Tagged: Mac OS X

Get the most out of your laptop battery

If you know the right tricks, you can maximise the lifespan and battery life of you MacBook or MacBook Pro. The way you charge the battery, the conditions is which you use and store your laptop and the way you have your energy saver preferences set all have an effect on how long your battery will last and how well if performs. The OSX System Profiler can help you assess the condition of your battery’s current health.

MacOSXTips recently published Get the most out of your laptop battery, which covers some best-practices for maintaining a healthy battery life on your MacBook and MacBook Pro. My recommendations are to power-off your laptop overnight, cycle the battery completely each time you use it – which means to run the laptop on battery power until it’s down to at least 20% charge before you plug it in to recharge, and make sure you have the battery optimization set to “Better Battery Life” in the Energy Saver system prefs pane. And if you plan on not using the laptop for a few days, such as a vacation or long weekend, take the battery out of the laptop completely after powering it off. The laptop battery only has so many recharge cycles in its life, recharging the battery when it’s still at 80% needlessly uses up a cycle, thereby shortening the life of the battery. Using the tips provided in the article will go a long way in prolonging your investment.

Adjust the volume of the Mac startup chime

Ever wish you could mute the startup sound your Mac makes when it boots up? At the very least, perhaps you want to turn the volume down a bit on the startup chime? You’ll want to take a look at StartupSound.prefPane, from Arcana Research. The system prefs pane does two things, it either mutes the sound, or allows you to adjust the volume. That’s it. Thankfully, it does those two simple tasks perfectly, and absolutely FREE! You can download StartupSound.prefPane here. Be sure to grab the latest version if you use an Intel Mac.

Top 10 Mac screen savers

UsingMac has put together a spectacular list of the top 10 Mac screen savers, which features several Flurry-like savers, an alteration of the OSX RSS saver, a Digg saver, and the incredible 3D photo wall saver seen in the screenshot above. I’ve tried them all, and found them all to work very well. Screensavers are more eye-candy than anything else, as screen burn-in really hasn’t been an issue for many years. All the screensavers on the list are free!

Order your images when viewing with Quick Look

Reader RhymingDesigner sent me a great tip for arranging the order in which OSX displays files using Quick Look that I thought was pretty cool, so I thought I would share it with everyone. You can force Quick Look to display files in a desired order by Command + clicking on files in the Finder in the order you want to view them before hitting the space bar to launch Quick Look. Quick Look will then display the images in the order you clicked on them, rather than the order in which they appear in the Finder window. In the image above, I Command + clicked the stickynotes image first, then the other two files. So even though the Pages document is first in the folder listing, the stickynotes image appears first in Quick Look. Pretty cool!

Eliminate shadows in Leopard screenshots

In the last few months one of my favorite sites, CreativeTechsQuickTips, has blogged two of my previous articles (Easily remove an OSX System Preference Pane, and Copy multiple Photoshop layers into a new document without flattening). Today I’m happy to return the favor with this tip from CreativeTechs on eliminating shadows you get when using Command + Shift + 4 in Leopard screenshots. To do it, simply fire up OSX’s Terminal application (located in Applications/Utilities) and enter the following:

 defaults write com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow -bool true

Then logout and log back in, or restart. Your screenshots should now be void of shadows. As noted in the CreativeTechs article, this method works well. But for the really picky designer, the artifacts left around the rounded corners of windows (as seen above) can be a real nuisance. Be sure to check out the link at the bottom of the article that will make a Photoshop Action available which gets rid of the Leopard shadow, and replaces it with a custom layer style which you can turn on and off as you wish. By the way, if you wish to set the shadow defaults back to normal, you can do so by opening the Terminal again and entering the following:

 defaults delete com.apple.screencapture disable-shadow

Happy shadow hacking!

How to speed up your Mac

While there is no definitive cure-all for making your machine as good (and as fast) as day one, there are some basic things you can do that might help reclaim disk space, remove some clutter and generally speed up your Mac. Wired Magazine offers some insight and advice on how to speed up your Mac – what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t read the article, or you miss it, the one point I wish to drive home is that repairing file permissions and updating the prebindings will NOT speed up your Mac. It’s a myth that has lived too long.

OS X Startup keyboard commands help in troubleshooting

When troubleshooting, performing maintenance, or otherwise starting up your Mac OSX computer in an abnormal fashion, there are a few keyboard shortcuts that you may or may not know about that can help you. Below is a list of them with an explanation of what they do:

  • X = Force Mac OS X startup
  • Option = Brings up a screen with startup volume choices (slow process, may take a while)
  • Option+Command+Shift+Delete = Bypass primary startup volume and seek a different startup volume (such as a CD or external disk)
  • C = Start up from a CD that has a system folder
  • N = Attempt to start up from a compatible network server (NetBoot)
  • T = Start up in FireWire Target Disk mode (very handy for plugging your Mac into another as an external hard drive)
  • Shift = start up in Safe Boot mode and temporarily disable login items and non-essential kernel extension files (Mac OS X 10.2 and later)
  • Command+V = Start up in Verbose mode.
  • Command+S = Start up in Single-User mode
  • Command+Option+p+r = Zap PRAM. Hold down until second chime.
  • Command+Option+n+v = Clear NV RAM. Similar to reset-all in Open Firmware.
  • Command+Option+o+f = Boot into open firmware
  • Hold mouse button down = Force eject a CD/DVD

OSX Dashboard keyboard shortcut

OS X Dashboard

OS X Dashboard

Once you’ve used F12 to view your opened Dashboard widgets, it’s a pain to have to grab the mouse and click the “+” sign to open the Dashboard bar to view other widgets you have installed. Luckily, there is a keyboard shortcut: Command = (equal). This will toggle the Dashboard bar on and off.

Adding a keyboard shortcut for OSX’s Archive feature

I was reading through Mac OSX Hints, as I do every day, and came across this helpful hint for adding a keyboard shortcut to OSX’s Archive feature. It’s quite easy to do, and nothing extra is needed other than a Panther or Tiger install. Go to System Preferences, open the Keyboard & Mouse Preference Pane, and then click over to the Keyborad Shortcuts Tab. Finally, click the plus sign at the bottom and fill in the following information: Application: Finder Menu Title: Create Archive Keyboard Shortcut: Command-Shift-A (or whatever you like) Now just log out and log in, or relaunch the Finder to complete the process. Now you need only select a file and press the keyboard combo you set up to create an archive of that file or folder.