Tag Archives: Mac

Review: Disk Drill Pro for Mac

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If you have a computer, you should also have a backup plan in place. Some people have a local backup, others have an offsite backup service, and others might have both or more.

If you are on a Mac you might be using Time Machine as part of your backup plan. However, most backup plans, including Time Machine, can only go back so far to recover a file. Some only backup the most recent versions of a file. Plus, these backup plans are for your hard drive only. What if you accidentally erase a file of a USB flash drive or wipe out an SD card full of pictures you haven’t downloaded yet? That is where Disk Drill Pro by CleverFiles comes in.

Disk Drill

Disk Drill is a data recovery application that can help with the situations described above. It’s fast and works great. When you run Disk Drill, you are presented with a window that shows all of the volumes connected to your computer, including hard drives, memory cards, and USB drives.  You pick the device you want to scan and scan it. Disk Drill then scans for deleted files. The results are then presented in a list format showing the original folder and even file name. The great part is you can use Quick Look to see the file in Disk Drill before you even recover it. Scanning small drives like SD cards is really fast. Even scanning my 500GB internal hard drive was fast.

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I was really impressed with the amount of files DiskDrill was able to recover. Even if you have erased a memory card for your camera and taken new pictures, Disk Drill will find your old pictures. Of course, the more that disk or drive has been used since the file was deleted the less likely the file will be recovered. Not only does it find the files fast, it recovers them just as fast.

Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery

Another feature in the application is called Recovery Vault. Recovery Vault stores metadata of files on your computer to make locating and recovering them a lot easier and puts the odds of recovery a lot higher. The company website states that this vault takes up about 60mb of space, so it will not eat up your hard drive at all.

There is also something called Guaranteed Recovery protection through the Recovery Vault. This takes up some additional space as the program keeps an invisible copy of deleted files. You can choose which drives and folders to monitor for this feature and you can also set a space limit. I really don’t see the need for this if you have a backup plan in place, but you might want to use it for those crucial folders as an additional layer of backup.

Pricing and a Coupon

At $89.00, Disk Drill Pro might sound a bit pricey, however most great Mac utility programs are in that range and just recovering on set of files will make that money well spent. Plus, for a limited time CleverFiles is offering 20% off the price to Techerator readers with coupon code : TERETR-DD.

I highly recommend making Disk Drill Pro a part of your utility apps for your Mac. At the very least, download the free “Basic” edition. It will scan and protect your computer but not allow recovery. If you find yourself needing the recovery feature you can always upgrade.

What’s new in Evernote 5 for Mac

Evernote for Mac recently received a new look and user-friendly interface in its latest update.

The left panel has been updated with new options, including Shortcuts for quick access to favorite notes, notebooks, tags, and saved searches.The sidebar also includes a list of recent notes, and views of your notebooks and tags.

The Notes, Notebooks, Tags, and Atlas icons stand out, keeping data organized and the sidebar uncluttered. Each section may look familiar, but has inevitably been updated at least with a new interface.

Evernote has also integrated your own notebooks alongside Shared Notebooks that other users have let you access. Sharing’s also been improved in the Note Editor—at the top of a note, you can now see how many people have access to the note you’re looking at. Updates to shared notes are now organized more logically, so as not to inundate you as they arrive, and there’s integration with Mountain Lion’s Notification Center.

“Atlas”, meanwhile, is a new function, which lets you view the geographic location in which each note was created.  All notes can be viewed on one map, or via separate Place Cards, which drill down to city-level thumbnails. Location must be enabled for this feature to work.

A similar card view has also been integrated into the revamped Notes List that shows you thumbnails of notes containing images or previews of text notes. All notes can be sorted by notebook or tag.

Major search improvements also come along with Evernote 5, including the updated Type Ahead algorithm that begins suggesting searches based on content inside the user’s account.

Evernote 5 is free in the Mac App Store—paid subscriptions will let you store more information—and is compatible with Macs running OS X 10.6.6 or later.

For a closer look at the Evernote 5 changes, watch the video below.

Stay connected with shared iCloud calendars

Keeping track of family members’ busy schedules can always be a challenge, but it can be easier by sharing calendars via Apple’s iCloud. Listed below are ways an iCloud-using family can stay connected.

Set up an iCloud Account

  1. First make sure your device is running the latest iOS version
  2. If you did not set up iCloud when you got your iPad, iPhone or iPod then select Settings –> iCloud and either enter your Apple ID or create a free Apple ID
  3. On a Mac go to System Preferences and select iCloud to configure
  4. Under iCloud Settings verify that calendar is selected On
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Sharing calendars with multiple iCloud accounts

Sharing calendars requires users to share and subscribe to each others’ calendars.  These events may not be limited to just one family and can be shared with anyone who has an iCloud account.  Sharing all of the events that you add to a particular calendar can be accomplished by performing the following tasks:

  1. Create a New Calendar in iCal by selecting File –> New Calendar –> iCloud 
  2. Select the Calendar you created in iCal’s Calendar List View on the left and then select the Share Calendar option from the edit menu
  3. Type the invitee’s email address in the Name or email address area and press Done
  4. Click the pop-up menu with the invitee’s name and choose access privileges (View & Edit or View Only)
  5. For each person you want to share the calendar with, repeat steps 3 and 4

 

Invitation emails are then sent out from your iCloud account to the emails you entered in step 3. The recipient must click the join calendar button in the email for the shared calendar to appear in iCal.

Create calendar using a family iCloud account

Having a single family iCloud account is another way to have a shared family calendar.  Anyone can add any event at any time and everyone will see it instantly.  Once the initial set up and configuration is complete, this can be the easiest way to share a calendar.  Here is what you need to do to set up a shared iCloud account on your family’s devices:

  1. On the first or primary family member’s device you need to create a new AppleID at and set up an iCloud account associated with that AppleID. See above on how to set up iCloud
  2. In the Settings of each family member’s iOS device (iPad, iPhone, iPod), add a new account using the AppleID and password you just created.
  3. In the System Preferences of each family member’s Mac, add a new account using the AppleID and password you just created.
  4. On all devices, ensure that the Calendar option is turned on in each account’s respective mail settings.

Once all of the devices are configured, you just start creating calendars and adding events as if it was your own personal account.  You can also use this one iCloud account to share notes, reminders and contacts.  Basically it keeps all of your family’s events up to date under one account.

Upfront there might be a lot of events being added to the calendar, so there will be a lot of notifications that are sent to your device. To silence calendar alerts go to Settings –> Sounds –>  Calendar Alerts and select none.

Conclusion

With these options you should be able to manage your families busy calendar. You can select one of the options or use a combination of them based on your needs. Try one with your family to see what works best for you!

Cubby: a simple way to share files across multiple devices

When I first heard about Cubby’s unlimited storage, my immediate reaction was “I must have it.” When I found out that “unlimited storage” meant computer-to-computer syncing I was less enthused. I forgave them, however, because I concede that offering unlimited cloud storage through a free service is foolish at best. And it wasn’t long before I found new reasons to love Cubby.

Unlimited computer-to-computer storage

I soon realized Cubby’s true potential as a power user’s best friend. Basically, with Cubby, you can sync an unlimited amount of date (regardless of file type) between two computers as long as both devices are connected to the internet.

File sync can happen in a couple of ways. Firstly, there is the option to create brand new “Cubbies” and label each one as you please before filling them with files. A second option is to merge the Cubbies with folders that already exist on your Mac or PC, so instead of having to curate two Music folders you could simply merge your Music folder with a Cubby labelled Music to share files more seamlessly between your desktop and/or laptop.

I have been using Cubby to keep files organized between my personal MacBook Pro and my less-used (and ancient) HP laptop. The only annoyance so far has been keeping both computers turned on and connected to the internet. And even that seems a small price to pay for easily accessing my files on both devices.

5GB of free cloud storage

There’s more to Cubby than just syncing between computers. Cubby has a feature set similar to other cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox: 5GB of free cloud storage and a home folder – called “My Cubby” in this instance – to hold all those files you’ll inevitably save there.

As for uploading, I found that Cubby synced my files fairly fast and when put head-to-head against Dropbox there was little difference in speed. However, Dropbox places a helpful syncing icon on files that are in the process of uploading and replaces it with a checkmark once the sync is completed. Cubby has no indication of syncing progress when viewed in the Finder or Windows Explorer window and can only be shown through the desktop application.

Since Cubby is still in its beta phase, it’s hard to tell what improvements (if any) they will make in this regard. After all, we’re talking about a brand new piece of software competing with a fairly senior product. That being said, however, it seems like a fairly standard feature to include. Yeah we’re talking to you, Cubby makers.

Cubby is still “invite only” during its beta phase, but you can request an invite if you’re interested in checking it out. There are apps available for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS (and screenshots below).

What do you think? Would you use Cubby over alternatives like Google Drive or Dropbox?

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The Best New Features in OS X Mountain Lion

Apple has officially launched OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, and there are a ton of new features in this latest release, including an integrated notification center, better iCloud support, and Messages. Here’s a quick breakdown of these new features, as well as a few other notable additions.

Notification Center

If you use iOS 5 on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, then you know about Notification Center. It’s a handy drop-down menu that consolidates all of your notifications, and it’s finally in OS X. Whenever a notification comes in, it’ll let you know by displaying a small pop-up window in the upper-right of the screen. To see all of your notifications at once, you can simply swipe to the left from the right edge of the trackpad to bring up Notification Center in its entirety or you can click the small menu bar icon at the top-right.

Messages

Messages on OS X Mountain Lion is a lot like iChat, but it lets you send messages to other iOS devices right from your Mac. Your messages will also stay synced between all of your Apple devices, so if you start a conversation on your Mac, you can finish it on your iPhone if need be.

iCloud

iCloud has been available on the Mac since OS X 10.7 Lion was released a year ago, but it just got better with automatic syncing and updating of files, which means anything that you update on your Mac through one of Apple’s default applications will automatically be updated on all of your other Apple devices.

AirPlay

AirPlay Mirroring has finally come to the Mac. This will allow you to duplicate your Mac’s screen onto your television wirelessly. You’ll just have to make sure you have an Apple TV or other device that can receive AirPlay transmissions in order to take advantage of this new feature.

Notes and Reminders

Mountain Lion now comes with Notes and Reminders, which are already very familiar to iOS 5 users, and they work in the same way as iOS but with a little more screen real estate, obviously. They work seamlessly with iCloud as well, so you’ll have all your notes and reminders synced across all of your iDevices.

Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper is a new anti-malware feature on OS X that allows you to control how apps are downloaded and installed so that you don’t accidentally download anything malicious. You can manually choose whether you want your Mac to download new apps from the Mac App Store only, or download apps from the Mac App Store and other places as well.

OS X Mountain Lion is available now for $19.99 in the Mac App Store.

Why I Won’t be Buying a New MacBook Pro

I’ve never denied being a bit of an Apple fanboy, and I waited eagerly for the announcement of the new MacBook Pro range. When the announcement came yesterday and I read about my much-hoped-for retina display, it was all I could do not to reach immediately for my credit card.

I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve spent some time looking into the specification in some detail and, sadly, it doesn’t make me happy. Here’s why:

The Price

The base-level 15” Retina MacBook Pro costs $2199 and comes with a 2.3Ghz Ivy Bridge i7 processer, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state disk.

Now, I accept this isn’t a dreadful spec, but I already have that much RAM in my current Mac. Furthermore, 256GB is not enough space for all my existing data, let alone anything new – and that brings me on to the second problem…

The SSD and RAM is permanently installed

Not being able to upgrade my storage or memory on a “Pro” laptop is just daft. If I want 16GB of RAM instead of the supplied 8GB, I have to pay Apple $200 – far in excess of the cost of the RAM.

The New Retina Display MacBook Pro
The New Retina Display MacBook Pro

Even worse, Apple doesn’t seem to offer me an online upgrade to a larger SSD on the base model, so to get the level of storage I need, I have to get the top-end model at $2799 – that’s simply too much for a laptop with no more RAM or storage space than I already have.

The Missing Ethernet Port

I know this might sound pedantic, but, once again, this is a Pro laptop. I am an IT consultant – a “pro” if you will, and I often need to plug my laptop into an Ethernet network or sometimes into a crossover cable to configure a device. I’m not willing to carry a second laptop for this purpose, or to buy yet another one of Apple’s lucrative adaptors.

While I have no doubt that this new MacBook Pro is a wonderful, beautiful machine, I find myself in a position where I simply can’t justify such extreme expense for something that I cannot upgrade.

Conclusion

The permanently soldered components in the new MacBook Pro present a severe problem. In the event of a memory or drive problem beyond the standard 12-month warranty, I can’t replace these parts myself, making additional expense on Applecare all but essential.

For now, then, I’m going to have to make my peace with the fact that Apple have pitched their new laptop in such a way that buying it cannot work for me. As it stands, I cannot change any parts, connect to all my client’s networks or even fit all my music on the base model. I can do all those things on the one I’m typing on now.

I’ll just have to avoid looking at that beautiful new retina display when I next visit the Apple store. Some things are not meant to be.

How to find out if your Mac is infected with malware

One of the favorite Mac vs. PC myths is “PCs are slow, they always crash, and get viruses!” The corollary to that would be “Macs never get viruses.” That’s getting harder to say with a straight face.

In April, research firm Sophos released a study that found one in five Macs was infected with malware. The study comes from a survey of 100,000 Macs that downloaded Sophos’s free Mac antivirus software, so it was a decent sample size.

(It’s important to note that these malware programs are Windows programs, so they aren’t able to do anything unless the Mac runs Windows software. They are mostly harmless.)

No matter what software is affected though, this increasing trend demonstrates that hackers are able to sneak unwanted software payload onto Apple  computers. Currently, 2.7 percent of infected Macs are infected with Mac OS-compatible malware.

Malware such as the Flashfake Mac OS X botnet have been reported to have infected 500,000 Macs. It disguises itself as an Adobe Flash installer and hijacks the search engine results that appear in a browser.

How to find out if your Mac is infected

There are several free applications to help you find out if your Mac is infected:

The word “trusted” on the last item is important because the list is part of a post on a new malware which specifically targets Macs. Fake security applications like “Mac Defender,” “Mac Security,” and “Mac Protector” have tricked unsuspecting users into installing malware instead of antivirus software. Luckily this one is fairly obvious to find (read the post for very good instructions.)

To avoid future malicious downloads, the post recommends turning off any option that automatically opens or installs downloaded files, as well as restricting downloads to specific folders.

The only guaranteed way to avoid malware is to not connect your Mac to the Internet. Being careful while using the Internet helps, but even the most computer-savvy users can get infected with malware without knowing it. In lieu of completely disconnecting your computer from the Internet, the most effective deterrent seems to be keeping up with the latest Apple security updates.

How to insert frequently written text on a Mac with TypeIt4Me

Like many people, I find myself having to type the same bits of text many times throughout my working week.

Various applications already have ways of reducing the labor involved in this. For example, email clients have auto-signatures and word processors have automatic text facilities.

The Mac OS X operating system itself is strong when it comes to automation. AppleScript and the sophisticated Automator utility help many power-users accomplish frequently repeated tasks more efficiently. However, none of the inbuilt features of OS X or my installed applications did exactly what I needed – so I went on the hunt for a suitable solution.

Enter TypeIt4Me, a simple utility from Ettore software. TypeIt4Me allows you to input all your frequently used phrases and chunks of text and assign a short text string to each of them. The program runs in the background and places a small icon in the OS X menu bar. All you have to do is type your chosen string in ANY application and your chunk of text appears, as it you have typed it yourself.

Having used the product for a few months, I have around 20 frequently used blocks of text configured. While this may not sound like a lot, each is something I need to type many times throughout a typical day. For example, a series of three character shortcuts instantly type the full URLs of each website I work on. Given that I probably comment on 20-odd forum threads each day and need to include a URL, that’s already plenty of typing saved.

TypeIt4Me has a Comprehensive Set of Options
TypeIt4Me has a Comprehensive Set of Options

As a freelancer, I often have to apply for jobs. When I sign off an email or online application, I now need only type “ihope” and the utility writes “I hope my application is of interest to you and look forward to hearing from you soon.” I certainly don’t miss typing that several times per week! I also have entries for various sign-offs such as “many thanks,” “best wishes, “ and “kind regards.”

TypeIt4Me includes comprehensive options to assign hotkeys, control exactly how text snippets are used and even to change the behavior of the text macros within different applications. So far, my chunks of text appear happily regardless of what application I am using, the only exception being when I am using my Windows virtual machine. While I would like them to work within that environment, I can imagine the technical challenge involved so don’t expect to see this feature any time soon.

As I said in my write-up of Evernote, I am a cynical techie who isn’t impressed with bells and whistles. I judge applications purely on whether they help me better achieve my day-to-day work. TypeIt4Me scores highly on this basis and I wouldn’t want to be without it. If you frequently need to type the same text across a range of programs, it’s an essential purchase.

What Apple could possibly announce at WWDC 2012

Well, it’s official. Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference will be held from June 11 to 15 in San Francisco this year and it’s going to be a packed house; tickets were sold out two hours after availability when 5,000 anxious developers quickly coughed up $1,600 per ticket.

WWDC is one of the company’s biggest events –if not the biggest– of the year, and if you’ve followed past WWDC events, you’ll know that it’s usually where Apple announces new stuff. It’s where they announced the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, Mac Pro, and even iLife.

So then, what’s CEO Tim Cook and friends going to talk about this year? I went ahead and made a list of possible topics and products that Apple could likely announce and talk about at this year’s WWDC.

OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6

We know for a fact that this will be a talking point at WWDC. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, even said it himself. But what developments will we hear about exactly? It’s possible that they could be announcing and releasing a final version of OS X Mountain Lion, since it’s been through three developer previews already. However, it’s also possible they might wait awhile and take the time to test Mountain Lion against the company’s upcoming iOS 6 software, since Apple has been turning OS X and iOS into a more homogeneous effort nowadays.

As far as iOS 6 itself, there’s definitely been chatter going on, but very little substance to show as far what iOS 6 will be all about. It’s definitely in development and being tested as we speak, but rumors have been a little quiet in this area. WWDC 2012 will certainly be the place where we’ll see a little bit of iOS 6 light.

New Mac Hardware

The rumors of a newer-generation MacBook Pro lineup have been exhausting to say the least. There’s been talk that Apple will oust optical drives on all of their MacBooks, except for possibly the 17-inch model. The last time Apple announced anything Mac hardware related was in 2009 when they announced the 13-inch MacBook Pro unibody to replace the white plastic model. Honestly, I would say it’s very likely that Apple will announce something new in the MacBook lineup, whether it’d be completely new MacBook Pros or an updated MacBook Air; the push towards Ultrabooks by Intel is too much for Apple to ignore.

As far as desktop Macs, a new iMac is certainly possible and it will be interesting to see if they talk about their Mac Pro lineup, since there have been talks of getting rid of the Mac towers as of October 2011, but are rumored to be updated with Ivy Bridge chips and Nvidia’s Kepler graphics this year.

iPhone 5

This one’s a tricky one, but the current stand inside the rumor mill is that the next iPhone will come out in the fall, so for Apple to announce a new iPhone in June and wait all the way through the summer until the fall to release it just doesn’t seem like their thing. I don’t see the iPhone 5 making an appearance at WWDC 2012 at all.

Overall, this year’s WWDC will be all about software (it is a developers conference after all), so I honestly think that the only talking points will be OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6, with possible announcements regarding Mac hardware, but that’s just me. Let us know what your predictions are for WWDC 2012 in the comments.

6 myths about the PC vs. Mac debate

The PC vs. Mac wars just need to die. They’re stupid and pointless. They accomplish absolutely nothing but just more back-and-forth shouting, and the same exact arguments come up every time, making the PC vs. Mac flamewar one giant cliche.

Here are six arguments that come up in every PC vs. Mac debate that are complete myth and have absolutely no merit.

“Macs can’t play games!”

Yup, they can actually. The Portal series runs great on a Mac and so does Civilization IV, Bioshock, and numerous other grade-A games thanks to Steam. Even on the low-end Macs that only have integrated graphics, these games coast along fairly well.

I will say, though, that PC has and will probably always have more titles available than the Mac, but the number of games available for Mac machines is growing and will always grow from this point on.

“PCs are slow, they always crash, and get viruses!”

I’m not sure what PC you’re using, but within the past five or so years that I’ve owned my PC, not once has it gotten a virus or crashed. I also never considered it “slow.” That’s mostly because I took care of my PC and knew how to use it. It’s just like a vehicle: If you know how to use it and take good care of it, it will perform admirably. However, if you never change the oil, expect only problems to arise.

Aside from regular maintenance (on a Mac too, not just PC), you should expect the occasional failure of hardware. It shouldn’t happen, but it just does. And it’ll happen with both PCs and Macs.

Whenever a Microsoft hater spells the company name with a “$” (Micro$oft)

So, I’m pretty sure you’re not aware that Apple is the most valuable company in the world and has more cash reserves than the Federal Government. Microsoft’s money-making ways don’t even come close to Apple’s.

Apple’s “stupid” one-button mice and “not-that-much-better” trackpads

I will admit that Apple’s one-button mouse from a few years ago (the Mighty Mouse) was pretty crappy. Like…really crappy, but they’ve come a long way since then with the Magic Mouse and glass trackpads thanks to the implementation of multitouch.

The trackpad on the MacBook is simply nothing like a standard PC trackpad. That sounds really subjective at first and most PC users will say, “It can’t be that much better than my HP’s trackpad.” However, it really is. MacBook trackpads are configurable to almost an excessive degree thanks to multitouch and utilities like BetterTouchTool. I can click, right-click, middle-click, scroll, two, three, or four-finger swipe in four different directions, pinch-zoom, expand, rotate, two-finger tap, three-finger tap, and four-finger tap. That’s just the tip of iceberg, really. There are a ton of other gestures that I can do, all with a flat surface and one single button.

“OS X just simply runs better than Windows”

This sort of goes back to the second myth, but the latest OS X (10.7) does not run better than the latest Windows (7) and vice versa. This argument did have some merit a few years ago when Windows actually wasn’t that great, but today both OSes perform fairly equally. They both have their strong advantages that make each unique, but they also have their own tiny, albeit annoying quirks that make you want to pull your hair out.

“Macs are way overpriced!”

I saved this one for last because it’s probably the most-known and most-used argument of all. A lot of Apple haters like to play the overpriced card and say they could get a PC with the same specs for way less. While it is possible to find a PC that’s cheaper on average, that doesn’t mean Macs are overpriced by any means.

However, the price gap between PCs and Macs is shrinking, especially with the direction that the industry is going with Ultrabooks and the MacBook Air (in fact, there’s hardly a price difference in that category). Eventually, the overpriced argument will be obsolete. I think that’s because PC manufacturers are now starting to add their own “Apple tax” to their new Ultrabooks because “if Apple can sell their thin-and-light laptop for that much, why can’t we?”

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, it’s all about preference. Some people like  PCs because they like Windows and they’re cheaper overall, and others like Macs because they’re aesthetically pleasing and come with a richer user experience you won’t find elsewhere. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, which makes them unique in their own ways. I’m both a PC and Mac guy because I couldn’t tell you straight up which one is better. I like both very much and I think they each have great things going for them.