Mac|Life - Tip of the Day en How to Make Sure Your iPhone Sends iMessages Instead of Texts <!--paging_filter--><p><strong>I have an iPhone 5, and have iMessage turned on; however, when I send a message, sometimes the iMessages are switched over to texts even though I have the “Send as SMS” setting turned off in Messages settings.</strong></p><p>To avoid your iPhone using SMS when you wish to send an iMessage, you will want to be sure that a few items are set correctly in Settings &gt; Messages.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u330237/2013/02/howto_imessage.png" width="400" height="710" style="text-align: center;" /><br /><strong>Try sending iMessages to recipients’ email addresses instead of their phone numbers to avoid potential SMS messaging charges.</strong></p><p>First, you’ll want to check that iMessage is turned on, and confirm that your iCloud account and receiving addresses are correctly set in the “Send &amp; Receive” section. Also, you’ll want to set “Send as SMS” to Off.</p><p>To ensure that all of your messages are ever sent through the iMessage network, consider sending iMessages only to the email address of the iMessage recipient instead of their iPhone phone number.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u330237/2013/02/howto_imessage2.png" /><br /><strong>When sending a message, a blue send button in the Message app denotes the message will be sent via iMessage; a green button denotes SMS or MMS.</strong></p><p>Finally, iMessage does have a tendency to go offline on occasion. You can keep a track of when iMessage is experiencing an outage by bookmarking <a href="" target="_blank">this support page on Apple’s website</a>.</p><p><em>Got a tech question or a helpful tip to share? Email us at ask (at)</em></p> Tip of the Day iCloud iMessage iMessages sms Text Features iPad iPhone iPod How-Tos Mon, 25 Feb 2013 22:39:19 +0000 Cory Bohon 16317 at Studio Artist 4 Review <!--paging_filter--><h3>A new canvas for your masterpieces</h3><p>In a world studded with Photoshop-style image editors and Painter-like natural-media tools, it’s really tough to find a new kind of artistic software that brings something truly unique and innovative to the table. But the little-known Studio Artist 4 totally pulls it off, delivering a one-of-a-kind creative application that can craft visuals like nothing else—if you’re prepared to spend some time mastering its intricacies.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><img src="/files/u307916/2011/2/reviews/studio-artist-1.jpg" width="620" height="388" /></p><p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Getting an organic oil-paint look is practically effortless.</strong></p><p>The moment you launch Studio Artist, you quickly realize it’s not your daddy’s paint program—the normal array of brushes and editing tools is replaced by a series of preset combinations, organized by groupings such as abstract, AutoCloning (which redraws a source image in any number of artistic styles), chalks, lighted tubes, dry brushes, and many, many more. The program ships with thousands of presets, and for plenty of users, that’ll be as deep as they delve into the available tools. You can base your work on an existing image or start from scratch—open an image, and Studio Artist converts it into a series of vector shapes that are then used to re-create the image by “redrawing” it with custom brushes. This process can either be done automatically—filling in the image while you watch—or manually by painting the image with brushes using colors derived from the source. The vast array of brushes is especially luscious when using a graphics tablet as you can radically alter the characteristics (color, thickness, shape) by tilting the stylus or changing the amount of applied pressure. The results are wonderfully organic—drippy paint, rough edges, all the entropies of reality. Turning a photo into a gorgeous oil painting is almost effortless, but when we took a picture and rendered it as a pile of colorful, dimensional glowing jellybeans, that went well beyond what we expect from a painting program. <br /><br />We love Particle brushes—imagine painting with a brush that spawns pixie dust. We’ve never seen anything like it, and that’s literally just the tip of the iceberg. Built-in vectorization capabilities give you some amazing options for converting bitmapped images to vector-based EPS files, perfect for advanced print and animation tricks. Ever want to expand a web-res image into a poster-sized, stylized masterpiece? No problem! You can pipe live video into the paint engine, letting you paint with a brush that sprays video frames all over the screen, which is even more fun than it sounds. Then there’s an entire programmable set of Photoshop-style image-processing filters that far supersede those found in Photoshop, as well as a texture generator capable of gorgeous organic patterns that you can even apply to video, creating rotoscoped effects that belong in a bleeding-edge music video. Morphing, warping, custom distortions—it’s like a visual candy store with both familiar indulgences and wildly colored offerings you’ve never even imagined.<br /><br />Once you decide to move beyond the presets and try customizing things, prepare to be intimidated. Studio Artist is wickedly complex under the hood, and we saw signs that this program was created by someone who has some serious math on the mind. Some of the options dialogs in Studio Artist look like they were lifted from alien spacecraft flight manuals. Quality time spent with the comprehensive documentation is a worthwhile investment.<br /><br /><strong>The bottom line.</strong> At $399, Studio Artist isn’t cheap, but it delivers an intensely deep set of creative tools for visual artists and video animators. It’s as much graphic fun as you’ll ever have on a Mac.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-the-bottom-line"><legend>Review Synopsis</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-product"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Product:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>STUDIO ARTIST 4</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-company"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Company:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Synthetik </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-contact"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Contact:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="" target="_blank"></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-price"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Price:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> $399 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-requirements"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Requirements:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Mac OS 10.3.9 or later</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-positives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Positives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Unique painting tools. Extensive graphics tablet support. Deep toolset.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-negatives"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Negatives:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <!--paging_filter--><p>Can be daunting to master. Interface sometimes cryptic, especially for new users.</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Reviews Tip of the Day Analysis Columns Design and Graphics Games Internet and Communications iPod and iPhone Productivity Software Reference and Education Studio Artist 4 Synthetik Software Utility Video Software Features Interface iPad iPhone iPod Mac Mac|Live Podcast Software Vault Fri, 31 Dec 2010 18:26:41 +0000 David Biedny 9302 at Killer Strategies For Six of Our Favorite iOS Games <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="" width="380" height="253" /></p><p>We love our iOS games. In fact, we've played some of them so much we were able to come up with some helpful hints for six of our favorite games.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u129772/2010/10/puzzle_icon.jpg" width="80" height="80" class="graphic-left" /></a>PuzzleQuest Chapter 1 and 2</h2><p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">$4.99</a><br />iPhone<br /></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>»</strong> If you’re not playing a Druid character and would like to get some cheap healing, learn the Regeneration spell from the Troll. This will help save Blue Mana and won’t end your turn unless your enemy uses a Resists Magic spell.<br /><br /><strong>»</strong> Get a Giant Rat mount if you can. The Rat is easy to beat in the training game, and, once leveled high enough, will allow you to avoid road monsters while adding a valuable Cunning bonus in combats.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u129772/2010/10/katamari_icon.jpg" width="80" height="80" class="graphic-left" /></a>I Love Katamari</h2> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">$4.99</a><br />iPhone<br /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>»</strong> Practice! Beating even one stage unlocks Eternal mode, which lets you play without a time limit and improve your skills. Use this to your advantage, especially if you’re getting used to the controls.<br /><br /><strong>» </strong>Don’t forget the U-Turn button. Doing a quick 180 lets you avoid hitting walls and pick up objects you missed. And it can save several seconds--crucial for finishing the time-based levels.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u129772/2010/10/canabalt_icon.jpg" width="80" height="80" class="graphic-left" /></a>Canabalt</h2> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">$2.99</a><br />Universal<br /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>»</strong> Use your senses. If your device is shaking, the building you’re running on is about to collapse. If you hear an incoming-missing sound, the building in front of you will soon be crushed by a giant column that you’ll have to use as a quick jump platform. Above all, be ready for change.<br /><br /><strong>» </strong>Pace yourself. Tearing through an apocalyptic city is cool, but it’s smarter to run into a box every so often to control your speed. Slow down and give yourself room to plan. You’ll speed up again, trust us.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u129772/2010/10/worms_icon.jpg" width="80" height="80" class="graphic-left" /></a>Worms HD</h2> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">$4.99</a><br />iPad<br /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>»</strong> The blowtorch is your friend. Use this to tunnel through areas on the map, as well as to attack your opponent without fear of kickback or recoil harming your character.<br /><br /><strong>» </strong>Girders may be random, but can work as superb cover. In a pinch, hide in a cavern and use the girder as a roof. Then you can call in air strikes, or at least buy yourself time to come up with a new strategy.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u129772/2010/10/plants_icon_0.jpg" width="80" height="80" class="graphic-left" /></a>Plants vs. Zombies HD</h2> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">$9.99</a><br />iPad<br /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>»</strong> Defense means everything, even if it’s not as exciting as the offensive weaponry. Try to block each row with a giant walnut, back that up with zombie-slowing obstacles, and finally have a Venus flytrap ready to eat anything that wanders into it.<br /><br /><strong>» </strong>Pretend Plants vs. Zombies HD is a multiplayer game. Grab a friend and take advantage of the game’s ability to process up to 11 touch inputs at once--your friend can collect money and sunshine while you lay down the defense.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="" target="_blank"><img src="/files/u129772/2010/10/idracula_icon.jpg" width="80" height="80" class="graphic-left" /></a>iDracula: Undead Awakening</h2> <p><strong><a href="" target="_blank">$2.99</a><br />iPhone<br /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>»</strong> When choosing updates, opt for defensive boosts over bonus points or something might kill every onscreen enemy. A strong character capable of regeneration will last for the long haul.<br /><br /><strong>» </strong>The Crossbow Master option is the best upgrade in the game; its trio of crossbow bolts kills just about every enemy in only one shot.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Tip of the Day App Store Apps games iOS iPad Apps ipad games iPhone apps iPhone Games iPod Apps iPod Games mac gaming Tips tricks Features iPad iPhone iPod Games Wed, 13 Oct 2010 22:27:54 +0000 The Mac|Life Staff 8571 at How To Tame Your Facebook Emails <!--paging_filter--><p><img src="/files/u53/faceboook.jpg" width="380" height="185" /><br /><br />There's something like 500 million Facebook users around the world, which means that at any given second someone is probably receiving a notification message in their inbox. And if this is correct, that means that the servers at Gmail, MobileMe, and University email accounts are flooded with notifications announcing the arrival of a new comment on a photo, video, or hilarious post that you published on a friend's page.</p><p>Simply put, those emails are really annoying. And we're sick of them flooding our inboxes and distracting us from getting any work done around here. Chances are you're also sick of having your inbox look like an ad for Facebook. We're here to help by showing you how to stop, reduce and organize those emails.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>How to turn off any and all Facebook notifications</h2><p><br />If those emails are seriously annoying you, all you have to do is head to Account Settings &gt; Notifications and uncheck each and every box so that Facebook stops sending you emails. <br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/facebooknotifications.jpg" width="380" height="287" /><br /><br />Similarly, if you <em>do </em>want Facebook to send you some notifications about certain things--say, for instance, someone posts on your wall--then you can opt in so that you only receive emails about Facebook activity you care about. <br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen_shot_2010-10-11_at_12.32.33_pm.png" width="182" height="406" /><br /><br />Also, in the sidebar you can select the notification settings for different sections and set what kind of emails you'd like to receive from Facebook features like Walls, Places and Events. <br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen_shot_2010-10-11_at_12.49.32_pm.png" width="543" height="97" /><br /><br />We'd suggest that you uncheck the "Comments after you on a Wall story" option, because do you really care about what some other guy said after you on your friend's wall? <br /><br /><br /></p><h2>How to make sure that Facebook emails don't take over your inbox</h2><p><br />We like to think that the point of Facebook notifications is to constantly remind our awesome selves that the world really does revolve around us. Also, everyone likes to see that they have new messages in their inbox after a few hours of work. But sometimes you can't get to all of those notifications and your cluttered inbox suddently becomes a tad overwhelming.<br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen-shot-2010-10-11-at-1.19.06-pm.jpg" width="622" height="177" /><br /><br />Fortunately, using rules and filters, there's a way banish this clutter and get back on track to a Facebook-free inbox, while still having your notifications sent to you.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br /><br /></p><h2>Gmail Users</h2><p><br /><strong>Create a New Label </strong><br /><br />In Gmail, this is simple. Click on "More" under your labels sidebar, and then select "Create New Label." Then, this dialog window will pop up:<br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen_shot_2010-10-11_at_1.20.50_pm.png" width="457" height="155" /><br /><br /> Label it whatever you like; we stuck with the generic and very obvious "Facebook Notifications."</p><p><br /><br /><strong>Create a Filter </strong></p><p>Then, it's time for you to create a new filter. You'll be using this to send emails sent to you by Facebook to your Facebook Notifications label. You can use this procedure to filter any emails you get. To find out who the email was mailed by and what information you'll need to properly filter your messages, go to "Show Details" and copy down the address that sent you the notifications.<br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen-shot-2010-10-11-at-1.24.42-pm.jpg" width="622" height="170" /><br /><br />In this case, it's <strong></strong>.<br /><br />Go to Settings in the upper right-hand corner, select Filters, and click on "Create a new filter." Now, you'll be asked to input certain search criteria to keep those pesky Facebook notifications from tempting you while you're at work. <br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen_shot_2010-10-11_at_1.39.09_pm.png" width="445" height="93" /><br /><br />In the filter criteria, put that you want to redirect emails that come from the address <strong></strong>, and this will catch any type of Facebook email that comes to you and funnel it directly to the folder that you set up for it.</p><p><br /><br /><img src="../../files/u53/screen_shot_2010-10-11_at_1.39.39_pm.png" width="310" height="110" /><br /><br />When you click "Next" and head to the last page in the Create a Filter walkthrough, make sure to select "Skip the Inbox", "Mark as read" and "Apply the label" to get everything squared off, then select the check box that says "Also apply filter to the conversations below" so that you can easily scope out the Facebook emails that have been sitting in your inbox all this time. When you're all finished, select "Update Filter" and voila! Now, you have a designated folder for all of your Facebook notifications. <br /><br /><br /><br /></p><h2>MobileMe Users</h2><p><br /><br />MobileMe users, make sure you do the following via the web-based client rather than through a mail application that you have installed on your desktop. You want these folders and "rules" to apply to your MobileMe account across the board so that even your iPhone isn't infiltrated with Facebook noise. <br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen_shot_2010-10-11_at_1.47.11_pm.png" width="178" height="119" /><br /><br />Log in to your MobileMe account at Under Folders, click the plus sign and create a new folder called "Facebook Notifications." Then, click the settings icon in the upper right-hand corner and select "Rules." This dialog window will pop up:<br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen_shot_2010-10-11_at_1.50.57_pm.png" width="622" height="147" /><br /><br />Select "From" from the drop down and input <strong></strong> into the field and make sure your Facebook emails are headed to the Facebook Notifications folder. Don't forget to click "Save"! <br /><br />When you're finished, click "Done" and your MobileMe inbox will have been saved from the tyranny that is the Facebook email account. Huzzah!<br /><br /><br /><em><br />Follow this article's author, <a href="" target="_blank">Florence Ion, on Twitter</a>. <br /></em><br /><br /><br /></p><p>&nbsp;</p> Tip of the Day emails Facebook folders Gmail inbox MobileMe notifications Features How-Tos Tue, 12 Oct 2010 21:39:36 +0000 Florence Ion 8532 at How To Make the Most Out of VLC for iPad <!--paging_filter--><p>It's called the Swiss Army Knife of video players, and not for nothing. VLC is your standard go-to software when you end up with some bizarre codec-locked movie file that just won't play in your standard players. With the news that Apple was relaxing its App Store regulations and letting in all kinds of video players, we prayed to see VLC show up. It did, and we grabbed it the moment we could.</p><p><br /><img src="/files/u124583/vlan_ipad.jpg" alt="VLAN for iPad" width="380" height="285" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>First off, we've got nothing but great things to say about our desktop and laptop installations of VLC. Even with DVDs we've rented that won't play on our friends' PCs, VLC rides to the rescue. Simply put, we've never had a file format that could stump the software. And when CineXPlayer came to the App Store, we prayed our VLC iPad dreams would come true. That day has arrived.<br /><br />However, unlike our the desktop counterpart, this mobile iteration of VLC might be a bit different for some users. For that reasons, we've compiled a small selection of tips on how to get started with the VLC Player for iPad. <br /><br /></p><h3>Adding Videos to VLC</h3><p><br />To begin, you can queue up videos in the client by hooking up your iPad to your computer, selecting the device in iTunes, and going to the Apps tab. There, in the lower File Sharing part of the screen, you select VLC from the list of programs that support USB syncing, click Add, and then select the media files to add--that's all there is to it. (You can even drag and drop if that's more your style.)</p><p><br /><br /><img src="/files/u124583/howto.jpg" alt="how to upload" width="380" height="285" /></p><p><strong>As easy as 1, 2, 3, 4</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><h3>Sorting Files</h3><p><br />There's a surprising lack of tweaks you can perform on the VLC app. Videos auto-populate a row of shelves in chunky block icons, and you scroll through them by running your finger along the screen. Videos seem to fill in randomly and are not sorted alphabetically, nor are there options to view them as a list. You'll need to make sure your titles indicate what movie you want to view because if you upload several short files, they can get lost in the shuffle. Longer titles trail off into ellipses, so short and sweet is your friend.<br /><br /></p><h3>Video Playback</h3><p><br />Touch the icon and the video loads and begins to play. On the shelf, below the image of the video is the title, along with the length of the video, the size, and the aspect ratio, though not the format. This last piece of information would be especially helpful if you have multiple formatted versions that you're testing.<br /><br /> The video controls are the usual ones--fast forward, reverse, pause, drag to advance, and volume--and can be accessed by tapping on the screen. Turn your iPad horizontally, and you can watch movies in landscape or portrait mode. Clicking the OK button in the top left corner takes you back to your shelf of videos, and video playback picks up where you left off when you return to the app.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/u124583/antoinethinksyouaredumb.jpg" alt="antoine" width="380" height="285" /></p><p><strong>The Usual Control Button Scheme</strong><br /><br /><br />As far as we could tell, there were few files that VLC would play that the iPad couldn't. The app did manage to open a DivX encoded AVI file, so if you only want one alternate video app, VLC might be your choice. However, Ogg Theora was unsuccessful, as were Windows Movie files, digital video (.dv) files from a camcorder, FLV, MKV, and MPEG. iTunes claimed that they were loaded on to the iPad, but the app refused to recognize them. If you're a longtime Handbreak junkie, you may wish to steer clear of any of the aforementioned formats if you're planning an iPad video party.<br /><br /></p><p><img src="/files/u124583/formatsnotworking.jpg" alt="formats good and bad" width="380" height="261" /><br /><br /><br />While playback was often good, there were some videos that froze the app or caused image ghosting and freezing while the audio continued to play. Some experimentation with the bitrate settings in your ripping software may be neccessary for optimal performance.</p><p><img src="/files/u124583/vlan_ghosting.jpg" alt="ghosting" width="380" height="285" /></p><p><strong>Ghosting Images Make Strange Art</strong></p><p><br />Despite some of the limitations of the VLC app, we'll be eagerly looking forward to updates, with the hope for a bit more functionality and an ever-increasing list of compatible formats.<br /><br /></p> Tip of the Day Apps iPad iPad Apps iPad How-Tos iPhone apps iPod Apps video VLC iPad How-Tos Wed, 22 Sep 2010 00:41:17 +0000 J Keirn-Swanson 8296 at How To Extract Audio from FLV Files <!--paging_filter--><p>Some of us here at <em>Mac|Life </em>headquarters have a penchant for loud, dancey music. Sometimes, those beat-ific artists have special mixes that are not yet available for purchase in the iTunes or Amazon MP3 store, which is really unfortunate. But then we'll find a YouTube video of the song (usually paired up with a static visual of the artist) and repeatedly groove to that downloaded FLV file, though this process can become a bit tiresome overtime. What if we want to take the song with us on the go and load it up on our iPods? Fortunately, that's what audio extractors are for, especially free ones.<br /><br />Read along to find out how to extract the audio from your FLV files, and keep the music alive.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h3>Download your movie file using an FLV downloader</h3><p><br /><br />Use <a href="" target="_blank">Firefox's Download Helper</a> to extract your FLV file. If you're primarily a Safari user, you can also do so using the <a href=";can=2&amp;q=" target="_blank">YouTubeDownloader</a> extension. Both of these extensions have options to extract the audio from the video, though sometimes the option may not be available for every video that you come across on the web (we encountered this a few times with non-official YouTube videos). <br /><br />If you've got a library of FLV files already queued up to be converted, then read on. <br /><br /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><h3>Install iExtractMP3</h3><p><br /><br />It's easy to download a free app. All you have to do is <a href="" target="_blank">head to this link</a>, and then extract it to your desktop and<em> voila</em>! You have a free application on your hard drive that will convert your library of flash video files into music files fit for any iPod.<br /><br /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><h3>Batch convert your files</h3><p><br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen-shot-2010-09-21-at-3.39.21-pm.jpg" width="380" height="329" /><br /><br /> Fire up this nifty little free app, and then drag and drop each of your files into the program window. When you're finished queuing them up, select Extract and watch the progress bar go to work. <br /><br /><img src="/files/u53/screen-shot-2010-09-21-at-3.39.13-pm.jpg" width="380" height="151" /><br /><br />A dialog box will pop up and ask you if you want to head over to the folder where your files have been converted. Click OK, and the application will open up your Music folder. You'll notice that the audio will have been converted to m4a. <br /><br />Convenient, <em>non</em>? If you'll excuse us, we're going to go groove to our newly acquired tunes, now. <br /><br /><br /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow this article's author, <a href="" target="_blank">Florence Ion, on Twitter</a>. </em><br /><br /><br /></p> Reviews Tip of the Day convert your music converting flv files iPad How-Tos iPhone How-Tos iPod How-Tos m4a Mac How-Tos iPad iPhone iPod Mac How-Tos Tue, 21 Sep 2010 23:36:31 +0000 Florence Ion 8303 at How To Choose a Computer <!--paging_filter--><p>The internet is awash in advice on what kind of computer you should buy, how to get the best deal, what configuration is most optimal for your needs, etc. etc. <br /><br />But someone has finally cut through all the palaver and delivered up the completely idiot proof guide. You know, something even your mom could do without your help.<br /><br />We were pointed in this direction by the <a href="" target="_blank">SF Weekly's Music Blog</a>, who, like us, were completely agog at what Microsoft had to offer. <a href="">In typical Redmond fashion</a>, this overloaded page will make the uninitiated's eyes glaze over. There's links upon links, pages upon pages, 8 reasons to this, Top 10 thats, 7 things to look for. No one said this was going to involve math.</p><p><img alt="apple store" height="281" src="/files/u124583/applestore_0.jpg" width="375" /> </p><p>And for those out there who march in lockstep to the <a href="" target="_blank">latest dicta down from on Oprah high</a>, Leena Rao has made things a tiny bit simpler, though <a href="" target="_blank">she does go on and on and on</a> and by the time you finish her magnum opus, technology has moved on. iPad version 2 will be out before you wade through this piece.<br /><br />No, the Music Blog has it nailed in three easy steps and it's done in such a way that even your mother, no, even your grandmother could handle it. <a href="" target="_blank">Go have a look</a> and tell us that doesn't make it all better. </p> News Tip of the Day apple Apple Store Hardware iMac iphone iPod touch MacBook macbook pro iPad iPod Fri, 26 Feb 2010 14:03:35 +0000 J Keirn-Swanson 6119 at Don't Suffer The Arrows of iTunes 8 <!--paging_filter--><p><img alt="screen shot of itunes app" height="234" src="/files/u36/1029_itunes_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>The little arrows in iTunes can serve double duty, and they can also be disabled altogether.</strong></p><p><strong>I upgraded to iTunes 8, and now all those little arrows have reappeared next to my songs. How can I get rid of them? </strong></p><p>iTunes has a handy feature that lets you click on a little arrow next to a track in your iTunes Library and jump to the corresponding song, artist, or album in the iTunes Store (depending on which column your clicked arrow was in). In previous versions of iTunes, you could hide these arrows by unchecking Show Links To The iTunes Store in the preferences. </p><p>But in iTunes 8, the arrows reappear regardless of what choice you made in previous versions. The preference to get rid of them is actually still available, but it’s now hidden. You can disable the arrows by launching the Terminal and typing:<br /><strong>defaults write show-store-arrow-links -bool false</strong></p><p>Replace <strong>false</strong> with <strong>true </strong>to bring the arrows back again. If iTunes is running, you will need to quit and relaunch it for your changes to take effect.</p><p>But instead of disabling the arrows, you might want to consider changing how they work. If you Option-click an arrow, it takes you to the related music within your own music library instead of the iTunes Store. So, for example, if you Option-click Jack Johnson’s name, you’ll jump to the Jack Johnson music in your library.</p><p>But you can reverse the functionality of the arrows so that a normal click shows you results from your own library, and the Option-click takes you to the iTunes Store. To do this, launch the Terminal and type:<strong>defaults write invertStoreLinks -bool yes</strong></p><p>Replace <strong>yes</strong> with <strong>no </strong>to make the arrows function normally again. Again, if iTunes is running, be sure to quit and relaunch it for your changes to take effect.<br /> </p> Tip of the Day Apple Software Audio and Music Software iTunes Mon, 13 Apr 2009 10:57:00 +0000 Scott Rose 3227 at People Still Listen to Real Media Files? <!--paging_filter--><p><img alt="screen shot of music man2 app" height="337" src="/files/u36/0306_ask-musicman1_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>Music Man can convert our MP3 file to a Windows Media one, but it can’t convert protected files.</strong></p><p><strong>I create a weekly audio podcast, using GarageBand, Audacity, and iTunes. I can do every step on my old PowerBook G4, except for converting the MP3s into Windows Media (WMA) and Real Media (RA or RM) files for those die-hard listeners who insist on clinging to those formats. My webmaster has to do those conversions on his PC. I was hoping EasyWMA would let me do this on my Mac, but it can only convert WMA to MP3, not the opposite. Any help? </strong></p><p>We had absolutely no luck finding an application for Mac OS X to convert MP3s to Real files. (If we missed one, we hope someone writes in to let us know!) You might be out of luck there—Real Media being a proprietary format and all.  </p><p><img alt="screen shot of music man 2 app" height="322" src="/files/u36/0306_ask-musicman2_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>We can’t help being tickled by the vagueness of the progress dialog.</strong></p><p>But we did manage to dig up an app for converting MP3 files into Windows Media (which surprised us, since that’s a proprietary format too). Music Man ($24.95 download, $34.95 on CD, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>) can rip CDs, play music files, and burn discs, and it also converts audio files to WMA, AAC, WAV, MP3, or Ogg Vorbis formats. Check out the free trial to see if it suits you. (That said, we’d probably just ditch Real Media—and likely Windows Media too—if we were you. With apologies to your die-hard clingy listeners, versatile MP3s should be more than enough.) </p> Tip of the Day Podcasts Tue, 10 Mar 2009 09:30:00 +0000 Susie Ochs 3974 at 6 Tips to Make MobileMe Yours <!--paging_filter--><p><img alt="mobile me icon" height="69" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_380.jpg" width="380" /></p><p>Apple announced MobileMe in June 2008 with big promises that it would become the data-sync service “for the rest of us.” But when it launched on June 30, those promises quickly turned hollow when problems plagued the service. In an uncharacteristic mea culpa, Apple admitted in mid-July that it had released MobileMe before it was ready, automatically extending all paid subscriptions by 30 days.</p><p>Not quite a year later, the service works as smoothly as advertised. Still, there are several handy ways to customize MobileMe so it behaves exactly how you want it to. Though Apple continues to improve MobileMe’s Help functions, we dug around to come up with a shortlist of easy customization tricks you won’t easily find within MobileMe’s built-in Help or in Apple’s support knowledge base. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: large"><span style="font-size: small"><strong>Modify The Sync Frequency From The 15-Minute Default </strong></span></span></p><p>The only issue we wish Apple would address is the frequency of automatic syncs, which defaults to every 15 minutes--it’s just not often enough. However, if you’re willing to spend $25 and put on your true Mac geek hat for a few minutes, there is a way to change the 15-minute sync interval so MobileMe syncs more often.<br /><img alt="screen shot of mobileme options page" height="313" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_1_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>If you assume choosing automatic syncing for MobileMe in your System Preferences will enable instantaneous data exchange among your Mac(s), iPhone, and “the cloud,” you’d be wrong. Auto sync only happens every 15 minutes.</strong></p><p>A caveat: This tip involves editing a .plist file, which isn’t something average Mac users are generally encouraged to do--or interested in bothering with. A .plist file is a property list, essentially a list of user settings for certain apps or functions on your Mac. Property lists are different for different user accounts (more on that below).</p><p>Start by installing PList Edit Pro ($24.95, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>). Locate the .plist file for MobileMe syncing frequency, located on your Mac here: ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/
.DotMacSync.your_MAC_address.plist. </p><p><img alt="screen shot of Plist edit pro app for mobileme" height="191" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_2_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>It takes a little wrangling--and a $25 cash outlay for PList Edit Pro--but the app lets you easily change the MobileMe sync frequency from 15 minutes to an interval of your choosing. </strong></p><p>Since you want to edit the property list for yourself (and any other user account on your Mac), start in the folder on your hard drive most likely named with your first initial and last name (or the first initial and last name of each user on your Mac).</p><p>Once you’ve opened in PList Edit Pro, you’ll see an item under Root called AutoSyncInterval. If you’ve set up MobileMe to sync automatically in System Preferences, the number that will show up is 15. Double-click 15 and change it to the sync frequency you prefer. We changed ours to 5, for example, so MobileMe would sync every 5 minutes. Save the file (Command-S) and close it. Your MobileMe data should now sync at the interval you’ve selected. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: small"><strong>Trick MobileMe Into Syncing Your iCal Subscriptions </strong></span></p><p>MobileMe doesn’t automatically add iCal calendar subscriptions to your calendar in MobileMe, but there is a workaround that allows you to get the info into your calendar across multiple computers and your iPhone or iPod touch.</p><p><img alt="screen shot ical app" height="144" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_3_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>If your needs are as simple as ours, you may just want your home country’s 2009 holidays added to iCal. If you live in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, India, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, or Romania, you can get the iCal subscription you need from <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Apple offers hundreds more free on its site.</strong></p><p>Start by subscribing to the iCal calendar(s) you want: On your Mac, launch your Web browser and visit You’re presented with a number of choices for 2009 federal holiday calendars. (While you’d think it would be simple enough to grab the 2009 U.S. holiday calendar from Apple’s site, we found it faster to get the file from CalendarLabs, <a href="" target="_blank">www.calendarlabs
.com/</a>). In addition to federal holidays, Apple’s site has calendars for the moon phases, sports team schedules, and many more. Click on the calendar you want to subscribe to. A window appears asking what app to use to open the file. Find iCal in your Applications folder. When you select iCal and click Open, you’re shifted to an iCal window with the URL to that calendar subscription. To add it to iCal, click Subscribe.</p><p>To save a few clicks, in iCal, choose Calendar &gt; Subscribe, type in the URL shown in the screenshot, and click Subscribe.</p><p>Now you have to trick iCal and MobileMe into adding the iCal subscription(s) to MobileMe by exporting each one, then importing it back in to iCal, then syncing. In the case of our 2009 U.S. holidays, in the iCal sidebar, select the calendar subscription you want to sync to MobileMe, then choose File &gt; Export and save it someplace easy, like your Desktop. Next, in iCal, uncheck the calendar you just exported to avoid duplication on the local iCal Mac, choose File &gt; Import, select the Import An iCal File radio button, click Import, and select the file you just saved to your Desktop (it should have a file extension of .ics). To avoid confusion, in your iCal calendars list, rename the calendar so it’s different from the name of the calendar listed under Subscriptions; we changed the name U.S. Holidays to just holidays, for example. </p><p>Sync this new calendar to other Macs via MobileMe: On the Mac on which you just subscribed to the new calendar, sync to MobileMe by choosing  System Preferences &gt; MobileMe &gt; Sync &gt; Sync Now (or click the Sync icon in your taskbar and select SyncNow from the drop-down). You can also let it do its thing on its regular auto-sync schedule. Your newly subscribed calendar data should appear on your calendar in MobileMe, and now, when you go to another Mac and sync it with MobileMe, everything should match.</p><p><img alt="screen shot of ical app calendar" height="275" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_5_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>Thank goodness we won’t miss out on Groundhog Day and Lincoln’s Birthday, now that we tricked iCal and MobileMe into syncing an ’09 holiday calendar subscription.</strong></p><p>Finally, you’ll want to sync your iPhone or iPod touch devices to MobileMe too. On your iPhone or iPod touch, press the Home button, tap Settings &gt; Mail, Contacts, Calendars &gt; Your MobileMe account. Slide or tap the on/off slider next to calendars to On. You’ll see a warning that informs you that your calendar info will be removed from your iPhone. This shouldn’t be a problem because it will all reappear after you sync with MobileMe, but if you’re unsure, sync your iPhone with your computer in iTunes before completing this step, so you’ll have a backup.</p><p>Just as we did with the publicly available U.S. holidays calendar, 
you can follow similar steps to get your Google calendar data synced to MobileMe by exporting it as its own file then importing it back 
into iCal. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><img alt="icon" height="69" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_380_0.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong><br /><span style="font-size: small">Securely Share Files Via Your iDisk Public Folder</span></strong><br /><br />The beauty of iDisk is that it gives you access to files you may keep on your home Mac from any Web browser at any time you need them. Using the Public folder within iDisk, you can also share these files with others.<p><img alt="screen shot of idisk public folder" height="351" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_4_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>Your file-sharing buddies can add your iDisk Public folder to their Finder.</strong></p><p>Two things to keep in mind when stashing files in iDisk for your own use or to share with others in your Public folder: You’re limited to a file size of up to 1GB when uploading via using a browser. To upload a file to iDisk, log in to MobileMe at, click the iDisk icon, then click the Upload icon (an up arrow in a small white circle). To save time, you can also mount iDisk on your Desktop and plop files up to 2GB in size there using the Finder. To do this, open System Preferences &gt; MobileMe and click the iDisk tab. At the bottom of the window, turn iDisk Sync on by clicking Start. This is where you can also set a password and manage user privileges for anyone who goes to your Public folder to view or access files. The URL for your Public folder is If you set a password, the username is the 
word public.</p><p>They can also get to your Public folder from the Finder by choosing Go &gt; iDisk &gt; Other User’s Public Folder. In the box that appears, they just type your MobileMe username—and, of course, the password, if you’ve protected the folder with one.</p><p>Now, to put files into your Public folder, open a new Finder window, and drag files from their location on your Mac’s hard drive to Public on the name of your mounted iDisk “drive.” Voilà—file sharing made relatively simple. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: small"><strong>Add Photos To MobileMe Galleries From Your iPhone or iPod Touch </strong></span></p><p><img alt="screen shot of mobileme gallery folder" height="313" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_6_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>Select an album in the Gallery and click the icon that looks like a switch, then check the box that allows you to upload photos via email from your iPhone or iPod touch.</strong></p><p>The best thing about this is what a time-saver it can be, particularly if friends and family habitually share their photos with you via email. First you need to set up the albums in your MobileMe Gallery to accept new photos from an iPhone. In MobileMe, click on the Gallery icon. If you want to change the settings on an existing album so it will accept photos sent from your iPhone, select the album and click the Settings icon. In the dialog that appears, check “Adding of photos via email or iPhone,” then click Publish. Now, when you receive a photo via email, or snap a photo on your iPhone that you want to add to a MobileMe gallery, the option to Send To MobileMe appears among the email options that appear when you tap the Send icon at the bottom of the screen.</p><p><img alt="screen shot of iphone app camera roll" height="480" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_7_380.jpg" width="320" /><br /><strong>After a photo has been saved to your Camera Roll, adding it to your MobileMe Gallery is a matter of tapping the Send icon at the bottom of the screen, tapping Send To MobileMe, and choosing the album from the resulting list.</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: small"><strong>Eliminate Duplicate Dock Items and Dashboard Widgets </strong></span></p><p>When you first set up MobileMe syncing on your primary Mac, if you select the option to sync Dashboard Widgets (System Preferences &gt;MobileMe &gt; Sync), you may experience duplication when you go to use another Mac that is synced with the same MobileMe account—particularly if you had duplicate Dashboard widgets installed on both Macs.</p><p><img alt="screen shot of dock" height="70" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_8_380.jpg" width="520" /><br /><strong>The same Dock items on all your Macs—continuity is a beautiful thing.</strong></p><p>To set things right, set your Dashboard widgets exactly as you want them on one Mac, sync with MobileMe, then, when syncing your other Macs, allow MobileMe to replace the data on that Mac with data from MobileMe.</p><p>The same concept can be applied to Dock items too. We also love the fact that you can sync System Preferences for each MobileMe account, so when you change prefs on one Mac, they’ll apply to your other Macs whenever MobileMe syncs. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: small"><strong>Change iSync Prefs to Minimize “% change” Pop-ups </strong></span></p><p><img alt="screen shot of isync folder" height="313" src="/files/u36/mobileimage_9_380.jpg" width="380" /><br /><strong>Don’t waste your time with inconsequential 5% data-change notifications. Change the percentage in iSync prefs instead.</strong></p><p>Depending on which Macs (iPhones, iPod touches, etc.) contain most of your contacts before you start using MobileMe regularly, you may encounter messages when MobileMe syncs warning you that “Syncing with MobileMe will change more than 5% of your Contacts”…or calendars or other data. Rather than worry about this or trying to get to the bottom of exactly what the alerts mean, we prefer instead to change iSync preferences so the number of changes has to reach a higher threshold than 5 percent to trigger an alert. Open /Applications/iSync, choose iSync &gt; Preferences (or just type Command-,) then under Protect Your Data On This Computer, click the Show Data Change Alert in the drop-down to the right from 5% to something higher (we chose 25%).</p><p>This way, your Mac will only notify you when more than 5 percent of a certain data type will change as a result of MobileMe syncing.  </p><p>&nbsp;</p> Tip of the Day MobileMe How-Tos Mon, 09 Mar 2009 10:50:00 +0000 MacLife Staff 3924 at