Tag Archives: Mac OS X

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Notification Nation

We’ve all gotten used to alerts popping up on our phones, telling us of Twitter replies, weather warnings, fresh mail, breaking news flashes and other important information to know while we’re on the go. If you miss having a consolidated set of notifications on your computer when you’re actually sitting at your desk, check out Apple’s Notifications Center panel for the Mac operating system and Microsoft’s Cortana assistant on Windows 10.

On either platform, you can customize and configure what you want to see when you pop open the info panel. On the Mac, click the icon in the top-right corner of the menu bar to pen the Notifications Center. Within the Notifications pane, you have two tabs: Today and Notifications. The Today tab shows you the date, time from world clocks you’ve added, news stories from favorite websites, Twitter trending topics, a stock ticker and other widgets you can add. Click the Notifications tab to see a collection of alerts you’ve received, Twitter mentions, your current iTunes track and more.

On a Windows 10 system, you can add information about the topics you want to see in Cortana in the Cortana Notebook. You can see your weather reports, track flights, check your calendar, get traffic updates, browse the latest news headlines and info on your favorite sports teams when you pop open Cortana.

Desktop notifications have another advantage: You’ve got more screen real estate and can multitask with other open programs and windows. Trying doing that on a 5.5-inch phone screen…

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Wearing the Wire

There may come a time when you want to move big files between your phone or tablet — and not over a wireless connection. Maybe the files are huge and your network is slow, maybe there’s no secure wireless network available or maybe you want the privacy and intimate connection that only a USB cable can bring to the computer-mobile gadget relationship.

If you’ve been living the carefree wireless life and have never copied files over the wire before, here’s how — and you don’t even have to root your phone. (Unless you want to, that is.)

If you use a Windows PC and have phone or tablet running a fairly recent version of Android, you pretty much just have to find the USB cable that shipped with your device and connect the two. Windows recognizes the Android gadget and usually gives you a choice of USB connection types: MTP, or Media Transfer Protocol is the one you want. Your other option is PTP, short for Picture Transfer Protocol, and yes, you can use that to pull photos off your phone or tablet if your computer’s operating system doesn’t support MTP.


Now what computer system wouldn’t support MTP? Oh yes, OS X. (Because Apple.) On the Mac, if you want to copy videos and other large files from your Mac to your Android device, one fairly easy way to do it is to get the free Android File Transfer program for Mac, which you can download from Google. This is what it looks like:


Don’t like what you see? Go shopping. On the Android, side, file managers have been around for year, thanks to Google’s more open approach. One of the more popular Android-side apps, ES File Explorer, can also move files to Windows, but you can find plenty of apps in the Google Play store.

Now, as for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch players, there’s the fact that Apple keeps the iOS system largely hidden. Sure, you can sync over photos, videos, documents, apps and music by using iTunes for OS X or Windows, but not everybody likes or uses iTunes.

In that case, you, too, can find third-party apps and programs that let you do a deeper level of file management. Just rev up your search engine.

Although it’s a little spendy, there’s iExplorer for Windows or Mac (shown here), which lets you move not only music and movies between device and desktop, but other stuff like your iPhone’s text messages and voicemails. TouchCopy for Windows or Mac can harvest most of the content off your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad and pull it over to the computer — there’s a demo version and the full one runs between $25-$30, depending on if there’s a sale.


You may not need to whip out the USB cable for every little thing, but it sure comes in handy when you want to move that 500 megabyte home-ripped video file from your computer to your mobile device before you hit the road. And since the same cable is often used to charge up your phone or tablet anyway, odds are, it’s close by. Have fun slingin’ the files!

PTJ 119: Giving Thanks For Star Wars Trailers And Keyboard Shortcuts

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us here in the United States the team at PTJ HQ can’t thank you all enough for supporting us so passionately over these last few years. Both J.D. and I don’t have plans of stopping any time soon since we continue to have a wonderful time doing the show. We promise to keep serving up our special brand of insight and shenanigans—along with the occasional surprise—if you promise to keep coming back for more.

A very special thanks to the BROS!

When we say we wouldn’t be here without them that is a 100% accurate statement. They convinced us to make the leap to doing the show on our own and have supported us every step of the way.  A heartfelt bushel of gratitude from all of us at HeadStepper Media and Pop Tech Jam!

This week on the show, J.D. is thinking of linking and shares a slew of helpful keyboard shortcuts with us. In the news the FCC reaches an agreement with T-Mobile about their throttling practices; the Federal Aviation Administration is prepares a set of new rules for commercial drones; the European Union is expected to vote on breaking up Google’s business; Apple sees (RED); the United States and the United Kingdom are suspects behind a sophisticated series of cyber attacks against the European Union; Barbie (and Mattel) **** it up again; and the first teaser trailer of  Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters this weekend.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Shortcuts to Shortcuts

Tablets and smartphones may be making a lot of our productivity mobile, but for some people, getting work done means sitting down in front of a real physical keyboard and pounding those keys until the job is done. (And yes, this counts even if you add a Bluetooth keyboard to your tablet or phone.)

To make things even faster for repetitive tasks like formatting or navigation, many programs include keyboard shortcuts that save you the mousework and move things along. Some programs even let you add your own custom shortcuts, which can be handy, say, if you’re a southpaw and find the defaults awkward — or there’s an obscure menu command that has no built-in shortcut.

Sure, you can look in the Windows or OS X menus to see the shortcuts listed, but that can be time-consuming until you start remembering them. If you don’t know a lot of the commands off the top of your head, here’s the Pop Tech Jam roundup of keyboard quickies for common operating systems and popular programs.
Print ’em out and go.

Operating Systems

Productivity Suites



Social Media

Music & Multimedia

Adobe Creative Software

Want to see the all the shortcuts at once? Printable crib sheets listing Windows shortcuts can be found around the web with a quick search. Mac utilities like CheatSheet (free) and Dashkards stick with the stock shortcuts, but display them in an easy-to-read format on screen, KeyCue does the same thing with more customization options, but charges 20 euros for the full version.

If mere keyboard shortcuts aren’t enough, programs that let you use hotkeys to create and run your own macros can give your productivity an even bigger boost. Check out Hotkey Utility for Windows or AutoHotKey (also for Windows). Similar programs for Mac users include the $30 QuicKeys or iKey (also $30).

Siri, Cortana and OK Google aside, computing is still mostly a hands-on activity on one form or another. So until we get the next great input system in place, speeding up your clicks with the keys is one way to make the most of your time.

PTJ 114: This One’s For The Apple Lovers

If you aren’t a fan of the Cupertino-based, fruit-themed toymaker you may not want to listen to this episode. Of course you’ll miss out on all the fun (and maybe even a shenanigan or two) if you do but we won’t judge.  We’d be enormously disappointed if you din’t listen but don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine. No, these aren’t tears. It’s just our allergies acting up…

This week El Kaiser kicks the tires on Apple’s Yosemite and J.D. takes the latest version of iTunes out for a spin.

In the news Google has some big announcements of its own as they unveil Android Lollipop and some new hardware to go with it;  Apple rolls out a new iPad lineup and an iMac with a 5K Retina display; HBO and CBS make cord cutters very, very happy; Staples is the latest retailer to suffer an apparent hack attack; and Marty McFly’s hoverboard makes the scene a full year earlier than expected.

“Oh, and Here’s iTunes 12…”

Screenshot (86)With the new iPads, overhauled Mac Mini, iMac with fancy 5K Retina display, OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.1, Apple has dumped a huge amount of new stuff out there over the past week. One thing that sort of slid under the radar of many people, however, was iTunes 12. Back in the day when iPods ruled the Apple Events, iTunes itself would merit a huge chunk of a presentation. Now, it’s almost like an afterthought.

itunesiconSo what’s new in iTunes 12? For one thing, it’s been visually overhauled to look like OS X Yosemite, so you get that flat-ish candy-colored iOS 7/8 look now, even if you’re using iTunes on a Windows PC. You cannot escape. iTunes 12 even got a new cherry-red icon down in the Mac Dock or Windows taskbar.

The program’s display font is also noticeably lighter and not as easy to read. As with the leap from iTunes 10 to iTunes 11, the jump from 11 to 12 includes a bunch of mucking about with where icons and buttons live, some of which is more disorienting than it should be.

librariesInstead of the pop-up menu to jump between your various media libraries — or the Sidebar, if you went retro in your View settings — iTunes 12 has small gray icons for the Music, Movies and TV Show libraries at the top left of the window. “But wait!” You say. “Where are my Podcasts, my Audiobooks, my Internet Radio stations, by Apps, my iBooks and my iTunes U stuff that I used to be able to get to from the pop-up menu?” Fear not — those libraries are still there, just not particularly visible at first. If you move to the right of the TV Shows icon, you see the three-dot More menu. Click that and you see icons for all those other things. Click Edit at the bottom of the menu to add the icons to your iTunes window permanently, as shown here. So that’s the left side of the window.

The middle of the iTunes window has clickable text buttons labeled My Music, Playlists, Match, Radio and iTunes Store.

People have already begun to howl that the View Sidebar option is gone from the iTunes menus and the program looks completely unrecognizable. The Sidebar is mostly gone,  but there’s a way to get back to that familiar three-panel iTunes Window of Yore where you had the sidebar, the column browser (with your horizontal list of albums, artists and genres) and then your list of songs in the bottom center of the window.

albumsmenuTo get back to that look, click the Playlists button at the top-center of the iTunes display window. The sidebar appears on the left, so now click the Music icon at the top. Next, make sure you have the Column Browser options selected on the View menu. Finally, click the drop-down menu on the far right of the iTunes window, as shown here. It’s probably on Albums by default, but choose Songs. Once the songs appear on screen, there you have it: an approximation of the way iTunes used to look for all these years, as shown below. (Of course, if you like the new views, there are plenty to choose from on the right-side menu.)

itunes window PM

Also new in iTunes 12:

  • Playlist editing. Hate the old way of making playlists where you were dragging stuff out of the music library without being able to see all your music? In iTunes 12, you can now see your full music library and playlists side-by-side, making it easier to browse your music and drag your favorite songs into any playlist.
  • The Get Info box. It which holds all the information about an album or track — and where you go to edit types and add artwork to files — has been redesigned.
  • Family Sharing. If the members of your household have their own iTunes accounts and passwords, everyone can share your purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store with up to six people in the house — without having to cough up account names or passwords. You need to set up your “iCloud Family” in the iCloud preferences in OS X Yosemite or iOS 8 settings.
  • Recently Added section. New purchases or additions to your library are shown in the Recently Added section at the top of the iTunes window. By using the Albums/Artists/Songs/Etc. drop-down menu on the right side of the window, you can adjust the amount of time things stay in the Recently Added area.
  • Consolidated menus. All your iTunes Store account stuff, including your account name, wish list, Purchased list and place to redeem iTunes gift cards has all moved to a drop-down menu just to the right of the window that displays track information at the top of iTunes.
  • Still the same. The volume, playback and search controls are still in the same place they were in for iTunes 11. Whew. And Apple has upgraded its iTunes support pages for the new version, so the documentation is still in the same place.
  • Unfortunately, also still the same.  As with iTunes 11, iTunes 12 has gotten progressively more colorless, except for album artwork. The Up Next icon is still in the Display window, but only when you mouse over it. The option to minimize the window into the MiniPlayer is also up in the Display window.

All in all, it’s more of a stripped-down mostly monochrome interface with fewer icons. If you hated iTunes 11or iOS 7, iTunes 12 will probably further annoy you. But if you mainly use iTunes to back up an iOS device or to spin tracks at your desk while you work, it’s not too difficult to find your way around it, but the program just doesn’t seem as fun as it used to be. Perhaps iTunes has reached the end of its Apple journey that began back in 2001 and a new Beats-based program will be taking over next year. Who knows. But until then, at least we still have the Visualizer.


PTJ 107: Naked Celebs and TV Streaming

El Kaiser has The Great Set Top Box Stream-Off of 2014 and J.D. takes a look at the geek-friendly shows the fall TV season has lined up for us.

In the news, a huge hacking scandal involving Apple’s iCloud and stolen intimate photos of various female celebrities; Apple includes restrictions in developer’s agreement for new iOS 8 HealthKit tool; Windows 8 and 8.1 slowly finds its way onto more computers; Google announces in-house drone program; the potential for drone traffic problems up in the sky; NASA gets ready to to perform some maintenance on its Mars rover; and the Internet Archive scans millions of book pages.

PTJ 107 News: I’ve Looked at Clouds From Both Sides Now

The Summer of 2014 unofficially ended in a state of panic and outrage over cloud security with this past weekend’s iCloud Stolen Naked Celebrity Photos scandal.  Apple has now released a statement saying its iCloud security was not cracked and that the targeted accounts were compromised due to weak user passwords and easy-to-guess security questions. Apple did release a patch for its Find My iPhone tracking app Monday, as The Next Web and others had speculated about a lack of a password-lockout feature.


With personal security on its mind anyway, Apple is said to be including restrictions in the developer’s agreement for the HealthKit tools in the new iOS 8. According to The Register, the terms of the agreement ban developers from selling any user health data collected by their apps to third parties who might want to buy it. (Apple does review the apps it sells, and posted a document on its site this week that explains why it rejects certain apps.)

The HealthKit software, baked into iOS 8, is also expected to be a part of any iWatch or other wearable device Apple announces, and although such a device hasn’t even been confirmed, the Re/Code site is already reporting that Apple executives have already been talking about how much to charge for a wearable. Around $400 has been mentioned as a possible price point. And one last bite:  the whole phone-as-eWallet thing may be getting a boost from the iPhone, as Bloomberg reports that Apple is hooking up with the major payment companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express to let people buy things using their phones instead of plastic.

Net Applications, the analytics that keeps track of what people use to get to the Web, has released its report for August and found that Windows 8 and 8.1 have now managed to get to 13.4% of laptop and desktop systems out there. More than 20-percent of users, however, are still clinging to Walking Dead Windows XP.  As for other systems, Mac OS X 10.9 claimed 4.29% of the market share, while Linux had 1.67%. Go alternate operating systems!

wingThe air up there could be getting crowded soon. The Atlantic has a big story out now about Google’s newly announced in-house drone program called Project Wing. It’s been in operation for two years at Google X, the company’s top-secret research lab for big-think, long-range projects. There’s also video that shows a Google drone test flight performing – you guessed it — package delivery. Out the way, Amazon Prime Air!

While the Federal Aviation Administration has not agreed to let commercial drones fly at will, The New York Times also had a story last week looking at the future problems of drone traffic up in the sky and how all these low-flying unmanned aircraft will navigate obstacles and each other. (Domino’s Pizza went on the record and said that despite a pizza-delivery drone PR stunt last year, it was not seriously considering drones in its workforce. So no flying pepperoni for you.)

But on the topic of remote-controlled gadgets, the Opportunity rover up on Mars has been behaving a bit erratically and now NASA’s rover team has plans to reformat the Opportunity’s flash memory. This is Opportunity’s first reformat in the 10 years it’s been on Mars.

archiveAnd finally, the Internet Archive has uploaded more than 2.4 million images scanned from old books to its bulging Flickr account. The new material is called The Commons, and features old engravings, technical drawings, illustrations, sheet music and other material. The images in the collection largely predate the copyright era and range in original  publication date from about 1500 to 1922.  They can be downloaded right from Flickr, so Meme Hunters and Clip Art Collectors, you may now go to town.

PTJ 104: Internet Security? No Such Thing.

This week cybercriminals made off with billions of usernames and passwords from hundreds of thousands of websites around the world and El Kaiser was, not surprisingly, more than a little upset about it.  Sensing Pedro’s imminent panic attack, J.D. cheers him up with a segment on how to buy a new gadget at its peak of freshness.

In other news,  the Rosetta probe from the European space agency has caught up with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko; The Shaknado sequel is a hit on TV and on social media networks;  it is once again legal to unlock your mobile phones; the Department of Transportation considers banning cellphone voice calls on commercial flights; Google helps law enforcement apprehend a pedophile; researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology develop an algorithm that constructs an audio signal from a video based on vibrations; and concerned Facebook users called 911 and the Los Angeles’s Sheriff’s Department after the social media behemoth suffers a short outage.

No, we are not kidding.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Shop Class

Back-to-school shopping is in full swing for many people, and you’d think this would be the time when all the new computers and gadgets are rolling out. Sure, Microsoft released new Surface Pro tablets a few months ago and Apple just did a minor refresh on its MacBook Pro laptops, but the big new releases typically arrive in stores just before the winter holidays. Now, just how soon before the holidays can vary, but here are some tips to keep in mind as you get ready for your next shopportunity.

  • PC makers are all over the map in terms of release, but many companies put out new desktop and laptop models around Windows upgrades. This is an off-year for that habit, though, as Windows 9 isn’t really expected until 2015. So take a look back  to when your preferred manufacturer last released new models. The companies need to keep people buying product and most won’t go more than a year without some sort of update to the line. If you don’t remember when the last round of new stuff came out, check the media area of your preferred PC manufacturer’s website and look up the old press releases — the dates should be right there. Microsoft’s site also highlights certain new models of interest throughout the year.


  • Hot new Android phone and tablet hardware also tends to arrive on the heels of a major OS update. Android L, the next version, was previewed at the I/O conference in June and is expected later this year. (Last year’s KitKat and Nexus 5 phone landed as Halloween treats, remember?) Android-focused blogs and gadgets sites often get wind of pending releases, so bookmark AndroidCentral.com, 9to5Google.com or a similar source to keep you on top of events concerning the little green robot.
  • Apple rumor sites have practically become a cottage industry for news about the iEmpire, and often tip off the world to coming-release timeframes. For that kind of info, iLounge, 9to5Mac, AppleInsider, Re/Code and BoyGeniusReport are among the many watchdog sites worth watching themselves. These sites are also on top of new operating system updates for iOS and OS X, if you merely want to upgrade the software on your current, perfectly fine hardware.
  • When it comes to buying your new Apple hardware at that perfect time – meaning not two days before Apple goes and releases all-new models — there’s one site in particular worth looking at: The Buyer’s Guide over at MacRumors.com. The guide has been around for years and keeps close tabs on when Apple releases new iPhones, iPads, iPods, Apple TVs and Macs. The information is detailed very nicely on the site so you can see how long it’s been since a version of the product was released, and plan your shopping trip accordingly.


With  Apple, pattern recognition can pay off. After releasing the first three versions of the iPad in the spring, the company has shifted its new iOS gear to the fall months as of 2012 – lately, it’s been iPhones in September and iPads in October, with any new iPods, iTunes updates, Apple TVs and random laptops mixed in as well.

If you don’t care that your hardware is a generation out of date, Back to School time can be a gold mine, as some wireless carriers will bundle older models with new purchases in an attempt to clear shelf space. For example, Sprint is currently selling 16-gig iPad Mini tablets for $50 when you purchase an iPhone 5s or 5c. If you don’t need the latest and greatest, look around now.

If you can’t help yourself and buy something — only to be in geek tears when a new model comes out the next week —keep in mind that most places give you at least 14 days from your purchase date to return an item. The Apple Store, Best Buy, and Amazon all have their return policies posted, as do other companies, so check it out. Then enjoy your new hardware and rest assured that you probably have at least six weeks before all the rumors start up about next year’s model.