleted from iCloud for up to 30-days, so if you do accidentally delete something you can get it back, by following these steps – so long as you do so within that 30-day

iCloud Drive Recovery

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5 more sweet Mac secrets you’ll want to use

A short collection of lesser known things

Shhh: Did you know these Mac features? c/o C.Alain and Flickr

I spend (so much) time with Apple’s products. Given that this is my job I guess that is OK, but I’m constantly surprised when I come across new features, so I thought this short collection of little-known items might be interesting.

Stop a bouncing app icon

Are you sometimes annoyed when an app icon in the Dock begins bouncing to demand your attention? What do you do when it does? Most people click on the bouncing icon to open the application and see what it needs, but you can also silence the request by hovering your cursor above the bouncing icon (don’t click). The icon will stop bouncing – it’s as if your Mac understands you’ve thought about taking a look but decided not to do so.

Print a little faster

You can create a really easy shortcut Continue reading “5 more sweet Mac secrets you’ll want to use”

How to take a screenshot on your Mac

Apple screen grabs

It is safe to assume this Finisar technician already has a handle on capturing screenshots.

There are numerous ways to take screenshots on your Mac, including several seldom used options and a couple of Mac-specific choices, too. Learn all of them in this guide,

How to capture the entire screen

You can capture an image of the entire screen by pressing Shift-Command-3. You’ll find the image as a png file on your Desktop.

How to capture an element of the screen

You can take a shot of a specific part of the screen. To do so tap Command + Shift + 4 and use the draggable crosshair to select the onscreen elements you need.

How to take a picture of a window

Press Shift-Command-4 and then tap the Space bar. You should see a camera icon on screen. To select a specific window to take an image of just use Continue reading “How to take a screenshot on your Mac”

Mac malware that went undetected for years, spied on everyday users

Enlarge (credit: Tim Malabuyo)

A mysterious piece of malware that gives attackers surreptitious control over webcams, keyboards, and other sensitive resources has been infecting Macs for at least five years. The infections—known to number nearly 400 and possibly much higher—remained undetected until recently and may have been active for almost a decade.

Patrick Wardle, a researcher with security firm Synack, said the malware is a variant of a malicious program that came to light in January after circulating for at least two years. Dubbed Fruitfly by some, both malware samples capture screenshots, keystrokes, webcam images, and information about each infected Mac. Both generations of Fruitfly also collect information about devices connected to the same network. After researchers from security firm Malwarebytes discovered the earlier Fruitfly variant infecting four Macs, Apple updated macOS to automatically detect the malware.

The variant found by Wardle, by contrast, has infected a much larger

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3 Cool Mission Control Secrets You Might Not Know

Who else remembers how Mission Control looked on launch?

Mission Control in macOS is great, but even regular users may not be aware of these three useful tips:

Swipe down

We use Mission Control to look at all the open App Windows. However, did you know you can easily access app-specific windows from the Dock? Here is how this works:

  • Hover your cursor above the app icon in the Dock
  • Swipe down with four fingers (usual default, your gesture settings may be different)
  • You should be treated to a Mission Control view of all your current active windows belonging to the app.

Extra Tip #1: You can also get to this view in the app you are currently in by swiping four fingers down on the trackpad. Try it!

Extra Tip #2: You can also get to this view in the app you are currently in by pressing Continue reading “3 Cool Mission Control Secrets You Might Not Know”

Quick Tip: Arrange Your Mac Apps By Category in Finder

Mac OS is home to so many great features and capabilities, that it’s easy to stumble upon something every day that you might not have known about.

Today was one of those days for this author. There is a simple trick that allows macOS users to re-organize their applications by category rather than by their name or date modified. It’s not the flashiest trick – it’s completely lacks any flash, actually – but it might help you navigate or search your apps more quickly and conveniently.

Here’s how it’s done:

1) Open Applications in Finder by typing Shift-Command-a.2) In the Apps window, type Command-j and you will see this window.

3) Choose to arrange the apps by Application Category as seen above and your apps will now be grouped together as Music, Social Networking, Productivity, etc. as seen in the image below. Have quick tips of your own?

Continue reading “Quick Tip: Arrange Your Mac Apps By Category in Finder”

Tech 101: How to Clear Cache and Temp Files from Mac OS

You’ve no doubt heard the term cache and temp files, at least as it relates to your Mac. There are numerous times when removing a cache or temp file may be part of a troubleshooting tip to return an app or the system to a more robust condition. It’s also common to hear about removing these files to free up space on a Mac’s startup drive.

But before we head down the road to clearing out cache and temp files, let’s take a moment to find out what functions they serve, and whether it’s really a good idea to remove them willy-nilly.

(Third-party utilities, such as TinkerTool System, can help you remove troublesome cache files.)

What Are Cache Files and Temp Files?
Cache and temp files serve a similar function; they provide a place to temporarily store data in files on your Mac.

Cache files are accessed and updated

Continue reading “Tech 101: How to Clear Cache and Temp Files from Mac OS”

How To Fix Apple Mail When It Slows Your Mac

Mail in your door c/o Bogdan Suditu and Flickr.

Has your Mail slowed to a crawl? Has it become so greedy for memory your system sometimes hangs while it tries to send or receive an email? I get this problem from time-to-time so thought I’d jot down a few different ideas that may help you fix it if you encounter it too.

Activity Monitor

First, let’s take a quick look to confirm Mail really is the miscreant. Launch Activity Monitor (Command-Space and type Activity Monitor and it should launch immediately), and watch its data as you try to use Mail. Is Mail using waaaay too much memory? If the answer is yes then perhaps it’s time to try these strategies out:

Start here

Delete spam messages, delete deleted messages, delete messages you don’t need to keep and make sure your Mac is up to date with current system software. Continue reading “How To Fix Apple Mail When It Slows Your Mac”

Partitions 101: Rules to Resizing Volumes & How to Without Losing Data

Disk Utility, the all-purpose tool for working with storage devices connected to the Mac, has long had the ability to create partitions and manage the resulting volumes. It has been the go-to tool for formatting a Mac’s drives, erasing data, securely wiping information, and creating multiple partitions.

With the advent of OS X Leopard, Disk Utility picked up a much-prized feature: the ability to non-destructively resize existing volumes and partitions. Before OS X Leopard, you needed to fully back up all the data on a drive if you intended to alter the drive’s partition map in any way. That’s because changing the partitions, by adding, removing, or resizing, resulted in the loss of all data on the volume.

Thankfully, you can now resize a partition without losing data, provided you follow a few basic rules.

Resizing was pretty straightforward with OS X Leopard through OS X Yosemite, but starting

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10+ Safari Keyboard Shortcuts You’ll Use

Have you ever taken a moment to explore the keyboard shortcut inside Apple’s Safari browser? Perhaps you should take the chance to take a look at some I use almost every day:

Take Control of Tabs

I use tabbed browsing a lot. I’m likely to have dozens of windows open when I’m researching a project, and with messages, email and a host of other communications all taking place at once, I find Spaces and Mission Control to be an asset. Once you have multiple tabs open in Safar you want to know how to switch between them. It’s easy with these shortcuts:

  • Switch to Next Tab: Control + Tab
  • Switch to Previous Tab: Control + Shift + Tab
  • (And Command + W to close the current tab).

Also read: 12 Safari tips iOS 10 users need to know

Use Tab Preferences

You need to get to know and use Tab Preferences Continue reading “10+ Safari Keyboard Shortcuts You’ll Use”

Access Your Hidden Library Folder With These Five Easy Tricks

The Mac OS is chock full of hidden areas where data, information, or features have been secreted away from Mac users. One of these clandestine locations is the users library folder, commonly written out as ~/Library/.

What’s In Your Library?
Although hidden, the users library folder contains quite a lot of useful information. This is one of the places where apps tend to keep any necessary support files. It’s also a preferred location for preference files used by apps to customize their user interface to meet your needs.

The ~/Library folder may also contain logs, preference panes, printers, screen savers, and fonts. Essentially, the users library folder can contain any application- or service-related information that is specific to a user. As an example, consider the Safari browser. It stores individual preference files in each user’s library folder. This allows each user to customize Safari independently of the others,

Continue reading “Access Your Hidden Library Folder With These Five Easy Tricks”