Tips as Stocking Stuffers, Really?

Stocking TipsWhen it comes to big holidays I tend to plan and prepare ahead. Now, if my children were reading this you would hear loud guffaws coming from two states at my use of the word “tend”. My family celebrates Christmas and they don’t laugh when all my early activities mean there is plenty of time to make Christmas cookies, cook a dinner from scratch (including bread) and all the other food that is special that time of the year.

My point being that 95 percent of the presents I am giving are bought and wrapped in color coordinated paper and ready for the holidays. I learned a long time ago that the best way to hide presents was to gift wrap them and leave them out in plain sight - with the exception of the odd bicycle here and there.

What, you may ask, could any of this have to do with computer tips? I’m glad you asked. Three of my children work within the Apple ecosystem. There isn’t a computer, iPad, iPhone, or iPod that they either don’t already have or that I could afford to get for them if they didn’t. They don’t even need accessories. On top of that, two of them can take a Mac apart and put it back together again and know more about Macs than I will ever know.

This year I was determined to find tips that they were not aware of so I could add them to their stockings. Sometimes the people with lots and lots of knowledge skip over little things that will actually make their lives easier. They won’t see these tips ahead of time because they don’t read my column, but being wonderful kids, the will never tell me if they already know the tip and all of us will be happy.

Oh, and these tips were tested in Mountain Lion.

Tip 1: TextEdit

When using TextEdit you can choose several nonadjacent bits of text and copy them or cut them. To do this you highlight the first bit of text then hold down the Command key and highlight more text. Then if you are doing a copy, you paste into your place of choice. One qualifier, if you cut rather than copy the empty spaces will not close automatically.

Selecting nonadjacent text in TextExit

Another thing you can do with this same trick is make changes to the font for a specific set of text. If you have ever had to go through a long manuscript and change the font of the first letter of each paragraph, you can visualize how helpful this would be.

Use this same technique to change fonts throughout a document

Tip 2: Attachments in Apple Mail

Some people, like my twin, still use PCs, and it turns out that we need to communicate with them, too. We send them photos and other images and we would like to make sure they can open and view them. Macs have an Edit option that lets you choose to make your images Windows-friendly. To access it select Edit from the menu bar, then choose Attachments > Always Send Windows-Friendly Attachments.

Choosing to send Windows-Friendly Attachments

You choose to leave this on all the time, but when it is turned on, images sent to a Mac lose some details like color labels. You do have the option of choosing to use the Windows-friendly attribute on a case by case basis. When you choose the images that will be included in your email, use the attachment icon at the top of the email.

Add an attachment to an email in Apple Mail app

At the bottom of that window is a check box that lets you turn on or off the Windows-friendly action.

Turn on or off the Windows-Friendly Attachments option

Tip 3: Using Symbols in Apple Mail

If you have lots of email it is often difficult to find a specific message that you need. Even if you use Mailboxes and Smart Mailboxes, there can still be lots to comb through when you need something specific. Say, like when your boss calls and says “What percent discount did you offer Grandlegrumps for a purchase of 1,000 widgets?”

You sent that message a week ago and have slept since then. You don’t remember exactly, but if you find your email response quickly you can answer quickly.

As always, there is a built-in help. I know this is in Mountain Lion. Users of earlier versions of the OS can check to see if they have it.

I expect that everyone who has used Mail more than a week knows that there are symbols found on the title bar that can be clicked to respond to, or forward a message.

Red arrow is reply, blue arrow is forward

These same symbols also appear in your list of messages, next to any message that you have replied to or forwarded. That way you know you took action on the email. Good deal, right? They do even more. Click on either the reply to, or forward symbol and they will take you directly to your response.

So, if you have a Smart Folder on the Grandlegrumps project all you have to do to get to the response you sent, is click on the respond arrow next to the correct message and you will instantly have it open in front of you and you can smoothly answer your boss’s questions. I’m sure she will be quite impressed.

These tips are going into the stockings of all seven of my immediate family members who use Macs. Feel free to use them as you will.

Stocking image made with help and help from Shutterstock.