How-Tos

True Learning

We all know the value of education, but a trickier decision parents have to make is when to start formally educating their kids. It’s becoming more common to send toddlers for a year or two of preschool before they start kindergarten at age 5. And the structure is a lot different than in years past—even kindergartners get homework these days. 

Flying Meat Acorn 1.0.1

Acorn offers a very simple, uncluttered interface that lets you focus on the image.  iPhoto comes with some decent tools to tweak an image, and even add basic effects. However, if you want to design a montage, add text, or create artwork from scratch, you’re out of luck. You could resort to Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, but both are giant leaps on the learning curve, especially for anyone used to iPhoto. This is where Acorn comes in—it’s not only a good value, but also easy to use.

Get Your iLife in Gear

All the gear you'll need to become the ultimate iLife user.

 Enjoy yourself. For most of the self-employed, a bad day of freelancing beats a good day in the cube farm.  The life cycle of a business idea can be a beautiful thing to behold. From the “Eureka!” moment when you discover what it is you want to create, to the moment you get a nice, big, fat paycheck for selling your creation, getting a home business up and running can be a wonderful, empowering experience. But if you think it’s just a matter of getting the right gear, you’re wrong. All the gear in the world won’t help you break the shackles of working for The Man if it’s used incorrectly (or costs too much). Indeed, the keys to success are the soft ingredients: the best Mac applications, the best online services, the best practices for making a go of it alone. We offer a six-page primer on establishing financial self-determination—with your trusty Mac by your side. 

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iPhone Buzz Kill

 For as long as I’ve owned my iPhone, it’s held a permanent spot on my desk in its dock adjacent to one of my JBL Creature speakers. My cell phone is my primary form of communication in and outside my home, so it needs to be within reach at all times; and with so much e-mail checking and Internet browsing, it also usually needs to be charged. 

Adding Panache to Photo Slideshows

No need to baffle anyone with BS when you can dazzle them with style. Make an otherwise humdrum slideshow sing? Oh yeah. We all know iPhoto can do amazing things with your pictures. But while Apple’s been improving the rest of the app by leaps and bounds, the really useful Slideshow feature has been all but forgotten. So if you want something more dynamic than that whole Ken Burns effect, you may want to look elsewhere to create an animated, sound-driven presentation of your photos.

Tired of bringing knives to gun fights? Learn how to light your stuff the right way. These days, almost every Mac owner is using an iSight or some other kind of webcam. Apple’s building them into Macs, fer chrissakes, and people who bought Macs that don’t include the iSight can choose from a wide selection of cameras for their monitors or desks. Most webcams are designed to analyze the lighting and make adjustments for the best picture. But what if the lighting in your room is not suited for your camera? Your friends will mock you and avoid your counsel, shunning you as they verily should. Or, you know, you’ll just look peaked. But by controlling sources of light in the room, you can improve the way you look when you use the webcam, and additional lights can give you the look of studio lighting without actually converting your computer room to a studio.

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Life After Death

Most iPods are shaped like tombstones. Coincidence? We’ve buried our share, but the strong music-playing interface keeps us buying more. When an iPod is finally ready for that great silhouetted commercial in the sky, recycle it to fill a new purpose. It’ll be much more useful than a taxidermied pet, yet still remind you of the good times.Reincarnate old and broken iPods with these fun projects.

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Shuffle Your iPod’s Look

iPods look good, but they all look alike. Make your working iPod stand out with a new metal backing. Just permanently cover the original stainless steel by electroplating a new layer on top. Choose from gold, copper, nickel, tin, chrome, bronze, or other finishes. We tried gold- and copper-plating kits from Caswell Plating, for flashy and retro results. Be warned that gold can be difficult to apply, while copper is comparatively easy. We’ll explain the process for either metal. 

All Hands on Leopard

There’s a world of power lurking inside Apple’s latest big cat. We give you the complete story on exactly where to find it.Installing a new operating system on your Mac is like unwrapping a much-anticipated holiday gift: There are just so many goodies inside waiting to be pored over and played with. We dug deep into Mac OS 10.5 - better known as Leopard - and found powerful tools, entertaining toys, and the occasional rock-hard fruitcake. Our in-depth Leopard primer is at www.maclife.com/article/living_with_leopard, but we’ve found more teeth on this cat. Come along for a tour of the hidden treats that are waiting for you inside Apple’s latest and greatest OS.