Archive for March 2013

Move a Tab to a new Window in Safari

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

When using Safari, the default is generally that it uses Tabs instead of a new window for each new page you want to open.  This is usually a great thing in fact, as it keeps everything much more organised on your screen and allows you to make the most of your valuable screen real estate.  A typical tabbed browser window will look something like this:


Notice that there is one tab for the "Apple" page and another tab for the "Facebook" page in this case.  You can open as many tabs as you want and they will squeeze in to fit along the top.  This lets you quickly move from one page to another without having different windows all hidden behind each other and it's a very useful feature.

However, sometimes you'll actually want to have one of those tabs in a separate window.  Maybe you want to compare two web pages side by side, which is difficult to achieve using tabbed browsing.  You have two options to accomplish this.  One, of course, is to open a new window from the File menu and then open the address of the page you want in that window.  But what if you already have the page you want open, but it's in a tab already?  There's a great little shortcut to get that tab out into its own window.  You can either grab the tab by its title and drag it out of the window that's it's currently in, which will move it to its own window, or you can right-click the title of the tab and from the context menu that appears, choose the option Move Tab to New Window.


You can then position your two windows side-by-side if you wish.  So as you can see, it's a pretty simple task to move a tab to a new window in Safari once you know how!

The Magic ESC Key

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

Many, many times this has happened to me and I've seen it happen to so many others.  You're just working away, doing something normal on your Mac, when suddenly you hit a key or click something unintentionally and the next thing you know, something weird has appeared on your screen, or half the screen goes dark and the rest is highlighted, or any number of different symptoms.  The Magic ESC key will generally fix this sort of problem for you, in an instant.

esc-keyI call it the Magic ESC key, but actually it's really just the ESC key (pronounced Escape Key).  It does exactly what it says on the tin.  It escapes from whatever crazy mess you've gotten yourself into without even knowing what you did!  So, if this happens to you, the first thing to try is to press ESC.  You'll find it at the very top-left of every keyboard and it can often be your best friend.

If pressing the ESC key doesn't work for you, you've probably got a slightly more serious problem.  However, in my experience it will work more often than not!

How to merge PDF files on Mac OS X

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

From Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) onwards, the Mac OS actually includes the functionality to merge PDF files together.  There are plenty of software packages available to do this at a price, but if you know this trick, then you don't need to buy them!  The Mac has that built right in.

So, for example, if you have two PDFs that you really want to combine together and send as one document, or you even just need to move a page from one PDF file to another, it's actually very simple.  You need to use the Preview App.  You'll find the Preview app located in your Applications folder and it is generally the default app used by the Mac for viewing images and - guess what else - PDF files!

previewThe thing is, it's not just for viewing them.  You can also use it to manipulate them.  In fact, the process varies slightly on the different versions of Mac OS X but for the sake of this post we'll assume that you are using 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

So, let's assume that you have two PDF files, PDF1 and PDF2.  Start by opening PDF1 in Preview.  You should see something like this:

preview_with_thumbsIf for some reason you don't see the thumbnails on the left or right side, you need to go to the View menu and choose Thumbnails.  This is important, since you need to be able to see these in order to merge the documents.  If you want to Merge another PDF into this one in its entirety (all the pages), then you simply drag PDF2 from the Finder and drop it on top of the thumbnail icon for the page that you want the merged PDF to be inserted before.  So, if PDF2 contains 5 pages and you want this entire document to be inserted before page 3 of PDF1, you simply drag and drop PDF2 onto the thumbnail icon for page 3 in PDF1.

Having done that, the entire contents of PDF2 will now be in PDF1.  All you have to do is Save PDF1 and you're done.  If for some reason PDF1 is a locked file and can't be modified, you will be prompted to save a new copy with your modifications.  This is fairly rare though.

So what if you want to just move a few pages from one PDF document to another?  I've had to do this many times.  You will need to open both of the PDF files side by side in Preview.  This will look something like the following:


As you can see, you now have two PDF files open side-by-side and each one has its own thumbnail sidebar.  You can probably guess the next bit.  Just drag the pages you want from one PDF and drop them into the other.  Again, make sure to drop the pages on top of one of the page thumbnails in the other document.  If you do not drop the pages on top of one of the thumbnail icons, Preview will consider it to be two separate documents and will not merge them.  This is the key to merging the documents.

Once again, when you are finished moving the pages, simply save the PDF file that you have modified and you're ready to go!

As I mentioned above, the process can vary slightly on different versions of Mac OS X, so if you are having problems be sure to remember that you can always contact us using our Live Chat Support system. Live, instant, online support.  It doesn't get much better than that!

How To Access The Recovery Utility in Mac OS X

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

Since the release of Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), there is now a recovery partition built into your Mac, so you no longer need to boot from a DVD to carry out system repairs.

option_keyTo access the Recovery Utility in Mac OS X, you simply need to reboot your Mac and after you hear the chime, hold down the Option Key.

You will be presented with a list of the volumes that are available to start up from.  One of these will be called Recovery.  Click it and press the arrow button to startup from that volume.

Your Mac will now start up in Recovery Mode where you can carry out various tasks, including a complete re-installation of your Operating System if you wish.

Other options available from the Recovery utility include access to Disk Utility to run checks on your hard disk and also to repair disk permissions.  You also have access to Terminal if you wish to execute commands on the command line.

You will mainly want to enter Recovery mode if something has gone wrong with your Mac, like for example if it won't start up, or if you are experiencing strange behaviour while using the Mac (slow, spinning beach ball, missing file or folder icons etc.) which can be an indication of a hard disk problem.  You can also use the recovery utility to reset your user account or administrator password on your Mac.

Update your iOS and Mac Apps!

Posted by on in iPad Tips, iPhone Tips, iPod Tips, Mac Tips.

Something I see all the time is people having problems with their Facebook app, Skype app or many others.  This happens both on iPhones and iPads as well as Macs.  Many people update their OS software through the Apple Software Updates but they often don't update the apps themselves.

This can lead to all sorts of problems, because the newer versions of the apps generally add more functionality and fix bugs that have cropped up in previous versions.  The older versions of the app may not be compatible with the version of the OS that you're using.

app-store-badgeSo, the best strategy is generally to keep all your apps up to date, unless you know of a good reason not to.  Look for the little badge beside the App Store icon that shows how many updates are waiting to be installed.


Maintaining Your Mac

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

Lots of people wonder about maintaining their Mac and especially if they have made the move from Windows to Mac.  On Windows, there are many things that you need to do in order to keep your machine running fairly smoothly.  These include such things are running virus scans, malware scans, cleanup tools, defragmentation tools, registry cleaners etc.

So let's see.  Do you really need to worry about any of these things on your Mac?

Virus Scans - these involve both software running actively in the background all the time as well as scans that you have to run manually which can significantly slow down your computer.  Do you need them?  Should you have anti-virus installed?  I'll leave the decision up to you, all I can say is that I've been using Macs since 1984 and I have never had an anti-virus package installed, nor have I ever had a virus.  I installed an anti-virus once, but it got so annoying with it telling me about all the windows viruses coming in via email that I had to switch it off.  Those viruses cannot do any harm to my Mac anyway, so stop telling me about them already!

Malware scans - basically, the same thing applies as for viruses.  Except that there have been a few malware sightings on the Mac, so it might be prudent to run scans now and then.  Personally, I don't.

Cleanup Tools - there is some merit in using these tools, although they are certainly not necessary.  They tend to clean up temporary files and the like, things that you don't need but that are not really doing any harm anyway.  They can be useful for reclaiming space if you hard disk is getting full.

Defragmentation Tools - these, in my opinion, are generally over-rated anyway.  They can take a long time, they can be a little risky and the amount of speed you regain is usually minimal.  Except in the case where the disk is very badly fragmented, which would usually take a long, long time to happen.  So on Windows, yes you might want to run this occasionally but certainly not every week.  However, on the Mac, this is really not necessary.  The Mac does a good job of managing disk space and it actually optimises (or defrags) as it goes.  It's an ongoing process, so there's no need to do it yourself.  Macs rule.  🙂

Registry Cleaners - registry? what registry? You don't need to worry about this, if there's cleaning up to do the Mac usually does it by itself.  There is no real "registry" and therefore nothing really to get corrupted or dirty.

When it comes to maintenance, or even making sure your Mac runs as fast as it can, these are the things you need to consider:

1. RAM - this is a special kind of "short term" memory that your computer has.  It loads up the stuff it wants to use and puts it in RAM.  If it runs out of RAM, like if you have every program on your computer open and it's just too much for it, everything starts to slow down.  Very often you can upgrade the RAM and if you were running out, you'll notice a difference when you have more than enough.

2. Hard Disk - if your hard disk gets too full, it can also lead to the computer slowing down significantly.  You should always leave at least 20% of the total space on the disk free.  This will mean that there will always be enough for the computer to do what it needs, without slowing down. The speed of the disk itself will always be a factor.  A 7200rpm drive will run faster than a 5400rpm drive.  One of the new Flash memory SSD hard drives runs very significantly faster than these.  This has a noticeable impact on the speed of the computer overall.

3. External Disks & Devices - if you notice that you often get the spinning beach ball appearing, it can be because the Mac is trying to access one of your external USB drives and it's waiting for it to spin up.  There are settings you can change or you can leave the disk off until you need it if you are experiencing this.  Some other devices can also occasionally conflict with each other and cause a similar issue.  If you have this type of problem, it's always good to start with no peripheral devices connected and see if the problem persists.  If not, you've at least narrowed it down.

4. Outdated Software - a major cause of crashes or the spinning beach ball is using an outdated version of some software that runs in the background.  It may not be compatible with the version of Mac OS X that you are using and it can cause a variety of problems.  Always check your software to make sure it's up to date, especially after a major OS upgrade.

5. Reboot Occasionally - personally I find that I don't have a need to reboot my Mac very often.  It's always on.  It always works.  It's a pleasure to use.  The thing is, after a while things can slow down a little bit if there have been memory leaks etc. and over time this will build up.  The best thing to do is, every now and again, whenever it's convenient, just restart your Mac.  It will clear out a lot of stuff that's built up in RAM, reset all the relevant settings and give you a nice fresh Mac ready to go again... for a few more weeks... or months...

So I hope this helps in some way to explain what's needed and what's not.  Has anyone else any tips on Mac maintenance that they find particularly effective?

Keyboard & Character Viewers

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

In Mac OS X, it's easy to find those symbols that you want but just don't know how to get!  You need to use either the Character Viewer or the Keyboard Viewer.  To do this, you need to display them in the menu bar.  This may be disabled by default, in which case you should go to the Apple Menu and choose System Preferences.  Then look for Language & Text and when that pane appears, look for the tabs along the top.  Click the Input Sources tab and you will see the following:


Make sure to switch on Keyboard & Character Viewer.  This will display a little icon in the menu bar which you can click to access the Keyboard & Character Viewer.  It looks like this:


Now, you can select Character Viewer from the menu and the following window will appear:


Here, you can find all sorts of symbols just by looking through them and when you find the one you want, you can drag and drop it straight into the document where you need it.  This is easier than having to know key combinations, but takes longer.  You can also use the Keyboard Viewer, which is a very handy tool and looks like this:


Basically, this is a representation of your physical keyboard and as you press modifier keys on your keyboard, the symbols on the keys change accordingly.  If you hold down the Shift key for example, all the letters will turn to uppercase.  This allows you to see exactly which symbols will be produced with what combination of keys.  If you tend to write in foreign languages, this feature can be particularly useful.

Finding your USB Pendrive on the Desktop

Posted by on in Mac Tips.

Apple have introduced some nice new features in Lion and Mountain Lion and they seem intent on making us take notice of them.  There are a few examples of new features that Apple have now decided to set as the defaults for any new user.  Such as, for example, changing the scroll direction that people have been using for years upon years and then having the audacity to call it "natural"!  Now that really blew me away.

Anyway, one of the other things that they've introduced is the ability to change a setting to determine if you want to see things such as hard disks, DVDs, pendrives and the like, as icons on the desktop.  This is great!  If you love a tidy, uncluttered desktop you can now hide more things than ever before!  Except, the default is set to not display these items.  Which is a pain for everyone who's used to seeing them.  Who, in fact, have come to love the fact that they are there, ready, and that you don't have to click anywhere else to find them.  Now, they're all gone!

finder_prefsThat's really the whole point of this post.  They're not gone.  They're hidden.  So, if you can't find some of your disks, particularly DVDs or pendrives on your desktop then you should check the following:

From the Finder, look in the menu bar and click the Finder menu.  Then choose Finder Preferences.  You will see this window.  Make sure that under "Show these items on the desktop", all items are ticked.  Then close the window and see if you can now see your disks appearing on the desktop.

VLC Player from VideoLAN

Posted by on in Coolest Apps, Mac Tips.

Quicktime Player is great, but it still seems to struggle with certain formats without installing extra codecs etc.  The best Mac App that I've come across for video playback has to be VLC Player from VideoLAN. This App is completely free and performs amazingly well.  It's a little gem.  In my opinion, if VLC Player doesn't play it, well then it probably can't be played on your Mac.


vlcThe interface is clean and tidy, uses drag and drop and provides all the controls you need.  Personally, I keep the VLC Player icon in my dock and any movie file I want to play, I just drop it on VLC.  Just look for the Traffic Cone!



Apple Releases iOS 6.1.3 with Lockscreen Security Fix

Posted by on in iPad Tips, iPhone Tips, iPod Tips, News Articles.

Apple has an unfortunate history of lockscreen vulnerabilities with iOS and version 6.1 has suffered the same fate. People are finding random combinations of actions to unlock the display using emergency calling in iOS 6.1 (meaning that iPads and iPods probably aren’t affected). These actions can unlock the home screen of an iPhone running iOS 6.1 and give access to important user data.

Apple today released the iOS 6.1.3 update which apparently has a fix for this glitch as well as some map improvements for Japan in its Maps app.

For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website: