The Ultimate Guide for switching from a PC to a Mac
(Part 2 - coming soon)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Customizing the menu bar!

Customizing the icons on the right menu bar can be useful. You can set the order in which to display the icons and you also remove an unwanted icon in a simple click. The only icon that cannot be moved is Spotlight as it's fixed in the right corner. Holding "Command", you can simply move the icons around or drag it anywhere on the desktop to remove it from the menu bar. Best of all, the menu bar remains the way you choosed when you log off or you restart. Screenshot:

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Where was this document saved?

It happens many time where I leave a Word document open and when I come back to my computer, I don't remember where it was saved. Of course I could simply search for it in Spotlight or something else but there is a much easier way of knowing where it is saved than that. You can simply push "Command" and click on the name of the file at the top of the Word windows. It will give you the path like this:

Monday, February 26, 2007

Transforming text to plain text!

When I want to transfer some text to a portable device such as a Palm or a Windows CE devices or simply for programming in HTML, the text must be plain text. I used to open Microsoft Word and export as "Plain Text/txt". It was very long and quite a pain. What bothered me is that the HTML files didn't save as easily as on a PC with Notepad. The main difference is that TextEdit support basic formatting but Notepad doesn't. All the text in Notepad is plain text. A simple function is available in TextEdit that transforms the text in plain text, removing all formatting and saving it as txt. It is then ready to be renamed as html or transformed into an ebook. The shortcut is "Shift-Command-T". Screenshot:

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Quick browsing through the dictionary!

The dictionary included in Mac OS Tiger has a shortcut that really quickens the browsing. Instead of using the mouse to move foward and backward, you can use "Command - left arrow" to go backward and "Command - right arrow" to move foward. It is much faster and really makes browsing through the dictionary easier!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fast quitting and hiding!

One of the best feature that works with the "Command-tab" applications switching shortcut makes quitting or hiding many applications very easy. When I work a lot on my computer, I end up with lots of application open and after a while, it can slow down the system when you start running out of ram. The best solution to that is simply to press "Command-tab" and holding Command, you press "Q" on the application you want to quit and "H" on the apps you want to hide. With that, you can quit like ten apps by just keeping Command pressed and push "Q" ten times!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Amazingly quick web search!

A great tip submitted by the forum member Fredou51. This is an awesome add-on for Safari that reduces a lot of time web searching. I would say that about fifty percent of the time I search something on Google, it is because I don't remember the exact URL. But most of the time, I know exactly what site I want. This is the best solution. The developper calls the program "Spotlight for the web" and it is exactly it. The results are instant just like in Spotlight. Best of all, it is a free download here. Thanks Fredou! Screenshot:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Exchanging or transfering files in Firefox!

FTP is very useful for uploading files to a website or for exchanging files through a server. Unfortunately, a FTP software such as Transmit or Yummy FTP is almost a necessity. This cool Firefox add-on adds many of the features available through commercial FTP softwares combined with the simplicity of a web browser. The add-on is available as a free download here. To install it, you simply have to drag the downloaded file to the Add-Ons windows located in the Tools menu of Firefox. Here is a screenshot showing where to get it in the Tools menu once it is installed in Firefox:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Awesome video background when creating a DVD!

A pretty cool background is easily accessible in iDVD. You can choose one of the basic theme and right click on the backgroud to choose "Fill with content". A scene from the videos you added to your DVD will become the DVD menu background. The scene will be selected at random and you can change for another one by using "Fill with content" again. Here is a screenshot showing where is the function:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Control your music easily when browsing the web!

This is a very nice little Firefox add-on that adds music controls in Firefox. You can quickly change song, play, pause, stop from your web browser. It works with many music player including iTunes. These nice Firefox add-on I am constantly discovering are definitely making me think that Firefox is probably the best for my main browser. The add-on is available for download here. You can simply drag the downloaded file to the add-ons windows that is in the "Tools" menu.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Delete quickly!

When I started using Dock hiding, I thought that the only downside of having the Dock hidden is the delay when dragging something to the trash. A really cool shortcut can easily overcome this: "Command-Backspace". It instantly sends the file to the trash and you can then empty the trash in the same manner with: "Shift-Command-Backspace".

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New page or new window!

I just discovered a few days ago that an awesome shortcut that I have always been using in Safari also works in the Finder. When I am on a webpage and I want to open a link in a new window, I just "Command-click" the link. The same shortcut also applies to the Finder, in any window, you can "Command-double click" on a folder to open it in a new window. This is very useful as I had to restart from the beginning in Macintosh HD to get a new window and start dragging files.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Another QuickTime add on!

A great tip submitted by a forum member, Edwin: a package of QuickTime codecs for more compatibility. It is called Perian. According to the website, it adds compatibility for the following:


3ivX, DivX, Flash Screen Video, MS-MPEG4, Sorenson H.263, Truemotion VP6, and Xvid

AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio using A52Codec, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP

This package will solve a lot of compatibility issue that seems to appear with QuickTime. It is available as a free download here.
Thanks Edwin!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Shortcut for the menu bar!

I think the keyboad is so much faster than the mouse and I try to use it for everything I do. Unfortunately, some command just don't have any keyboard shortcut or sometimes, I don't happen to remember that rare shortcut that I use once a month. I finally found the solution: a keyboard shortcut that gives you access to your menu bar from which you can choose any command with your arrows. The shortcut is "Ctrl - F2". On a laptop, you might have to add "Option" if the F2 button is assigned to something else (such as brightness). When you press that key combination, the  menu is highlighted and from there, you can navigate through the menus with the arrows.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Resetting Safari!

If you forgot to turn on Private Browsing when you were on a public computer and want to leave no trace or where you browsed, you can "Reset Safari..." in the "Safari" menu. This can also be useful on your own computer if Safari is getting slow because of the quantity of saved cache (although you can reset only the cache elsewhere). The only disadvantage of resetting Safari is that you loose the saved passwords that are automatically entered when you visit certain sites (such as the Mac Tip Every Day forum!). Here is a screenshot of where to get it:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Shortcut for a Sticky note

A pretty cool shortcut that is hidden in the "Services" menu. It takes any text you highlight and transform it into a Sticky note in Apple's Sticky application. You just have to highlight text and press "Shift-Command-Y" and Boom, it opens up sticky and create a new note with the text you selected. The only negative is I wish you could select if it goes in the Sticky application or in the Sticky widget (it can only go in the app). This works in any Cocoa application (basically every application except Microsoft!).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Viewing WMV on a Mac

Mac users were left in the dark for a short period a few years ago when Microsoft abandonned Windows Media Player for Mac. I think we are now even better served by Flip4Mac. Flip4Mac is a great plug-in for QuickTime that adds WMV support. It can play the WMV right into Safari or Firefox and it also works within QuickTime itself. It is available as a free download here. Here is a screenshot of the preferences that are integrated into "System preferences".

Monday, February 12, 2007

Shortcut for Google search

The Google search bar in Safari and Firefox is great but sometimes, it would be even better if you could just highlight a word and search it with Google. The following tip only works in Safari. A great tool is hidden in the "Services" menu under "Safari". It is called "Search with Google". But here is the thing, it is as long to highlight the word and go to the services menu to choose that option than to copy and paste it in the built-in search bar, but here is what is cool. This function has a shortcut: "Shift-Command-L". A quick and easy way to search anything highlighted in Safari!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Temporarily stop recording browsing information in Safari!

If you are on a public computer or at a friend's place and you don't want all the website you visit to be saved in the history, a good option is to turn on "Private Browsing". There will be no information stored on the computer about the website, no download history, no cookies or anything. This is where you turn it on:

And this is what it asks you before turning it on:

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The "Home" and "End" equivalent

In Microsoft Word, the "Home" button brings you to the beginning of the line and the "End" button brings you to the end of the line. In iWorks and most Apple programs, these shortcuts don't work. A much better and cleverer shortcut does the same thing however. The "Command - left arrow" brings the cursor at the beginning of the line and the "Command - right arrow" to the end. There are however two more shorcut with the Apple programs. "Command - up arrow" brings the cursor to the beginning of the document and "Command - down arrow" brings the cursor at the end of the document.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Quickly clean up your screen!

A very underestimated feature that I think is as useful as Expose is "Hide Others". Many windows just stack up on your screen and it so useful and quick to be able to just switch to the Finder and choose Hide Others. The shortcut for this feature is Command-Option-H.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Inverting your screen

After a few hours of work on the computer, my eyes get tired of starring at white text background. An awesome shortcut that is quite unknown is "Ctrl-Option-Command-8". It temporarily inverts the colors until you use the same key combination again. The black text background looks great for a few minutes and it is much easier on the eyes. I tried taking a screenshot to show you the effect, but unfortunately, the screenshot doesn't show the difference. It seems that it only changes what you see and nothing permanent (such as screenshot, etc..).

Edit: Here is an inverted screenshot submitted by Oliver Isaac. Basically it is a normal screenshot that was inverted in Photoshop or any image editing program. Thanks Oliver!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Smart folders and searches

A very useful but unknown feature: smart folders. A smart folder really is a folder that contains the results of a smart search performed by Spotlight. You can create a smart folder by choosing "New Smart Folder" from the "File" menu in the Finder or by clicking Option-Command-N anywhere in the Finder. You then select where to search and what restrictions you want. You then save the smart folder for making the same search in the future. When said that way, it might not seem as useful as it really is, but here is an example of how cool it can be:

1. I am working on a project and when some files are finished, I change the "Color Label" to green.
2. I can then create a smart folders that display all the finished file from the specific folder.

The example is a simple one, but the possibilities are endless. Here is a screenshot showing how it works:

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Using more then one iTunes library

It is sometimes very useful to have more then one iTunes library. You can free up space on your hard drive by having just the essential and having the rest on an external. This can be particularly practical with a portable where you carry a part and have the rest at home on an external or your network. At first glance, iTunes doesn't seem to support this but it can be done by holding the Option key when loading iTunes 7. It will then ask which library to load. Screenshot here:

Monday, February 5, 2007

Zoom in any application

You can zoom in, anywhere on your system, by holding Ctrl and scrolling up with a scroll mouse (or with a scrolling trackpad). To unzoom, you hold Ctrl and scroll down until it is back to normal. It is a pretty useful feature but it is not perfect. One of the problem that I hope will be solved in Leopard is that the text doesn't stay clear. The "resolution independence" feature in Leopard is most likely the solution. Basically, the problem with this is that the image is stretched and you don't get any additional pixel. It can still be useful though. Unfortunately, I cannot really show you the effect with a screenshot so I suggest try it out!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Options for displaying images in Spotlight

There are many ways of displaying the images in the results of a Spotlight search. There are three buttons in the blue "Images" bar. The first one displays the pictures as a slideshow. The second one displays the image as a list like any regular search. The most interesting one is the third one which displays the image as thumbnails to quickly preview and browse through your images. The "list" and the "preview" options are also available for PDF. The following screenshots show the three different buttons and the different way of displaying the results:

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Forum down!

Our forum is currently down because our hosting is down. Sorry for any inconvenience. I hope the situation will be resolved asap. MacGeek.

Edit: The forum is back now!!

Getting color information on a website!

This a pretty neat Firefox extension that gives the precise color code on any website. What I use to do instead of this is take a screenshot and import the image in Photoshop to get the info. It is much longer and also costly if you don't have Photoshop. This tip can be used for Web Design or to simply capture the information from a website (or a picture) and used it in any software (Office, iWork...). You could per example capture the color of a company website for whom you have to create a Word document. This Firefox extension can be downloaded here.

Don't forget to take a look at our new forum!

Friday, February 2, 2007

The new "A New Mac Tip Every Day" forum!!!

A great news, we now have our forum! I noticed that we had more and more comments every day and the flexibility offered by the comment page is not always the best. That is why I decided to create the forum. It is easy and free to register. Another great thing about the forum is that I never knew when a comment was posted in the previous tips and I had to go back through all the posts daily to see if there was anything new. Now, it will be easy to quickly see new posts. To keep the comments clean, I disabled the comment page so all further comments will be posted in the forum. There is a new link at the end of every post called "Comments on the forum". The url for the forum is Thanks to all of you and don't forget to take a look and sign up on the forum!


Ensure that deleted files are unrecoverable

When you empty the trash in Mac OS X (or in any operating system), only the first and the last portion of the file is actually deleted. The file can be easily recovered with specific software. The fact that the files can be recovered so easily is useful but sometimes when working with confidential documents, the exact opposite would be much better. A great option in Mac OS X offers this particular feature. When the files are in the trash, you simply have to choose "Secure Empty Trash" in the "Finder" menu. What is actually done is that some useless data is overwritten over the old data to make sure it cannot be found.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Customizing the Finder browsing toolbar

One of the thing that used to annoy me on the Mac was that when you press "Back" in the Finder, it brings you to the last page you where, not the previous folder. The way I say it might not be obvious but if you browse with the left alias bar, it makes a big difference. Per example, in Macintosh HD, if I click "Documents" and then "Back", it will bring me back to "Macintosh HD" not to my user Home folder. I finally found a workaround to that: you can customize the toolbar. In any folder, you can go "View" and "Customize Toolbar". From there, you can simply drag the button you want to add to the toolbar. There is also a default option that comes installed with the system. The one I really like is the "Path" button. It basically offers the advantage of both way of browsing as you will have both "Back" and "Path". There are many other options to customize the finder toolbar that you can change at the same place.

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