Windows runs on your Mac as a “virtual machine,” or VM. Parallels Desktop is a virtualization app.
Windows becomes a file on your computer. Parallels opens that file and tells it to pretend that it is a real computer.
You can start that computer, shut it down, put it to sleep (a.k.a. suspended), or wake it up. Also, you can look at it in a separate window, or full screen, or have the windows you have open on it appear as individual, discrete windows in your Mac environment.
Most of the time, you will have Parallels quit, and Windows suspended. When you open the Parallels Desktop app, you will be asked to resume Windows 7.
Then, when you are done with what you need to do in Windows, simply quit Parallels, and it will suspend the VM.
When you do need to have windows running, you should probably quit any other apps that you don’t need to use at the moment. Running Windows consumes a great deal of memory, leaving less room for other apps to do their job, which will result in the spinning beach ball.
As you would with any computer, if Windows is misbehaving, turn it off from the Start menu at the bottom left corner of the Windows screen. Parallels will make it obvious how to fire it back up.
I don’t do much to Windows after I install it, with three exceptions: I install Microsoft Security Essentials, and Google Chrome. I also run Windows Update, which you can find using the search blank in the Start menu.
Apple has really made setting up a wifi network easy. Airport Utility now requires only a few clicks, and correctly guesses what you want to do with each device.
When they start adding devices, or reconfiguring existing ones, many people are reluctant to wipe the routers and start from scratch, but that’s totally the thing to do. It saves a ton of time and guesswork.
Here’s how you do:
Reset both devices to defaults
holding the reset button with a pen til light blinks faster
Unplug your internet modem from power, count to 5, and plug back in.
Set up the Airport A connected to the internet.
Use the same settings, including wifi network name.
Make sure you can now surf the web.
Plug in Airport B, in the same room as the first one.
Configure B, letting Airport Utility guess correctly that you want the B to extend A.
Once both are green, unplug B, and plug it in where you need it.
Make sure it goes green, and you can surf in the G’s office.
The number of messages in your inbox is entirely a matter of personal preference. Having more in there does not affect the performance of your email or other any of your devices. The number of unread messages in any given mailbox is similarly left to the user’s habits.
That said, I myself have undergone a minor maturation recently, in that I finally recognize the value of keeping one’s inbox clear. I learned to change my ways because Gmail makes it so easy:
All you have to do is “Archive” your messages. That takes the messages out of the inbox but leaves them in the “All Mail” folder. (In Gmail-speak, it removes the “inbox” label.) Messages are still there, still searchable, but totally out of your way.
The Apple Mail apps are not great for this procedure, but the Gmail web site does it beautifully. You’ll see the Archive button right up top. I select multiple messages using keyboard shortcuts: first, the up and down arrow keys to move between messages, the “x” key to select, and finally I hit “e” to archive.
To Archive all of your inbox, click the Select checkbox — the master one, the little grey square that sits to the left of the “Refresh” and “More” buttons. That selects all the messages on the page, and you’ll see this text at the top of the message list: “All 50 conversations on this page are selected.”
Next to that, click “Select all xxx conversations in ‘Inbox.’”
Then click the “Archive” button that now appears above the messages, the little box with the arrow pointing down.
BOOM: Inbox Zero!
And now, here’s my newest new way of doing things: I’ve now started using an awesome free iOS app called Mailbox. It is one of a breed of mobile apps helps me process email much faster, by giving me a single button that will archive all my read messages.
On the Mac, Smart Folders in Finder (also Smart Playlists in iTunes, Smart Albums in iPhoto, Smart Mailboxes in Mail, Smart Groups in Address Book, etc.) are containers for files or folders that meet a certain criteria. Think of them as a permanent search.
For example, you could make a Smart Folder that shows you all the documents you’ve opened in the last 3 days, or one for all your PDFs that are bigger than 2 megabytes.
In iTunes, you could have a Smart Playlist that always has the jazz songs you’ve added this week. In iPhoto, I created a Smart Album for all the photos I’ve rated above 3 stars, and I sync that to my iPhone.
You can create a smart container in the File menu of any of these programs. You’ll immediately be presented with a dialog box that lets you pick your search criteria, stacking them with “any” (if this OR that) or “all” (if this AND that AND that).
Smart containers appear in the same list with their manual counterparts, but have a gear icon on them.
Try ’em out. They can really speed up your workflow!
OK, this is no longer a coincidence: All CrashPlan users should please check the free space on your Macs’ hard drives.
On your desktop, click on “Macintosh HD,” then go to the File menu > Get Info…
If the Space Available looks low, say less than 10 GB, it might be that (pardon the expression) a CrashPlan log has grown unusually large. Open up Macintosh HD > Library > Logs > CrashPlan, and look for engine_output.log. See how big it is. I’ve now seen 30 GB, 80 GB, even 600 GB.
Throw engine_output.log in the trash, and empty your trash (right click on the trash can or Finder menu > Empty Trash…).
If the trash won’t empty, restart your Mac and try again.
Home Sharing is a super-handy feature of iTunes, Apple TV, and iOS thatlets you access items that exist in other iTunes libraries. Those other
iTunes libraries can be in another account on the same Mac, or on a
Home Sharing lets you do a bunch of different things with the music, movies, TV shows, and apps in your iTunes libraries:
* Copy items from other iTunes libraries to
your own iTunes. This is a great way to avoid paying more than once for
the same thing.
* Play content from one machine on another machine. Stream from iTunes to Apple TV, or pull from iTunes to Apple TV or your iPhone.
* Remote control your iTunes or Apple TV.
To use Home Sharing, both iTunes must be on the
same network, that is, connected to the same router over wi-fi or Ethernet cable.
To play an item that was bought at the iTunes
Store, that iTunes must be *authorized* with the same Apple ID that was
used to buy the item.
#### Enable Home Sharing
This is the most crucial bit to know: *Enter the **same Apple ID and password** in every
iTunes that will use Home Sharing.* Any Apple ID will work, but be
![Turn On Home Sharing]
#### Using Home Sharing
To access other iTunes libraries, those iTunes must
be open. If it’s iTunes on another computer, that computer *must be awake*
with *iTunes open*.
On your iTunes you see a **Sharing** section in the
sidebar. Select the library you want to get items from, and wait till
the main window displays items in that library:
![Shared Library in iTunes Sidebar]
Now click the triangle to the left of the shared
library name. You see categories of items, as well as other
sub-categories with their own clickable triangles:
![Subsections of Shared Library]
Items in the category you select are display in the main window. You can
play music and video tracks, but the great thing is you can drag items
to your own library to copy them into your iTunes. Your library is the
first section in the sidebar:
If you want to play an item bought under a particular Apple ID, you must
authorize your computer with that ID. A maximum of 5 computers can be
authorized for a single Apple ID. (Always *deauthorize* computers before
you get rid of them!) You need the Apple ID and the password to do this:
![Authorize This Computer]
**Bonus tip:** If you forget to deauthorize a computer before you sell it, and then find yourself running up against the message “You Have Already Authorized Five Computers,” you can Deauthorize All Computers in your iTunes Store > Account. Then all you have to do is reauthorize each device you still own. (This is all way less dramatic than it sounds, but you should know that it works only once a year.)
#### But Wait, There’s More
If you have an Apple TV, turn on its Home Sharing: Go to **Settings >
Computers**. Now you can play items on your computers while sitting on
the sofa looking at the Apple TV. (This doesn’t work for the original
silver Apple TV, but there are other ways to accomplish the same thing on
Home Sharing on your iPhone and iPad is in **Settings > Music**. With
Home Sharing on, you can play items in other iTunes libraries with the
sound coming out of the phone.
Finally, the neatest trick: Download the free *[Remote](http://itunes.apple.com/app/remote/id284417350?mt=8)* app from the iTunes Store to your
iPhone or iPad. When you authorize the Remote app with the same Home Sharing ID you’ve used elsewhere, you can control your Apple TV or iTunes on your computers. That’s entertainment!
Note: Before you read this, you owe it to yourself to head over to Dropbox and sign up for a free account. It will be the best thing you’ve done on your computer all month. There is a video on the front page of Dropbox.com to explain why.
Besides straght use of its core feature—syncing your files and data between all your devices—my tip-top favoritest thing I can do with Dropbox is edit plain ol’ text files. Whether I start them on my iPad or Mac or iPhone, once they’re saved into Dropbox, they immediately show up everywhere else.
That may sound mundane, but trust me: this is cutting-edge stuff! Writers have always been chained to big clunky mechanisms. From ink-and-parchment to typewriters to the first massive “portable” computers (with their 5-inch screens) to modern laptops, we’ve never had true mobility, the liberty to change our writing environment at a whim. The archetype of the lonely author—in his favorite bathrobe, seated in his library pounding away at his keyboard—may go the way of the telegraph and the horse-drawn carriage.
My goal for my own writing life is to find my own perfect environment, not a physical one, but an undistracting digital space, where I can find all my drafts and finished pieces, no matter where I may find myself. Dropbox has become the key to that.
The right to write
Since finding this solution of plain text, synced with Dropbox, I’ve tried and recommended several different text-editor apps for the Mac and iPad. Elements, Nebulous Notes, OmmWriter, and Apple’s TextEdit have served me well (at least, when Elements wasn’t throwing frustrating error messages that forced me to quit and even reinstall the app). Meistergeek Brett Terpstra has supervised an insanely comprehensive matrix of all the text apps in iOS.
Just recently, however, my best writing app for the Mac has made it to iOS. Byword is just fantastic: clean, simple, and with just the right features to make me kick everything else to the curb, at least for the moment.
Byword’s default mode on the Mac is full-screen, hiding all other windows and toolbars behind a light-cream shade.
It behaves similarly on the iPad; the few buttons and controls are designed in faded grey, and the developer has included only the most important features and preferences, eliminating the urge to fiddle rather than write.
If I create a document on the Mac, which I can do in any text editor, I just save it in my Dropbox folder. I have linked my Dropbox account to Byword on iPhone and iPad, so it sees any text file in any folder there. Whatever edits I do get automatically synced. With Lion on the Mac, I don’t have to remember to hit Save.
This easy, no-save syncing is simply impossible with Microsoft Word. I haven’t used Word for writing in years.
When I’m ready to ship, I can just copy and paste, or email straight from the iOS app, or from the Mac file system, as an attachment, or as plain or formatted text.
The real magic
Wait, did I just say formatted? Indeed I did. For this is the big new tip for modern writer: you can format a plain-text file. Bold, italics, bullet lists, web links, even web images and footnotes…you can do it all.
The secret is Markdown. Markdown is a set of simple text codes you can use to indicate formatting. It takes just minutes to learn, and once you’ve got it, it’s yours forever.
One asterisk on either side of a *word*, for example, means italics. **Two asterisks** is bold.
Use asterisks or plus signs to make a bulleted list, so…
* my first item
* my next item
* my last item
my first item
my next item
my last item.
You can read the full set of syntax on Daring Fireball, the excellent web site of Markdown creator John Gruber. I recommend that you start with the basics. Everything after that is pure gravy.
Once you’ve finished writing and editing your doc, all that’s left is to ship it. I mentioned that you can email text directly out of Byword. BUT…if you format with Markdown, you can send email that’s all kinds of pretty, in ways that Apple’s Mail app just won’t do.
For bloggers, Markdown changes everything about generating a post, because it will convert all your formatting into sweet, sweet HTML code to be pasted into WordPress or your choice of platforms. My favorite CMS, Squarespace, even lets you edit in Markdown directly on your site.
Back to Byword: The biggest reason I landed on Byword as my go to composer is how super-smart it is about Markdown. There are quick shortcuts to the most common codes, and special behaviors to make the syntax even easier.
If, for example, I’m editing a numbered list with “1.,” “2.,” etc., I just hit return after each line and the next number is generated. Ditto for bulleted lists. Also, on the Mac, all the Markdown codes fade into the background, and keyboard shortcuts will insert codes for bold, italics, links, lists, and images.
Always-on preview: I have just one more Power Tip. Once you have started using Markdown, it is worth popping on over to the Mac App Store and picking up Marked for $3.99. Wen you open a Markdown file in Marked, you get a constantly updated preview of your formatted file. This is as opposed to hitting Preview in Byword every few minutes to see what your end result will look like. Marked also offers the best HTML and rich-text export for pasting into email or your blog.
The end result
I guarantee, if you follow these simple recommendations, the combo of Dropbox + Byword + Markdown will rock your writing world. I wish you a happy life of letters!
It’s official: Macs are finally vulnerable to nasty viruses. There are malicious programs that can infect a Mac without the user having to do anything accidental or unwise. It ain’t an apocalypse, but we should be increasingly careful.
Last week saw the emergence of a version of the Flashback trojan. This bad bug sneaks into your web browser when you visit an infected web site, and starts reporting things like your browsing history and logins.
There are really good writeups about Flashback, like these from TidBITS, MacWorld, All Things D, and this nerdy one from Basics4Mac, with plenty of technical details and descriptions of the . For the purpose of this article, I’ll simply say that Flashback uses the programming environments Flash and Java to run. (These names may sound familiar, from discussions about how the iPhone has neither of them.)
Apple has also now, for the first time, posted a response to an emergent Mac malware. It’s brief and worth a glance.
So now I am going to try to distill, in as few words as possible, what the average Mac user should do about the virus.
1. Run Software Update from the Apple menu.
Apple has released a patch to Java that prevents Flashback from infecting your Mac.
2. Don’t click on unknown or untrusted links to web sites.
Even some legit web sites have been infected, but they will be cleaned up. When you see a link in an email, before you click, hover your cursor over the link and read the address that pops up. If it doesn’t look right, don’t click.
3. Don’t enter your password…
…unless you know why you’re being asked to do so.
4. Test your Mac for infection.
This takes just a bit of effort, but is not hard. You have three reasonable options:
Download this small app by long-time Mac nerd Mark Zeedar. Once the file test4flashback.zip (lowercase) is in your downloads folder, double-click it to “unzip” it, and then double-click the resulting file called Test4Flashback (with capital letters).
Go to this web page by security firm Kaspersky. It can supposedly compare your Mac’s unique ID against a database of known infected machines.
Open the app called Terminal. You can find it using Spotlight or in the /Applications/Utilities folder. Copy and paste each of the following commands into the Terminal, hitting return after each.
Or follow these brief-but-nerdy instructions posted by F-Secure.
But what then? How should Mac-o-philes stay vigilant against these intruders?
Please understand that all of the following are just suggestions, not prescriptions. All of us want our Macs to just keep working, without the tinkering and worrying characteristic of Windows users. But to that end, I have myself adopted the following methods, and I believe they help protect my computers and my data from the bad guys.
1. Uninstall Adobe Flash from your Mac
Adobe has this page, from which you can download the Flash uninstaller for Mac.
I know, I know, you’re saying it’s going to break your internet. Read on, dear reader.
2. Use Google Chrome instead of Apple Safari for web browsing
Chrome is a fantastic, free web browser that Google created to make the web better and faster.
Google built their own version of Flash into Chrome, and Chrome updates itself on a regular basis behind the scenes. So you don’t have to keep up with Flash updates, and you’ll never be tricked into downloading a fake version of Flash.
Sometimes I browse in Safari, but mostly I use Chrome.
3. Should I disable Java?
You can read in the other articles how you can disable Java entirely, both for your browser and on your whole Mac. The problem is that, as of this moment, Java is even more important than Flash. Many of our clients are using CrashPlan for internet backups, or LogMeIn for remote access to their computers. Both services rely on Java.
As an experiment, I have disabled Java on Safari, in Safari menu > Preferences > Security. Ping me if you’re curious whether that has affected my experience on the web.
Back up, and be vigilant
If you follow the 3–2–1 rule of backups, then you can recover from anything that happens to your computer.
And from here on out, it behooves us to keep an eye on what goes on on our computers. The days of cavalier surfing are over for Mac users.