Tips and Tricks

11 Major New Snow Leopard Features

Snow Leopard may be a “minor” update to Mac OS X, with a $29 upgrade price and a focus on improved speed and reliability, but it’s still bursting at the seams with tweaks, changes, and improvements—as well as a few modifications that might well be quite controversial. Here’s a look at some of the biggest changes due to arrive with Snow Leopard on Friday, August 28.

Sweeping Up after Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) is out. The initial reviews and feature summary articles are in. Like the person that sweeps up debris after a party is over, it's time for someone to come along and clean up the Snow Leopard litter — to clarify some points of confusion and offer a bit of troubleshooting advice. It's not a glorious job — but someone's gotta do it. I volunteered.

Getting 1Password Working in Snow Leopard

1Password helps you devise and store passwords for any occasion, and takes the work out of memorizing and securing them. The current version of 1Password (2.9.31) doesn't work in Safari in Snow Leopard, since Safari by default runs in 64-bit mode. 1Password 2.9.31 does reportedly work normally in all other Web browsers in Snow Leopard.

Agile Web Solutions planned to complete a Snow Leopard-savvy version of 1Password before Snow Leopard was released. Unfortunately, 1Password 3 isn't yet available, but Snow Leopard is, thanks to Apple's early ship date. Fortunately, the folks at Agile Web Solutions have some interim workarounds.

Inside Snow Leopard's Hidden Malware Protection

While malicious software has long been a near-daily annoyance for Windows PCs, Mac users have become accustomed to not worrying about malware. Threats arise from time to time—in January of this year, for example, a Trojan horse made the rounds in pirated copies of Apple’s iWork software—but most Mac users these days are probably running computers without antivirus software.

Apple has encouraged that habit, too, by frequently touting the Mac’s resistance to malware in its advertising materials, especially when compared to Windows. But with the release of Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), Apple has finally decided to subtly step up its fight against malware, much as it has done in the past with antiphishing features in Safari. For the first time, the Mac OS contains a built-in system that detects malicious software and attempts to protect users from inadvertently damaging their computers.

Fix iPhone's Camera Roll Display Bug

Last night I was grabbing screenshots with my iPhone that I'll use in a forthcoming post. After snapping 4 or 5, I launched the camera app to look at them. I saw the preview thumbnail but when I clicked Camera Roll for a larger view, it appeared empty.

I restarted the iPhone to no avail. I connected it to my Mac, and iPhoto imported the screenshots without a problem. After a sync they were in my iPhone's photo album, but I still couldn't see subsequent photos taken with the built-in camera.

After some searching I found this thread on Apple's Discussion Board that describes my issue. It seems that the iPhone fails to display photos taken beyond number 10,000.* That's right, I've taken 10,000 photos with my iPhone. Or have I?

How to discover New and Interesting Music Online

Everyone has faced this conundrum at one point or another: you're sick and tired of the music in your library, but you can't stand commercial radio. As a result, you haven't been exposed to new music in quite a while. How do you find new things to listen to that you won't hate? Or, even better, music that you might actually like?

Aside from the brute force approach—just listen to everything!—there are numerous ways to discover new music right at your fingertips that are a little more intuitive. Thanks to an explosion of online streaming services, you can often listen to a plethora of recommendations based on what you already like without even opening your wallet—at least until you're ready to commit to downloading.

How To: Diagnose Processes running on Your Mac

Call me an uber geek but I like to keep a close eye my Mac’s processes. I usually use the iStat Nano widget to keep an eye on the top 5 but OS X’s Activity Monitor gives the most detailed info. Processes are the “engine” behind what’s going on and can be used to quickly identify problems. Every application you use will add another process to your list and of course, your operating system requires to run many processes in order to function.

Anything that doesn’t relate to these is either an impostor which could mean a virus, malware or remnant of an application you have uninstalled. Whatever it is, it will be consuming valuable memory and processing power and could be the source of any number of problems you’ve been having. The problem is, reading a process list is like trying to read hieroglyphics. Processes simply labeled “pboard”, “mdworker” and “launchd” make no sense at all to the average user.

However, there is a very simple solution to this.

Buy a Used Mac without getting Burned

With the economy in the tank, you or someone you know is probably putting off the decision to buy a new Mac. But what about a used Mac? Sure, it doesn’t have all the glitz of a shiny new unibody MacBook, but an older-generation MacBook might just do the trick for a lot less money. Heck, you’d be surprised at how well an older iBook G4 can still handle just about everything that you might want to do. Here’s how to make sure your money is well spent.

The 10 Audio Commandments

As a music nerd, there are certain mistakes—ahem, choices—I see people making every day that make me cringe. It's not because I'm a snob, but because as both a fan and a musician, I want people to hear whatever music they choose to listen to in the best way possible. Not everyone is going to fit expensive home stereo systems or custom-made earphones into their budgets, but you needn't spend a ton of money to improve your listening scenario.

Let's start with the thing that most makes me sad, because I see it about 30 times every morning on my way to work: those horrible, ubiquitous white earbuds that come with each iPod.

Super Safe Web Browsing

As a security analyst and researcher, I often find myself exploring some of the darker corners of the Internet. In the course of staying current on security issues, I frequently must browse the sorts of Web sites no average person should go anywhere near; I'm also far more likely to be targeted in an attack. That's forced me to develop a somewhat extreme approach to safer surfing.

Web browser attacks fall into two general categories. The first type target your browser. The second type of Web attacks target your entire system. Such systemic attacks exploit security flaws in your browser or its plug-ins (such as QuickTime or Flash) to compromise your computer. These attacks take advantage of buffer overflows and vulnerabilities that have long enabled viruses, worms, and remote attacks.

To protect myself from both kinds of attacks and to isolate the damage if I do get hacked, I use a multilevel strategy. That starts with generating and storing passwords with 1Password (). (For more password tips, see Top Password Tips.) But I also use a layered system of multiple browsers and even operating systems to keep myself as safe as possible. Even if you don't visit the kinds of sites I do, some of these precautions could be useful to you, too.

10 Fantastic Free iPhone Apps every Photography Fan should Have

One of the greatest features of the iPhone 3GS compared to older iPhone models is the camera. Yes, at 3 megapixels it’s still lagging behind the rest of the industry where resolution is concerned and yes, it still doesn’t have a flash (though 90 percent of flashes on mobile phones are just about useless).

Despite its shortcomings however, the 3GS’ shooter still manages to capture some wonderfully solid images in good lighting and some way-better-than-average pics in dim lighting. As is often the case, third party app developers have hit the iPhone in full force where the camera is concerned in order to make good hardware even better thanks to creative and functional software. The cream of the crop falls into the paid category in some cases, but if you’re just beginning to explore the optics on your iPhone it’s always best to start out with some free options before you start emptying your wallet. So if you’re a photography fan with an iPhone 3GS (or any model for that matter), hit the jump for a list of 10 essential free iPhone apps that will help make your iPhone-captured photos shine.

Beyond HandBrake's Defaults

If you’re a Mac user interested in ripping your commercial DVDs to a format playable on an Apple TV, iPod, or iPhone, the free video transcoder, HandBrake 0.9.3, is one of the easiest ways to go about it. With a copy of the free VLC installed on your Mac, HandBrake can rip most DVDs made today, and the results it produces are quite watchable.

But suppose you want to go beyond the defaults—tweak HandBrake to produce videos that take up less room on your iPod, dispense with a movie’s closing credits, or bear subtitles? It’s all possible with HandBrake, but it takes some tweaking. And tweaking HandBrake is what this article is all about.

Play .wma, Ogg, and FLAC Files in iTunes

If you've spent every spare musical minute within the confines of the iTunes window you might believe there are only five audio formats—MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF, and Apple Lossless. It turns out, however, that when you waltz around the Internet you come upon a variety of other audio formats, not all of which play nicely with your computer, iPhone, or iPod.

Windows Media files (.wma) are commonly found, but there are others. Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files, while not as common as .wma, MP3, and AAC files, are favored by many audiophiles who prefer the quality of their sound. Regrettably, none of these file types are natively supported by iTunes or QuickTime.

Fortunately, getting them to play on your Mac is possible. With a little conversion magic and the proper add-ons, the audio contained within them will soon pour through your Mac’s speakers.

Macworld Secrets: Trouble Free Mac Tech Support

Tired of being the person your friends, relatives and co-workers run to with Mac problems? Providing help can be gratifying, but once you demonstrate your technical prowess, you quickly become the go-to person whenever someone’s Mac hiccups or burps. With these setup and maintenance tips, you can cut down on the calls for help.

10 Essential Back to School iPhone Apps

With the calendar flipping over to August, we’re getting ever closer to the day students dread (and their parents eagerly anticipate): Back-to-school time. Stocking up for those rapidly approaching school days used to mean a shopping list packed with books, paper, pens, pencils, and notebooks. But the iPhone’s arrival two years ago has changed things—in additional to its phone, music, and Web-surfing capabilities, Apple’s smartphone can also make the grade as an educational tool.

The iPhone already comes loaded with some built-in apps that might appeal to students—Voice Memos for recording lectures, Calendar for keeping tabs on class schedules, and the like. But peruse the aisles of the App Store, and you can find plenty of apps aimed at students, whether you’re starting your senior year of high school or working on a Master’s degree.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 apps we think are at the head of the class, but they’re not the only education offerings you’ll find in the App Store. So feel free to add to our list with the back-to-school apps that have earned your top marks.

Recover from Digital Photo Disasters

Thanks to the digital age, it has never been easier to take great photos—or to lose them. Most of the time our precious files move from flash memory cards to hard drives to online servers without so much as a hiccup. But when something does go wrong—whether it’s a corrupt file or an overly enthusiastic use of the erase button—valuable pictures can disappear into the digital ether, never to be seen again.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take now to avert disaster. And if trouble does strike, there are ways to recover from it.

30 Essential Mac Time Saving Shortcuts

We all want our Macs to be labour-saving rather than labour-causing devices. Yet, even if you've been using a Mac for a long time, the thought, "There has to be a better of way of doing this," will probably come to mind on a daily basis.

Whether you're undertaking a repetitive task that has to be done often or just a one-off job that seems to be more complicated than necessary, it's your time that's being wasted and we're here to put an end to it.

So we're going to show you 30 brilliant ways you can make life with your Mac that much easier – and we're not going to use Automator once.

Top 10 iPhone Annoyances (And How to Fix Them)

Even the greatest gadgets have flaws, and the iPhone is certainly no exception.

Praise it all you want, but the "Jesus phone" has plenty of little annoyances or nuisances that get under a user's skin. Fortunately, technology is all about workarounds to common problems. So we've not only put together a Top 10 list of iPhone annoyances to vent about, we're also offering solutions (where we can) to fix those pesky iPhone problems we hate so much.

Back Up Your Mac: Time Machine and Alternatives

Modern Mac users have no excuses for losing data, and yet too many lose irreplaceable digital photographs, home movies, and personal and work documents, due to having a blasé attitude to backing up, or thinking hard drives are somehow immune from technical problems.

But the harsh reality is this: data you're not backing-up at least once - and preferably twice - is data you don't care about.

Although backing-up was perhaps once an arcane, laborious process, that's far from the truth for today's Mac user.

Worldwide Mac: the Dos and Don'ts of International Electricity

Whether you're moving to another country or just visiting, chances are pretty good you're going to be bringing a lot of electronics with you. Chances are also pretty good that whatever country you're going to is going to have an electrical system with a different voltage or frequency than your home country, and probably differently-shaped outlets, too.

When traveling abroad, this vast array of voltages, frequencies, and plug types can be confusing, and whether you're packing a $200 iPod nano or a $2000 MacBook Pro, it can lead to a great deal of trepidation as well. The traveling geek's worst nightmare goes like this: you plug your very expensive, potentially irreplaceable electronics into some weird Romanian outlet, and suddenly sparks start flying. You try to unplug your precious device as quickly as you can, but the damage is done -- with a whiff of ozone, hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of equipment has just become a glorified brick.

Happily, most modern electronics shouldn't experience this issue, and that includes all recent Macs and iPod/iPhone power adapters. Here are a few dos and don'ts when it comes to international electricity.

How to make Your iPhone Battery last for Days

Recently, when standing in a field at Glastonbury, the idea came to us – was it really possible to make your iPhone battery last for several days? Well yes it is, as long as you completely strip down the power-sucking features and follow a few simple tips. Keep an eye on how long your iPhone typically lasts by going to Settings > General > Usage.

And, although this is not completely a power-saving tip, before you leave it's always best to make sure you have the latest software installed: Apple is always working on little fixes to improve your iPhone's power savings.

Staying Safe: securing Your Wireless Connection

It's really easy (and sadly all too common) to hop on to an available wireless signal in your office, at the hotel, or your favorite coffee spot and not even think twice about logging in to your e-mail or checking your bank balance.

What many users don't realize is even though the server you are connecting to (i.e. your bank's website) may employ several layers of security, the connection between your computer and the wireless access point is very likely to be unsecured. Anyone who is within range of your computer can trivially monitor the traffic being sent between your computer and the access point, allowing them to see what websites you may be visiting or capture details about other services that you may be connected to. This isn't because of some gaping vulnerability or software bug, it's just an inherent part of how wireless networks work.

So, what can you do to protect yourself? Read on for a list of simple steps you can take to ensure that your wireless connection is safe and secure.

HOW TO: Post Video to Twitter with the iPhone 3G S

Okay, so you’re one of the cool kids that got yourself the spiffy new iPhone 3G S, and you probably really want to take advantage of its best new feature — video. Sure the new phone gives you a quick post to YouTube option, but did you know there’s already a few great ways that you can post your videos directly to Twitter?

We’ll show you how to quickly get your video creations from your iPhone to Twitter. We’ll also help you understand some of the dos and don’ts for each particular option, to make sure that your newly tweeted videos show up just as you envisioned them. Happy video recording and tweeting!

How to Buy a Dedicated Photo Printer

One of the more specialized classes of printers is the consumer-level dedicated photo printer. These printers are typically limited to a maximum paper size of 2 by 3, 4 by 6, or 5 by 7 inches (or panoramic variations on these sizes), but the category isn't defined just by its limits. Dedicated photo printers are relatively small and portable. They're also much less computer printers than they are standalone consumer electronics products, with an emphasis on ease of use. If you're in the market for one, here are the questions that will help you home in on the right choice.

The TUAW How To Guide to iPhone 3GS Video Recording and Editing

It seems like everyone who's purchased an iPhone 3GS at this point has had a different reason for buying one. For some people, it was all about getting a faster CPU; for others, it was their first 3G-and-beyond smartphone.

My personal reasons for spending my hard-earned bucks to buy a 3GS were to take advantage of the higher-resolution (3 megapixel) autofocus camera, since I love taking photos with my iPhone, and to shoot video with my phone. Phone video is nothing new; I had it three years ago on a Palm Treo 680. But the ability of the 3GS to not only record video, but also allow limited editing before sharing the video in a number of ways, really made me want to get a 3GS immediately.

In this TUAW First Look, I describe the recording and editing processes in detail, and then give you my impressions of how good or bad the 3GS video capabilities are. I also provide a comparison with video taken by a T-Mobile G1 Android smartphone.

3 Foolproof ways to Yelp Your less Technical Friends

Tired of being the person your friends, relatives, and coworkers run to when they’re faced with a Mac problem? Providing help can be gratifying, but repeated requests can be frustrating: once you demonstrate your technical prowess, you quickly become the go-to person whenever someone’s Mac hiccups or burps. That means lots of calls for assistance. You’ll probably never be completely free of some tech-support duties, but with these setup and maintenance tips, you can cut down on “emergency” calls that are hardly urgent.

List of Hidden iPhone 3.0 Features

MacRumors forum user bndoarn has organized a massive list of hidden 3.0 features. The list is over 96 individual features so far. Some are more significant than others, of course.

The first on the list is perhaps most notable, allowing you to use Spotlight as an application launcher to avoid swiping through pages and pages of apps and also installing more than the allotted number.

How to use the Best 40 Features of iPhone 3.0

The new iPhone operating system, iPhone OS 3.0, which came out Wednesday June 17th, gives the iPhone tons of new features. While some of them are brand new, others are just small little additions which change the way you iPhone. The following list details every cool new feature and describes exactly how to use each one.

iPhone 3.0 Excels at Wi-Fi Hotspots

Thanks to improvements in the iPhone OS 3.0 software update released Wednesday, connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot with your iPhone or iPod touch should become almost as easy as roaming on the cellular network. Two new features radically improve the process of logging in (when you’ve already got an account with the Wi-Fi hotspot provider) and filling out information when it’s required for free access. However, there are some catches, and—wouldn’t you know it?—an incompatibility or two.

iPhone OS 3.0 Upgrade Guide

With iPhone OS 3.0 due to hit the shelves tomorrow, Wednesday, June 17th, there's a lot to consider. Do you want to upgrade immediately? And even if you want to... should you? When you upgrade, what steps can you take before -- and after -- to best ensure a positive, successful migration?

Mac Observer has put together this guide to help you answer exactly those questions.