One of the best parts about using Gmail is accessibility. I can be on a mobile device, work computer, or desktop and always have access to my email, calendar, documents, etc. Thanks to Google, all of this is possible. It’s just as easy to configure your Gmail account on Mac OS X Mail as it is to access it online. Today, I’m going to show you how to setup iCal with your Google Calendar — it’s actually quite simple.
In iCal, go to Preferences under the iCal menu.
Select the “Accounts” tab in the Preferences window.
Click the “+” button on the bottom left corner to add a server account.
When the “Add an Account” pop-up window appears, select “Google” for “Account type”. Fill out your email address and password.
Now click the “Create” button.
You should be in the “Account Information” section now.
If you’d like to, you can change how often iCal refreshes the calendars by choosing from the “Refresh calendars” drop-down menu.
If you have special calendars such as “US Holidays” go to the “Delegation” tab and enable them.
To add special calendars to your Google Calendar, read these instructions from Google.
When it comes to web browsers, the one that stands out the most is Firefox. It has a wide variety of add-ons, themes, and settings which are very customizable. The most powerful part — the add-ons — is where the true beauty lies within Firefox. One add-on in particular — Greasemonkey — is extremely useful. It can change any website to display extra information, re-organize site layouts, and unlock “hidden features” of a site to make it easier to use. For example, a website like Grooveshark has a humongous advertisement panel on the right side of the screen. In my opinion, it gets in the way when using their site. With Greasemonkey’s Grooveshark script, it completely removes that advertisement panel so you’re free from distractions. That’s just one example of how you can use Greasemonkey. Other Greasemonkey scripts that I use almost daily include De-Sidebar Facebook, Remove Digg Ads, Flickr Buddy Icon Reply, Flickr Ad Removal, Flickr Titles + Descriptions Batch Tools. For more Greasemonkey scripts, please visit Userscripts.org.
Have you ever not found a song you wanted on iTunes? Annoying, right? For me, I typically find my music on SadSteve or YouTube (yes — YouTube). A while ago, MacHeist hosted a mission which included some handy applications, such as WireTap Pro. At first, I had no reason to use this application, then I discovered its amazing capabilities for recording line-in audio (e.g. YouTube music videos). Unfortunately, Ambrosia Software feels that it’s necessary to make WireTap Pro ridiculously expensive ($69). I believe it’s important to make money as a software developer, but that’s just insane. Due to the fact many of you reading this tutorial either did not win the mission on MacHeist (two years ago) or you don’t want to spend $69 on WireTap Pro, I’m going to show you how to record (streaming) audio for free, with Audacity.
One of the greatest things about iLife is the simplicity of the applications included within it. Whether it be iPhoto, iMovie, iWeb, GarageBand, or iDVD, each application has a very intuitive user interface that makes it easy to use. However, there are times when it can be a little bit confusing to do certain tasks. I will admit, I still use Toast Titanium for anything going onto a DVD, including photo slideshows, movies, and music. Creating photo slideshows within iDVD are rather easy, so I want to show you how to make them:
Create a New Project once iDVD opens up.
Choose a Theme from the sidebar.
Go to the “+” icon in the bottom left corner and choose “Add Slideshow”.
Select the button text and edit it to your liking. To change the font, right-click on the text and choose “Show Inspector Window”.
Edit the Drop Zones (i.e. Background images) by going to “Edit Drop Zones” under Project. Then drag images onto the Drop Zones.
To setup the slideshow, hold down Shift + ⌘ (Command) + “M” or go to View > Show Map.
Now click the “View Slideshow” thumbnail.
Import or drag the images into the window that you want to use for the slideshow.
On the bottom of the View Slideshow window, adjust the settings for Slide Duration and Transition.
Click the Play button.
Once you are satisfied with the outcome of the slideshow, insert a DVD and click the Burn icon located next to the Play button.
After iDVD has completed burning the DVD, it will let you know.
For many computer users, backing up your information should not be something to forget. It’s actually something many people are fairly lazy about or they just don’t think that they will lose their data. Thankfully, when Apple released Mac OS X Leopard, they included Time Machine, which backs up your files automatically. I stopped using Time Machine because it was taking up too much disk space on my external hard drive due to the way it was made to work. It backs up files that were changed, but it still for some odd reason, does not do it right. Carbon Copy Cloner, on the other hand, works like a charm. The first time you use it, it makes a complete copy/clone of your Macintosh HD. Then whenever your next backup is scheduled it backs up only files that have been modified. Carbon Copy Cloner also comes in handy when your Macintosh HD won’t boot up because it creates FireWire-bootable backups. I’m just going to share a few tips on using the application and why it’s a must for any user.
Last year I purchased Roxio Toast because I needed a customized DVD burning software for my family video project. What drew me to Toast, was the ability to fit more onto a DVD disc without sacrificing quality. After spending more time with it, I have come up with several helpful ways to use Toast to its full potential.
Importing DVD’s For Use With iPod or iMovie
To import DVD’s into Toast, go to the Convert menu (AppleTV/iPhone icon).
Once, you have inserted the DVD of your choice, choose how you want to export it.
Located in the bottom left corner is a small gear icon which shows you the export options.
If you want to export the DVD for use on your iPod or iPhone, select the corresponding name under the Device drop-down.
If you want to export the DVD for use in iMovie, select “DV” from the Device drop-down menu.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, so I’ve had plenty of time to work on some projects of my own. One has been trying to completely edit and re-organize my photo library. I have been using a mixture of iPhoto, Bridge, and Photoshop for most of photo editing needs until now. I’ve transitioned into one mainstream way of editing my photos via Adobe Lightroom. It makes things so much easier for me to quickly catalog and edit all of my pictures in one screen.
Change Lightroom’s View Mode For Easier Editing
When I edit photos, I prefer to have no distractions at all. That includes Gmail notifications in my menubar, extra panels in Lightroom, and the Mac dock. This way I can get maximum screen real estate.
Go to Window > Screen Mode > Full Screen and Hide Panels.
If want to show a panel that is hidden in one of the screen modes, just click on one of the arrows for that panel.
After making the move from iPhoto to Lightroom, I wanted to figure out an easier way to catalog similar pictures. Instead of making a folder for similar images, I can create a virtual stack of them. This way when I’m looking through 5,000 pictures, it takes up less space in the library window.
Select images in the library that are of the same thing or very similar in form.
Right-click and choose Stacking > Group into Stack.
Since I’ve probably used this about fifty times now, it makes it easier to add a keyboard shortcut for this command. Read my article on making keyboard shortcuts if you want to know how.
If you get a pop-up that says “Could not create stack”, right-click on the images you want to stack and choose “Show in Finder”. Now move them to the same folder.
Then synchronize Lightroom so the changes appear. Go to Library > Synchronize Folder… and it will sync the library with the selected images.
Keyboard Shortcuts To Be More Efficient In Lightroom
As you know, I love using keyboard shortcuts when possible. Not only does it improve your proficiency with the application, but it also makes editing images a breeze. I’m only giving just a few because these ones are the ones I use the most.
When you are in in any screen and want to quickly get back to your library, hit the ‘G’ key.
To move to the Develop panel, hit the ‘D’ key.
To quickly adjust the screen mode, hit the ‘F’ key and shuffle through the different modes.
To rate pictures for faster searching later on, just hit the number (1-5) on your keyboard.
To add a color label to your photos, just hit the number (6-9) to on your keyboard.
To quickly compare two selected images, tap the ‘C’ key.
To rotate an image 90° clockwise, hit ⌘ (Command) and “]” and to rotate an image 90° counter-clockwise hit ⌘ (Command) and “[“.
Use SlideShowPro To Make Your Own Professionally Designed Web Galleries
Ever since I got back from recent vacation, I’ve been looking for an online service to share my pictures on. Most of the ones I looked at had either limited storage (Picasa) or a generally basic interface. SmugMug was nice, but not quite at my level of customization. Then I thought I’ll just host my own gallery with my website because it’s easier, faster, and cheaper thanks to SlideShowPro.
There are many different translation services available online such as FreeTranslation.com and Google Language Tools. The great thing about those services is that you can almost always find what you need. The downside about those services is that they only work when you’re connected to the internet. Thanks to Philipp Brauner‘s Dictionary.app plug-in, you can now use a translation service (German to English) right within the Dictionary application. The coolest feature about this plug-in is that it doesn’t require you to be connected to the internet while you use it. The package includes the complete German to English vocabulary from Dict.cc. I congratulate him on making this app as it comes in handy when you’re on the run and need to quickly access to a translation service, but don’t have internet-access. One more thing to mention is that this plug-in works with Spotlight, the Dictionary.app, and the Dictionary widget as well. As of now, this plug-in is only for German to English translation, but hopefully in the future, Philipp will continue developing this plug-in to include more languages.
In the new version of Microsoft Office (2008), you have probably noticed the massive improvements to the user-interface. Thanks to designers at EnhancedLabs, the interface is remarkably beautiful. One of the main features to point out in the new version of Office are the Toolbars which now carry so much functionality with the SmartArt Graphics, Quick Tables, Charts, and the Document Elements. You can do just about everything you can imagine possible with Microsoft Office 2008. I’ll get you started by pointing out where the new features are and how to use them.
Using Handy Toolbars in Word
When you first open Word, you’ll see a new toolbar with many new additions.
When you select something from the toolbar like SmartArt Graphics, it should appear directly within your document.
When it appears, go ahead and enter in any data you need to, then feel free to customize the looks of it with the Formatting Palette.
When you opened up PowerPoints in previous version of Microsoft Office for Mac, there wasn’t a sidebar that showed thumbnails of each slide. With the new version a sidebar has been included with this feature. I personally like it, so I can easily identify a certain slide and go right to it.
With PowerPoint open, just click on the sidebar in the left-hand side and select “Slides” instead of “Outline” to make the thumbnails appear.
Included with all new Macs is a neat little app called OmniOutliner. It serves as an “outliner” application which helps you put together your ideas. When you first open OmniOutliner, you may be shocked by how plain and simple its interface is. After this article, you will be surprised at all the power that OmniOutliner has. My main usage for this application is to make and manage my to-do lists — and man does it do a great job of doing that.
Go ahead and open up OmniOutliner.
Click on the “Inspect” button in the top right corner, or just hold down the Shift, ⌘ (Command), and “I” keys.
In the document that is open, select everything by holding down the ⌘ (Command) and the “A” keys. Now in the Inspect panel, go to the “Document: Display” section. Check off “Horizontal Grid” and “Vertical Grid”.
If you’d like to change the color of the grids, just click on the small color box beside “Horizontal/Vertical Grid” in the Inspect panel. Then select your color using the Color window (personally, I prefer a light gray color because it’s easier to look at).
One of the key steps in setting up a to-do list is proper organization.
The best way to organize your to-do list is with “categories”, such as “Other”, “To Buy”, “Projects”, or “Organize”.
To make these categories, just type the word in the first line with bold (hold down the ⌘ (Command) + “B” keys) print followed by a colon (“:“).
After you’ve typed the category title, hit the Return key, then the Tab key.
To add a column for due dates, just click on the “Add Column” button.
Now just type in your due dates in that extra column.
If you plan to use OmniOutliner a lot for one to-do list, I recommend you set it up to open that to-do list every-time you use OmniOutliner.
Just hold down the ⌘ (Command) and “,” keys and in the preferences window, check off “Open documents which were open last time you quit”.
That’s it! You can do as much customization as you want, but I prefer to keep my to-do lists very simple and easy to follow.