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There are two kinds of Mac users: those who use apps like Alfred, LaunchBar or Quicksilver, and those who don’t. If you fall under the second category, I greatly encourage you to try one of those apps: you have not unleashed the full potential of OS X until you get your hands on these gems. And while we’re talking about trying one, why not go for the only one that’s completely free: Quicksilver? If you’re not sure, go read our review first.

Already convinced Quicksilver can help you in your everyday tasks? Perfect! We have crafted in-depth tutorials so as you can get the most of it, either for replacing the Finder or browsing your contacts and sending emails. The series keep on rolling today with some basic — and more interestingly, advanced — ways of controlling iTunes with Quicksilver.

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Apple has always provided a means to back up your iPhone so that, should anything disastrous happen, you’re safe in the knowledge that you can easily restore your backup to a new one. At first, this was simply through iTunes but along came iCloud and now backups are performed directly to Apple’s servers, saving the burden of iTunes syncing.

While this protects our iPhone’s data from something such as loss, theft or damage, what happens if we inadvertently delete some information such as some notes, a voice recording or document within an app?

PhoneView is an app that provides a level of interaction with an iPhone (and iPad) that goes far beyond anything iTunes lets us do. Even without jailbreaking, we’re able to delve deep into the iPhone’s filesystem and directly access app data, messages, call logs and more so they can be easily archived and backed up – as well as recovered if the worst has happened.

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While iCloud does a lot of nice things for owners of Apple products, Dropbox works on every platform, making it an always-accessible service for file storage. Most people don’t keep more than a few gigabytes of data in their accounts, but sometimes people decide it might be fun to sync all their music or videos to the cloud. I currently have my entire photography portfolio and all my important documents synced to Dropbox.

Why this instead of iCloud or another competing service? For access to deleted files. If I accidentally remove something from my account, I can go back and get it within 30 days. And if I pay for a Pro account plus the packrat add-on, I can access all my files ever synced to the service. It’s a pretty handy feature, and it’s a good reason to back up some of your information to Dropbox’s secure servers. In this short tutorial, I’ll teach you how to do this without moving everything around using a tool called MacDropAny. (more…)

iCloud promises much. Apple build the service not only to store your content, but to ensure that content is available on whatever device you’re using at the time. It gives you an easy way to keep app settings and the documents you’re using synced between your devices using the same apps, but since iCloud syncs files specifically for each app, it makes it hard to use documents in other apps.

This can be frustrating to experienced users used to moving between apps for different elements of their work. Here, the simplicity of iCloud can frustrate more experienced users by hiding some of the complexity of cloud storage. Some apps allow ways to move files out of iCloud and to your local device, but it would be nice to be able to do this from Finder directly. Plain Cloud is a simple and free app that promises simple access to your iCloud in Finder. Let’s see if this is the solution we need to solve iCloud’s complexity.

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Back when I first made the switch to a Mac, part of the appeal of both the OS and the hardware was the minimalist approach that Apple takes. I always hated having to delete the trial software that Microsoft lets other companies dump into their systems. Apple lets you start with a clean slate and enjoy your new machine from the second you turn it on. Unfortunately, though, Macs are just as prone to getting cluttered as anything else over time.

Even if you aren’t a digital neat-freak like me, chances are the available space on your drive shrinks a little bit more every day. If you aren’t proactive, you’re going to run out of space. If you’ve gotten a newer Mac with an SSD or replaced your Mac’s hard drive with an SSD, chances are you’re dealing with less storage on your Mac than you would have expected in the past. While SSD prices are falling, the price-to-capacity ratio still means that space is at a premium, and you’ll need to start keeping better tabs on what is eating up space. Luckily, there are a number of options for cleaning up the clutter, and we are going to take a look at a few that I’ve used in my battle to keep my laptop lean.

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Alfred is awesome. Over the last couple of years this app launcher has garnered a substantial and loyal following, and its easy to see why. It’s an awesome app launcher in its own right, but as we have noted elsewhere, with the Alfred Powerpack, this app becomes much more awesome. It turns into a clipboard manager, iTunes player, file browser, and with a bit of tweaking, the ultimate notes manager.

Whether you prefer to manage notes with Mountain Lion’s native Notes app, or would rather keep notes in plain text files, Alfred has you covered. Read on to find out how to turn Alfred into the ultimate notes manager.

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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 16th, 2011.

When I was a kid playing around on my first Mac, I always thought it was loads of fun to have the computer read out whatever I’d written in KidPix (remember KidPix?). On my grown-up Macbook, I sometimes set up spoken alarms and alerts, so that I can imagine Stephen Hawking is telling me what time it is.

However, if you want to convert longer passages of text to speech, you might be in for some quality time with the command line (more on that later). There’s a decent amount of professional text-to-speech software out there, but it’s generally expensive, and mostly intended for business use or for people with disabilities. Today we’re going to go over some free and inexpensive options, and learn how to convert text to speech using TextEdit or the Terminal.

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If you travel a lot or have a job that keeps you working in different places throughout the day, a decisive factor when you purchased your computer might have been the battery life. MacBooks generally have pretty good battery run time, but in order to keep it functional for as long as you can, you might have to give your battery a little maintenance over time.

Today we’re going to present to you a free app called Battery Health that can give you tips and information regarding the battery of your MacBook. Want to check it out?

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Glowing monitors filled with lines of scrolling green text aren’t limited to The Matrix; most IT gurus and power users prefer working with the command line over clunky graphical user interfaces because the CLI allows the user to operate directly with the system.

While the command line can seem terrifying at first, starting at the basics will allow you to see that it’s not much different from the graphical world you are used to. Learning how to use Terminal will give you a better understanding of how your Mac works under the hood, and give you the skills needed to troubleshoot any issue.

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For many of us, our computer’s hard drive has become a vast repository of digital images. Everyday, we snap photos with our smartphones and digital cameras which are then deposited into countless folders. But let’s face it, when our hard drives start to get full, who enjoys the tedious process of navigating these folders searching for duplicates files and miscued shots? How often do we pause and ask ourselves, “Do I really need all 12 shots of that coffee table?”

Organizing and tidying up our photo libraries can be a time consuming project, one that some of us may never embark upon. Fortunately, getting a handle on this task has been made significantly easier. Enter Photosweeper, a robust photo organizing application that will assist in cleaning up and putting in order any photo collection. Whether it’s a hundred megabytes or dozens of gigabytes, Photosweeper will quickly and effectively sort images and help reduce the size of your collection, resulting in more usable disk space.

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