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It’s the time of the year for gifts, and yet if you spend enough time around AppStorm and other app-focused sites, you’ll find a number of gifts throughout the year. We’re always excited to feature a giveaway of an app we love, and I’m certain many of you have filled your launchpads with apps you’ve picked up on deals and free giveaways we’ve featured. And yet, there’s one thing that always seems to stump almost everyone once in a while: redeeming gift codes.

So here, in a nutshell, is how to redeem an App Store gift code for any Mac or iOS app — or just to add App Store credit to your account if you’re lucky enough to find an iTunes Gift Card in your stocking this year.

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This post is part of a series that revisits some of our readers’ favorite articles from the past that still contain awesome and relevant information that you might find useful. This post was originally published on July 27th, 2011.

Editor’s Note: Mission Control in Mountain Lion is almost the exact same as it is in Lion, so everything here still applies even if you’ve just upgraded to Apple’s latest and greatest OS. The only real change is that there’s an option to not group windows by their application, to make it easier to see more at once.

For years Apple has been tweaking and rethinking the way we interact with open windows and applications inside of OS X. Exposé came along and allowed us to quickly view all open windows or even hide them completely. Then Spaces entered the scene and allowed us to create a number of unique workspaces or desktops, each containing its own applications and windows.

Mission Control is the evolution of this process. It represents a new and very powerful way to manage your multitasking mess inside of of OS X. Some find the new system intuitive, but many others find it completely intimidating. Today we’re going to show you how to master Mission Control so your Mac can become a beacon of productivity.

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When you take the plunge and purchase a brand new Mac, you’re receiving far more than simply a beautiful computer wrapped in svelte packaging. The modern Apple computing experience is complemented by various online services, features and products which Apple offer exclusively to their customers, in the hope of compelling Mac users to stay within the cozy confines the Cupertino company’s ecosystem.

All that’s needed to delve right into this ecosystem is an Apple ID, so let’s get started on this third part of Mac 101, which will take a look at creating an Apple ID and using it to maximum effect.

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Having discussed the very basics and some of the apps which come bundled with OS X Lion in part one of Mac 101, let’s now delve in a little deeper with the aim of getting a better idea of how to properly tweak and organise the latest and arguably greatest of Apple’s OS X. We’re going to get to grips with how one navigates the OS X file system using Finder, in addition to minor tweaks like setting up a custom background, or wallpaper.

Relatively speaking, this early part of Mac 101 will still cater toward the inexperienced Mac user but, with luck, even experienced users of Apple computers will learn something new!

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Welcome to part one of Mac 101, a series of articles helping you get to grips with everything you need to know about using a Mac. In due time we’re going to cover pretty much everything you need to know, but naturally this opening piece will focus on the very basics and introduce new users to some of the great applications and features that come pre-installed with a new Mac and OS X Lion.

So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at some of the fundamentals of Mac OS X Lion and become more acquainted with Apple’s unique method of making computing easy for all.

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Now that the iconic plastic MacBook series has come to an end, many Mac owners will be considering purchasing a MacBook Air as their primary computer. The Air is an awesome choice and will provide a user experience and build quality second to none, but those blistering SSD speeds do come with some compromise in hard drive space. The article below will guide through some steps you can take and applications you can use, to get the most out of the space you have.

Keep in mind that you don’t need a MacBook Air, or even an SSD to benefit from the tips below, as it can never hurt to de-clutter your hard drive and keep your Mac in good shape, whichever model it is.

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When Apple first included the trackpads on the Macbook Pros a few years ago, we got to use some gestures in the trackpad with Snow Leopard like two-finger scrolling and going back a page with a three-finger swipe, but the full potential of the trackpad gestures was not yet exploited as much as it could’ve been.

That is, until Lion came out last week with a handful of new and very useful trackpad and Magic Mouse gestures for pretty much anything you can imagine. With all the great gestures available for trackpad users, is the Magic Mouse providing a limited experience for Lion users? Let’s compare the available gestures for each one of them.

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Though my initial knee-jerk reaction to the news that Apple were making Mac OS X Lion available only through the Mac App Store was one of disapproval, upon reflection the decision makes sense from an environmental standpoint at least. There will be trees saved without those retail boxes needing to be made, in addition to fuel and emissions saved from the various vehicles which would have been needed to transport those boxes to their destinations – not to mention a digital distribution method fits in with Apple’s minimalist ethos and their slow but steady march to a complete rejection of physical media.

That’s great and all, but there are situations in which a physical copy of OS X is very useful, such as if the user desires a completely fresh install, or to upgrade several Macs at once, or those wishing to skip Snow Leopard altogether and move from Leopard straight to Lion. If you have any of these needs or just want a physical copy as a means of insurance, read on after the break because we’ve got you covered…

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If you, like me, sometimes find distraction in anything and everything other than your work, paring down your digital workspace to maximize productivity can be a daunting task. Fortunately, Mac OS X comes with some built-in tools that you can use to combat your lack of willpower. These tools are cleverly disguised as Parental Controls.

Sure, OS X’s built-in Parental Controls may be used to monitor and limit your child’s usage of your Mac, but I’ve found that some crafty tinkering can turn this set of options into a powerful way of managing your distractions and keeping yourself on-task. The following set of steps is meant to be a guide on how to set up Parental Controls to increase your productivity, but feel free to amend the guide based on the distractions you need to eliminate most.

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Imagine your files and folders sitting in a Finder window. It’s simple, and there’s no clutter. The only information you have about them is the name underneath. Of course we both know that there’s more to learn about each file. Much more!

Picture that all the “metadata” for a file or folder is engraved on it – unique – just like our finger prints. You’d need a magnifying glass to see it all. Let me introduce you to your magnifying glass: the “Get Info” Pane.

In this article I’ll introduce you to it, take you through a tour, and give some helpful hints along the way.

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