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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Creating a smart group in Address Book!

Address Book lets you create a new contact group by simply clicking the little "+" in the lower left corner. What is even better than a regular group is a smart group. Let's say you want a group with everyone living in a specific city. If you have a lot of contacts in your address book, adding each contact to each group might be very long. That is where smart groups make things so much easier. To easily create a smart group, hold down Option and click on the small icon in the lower left corner.

To create a regular group:

When you hold down "Option", to create a smart group:

Monday, July 30, 2007

TV safe area of a DVD!

One of the things that you have to consider when making a DVD (especially the menu) is the TV safe area. Many older TVs (many new ones as well) don't display the full image. I really figured that out when I hooked up my Mac to a LCD HDTV through DVI to HDMI. I set the TV up as the second display, because if it was the main display, I nearly lost all the Dock and the Menu Bar because of how much the TV wasn't displaying. So when you make a DVD, you really have to make sure that nothing important is on the sides. Thankfully, Apple integrated a feature in iDVD to make sure of that. You can easily access it in the View menu. It is "Show TV safe area". You also get it with "Command - T". At the same place, you can get the "Show Standard Crop Area" feature. This will show you exactly what you will lose when displaying a widescreen movie on a regular TV. You can get it with "Option - Command - T".

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Tab in Safari!

There was a tip last week about how you can get a new tab in Firefox or Camino by double-clicking on the tab bar. I mentioned that it doesn't work in Safari. There is a plug-in that will let you do the same thing in either Safari 2 or the new Safari 3 beta. The plug-in requires SIMBL, but it is included in the package that you download. You can check out Twicetab here on MacUpdate.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Creating an ePhotoBook!

Creating a Photobook in iPhoto is very easy and the result looks absolutely stunning! But what if you are not really looking for a printed book or you cannot wait three weeks before getting it? Well, you can create an awesome ePhotobook! You can assemble the book just as though it is the real thing in iPhoto. The feature includes a lot of options and tons of different possibilities. Once you are done, instead of clicking on "Buy Book", you right-click anywhere on the book and choose "Save Book as PDF...".

Friday, July 27, 2007

iPhoto direct export to Facebook!

A great tip submitted by Dominic P. Tremblay: iPhoto direct export to Facebook! If you are a Facebook user, you know how long it takes to import your pictures, add a caption and tag the people. Wouldn't it be great if that whole procedure could be done in iLife, in a very Mac-like way? Well it can with the iPhoto add-on called "Facebook Exporter for iPhoto". I have to say that I am very impressed with the integration of this add-on. After it is installed, the whole thing looks like it has always been there. To use it:

1. Download "Facebook Exporter for iPhoto". (You can get it here, from MacUpdate)
2. Run the install.
3. Open iPhoto.
4. Select the pictures you want to import in Facebook.
5. Go to File, and choose "Export...".
6. Click on the "Facebook" tab.
7. Click on "Login" and proceed to the login in Safari.
8. Come back to iPhoto.
9. Name the album that will be created in Facebook.
10. Go through the list of photo at the left and enter the caption and the tags.
11. Click "Export" and wait until it is over.
12. That's it! You now only have to login to Facebook and confirm that you really want to publish this album. You can then choose whether you want the album accessible by everyone or only your friends!

Thanks for the great tip Dominic!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Resetting your browser!

I already presented the "Reset Safari" feature so that you can quickly clear the cache, the history and everything in Safari all at once. This feature has actually been quite a bit modified with Safari 3. Many websites explained the new features (Tabs, Search) of Safari 3, but I never saw this mentioned. When you choose "Reset Safari" in the new Safari 3, instead of just having "OK" or "Cancel", you can now choose what you want to reset. A list of checkboxes will appear letting you select or deselect exactly what you want. I find this feature is now much more useful. The thing that annoyed me the most with resetting the browser is that it wouldn't remember the passwords afterwards. I'd have to reenter them all. You can now choose not to "Remove saved names and passwords".

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Getting song lyrics!

One of the most unused features that is built-into iTunes is the lyrics feature! Even when you buy a song from the iTunes store, you don't get any lyrics. Right now, one of the only way of getting it is searching for it on Google and pasting the lyrics in the appropriate text box in the song info. I came across this nice widget called TunesTEXT. It will instantly display the album art and the lyrics if they are already present in iTunes. If they are missing, it will search the web for you and bring up the lyrics. It seems to work perfectly to find lyrics of songs that are well identified in iTunes. It is very useful because all the music bought on the iTunes store is perfectly named and identified. What is great is that the widget can easily be resized to fit so that you don't have to scroll down. You can also control iTunes directly from within the widget so you don't need to keep the iTunes widget around anymore. You can also choose to hide the album art and it will then let you resize it much smaller for when you don't use it. You can download TunesTEXT here from MacUpdate!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Finding anything on your screen!

This is a great tip submitted by Rohit Deshpande: Finding anything on your screen! This is a great application to have running in the background. It lets you search for a word or a sentence in a specific window. When you hit the hotkey, the whole screen fades darker and the words will become highlighted when you start typing. It is similar to the "Command-F" Find feature, but much easier to use. What is different from the Command-F option is that it displays every occurrence of that word at the same time. It also won't scroll down by itself to show you another result. It is up to you to scroll down and see the new results (it tells you whether there are results above or below where you are). It doesn't work in all applications though. The developer says it works in applications that support the Accessibility API (it worked great in Safari but not at all in Camino). It works extremely well and if you want to get rid of it's Dock icon and the icon in the "Command-Tab" dialog, you can simply use Dock Dodger (it still works after undocking it) and make it auto launch when you log in! You can download Screen Sieve here from MacUpdate. Thanks for the great tip Rohit!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Google maps widget!

This great widget brings you the power of Google Maps in a nice interface in dashboard. You can also enter your Home address to get it as a default. You can easily move around and switch from maps, satellite or hybrid. Hybrid will give you a satellite image but with the roads information. You can download gMap here from MacUpdate.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"New Tab" button in Firefox and Camino!

A great tip submitted by Andrew: "New Tab" button in Firefox and Camino! Even though you can easily bring up a new tab by hitting "Command-T" in any web browser, many users prefer the actual "New Tab" button. The latest web browsers don't really have this feature. Well, it turns out that a feature built into Firefox and Camino does nearly the same thing. When the tab bar is already visible (you already have two tabs open), you can double-click anywhere in the blank area of the tab bar. You'll instantly get a new blank tab! It unfortunately doesn't work in Safari. Thanks for the great tip Andrew!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hiding while loading an app!

A great tip submitted by Zaid: Hiding while loading an app! One of the things that I already knew is that you can hide an application while switching to another one by holding down "Option" and clicking on the other one. In the same way, you can hold down "Command-Option" and it will hide all running applications except the one you are switching to. What is new to me however, is that you can use the same tip when loading an application from the Dock: hold down either "Option" or "Command-Option" while clicking on the icon in the Dock. Thanks for the great tip Zaid!

Friday, July 20, 2007

PowerPoint to Keynote!

This is a great tip submitted by Murali Srinivas: PowerPoint to Keynote! If you have a PowerPoint presentation and you want to play it on a Mac that only has Keynote or if you want to be able to control the presentation with your Apple remote, this tip is for you. What it will do is it will transform the PowerPoint presentation into a read-only Keynote presentation. The fact that it is read-only insures that the formatting stays perfect. To do it:

1. Print the PowerPoint presentation as PDF.
2. Download the freeware "PDF to Keynote" at
3. Use the freeware to convert the PDF into a read-only Keynote. Choose the resolution that match the resolution of your screen (or projector).
4. That's it! You'll now be able to read your presentation on any Mac with Keynote and best of all, you can control it with the Apple Remote!!

Thanks for the great tip Murali!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Closing a Finder window when loading an app or a file!

This is a great tip submitted by Brian Oanes: Closing a Finder window when loading an app or a file! This tip really surprised me at first and I couldn't believe I didn't learn about it before. It is pretty well known that holding down "Option" while switching application will hide the application you just left. What is new to me however, is that you can double-click on an application or a file in the Finder to load it while holding down "Option" and it will automatically close the Finder window you were in. Using that, you can load what you need and when you come back to the Finder, you won't have many useless Finder windows open. Thanks for the great tip Brian!

Late tip yesterday!

I posted the tip a bit later than usual yesterday because of a quite unusual situation. I am currently visiting Vancouver and I went to hike the mountains near Whistler yesterday. On the way back, the traffic stopped abruptly. I stayed in the car a while, thinking it was only construction work. After about half an hour, seeing that everyone was getting out of their car, eating and chatting, I got out and walked to the front of the line. What was happening was only about ten cars ahead of me. I often saw "falling rocks" signs, but I never thought it actually happened. Check it out:

This was at the beginning. A lot more rock came down after that! All in all, I was stuck for about four hours. Both my laptop and my phone ran out of power. It was quite an adventure!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Leopard menu bar!

A great tip submitted by Nessuno: A Leopard menu bar! This is a great freeware called MenuShade that will transform your menu bar to the look of the Leopard menu bar. There are even more customization options than the Leopard one. To get the Leopard look:

1. Unzip MenuShade.
2. Drag the application to your Applications folder.
3. Open MenuShade.
4. Set your preferences. To get a Leopard looking menu bar, choose "Use fake transparency".
5. If you don't want the bar to change when you mouse over, set the shaded brightness and the unshaded brightness to the same level.

One of the thing that I dislike about this application is that unlike QuickSilver, there is no option to have it run in the background. You are always stuck with the Dock icon, and it is always present in the "Command-Tab" dialog. You can always use Dock Dodger to make it run in the background, but Dock Dodger breaks the "fake transparency" option, making it much less appealing. It is overall a great application and an update with the possibility of running it in the background would make this application a lot better. You can download MenuShade here from VersionTracker. Thanks for the great tip Nessuno!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Searching with previews like Quick Look!

This application might not be as relevant when Mac OS Leopard comes along, but for now, it is great! It is called "SpotInside" and it lets you quickly search for words that might be inside the document you are looking for. What is great about it: it is super fast, much faster than Spotlight and as soon as you click on one of the search result, a preview of that document or pdf appears instantly! Some of the things that need improvement: the results don't start poping up immediately when you start typing so you have to press "Enter" after entering what you want to search, and it doesn't run in the background to make it easily accessible with a quick key. You can partially solve the "no quick key" issue if you use QuickSilver. Hit "Ctrl-Spacebar" to bring up QuickSilver and enter "Spotin" to load it! You can download SpotInside here on MacUpdate.

Monday, July 16, 2007

File info without Command-I!

It is possible to get some info about the files everywhere in the Finder without checking out "More info" with Command-I. The option is called "Show item info" and it is located in the "Show View Options" window. You can bring up "Show View Options" with "Command-J". When it is enabled, some info about the files and folders will be displayed just under the name, under the icon. In the case of a folder, it will display the quantity of files inside the folder. As for a picture, it will display the resolution so you can get an idea of the quality of the image. If it's a music file, you'll get the length of the song. There is no additional info displayed for text files and pdf.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back and forward in a web browser!

A great tip submitted by Charles S. Branch: Back and forward in a web browser! When you are browsing the web and you want to go back or forward, instead of bringing your mouse all the way to the top bar, you can use a simple keyboard shortcut. The keyboard shortcut works in all Safari, Firefox and Camino. To use it, the cursor mustn't be in any text box. So if it doesn't work, make sure you are not in a text box. The shortcut is "Command-Left arrow" and "Command-Right arrow". What I noticed is that Firefox performs this operation much more quickly than Safari. It is as though Safari has to reload the page (it takes less time to load the page because part of it is in the cache). Camino is pretty fast, but not as fast as Firefox. Thanks for the great tip Charles!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Monitoring your Mac!

This great widget called iStat Pro brings you the power of the activity monitor and more to dashboard. You can easily monitor the CPU, Ram, network and disk usage while keeping an eye on the temperature of all the sensors located in your Mac. You can also get the speed of the fans running in your computer. The widget displays a lot of information in a moderately small size. You can download iStat Pro here from MacUpdate.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Exposé for tabs!

Wouldn't it be great if you could simply hit a quick shortcut and view the tabs in your web browser in an Exposé-like interface? Modifying Safari to do something like this is probably not very easy, nor user-friendly. I finally found a web browser that has this awesome feature built-in: Shiira. There are many things that makes Shiira a great browser. You get a nice preview of all your tabs, although this PageDock can take up a lot of space. If you don't want to waste all the space used by the PageDock, you can simply choose to use a regular Tab bar in the preferences. You can easily access the Exposé for tabs by pressing F8. One of the things that the real Exposé has that Shiira doesn't is the possibility of switching tab with the arrows once you brought it up with F8. The interface is very Mac-like, similar to Camino. All the features that are now considered standard in a web browser, such as "Private browsing" and "Block Pop-up Windows" are present. There is also a Full Screen mode that can be useful in a presentation. It is overall a remarkable browser that has all the features needed to be used as a primary web browser. You can get more info and download Shiira here on the developer's website.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Completing a word!

A great tip submitted by Frank Boer: Completing a word! When you're typing in a text editing application such as Pages or TextEdit, it is possible to get a pop-up with all the possible words that you might writing. So if you are in the middle of writing a complex word, instead of checking it out in the dictionary or writing it wrong and correcting it with the spell-check feature, you can easily use that feature by hitting "Esc". A drop-down box will pop-up. You can simply highlight the correct word with the arrows and hit "Tab" to keep it. Thanks for the great tip Frank!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Uninstalling applications!

I used to think that it was very cool to simply drag the application in the trash from the applications folder to uninstall it. This is nearly the only way of uninstalling applications that don't include an uninstaller. The problem is however, that some files remain on your system forever, until you reinstall the OS. There is a nice freeware called AppCleaner that lets you select an application to uninstall. The app will find every files related to that application on your hard drive. What is even better is that you can go through the list of files to be removed before actually deleting them. It will avoid the app mistakingly deleting a very important file. After trying it for a while, I think it works pretty well. You can download AppCleaner here from MacUpdate.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Moving the Dock!

It is pretty well known that you can resize the Dock by clicking on the line between the trash and the application icons and dragging it left or right (up or down if your dock is on either side). One of the things that is even better is that you can hold down "Shift" while clicking on that divider. It will let you drag the dock at the left or at the right of the screen . Changing the location of the Dock can already be done in System Preferences, but this way is much quicker if you want to change it often. There are some applications that it is actually better to have it on the side, while some works better with the Dock on the bottom.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Printing on Envelopes!

I found this tip on Printing on Envelopes! Printing on envelopes was never user-friendly, but it improved with the latest software. The fact remains that it is not as easy as it should be. There is a great widget called EasyEnvelopes that makes the process much more Mac-like and user-friendly. It will automatically add your address in the top left corner. It will also let you choose a contact from your address book. If the address is not in your address book, you can simply enter it in the text box under the address book search bar. You can download EasyEnvelopes here from Thanks for the tip

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Another step towards free .Mac!

Another feature that is very important about .Mac is the possibility of doing backups that are stored on the Web. You don't want to run the risk of your backups being destroyed in a fire or whatever else that could happen to your house. The downside of .Mac is that you only get 1 GB of storage that is shared with your email. There are many alternatives out there, but one that I really like is Mozy. Mozy offers a good solution for Macs at a great price. You actually don't pay anything for the basic 2 GB of storage (more than .Mac). There is also a premium version at $4.95 per month for unlimited storage. The application will let you choose what you want to backup from your hard drive. You can let Mozy generate an encryption key or use your own. You can also schedule automatic backups. I don't any reason not to use at least the free 2GB. You can check it out at

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Another Dictionary Widget!

The dictionary widget that comes with every Mac is good, but it's not always the best. There are some words, especially computer terms, that are only found in constantly updated dictionaries such as the Wiktionary. If you try searching "iPhone", you won't find much in most dictionaries, but the Wiktionary will inform you right away. What is great is that just like Wikipedia, there is a widget for the Wiktionary. The only downside compared to the regular dictionary is that it only works if you are online. You can get the Wiktionary widget here from MacUpdate.

Friday, July 6, 2007

A Leopard looking desktop!

I am getting tired of the old Apple blue background and you probably are too. It has been around for years and I agree with Apple that a new wallpaper is necessary for Leopard. Apple got us excited about the prospect of Leopard in spring only to delay it a few months after. The iPhone is cool but I would really like to see something new on the Mac side. A lot of people have started trying to tweak their system to perform like Leopard in the meantime. So I found this nice copy of the new wallpaper that comes with Leopard (the quality is pretty good at 2000x1250):

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Chatting in a single application!

A great tip submitted by Nessuno: Chatting in a single application! iChat is a great chat application, but is that really what you are looking for? Not really. Your friends are probably all using different instant messaging applications: AIM, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ, Yahoo. I already talked about a similar application that brings all the different provider in one, Adium. What qNext is great at is to share your music, photos and files with your friends. qNext is a cross-platform instant messaging app that brings all the different service providers in one while offering video, audio and loads of other features! You can learn more and download qNext here. Thanks for the tip Nessuno!

Screenshot from MacUpdate:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The source of a download!

I sometimes find files that I downloaded weeks ago and wonder where I got them. Well, it turns out that OS X has this feature built-in. You just have to select the file and hit "Command-I". It will display the info as usual. You can then click on the arrow at the left of "More Info". The "Where from" option will appear with the URL of where you got the file. The only thing I noticed is that it seems to work only when you download the file with Safari. It doesn't look like Camino or Firefox records that info.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Waiting for a delivery?

This is the ultimate widget if you often order stuff online. It is the "Delivery Status" widget. Once you entered the necessary information, it will automatically retrieve the up to date status of your order. It works with tons of shipping company, Apple and Amazon around the world. You can also choose how often you want it to update.

You can also expand it to get more info. If your order contains multiple items, clicking on the name of the item will cycle you through your whole order. You can download Delivery Status here from MacUpdate.

Monday, July 2, 2007

iCal icon that follows the real date!

One of the real downside that came with the latest OS, Tiger, is that the iCal icon doesn't follow the date anymore. Before Tiger, after you opened iCal, the icon remained with today's date. Not anymore, so we don't have the choice but to solve the problem ourselves. I thought it was really cool when I saw iConiCal on MacUpdate. I thought someone finally solved the problem. Well, they did but it's not automated. I was working on an Automator script to get that more user-friendly, but it didn't really work out. I was always missing an "action" to close iCal afterwards. After giving up on Automator and thinking that I would just use the iCal alarm (even if it wouldn't close iCal afterwards), I found the solution in iConiCal's preferences. To get everything running:

2. Once it is installed, it will load. Go to the settings tab.
3. Choose the color of the icon iCal will have when it is closed.
4. Uncheck the box "Leave iCal open after changing the icons".
5. Click "Okay".
6. When you close iCal, the icon should have kept the date.

The only problem is that it is not automated. To automate it:

1. Open iCal.
2. Create a new calendar called "iCal icon".
3. Create a new event in this calendar.
4. Set a time for the event to happen (I chose 1:00 AM so that the icon would be updated then).
5. Set the "repeat" to "every day".
6. Choose "Open file" in alarm.
7. Select the iConiCal application you installed earlier.
8. You can uncheck the new calendar you created at the left so that you don't see the event among the other events.

That is it! Your iCal icon should now update automatically at the set time. The only downside is that if you put your computer to sleep at night, it will probably wake it up. You can solve this by choosing a time during the day that your computer will most likely be awake.

Video screenshot:

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Quick Full Screen in DVD Player!

There is a known quick keyboard shortcut to go to full screen in DVD Player and that is "Command-0" (that's a zero). Another one that I really like and that is unadvertised however is with the mouse. It doesn't work when you are in the Menu of the DVD, but it works when watching the video. You can just double-click on the video and it will switch to full screen. Double-clicking again will bring you back to a window view. QuickTime's behaviors is much different, it will instead play/pause the video.

I am currently working on an awesome Automator script that makes the iCal icon follow the date (like it should!). I might post it tomorrow if it is ready!
Brain Toniq. Clear the head fog
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