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.

My goal for the blog: make it

The best site for Mac, iPhone, and iPad tips, period.

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Another Time Machine Backup Success Story

One of my customers has a Mac Pro tower, and the hard drive went bad last week. A replacement drive was only $60, and it was even bigger and faster than the one that died. Of course the new drive was blank... but we had a Time Machine backup so we restored from that and in less than an hour the customer was back in business.

Turns out we'd only set up this backup system two weeks earlier, so we really lucked out. Let's make sure that you're lucky too. If you don't have a Time Machine backup, let's get you one. You'll need an external hard disk, such as this one:

Seagate GoFlex 1 terabyte external drive, $159.99 from Amazon, with free shipping.

You also need a Mac with OS X 10.5 or higher, and there are a lot of other reasons to have 10.5 or higher so if you're on 10.4.11 let's get you to 10.5 at least. You 10.4.11 people know who you are. (Unless you don't-- in that case, go to the Apple menu and choose "About This Mac" and see what it says in there).

Time Machine is Apple's own backup software, built into the system starting with 10.5, and it works like a charm. If you are on 10.5 or 10.6 you already have the software and it's already installed.

If you buy a drive that is formatted for a Mac (like the Seagate above), all you do is connect it and answer "Yes" when asked whether you want to use it for Time Machine. If you buy some other drive you will probably have to format it as Mac OS X Extended (use the Disk Utility, in the Utilities folder in the Applications folder). Either way, from then on you'll be backing up automatically every hour, nothing for you to worry about, and when your Mac's disk quits working the cost of the backup drive will seem like small potatoes. Recovering data from a dead hard disk will cost you at least $1,000 and usually more. It does not make sense to tempt fate here-- use Time Machine and have that backup for when you need it. Eventually, you'll need it. Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared.

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How to Type Accents (and other diacritical marks) on a Mac

Ever want to type something like that, but all you could get was "Ole"? Or maybe you want to type "¿Que pasa? but you can't find the upside-down question mark. Either way, this is the article for you. We'll have you typing all kinds of groovy accents and symbols and other neat stuff in no time.

You could memorize everything but that's no fun. Here's how you can learn for yourself where the special characters are.

1. Go to System Preferences and click on Keyboard.

2. Check the box that says "Show Keyboard & Character Viewer in menu bar."

Close up System Preferences and look in your menu bar for a new icon. It looks like this:

Enlarged, it looks like this:

3. Click the Keyboard & Character Viewer icon in the menu bar and choose "Show Keyboard Viewer." Now you see a representation of your keyboard. Here's mine.

Try holding down the shift key on your real keyboard. You should see something like this:

Of course this is nothing new. You already knew that you would get capital letters if you held down the Shift key. Notice, by the way, that when you press a key on the keyboard it changes what you see in the Keyboard viewer. Here, the shift key is down, so both shift keys on the screen are highlighted.

4. Now for the good stuff. Hold down the Option key. You'll see something like this:

Ignoring for the time being the orange keys, look at all of the other great stuff in there. Now you know how to type a perfect bullet: Option-8. You can type a cent sign (¢) with Option-4. You can type that upside-down question mark using Option-1. If you think about the Option key as being something like a shift key, you'd be on the right track. The keys do different things when you hold down Shift, and they do other different things when you hold down Option.

Turns out they do other other different things when you hold Option AND Shift at the same time. Here's a look:

If you've ever wanted to type an Apple logo, now you know: it's Option-Shift-K. And there's our upside-down question mark: Option-Shift-question mark.

Now, back to our orange keys. When you hold the Option key by itself it shows you those five orange keys. If you keep the option key down, and then type one of those keys, and then you let go, and then you type a vowel (usually) you will get a special character, along these lines:

à, è, ì, ò, ù

á, é, í, ó, ú

ä, ë, ï, ö, ü

â, ê, î, ô, û

That's going to come in handy someday. Especially if you need to properly type "résumé" (and you might-- there's a recession on you know). Or "Löwenbräu" (and you might-- there's a recession on, you know).

You might have noticed that I did not use the Option-n combination yet. That's because it doesn't work on the vowels. Instead, it works on the "n" itself. So, you type Option-n, then let go, then "n" again, and you get...


Perfect for typing "hasta mañana," a great way to end.

UPDATE: this is all very nice if you are using a Mac with OS X 10.6 or higher. If you are on 10.5, you'll find the controls for turning on the Keyboard Viewer and the Character Viewer under "International" in the System Preferences. If you are on 10.4, it's time to upgrade. Get to 10.5 if on a G5 machine, 10.6 otherwise.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help?

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VIDEO TIP: How to Add PDFs to Your iPad

Recently I hit upon the idea of gathering up as many of my PDF manuals as I could-- manuals for my printer, for software, for my camera, etc.-- and putting them onto my iPad for reading in the iBooks app. The way I do it is easier than what I'd seen described online, so I thought I'd document my method in video form so everyone can benefit.

You can see the three PDFs (Olympus camera manual, HP printer manual, and AppleScript Language Guide) on the top shelf of the iBooks bookcase. Watch for another blog entry here with all kinds of iBooks tips.

UPDATE: if your iTunes is set to "Sync Books" you should drag your PDFs to the LIBRARY in iTunes, at the top left of the iTunes window. If you try to drag to the iPad itself it won't work. You will also have to click the "Sync" button in iTunes when you are done dragging. If you're synching "All Books" that's all you do. If you are synching "Selected Books" you will have to check the box next to these newly-dragged books. Either way, it's not hard.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help?

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Giant Email Security Breach

You are probably going to receive one or more emails, reading something like this:

"Today we were informed by Epsilon Interactive, our national email service provider, that your email address was exposed due to unauthorized access of their system. We have been advised that the only information that was obtained is your name and email address."

That's nice.

I've received four such emails, including two from Ralphs Supermarket (interestingly, the first one says "Dear Christian Boyce" while the second one says "Dear Valued Customer"), one from Best Buy, and one from Robert Half International. Citibank, Walgreen's, and the Home Shopping Network are other companies who use Epsilon for their email marketing, along with many, MANY others. Several of these companies have sent out breezy little emails to their customers saying "Sorry about that, and watch out for viruses in emails from people you don't know. It is possible that you may receive some spam email messages. We apologize for any inconvenience." I would call this more than "inconvenient" but that's just me.

Besides making a note to stay away from Epsilon (but good luck with that-- they are the world's largest email marketing service, sending out more than FORTY BILLION EMAILS PER YEAR, for over 2500 companies), there's not much you can do, especially considering we don't know what happened. Epsilon put out a one-paragraph press release on April 1st, 2011 (no fooling) that's a little on the vague side. They don't say when the security breach happened, they don't say how many email addresses were obtained, they don't say whether it was an inside job. They DO say that apart from names and email addresses "no other personal identifiable information associated with those names was at risk."Somehow I don't find this very reassuring. If we had asked them last Thursday they would have said that NONE of the information they store was at risk at all. And they would have been wrong about that. So maybe they're wrong this time too.

It would be a good idea to be extra suspicious of emails that appear to come from a bank or a retailer asking you to "verify your information by replying to this email with name, address, social security number, and PIN." Such emails are phony and you shouldn't reply at all. If you get an email asking for that kind of information just throw it away. You should have been doing that all along but if you haven't been, start now.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help?

Email me.

But first:

People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.