40 Ways Your Mac Can Improve Your Life

40 Ways Your Mac Can Improve Your Life

Each day has 24 hours. This article has 40 ways to make each of those hours more pleasant and productive.

It's time to let your Mac into your life. We mean really let it in. After all, juggling email, working with digital photos, and managing your media are just a fraction of what your Mac can do for you.

 

Think we're exaggerating? We were afraid you might be skeptical. So we collected 40 things you can do today to integrate your Mac (and your iPod) more fully into your everyday routines.

 

Your Mac can become more than a computer. It'll be the best kind of assistant - no, wait, a life partner. (Just don't tell your spouse if you're still interested in activities that a computer can't engage in.) In addition to being able tackle more of the tedious chores that are part of life in the 21st century, you'll also find yourself enjoying life more. A lot more.

 

We've got hardware, software, shareware, and freeware that can help you squeeze every drop of power, pleasure, and productivity out of every hour of every day. Pick an hour, and enjoy:

 

6:00 a.m.: WAKE UP, SLEEPY HEAD

8:30 a.m.: PRECOMMUTE PREP TIME

11:00 a.m.: WHILE YOU'RE AT WORK

12:00 p.m.: WHEN THE NOON WHISTLE BLOWS

3:00 p.m.: AFTERNOON DELIGHTS

5:30 p.m.: LET THE FUN BEGIN

8:30 p.m.: ONE ENCHANTED EVENING

11:00 p.m.: LIGHTS OUT - ALMOST

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6:00 a.m.: WAKE UP, SLEEPY HEAD

Get up on the right side of the bed - and keep things headed that way - by waking up with your Mac and letting it help you ease into the day.

 

1. Have your Mac wake you up.

Don't rely on a rooster - or worse yet, your local radio station - to goose you out of slumber in the a.m. Instead, get Roger McGuinn and the boys to help you welcome the morning with the "Chimes of Freedom" (or whatever you like, of course). Alarm Clock 2 (free) sits in the Finder menu, where it's easy to locate and adjust. It appears like a widget on your desktop, and if you click the Easy Wake option under the Alarm tab, the volume will increase slowly.

 

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2. Know when your tea is ready.

If you need something slightly lower-octane than coffee to get started in the morning, try tea. (Hey - it contains healthy antioxidants that coffee doesn't.) Cuppa (free) tells you how long to steep your favorite tea so it has just the right flavor. Select your tea type (Earl Grey, for example) from the menu, steep, and (eventually) a message will appear to commence drinking.

 

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3. Turn on all the lights.

Forget the Clapper. Use your Mac to turn on the lights. Indigo 2 ($179.95) is a powerful Mac-only program that uses the PowerLinc V2 hardware interface. You connect your Mac to the INSTEON and X10 systems for home automation. (Find the necessary hardware at machomestore.com.) Indigo can automatically configure when to turn on lights in the morning based on your time zone. Here's how to get it working:

 

1. Install Indigo 2 on your Mac.

2. Connect the PowerLinc module to your Mac via a USB cable.

3. Plug the PowerLinc module into a wall outlet.

4. Use INSTEON lighting modules for lamps and wall switches.

5. Configure Indigo 2 to control the lights.

 

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4. Listen to the morning news.

As you get ready for work, your Mac can read you the top stories from your favorite news sites. Here's how:

 

1. To enable text-to-speech, go to System Preferences > Speech. On the Text to Speech tab, check the box next to "Speak selected text when the key is pressed," and in the next dialog box, press the key combination you want, such as Command-Control-S. Choose a voice, and exit System Preferences.

 

2. Go to a news site in Safari, such as CNN.com. Click on a story, then click the printer-friendly option and select the text. Press Command-Control-S.

 

3. Or use shareware to listen to an RSS feed. Noodle Reader ($20) has talking heads that read you the news, and iSpeak It ($19.95) records audio files for your iPod.

 

 

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5. Stay on track on a run, walk, or bike ride.

Knowing your course is half the battle when it comes to planning a morning workout. Before you lace up your sneakers and head out the door, consult TrailRunner. The software takes geological data about your area from a GPS watch, such as the Garmin ForeRunner or Garmin Edge ($115 and up, Garmin.com), and lets you use the data to map out a route. You tell it how far you want to go, and the software charts a course. TrailRunner needs a helper app to load GPS data, so first grab LoadMyTracks (free). You can then transfer the mapped route to your iPod.

 

No room for excuses not to run, bike, or hike.

 

More...

 

15

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Meegs

Howdy,
Does this alarm work while my MacBook Pro is in sleep mode? Nothing else seems to.

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Anonymous

Another great app is Dream Recorder 2 (www.dream-recorder.com)
It uses the iSight camera of your mac to detect your sleep state and awakes you in the right moment, so you don't feel tired in the mornings. It also records when you're speaking during your sleep and makes a movie of your sleep ;-)

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Dargus

I'm surprised you didn't mention Aurora for waking up and going to sleep to your iTunes library (and when that's unavailable: Winchester chimes!)

Best of all: it's free :D
http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/20766

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ClickCoffee

Recent studies show that coffee actually does have antioxidants, and more than blueberries....

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Kavan Wolfe

Nice collection of apps, but it sure sounds like you're in the software selling business. You could have had a lot more open source and freeware apps and a lot less expensive gadgetry. That Sony wireless TV is a prime example. You can get much cheaper alternatives.

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Anonymous

Just FYI, it's the Scion xB that includes the Ipod link, at least according to the Scion website. I didn't see it listed for the Scion xA, tC, or the new xD

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Anonymous

the xD has an iPod Dock

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jchull

If you really want to do karaoke, kJams is the best. My windows-using friends have not been able to find anything that comes close.

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