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How-To

Over the past few years, RSS has become the de-facto way to remain connected to a website without re-visiting it every few days. News items and new posts are ‘pushed’ to you automatically, and can be easily collated into one application for quick viewing.

There are two primary ways to manage RSS subscriptions – either through a website such as Google Reader, or via a desktop application such as NetNewsWire or NewsFire. All of these are free solutions, but offer different advantages depending upon how you work.

Today I’ll be explaining a simple way to enjoy the speed of a desktop application, the convenience of web access, and portability of reading on your iPhone – all using NetNewsWire.

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It’s widely accepted that OS X is already a very well designed operating system, with a great deal of attention paid to window appearance and icon design. It was the simplicity of design which inspired me to purchase my first Mac, and since then I’ve been fascinated with tweaking and modifying the interface.

Up until the release of Leopard, the most popular tool for modifying your Mac’s “theme” was ShapeShifter. Unfortunately, this doesn’t yet support OS X Leopard, and it’s looking unlikely that it will be updated in the near future. Another tool to consider is Magnifique, which brings a completely new theming engine (and Leopard support) to the table.

This how-to will provide a brief overview of how each of these apps work and what they can be used for. If you like the idea of changing the look and feel of OS X, keep your eyes peeled for a roundup of different themes coming later this week (both for ShapeShifter and Magnifique).

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Sometimes we’re prone to overlook the core OS X applications. When people think of PDF editing software what comes to mind; Adobe Acrobat, PDFPen, Skim. But what about Preview? If you think Preview is just the application that pops up when you download a PDF, you’re missing out on a great deal of functionality.

Preview is capable of far more than viewing PDFs and contains basic editing features, quartz filters, the ability to manipulate pages, and draw annotations. This how-to will walk you through a variety of the less well known Preview features, and illustrate what the app is capable of.

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We’re fortunate enough as Mac users to already have many beautifully designed application icons. However, there are always one or two older applications in your dock which seem to lower the standard. There are a few easy ways to rectify this, with numerous tools available to assist with organizing and changing OS X icons.

This how-to will walk you through the process using two different applications, and provide a few useful resources for sourcing some really good looking icons.

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The iTunes Podcast directory is a tempting offer. Without much effort, you can get your voice out to thousands of people. Of course, if your podcast doesn’t reek of quality (both in terms of content and presentation) no one will pay attention. The content part only you can figure out, but if its quality you want, GarageBand provides an easy solution.

I’m going to show you how to create a technically sound, professional quality podcast that you can share either using an iWeb site, or through any other iTunes compatible RSS feed.

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Many people think that creating music is an elaborate task that wouldn’t be possible for them. Whether you have never played an instrument before, or you are an experienced producer or virtuoso, creating music is no farther away than your Mac. In this article we will introduce you to GarageBand, the music application bundled with iLife. Like most Apple software, GarageBand is full of features, but it is presented in an easy interface which won’t overwhelm new users.

This article uses the latest release, GarageBand ’09. Users of older versions may see some differences in screens and options, but the main content of this guide will apply. We’ll walk you through creating a project, setting up tracks and loops, controlling playback and building a simple song!

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Spam is a problem we all face, particularly if you use a desktop email solution rather than a service such as Gmail. I’m a big fan of Apple’s Mail software, and struggled hugely with spam a few years ago – I’d tried several server-side filtering solutions, but nothing had worked particularly well. I then discovered SpamSieve. After installing the software and spending 10 minutes training it, I found that the level of junk email I received reduced to almost none.

This walkthrough will explain how to download and install SpamSieve, train it with old messages, and hopefully enter the spam free state of nirvana. I’ll also touch on a few freeware alternatives for those without a spam filtering budget.

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Every computer needs an operating system to operate, just like we humans need our brains to function. Unlike us, computers can have more than one brain, running multiple operating systems at the same time. Virtualization is the process of concurrently running another (fully functional) operating system over the main OS X installation.

The great advantage of a virtual machine is that your original system is untouched – you can operate or remove a Windows installation without causing any harm to OS X. This how-to will walk you through the process of setting up Windows on your Mac using the free VirtualBox application.

It’s a simple process, requiring an Intel Mac with at least 512MB RAM and a copy of Windows – we’ve used XP, but any version will do. Without further ado, let’s get started!

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The latest release of Apple’s iWork suite has brought a whole range of new features, notably an online collaberation system called iWork.com. Currently in public beta, the service aims to let you share your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, allowing co-workers or friends to comment on them. This quick tutorial will walk you through how the feature works and explain the simplest way to get started.

Click the iWork.com icon to get started

Click the iWork.com icon to get started

In order to use iWork.com, you need to have a copy of the latest version of the iWork suite. You can try it out by downloading the 30 day trial which will give you time to decide whether it’s worth purchasing (for $79).

Once you’ve created a document in any of the three included applications, clicking the iWork.com icon will start the walk-through process of uploading your document to the ‘cloud’.

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If you’re someone who dips in and out of several web apps on a daily basis, you may be interested to know that an application for OSX can make your life easier. Fluid allows you to create ‘Site Specific Browsers’ (SSBs) – a separate desktop app for each website you use on a regular basis.

In essence, this allows you to have an standalone dock icon for a variety of websites, opening a specific browser for each website when clicked. I use this functionality for accessing Basecamp on a regular basis – it’s far quicker than navigating to the site through a browser bookmark, and keeps whatever you have going on in Safari completely separate.

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