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OS X

Kids and computers go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or like crayons and white-painted walls… My point is that kids start using computers earlier and earlier, and many of them become very adept and quite precocious at an extremely young age.

There are significant dangers out there: the online world is a new place to be concerned about what your kids are up to, and we’ve all heard too many stories already of youngsters getting into trouble online. Happily, your Mac comes with a few bits of protection built in, and there are some good applications available to help you extend those controls.

I’m going to talk you through three different ways that you can go about putting in place better online safety precautions: via OS X’s built-in Parental Controls, with an external application, and by getting to the heart of how your computer interfaces with the internet, by taking control of your DNS settings.

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As a New Year is upon us, it may be a good chance to take stock and give your Mac a spring clean. Although OS X doesn’t accumulate a great deal of clutter in day-to-day operation, there are still a number of actions you can take to free up disk space, speed up operation, and ensure that your data is safe in 2010.

Inspired by a recent series of articles published at Minimal Mac (a great blog to subscribe to), this post will take a look at a variety of different steps to clean up your Mac for the New Year.

Grab a duster, throw on an apron, and let’s get cleaning…

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So you were one of the lucky ones who received (or bought yourself) your first Mac over the holiday period. Congratulations, and welcome to the Mac community! Perhaps, like more and more people, you’ve made the move from that other operating system – you know, the one that’s a little more popular, but also not quite as well-designed, and more prone to security issues.

The one where you’re considered a brave person to go online without the full metal jacket of antivirus, antispam, antimalware, and firewall in place. If so, then chances are that you’ve already started thinking about what you need to do in order to protect your new machine from viruses, trojans, and other kinds of nasties that you may have encountered previously.

Many will tell you not to bother – Macs don’t get viruses, right? It’s true to say that there are fewer such issues with Macs (after all, smaller market-share means less incentive to antisocial types), but it’d be foolish not to take even the most basic precautions in order to keep your data and your personal information safe.

When I made the switch, I immediately went in search of the kinds of protection I was used to having in place before I would bring my computer anywhere near a network connection of any kind. But friends talked me down, reassured me that I didn’t really need the same level of protection for my shiny new MacBook. But they did offer a few little tips, which I will pass on in this article, just to cover the basics…

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While you sit in front of your screen for hours on end, perusing tech blogs and pretending not to be addicted to Facbook, are you considering what sort of impact you’re having on the environment!? If you’re like me, the answer is “Hey pal, it’s a computer not a Hummer. Back off.” Luckily however, the good folks at Apple have put a lot of time and effort into this problem for us.

In honor of Blog Action Day we’ll be taking a look into what makes Apple one of the greenest technology companies you’ll find by examining the actions that they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint in the areas of manufacturing, transportation, product use, recycling, and facilities.

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Think you know everything there is to know about OS X? Here’s a list of secret features and shortcuts known only by the most elite nerds. Test your knowledge and see if you are a good candidate to stand at the Genius Bar and wear a clever T-shirt.

We’ll start with some simple features before moving on to the more obscure. Topics covered include downloading YouTube videos using Safari, accessing an entire second clipboard, placing widgets on your desktop, and taking control of your system volume!

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Many Mac users likely haven’t even opened this application before, and those that have were probably scared off by all the numbers and confusing words. I certainly was. But if you understand how it works and what it can be used for, Activity Monitor can be a great way of keeping an eye on what’s going on inside your computer.

This how-to will explain all the ins and outs of Activity Monitor, and how to get the most out of it. It will also give you some tips on how to speed up your computer a bit.

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With it’s ability to run so many different applications at the same time in Mac OS X, it can often become a task of its own just to locate the specific window you may be after. This is where Exposé comes in… Possibly one of the most productive features that OS X yields under its belt, Exposé allows you to access any window you like instantly in a user-friendly way.

Exposé can be used to efficiently flick between open windows, and to swiftly reveal the Desktop when you need to. This article will cover all of the basics of Exposé, and give a few tips and tricks. It will also offer a way in which to unlock a few extra features of Exposé which Apple decided not to include.

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An intriguing but widely overlooked feature released with Mac OS X Leopard is the ability to share screens wirelessly with other computers in a super fast and easy way. This can be incredibly useful when you want to collaborate on a project together with someone else, or if you’re running several computers in different rooms around the home or office.

In this tutorial I will explain how to set up screen sharing, ensure security is fully considered, and outline how it can be done even if you don’t have a WiFi connection available.

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Spaces was a new feature introduced in OS X Leopard, designed to offer a user friendly front-end to a virtual desktop system. This allows you to run more than one computer “desktop”, flipping between them with a key combination.

You can use different spaces for various tasks e.g. one for business, one for personal work, and one purely for video/music. They offer a handy solution for visually separating different applications. This article will provide an overview of how Spaces work, explain how you can add extra functionality to them, and offer a few examples of when they come in handy.

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Disk Utility is an excellent OS X utility for managing hard drives and removable storage. If you’ve ever installed OS X, wiped a hard drive clean, or needed to re-format a USB stick, there’s a good chance that you’ll be familiar with the app. Whilst managing disk images is undoubtedly Disk Utility’s forté, it can also be used to good effect for creating images.

This how-to will walk you through how simple this process is. We’ll illustrate how to create a simple disk image for storing files, a few of the uses that images can have, and also investigate how images can be encrypted to keep your files secure.

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