A New Mac Tip Every Day Finding all the hidden features in OS X and iOS!


Preview not scanning on Mountain Lion

First problem with Mountain Lion, Preview doesn't scan. Although Mountain Lion includes a significant upgrade to Preview, it seems that there are still bugs to iron out. Wireless scanning is finally enabled out of the box and no longer needs to be reenabled every time I reload Preview. The bug I have ran into is that I get the warning "The selected folder is not writable" when I hit "Scan" and the app refuses to proceed. Here is the fix if you have that problem:

1. Close Preview
2. In the Finder, choose "Go To Folder" under the "Go" menu
3. Paste:
4. It will open the hidden folder. Delete the file "com.apple.Preview.plist"

That's it! Preview should now scan properly. The only other problem I've had with Mountain Lion is that the printing manager no longer auto-quits. Have you found a solution to that problem?


Progressive downloading of videos and VLC

Downloading large files like videos online can be frustrating, especially if you have a slow or less than reliable connection. One thing that is not widely known about http downloading, however, is that downloading is progressive. That means you can preview or even start watching the video before it is done downloading. QuickTime obviously won't cooperate, but VLC will. You just have to drop the downloading file on top of VLC (hold down Command-Option if VLC doesn't recognize the file). VLC may say that the file is broken and ask you if you want to repair it. Just hit "Don't repair" and the video will start playing. If you know the video is an hour long and there is less than an hour left on the download, you can start watching it immediately and it should play uninterrupted.


iCloud bookmark synching not working

iCloud has been fairly stable since the conversion from dotMac. I was hoping that the dark days of synching with dotMac were behind us after the conversion, but problems have started reappearing recently. Bookmark synching on the Mac gets stuck sometimes. The problem seems limited to OS X as I've never experienced it on iOS. The solution I've found after some Googling and reading several threads on Apple's support forums is to reset synching by turning it on and off. You first turn bookmark synching off in iCloud preferences, quit Safari, then turn bookmark synching back on. It will ask you to allow merging of bookmarks and voilĂ , problem fixed (at least for a few days!).


Using your international iPad on AT&T

Wow, such a long hiatus, school is a lot of work. I've had to travel to the US recently and not having 3G is more and more of a problem. I tried popping in to the Apple store and the AT&T store in August last year when I was in San Francisco and neither could sell me a SIM card. Things went much better this year, but there are still some speed bumps, so here is a complete guide.

First, if you bought your iPad internationally, you have the AT&T model, so you'll want to get an AT&T micro-SIM card. AT&T was much more open this time around, I dropped by the AT&T store in Syracuse on my way to Chicago and they gave me a micro-SIM for free. Next you can just pop in the micro-SIM and open settings to choose a plan like you do at home. The next hurdle is credit card processing. AT&T forces you to provide a US address. The problem arises when VISA or MasterCard check the US address you gave to AT&T and deny the transaction because it doesn't match your billing address. The ultimate workaround is to use American Express. AmEx doesn't confirm the address so you can just enter the address of your hotel and the transaction will go through. If you don't have an AmEx card, I've heard purchasing a prepaid credit card is also a possibility.

The final concern is cancelling your account. If you're smart, you can cancel on device before leaving the US. Since AT&T only cancels the auto-renew, you could actually cancel right after activating it if you don't plan on staying more than a month. If you're like me and only realize you didn't cancel when you get back home, don't freak out, you can still cancel. There are two options. You can call AT&T and after the standard identity check (don't forget the US address you gave them when you activated!), they'll let you cancel the auto-renew. The easier option is to do it online. You just have to log in at www.att.com/ipadlanding This website only works on the iPad and I was concerned that I had to be on the AT&T network to make it work, but it seems that they only check the user agent, so you can use this website to cancel on any wireless network or WiFi as long as you are on the iPad.

That's it! Enjoy having a working iPad in the US!

P.S. My american friends are right when they complain about AT&T. Coverage is horrible. What they call 4G but is actually 3G in every other country in the world is SLOW. Even the little LTE they've rolled out is much slower than the LTE in Canada. Oh, and tethering is not allowed...

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iMessages on the Mac

Apple just announced that we would be seeing the release of Mac OS 10.8 Mountain Lion this summer, barely 12 months after the release of 10.7 Lion. Most features seem to point to a continuation of the convergence of OS X and iOS. The upgrade will overall certainly be worth the cheap upgrade price Apple has adopted with the previous releases of OS X. Perhaps the feature I was the most excited about is the addition of iMessages. Although the concept is extremely simple, Apple is essentially bringing texting to Macs. Perhaps even more exciting, Apple went ahead and released a beta version for 10.7 Lion. It is certainly delivering on its promise; the implementation is flawless and it syncs amazingly well with iMessages on the iPhone and iPad. I was surprised that the background notification even disappeared on the iPhone when I switched app on the Mac and the iMessage became "read". The speed of synching is truly amazing, the notification disappeared as soon as I hit "Command-Tab" on the Mac. I do have negative comments about the app however. It is mostly design-wise; it feels like an app that came with Mac OS 10.2 Jaguar. The design is really 2002 and Apple needs to rework it. Rumours are also floating on the web that the icon is a ripoff of HipChat, but frankly, they shouldn't have bothered copying another app, the icon needs a redesign as well to make it worthy of Mountain Lion.

Here is a direct download link to the beta of Messages for Mac (OS X Lion 10.7.3 required).

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Going back to Snow Leopard’s Dashboard

Lion is an improvement on almost every front, but Dashboard took a hit when it comes to functionality. To me, the real strength of the Dashboard is that my desktop stays in the background. With 10.7's Dashboard, it is also no longer possible to bring widgets back to the desktop. If you don't yet know this tip, it is possible to bring widgets out of the Dashboard with the developer mode enabled. To enable the developer mode, simply paste this line in Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES

For this to be possible in Lion, however, we have to go back to 10.6's Dashboard. To do so, open System Preferences, click on "Mission Control" and uncheck "Show Dashboard as a space":

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The return of A New Mac Tip Every Day

You might remember my work from the first version of A New Mac Tip Every Day. I stopped publishing on this site a few years ago as I felt I could no longer bring enough value to the site. With the releases of new Apple software, I have kept running into amazing new hidden features that have made me wish A New Mac Tip Every Day still existed, so here it is. There might not be a new post a day, but I will certainly be posting many new tips over the next few weeks. Since OS X and iOS are converging more than ever, all Mac, iPhone and iPad tips will be posted here.

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