OS X Mavericks For Dummies (2014)
Part IV. Mastering Your Mavericks
Chapter 17. Features for the Way You Work
In This Chapter
Talking to your Mac
Listening to your Mac
Enhancing productivity by using automation
Trying out more useful technologies and techniques
Running Microsoft Windows on your Mac (really!)
Mirroring your Mac screen to your HDTV screen wirelessly
This chapter delves into some OS X Mavericks features that might very well improve the ways you interact with your computer. Unlike the more mainstream applications, System Preference panes, and utilities I discuss in Part I — Desktop, Finder, Screen Saver, Appearance, Keyboard, Trackpad, Mouse, and such — the items in this chapter are a little more esoteric. In other words, you don’t have to use any of the technologies I’m about to show you. That said, many of these items can make you more productive and can make using your Mac even better. So I’d like to believe that at least some of you will want to use the cool features I’m about to introduce.
Talking and Listening to Your Mac
Your primary methods for interacting with your Mac are typing and reading text. But there’s another way you can commune with your faithful computer: voice.
Whether you know it or not, your Mac has a lot of speech savvy up its sleeve (er . . . up its processors?) and can talk to you as well as listen, type the words you speak, and obey your spoken commands. In the following sections, you discover how to make your Mac do all of the above and more.
Dictation: You talk and your Mac types
Mavericks’ predecessor, Mountain Lion, was the first version of OS X to include Dictation, which means you can talk instead of type if you prefer. It’s almost identical to the dictation feature found on the iPhone 4S and later, third-generation and later iPads, and the iPad mini.
First, make sure Dictation is enabled in the Dictation & Speech System Preference pane’s Dictation tab; if it’s set to Off, click the On button.
After it’s enabled, Dictation couldn’t be easier to use. First, click where you want your words to appear, and then choose Edit⇒Start Dictation, or press the Fn key twice in rapid succession.
If your keyboard doesn’t have an Fn key, click the Shortcut pop-up menu in the Dictation & Speech System Preference pane to change the shortcut to one that works with your keyboard.
When you start Dictation, a little microphone icon appears. The purple filling indicates the level (relative loudness) of your voice. Try to keep the purple near the middle — not too high and not too low, as shown in Figure 17-1.
Figure 17-1: Volume levels for dictation (left to right): Too soft, just right, and too loud.
When you see the microphone icon, start speaking. After you’ve dictated a few sentences, click Done and let your Mac catch up. When the words appear, you can start Dictation again. Repeat as necessary.
It might not be a bad idea to save your document after you speak a few sentences or paragraphs; if you don’t, the words you dictated since your last Save will be lost if the app or your Mac crashes.
You can insert punctuation by speaking its name, such as “period” or “comma.” You can also perform simple formatting by saying “new line” or “new paragraph” to add space between lines.
Here are a few more tips to help you get the best results when you dictate:
Speak in a normal voice at a moderate volume level. Try to keep the purple in the microphone icon about half-full (or half-empty if you’re a pessimist).
Avoid background noise. If you expect to use dictation in a noisy environment or a room with a lot of ambient echo, you should consider using a headset microphone.
The headset that comes with iPhones and iPod touches is compatible with many Mac models.
Be sure the microphone is not obstructed. Check your Mac’s User Guide for the location of your built-in microphone (if you have one).
Be sure the input volume of an external microphone is sufficient. If you’re using an external microphone and the purple meter doesn’t respond to your voice, select the microphone in the drop-down menu beneath the purple microphone in the Dictation tab of the Dictation & Speech System Preference pane.
Dictation requires an Internet connection unless you enable a new option in Mavericks, the Use Enhanced Dictation check box. When you dictate text, what you say is sent to Apple’s servers to convert it to text unless this option is enabled. When it is selected, you can use Dictation without an Internet connection. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you’ll have to download about 700MB of additional data first.
Other information, such as your contacts, may also be sent to help your Mac understand what you’re saying. If that makes you uncomfortable, you probably shouldn’t use the Dictation feature without first selecting the Use Enhanced Dictation check box.
Commanding your Mac by voice
Speech Recognition enables your Mac to recognize and respond to human speech. The only thing you need in order to use it is a microphone, and all laptops and iMacs have a built-in mic these days, as does the Apple LED Cinema Display that you can (optionally) purchase for use with any (Mavericks-capable) Mac.
Speech Recognition lets you issue verbal commands such as “Get my mail!” to your Mac and have it actually get your e-mail. You can also create AppleScripts and trigger them by voice.
An AppleScript is a series of commands, using the AppleScript language, that tells the computer (and some applications) what to do. You find out more about AppleScript later in this chapter.
Setting up for Speech Recognition
To start using Speech Recognition, launch System Preferences and follow these steps:
1. Open the Accessibility System Preferences pane.
2. Click Speakable Items in list on the left and then click the Settings tab.
3. Click the On button for Speakable Items, as shown in Figure 17-2.
Figure 17-2: Turn Speech Recognition on and off.
4. Choose the microphone you want to use from the Microphone pop-up menu.
If you have a laptop or an iMac, you may get better results from just about any third-party microphone. The one that’s built into your Mac works, but it isn’t the greatest microphone on the planet.
5. To test that microphone, click the Calibrate button and follow the onscreen instructions.
6. (Optional) To change the listening key from Esc to a different key, click the Listening Key tab near the top of the pane, click the Change Key button in the middle of the pane, and then press the key you want to use as your listening key.
There are two listening methods you can use with Speech Recognition:
a. Press a listening key — Esc by default — when you want to talk to your Mac.
b. Have your Mac listen continuously for you to say a special keyword — “Computer” by default — when you want to talk to your Mac.
7. (Optional) To change the listening method from Listening Key to Listening Continuously with Keyword, click the Listening Key tab and then click the appropriate radio button.
If you select Listening Continuously, you have two more options:
a. To change the way your Mac listens for the keyword — Optional before commands, Required before each command, or Required 15 or 30 seconds after last command — make your selection from the Keyword Is pop-up menu.
b. To change the keyword from Computer to something else, type the word you want to use in the Keyword field.
I tried to call mine “OK MacBook Pro,” so when people are watching, I can casually say things like “OK, MacBook Pro, log me out,” and watch their jaws drop when they realize that I’m talking to my laptop and it’s actually doing what I ask. Sadly, it failed to recognize my keyword more often than not.
8. (Optional) You can have your commands acknowledged by your Mac, if you like, by selecting the Speak Command Acknowledgement check box.
9. (Optional) You can choose a sound other than Whit from the Play This Sound pop-up menu.
10. Click the Commands subtab on the Accessibility System Preference pane’s Speech Recognition tab, and then select the check box for each command set you want to enable.
I can’t see any reason not to enable them all unless you don’t use Apple’s Contacts, in which case you don’t need to enable it.
11. Click the Helpful Tips button and read the tips.
12. Click each command-set name, and if the Configure button is enabled, click it and follow the onscreen instructions.
13. (Optional) If you create an AppleScript you want to be speakable, click the Open Speakable Items Folder and place the script in the folder.
The Speakable Items folder is opened for you.
When you speak its name, the script is executed.
If the Accessibility System Preference pane isn't open, and you want to open the Speakable Items folder, you can find it in your hidden home Library folder (Home/Library/Speech).
14. Close the Accessibility System Preference pane when you’re done.
Using Speech Recognition
Here’s how Speech Recognition works. For the sake of this discussion, I use the “Press Esc” listening method.
When Speech Recognition is turned on, a round feedback window appears onscreen, as shown in Figure 17-3.
Figure 17-3: The round Speech Recognition feedback window.
I’m not pressing the Esc key in Figure 17-3, so the word Esc appears in the middle of the window to remind me which key to press before I speak a command.
Now, here’s how to actually use Speech Recognition:
1. To see what commands are available, click the little triangle at the bottom of the feedback window and select Open Speech Commands Window, as shown in Figure 17-3.
As you might expect, selecting Speech Preferences from this menu opens the Accessibility System Preference pane for you.
The Speech Commands window appears onscreen, as shown in Figure 17-4.
2. Peruse the Speech Commands window to find a command you’d like to execute by speaking its name.
3. Speak that command exactly as written.
In this example, I press the Esc key and say to my Mac, “Tell me a joke.” At this point, several things happen:
• In the feedback window, Esc disappears, and the microphone lights up to subtly indicate that my Mac is waiting for speech input.
• The command and my Mac’s response appear in little boxes above and below the Feedback window.
• The Speech Commands window changes to reflect the command I’ve spoken.
Figure 17-4: The Speech Commands window.
My Mac then says, “Knock, knock,” and the bottom part of the Speech Commands window displays the commands I can speak in response. I replied, “Who’s there?” My Mac says, “Texas.” And so on. You can see all this in Figure 17-5. And that’s pretty much it for Speech Recognition.
Figure 17-5: Here’s what happened when I pressed Esc and said, “Tell me a joke.”
This technology is clever and kind of fun, but it can also be somewhat frustrating when it doesn’t recognize what you say, which is far too often if you ask me. And it requires a decent microphone — although the mic built into most Macs sometimes works okay. The bottom line is that I’ve never been able to get Speech Recognition to work well enough to continue using it beyond a few hours at best. Still, it’s kind of cool (and it’s a freebie), and I’ve heard more than one user profess love for it. Which is why it’s included here.
Listening to your Mac read for you
The camera pans back — a voice tells you what you’ve just seen, and suddenly it all makes sense. Return with me now to those thrilling days of the off-camera narrator. . . . Wouldn’t it be nice if your Mac had a narrator to provide a blow-by-blow account of what’s happening on your screen?
Or . . . Your eyes are tired from a long day staring at the monitor, but you still have a lengthy document to read. Wouldn’t it be sweet if you could sit back, close your eyes, and let your Mac read the document to you in a (somewhat) natural voice? The good news is that both are possible with OS X Mavericks — the former with VoiceOver and the latter with Text to Speech.
Mavericks’ VoiceOver technology is designed primarily for the visually impaired, but you might find it useful even if your vision is 20/20. VoiceOver not only reads what’s on the screen to you but also integrates with your keyboard so you can navigate around the screen until you hearthe item you’re looking for. When you’re there, you can use Keyboard Access to select list items, select check boxes and radio buttons, move scroll bars and sliders, resize windows, and so on — with a simple key press or two.
To check it out, launch the System Preferences application (from Launchpad, the Applications folder, menu, or Dock), click the Accessibility icon and then click VoiceOver or press +F5 (+Fn+F5 on notebook/laptop models and most Apple keyboards).
After VoiceOver is enabled, you can turn it on and off in the Accessibility System Preferences pane or by pressing +F5 (+Fn+F5 on notebook/laptop models and most Apple keyboards).
While VoiceOver is on, your Mac talks to you about what is on your screen. For example, if you click the Desktop, your Mac might say something along the lines of “Application, Finder; Column View; selected folder, Desktop, contains 8 items.” It’s quite slick. Here’s another example: When you click a menu or item on a menu, you hear its name spoken at once, and when you close a menu, you hear the words “Closing menu.” You even hear the spoken feedback in the Print, Open, and Save (and other) dialogs.
VoiceOver is kind of cool (talking alerts are fun), but having dialogs actually produce spoken text becomes annoying really fast for most folks. Still, I urge you to check it out. You might like it and find times when you want your Mac to narrate for you.
The VoiceOver Utility
The VoiceOver Utility lets you specify almost every possible option the VoiceOver technology uses. You can adjust its verbosity; specify how it deals with your mouse and keyboard; change its voice, rate, pitch, and/or volume; and more.
You can open the VoiceOver Utility by clicking the Open VoiceOver Utility button in the Accessibility System Preferences pane or in the usual way: by double-clicking its icon (which you find in your Applications/Utilities folder).
Of course, you might get the machines-are-taking-over willies when your Mac starts to talk to you or make sounds — but if you give it a try, it could change your mind.
I wish I had the space to explain further, but I don’t. That’s the bad news. The good news is that VoiceOver Help is extensive and clear, and it helps you harness all the power of VoiceOver and the VoiceOver Utility.
Text to Speech
The second way your Mac can speak to you is via Text to Speech, which converts onscreen text to spoken words. If you’ve used Text to Speech in earlier versions of OS X, you’ll find that it’s pretty much unchanged.
Why might you need Text to Speech? Because sometimes hearing is better than reading. For example, I sometimes use Text to Speech to read a column or page to me before I submit it. If something doesn’t sound quite right, I give it another polish before sending it off to my editor.
You can configure this feature in the Dictation & Speech System Preference pane:
1. Open System Preferences (from Launchpad, the Applications folder, Dock, or menu), click the Dictation & Speech icon, and then click the Text to Speech tab.
2. Choose one of the voices in the System Voice pop-up menu to set the voice your Mac uses when it reads to you.
3. Click the Play button to hear a sample of the voice you selected.
4. Use the Speaking Rate slider to speed up or slow down the voice.
5. Click the Play button to hear the voice at its new speed.
I really like Alex, who says, “Most people recognize me by my voice.” My second favorite is Fred, who says, “I sure like being inside this fancy computer.”
6. (Optional) Select the Announce When Alerts Are Displayed check box if you want to make your Mac speak the text in alert boxes and dialogs.
You might hear such alerts as “The application Microsoft Word has quit unexpectedly” or “Paper out or not loaded correctly.”
7. (Optional) Click the Set Alert Options button to choose the voice and phrase used to announce your alerts — “Alert,” “Attention,” “Yo, dude,” and the like — when alerting you.
You can also set the delay between the time the alert appears and when it’s spoken to you.
8. (Optional) If you like, select either of these two check boxes: Announce When an Application Requires Your Attention or Speak Selected Text When the Key Is Pressed.
They both do what they say they’ll do. In the case of the latter, you assign the key you want to press by clicking the Set Key button.
9. (Optional) If you want to have the clock announce the time, click the Open Date & Time Preferences button, and you’re whisked to that System Preferences pane; then click the Clock tab and select the Announce the Time check box.
Now, to use Text to Speech to read text to you, copy the text to the Clipboard, launch any app that supports it (I usually choose TextEdit), paste the text into the empty untitled document, click where you want your Mac to begin reading to you, and then choose Edit⇒Speech⇒Start Speaking. To make it stop, choose Edit⇒Speech⇒Stop Speaking.
Another great place Text to Speech is available is in the Safari web browser. It works the same as TextEdit but you don’t have to paste — just select the text you want to hear and choose Edit⇒Speech⇒Start Speaking.
OS X Mavericks offers a pair of technologies — AppleScript and Automator — that make it easy to automate repetitive actions on your Mac.
AppleScript is “programming for the rest of us.” It can record and play back things that you do (if the application was written to allow the recording — Finder, for example, was), such as opening an application or clicking a button. You can use it to record a script for tasks that you often perform, and then have your Mac perform those tasks for you later. You can write your own AppleScripts, use those that come with your Mac, or download still others from the web.
Automator is “programming without writing code.” With Automator, you string together prefabricated activities (known as actions) to automate repetitive or scheduled tasks. How cool is that?
Automation isn’t for everyone. Some users can’t live without it; others could go their whole lives without ever automating anything. So the following sections are designed to help you figure out how much — or how little — you care about AppleScript and Automator.
Describing AppleScript to a Mac beginner is a bit like three blind men describing an elephant. One man might describe it as the Macintosh’s built-in automation tool. Another might describe it as an interesting but often-overlooked piece of enabling technology. The third might liken it to a cassette recorder, recording and playing back your actions at the keyboard. A fourth (if there were a fourth in the story) would assure you that it looked like computer code written in a high-level language.
They would all be correct. AppleScript, a built-in Mac automation tool, is a little-known (at least until recently) enabling technology that works like a cassette recorder for programs that support AppleScript recording. And scripts do look like computer programs. (Could that be because they are computer programs? Hmm . . .)
If you’re the kind of person who likes to automate as many things as possible, you might just love AppleScript because it’s a simple programming language you can use to create programs that give instructions to your Mac and the applications running on your Mac. For example, you can create an AppleScript that launches Mail, checks for new messages, and then quits Mail. The script could even transfer your mail to a folder of your choice. Of course, OS X 10.4 Tiger also introduced Automator, which includes a whole lot of preprogrammed actions that make a task like the one just described even easier.
I call AppleScript a time-and-effort enhancer. If you just spend the time and effort it takes to understand it, using AppleScript can save you oodles of time and effort down the road. Therein lies the rub. This stuff is far from simple; entire books have been written on the subject. So it’s far beyond the purview of OS X Mavericks For Dummies. Still, it’s worth finding out about if you’d like to script repetitive actions for future use. To get you started, here are a few quick tips:
You can put frequently used AppleScripts in the Dock or on your Desktop for easy access.
Apple provides a script menu extra that you can install on your menu bar in AppleScript Utility's Preferences window — along with a number of free scripts to automate common tasks, many of which are in the Example Scripts folder. (An alias to that folder is present in the AppleScript folder.) Furthermore, you can always download additional scripts from www.apple.com/applescript.
Many AppleScripts are designed for use in the toolbar of Finder windows, where you can drag and drop items onto them quickly and easily.
Scripts can enhance your use of many apps including iTunes, iPhoto, and the Finder, to name a few.
AppleScript Editor (in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder) is the application you use to view and edit AppleScripts. Although more information on AppleScript Editor is beyond the scope of this book, it’s a lot of fun. And the cool thing is that you can create many AppleScripts without knowing a thing about programming. Just record a series of actions you want to repeat and use AppleScript Editor to save what you recorded as a script. If you save your script as an application (by choosing Format⇒Application in the Save sheet), you can run that script by double-clicking its icon.
If the concept of scripting intrigues you, I suggest that you open the Scripts (in the root-level Library) folder. Rummage through this folder and when you find a script that looks interesting, double-click it to launch the AppleScript Editor program, where you can examine it more closely.
Automator does just what you’d expect: It enables you to automate many common tasks on your Mac. If it sounds a little like AppleScript to you (which I discuss in the preceding section), you’re not mistaken; the two have a common goal. But this tool (introduced in OS X Tiger) is a lot simpler to use, albeit somewhat less flexible, than AppleScript.
For example, in AppleScript, you can have conditionals (“if this is true, do that; otherwise do something else”), but Automator is purely sequential (“take this, do that, then do the next thing, and then . . .”).
The big difference is that conditionals allow AppleScripts to take actions involving decision-making and iteration (“while this is true, do these things”); Automator workflows can’t make decisions or iterate.
The upsides to Automator are that you don’t have to know anything about programming and you don’t have to type any archaic code. Instead, if you understand the process you want to automate, you can just drag and drop Automator’s prefab Actions into place and build a workflow(Automator’s name for a series of Actions).
You do need to know one thing about programming (or computers), though: Computers are stupid! You heard me right — even my top-of-the-line MacBook Pro is dumb as a post. Computers do only what you tell them to do, although they can do it faster and more precisely than you can. But all computers run on the GIGO principle — garbage in/garbage out — so if your instructions are flawed, you’re almost certain to get flawed results.
When you launch the Automator application, you see the window and sheet shown in Figure 17-6. Choose one of the starting points if you want Automator to assist you in constructing a new workflow, or choose Workflow to start building a workflow from scratch.
In this case, I chose Service for the sake of this demonstration (you’ll see why in a second). When I chose Service, I saw the window shown in Figure 17-7.
Figure 17-6: Choose Workflow to start a workflow from scratch.
The Library window on the left contains all the applications Automator knows about that have Actions defined for them. Select an application in the top part of the Library window, and its related actions appear below it. When you select an action, the pane at the bottom of the Library window (Text to Audio File in Figure 17-6) explains what that Action does, what input it expects, and what result it produces. Just drag Actions from the Action list into the window on the right to build your workflow.
This particular Service, which took me less than five minutes of trial and error to perfect, is quite useful. First, I select text from any source — a web page, Microsoft Word document, e-mail message, or whatever. Then I right-click or Control-click and select my newly created Text-to-Audio Service from the Services menu. OS X then converts the selected text into an audio file, which I can have read to me in iTunes at home or on my iPhone or iPad in the car, on a plane, or just about anywhere. Sweet!
Automator is a very useful addition to OS X; it’s deep, powerful, and expandable, yet relatively easy to use and master. Do yourself a favor, and spend some time experimenting with ways Automator can save you time and keystrokes. You won’t regret it.
Figure 17-7: Convert text I select to an audio file.
For additional information about AppleScript, Automator, Services, and much more, visit www.macosxautomation.com.
A Few More Useful Goodies
Even more neat and useful technologies are built into Mavericks, but I’m running out of space. So here are, at least in my humble opinion, the best of the rest.
The App Store app is the OS X software version of the iTunes Store for media and iOS apps. Here, you’ll find applications of all types — Business, Entertainment, Graphics, Productivity, Social Networking, and more — at prices that start at zero (free).
Just about everything I tell you in Chapter 12 about the iTunes Store could be said for the App Store. It looks and works the same, and it uses the same credit card you have on file at the iTunes Store.
If you see a little number on the App Store icon in your Dock, it means that a number of your apps have updates available. Launch the App Store app and click the Updates tab to see the apps with updates awaiting them. Even if you don’t see a little number in the App Store’s Dock icon, it wouldn’t hurt to launch the App Store every once in a while to check for updates manually, as the little number sometimes fails to appear in the App Store Dock icon.
You got a brief glimpse of the Accessibility System Preference pane when we looked into commanding your Mac by voice earlier in the chapter. But this System Preference pane is mostly designed for users with disabilities or who have difficulty handling the keyboard, mouse, or trackpad.
The pane has three sections — Seeing, Hearing, and Interacting — each of which has one or more subsections, as shown in Figure 17-7.
The Seeing section
Seeing has three subsections. The Display subsection lets you display the screen with inverted colors, as shown in Figure 17-8. Check the Use Grayscale box to desaturate your screen into a grayscale display (so it looks kind of like a black-and-white TV).
Figure 17-8: The Invert Colors option reverses what you see onscreen.
Select the Show Accessibility Status in Menu Bar check box to see the status of all of the Accessibility Preferences in your menu bar, as shown in Figure 17-8.
The Zoom subsection (not shown in Figure 17-8) is where you can turn on a terrific feature called hardware zoom, which lets you make things on your screen bigger by zooming in on them. To control it by keyboard, select the Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Zoom check box. Then you can toggle it on and off with the shortcut +Option+8 and zoom in and out using the shortcuts +Option+= (the equals key) and +Option+– (the minus key), respectively. Finally, the More Options button lets you specify minimum and maximum zoom levels, display a preview rectangle when zoomed out, and toggle image smoothing on or off.
Try this feature even if you’re not disabled or challenged in any way; it’s actually a great feature for everyone.
The Hearing section
The Hearing section has a pair of subsections called Audio and Captions.
Audio lets you choose to flash the screen whenever an alert sound occurs.
This feature, created for those with impaired hearing, is also quite useful if you have a MacBook Pro or MacBook and want to use it where ambient noise levels are high or if you don’t want your Mac to disturb those around you.
There’s also a Play Stereo Audio as Mono check box. Not sure why you’d need it, and I couldn’t hear any difference when I tried it with a variety of stereo audio sources. The only thing I can think of is that it might be helpful for those who listen to audio using a monaural (that is, one ear only) Bluetooth headset or those with hearing impairment in only one ear.
Captions lets you specify how onscreen subtitles and captions look. There’s also a Prefer Closed Captions and SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) check box that uses Closed Captions or SDH when available (instead of standard Mac subtitles).
The Interacting section
The Interacting section in Mavericks has four subsections: Keyboard, Mouse & Trackpad, Switch Control, and Speakable Items (discussed earlier in the chapter).
The Keyboard subsection offers two types of assistance:
The Sticky Keys application treats a sequence of modifier keys as a key combination. In other words, you don’t have to simultaneously hold down while pressing another key. For example, with Sticky Keys enabled, you can do a standard keyboard shortcut by pressing , releasing it, and then pressing the other key. You can select check boxes to tell you (with a beep and/or an onscreen display) what modifier keys have been pressed.
As useful as Sticky Keys can be, they’re really awkward in applications like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and other applications that toggle a tool’s state when you press a modifier key. So if you’re a big Photoshop user, you probably don’t want Sticky Keys enabled.
Slow Keys lets you adjust the delay between when a key is pressed and when that key press is accepted.
The Mouse & Trackpad subsection offers options to those who have difficulties using a mouse or trackpad by enabling them to use keys on the keyboard to navigate rather than a mouse or trackpad.
You can also increase the cursor size from the normal setting (16 x 16) to about 64 x 64.
The Switch Control subsection lets you control your Mac with one or more mechanical switches.
All Macs are Energy Star–compliant (and have been for years), allowing you to preset your machine to turn itself off at a specific time or after a specified idle period. To manage your Mac’s energy-saving features, open the Energy Saver System Preferences pane by choosing @app⇒System Preferences and clicking the Energy Saver icon.
If you have a notebook computer, you have two mostly identical tabs — Battery and Power Adapter — in your Energy Saver System Preferences pane. The battery tab controls your MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro’s behavior when it’s running on battery power (not plugged in); the Power Adapter tab controls its behavior when it is plugged in.
If you have a desktop Mac, you won’t have tabs, but you do have most of the same controls, including a pair of sliders that control sleep times for your computer and display. To enable Computer or Display sleep, move the appropriate slider to the desired amount of time. You can choose any number between 1 minute and 3 hours or turn off either type of sleep entirely by moving its slider all the way to the right, to Never.
Setting the display to sleep is handy if you want your Mac to keep doing what it’s doing but you don’t need to use the monitor. And if you’re a notebook user, display sleep will save you battery power.
To wake up your Mac from its sleep, merely move your mouse or press any key.
Below the Sleep sliders are some check boxes for other useful energy settings, such as the following:
Put the Hard Disk(s) to Sleep When Possible: Enabling this option forces your hard drive to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity. It’s not a particularly useful feature on a desktop Mac, but if you have a laptop, letting your hard drive sleep when it’s idle will save you some battery power.
Wake for Network Access: Enable this option if you want your Mac to wake up automatically for Ethernet network access (handy in a corporate setting where an IT person maintains system configurations).
If you have a laptop, you’ll have some additional options, including
Slightly Dim the Display While on Battery Power (Battery tab only): The display dims slightly and uses less power when running on the battery.
Show Battery Status in the Menu Bar: This option adds a little battery-status indicator icon and menu.
Finally, to start up, shut down, or put your Mac to sleep at a predetermined time, click the Schedule button and then select the appropriate check box and choose the appropriate options from the pop-up menus.
Bluetooth is wireless networking for low-bandwidth peripherals, including mice, keyboards, and mobile phones. If your Mac has Bluetooth built in or is equipped with a USB Bluetooth adapter, you can synchronize wirelessly with phones and Palm devices, print wirelessly to Bluetooth printers, and use Bluetooth mice and keyboards.
To manage your Mac’s Bluetooth features, open the Bluetooth System Preference pane by choosing ⇒System Preferences and clicking the Bluetooth icon.
Ink is the OS X built-in handwriting-recognition engine. If you have a stylus and tablet connected to your Mac, just turn it on in this pane, and you can handwrite anywhere your Mac accepts typing with the keyboard.
To manage your Mac’s Ink features, open the Ink System Preferences pane by choosing ⇒System Preferences and clicking the Ink icon.
The Ink pane is one you see only if you have one of the pen-input tablets that Ink supports connected to your Mac. Most of the supported tablets come from Wacom (www.wacom.com), with prices starting under $100 for a small wireless stylus and tablet.
Automatic Login (Users & Groups System Preferences pane)
Some users don’t care for the fact that OS X Mavericks is a multiuser operating system — and dislike having to log in when they start up their Mac. For those users, here’s a way to disable the login screen:
1. Open the Users & Groups System Preferences pane, select yourself in the list of users, and click the Login Options button below the list.
2. Choose the account you want to be logged in to automatically from the Automatic Login pop-up menu.
To disable the logging-in requirement, you have to be an administrator, and you may need to unlock the Users & Groups System Preferences.
When you disable logging in, you also affect all the preferences set by anyone else who uses your Mac unless they log out of your account and log into theirs. (Yikes.) So if your Desktop pattern, keyboard settings, and so forth are different from those of someone else who uses your machine, those preferences won’t be properly reflected unless each of you has a separate, individual login account. Even if you’re not worried about security, consider keeping logging in enabled if any other users have accounts on your machine, or if you don’t want just anyone to be able to turn on your Mac and see your personal stuff.
Note that only one account is allowed to use autologin. If another user wants to use this Mac, you need to choose ⇒Log Out, press +Shift+Q, or have Fast User Switching enabled. And if you’ve disabled automatic login in the Security System Preferences pane, you can’t enable it here.
Boot Camp is Mavericks’ built-in technology that allows you to run Microsoft Windows 8, Vista, or Windows 7 on any Intel-based Mac. If your Mac meets the following requirements, you can run Windows on your Mac (if you so desire):
An Intel-based Mac (of course)
At least 10GB of free hard drive space (though you’ll almost certainly need more)
A hard drive that isn’t partitioned
A blank recordable CD
A printer (for printing the instructions)
A full install copy of Microsoft Windows Vista, or Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate
You really do need a full retail copy of Windows, one that was purchased in a retail box. If your copy of Windows came with your Dell or HP, you probably can’t install it under Boot Camp.
To install Windows on your Mac, here are the basic steps:
1. Launch the Boot Camp Assistant application, which is in your Applications/Utilities folder.
This step creates a partition on your hard drive for Windows and then burns a special CD with all the drivers you’ll need in order to use Windows on your Mac.
2. Install Windows on the new partition.
3. Install the drivers from the CD you just burned.
From now on, you can hold down Option during startup and choose to start up from either the OS X Mavericks disk partition or the Windows partition.
If running Windows on your Mac appeals to you, you may want to check out Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion (around $80 each) or VirtualBox (free). All three programs allow you to run Windows on your Mac without partitioning your hard drive or restarting every time you want to use Windows. In fact, you can run Mac and Windows programs simultaneously with all three of these products. For more information, read the section on PC disks in Chapter 8.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the AirPlay Mirroring feature, even though most of you won’t be able to use it without buying an Apple TV. (See the “What’s an Apple TV” sidebar for my take on this marvelous little device.)
With AirPlay Mirroring, you can stream whatever is on your Mac (or iOS device) screen wirelessly to your HDTV with a connected Apple TV.
Apple TV couldn’t be easier to use. If it’s on the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac, an option for AirPlay Mirroring will appear in the Displays System Preference pane. Just enable AirPlay Mirroring, and what is on your Mac screen will appear on your HDTV screen almost instantaneously.
What’s an Apple TV?
Simply put, Apple TV is a shiny little black cube (3.9 x 3.9 x 0.9 inches; 0.6 pounds) that retails for $99. It connects to your HDTV via an HDMI cable and lets you rent or buy movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store, as well as stream movies, TV shows, photos, and other media from computers, various online services, and other devices to your HDTV.
Unlike so many audio/video devices, Apple TV is the model of simplicity. Just plug it into AC power and connect it to your HDTV using an HDMI cable (not included). For those with a Wi-Fi network, that’s all there is to it. You can also connect it via an Ethernet cable (also not included), but that’s much less convenient. I had both Wi-Fi and an HDMI cable, so I had it up and running in less than ten minutes.
The onscreen interface — what you see on the HDTV — is clean and uncluttered, making it easy to navigate using either the included aluminum Apple Remote or the free Apple Remote app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (which is even better than the aluminum Remote). It’s a pleasure to sit on the couch and rent or buy movies and TV shows in standard or high definition from the iTunes Store. It’s also great to watch streaming video on Netflix. But the best part, at least for me, is that I have complete access to almost all my audio, video, and pictures, all without leaving the comfort of the sofa. More precisely, my family can enjoy TV shows, movies, music, podcasts, audiobooks, and photos, regardless of whether they’re actually stored on my Mac Pro, my wife’s iMac, or my son’s MacBook.
If that were all it did I’d still recommend it, but there’s more! Through the magic of Apple’s AirPlay technology, you can also stream media to an Apple TV from your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. How can you not love that? Here’s how that might work: Say you come over and want to show me some pictures. You whip out your iPhone, tap the AirPlay icon in the Photos app, and select my Apple TV. Presto! Your pictures are beamed wirelessly to my Apple TV and appear on my 46-inch HDTV. Beats the heck out of viewing them on a 3.5-inch iPhone screen, don’t you think?
There’s even more, including MLB and NBA game subscriptions, as well as videos from YouTube and Vimeo. If it offered video from Amazon and Hulu, like my Roku XS box does, it would be darn near perfect.
Enable Show Mirroring Options in the Menu Bar When Available in the Displays System Preference pane, and a handy menu lets you switch AirPlay Mirroring on and off without the bother of first opening the Displays System Preference pane.
The bad news is that many older Macs — including my 2008 Mac Pro — don’t support mirroring to an Apple TV.