I have had a really busy week and was spending a cold, rainy, Sunday afternoon curled up with a mystery novel. The protagonist was an alpha male who wasn't very computer literate but he needed information fast. His girlfriend was a super computer geek whose computer system had been hacked by the bad guys and the world was in danger because of it. She looked up and said "Oh great, here comes Sandy with her damn Mac. She'll be telling me once again that if I would just get a Mac I wouldn't have these problems!" I laughed so hard I scared my cat because I say that to people all the time. It was just so funny to read it in a novel.
This column is about some the cool things that are included as part of your OS X operating system. Those things that actually make your Mac so easy to use, even if you are not trying to save the world from the bad guys or writing the next great novel.
Say you are conducting research on the Internet and you find a snippet of information that you want to keep. You can highlight it, place the cursor inside the highlighted area and drag it to your desktop for later use. That saved information is called a Clipping. But you can take it a step further than that. You can drag that Clipping into a document and use it as is. This is a great help if you are gathering information, or want to use a quote. And, if the information you save as a clipping contains hyperlinks, they remain intact and will transfer into your document.
Use Preview To Resize Images
Preview is a remarkable tool and one I highly recommend you check out. One thing it does for you quickly and easily is resize your images. Drag your image into Preview and select Adjust Size from the Tools menu. You can adjust your image by width, height, and resolution. You can make those adjustments based on inches, pixels, percent, cm, mm, or points. You can also adjust the color, rotate, flip, and crop your pictures. All of this without spending any extra money on imagining software.
Here is another great Preview trick: You can take a picture of your desktop by holding down Command+Shift+3. BUT, if you throw in the Control key and make it Command+Control+Shift+3, it will save the image to the clip board instead of to your desktop. You can then open Preview, select New From Clipboard from the File menu and save that image as a PDF.
It works much better for saving a specific item or a specific window. To do that you just place your cursor inside the window or item and hold down Command+Control+Shift+4. When you see the camera image, hit the Space bar, and then click the mouse button which saves the image. Open Preview, select New From Clipboard from the File menu and save that image as a PDF.
When you can't find something on your Mac, there is a special search that you can try. Make sure you are in the Finder and press Command-F and you will get the Searching This Mac window. I've written about this before, but it is worth mentioning again because it is so helpful. There is a list of over a hundred different criteria by which you can search for something from "kind", to "City of the Item." There is also a second set of qualifiers that let you further reduce your quest to "document," "folder," and so on. Once you set the qualifiers the search will try and find what you seek.
A Different Kind of Search
Sometimes you want to search for something based on the kind of document it is. For instance, recently I needed to find all the Keynote documents I had on my Mac because I needed a specific slide show I had made and I couldn't find it anywhere. Here is a quick way to do it: Click on Spotlight in the menu bar and enter kind: followed by the application you are interested in. For my recent search I entered kind:keynote. When I did so, all the slide shows I had saved on my computer popped up in the Spotlight results list and I found the one I needed, stored in a sub folder where it did not belong. You can use the kind: feature to search other kinds of things as well.
You can get more tips in my manual Tips, Hints, and Solutions For Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5.
The entire Table of Contents and a sample page are available for free review for anyone who wishes to see them.
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