Lion 101: Working with PDFs in Preview

Preview is definitely one of the under-appreciated gems of OS X. Preview actually has two main uses. One for graphics and photos, and another specific to PDFs. There are certain very handy capabilities in Preview that are only available when working with PDF files.

The Smart Mac: Smart Folders in OS X

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Mac OS X offers a computing experience that, according to many, is still unparalleled by its competitors. Built on a rock solid UNIX foundation and continually adding refinements that make interaction easier, OS X has a lot of powerful functionality that many users were unaware existed. One of these is the idea of “Smart Folders” and with a little primer, you can begin using them to make your Mac experience easier (and faster).

A Brief History

The idea of these Smart Folders are not unique to OS X. In fact, the idea started originally in the mid ‘90s with the now defunct BeOS. When Dominic Giampaolo, a software developer for Be, began working for Apple in 2002, some of the best elements of the BeOS made their way into Apple’s modern operating system. We know these features as “Smart Folders” and Spotlight, both of which launched in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, two years after Giampaolo began working for Apple.

A “Smart Folder” (or “Search Folder” as Windows Vista calls them when Microsoft introduced its version in 2006) is based on the idea that this folder is basically a “virtual folder” of its actual contents. This virtual folder doesn’t physically store copies of its contents inside but rather utilizes a database to store attributes about the files (defined either by the system or the user). This offers several advantages: they have a small file size, the ability for on-the-fly fine tuning of the criteria used to define the content as well as allowing the content to dynamically update as new files meet the criteria. Whoa. What does all of that mean? We’re getting there. Read More about The Smart Mac: Smart Folders in OS X

SugarSync Sweetens Its Social Offerings

sugarsync logoSugarSync, the web service that backs up and synchronizes files across multiple computers and mobile phones, is rolling out a feature today that lets users provide public links to their files. These links can be used to virally spread large files stored on SugarSync to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. For example, a musician can share a song by posting a link to it on Facebook, or you can post a link to your resume on LinkedIn. This feature replaces the need to send a file by email, which may reinforce the trend of people spending more time on social networks and less on traditional email programs. Read More about SugarSync Sweetens Its Social Offerings

FileShareHQ Now Offering Paid Accounts and Branding

FileShareHQ, the file-sharing and sending app for creative professionals that I covered last month, has begun offering paid plans with more storage space. Accounts range from $5/month for 2 GB of space with five users to $49/month for 100 GB of space with 100 users.

The most expensive “Business” plan also offers the ability to rebrand the service, giving you the option of creating a professional-looking client files area that matches the look and feel of your existing web site.

Free accounts with 1 GB space and two users are still available.

Have you used FileShareHQ? Let us know what you think in the the comments.

Make Your Mac More Manageable With Tags

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Nowadays, we use tags pretty much everywhere we work and play online. Flickr, Facebook, Gmail, this blog (and any other blog), and on and on. It’s an easy, intuitive way to keep track of things, and an organizational strategy that transcends categories and other groupings, like date and subject matter. It’s such a great system, it only makes sense that someone would get the bright idea of applying the concept to your own computer and offline files as well.

This is just what Tags (free trial, $29) from Gravity Apps is designed to do. With it, you can tag pretty much anything on your Mac, and then search for tagged items to quickly retrieve loads of associated files, regardless of where they’re kept, what type of file they are, when they were created, etc. Admittedly, it’s a feature that might not be needed if you maintain an obsessively well-organized folder structure, but for anyone outside of that lonely niche, it is a very useful little tool.
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Targus High-Speed Cable a Solution for FireWire-less File Transfer

Apple’s decision to not equip the new unibody MacBook with a FireWire port has been as popular as the proverbial skunk at a garden party, at least with seasoned Mac users. Aside from the MacBook Air, which suffers from manifold deficiencies in the I/O department, the last Apple portable that shipped without FireWire was the Revision B clamshell iBook in 2000. We’ve kinda gotten used to having it.

So, are you, like many, taken with the new MacBook (and there are plenty of reasons to be), but wondering how you could get along without FireWire? A new product from Targus could be your solution.

That is if your main concern about going FireWire-less is how to handle fast, computer-to-computer file transfers. The Targus USB 2.0 High-Speed File Transfer Cable for Mac can’t help you with connecting to your FireWire video camera or scanner, but it’s a surprisingly slick and satisfactory substitute for the file transfer aspect of FireWire Target Disk Mode, in some respects even more convenient.
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Comcast’s Kinder, Gentler Network Management

After getting lambasted on blogs and dragged before the FCC for its former network management practices, which included surreptitiously throttling P2P video traffic, Comcast this week will make good on its announced plans to change the way it keeps its tubes from clogging.

Instead of throttling specific applications, the cable giant will throttle heavy users. According to the company’s FAQs it will “focus its management efforts on those individuals who are using a disproportionate amount of Internet resources for a specific period of time and are contributing to congestion that degrades the online experience for other users.”

Trials begin tomorrow in Chambersburg, Pa., and Warrenton, Va., followed later this summer by one in Colorado Springs, Colo. ‘Trials’ is the operative word here. This punish-the-evildoer strategy is clearly a better marketing position for Comcast with both its users and the FCC, but it’s also wrong.

Heavy user’s aren’t necessarily criminals operating illegal filesharing rings or managing botnets; they very well may be people like you and I. Given the rise in all kinds of content (video) and services (VoIP) delivered via the Internet, it’s only a matter of time before we all become heavy users. The solution is to upgrade the tubes — not to watch ever-increasing loads of data to trickle through them or cap usage altogether.