Category Archives: Misc.

Tribute To Steve Jobs @ Munich Apple Store

This collage of Post-it notes resembling Steve Jobs appeared a few days ago at the Apple Store in Munich, Germany. It is a nice tribute to Jobs. The sticky notes are doing a pretty good job too since they are sitting on the outside, not inside the Apple Store.

Update: Apple just published their “Remembering Steve” page with over a million contributors from all over the world.

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Apple Manuals & Tech Specs

There is a ton of information available on Apple’s websites. The problem is to find the right document or hint when you need it. Three places to start digging are: Apple’s manuals for their hardware, the official site for technical information or the Apple how-to video section. You may also want to check out iFixit if you need to upgrade or repair your Mac.

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Customise Mail’s E-Mail Alert

Just in case you’re the customising type, Apple Mail lets you choose your own “New message sound” in Mac OS X Lion. It is done via Mail Preferences –> General and New message sound. At the bottom you will find the option Add/Remove where you can select your favourite tunes and sound bites to play each time a new e-mail has arrived. Nice touch, Apple.

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Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts

 

Startup keyboard shortcuts, Finder keyboard shortcuts, application and other Mac OS X keyboard commands – the easiest way to often do things on your Mac is via shortcuts. Apple lists many Mac OS X shortcuts on a dedicated site. Particularly useful are the startup key combinations when you’re Mac is behaving strangely.

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Lion Recovery Options

Apple provides several layers of security when it comes to your Lion installation. 1. There is a hidden partition on your hard drive if things go wrong (press Command-R during startup to access it). 2. Internet Recovery: This feature downloads Lion from an Apple server if the hard drive fails and there is no previous Lion installation available. 3. Create your own Recovery USB drive with Apple’s Lion Recovery Disk Assistant. 4. Restore from Time Machine Backup (if you have one). You can also create your own Lion restore solution, which doesn’t need Internet access.

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Change Lion’s Ugly iCal Look

If you find the new leather look of Lion’s iCal disturbing, to say the least, here is a simple solution. Head over to this friendly blog and download the necessary files to treat iCal to a more subtle (simple grey) user interface. The custom resource files are free so you only have to replace the original ones with a few clicks. Just in case – do a backup first!

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How To Re-Download Lion

In case you trashed your Lion install image already and now want to create a bootable Lion disc or USB stick, you can easily download Lion again. Hop over to the Apple App Store and before clicking on “Purchased” press the alt-key (option-key). You now have the option to re-download and reinstall Mac OS X Lion. And create your own bootable Lion backup.

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Finder View Settings In Lion

The new Lion Finder doesn’t show you file and folder sizes any more (or the number of files in a folder) by default. Also the file path is gone as is the slider to adjust the icon size in Finder’s icon view. Don’t worry you can bring it all back! Select the Finder and click on “View” in the top menu bar. There you’ll find “Show Path Bar” and “Show Status Bar”. Select the two and you’re up and running!

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Sign PDF Files In Lion

With Lion you also get a new feature called “Signature Capture”. This means you can sign PDF files by using the build in webcam of your Mac to take a picture of your signature. It’s fairly easy: Take a thick pen (a standard ballpoint pen might be a bit thin) and write your signature on a piece of paper. Open a PDF file in Preview and click on the symbol which looks like a pen to show the “Annotations Toolbar”. Here you will find the signature tool and may choose something like “Create Signature from FaceTime HD camera.” Now hold the paper straight in front of the cam and the tool will capture your signature, mirror it and add it to your PDF document. You can keep that signature for further use. Pretty cool and useful, huh!

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Open Web Links In Quick Look

Quick Look is a great tool to quickly look at pictures, Word documents, PDFs, movies and other files without opening their respective programmes. Apple’s Quick Look also supports web links in Lion. Just select a link you saved on your desktop or so with one click and press the space bar. Quick Look will now open the related website or file in a simple window. Tapping the space bar again will close the window.

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A Bootable Lion USB Stick

While installing Mac OS Lion via Apple’s App Store is easy, reinstalling Lion on a clean hard drive is not. A new installation requires access to the App Store (or at least a Internet connection). So if your hard drive just died you are really in trouble. This is where a (home made) bootable Lion partition on a USB stick (8GB) comes as a real life saver. Here is how you create it: 1/ Locate the Lion installer package after downloading it from the App Store (before actually installing Lion). 2/ Right-click and open “Show Package Contents”. 3/ Look for the folder “ShareSupport” and locate the file “InstallESD.dmg”. 4/ Copy (don’t move) that file to another location and open Disk Utility or Carbon Copy Cloner. 5/ Using Disk Utility select “InstallESD.dmg” and do a “Restore” onto your freshly Mac formatted USB stick. (Remember to use that stick as a Lion boot disk only!) You now have a backup Lion system on your stick.

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Show Hidden Library In Lion

In Mac OS X Lion Apple has hidden the user library, which used to be located at Users/Your Username/Library. But sometimes it is necessary to dig into that folder to delete preference files, obsolete application support folders, print drivers et cetera. A quick way to do just that is to go to “Finder” select “Go” from the menu bar and press the Alt-Key (Option Key). The invisible library folder will show up in the window as long as you hold the alt key and you can select it and navigate its contents. You can also drag the library folder to your side bar for quick access.

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Officially Unlock Your iPhone

This how-to is for iPhone customers of T-Mobile in Germany. After two years on a contract you can finally get rid of the annoying SIM-Lock and use any SIM card with your iPhone. Just look up your IMEI number (iPhone System Settings/General/About) and surf to this site. Enter the IMEI of your iPhone and the page will either tell you when the two years are up to unlock your device or send the appropriate request to Apple right away. Thanks T-Mobile!

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Check Your Graphics Card

As you may know the new MacBook Pro uses two different graphics cards. The built-in Intel HD Graphis 3000 and the AMD Radeon HD 6750M for example. Depending on the graphics power needed, the MacBook Pro dynamically switches between the two. To find out which GPU is in use check out gfxCardStatus. The open-source tool even lets you switch between the cards manually. Useful in case you want to safe battery juice while on the go. gfxCardStatus also tells you which programs are demanding the faster chip (and sometimes unnecessarily).

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Check Your Drive Speed

With the help of the AJA System Test (direct download) you can determine the write and read speed of your hard drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD), external drive and USB stick. Just so you know where you are in terms of disk performance  or if you feel the need to boost the HDD bottle neck.  The tool is provided free of charge by AJA Video Systems.

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Apple Is Watching You

In order to provide “location-based services” Apple may is collecting “precise location data, including real-time geographic locations” of iPhone users. And may share them with others. (You agreed to that when accepting Apple’s privacy policy, remember?) Thanks to iPhone Tracker (an open source application) you now have a much better idea what exactly that means. The tool finds the location logs in your iPhone backups and displays the collected data neatly on a map. You can’t prevent Apple from logging your locations, but at least you know what Apple knows :)

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Sync Any Folder Via Dropbox

Here is a smart little helper to sync any folder on your Mac you wish through Dropbox. The free tool is called MacDropAny and creates a symbolic link, without actually moving files and folders. Setup is as easy as it can get. Start your download here. To stop syncing a folder, delete the folder inside your Dropbox folder on your Mac.

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Thunderbolt: Fast And Flexible

With the latest MacBook Pro update Apple introduced the new high speed port Thunderbolt. It is designed by Intel and looks promising:

↯ Up to 10 Gbps of throughput in both directions (20 times faster than USB 2.0).

↯ Provides 10 watts of power to peripherals through electrical cables (Thunderbolt also supports optical cables).

↯ PCI Express is the technology behind this, linking up to six supported devices together (by daisy-chain). Supports data, video, audio, power.

↯ Provides native support for Mini DisplayPort displays. Also supports DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI and VGA using an adapter.

↯ Compatible with USB, FireWire 800 and FireWire 400, eSATA, Gigabit Ethernet (via adapters).

↯ Supports Target Disk Mode (boot capabilities not confirmed).

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Create iPhone Ringtones

With a few clicks you can turn your favourite song into a ringtone for your iPhone:

1. Select a song in iTunes (if the file format is MP3 convert it to ACC by right-clicking on the selected song and choosing “Create AAC Version”).

2. Select the created AAC Version and press Cmd + i

3. Go to “Options” and check “Start Time” and “Stop Time”. Set the time code to the part of the song you want (30 seconds max).

4. Drag the song from the iTunes Library to your desktop and change the ending to .m4r

5. Now drag the renamed file back into iTunes and it will show up under “Ringtones” ready for the next iPhone sync.

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Keep Track with TrailRunner

Feature rich application to plan and manage your workout routes, hiking trips and bicycle tours. You can import GPS data (GPX, TCX, KML) from your iPhone and other devices or your workout routes from the Nike+ Sportband. Create routes on your Mac and export them to your iPhone. TrailRunner supports services like Google Earth, openStreetMap and sites such as GPSies.com and EveryTrail.com.  It also handles GPX and Polar HMR data and keeps track of your workout schedule. TrailRunner is Freeware.

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