Mac, iPhone, & iPad tips to help YOU get more from your Apple stuff.
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I'm Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant Christian Boyce. Helping people with their Apple stuff is what I do.

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Time Machine to the rescue

I mentioned in a previous post that installed 10.6 “Snow Leopard” on my MacBook, didn’t like it, and “rolled back” to 10.5.8. Rolling back meant using Time Machine, and I’m here to sing its praises and to talk you into using it.

What’s Time Machine?
Time Machine is backup software provided as part of Mac OS X 10.5 (and 10.6). It backs up EVERYTHING on your hard disk(s). All you need is a place to put it. Typically that’s an external hard drive, this one from Amazon. (This is a very nice drive: pre-formatted for the Mac, saving you the trouble of reformatting). All you do is connect the drive. The Mac will detect the drive, ask you if you want to use it for your Time Machine backup, and you say “yes.” That’s it.

You can read Apple’s official Time Machine write-up

How do I use it?
For backing up, you do nothing. Everything is automatic. Your entire hard drive will be backed up when you first connect the drive, and from then on Time Machine backs up everything that’s changed in the last hour. If it hasn’t changed, Time Machine doesn’t back it up. That saves space.

Obviously this can’t go on forever, because you’d run out of space on the backup drive. So, Apple stores 24 hourly backups, a month’s worth of daily backups, and weekly backups after that. When you are close to running out of space Time Machine lets you know.

How do I get stuff back?
So, now you want to retrieve an accidentally deleted file. Or your QuickBooks file’s gone bad and you know it worked yesterday, so you want to get that one back. All you do is start up the Time Machine application (in your Mac’s Applications folder), and from there get overwhelmed, and from there call me. I can show you how to get your files back from my command post at Boyce Labs. After you’ve done it once it’s a snap. Regardless of whether you need my help or not, be assured that your stuff is there, backed up.

How do I completely restore my Mac, such as going back to 10.5 after installing 10.6?
Excellent question. First, you start from a DVD such as the 10.6 installer. Then, you look for a menu titled “Utilities.” Then, you choose “Restore System from Backup.” After that, you choose your backup disk (that’s easy-- there is probably only one). You then get to choose which edition to back up from. All of your backups are listed, along with the dates and the operating system version. That makes it easy. In my case, I chose the latest 10.5.8 backup, and was off to the races. It was a slow race (3 hours plus) but in the end, I was back on 10.5.8.

Is that all there is to it?
Ah, no. Not quite. I noticed a few little odd things on my restored 10.5.8 machine. First, after restoring, Mail acted as if it was launching for the first time, doing the same import steps that it did when I went from 10.4 to 10.5. Second, my Address Book and iCal and Bookmark synching via Mobile Me needed to be reset. That wasn’t a big deal for me but might throw a beginner off.

The Stirring Conclusion
Get an external disk. Set up Time Machine. There’s no easier way to back up and when you need it, Time Machine will save the day.

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Snow Leopard: I say "Wait."

Snow Leopard-- Wait for 0.6.1

Wish I could say “Go get it, install it, you’ll be very happy” but I can’t. I installed Snow Leopard on my MacBook yesterday, had a few problems, and went back to 10.5.8. My advice: wait until Apple has a 10.6.1 update before installing Snow Leopard. That’s what I’m going to do.

There are plenty of nice additions and refinements in Snow Leopard but it’s the things that didn’t work that wrecked the deal for me. Here’s what I found in an hour of having Snow Leopard installed:
  • Printing was very, very slow.
  • The machine ran very hot (no fun to work on a hot laptop).
  • RapidWeaver (the program I use to make this website) wouldn’t run.
  • 1Password wouldn’t work without a work-around that I didn’t want to do.
I don’t think that my experience is unique. Certainly my machine isn’t anything out of the ordinary, and I’m using mainstream software that lots of others use. So, I expect that Apple and the others will hear about these issues in some way or another, and when they do they’ll fix them.

Maybe we should get Steve Jobs to
be a fan of Christian Boyce and Associates on Facebook. If you see him, mention it.

This, by the way, is the 100th post to the Boyce Blog.

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Command-D, your time-saving friend

I’ll bet you’ve seen a dialog box like this before:

Or maybe like this one:

Or this one:

You probably already know the keyboard shortcut that lets you click the Save button without using the mouse: you hit Enter, or Return. That’s great, when you want it. But what about the rest of the time? What about when you really don’t care about the document, and you DON’T want to save the changes? How can you click the Don’t Save button from the keyboard?

The answer, in almost every case, is Command-D. Memorize this one (D for Don’t is the way I remember it) and you’ll reach for the mouse a little less. That will save you a little bit of time over and over and over. Try it and see.

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Snow Leopard Highlights

Based on Apple’s “Snow Leopard Enhancements and Refinements” page, we have some nice stuff to look forward to in Mac OS X 10.6. Here’s a quick list of what matters most to me.

  1. Rewritten Finder. Finally, after all these years, Apple has rewritten the Finder, in Cocoa. They’ve been telling everyone else to use Cocoa for years and finally Apple’s doing it themselves. This will make the Finder faster. Yay.
  2. Faster Time Machine backups. Faster is better. (If you are not using Time Machine, email me and let me talk you into it. Time Machine will save the day for you someday.)
  3. More info in the Airport Menu. Now you can tell which signal is the strongest, so when you are “borrowing” internet from the neighbors you’ll know which neighbor to borrow from.
  4. Automatic updating of printer drivers! Hallelujah. I really hope this works. I’ve seen enough of HP’s “Support & Drivers” page to last a lifetime.
  5. Automatic text substitution. This is the thing that turns “teh” into “the” and “recieve” into “receive” in Microsoft Word, Entourage, etc. Now it will work in Mac programs such as Mail, iCal, and who knows where else. This will speed up your typing. Mine too.
  6. Better iChat reliability and other iChat improvements. I love this one. We use iChat to provide screen-sharing remote support, and when it works, it’s great-- and now it’s going to work more often. Super.
  7. Faster/better Mail program. It’s supposed to be faster at everything: faster to launch, faster to display the contents of a folder, faster to search, faster to move messages.
  8. Microsoft Exchange compatibility. If your workplace has an Exchange server, this matters a lot to you. Otherwise, no. Basically it lets you use Mail, iCal, and Apple’s Address book on your Mac rather than Outlook on a PC. A much better solution than Entourage, by the way.
  9. Faster in almost every way. That’s a good thing.
  10. Date in the menu bar! I can’t believe it took this long.
This is my list in advance of actually having the software installed. Let’s see whether I come up with a different list once it’s installed.

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Snow Leopard, available August 28th

Looky here-- Apple finished Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) early! The software, which costs $29 for Macs with 10.5 already installed, will be available this Friday.

If you want to know more about Snow Leopard, scroll down (or click

If you want to buy a copy of Snow Leopard, scroll down a little more (or click

I will install Snow Leopard as soon as possible and report my findings, good and bad. Stay tuned.

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More About the Dock (part 2)

Every Mac has a Dock, and every Dock has things in it, and just about everyone clicks on things in the Dock to launch various programs. Nothing wrong with that, nothing at all... but you can do more with the Dock than just click on things. For example:

Let’s say you have something on your desktop (or in a folder) and you want to send that thing as an email attachment. The typical routine is something like this (and let’s keep track of the clicks):

  1. Launch your email program (Apple Mail or Entourage, probably) or switch to it. That’s one click.
  2. Make a new email message. That could be one click, or a trip to the menu bar.
  3. Click the Attachment button. We’re up to three clicks.
  4. Hunt around in the box that comes up and try to find the thing you want to attach. This could take a lot of clicks.
  5. Optional step 5: fail to find the thing you want to attach and give up.

Even if you do find your item and attach it there’s a lot of work involved. At least four clicks, and no guarantee of success. Better to do it in ONE STEP. Check it out:

Here’s a nice picture of a duck. I want to send it as an attachment.

Dock with duck image icon

All I have to do is drag it to the Mail icon. Mail will create a new email message with the duck as an attachment. One step, simple as that.

Here’s the result.
Mail message with duck image attachment
One step, and I’m ready to address and send my email-with-an-attachment. Easy as pie. Try it!

That there’s a one-step drag-and-drop method should not be a complete surprise to you. The Macintosh is full of nice touches and there is almost always an easier and faster way to do things. Dragging and dropping will come into play over and over as you use your Mac, and since dragging and dropping is a one-click effort, it will always be the easiest way to do things (measuring by number of clicks).

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More About the Dock (part 1)

I wrote about the Dock (“Hickory Dickory Dock”) in July of last year. It was a decent little article and the stuff I wrote then is still helpful today. Lately, though, I’ve noticed that a lot of Mac users are unaware of some of the Dock’s finer points. Here, then, is More About the Dock (part 1).

Here’s a very plain and sparsely populated Dock. Just a few items in it. No one’s Dock looks this empty, but it’s going to make our examples neater and cleaner.
Plain Dock

Let’s review: the items in the Dock in the first picture are there because someone (either you or Apple) put them there. They are permanently there (well, permanently until you drag them out of the Dock, on purpose or by accident). Other items appear in the Dock temporarily, just to the left of the dashed line in the Dock (or, if your Dock is vertical, just above the dashed line), whenever you launch them-- only to disappear when you quit.

Dock with iChat

Here we have the same Dock as in the first picture, with the addition of iChat. iChat is there because I went to the Applications folder and double-clicked on iChat. The iChat icon will remain in the Dock until I quit iChat-- and then it will disappear, leaving the Dock looking like the first picture again. And that means I’ll have to go to the Applications folder and double-click iChat the next time (and every time) I want to use it. Sort of a drag.

Speaking of drags, of course I could drag iChat to the Dock to permanently install it there. But that would mean planning ahead. The following method lets you install something into the Dock “on the fly,” when you happen to notice that there’s something in the Dock that would be a handy item to have in the Dock all the time. And, it’s as easy as clicking and holding on the icon in question.

Here, I’ve clicked and held (that’s important) on the iChat icon. Look at the little menu that pops up. All you have to do is read. Easy. For example:

if you want to keep that item in the Dock, slide up to “Keep in Dock” (see below).
Keep in Dock

If you want the program to run automatically at login (which, for most of us, means “after a restart”) all you have to do is choose “Open at Login.” Easy as pie. See below.
Open at Login

Two more handy menu items are “Show in Finder” and “Quit.” Both do exactly what you’d expect. You should try them and see.

Of course this works with any program, not just iChat. I mention it for those who are reading this late at night.

Watch this space (or the space right above it) for More About the Dock (part 2), coming soon.

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Customize Safari's Toolbar

Safari’s a nice browser but you can make it nicer by customizing the toolbar. What you learn in this blog post will help you in other programs (Mail, the Finder, Pages, Keynote, and many more) so you’re getting a lot for your money here.

This is Safari’s toolbar, right out of the box. (This is Safari 4 but it’s similar in version 3.) Click the toolbar below for a larger version.
safari's standard toolbar

Pretty basic. You get “back,” “forward,” and “Add to Bookmarks.” Ho hum.

But... if you choose “Customize Toolbar...” from Safari’s View menu, you get this (click the picture for a larger version):
safari customize toolbar buttons
Wowee, choices galore! Do what they tell you: drag buttons up and into the toolbar. If you change your mind, drag them off the toolbar. Arrange them any which way you like. It’s your toolbar: do what you want to it.

Here’s what I did to mine. Check out these buttons, working from left to right (and click the picture for a larger version):
safari's customized toolbar

Back one page
Forward one page

Smaller text and pictures (Safari 4-- in version 3, it’s just smaller text)
Larger text and pictures (see above)

Auto-fill (fills in web page forms with the information on your card in your Address Book)

1Password (not free, but really cool. Read about it further down in the blog)


Home (takes you back to the page Safari starts with)

Top Sites (drag the little picture to the left of “http”-- in this case, the Apple logo-- to the Top Sites icon to add it to Top Sites, and click on Top Sites to see what your Top Sites are.

Add to Bookmarks

Customizing the toolbar is fun, and you can’t break it. If you really mess up and want to start over just drag the standard set back up to the toolbar.

Apple’s Mail program (and Keynote, and the Finder, and Pages, etc.) work the same way. You know everything you need now to customize toolbars there too. Try it and let me know how it goes.

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Bigger Wednesday

Long-time readers may remember “Big Wednesday” (July 30th, 2008) as the Boyce Blog’s first 50-visit day. You can scroll down and read all about it. In case you don’t scroll down, the gist of the blog entry was “Today 50, tomorrow 100. Tell a friend.”

Well, it took a little longer than I thought it would (maybe everyone told the same friend?), but the Boyce Blog has indeed had its first 100-visit day, and what do you know, it happened on a Wednesday: August 5th, 2009. At this rate (roughly an additional visit per week) the Boyce Blog will have its first 1000-visit day November 25th, 2026. Truly something to be thankful for.

Here’s a beautiful chart showing “Bigger Wednesday”-- and at the far right, you’ll see we’re continuing to set records in terms of visits.

Boyce Blog gets 100 visits in one day

In celebration of Big and Bigger Wednesdays, Christian Boyce and Associates is offering all Boyce Blog readers a 50% discount for work performed on Wednesdays between now and September 30th, 2009. When you make your appointment say “I read about Big Wednesday on the Boyce Blog.”

Remember, this offer is for Boyce Blog readers only. This is your reward for your faithful readership.

Next stop: 500 visits in a day. Tell a friend and let’s get it done.

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iPhone Tip of the Year

Having your entire address book with you, always up to date, is mighty handy. Being able to search your address book is also mighty handy as it keeps you from scrolling through hundred of iPhone screens to get to the name you want. The problem is, sometimes you find yourself way down deep in your address book, alphabetically speaking, and the search box is way up at the top. Scrolling to the top of the list a screen at a time will drive you nuts. Today’s tip won’t keep you from going bonkers but if that does end up happening it won’t be because you can’t get to the search box quickly. Read on.

Here’s where you want to be: at the search screen.

iPhone Search Screen

But here’s where you are: down in the P section of your contacts.

iPhone contact list

How to get from where you are to where you want to be? Well, some would tell you to touch that tiny little magnifying glass at the top right of the screen, just above the “A” in the A-Z list. Good luck doing that-- you will probably hit the “+” instead, adding a new contact when you don’t want one.

The answer, it turns out, is to touch the time. That’s right, just touch the time (at the top center of the screen). Do that and you’re instantly brought to the top of your address list. Bonus: it shows you your phone number too. The magnifying glass doesn’t do that. And sometimes you need a little help remembering your own phone number. Depends on how much sleep you got.

Here’s what it looks like.

Touch where it says “Search” and you’re on your way to filtering down the list to whatever it is you type.

Note: the search is dynamic: the more you type, the fewer names show up, and it happens letter by letter. You don’t hit “Return” or “Enter” or anything like that-- different from searching in Google, for example.

Note #2: The search looks at first name, last name, and company. It does not search notes and it does not search email addresses. That’s the way it goes.

Note #3 (added after someone pointed this out to me): you won’t see your phone number above the search box if you start in the Contacts app. I never use that app, choosing instead to click the Contacts button at the bottom center of the Phone app. If you do it that way (starting in the Phone app, and then touch contacts at the bottom center-- as shown in the picture above), you do get to see your own phone number.

You’re probably wondering what makes this the iPhone Tip of the Year. It’s nice and all, but Tip of the Year? YES-- because this “touch the time” thing works in EVERY program that scrolls vertically. Safari is one (touch the time and you’re right back at the top of the page, with the Google search box at the right as a bonus). Mail is another (touch the time and you’re at the top of the page, with a search box for searching your mail!). The iPod app works that way too (and also gives you a search box). So does iTunes. I am sure there are others, as this feature is part of the iPhone’s operating system, a built-in function just waiting for iPhone apps to call it.

If you find another app where the touch-the-time method works, let me know and I’ll post it here.

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Trivia Time: Mac OS X Cats

You probably know that Mac OS X 10.5 is known as “Leopard.” You might also know that 10.6 is called “Snow Leopard.” Turns out that Apple has used the name of a large cat as a code name for every version of Mac OS X, starting with “Cheetah” for version 10.0. Meow!

Here’s the entire list. Memorize it and impress your friend(s) with your trivial Macintosh knowledge!

Mac OS X 10.0: Cheetah
Mac OS X 10.1: Puma
Mac OS X 10.2: Jaguar
Mac OS X 10.3: Panther
Mac OS X 10.4: Tiger
Mac OS X 10.5: Leopard
Mac OS X 10.6: Snow Leopard

Mac OS X 10.7: Lion
Mac OS X 10.8: Mountain Lion

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Snow Leopard is coming

Apple’s next version of the Mac OS is called Snow Leopard. It’s not out yet, but it will be soon, and I am already getting questions about it. Here are the answers.

What’s Snow Leopard? Snow Leopard is Mac OS X 10.6. Rather than introduce hundreds of new features, Snow Leopard is focussed on being faster than 10.5 (Leopard), with fewer bugs. I didn’t notice a lot of bugs in 10.5 so I think the thing we’ll appreciate the most in 10.6 is speed. People who need Exchange Server support (you know who you are-- you’re the ones who wanted to see your company’s calendar and address book like your PC-using coworkers) will appreciate Snow Leopard’s ability in that area. It’s easy as pie to set up.

When can I get it? Apple says “September 2009.” Note that when Apple says “September” they don’t mean “September 1st.” So, we don’t really know when it’s coming, but sometime before September 30th, 2009. Whenever it does come out, it will be standard on all new Macs, but of course you can buy it on a DVD for your existing Mac.

By the way, the “June 8” date is a clue that Apple is aiming for a September 8th, 2009 Snow Leopard release date. Three months’ lead time.

What’s it cost? If you have 10.5 already, and you bought your machine before June 8th, 2009, the cost is $29. Click to pre-order Snow Leopard from Amazon. That’s pretty good. If you don’t have 10.5 already, you’ll have to buy one of Apple’s Box Sets (iWork, iLife, and Snow Leopard), for $169.

If you bought a Mac after June 8th, 2009, you are eligible for a $9.95 “Up-To-Date” program, direct from Apple. May as well do it now.

Will it work on my Mac? Maybe. If you have an Intel-based Mac, yes, it will work. If you don’t, no, it won’t work. Look at “About This Mac” under the Apple menu. You’ll see something like this (without the red part, but that’s where you need to look):

If it says “Intel” in the Processor section you’re all set. If it says “G4” or “G5” I’m sorry to say that 10.5 is as high as it goes for for that Mac.

Here are links for every possible Snow Leopard-related need. Using these links supports the Boyce Blog so I’ll thank you in advance.

Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard, $29

Mac OS X Snow Leopard Family Pack (5-User), $49

Mac Box Set - (with Snow Leopard), $169

Mac Box Set Family Pack with Snow Leopard (5-User), $229

Mac OS X Server version 10.6 Snow Leopard, $499
(No, you almost certainly don’t need the server version)

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