How to Hide Connected Drives and Keep Your Desktop Tidy [Mac]

 

Lately, I’ve been on a “streamlined desktop” kick. More on that in a future post. For now, though, I want to talk about how to address one minor annoyance if you want to keep your desktop clutter-free. When I first made the switch to a Mac, I noticed that all of my external drives were displayed as icons on my desktop. That wasn’t a big deal with my MacBook Air, since I rarely connect drives to it. With my iMac, though, I keep my TimeMachine drive and a SuperDuper drive connected 24/7. Here’s how I removed them from the desktop, while still keeping them hooked up to my Mac.

READ MORE

Speed Up Your Listening to Enjoy More Podcasts and Spoken Audio

Speed up your audio listening

If you’re like me and many other tech geeks, you’re overloaded with content to consume, tricks to try out, and gadgets to play with. Throw all of that into a busy life, and you might lament not having time to pursue your interests. I’ve felt that way recently. Lately, the time I’ve had to listen to podcasts and other audio content has decreased. In the past, I had a long list of podcasts I enjoyed. I wrote about them a few months ago, but since that time, I don’t even listen to half of the podcasts on that list. I just don’t have the time. I enjoy those podcasts, so I want to get back to listening to them. Coupled with a desire to listen to more books on Audible, I thought about how to consume more of the content that I enjoy. I think I’ve come up with one way to do it.

READ MORE

How to Take Screenshots With Your Mac

Mac screenshots

You’ve got your new Mac, and want to take a screenshot. Where’d that Print Screen key go? Things work a bit differently on the Mac. You could go with a third party solution, such as Skitch or Littlesnapper. Or, you could use your Mac’s built in ability to take screenshots. There are three different ways to take a screenshot on your Mac, by holding down key combinations. All screenshots go to your desktop by default.

READ MORE

How to Change the Default Email Client and Web Browser on Your Mac

mac change default browser and mail client

As I continue my now year-old journey as a Mac user, I’ve blogged about a few tips that I’ve stumbled upon, such as how to drag text onto your desktop and change it into a text note, how to reveal the dock and menu bar when using full screen apps in Lion, and how to add folders to the Finder sidebar. Many of these tips are probably “Duh!” moments to seasoned Mac users, but for those of us who come from the Windows world, they aren’t so obvious. It’s time to add another simple but important one to the list – how to change your Mac’s default email client and web browser.

READ MORE

Three Low-Cost, DIY Ways to Use Your Smartphone While Wearing Gloves

image

So I’m in Winnipeg now. Winnipeg, affectionately referred to as Winterpeg, and thought by some (possibly me) to be a window into the truth behind the colloquialism “when Hell freezes over.” Okay, so I’m being a bit dramatic — but it can get freaking cold here in the depths of winter, man! Minus 75 degrees Celsius in the wind isn’t uncommon here. I have no idea what that is in Fahrenheit, but I’m sure you Americans will agree that anything north of Fargo has got to be cold.

In any case, my new location has me continuing my investigation into how to use my tech while freezing my butt off. Previously, I talked about winterizing smartphones, tablets, and laptops. My latest quest has been how to use my capacitive touch screen devices without having to take my gloves off just to answer the phone. And we all know I’m into doing things on the cheap, so we can squash any thoughts about buying those fancy-schmancy touchscreen gloves. It’s DIY or die, baby! This is what I found:

Perusing the Google brought forth three methods from three different, and trusted sites — Lifehacker, Make, and Instructables.

 

Sewing Conductive Thread

Instructables has a nice tutorial on sewing about a foot of conductive thread into the fingertip of a glove. The idea is to sew just a few close-set stitches (3-5) on the touchy-feely side of the glove, keeping things to about 1/4″ (6mm) in diameter. Smaller is bad, as your iPhone or other smartphone will pretend you don’t exist, and too big will sacrifice accuracy. Why all those inches of thread for just a few, small stitches? Because you want to leave a rats-nest of the special thread on the inside of the glove’s finger, to make sure you get good conductive contact. You may also want to save some for other fingers so you can do multi-touch gestures and the like.

The whole operation costs less than $5 (not including the gloves of course).

Instructables Touchscreen Glove with Conductive Thread

 

No-Sew Method 1: Snap-Fastener

Make Projects has a slightly different take on the subject. They take the complicated sewing out of the equation and shove a brass or nickel-plated snap-fastener right through the fingertip of a heavy glove so it can go clickety-clack on your screen. Now, one might be concerned about scratching or cracking the glass, but if that is the case then I say to you, this: how hard are you tapping your screen anyway? Are you angry? Calm down, guy… seriously.

In a way, this method is more complicated, as it requires more tools than just some thread abd a needle. There is little in the way of precision required here, however, and you get to hit things with a hammer (when you set the snap-fastener’s rivet).

This method costs about $5 to $7.

Make Projects No-Sew Touchscreen Glove with Snap Fasteners

 

No-Sew Method 2: Thermal Compound

Leave it to a Lifehacker contributer to come up with a clever and cheap (albeit messy) way to get the job done. Easy, too. This method would work better for thinner gloves, I should think, but be that as it may, it’s pretty cool — and there is not even a dream of a pun intended there. All you need here is a little CPU thermal compound rubbed in to the fingertip of your glove, and voila! No fuss connectivity. Well… no fuss until you need to rub some more in — and maybe a bit of increased screen cleaning.

This is by far the easiest method, though it lacks permanence. The cost of thermal compound (available at most computer stores) is about $7. You can even get it at Radio Shack.

Arctic Silver CPU Thermal Compound Used for Touchscreen Gloves

 

Those were the best — and cheapest methods I found to use your touchscreen tech in the dead of winter. Which one’s your favourite? If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Drag Text Onto Your Desktop and, Presto!, You Have a New Text Note [Mac]

Drag text to create note

OS X is full of little shortcuts that can save you time. Some examples of that include adding folders to your sidebar,  revealing the dock and menu bar when using full screen apps, and determining at a glance whether your current document has any unsaved changes. That doesn’t include all of the trackpad gestures that can really speed you up. Now it’s time for another one. How would you like to automatically create a new text note, without doing any copying and pasting?

READ MORE