Mac|Life - How-Tos en How to Create Your Own Podcasts <!--paging_filter--><p>You’ve got a microphone. You’ve got some web space. And you have a great idea for a podcast. Now, it’s onto the fun bit — the recording. Even if you've had a couple of false starts, don't worry — &nbsp;this is completely normal, especially if you haven’t had much recording practice. If you're ready to get serious, though, you've come to the right place. This step-by-step tutorial will help you master the art of making your own podcast.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcast_opener_620.png" width="620" height="413" /></p><p>Before beginning to record, and whatever your specific equipment, take time to prepare and give yourself the best chance of a good-quality recording. Ideally, use a room that has plenty of space for you to work and that contains primarily soft furnishings — this cuts down dramatically on echoes/reverb, which can’t really be removed in post-production. If you don’t have such a room, don’t fret. Luckily, podcast audiences don’t demand anything like the level of audio found in music, voice over, or radio work. A little echo is no big deal as long as it’s not unpleasant to listen to, and many people even add some in to provide a more booming radio-voice sound. Even a cupboard-style room with hard walls and wood flooring can be made usable by turning the microphone sensitivity down a little, or, if it really is a problem, hanging up a blanket helps dampen the sound. It’s also possible to invest in a microphone screen/vocal booth for between $100–$270 that essentially wraps acoustic foam around the back of your microphone. Save your money unless you’ve no other option, or are setting up a more general studio.</p><p>Now that you have the setup sorted out, it’s time to do a little groundwork — especially if you’re recording with another person and working without a script. Have a list of topics you want to cover, and have a clock or timer running (we use our iPad) to serve as a visible reminder. It’s easy to lose track of time while recording, and to get sidetracked. While a podcast can be any length you like, fifteen minutes is a good length to talk about one subject within a podcast, while half an hour to an hour is a reasonable period for the entire show. Remember, most people listen to podcasts on the move rather than at their computers, and too many breaks and subject changes gets jarring and makes it hard to remember what’s already been said. On the other side, anything under five minutes will be too short for people to invest in, and not worth your effort, either.</p><p>Good things to decide and practice in advance include how you’re going to introduce your podcast, as well as the order you plan to introduce guests and how to finish it. Plus, you need to think of a name for it.&nbsp;</p><p>Giving the link to your website/podcast host is the obvious starter there, as well as reminding listeners to rate you on iTunes — though this is best saved for a couple of podcasts in. You can ignore other podcast directories at this point.</p><p>Finally, don’t forget about yourself. Podcasting can be extremely hard on the voice, especially early on. Always have room-temperature water on standby, and hydrate yourself in advance. As you approach the recording session, avoid soft drinks, milk, coffee, and tea for the sake of your voice and the quality of your recording. And it goes almost without saying — if talking starts feeling uncomfortable, take a break. You can always pick it up later on.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Prepare to Record</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_01.png" width="620" height="399" /></p><p>If you need recording software, download Audacity from <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. It’s an easy tool to use. In the top left, you’ll find the playback controls, and next to those, your main tools — the most important being the Selection tool for selecting a point, the two arrows for moving an audio file around, and the zoom control. Click with the latter to zoom in, Shift-click to zoom out. Volume settings are in the top-right, and not to be confused with the ones by each track. The first just determines how loud you hear everything. The second, how loud the track actually is. Most of the other buttons you can safely ignore.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. Volume Control</strong></p><p><strong><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_02.png" width="620" height="483" /></strong></p><p>Make sure your microphone/mixer is plugged in over USB (directly, rather than via a hub) and make sure it’s set as the recording device in Audacity — here, we’re using a Rode Podcaster. Next, use Spotlight to find an app called Audio Midi Setup and select your microphone. Under Input, the Master slider controls the recording input level. The higher it is, the more sensitive your microphone will be. It’s possible to control this using the slider in Audacity, but this is a consistent place to check whatever app you’re using, and one where the volume is given as a number rather than just a basic slider.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>3. Test Your Volume</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_03.png" width="620" height="429" /></p><p>Set the volume to 1.0 initially. In Audacity, look for the volume settings in the middle of the screen, click the arrow by the microphone, and pick “start monitoring.” Now, talk into the microphone in your normal voice, a little louder, and finally, more excitably. The volume indicator should go nearly, but not quite all the way across — capping somewhere between -6 and -12. When you shout, it’s going to spike — to compensate, move your head farther from the microphone. The actual volume level can be changed later. If it reaches 0dB during recording, though, the audio will be clipped and unpleasant.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. Begin Recording</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_04.png" width="620" height="396" /></p><p>Save the project, giving it a name, and click the big red record button. If you need to pause the recording, press pause rather than the stop button. If you stop, pressing record creates a new track and goes back to the start. Pausing and unpausing continues where you left off. If you find yourself doing a lot of takes, try a big loud clap into the microphone to separate sections — this gives you an obvious peak in the waveform to find. Also, at the end, sit absolutely silently for about 10 seconds, so that the microphone can record some ambient noise to help clean things up later.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Prepare for Editing</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_05.png" /></p><p>To zoom in, use the magnifying glass tool. You should also drag down on the bottom of each audio track to see the waveform more clearly. This makes it easier to target bits of noise, and see any coughs, etc. To select part of the waveform, choose the caret-shaped tool from the top and click and drag. This marks the selection in blue. You can also select each side and nudge it, and to deselect it, click outside the selection. Don’t edit straight in your recording, though — &nbsp;create a new file, then cut and paste the bits you want into it. Press Command + X to cut a selection in the recording. Click where you want it on the new timeline, and tap Command + V to paste.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>6. Combining Recordings</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_06.png" width="620" height="356" /></p><p>For Internet recording, you can record directly from tools like Skype, but the professional way is for everyone to record their own side with a microphone/headset combination and the editor to merge them together as multiple audio tracks. To get the two recordings in sync, start each recording with a “3…2…1…” and loud clap. Once imported, this makes it easy to see where they should overlap. In your edit file, after aligning them, choose “Sync Lock” under the Tracks menu. Now, cuts and added silences affect all equally. To fix the inevitable volume differences, tweak the sliders on the left-hand side.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>7. Snap, Crackle, and Pop</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_07.png" width="620" height="433" /></p><p>Your microphone picks up a lot of noises, and your audience doesn’t want to hear all of them. Put on your best headphones. Crank up the volume. Zoom in using the magnifying glass. Start listening to each track, ready to hit stop when you hear noises such as sharp breaths. Use the Selection tool to select these moments and either kill them with Command + X, or replace them with silence with Command + L. Don’t be tempted to use a filter to do this for you. It’s better to go through it methodically, in order to avoid damaging the rest of your audio.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>8. Precision Editing</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_08.png" width="620" height="360" /></p><p>For problems that can’t just be silenced, like a sudden slurp in a section you don’t have a better take to drop in, select the Pen tool. Zoom into the track until the waveform is replaced with a series of dots. You can now draw volume changes onto the wave directly, creating troughs that get rid of the worst of the unwanted noise without the harsh snap of a cut or silence. As well as controlling the level of the volume drop, this lets you control the speed of transition. You don’t have to remove sounds entirely this way, just dull them. Option-clicking smooths the wave. Holding Control after clicking just affects a single dot.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>9. Noise Removal</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_09.png" width="620" height="465" /></p><p>Thankfully, little noises are an easier matter to sort out. Select the silence from the end of the recording, then from the Effect menu, choose Noise Reduction. Click “Get Noise Profile.” This tells Audacity what the ambient in your room is — the hum of plugs, or your gentle breathing, for instance. Now, you can tweak the settings underneath to get rid of it. This takes tweaking for each recording. Focus on the top two options: how much to reduce noise, and what the threshold for it is. Both should be as little as you can get away with. Use Preview until it sounds about right.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. Leveling</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_10.png" width="620" height="367" /></p><p>While we’ll look at a more flexible way shortly, Audacity offers a “Leveler” tool designed to reduce the gap between loud and soft audio, and produce a more consistent volume. This compensates for moments when your head was slightly farther from the microphone, or you simply spoke a little more softly, during a section. It’s not a miracle worker, and if the Light or Moderate settings aren’t enough, the higher strength ones are likely to cause a hit to your sound quality. If you’re planning to do more detailed mastering, don’t do this. As a quick way to make a podcast sound better, though, it’s fine.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>11. Volume Control</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_11.png" width="620" height="340" /></p><p>Volume is handled in dB, and you always deal in negative numbers. When setting volume, you’re actually adding “gain”; the definitions don’t really matter for now, but that’s how it’s described. To avoid blowing out an unwary listener’s ears, a podcast should max out at around -12 to -6dB, bottoming out at around -24. For a single track, this is easy — the Amplify Effect lets you pick a peak volume and adjust accordingly. For multiple tracks, use the Normalize tool instead, bringing them to the same peak (“maximum amplitude”) level. The overall dB is based on all tracks together, though, so experiment to find a good balance.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>12. Adding Music</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_12.png" width="620" height="457" /></p><p>Music should be added as its own track, its volume adjusted to complement the spoken word tracks rather than vice versa. Basic Fade In and Fade Out effects are in the Effect menu, as is an Adjustable Fade with more options. Audacity also offers an “Auto Duck” tool. This automatically dips one track (usually music) when another is making noise so that it’s more prominent. You can pick the amount and how harsh the effect should be. For podcasts, though, you’re generally only going to be using music as an intro and as breaks. Having it run throughout is distracting, unless, of course, it’s a dedicated music podcast.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>13. Extra Time Spent</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_13.png" width="620" height="398" /></p><p>This is actually enough editing for most podcasts, for a number of reasons: they’re not expected to have been through the hands of a professional audio engineer, chances are they’re going to be listened to through less-than-amazing headphones, and most importantly, because the more advanced things you can do are a great way to destroy your sound quality. Done properly, though, they can add a lot, compensating for weaknesses in your equipment, and providing what’s usually referred to as “radio sound” — that booming, full-throated resonance that sounds like it should be declaring, “This is World News Tonight.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>14. Deepen Your Voice</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_14.png" width="620" height="454" /></p><p>This is one of the easiest but most obvious edits, especially if using a budget microphone, the sound from which is often tinny and hollow. Go to Effect/Change Pitch and drop it by just a little — about 5 percent or so at most, so it still sounds like you. You can also get good effects in the Reverb tool by using the Vocal presets (click the Load button) or turning down the actual Reverberance and Pre-Delay to sound just full-bodied rather than actually echoing. Male voices especially can also benefit from a bit more bass, courtesy of Bass And Treble. All of these options are in the Effects menu.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>15. Compression</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_15.png" /></p><p>Compressors reduce the audio range of your sound, which allows it to be amplified without the louder parts being clipped — much as we did with Leveler, but with more control. Audacity’s Compressor unfortunately doesn’t have presets, but its standard options are sufficient for podcasting. Select Compressor in the Effects menu, then untick “make-up gain” and adjust Noise Floor to around -20. Now, using Amplify or Normalize gets it as loud as you need, without spikes causing a problem. That said, most podcast editors are fine just using the one-click leveler and won’t notice any meaningful difference.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>16. Equalization</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_16.png" /></p><p>Equalization is the processing of frequencies, and if you choose it in the Effects menu, you see it has a few handy presets. It’s not as complex as it looks, though, with the left side of the curve handling bass, the right treble, and the middle affecting the overall sound. In the presets, select “bass boost” to see how that looks — for these purposes, that’s the most important to play with. Also, try Telephone and Walkie Talkie to see how easy it is to apply a quick effect to your sound. These can be very handy if your podcast is going to include skits of any sort, or you want to simulate someone phoning in to your show.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>17. Fixing P-P-Plosives</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_17.png" /></p><p>Plosives come from air being sharply expelled into the microphone, primarily from the letter “p.” The best way to deal with them is not to record them, which can be done by using a “pop filter” in front of your microphone, or speaking just above it. After that, you can cut them directly, as with other noise. Alternatively, use the Equalizer, puling down gently from around the 200Hz point and bottoming out at around 40Hz as in the picture. This may take some experimentation, and it won’t get rid of the sound entirely, but it dims it to the point that it shouldn’t offend your audience’s ears.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>18. &nbsp;Final Export</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/podcasts_18.png" /></p><p>MP3 is the official podcast format, and for the most part, you don’t need to worry about the settings. When you’re also including music, though, it’s worth jumping into the Options and boosting the quality from its default 128kbps to 192kbps. One thing to be careful of is your audio sources — if you use both mono and stereo, it can sound strange in the final edit. You can separate or turn a stereo track mono in the Tracks menu. You can also drag the L/R sliders on your mono tracks to move from one ear to the other. Don’t go all the way to separate multiple voices; a little is effective, a lot is unpleasant.</p> audacity Mac Podcast Podcasting Tips Tutorial How-Tos Tue, 29 Jul 2014 21:37:22 +0000 Richard Cobbett 20388 at Easy Mac Hacks: Disable App Nap <!--paging_filter--><p><em><img src="/files/u12635/easy_mac_hacks_icon_flat_11.png" width="200" height="200" class="graphic-right" />Every Monday we show you how to do something quick and cool using built-in OS X utilities such as Terminal, Apple’s command line application. These easy hacks can make life better and simpler, and don’t require any knowledge of coding — all you need is a keyboard to type 'em out!<br /></em><br />In OS X Mavericks, Apple introduced a new feature called App Nap. This feature was designed to cut CPU and other computer resources to power-hungry applications when those applications are not currently in use. It's one of several OS X features that has helped increase the battery life on Mac portables, but unfortunately, this feature isn't without downsides. If you're noticing that applications don't complete their tasks in a reasonable amount of time, then it could be due to resources for those apps being cut when they are backgrounded or left unattended. Following this guide will show you how to disable App Nap when these issues arise.<br /></p><h3>Disable App Nap on a Per-app basis</h3><p><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u12635/appnap_1.png"><img src="/files/u12635/appnap_1.png" width="379" height="650" class="thickbox" /></a></p><p>If you're noticing that only one application is having difficulties with App Nap, then you can easily disable it by locating the application in question and pressing Command + I (or choose "Get Info" from the contextual menu). In the Get Info window, check the option to "Prevent App Nap" and you're done. App Nap will no longer affect this application. (Not all applications offer this option.)<br /></p><h3>Disable App Nap system-wide</h3><p><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u12635/appnap_2.png"><img src="/files/u12635/appnap_2.png" width="620" height="435" class="thickbox" /></a></p><p>If issues still persist with your applications and App Nap, or you don't worry about system resources being utilized resulting in battery life issues (such as on a desktop Mac), then you may want to disable App Nap system wide on your Mac.<br /><br />To disable App Nap on your Mac completely, simply open the Terminal application (located in /Applications/Utilities) and type in the following command followed by the enter key:</p><pre>defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAppSleepDisabled -bool YES</pre><p>To completely disable this feature, you will need to log out of your account, then restart your Mac.<br /></p><h3>Re-enabling App Nap system-wide</h3><p>If you realize that you want App Nap again on your system, open the Terminal application again, then type in the following command, followed by the enter key:</p><pre>defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAppSleepDisabled -bool NO</pre><p>To re-enable this feature, you will need to log out of your account, then restart your Mac.<br /><br /><em>Cory Bohon is a freelance technology writer, indie Mac and iOS developer, and amateur photographer. <a href="" target="_blank">Follow this article's author on Twitter</a>.</em></p> App Nap Columns disable Easy Mac Hack Easy Mac Hacks How to Mac Mac remove system-wide Terminal Terminal 101 How-Tos Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:29:05 +0000 Cory Bohon 20269 at Ask: Merge iPhoto Libraries <!--paging_filter--><p>Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We have the answer. In this week's installment of Ask, we'll tell you how to combine multiple iPhoto libraries into one.</p><p><strong>Question: Somehow I’ve created many iPhoto libraries, some of which are nested within other iPhoto libraries. How do I make it so that I have just one iPhoto library? I get the feeling there is more to it than just dragging the contents of one into the other.</strong></p><p>Answer: You are correct — this process is a little more complicated than simply copying one iPhoto library into another. You can do it manually, but it’s usually error-prone and will typically leave you with duplicate photos. The easier way to merge multiple iPhoto libraries is by using the iPhoto Library Manager, which is available for $29 at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p><p>Using the iPhoto Library Manager, click on the Merge Libraries icon in the toolbar. Here, you will be prompted to drag-and-drop all of the libraries that need merging into the “Source Libraries” section. After doing that, drag-and-drop the library that all of the sources should be merged into using the Destination Library section. We’d advise merging into a new, empty library, and choosing your Desktop as its location.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/askiphoto.png" width="620" height="396" /><br /><span style="font-size: x-small;"><strong>One of the tasks that iPhoto Library Manager can perform is automated library merging.</strong></span></p><p>Next, you should choose what happens when the application encounters duplicate files in the “Duplicate Handling” section, and set a few other options in “Options.” When you are done, click “Preview,” and if you are happy with the changes, you can then go ahead with the merge.</p><p>After you’ve verified the merge worked and all of your photos are intact, then delete all of the source libraries from your home directory’s Pictures folder, and move the newly created library from your Desktop to the Pictures folder in the Finder. Your new library should load when you fire up iPhoto; you may need to hold down the Option key while starting iPhoto, then select the iPhoto library you wish to open manually.</p><p>Ask is written by Cory Bohon, a freelance technology writer, indie Mac and iOS developer, and amateur photographer.</p><p>Got a tech question? Email <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> Ask Columns combine iPhoto Mac merge photo libraries Photography Photos pictures Tips tricks How-Tos Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:05:00 +0000 Cory Bohon 20341 at How To Master OS X Reminders <!--paging_filter--><p>Are you one of those people who likes to organize your life around to-do lists? If so, Mavericks’ Reminders app is here to help. Just as on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Reminders makes it easy to create to-dos and synchronize them seamlessly with all your devices using iCloud — with any changes made on one appearing on all the others.</p><p>You get a default Reminders list to start things off, but it’s easy to add new ones. You can rename a list by right-clicking on its name, choosing Rename from the pop-up menu, typing a new name, and pressing Return. Reminders also lets you set up categories of lists so that you can get a quick overview of specific tasks, such as birthdays and anniversaries. We’ll show you how to add items to your Reminders list, set up and both time- and location-based alerts, and sync them using iCloud. To set iCloud up, open the Apple menu and go to System Preferences &gt; iCloud. If you’re not logged in, type in your Apple ID and click Sign In &gt; Next &gt; Allow. Once that’s done, check that Calendars and Reminders is ticked. Next, sign in with the same Apple ID on any iOS devices you own by going to Settings &gt; iCloud.</p><p><strong>1. Create a Reminder</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u324771/reminders-1_0.png" /></p><p>Open Reminders and click the + symbol (top-right). Type the name of the reminder and press Return. This creates a simple “to do” without a due date, time, or location. To mark it as done, click the box to the left of the reminder and it goes into your Completed items.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. Timed Reminders</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u324771/reminders-2.png" width="620" height="449" /></p><p>Repeat step one, but this time, hover the mouse pointer over the “to do” you’ve created. Click the “I” that appears. In the box that pops up, click “On a day,” then click the date to make a mini calendar appear. Now, simply choose the date to be alerted to your reminder.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>3. Choose Your Time </strong></p><p><img src="/files/u324771/reminders-3.png" width="620" height="449" /></p><p>Click the date you want to be reminded about. Now, click the hour to highlight it, then type in when you want the alert to appear — doing the same for the minutes — and click Done. Your reminder is now set and an alert will pop up on all your Apple devices.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. Location Aware</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u324771/reminders-4.png" width="620" height="449" /></p><p>You can make reminders appear when you’re in a certain place — handy if you’re syncing your Reminders to an iPad or iPhone. To do this, create a reminder, click the “I” as in step 2, and tick “At a location.” You need to have Location Services switched on.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Pick Your Place</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u324771/reminders-5.png" /></p><p>Type in the location — an address from Contacts, a zip code, or the full address — and then hit Return. Pick 
the location from the list that appears, then choose whether you want to be reminded when you arrive or when you leave that location.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>6. Completed Reminders </strong></p><p><img src="/files/u324771/reminders-6.png" width="620" height="449" /></p><p>When you click the box next to a reminder, it’s marked as “Complete” and is moved to the Completed list. You can click on it to check on your completed tasks. Click to uncheck the reminder and it goes back on your reminders list. Reminders also appear in iCloud.devices.</p> how-to Mac Mac OS X reminders How-Tos Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:53:51 +0000 Alan Stonebridge 20357 at Ask: How to Stop Spam <!--paging_filter--><p>Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We have the answer. In this week's installment of Ask, we'll let you know how to put a stop to spam email.</p><p><strong>Question: I receive hundreds of spam emails per day. Is there a way to easily add the sender to my “delete email from this sender” rule or otherwise make the spam easier to block using my Mac?</strong></p><p>Answer: The built-in Mail spam filtering that is included with Apple Mail is good (and it has definitely gotten better over the years), but it’s still not the best that’s available. However, there’s an easy-to-use plugin that is available for Mail that allows for better email spam filtering.&nbsp;</p><p>The plugin is called SpamSieve, and it’s available from the developer’s website (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) for $30. It provides a blacklisting feature that allows you to block a sender’s email address and catch all of the emails from them. Plus, SpamSieve includes a Bayesian spam filter that can learn from your emails and color your emails based on how spammy each message is by parsing the language in the email.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/askspamsieve.png" /></p><p><span style="font-size: x-small;"><strong>Blocking emails with SpamSieve is a piece of cake, and it ensures that 100 percent of the blacklisted email will not get through to you.</strong></span></p><p>After installing SpamSieve, navigate to Filter &gt; Show Blocklist (or press Command + 4). Here, you can blacklist the sender of a message by pressing the + button in the toolbar, then entering the email address of the sender. When using a smart spam filter like SpamSieve, it’s a good idea to read the manual and train it on each of your messages until it begins to learn from your habits.</p><p>Ask is written by Cory Bohon, a freelance technology writer, indie Mac and iOS developer, and amateur photographer.</p><p>Got a tech question? Email <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> Ask Email Mac spam spam blocker spam filter How-Tos Fri, 18 Jul 2014 18:05:00 +0000 Cory Bohon 20340 at 10 Tips for Using Time Machine <!--paging_filter--> Gallery ethernet Mac Mac macbook pro OS X Preview thunderbolt time machine Wi-Fi How-Tos Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:20:16 +0000 Matthew Bolton 14618 at How to Turn Books into Audiobooks <!--paging_filter--><p>Audiobooks are great because they mean you can enjoy a book while doing something else — or just because it’s always nice to have a book read to you! With Siri on the iPad offering voice control and dictation, you might think you can “convert” your books into audio books by enlisting the help of Apple’s virtual assistant, but sadly, it can’t help. While Siri can speak out individual passages from iBooks, you can’t just sit back and let it read out the whole thing.&nbsp;</p><p>However, all is not lost. There is a great app available called Natural Reader that reads out the text from all kinds of documents, including Word files, PDF documents, and ePub digital books — you can even use it with web pages. This means work documents or reference material can be read out loud while you work on projects or reports. It’s also great if you’re studying and need to take in lots of information. Think of Natural Reader as turning long-form online writing into a kind of podcast to listen to at your leisure.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/audiobooks_opener_0.png" /></p><p>We’ll show you how easy it is to set up Natural Reader so it can then read out your stored iPad documents, as well as online text, whenever you like.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Import a Book</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/audiobooks_1_0.png" width="620" height="378" /></p><p>Once you’ve downloaded Natural Reader onto your iPad (, you need to put text into the app. This can be a digital book (such as epub, the format used by most digital books), text document, Microsoft Word, or PDF file. Perhaps the easiest way to add files is through Dropbox (; upload the files using your Mac, then tap on the Dropbox icon in Natural Reader to retrieve them. Alternatively, you can connect your iPad to a Mac and copy the ebook using iTunes.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. Open the Book</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/audiobooks_2_0.png" width="620" height="466" /></p><p>When you open the book in Natural Reader, it appears in the main window. (It’s also copied and stored locally in the Natural Reader app.) Tap the next-page button at the bottom to move to the page where you want to start listening, then press the play button in the bottom-left corner. A Setting Up Stream pop-up appears and the audio starts playing. The iPad needs to be connected to the internet to translate the text.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>3. Listening to Audio</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/audiobooks_3.png" /></p><p>As Natural Reader starts speaking, the text that’s being read out appears highlighted in blue on the screen. Tap on any paragraph to hear that portion. If you’ve missed what was said, you can quickly repeat the last sentence by tapping on the Previous icon in the bottom-right of the window. You can also skip forward through the chapter by tapping on the Forward icon, which skips forward by 15 percent of the chapter.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. Adjust the Language</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/audiobooks_4_0.png" width="620" height="502" /></p><p>The settings icon (top right) lets you adjust the voice. Tap Settings and Language to choose from US English, UK English, French, German, Spanish, or Italian. This works with any book, no matter the language, although a foreign accent with an English-language title makes the voice somewhat difficult to follow. You can use the settings to adjust the text display using Font, Size and Paragraph. You can also purchase offline voices to use Natural Reader without an Internet connection.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Voice Settings</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/audiobooks_5.png" width="620" height="394" /></p><p>You can also choose from a range of male and female voices by tapping on settings and then Speaker. You can further fine-tune voices by tapping Speed, and choosing a value from -4 (slow) to 10 (fast). This changes the speed but not the pitch, so it’s possible to listen to books very quickly. When you’ve finished listening to a book, tap Library (top left) to return to the main library. Tapping on settings pauses the playback, so press the play/pause button to carry on.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>6. &nbsp;Read from the Web</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/audiobooks_6_0.png" width="620" height="466" /></p><p>Natural Reader can read out web pages as well as digital books and files. Tap on Web in the sidebar of the main library window and tap on the URL field. Enter the address of a website and tap Go. Pick a web page and tap on Read Now in the top-right of the screen, then Play. You can use this to read books displayed as web pages, such as on Project Gutenberg, but it’s also great for reading online articles. Just go to any site and choose the article you want to hear — it’s as simple as that.</p> audiobooks Books iPad Natural Reader Reading How-Tos Tue, 15 Jul 2014 22:16:21 +0000 Lou Hattersly 20318 at Easy Mac Hacks: Run OS X applications without their Dock icon <!--paging_filter--><p><em><img src="/files/u12635/easy_mac_hacks_icon_flat_8.png" width="200" height="200" class="graphic-right" />Every Monday we show you how to do something quick and cool using built-in OS X utilities such as Terminal, Apple’s command line application. These easy hacks can make life better and simpler, and don’t require any knowledge of coding — all you need is a keyboard to type 'em out!<br /></em><br />You may have come accross applications that run in the menu bar without cluttering your Dock with an icon, but did you know that&nbsp;<em>any</em>&nbsp;OS X app can be made to work this way? Continue reading and we'll show you how.</p><h3>Hide the Dock Icon</h3><p>Start the process by quitting any open apps that you want to perform the trick on.&nbsp;Next, you must locate the app's associated .app package. Find the app itself (it's usually located in your /Applications folder), then right-click the application icon and select "Show Package Contents" from the menu.</p><p><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u12635/dockicon_1.png"><img src="/files/u12635/dockicon_1.png" width="620" height="403" class="thickbox" /></a><br /><br />Locate the Info.plist file in the Contents folder that appears. (To be on the safe side, you may wish to make a backup copy of the file, since altering it incorrectly could make the app inoperable.) Open the Info.plist file with the TextEdit application, then add the following two lines of XML into it:</p><pre>&lt;key&gt;LSUIElement&lt;/key&gt;</pre><pre>&lt;true/&gt;</pre><p>These two lines of code need to go inside the ending "&lt;/dict&gt;" that's just before the line ending with "&lt;/plist&gt;" for this trick to work. In other words, place these new statements above the last two lines; if you place them anywhere else in the file, then the hack won't work.</p><p><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u12635/dockicon_2.png"><img src="/files/u12635/dockicon_2.png" width="620" height="433" class="thickbox" /></a><br />Save and quit the file, then open the application that you applied this hack to and you'll notice that the Dock doesn't display the app icon, saving a bit of space.</p><h3>Codesigned Applications</h3><p>There's one more step to the process if the developer has signed the application with an Apple Developer Certificate — and that includes all Mac App Store applications. Without this step, you'll likely get a crash when opening the app. To prevent this, you'll need to re-sign the application using the following command in the Terminal:</p><pre>sudo codesign -f -s - /path_to_app/</pre><p>Replace "/path_to_app/" with the path and the application name that you just tweaked the Info.plist for. After doing this, press enter, and enter your password. The application will be re-codesigned and you should be able to launch the app without any issues.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/codesigning.png" /></p><h3>Re-show the Dock Icon</h3><p>To undo this change, simply re-open the "Info.plist" file you made the changes to and remove the two lines of XML you added. Restart the application, and the Dock icon will begin appearing again when the app is running.</p><h3>Some Caveats</h3><p>As with all hacks, there are a few caveats you should know when using this method to run applications:<br /><br />Hiding the dock icon also disables the top menu-bar controls for the app, so unless you know the keyboard shortcuts or the app runs in single-window mode or resides in the system tray, you may want to think twice about performing this trick. Additionally, this hack may be overwritten whenever you update the application, and you will be required to perform the steps above again. Also, even though it doesn't look like it, the application is still running, and still taking up system resources. If you do this to enough apps you may notice your computer slow down a bit, and you will need to quit apps to bring the Mac back up to speed.</p><p><em>Cory Bohon is a freelance technology writer, indie Mac and iOS developer, and amateur photographer. <a href="">Follow this article's author on Twitter</a>.</em></p> Columns dock Easy Mac Hack Easy Mac Hacks hidden Hide How to icons Mac OS X Terminal Terminal 101 How-Tos Mon, 14 Jul 2014 21:54:41 +0000 Cory Bohon 20266 at Ask: Getting High-Quality iTunes Album Art <!--paging_filter--><p>Got an Apple, Mac, or iOS tech question? We have the answer. In this week's installment of Ask, we'll explain how you can get high-quality album art for your iTunes music.</p><p><strong>Question: I have iTunes-purchased music and music from my CD collection that I ripped to my iTunes Match account. iTunes-purchased album covers are crystal clear, but the ripped CD collection album artwork is fuzzy. I have tried everything, including contacting Apple, but haven’t found a solution yet.</strong>&nbsp;</p><p>Answer: iTunes-purchased music has artwork that is specially designed to be crystal-clear on all of your devices because it was purchased directly from Apple. Depending on when you ripped your music, the Apple server may or may not have been around to provide you with crystal-clear artwork for your library. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to resolve this issue.&nbsp;</p><p>The first step is to select all of the music belonging to a particular album, and then press Command + I (to bring up the Get Info window). In the Get Info window, select the artwork tab, then delete the artwork for the album. Finally, press the OK button to save the changes.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/album_art1.png" /><br /><strong>Deleting the Album artwork manually will force iTunes to find and fetch it again from the iTunes servers.</strong></p><p>You’ll notice that your artwork disappears, but fear not: Select File &gt; Library &gt; Get Album Artwork. This will send all of your album data to the Apple iTunes servers, which will match up your music to the proper, crystal-clear album artwork that is the same that you would get if you had purchased your music directly from the iTunes Store. If iTunes cannot fetch artwork for a particular song, you will be notified when the album artwork fetch has completed.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/album_art2.png" /><br /><strong>Selecting Get Album Artwork from the File &gt; Library menu is the easiest way to kick off a fetch request for iTunes to fill in the missing artwork.</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/album_art3.png" /><br /><strong>If iTunes cannot fulfill the request for artwork for some of the songs, you will get a notification after it has finished processing your library.</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Ask is written by Cory Bohon, a freelance technology writer, indie Mac and iOS developer, and amateur photographer.</p><p>Got a tech question? Email <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p> album artwork iTunes iTunes Match Mac Tips tricks How-Tos Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:10:34 +0000 Cory Bohon 20298 at How to Use Transitions in Premiere Elements <!--paging_filter--><p>When filmmaking was in its infancy, making transitions was a tricky prospect. You had to do it all “in the real world,” so to speak, by superimposing two projected videos and recording the result. Needless to say, it was hard work and only used in specific parts of the film — such as the end of a scene — but once the effect was done, it was done. If it was off by a few frames, unless you could afford to reshoot the transition, that was that.&nbsp;</p><p>These days, with the advent of digital desktop video editing, the process is infinitely simpler. You can choose where to apply the transition, alter it as you please, and even replace it with a different one that’s more to your liking. In comparison to what you had to work with before, your options are practically limitless, and it’s all fairly easy to do, too.</p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/howtopremiere_main.png" width="620" height="388" /></p><p>As you’d expect, you’re not limited to a basic cross-dissolve with Adobe Premiere Elements 12. In fact, you can choose between no less than 53 different types of transition (nine of which are available in Quick mode; the rest you’ll find in Expert mode) to make your project as visually stimulating as possible. Remember to use them sparingly, though. There is such a thing as too much sparkle, and this could end up distracting your audience from the story you’re trying to tell.</p><p>This month, we show you where to find the transitions and how to use and alter them to suit your needs. The methods detailed work just as well in Quick and Expert mode, but we work in Quick mode for the purposes of this exercise.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. The Transitions Menu</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/howtopremiere_1.png" width="620" height="293" /></p><p>Open or create a project with at least two video clips in it. The transitions are located in the bottom toolbar, in a menu appropriately called Transitions. Click on it to see the various options at your disposal. You can resize the menu by dragging its top edge up or down.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. Previewing Transitions</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/howtopremiere_2.png" width="620" height="403" /></p><p>You’re presented with a series of thumbnails, each bearing a title describing the transition. It’s often hard to get an idea of a motion effect with a static thumbnail, though, so click on one to get an animated preview of the transition. You can only animate one at a time.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>3. Drag and Drop</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/howtopremiere_3.png" /></p><p>Drag the transition onto your project. As you do, the menu closes and a thick green line appears along an edit point. Keep moving your cursor until that line is between the two clips you want to apply a transition to. Once you’re there, release the mouse button.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. Timing</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/howtopremiere_4.png" /></p><p>A menu called Transition Adjustments appears over your chosen edit point. You can choose the transition duration in seconds. If one second is too long, you can forgo the up/down arrows and type in a value such as, say, 0.5, to give you a half-second transition.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Alignment</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/howtopremiere_5.png" width="620" height="394" /></p><p>The alignment determines when the transition starts and ends. Left Clip means the transition takes place at the end of the first clip; Between Clips, the transition’s duration is spread between both; Right Clip means the transition is only over the second clip.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>6. Square Display</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/howtopremiere_6.png" /></p><p>Select an alignment and click Done. Depending on the alignment chosen, there’s a small thumbnail square on the left clip, half a square on either side, or one on the right clip. Move the playhead a little to the left and tap the spacebar to see a preview.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>7. Alteration</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/howtopremiere_7.png" width="620" height="357" /></p><p>Obviously, it’s only when you play it that you see whether a transition works. If you’d like to make changes, double-click the small square mentioned earlier. This reopens the Transition Adjustments window so you can make alterations. Click Done to preview your changes.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>8. A New Transition</strong></p><p><img src="/files/u332541/2014/07/howtopremiere_8.png" /></p><p>To see what another effect looks like, select a new one from the Transitions menu and drag it to the same edit point. The duration and alignment settings are preserved from your previous transition, but the new look takes precedence. Click Done to see what it looks like.</p> Adobe Premiere Elements 12 Editing Film Mac Movie Premiere Elements transitions How-Tos Tue, 08 Jul 2014 23:31:34 +0000 Steve Paris 20283 at