Archivi categoria: Guide


How to Use Restrictions Parental Controls on an iPhone, iPad

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If you plan on giving an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to a child, take a moment to set up some very basic parental controls on the device by using the Restrictions feature of iOS. It only takes a minute to configure, and this will prevent the access of inappropriate content, avoid mature themed media, prevent in-app purchases and incidental charges, disable the ability to download and install new apps, plus prevent the removal of apps that have already been installed on the device.
Prevent Installing & Deleting Apps, In-App Purchases
Open Settings and go to “General”, then to “Restrictions”
Tap “Enable Restrictions” and set a passcode to control access to the restrictions panel
Under ‘Allow’, toggle the following to OFF: “Installing Apps”, “Deleting Apps”, “Explicit Language”, and adjust other apps and settings as necessary
Scroll down to “Allowed Content” and flip “In-App Purchases” to OFF
Restrict Inappropriate Content by Age Rating
Still within the “Restrictions” settings, look under ‘Allowed Content’ and tap on “Music & Podcasts” and turn Explicit to OFF
Toggle “Movies” and “TV Shows” to age appropriate settings (G and PG are perhaps most common, or consider turning the feature off completely)
Go to “Apps” and choose age appropriate settings, note that some standard apps like third party web browsers may be rated as “17+” because they could be theoretically used to access adult content
The screen shots below demonstrate this on an iPhone, with some of the most important restriction features enabled. If nothing else, turning off in-app purchases, app downloads, and
app removal in general are highly recommended.


Content restrictions can be defined by age to determine what is appropriate and what is not, this will impact what type of media can be viewed on the device:


Optionally, you may want to adjust Location Settings as well, though it’s best to be targeted with this and turn off geotagging with apps like camera and photos. Turning off all Locational functionality is often undesirable because it prevents the meaningful usage of apps like local encyclopedias, weather, maps, and those relentlessly fun and educational starry night apps.
These options are the same in practically all versions of iOS, though you will find past versions of iOS may label the Restrictions settings as “Parental Controls” instead. Additionally, iOS 7 includes an option to limit certain web content by age level as well.
Going further, you can also hide unwanted apps like Safari, App Store, iTunes, iBooks, FaceTime, or going so far as turning off all third party apps, and even disable the camera if you don’t want it to be used at all.
Finally, there’s the option of using Guided Access to lock an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch into a single application and prevent it from being quit. We like to refer to Guided Access as Kid Mode because it’s incredibly effective at keeping even the most curious youngsters from accidentally exiting out of an app or doing something undesirable on the device, and it can make for an excellent quick way to hand an iOS device off to a young one without worrying about accidental usage. Nonetheless, Guided Access is no replacement for using effective restrictions to prevent improper use of a device, and the features are best used separately with full understanding of their limitations and benefits.
These quick setup tips come to us from Mrs Anderson (thanks!), a teacher with a handful of iPod touches in their classroom. Obviously this is useful outside of educators as well, and many parents, grandparents, babysitters, brothers, sisters, just about anyone, should find some useful tricks here if they’re going to be sharing an iOS device with kids.


Simple Tricks to Speed Up Any Mac

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All modern Macs are pretty fast these days, but sometimes we all need a performance boost to get things done as efficiently as possible. That’s what these simple tricks are aimed at, they will help you speed up any Mac and get the absolute best performance out of the OS X machine by having a simple focus on resource utilization. This will help to achieve maximum speed by insuring there is plenty of system memory and processor available, along with low disk utilization, so that nothing will be bogging down OS X while you attempt to perform another task.
1: Quit All Unnecessary Apps & Free Up Resources
Any open application takes up system resources, and in best scenarios that’ll just be some RAM, but it’s not unusual for background apps or processes to be using CPU and even causing disk activity as well. Thus, quitting all unnecessary apps is a given whenever you need the absolute best performance out of a Mac.

You can be selective and only quit some apps, or quit everything by using this Automator app to clear the slate. Don’t be overly concerned about doing this, so long as you have Window Restore (the default behavior of OS X) enabled, when you launch that app again everything will return to where it was.
2: Temporarily Delay Backups & Time Machine
Backups are a very good thing, and Time Machine is something that every Mac user should use to keep automatic backups of their Macs. But it can slow things down while it’s running, because Time Machine consumes both processor and disk as it runs, which copies files to the backup drive. The solution is simple, just delay Time Machine while you’re at your busiest and when you need maximum performance out of the Mac. You can do this by pulling down the Time Machine menu and stopping it yourself when it starts to run and you need maximum performance.

This trick is especially valuable for users of apps like Photoshop, Aperture, Final Cut, basically anything that uses a ton of swap, since you don’t want another task competing for disk read/write access.
Because Time Machine runs on a schedule it’s often easier to just adjust the backup interval yourself to a time that works better for your needs. This is a bit more advanced and requires the usage of the Terminal, but you can adjust the backup frequency with a defaults write command entered through the terminal. The following will change the backup interval to occur every 4 hours (14400 is the number of seconds in 4 hours):
sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/\
StartInterval -int 14400

4 hours is reasonable since very few people can maintain maximum productivity for longer than that anyway, meaning you can stop a backup and it will resume itself in another 4 hours. Toggle the interval to your needs, but it is not recommended to go beyond 12 hours.
Time Machine isn’t the only culprit though, and many cloud backup services like CrashPlan can slow things down even more while they’re running because they rely on Java, which means not only is your disk IO going to spike, but so will CPU use. Postpone those cloud backups too if you’re in a crunch and need maximum performance.
Just remember to start or resume backups yourself when maximizing performance is no longer a concern, as you never want to be without system backups for too long.
3: Speed Up Boot Time & Restarts with Fewer Login Items
Though shutting down and rebooting Macs is rarely necessary these days, it still needs to happen from time to time whether a computer is being transported or an update is being installed. To speed up boot time and restarts, simply remove unnecessary items from the login and startup folders.
Checking Login Items is easy:
Open System Preferences and go to “Users & Groups” followed by the “Login Items” tab
Select and remove anything not essential during system login

Small helper apps like Flux and Caffeine won’t add to boot time, but unneeded auto-mounted network drives and larger applications can add a significant delay to boot times.
It’s also worth browsing the StartupItems folder, found at the following location:

Look for anything unnecessary in that directory for apps you no longer use or don’t have installed. Just be aware that moving things out of StartupItems can result in some apps no longer working, making this best left alone if you’re uncertain.
4: Reduce Browser Tabs & Windows
Web browser tabs and windows are easily some of the most RAM hungry tasks that exist almost universally in everyones daily activities, and the more tabs you have open the more RAM gets used. Furthermore, some websites with active Flash plugins or AJAX scripts can send CPU usage through the roof as well, further slowing down a Mac. The solution here is pretty simple, just keep your browser tab and active window use down.

Of course that is always easier said than done, and for those who depend on many browser tabs for work or research, OneTab for Google Chrome offers an excellent solution by combining all active tabs into a single page with links to the pages. This frees up huge amounts of memory and has become a personal favorite, it’s free and simple to use.

Remember these performance tricks are aimed at quickly maximizing available resources, and that if a Mac is suddenly feeling sluggish, there may be a reason why it’s running slow, whether that’s software updates installing, Spotlight indexing, or a number of other potential causes.

Use a Single External Hard Drive for Time Machine Backups and File Storage

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Having regular backups of your Mac is a necessity, and there is really no easier way to consistently back up your Mac than by using the excellent Time Machine feature of OS X. But with the enormous size of external hard drives and their prices becoming cheaper and cheaper, it’s not always necessary to dedicate an entire gigantic hard disk just for Time Machine backups, particularly if your Mac has a smaller hard drive and thus the backups won’t take up that much space in general. For these situations, configuring the single external hard disk to have dual use is an excellent choice. The end result will be an external storage drive split into two partitions, one to be setup exclusively for Time Machine backups, and another partition intended for typical file system access and file storage.
The basic process may be familiar to Mac users who have setup drive partitioning and backups before, but we’ll cover every step to be sure everything is configured correctly.

Any Mac running OS X with Time Machine support (every modern version)
Large external hard drive (check out this Amazon deal)
Minor patience, and about 10 minutes for initial setup
Note on buying external hard drives: it’s almost always cheaper to buy a generic external hard drive and format it yourself to be Mac compatible. Drives that are pre-formatted for OS X are usually no different than a standard external drive, other than having a higher price tag.
Step 1: Format the Drive to “Mac OS Extended” Compatibility
The first set of steps involves formatting the drive. You can partition a drive without formatting, but we’ll cover this process anyway because many third party hard drives ship with Windows-centric FAT32 or NTFS file systems which, while they are compatible for dual use with both Mac and Windows, are not compatible for using as a Time Machine drive, and as they are not exclusively formatted for the Mac, will have other limitations which are not desirable for exclusive Mac OS X usage.
This process will erase all data on the hard drive, meaning this is best to pursue when you first get a new external drive for backups and file storage.
Connect the external hard drive to the Mac
Launch Disk Utility, found in /Applications/Utilities/
Select the external hard drive from the drive list on the left, then click the “Erase” tab
Choose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” as the format type, ignore the naming convention for now, then click “Erase” and confirm the drive will be erased


How long it takes to format a drive depends on a variety of factors, including drive speed, interface speed, and total disk size. Just let the process go, don’t be surprised if it takes a few minutes.
Step 2: Create Two Partitions for Time Machine & Storage
Next we’ll set up the external hard disk to have two separate partitions, one for the Time Machine backups and the other for regular file system access.
A quick note about sizing: It is good practice to set the Time Machine drive to be at least 2x-3x your primary hard disk size. For example, if the Mac has a built-in 128GB SSD drive, setting the Time Machine partition to be at least 384GB or larger would be ideal. You can certainly get away with smaller sizes, but because Time Machine takes incremental snapshots of the data on your Mac, the backups will simply capture more data for a longer period of time if the partition size is larger. To be clear, backups will not stop once the maximum space is reached, it will simply rewrite older backups, thus preventing access to old drive states as they become rewritten. We’re going to use an even 50/50 partition scheme for this example (specifically, a 1.5TB drive split into two 750GB parts) though you can configure yours as appropriate.
When the drive has finished formatting, choose the “Partition” tab
Pull down the “Partition Layout” menu and select “2 Partitions” to split the drive into two equal partition sizes divided 50/50
Adjust the partition size allocation if desired by dragging the boxes to adjust size, or by manually selecting a partition and entering a desired allocation in the “Size” input box
Name the two partitions accordingly, select the first partition and name it something like “Time Machine Backup”, then select the other partition and name it something like “File Storage”
Choose “Apply”, then confirm the changes by clicking “Partition” when asked


Partitioning a drive can take a few minutes, depending on the total capacity of the disk. Once that process is finished you can quit out of Disk Utility.
Step 3: Set Time Machine to Backup to a Specific Partition
With the most technical aspects now finished, you can specify the partition to become the Time Machine backup. This will also initiate the first backup of the entire Mac with Time Machine, which is usually the lengthiest backup since it’s going to back up every single thing.
Go to “System Preferences” from the  Apple menu and then choose “Time Machine”
Click the “Select Disk” button and let the list populate
Choose the partition named “Time Machine Backup” from the list, then confirm the choice by clicking “Use Backup Disk”
Let Time Machine backup for the first time


While you’re in the Time Machine settings, you can choose to encrypt the backups by checking the appropriate box (yes, you can encrypt them later if you change your mind), and you can also exclude files or folders from the backups through simple drag and drop specification by way of the “Options” button if desired. The default configuration remains unencrypted and excludes nothing, which is satisfactory for many use cases.
Again, the first initial backup process will take quite a while since the entire Mac is being backed up. Let the entire process run through its course, this may be best done overnight if the primary Mac hard drive is enormous since it can several hours to perform the initial backup. Backups performed after the initial sequence will be much faster and smaller, because they will be delta backups, focusing on files that have been added, deleted, or changed from the Mac, rather than just copying the entire drive and it’s untouched contents over and over again.
All done! Easy backups and access to classic file storage are good to go
Now that everything is setup you will have one partition automatically serving as the backup drive, and the other accessible as usual through the file system for general file storage of things like movies, large video collections, pictures, media, downloads, or whatever else. How to differentiate between the two drives? Other than the obvious name differences that were specified during configuration, you’ll discover the icons serve as an indicator of which partition/drive does what purpose. The normal file system storage partition will have a standard orange external drive icon, and the Time Machine partition will have a green icon with the backup logo on it.
Accessing the standard file system partition is done through any Finder window, where it will appear in the sidebar under “Devices”, or if you have drive icons set to show up on the desktop, it will appear there.

How to Connect a Mac to a TV

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Ever wanted to connect a Mac to a TV screen? Maybe you want to use the TV as a giant external monitor, to play games on a big screen, or just for video playback and movie streaming? It’s actually quite easy to do, and we’ll cover the entire process from start to finish. We’re going to focus on connecting any newer Mac to any fairly modern TV by way of a physical HDMI connection, thus, a few third party accessories will be necessary for the task. The result will be the Mac exporting both video and audio signals to the TV.

HDMI is really the best way to connect a MacBook Air, Pro, iMac, or Mini to an HDTV screen, whatever your intended usage purpose is. Yes, the AirPlay feature can also export a screen to show up on a TV through an Apple TV box, but the HDMI method has several distinct advantages; it’s cheaper, resource usage is considerably less, there are no slowdowns, the video quality does not depend on network latency, and it’s just generally much more versatile, making the only real downside to the HDMI approach being the physical cable connectivity. Lets get started and cover the basic requirements first.

Virtually every semi-modern Mac will fit the bill, but you will need the following:

Mac with Mini-DisplayPort, Mini-DVI*, or Thunderbolt port
Mini DisplayPort/Thunderbolt to HDMI Adapter with Audio Support ($10-$15)
HDMI cable ($5-$20 depending on length)
HDTV with HDMI input, just about any modern HDTV
Note about HDMI adapters and audio support: there are many options available on Amazon and some are very cheap, many of which will not actually carry audio despite advertising that they do. Generally, the adapters that cost a little bit more tend to be more reliable, so be sure to read the reviews and make sure that audio does indeed work for the adapter you are ordering. I’ve had the best experience with the Monoprice brand, but your mileage may vary. Also note that for 2010 and older Macs, the Mini-DVI to HDMI adapters do not carry audio at all, thus you will need a separate audio output option that we won’t cover here (external speakers, separate audio cable, etc).

If you plan to control the TV using your Mac from a distance, spend a couple extra bucks on a longer HDMI cable. 15 feet is usually adequate for most cases, but if you have a gigantic room you may want a longer cable.

For the purpose of this walkthrough we’ll focus on the newer Mac models with Mini-DisplayPort and Thunderbolt ports, this guide was crafted using a MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, but the same applies to newer Mac Mini and iMac models too.

Connect the Mac to the TV

Establishing the initial connection is remarkably straightforward and is just a matter of physically connecting the cables to one another from the Mac to the TV.

If you have never connected anything to a Mini-Display Port or Thunderbolt Port, you’re looking for this port:


The location of the video output port varies per Mac model, but it’s usually on the right-side of the MacBook Air, the left side on the MacBook Pro, and it’s always on the back of the iMac and Mac Mini. The Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adapter that connects to the Mac will look something like this:


With everything ready, it’s time to hook everything up and get the connection going:

Connect that HDMI adapter to the video output port on the Mac
Connect the HDMI cable to the adapter, and the other end of the HDMI cable needs to go into an available HDMI source port on the back or side of a TV
Turn the Mac on if it isn’t already
Flip the TV’s video input source over to HDMI (often through a “Video Source” button on the TV’s remote control)
The Mac should instantly recognize the TV and extend the desktop over to the HDTV’s screen. If that doesn’t happen, you are probably on the wrong video source of the TV, so try another HDMI source. Some modern HDTV’s have up to 6 HDMI ports, meaning you’ll have to flip through each of them to find the proper one carrying the Macs video and audio output signal. You’ll know it works because the desktop shows up on the TV instantly like this:

If you’re satisfied with this alone, which basically makes the TV an external display, then you can call it quits here. On the other hand, if you’re looking to watch movies through apps, watch web video, or use another playback source from the Mac on the larger TV screen, then you’ll want to take a few additional steps to greatly improve the experience. Plus you’ll probably want to get sound working properly, as you’ll notice by default audio won’t play through the TV screen and stays playing through the Macs speakers instead. Read on to optimize the TV for video playback, get sound working, and for some more tips for having the best experience.

Configure the TV Screen for Optimal Video Display

By default the Mac will attempt to use the TV as an external display, extending the desktop to the TV screen. That’s great if you intend on using the TV as a large external monitor, but if you’re aiming to watch video or a movie, or play games, you’re better off using Display Mirroring in many case. Option A describes how to do this easily:

A: Set Up Mirroring

With the Mac connected to the TV, open System Preferences
Choose “Displays” and then click the “Arrangements” tab
Check the box for “Mirror displays”


While this almost always looks better on a 720p TV screen, that’s not always the case for 1080p HDTV’s. Since the 1080p resolution is greater than that seen on many Mac displays, you’ll either need to scale down the resolution, deal with a pixelated image, or just set the external display as the primary display and go into full-screen mode on the TV screen when playing video as described in Option B:

B: Set the TV Display as the Primary Display

Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu after the Mac & TV are connected to one another
Choose “Displays” and then go to the “Arrangements” tab
Drag the white menubar from the smaller built-in display to the external TV display, thereby turning the TV into the primary screen


This will reverse the default configuration of a dual-display setup, thereby turning the Macs screen into the extended desktop, and the HDTV as the main desktop where the menu bar shows and apps appear by default.

Change Sound Output from the Mac to TV via HDMI

Unless the Mac is hooked up to some great external speakers, you’ll almost certainly want to set audio output to go through the TV’s speakers rather than the tiny ones built into the computer. For just about every HDMI based Mac-to-TV connection, these audio settings must be adjusted manually after the two have been attached to one another and video is already displaying on the TV screen:

Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu and choose “Sound”
Click the “Output” tab and look under the “Type” list to find the “HDMI” option and select it


The Output tab will usually show the TV’s model name, but since most people don’t know the model number of their TV that’s fairly meaningless and it’s much easier to just look for “HDMI” in the list. In the screenshot example, the LCD HDTV’s model is “VO320E” for a Visio 32″ but the names are often much more convoluted than that.

Note that once you set the audio output to go through the TV you will lose the ability to adjust the sound volume levels through the Mac’s audio output controls, meaning you’ll need to use the TV’s built-in volume adjustment buttons or a remote control.

Get a Good Video Playback App

If the entire reason you’re doing this is to watch videos on a bigger screen, be sure you get a good video playback app. Here are four great free apps:

XBMC – media center and much more, plays almost any video you can throw at it
Plex – media center app that also plays virtually every video format
VLC – barebones but powerful video playback app that works with nearly all video formats
MplayerX – more full-featured video player that is compatible with the majority of video formats
QuickTime Player is also a fine choice for playing .MOV, m4v, .mp4 files, but for other movie file formats like .WMV, Flash .flv, .mpeg, .avi, and others, you’ll want to get a third party app instead. For other formats, VLC is a classic app and should be included in just about every Mac users app toolbox, and MplayerX is becoming increasingly popular for being just as versatile while having the added bonus of supporting BluRay and MKV playback.

Both XBMC and Plex are full featured media apps, which are capable of turning a Mac into a media center when they’re running. If you have a spare Mac, you can even turn it into a full-time media center, server, and torrents box, and the Mac Mini is particularly great for that purpose.

Video Playback Too Small? Black Bars Showing? Use Screen Zoom

Not all movies or videos will play at true full screen, and sometimes you’ll end up with a large black border around the sides of the video. This is frequently true with many web-based streaming movies, or when playing video that is lower resolution in general. Some playback apps like QuickTime and VLC have the ability to play video at 1.5x and 2x resolution to solve that problem, but for web players and other apps you can just use screen zoom instead.

First, let’s enable screen zoom if you haven’t done so yet:

Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu and choose “Accessibility”
Choose “Zoom” and enable the zoom features, choose either the keyboard shortcut or zoom gesture option


Optionally, check the “Smooth Images” option to attempt to have less pixelation when zoomed in, though this tends to blur the picture for heavy zooming and can look strange. You’re better off trying this out yourself to see if it works for the video you want to watch.

Now to put this to you use, play back a video as usual either from a web player or movie file, center the mouse cursor in the middle of the video, and now use the zoom feature to eliminate the black borders. For those who enabled the gesture option, this is done by holding the “Control” key and then using a two-fingered upward gesture to zoom in (or two finger down to zoom out).

For example, this video of an older NOVA Origins video is fairly low resolution, and when maximized in the web-based player it still won’t play at full screen. This is a perfect situation to use screen zoom for, which turns this:

Into this full-screen maximized version, simply by zooming in on the playing video:

Much better huh? It won’t do a anything to resolve the lower resolution playback, but at least it doesn’t have the large black bordering bars showing alongside all of the video, making the playback itself smaller than it needs to be. Sometimes just increasing the web browser zoom works too for just web video, but that shouldn’t be considered universally reliable enough to recommend for all situations.

That should be about it, enjoy your Mac-TV hookup, go watch some movies, browser the web on an enormous screen, game on the big screen, and have fun!

Sidenote: If you happen to have an Apple TV and a Mac running 10.8 or later, you can just use AirPlay Mirroring and do this entire thing wirelessly without the need for any cables or HDMI adapters. Typically AirPlay offers excellent video playback, but on weak wi-fi signals the connection can suffer, which is never a problem with a physical HDMI cable. Plus, the combination of an HDMI adapter and cable is about 1/10th the price of an Apple TV box, making the method offered above a much more economical choice.