Mac Tips

I was asked by a new mac user to provide some tips for those new to the mac fold. Please leave comments with suggestions and corrections.
First off… if you don’t currently use RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication) you should! Macs feature feed integration in both Safari and in Mail. I currently use google reader as it suits my needs quite well. RSS feeds are basically a subscription service where updates are pushed out to your reader. Most news sites have RSS feeds as do nearly all blogs (including this blog).
  • You can quickly search using spotlight just by hitting “Command-Space Bar.” This will pull up the spotlight search box in the top right of the screen.
  • Know that many long-time mac users refer to the “command” key as the “Apple key” because up until a little while ago, it had an apple on it. In fact, early Macbooks (including mine) still have the apple logo on it.
  • Get to know your applications folder, especially the Utilities folder. Especially helpful is the “Activity Monitor.” If your fan seems to be going a mile a minute… check the activitity monitor to see what is using up the system resources. You can also kill applications via the Activity Monitor.
  • With the activity monitor… from iSlayer get a program called iStat Pro or iStat Pro Widget. The widget runs in your dashboard. It can show your fan speeds, hard drive space usage, memory usage, case and processor temps, battery usage, etc. The program does the same thing… except it gets stuck in your menu bar. I actually use both. I’m a nerd. This is an AWESOME free program. I highly recommend it.
  • Get a program called Coconut Battery. This is a free program that tracks your battery health. You can keep a log of your battery usage. When I had a battery poop out on me… I was able to show the Apple Genius the problem with the steady decline (at a very fast rate) of the battery health over the life of the battery. Just realize that when you by a laptop probably one of your biggest issues will be with power, whether it be a cooked power supply or a bad battery.
  • These two recent articles from Macworld give us info on “Mac Maintenance”: Five Mac Maintenance Myths and Essential Mac Maintenance: Get Set Up
  • Watch the Apple store in your area for free classes they offer. If you send your wife to one of them… and she falls in love with the Mac… she might let you get another one.
Websites (All of these have RSS feeds except “My First Mac”, “Mac Keyboard Shortcuts,” and “50 Things Every Mac Geek Should Know.”
  • VMware. This is the program I use to run windows xp. The only reason I’m running XP is to run Logos. However, Logos has released a Mac Alpha so hopefully my xp installation will go the way of the dodo.
  • Yum. A free recipe manager. Really cool and fun.
  • SuperDuper. A cool backup utility that works with time machine making an actual bootable time machine backup. You can also use it separately from Time Machine.
  • Quinn. For those moments of boredom… great take on Tetris.
  • Adium. Great instant messenger program that I think is in some ways better than iChat.
  • Delicious Library. A really really cool program that allows you track your media (Books, CDs, Programs, Movies, etc). Version 2.0 should be out sometime soon. Take a look. A free alternative to this program is called “Books” Also you can try librarything…. but it lacks a desktop client that would make it even more helpful.
  • If you want to make full use of front row (the cool digital media program) you can begin to rip all your DVDs and TV shows to your hard drive. Be aware…. if you rip them at a decent bit rate (higher bit rate=better quality) you will need to get a big hard drive, and by big I mean 1 tb. The cost is getting lower and lower. To rip DVDs I recommend Handbrake. Very very cool software that allows you to rip a whole season of a TV show into separate files and to work overnight. Lostify allows you to “code” them so they appear as a season or whatever type of media they are (TV Show, Movie, etc.)
  • MacSaber. Cool, nerdy program, that makes your MacBook sound like a light-saber. It uses the sudden motion sensors do detect motion. When sitting still… just a hum… when moving… it really sounds like a light-saber.
  • Browsers: When I first switched to mac I used firefox. However, I’ve had more and more problems with firefox and have began using Safari, the built in mac browser, exclusively. I do keep firefox around… along with Opera.

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