In the next month I’m reviving MeetYourMac with short pieces of advice including brief stories of help sessions I conduct. Some issues are commonplace and the answers could be useful to others. Don’t worry, the names will be changed!
Most of my support work is via screen share which allows short help sessions at $1/minute with no travel charge and no minimum. To screen share, I’m currently using Team Viewer, which is a free download. Email me for details. firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m using Yosemite on my MacBook Air with very few issues. Not happy about changes to Safari but otherwise all is well. I still advise waiting for the next update if you have a choice. I’m keeping Mavericks on my Mac Mini desktop for now.
B. called today and left a message saying her emails were not displaying as they normally do. I usually meet with B. at her home but today I was in the office so I emailed her back and we connected remotely. As soon as her screen appeared I knew what had happened.
Like me, B. views her emails in ‘Classic Layout’ which displays several columns of information about our emails: From, Subject, Date Received, etc. Most of us sort our emails by date received. But I saw right away that B.’s emails were sorted alphabetically in the ‘From’ column. How did this happen?
By clicking on the column title, you tell Apple Mail how to sort your emails. Someone clicked on ‘From’ at the top of that column, causing the re-sort. I showed B. how to click ‘Date Received’ instead which re-ordered the list. The only question left to ask was: Newest email at the top or newest at the bottom? Clicking ‘Date Received’ again toggles back and forth between the two options.
If you have multiple Mailboxes in Apple Mail, you can set each one to sort differently.
BTW, sorting by the ‘From’ column is useful if you want to see – or delete – all emails from a particular sender.
Not everyone likes keyboard shortcuts, until they want to do what E. wanted to do. She was emailing photos from iPhoto and wanted to choose 6 or so from the 30 she had from her vacation. Holding Shift and clicking twice (Shift-click) selected a beginning and an end, a contiguous group of photos. Great, but how to select 6 non-adjacent photos to email?
The answer is: Command-click (or CMD-click).
Hold down CMD while you click on the various photos you wish to select. If you make a mistake, keep the CMD key down and click again because it works to de-select as well.
This works well in Finder too but that’s for another day.
I’m all about speed when working and one thing I use often is ‘Recent Items‘.
- Click the Apple Menu
- Go down to ‘Recent Items‘ and hold your cursor there
You will see a list of recently used
Click on an application or document to open it. This is helpful if an application is not in the Dock or a document was elusive when you last opened it. We’ll talk about servers in another post.
The number of items that appear in the list is up to you. It will display from none to 50 items. You change the setting in System Preferences:Appearance.
One more thing: If you press and hold the Command (CMD) key while hovering over ‘Recent Items‘ the display will offer to show the Finder location of each item. Click to open a Finder window at that file location.
You may not have noticed, but there’s a Spotlight search box right in the main System Preferences pane.
If you don’t know which pane to choose, you can search by topic. As you type, suggestions for related topics and possible Preference panes will be displayed and narrowed. In this case, ‘speed’ suggests ‘Mouse’ or ‘Network’. Click on one to open it.
In this example, typing ”monitor” suggests ‘Displays’, ‘Energy Saver’ or ‘Parental Controls’.
If you choose a suggested topic with your mouse or arrow keys, you will likely see the highest ranked suggestion in a Spotlight.
This pane is one of the ‘Hardware’ preference settings which directs what, if anything, happens when you insert CD’s and DVD’s into your disk drive. Depending on the media and whether it is blank or not, your choices may include:
Ask what to do: Will allow you to decide each time media is inserted
Open Finder: Will open a Finder window
Open iTunes: Makes sense if you typically play or import commercial pre-recorded CD’s using iTunes
Open iDVD: For burning blank DVD’s
Open DVD Player: For playing pre-recorded DVD’s
Open Disk Utility: Primarily for erasing Re-writable disks
Open other application: If you have other software installed you may choose that
Run script: Will run a script, to be discussed later
Ignore: Will require action from you later: open Finder or an application or eject the disk
Some users like to be asked each time but if you establish a preference, come to this pane and set it the way you want it.
And reach the remainder by clicking ‘Dock Preferences‘ at the bottom of the list which opens the pane:
Like most of the visual settings, you have to try them.
Size is the overall size of the Dock.
The Magnification slider dictates how large the icon will get when you mouse over it. Plus on or off with the check box.
Position on Screen is pretty clear.
Minimize windows using – When you click the Yellow Dot, you get one of these effects, like it or not.
Minimize windows into application icon – This determines whether the window disappears into the application’s icon in the Dock or takes a place over near the Trash where you can see it.
- To restore a window that you see in the Dock, just click it.
- To restore a window from an icon, you can double click the icon (for just one minimized window) or click and HOLD the icon which will reveal thumbnail views of all windows, click to restore one of them.
Animate opening applications – A bouncing icon lets you know your click did the job and the application is opening.
Automatically hide and show the Dock – This can be helpful on smaller screens where you need all the room you can get.
The Desktop and Screen Saver pane determines two significant visual choices for the user.
Desktop – How the Desktop appears for each user account. Apple provides graphic backgrounds and stunning photos but you can use one of your own. They can even cycle like a slide show through a particular folder on your hard drive, an Album in iPhoto or the entire iPhoto library.
To open System Preferences:
- Click the Apple Menu
- Click System Preferences
When the System Preferences window opens, click the ‘Desktop & Screen Saver’ icon to show:
Choose a source for your desktop image, such as ‘Nature’, then the image itself. If this is all you want to do, click the Red Dot and you’re done.
You can also choose as a source any folder on your hard drive.
- Click the ‘+’ sign in the lower left.
- Select a Folder (such as Desktop) and click ‘Choose’.
- It will be added to the list of choices in the left column.
- You will see previews of the contents in the preview window.
- Photos grouped in folders should be the same format (jpg, tif, gif, pict, PSD, PDF).
- Notice the options for sizing your personal pictures and choose what looks best to you.
Within iPhoto, you can choose the entire library or any Album you have created. MobileMe galleries, too.
Clicking ‘Change Picture’ reveals time intervals to choose from, This dictates whether your slide show is leisurely or speedy. And you have the option of ‘Random Order’.
Translucent menu bar allows a little of your desktop to show through.
If this is all you want to do, click the Red Dot and you’re done.
Screen Saver – Offers a lot of built-in choices from Apple which you’ll want to preview with the ‘Test‘ button. As with the Desktop settings, you can choose the iPhoto Library or any particular Album, MobileMe Gallery or even an RSS feed. Click on the ‘+’ sign to add additional sources, which includes browsing the Apple web site for downloads. More on that in another post. There’s also the option for Random Order and Clock display.
If you choose photos, Display Style gives you the option of a slide show, collage or mosaic of photos. Click the Option button to apply settings to each. Test will preview full screen. Graphic screen savers sometimes offer Options but do not offer Display Styles.
RSS Visualizer will access an RSS feed that you’ve set up in Mail, Safari or MobileMe. Click Option to choose the feed. Kind of a fun way to see the news.
Start Screen Saver provides a slider to set the start time you choose.
Hot Corners allows you to execute ‘Expose‘ commands just by moving the cursor to one of the four corners of your screen. You exit the command by mousing to the corner again or hitting the Escape key. Try it with ‘All Windows‘ or ‘Desktop‘ to see if you like it. If not, select the ‘-‘ at the bottom of the list which is ‘Off’.
If you’re wondering why this setting is here in Screen Saver, so am I.
Click the Red Dot and you’re done.
To open System Preferences:
- Click the Apple Menu
- Click System Preferences
When the System Preferences window opens, click ‘Appearance’.
The Appearance Pane:
It’s best to experiment with the top two sections to find your color and scroll bar preferences.
Double-click a window’s title bar to minimize – When you minimize a window it goes to the Dock (where in the Dock depends on a Dock preference setting) and waits to be maximized. Normally, you do this with the Yellow Dot but checking this option allows you to click anywhere in the gray title bar to minimize the window.
‘Recent Items’ is in the Apple Menu, displaying recently used Applications, Documents and Servers for quick retrieval. You can set the number of items to display from none to 50! It can be a big help and will be mentioned in a separate post.
Font smoothing will depend on your monitor. I use it.
I would have preferred that Apple call this ‘Computer Preferences’ or even ‘Your Preferences’ because some users think this is the domain of technicians and nothing could be further from the truth.
Yes, there are settings in System Preferences best left to professionals but consider that here you choose your desktop appearance, when your computer goes to sleep and how fast your mouse tracks. You add printers, dictate what happens when you pop in a Music CD and can set up a separate user account for that pest who shares your computer. This is where you control nearly everything about your Mac.
We’ll look at Preference panes separately so topics can be searched for later.
You’ve seen shortcuts to System Preferences via icons (like TIme Machine) but to access it directly:
Click the (Black) Apple Menu, then System Preferences and this window will open:
When you open one of the panes and want to return to this view, click ‘Show All‘ or the ‘Back‘ button.
If you are not sure which icon to choose, use ‘Search‘. It will highlight the relevant panels.
You may have an icon in the Dock for System Preferences which you can use to open or switch to it.
I rarely say this: Clicking the Red Dot will quit System Preferences.