How to Turn On an iMac

Otherwise knowledgeable users are baffled by one silly question when confronted with an iMac: How do I turn the computer on? Where’s the power switch? It’s not a stupid question. Apple has hidden the power button cleverly where you can’t possibly see it. It’s also very difficult to feel the button because it is flush with the case. If you do look back there, it’s probably hidden behind the curve of the case.

Anyway, here it is on a Mid 2011 iMac. It’s been in a similar position for several years. Glad to help, and don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone you had to look here to find out to turn on a Macintosh.

Behind lower left edge of computer.
Behind lower left edge of computer.

Combining MPEG Movies

I was looking for a straight-forward way to concatenate separate MP4 (MPEG 4) movies into a single movie. I am novice at all things video. I have at my disposal just some basic tools: iMovie, QuickTime Player, QuickTime Player 7 and MPEG Streamclip.

iMovie seemed like overkill. I couldn’t find any hint of a “concatenate” or “append” menu item in QuickTime Player or MPEG Streamclip.

Totally by accident, I found the trick in MPEG Streamclip. If you open multiple files at once, by command-clicking or shift-clicking them in the open dialog, MPEG Streamclip treats the group as one big video — instantly concatenating them together. It does not open multiple windows, but opens them all together in a single window as though they were a single continuous file.

Hopefully, you have named them in such a way that the sort order represents the order you want them to appear in the final video. Now, all you have to do is export that combined video into whatever format  you want. It will take a while, but you didn’t have to fool around with trying to cut and paste video segments, which wasn’t working for me at all, anyway.

How to Get Files Out of iCloud

Apple is doing its best to get users to use iCloud. It does have its uses. iCloud saved my day when I was able to open Keynote as an iCloud web app on a Windows PC, and do my presentation from iCloud just like I was in Keynote on my Mac. That was nice.

Sometimes, though, there is just no substitute for having your own files on your own hard drive. There’s no place like home. Apple makes it surprisingly hard to move files between iCloud and your own storage. Unlike, say, Dropbox, iCloud doesn’t integrate with the Finder. Really? Third party software works better with MacOS than iCloud does? Don’t ask me why Apple would ever do that.

The document-oriented Apple apps that use iCloud are Preview, TextEdit, iMovie, Keynote, Pages and Automator.

Instead of using the Finder, iCloud documents can only be manipulated from within Applications. You can use the Move To… or Export… menu options to move or copy a single open file from iCloud to local storage or vice versa.

The screenshot below shows how to drag multiple files from iCloud to the Finder. The window on the right is the open-file dialog for the Preview Application. On the left is a finder window. The default behavior is to move the files. If you want to copy instead, hold the option key while dragging.

Dragging files from Open-File Dialog to Finder
Dragging files from Open-File Dialog to Finder

Since each application can only see its own files in iCloud, you must repeat this operation in each application that has files to be moved.

You may notice that there are no folders or directories in iCloud — just a big list of files.

Apple seems determined to move users away from the file system paradigm. Since the file system is probably the most successful and widely used abstraction in all of computing, it’s certainly daringly Avant Garde of Apple to try to ignore it. However, I’m afraid that they are doing so to increasingly limit user’s options and further corral us into Apple’s walled garden.

The file system is a powerful abstraction in which the relationship between files and applications that act on those files is not pre-determined. It puts a lot of power into the hands of the user who gets to decide who does what to what file, and which file goes where. The current, featureless iCloud takes that power away.

Favorite Tip: Drag To Open

Here’s one of my favorite Mac tips. This is a workflow tip. Most of the time, when opening a file in an application, you are not doing this in isolation. You are working on a project. There may be many steps and many files. You probably have the project folder already open in a Finder window.

When you select File/Open in the application, however, it shows the last place you opened a file, which is probably not where you want to be. It’s irritating to have to navigate from there back to the project folder which you already located in the Finder once.

You don’t need to do that. You can drag the icon of a file or folder into the open-file dialog box. Unlike dragging to a Finder window, it doesn’t copy or duplicate anything. Instead, it instantly navigates the open dialog to the folder containing your file, with the file selected.

This file -- This one right here!
This file — This one right here!

As soon as you drag it in, the dialog shows the dragged file selected in its enclosing folder, ready to be opened.

The chosen file is selected and ready to open.
The chosen file is selected and ready to open.

Congratulations, you’ve just saved who knows how many clicks navigating to the desired folder.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts, the phrase can inspire a sense of desired expertise and simplicity and a sense of fear and guilt over not knowing what we “should” know when using our chosen software. Most of us have seen people we regard with awe as they breeze through a task with ease like a 120 wpm typist, rarely touching a mouse. The fact is there is no shortcut for shortcuts. That is, we must spend a fair amount of time using a program to learn the various key combinations that will help unlock our creativity. But even that isn’t enough because pointing and clicking and scrolling has proven to be a very efficient way to get things done on a screen. We must make the extra effort to learn and use keyboard shortcuts, over and over until it becomes more like muscle memory.

With this in mind I thought I’d point out a few cheats that may help the keyboard shortcut challenged on their path to awe inspiring pecking. One that I use is called Keycue, from Ergonis Software. Once downloaded it sits in your Applications folder where you may customize it extensively. It works rather simply, hold down the command key while in just about any application and a screen overlay pops up showing the available keyboard commands for that application. Another method is to apply removable overlays to one’s keyboard that will spell out the function of the key when pressed using the given application. There are myriad sources for these on the web, and as I don’t use any I can’t recommend any particular brand. Taking that a step further, there are actual application specific USB keyboards that will cost more but if you are using the app every day it may be worth the cost. I have used some of these in the past but ultimately found them to be rather distracting, as they almost always use various (loud) colors based on the function of the keys.

Which brings to me to the inspiration for this post. Today I saw another cheat and thought it was very clever, oh, and it’s free. It’s web based and only has Lightroom and Photoshop keyboard shortcuts for now, but those are two good ones to start with. It’s a cross between Keycue and an overlay, here is the link http://waldobronchart.github.io/ShortcutMapper/#AdobeLightroom

Keyboard shortcuts can help speed up common commands and enlighten us about commands we didn’t even know existed. They are created to help us get things done, to ignore them is not in our best interests. I suggest you learn a few to get started, then one or two very week and before you know it you’ll be wondering what ever happened to that subtle pain in your wrist.

Create a Paragraph Without Submitting

On many web pages, when entering text, if you press enter or return, it submits the form. If you want to create a paragraph, but don’t want to submit yet, what do you do? You can press shift–return or option-Enter. (They seem to work the same on the Mac.) This will create a new paragraph, but not submit yet. One place that this helps is while entering a Facebook comment.

Free iCloud Beta Apps: Pages, Numbers & Keynote

iCloud Apps 2

iCloud On-Line Apps
iCloud On-Line Apps

You can use the Beta versions of Apple’s iCloud Apps, live on iCloud.com. These are available whether or not you have ever bought the corresponding iOS or Mac Apps, and whether or not you device came with them installed.

These seem adequate to me. Some features may be missing or hard to find, but for casual use, they seem to work fine. Pretty good for Beta versions.

Bluetooth Keyboard Controls Apple TV

Wireless Keyboard Controls Apple TV
Wireless Keyboard Controls Apple TV

I have been using a Bluetooth keyboard with my Apple TV 3. With recent (2013) updates of firmware for the Apple TV, the Bluetooth keyboard feature has now become useable. The keyboard is really great when you want to search for something. You can actually type instead of using the painfully slow on-screen keyboard.

I  have been using the Apple keyboard that came with my iMac. I don’t like it for computer use, so I’m using a USB keyboard on the computer, but this keyboard is an ideal remote control for the Apple TV. It’s fairly compact and fits on the sofa table. You don’t have to use an Apple keyboard. Any Bluetooth keyboard should work.

The keyboard mappings felt so natural, I guessed them the first time, but here they are:

  • Menu button = esc key
  • Select button = enter key or space bar
  • Arrow buttons = arrow keys

My Apple TV now seems to remember the keyboard pairing indefinitely. I have to wake up the keyboard maybe once a day with a tap of the power button. Range is at least 12-15 feet – if you’re sitting back further than that, you need a smaller TV. 🙂

One problem I ran into — I don’t think it was a keyboard problem per se, but I created an account on Crackle with a gobbledegook password. When I entered this password on Apple TV, it wouldn’t accept it. I eventually changed the password, and then it was accepted on the Apple TV. I don’t think this problem is  specific to Crackle, either. I suspect that the Apple TV software just filters certain characters. Some special characters are okay, but I’d watch out for ^ and ~ (caret and tilde), as those were in the rejected password.

 Update March 26: After Apple TV software update 6.1 was installed on my Apple TV, my Bluetooth keyboard stopped working. It also wouldn’t show up as available to pair. I restarted my Apple TV (Settings/General/Restart) and tried again, and I was able to get the keyboard to pair. You should also try just turning Bluetooth off and then back on, on the Apple TV. (Click where it says Bluetooth Searching…). Pairing has always been kind of finicky on the Apple TV.

The Bluetooth controls are under Settings/General/Bluetooth.

Update May 10, 2014: One cool thing about using the Bluetooth keyboard: it gives  your Apple TV an RF remote control that can work without direct line of sight. So, you can use your Apple TV even if it is concealed in a cabinet, or on the other side of a wall.

Disabling Caps Lock

If you have ever had trouble with accidental or unintended ALL CAPS, you might be interested in disabling your caps lock key. In my experience accidental activations of caps lock greatly exceeded those occasions on which I actually want it. As in, I can hardly think of a case where I need it. The caps lock key, and its little green light (on some keyboards) are not fixed in hardware, but are controlled by your Mac’s software.

It’s easy to disable it. Start by opening System Preferences. Choose Keyboard. Within the Keyboard preference pane, choose the Keyboard tab as shown.

Caps Lock 1 Arrows

Then click the Modifier Keys… button. A pop-up will appear. Click on the Caps Lock toggle, and select No Action.

Caps Lock 2 arrows

 

Now, click OK and close System Preferences. That’s it. Your caps lock key is completely disabled. Enjoy your freedom from accidental eruptions of capital letters in your text.

Just remember that you did this, and don’t decide later that your keyboard is broken. In the few cases where I need to type a sequence of capitals, I find it easier to just hold down the shift key instead of going back to System Preferences.

Also note that the change only applies to the one user account where you made the change. This is a good thing, so when your spouse or kids are using the computer under their own name, the keyboard works as they expect it and they don’t come complaining that your caps lock key is broken.

 

Using Your iPad with Bose Sound Dock

Using Your iPad with Bose Sound Dock

If you have an older Bose Sound Dock for your iPod or iPhone, you may be disappointed that it doesn’t work with newer devices. Somewhere along the way, Apple changed how iDevices get charged. If your Sound Dock uses the older FireWire charging scheme, but your i-device uses the newer USB scheme, you’ll get a curt message that charging is not supported with this accessory.

All iPads use the new USB charging scheme, but beyond that, an iPad won’t even fit in the Sound Dock.

Bose-iPad Overview
Original Bose Sound Dock cabled to iPad

 

So, here’s a pair of inexpensive gadgets that will overcome these problems. I used the 3031-FWUSB Charge Converter from Griffin Technology. This is hard to find, but a similar item is this one from Scosche.

Next, you need a short cable to free your iPad from the confines of the dock. It might not be a bad idea for the iPhone also, since it gets a bit precarious balanced on top of the charge adapter. I got the RadTech Dock Extender. Unless you need a longer one for some reason, get the shortest cable available.

Hardware
For this set-up, order matters. The charge adapter goes into the dock, followed by the cable into the charge adapter, and the other end of the cable to your iPad, etc. If you reverse the order and put the charge adapter on the other end of the cable, it won’t charge.

So, you should have something that looks like this:

It Charges
The iPad (2) Charging with the Bose Sound Dock & Adapters

The Bose Sound Dock is a great-sounding accessory. The right adapters keep it playing with your newer gadgets. The same general idea can keep some of your other accessories functioning. This might work with some older car docks or accessories as well.

I got a report that the following adapter worked with an iPhone 4S and the old Bose Sound Dock:
CableJive dockStubz Charge Converter and 30-pin Pass Through Adapter for iPhone, iPod, and iPad.

This also worked with the extender cable above, although the cable isn’t strictly necessary for the iPhone like it is for the iPad. I know that the setup pictured works with iPad versions 1 and 2.

This article is a re-post originally published in 2010, reproduced here after the blog recovered from  some Indonesian junk that was going around. (Hacked by Indonesian script kiddies.)