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February 20th, 2013

OSX_Feb19_BOne of the more common things all business owners and managers need to do is to share files and folders with colleagues and employees. Most will usually just use email, however this does have its limitations. There are numerous other ways to share important information, including utilizing a feature that is built into most operating systems.

If you use Apple's OS X in your company you can share files and folders by using the Public or Shared Folder. This folder can be found by:

  1. Opening any file. In the left-hand side of the window scroll down to Places.
  2. Clicking on the user account you log into your computer with. This is usually your account name with the house icon beside it.
  3. Double-clicking on the Public or Shared Folder.
This folder is set up to share any files that are placed in it with other users on the same computer or network. Depending on the version of OS X you use, you may see a folder labeled Drop Box. This is a folder where you can drop files into for you to see and use, but is not related to Dropbox, the cloud storage program.

How to set up your Shared Folder Regardless of your version of OS X, you should have Shared Folder. You can configure which files and folders you want to share by:

  1. Clicking the Apple icon at the top-left of the screen.
  2. Selecting System Preferences followed by Sharing.
  3. Ticking the box beside File Sharing.
  4. Pressing the + under File Sharing and selecting the folder you would like to share, followed by Add.
You'll notice that when you click on the file you chose to share, you will see a black bar that says: Shared Folder across the top of the folder window.

You will also notice the window labeled Users identifies a number of different users, along with the privilege each has. These permissions, which you can apply, dictate what individual users can do with the shared files or folders. There are four different privileges you can assign:

  • Read & Write - Users can open, edit, copy and delete files in the folder.
  • Read Only - Users can open and copy files out of the folder.
  • Write Only (Drop Box) - Users can copy files into the Drop Box folder but can't see what's in the folder. They can overwrite files if they drag and drop a file with the same name into this folder.
  • No Access - Users cannot see or access any of the files or folders.
Should my company use this? Using the Shared Folder be a good way to share documents with users within the same network. However, there is little to nothing in the system to keep the files secure. If someone connects to your network, and you have allowed Everyone to see Read & Write they will be able to see, edit and possibly delete files.

It is also a good idea to be aware that the Shared Folder is set to share with anyone connected on the same network. This means that if you connect to another network that isn't in the office, the Shared Folder will be accessible to other users on the same network. This can create a bit of a security issue. To negate this, you should turn off file sharing from the System Preferences, Sharing option if you aren't using it, or are away from your main network.

At the very least you should ensure the sharing permissions are set in a way whereby files aren't accidentally shared. If you would like to learn more about other ways to share files with your colleagues, please contact us, we may have a solution for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
February 6th, 2013

One of the more annoying things about calling people while they are at the office is that many use an automated switchboard to field calls. While this does cut-down on the number of incoming phone calls, it can be time consuming to put in a number, wait, put in another, wait some more and then finally get an answer. If you have and iPhone, you can get around all that waiting with ease, especially if you know the extension of the number you want to call.

Here's how you can add number extensions to your iPhone contacts:

  1. Open Contacts and either press the '+' for a new contact, or select the contact's number you would like to add the extension to and press Edit.
  2. Enter the new contact's normal number without the extension under the Mobile, Work or Home field. If you are editing a contact's number, press on the number you would like to edit and tap on the end of the number.
  3. Press the '+*#' button located at the bottom-left of the dial pad.
  4. Select Wait. You'll notice a ';' at the end of the number.
  5. Add the contact's extension. It should look something like this: 123-123-4567;321 (if the contact has a three digit extension).
  6. Press Done and the contact's number will be saved or updated.
If the number was entered correctly, you should see a secondary button under the contact information when you call that person. It will say something like Dial-321. Pressing this after the line has engaged will dial the extension and connect you to that person. This is useful if you don't know how long you will have to wait to be able to dial the extension, but you will have to hit the Dial button on your phone to enter the extension.

You can automate this further by replacing the semicolon (;) with a comma (,). The comma tells the switchboard to pause, and then enter the number after the comma. This will often connect you directly to the person without having to press an extra button. The number should look something like this: 123-123-4567,321

If you use an iPhone for your business communication and call clients who are behind switchboards this is a nifty time-saving feature. For more information on how the iPhone can help power your business, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
February 1st, 2013

One of the more popular business tools of 2012, and likely for 2013, is the iPad. While it was originally aimed at private markets, businesses of all sizes have been finding unique ways to integrate it into daily use. This has led to an increasing demand for business oriented apps, and developers are more than happy to oblige. One recent app makes managing files across different cloud storage providers far easier.

Readdle Documents is an app for iPad users that acts as a central platform that connects with cloud storage providers like Dropbox, Box, iCloud, Drive, etc. and allows users to keep their multiple services organized.

What exactly is Documents? Documents is an app that enables users to manage their various cloud services. This robust app also allows users to view Word documents, PDFs, listen to music and watch video stored on various services directly in the app.

The functionality doesn't stop there however, as you can also copy files from one service and move them to another directly in the app. No more having to download files from one and upload to another. You can also use this app to save web pages for reading at a later date, which could be useful if you are going to be away from data or Wi-Fi for an extended period of time.

There is one downside to the app: You can't edit documents. If you need to edit a document you have to do so in the app the document is stored in.

Will businesses benefit? If you use multiple cloud storage apps in your business, the Documents app will be beneficial in helping you access and manage files on the go. At best, this is an organizational tool to help make accessing files easier. One really positive element of this app that many businesses owners will like is that it's free. Another benefit is that you also have the option to password protect files.

While this app might be free, if you don't use cloud storage services this probably isn't the best app for you. However, there are enough features to benefit users of cloud services, making this app potentially valuable.

How do I get the app? Documents is available on the Apple App Store. Once you have downloaded the app onto your iPad, start it up and you'll be able to add your cloud services by clicking on Network (located on the left-hand menu) and selecting the service you use. Input your account information and you should be ready to go.

If you would like to learn more about Documents, or how the iPad can fit into your business, get in touch with us. We are happy to sit down with you and tell you more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
January 23rd, 2013

When it comes to comparing the different operating systems available, most users argue between the big two: PC and Mac. Both systems offer a different user experience, and have ardent fans. For those switching to a Mac, it can feel a bit daunting at how seemingly different it is. After a few days, however, most users have discovered keyboard shortcuts and never look back. One benefit of these shortcuts is they help make it easier to manage your open programs.

Here's four keyboard shortcuts for OS X that will help make it easier to manage programs where you have multiple windows open e.g., Internet browsers or word processors.

Hide the current program If you are working with two or more different programs, it can be quite distracting. Imagine having your browser with three windows, a word processor, iTunes and Photoshop open all at once. It's a lot of clutter isn't it?

When not using the program, you can hide it by pressing Command + H. Hiding a program won't close it, rather it will just make the windows you have open invisible. This is similar to Minimize on Windows systems. When you click on the program's icon in the system tray (bottom of the screen), your windows will reopen. You can also hide programs by pressing Option (alt on some keyboards) and clicking on the icon at the bottom of the screen.

Hide all other open applications If you need to focus, you're not going to be able to do so with numerous programs and windows open, as it's too distracting. You also don't want to lose the content in these open windows. So why not hide them? Yes, you could click on each one and manually hide it, but this takes time. Instead, go to the program you want to keep open and press Command+Option(alt on some keyboards)+H. This will hide all other open applications and windows. They can be opened again by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the screen.

Cycle between windows in same application Look at your current browser. Chances are high that you have more than one window open and are normally switching between them on a regular basis. It can be time consuming and annoying to have to move your mouse and click on another window. To save time, press Command+` (located above Tab, it's often labeled with ~). This will cycle through open windows within the same program.

Shift to another application If you have hidden other programs, or want to quickly move from one program to another without having to close open ones, you can press Command + Tab. This will move you to the next open program (usually organized alphabetically, with the current open program first). If you keep Command pressed, and hit Tab you will see a window pop-up with open programs. You can press Tab to cycle between programs. You'll notice a box around an icon, and when you let Command go it will switch to that application.

These four shortcuts are just a few that can help make navigation and program management more convenient. If you would like to learn more OS X shortcuts, or about how OS X can make your life easier, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
December 26th, 2012

With the recent release of Mountain Lion, Apple decided to make this a platform that can only be downloaded. This means users can simply download and install the OS. The downside to this is that there is no physical DVD. This means that if something happens to your computer, or if you need to reinstall the OS you can't really do so. To solve this problem you can create a bootable install DVD or USB stick.

A bootable install dish is a DVD or USB drive that contains a copy of the operating system, usually for backup purposes. If your computer crashes you can reinstall the OS by simply putting the DVD or USB into the related drive and following the prompts. This is also useful if you have other Macs in the home or office and don't want to download new versions of the OS on every computer. Note: There seems to be a trend with some Apple products to not have a DVD drive, so it may be a good idea to do this on a USB stick.

Starting from OS X 10.8, Apple has said that any new OS will be available only as a digital download. The way this works is that you download the OS file on each system you want to install it on. Once you download the update and install it the original download file is deleted. If you need to install again you have to re-download the OS again. Therefore, it's a good idea to create a bootable drive.

Before you create a bootable disk you need a few things:

For a bootable DVD

  1. A computer with a DVD burner.
  2. A blank DVD with 4.7GB of storage space.
  3. A downloaded copy of the latest Mac OS (In this case: OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion). You can download this from the Apple Mac Store.
Note: The link is to the US version of the store, if you aren't in the US, you will need to go to your country's Apple Store.

For a bootable USB

  1. A blank USB stick with at least 8GB of space.
Note: The drive needs to have nothing on it, so buying a new one is the preferred method.
  1. A downloaded copy of the latest Mac OS (In this case: OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion). You can download it from the Apple Mac Store.
Note: The link is to the US version of the store, if you aren't in the US, you will need to go to your country's Apple Store.

How to create a bootable install After you have downloaded the OS it's important that you DON'T open it and start installing the update. In other words: You need to create the bootable drive before you install.

Here's how to create your bootable install drive:

  1. Navigate to where you downloaded the OS. It is usually in your Downloads or Applications folder and should be labeled Install OS X Mountain Lion (If you downloaded Mountain Lion).
  2. Right click on the file and select Show Package Contents.
  3. Navigate to Contents followed by Shared Support. You should see a file called InstallESD.dmg.
  4. Open the Applications folder and select the Utilities folder. Open the Disk Utility app.
  5. Drag the InstallESD.dmg file into the empty space of the white box in the right-hand side of the Disk Utility app.
  6. Insert the blank DVD or USB device. If you are using a USB device, it must be blank and formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled). It should show up in the list of drives located above the white box in Disk Utilities.
  7. Drag the USB or DVD icon into the Destination bar in the central part of the window. Note: The Source bar should read: InstallESD.dmg.
  8. Click Restore - located in the bottom of the central part of the Disk Utility - if you are using a USB drive. Click Burn if you are using a DVD.
It will take a few minutes to burn or copy the files to the DVD or USB. When this is finished you should have a bootable install drive. You now have a few options.
  • If you would like to do a 'fresh install' - delete everything on your system - you can put the disk in the drive, turn off your computer, turn it on again and hold the Option key to open the installer. Be warned though, this will delete everything on your Mac's hard drive.
  • If you would like to upgrade, but keep all of your settings and files, you can open the installer from the disk, and follow the instructions.
Creating a bootable install drive is a good idea and should be a part of any company's backup and disaster recovery plans. If you have any questions about the process, or would like to learn more, please contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
December 12th, 2012

Smartphones, especially the iPhone, have really changed and enhanced the way we do business. It's now not uncommon to be able to check in with the office, send an email and approve next month's finances all from a device that fits into your pocket. While these phones are useful, there is one feature that takes a while to get used to, the keyboard. Apple is aware of this, and has provided iPhone users with a number of helpful keyboard features.

Here are four tip to make the typing experience better on your iPhone.

1. Lock caps lock - While the use of capital letters while typing is generally frowned upon, there are times when you need to type more than one letter in a row in caps. Most users will hit the caps button (upward pointing arrow) on the keyboard, type a letter and then hit it again to type another in caps. You can lock the keyboard in caps mode by double tapping the caps lock button. You'll notice the key turns blue, indicating caps lock is on. When you are finished, tap it once to turn it off. 2. Turn off auto-correct - We've all seen the funny and sometimes embarrassing texts blamed on auto-correct. While useful when getting used to typing on the iPhone, it can be more of a hindrance than a help after you've gotten the hang of it. You can turn auto-correct off by selecting Settings, followed by General, Keyboard and finally setting Auto-Correction to Off. 3. Long-press keys for more options - At first glance, the iPhone's keyboard is a little sparse with many of the standard keys beyond the letters and number keys missing. They are still there, however but just not labeled. With many keys, a long-press on the key will bring up a number of different options and other keys. For example: a long-press on the A key will bring up different letters associated with a, or a long press on ? will bring up the option to use an inverted question mark or an exclamation point. Play around with the keys, and you'll soon see a ton of different typing options emerge. 4. Stop typing .com - Did you know that you don't have to always type .com, .net or .org? In certain places, the iPhone will put it in for you. For example, when you are typing a web address on the browser, you can do a long-press on the . to get a pop-up of a whole bunch of dot something endings. This will also work in the email To, CC and BCC: fields.

The above tips are just a few ways to make it easier to type on the iPhone. Do you have another typing tip? Let us know; or, if you would like to learn more, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
December 6th, 2012

As technology continues to advance at an increased almost breakneck pace, most advances we see on a daily basis are largely aimed at retail consumers. A perfect example of this is Apple's iPad which was aimed at the domestic market on release and is now being readily adopted by business customers. One reason why the iPad is becoming so popular for businesses is because of the numerous apps that can help boost productivity while away from the office.

Here's some useful apps for the iPad that can help boost your productivity.

Document compatibility It's highly likely that your office uses a document production program that isn't made by Apple - Microsoft Office. Using another program to create documents and then spending time formatting on your work computer isn't a great productivity booster, but there are options.

If you do use Microsoft Office the iPad kind of supports Office documents through Apple's iWork. iWork does support Office files, however formatting and other things like fonts normally won't transfer over. This can be counter-productive.

While there will be a version of Microsoft Office heading to the iPad sometime in early 2013 (no set date yet), you're likely better off purchasing an app like Documents to Go which allows users to open, edit and create Office documents.

If you aren't doing serious work on the iPad and just need it for mobile document production, you can skip paying for an app and instead sign up for an outlook.com or Office 365 account. Doing so will give you access to cloud based versions of Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel.

Not a Microsoft fan? There's also Google Drive. It's not 100% compatible with Microsoft Office  though as many functions and formatting won't transfer over properly. However, with solid word, spreadsheet and presentation programs it's a great option for Google users.

Notes Because of the iPad's size, it's a perfect tool to take notes on. There are literally hundreds of different note apps available for the iPad, some are great, others lack functionality. One of the most consistent is Evernote. Evernote is available for nearly every system, so a note made on your iPad can be accessed on your computer, iPhone, Android Device or even BlackBerry.

Evernote really excels when you need to take simple notes. There's also a number of excellent  add-on apps like Penultimate - which allows you to take handwritten notes - which make it a nearly all-in-one solution. The best part is: The basic app is free.

Sharing files When you are mobile with the iPad, you will no doubt need to share files with users. There are many different ways you can do this. The easiest way is to use an app like Dropbox or SugarSync which allows you to upload files and share them when needed. While you can upload most programs or files, you won't be able to edit some of these.

How most of these work is that you put a copy of the app on your hard drive which is essentially a folder. When you put files/folders into this folder, they will be uploaded to the cloud and allow you to access the files/folders from any device you have installed the app on.

There are many other apps available that can help boost your productivity. Have you found some that you can't live without? Let us know.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
November 28th, 2012

One of the more popular debates in recent history is the one over which operating system is the best. Windows is typically seen to be utilitarian and often used by the workforce, while OS X is seen to be more hip, and easier to use. With new versions of both systems released this year, we've seen the systems seeming to cross each other, and to many businesses, OS X is looking to be the OS they want to use.

If you're still on the fence about OS X, here are five advantages of 10.8.

  • Centralized notifications - Windows 8 uses tiles and while they look great, they take up a lot of room and can make you miss important notifications. With OS X, all your notifications are in one place - the Notification Center. With Notification Center you can customize what apps will show notifications and even the order of importance. Need to get some work done? Quickly and simply turn off all notifications. When you're done, turn these back on, and all notifications will pop up.
  • AirPlay mirroring - Do you give lots of presentations? If so then you no doubt carry a laptop around with a whole mess of cords. OS X has a feature called AirPlay mirroring which allows you to beam your display on to any HDMI TV, that's connected to an Apple TV unit. This could be useful if you're planning to go to an all Mac environment. No messing with cables, just bring the laptop, press a button and away you go.
  • iCloud for easy sync - If you use any of Apple's other devices, you can sync information and files across all Apple devices using iCloud. This is a great feature as you won't have to worry about which device has what file. If it's on iCloud, it can be accessed by any Apple device that is compatible with iCloud - pretty much any modern Apple product.
  • Don't type it, speak it - If you have your hands full, and need to take notes, or even draft a letter you can use your voice. In any place you can type, hitting the Function key twice will bring up the Speak to Type option. From there, speak and the words will show up, normally with correct punctuation.
  • Integrated Messaging - One of the more popular categories of apps on smartphones are those related to chat. iMessages for the iPhone is great, you can send texts for free to any user. It's not great when you are at work and your phone keeps buzzing, annoying colleagues. Messages is an app for OS X that takes all the popular chat programs like iMessages, Google Talk, Yahoo!, etc. and combines them into one app. The cool thing about this is that you can text people on their iPhones, and vice-versa. This makes chatting more convenient.
These are just a few of the great features Mountain Lion offers that users will find make the OS a completely different, and arguably better, experience over Windows. If you're interested in switching over to Apple, please let us know, we may have a solution for you.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
November 14th, 2012

The USB port is arguably one of the most important components of the computer. You plug in your keyboard, mouse, printers and now smartphone charging cords. Regardless of the model you have, the main way you connect to the computer is through a USB cord of some kind. If you have an iPhone, you likely use the 30-pin cord, (unless you have a brand new iPhone 5), and likely carry one around, as the iPhone usually needs to be charged throughout the day. The good news is that there's a new gadget that aims to get rid of the cord altogether.

Scheduled to release in December 2012, the Charge Card, (no, it's not a new fangled credit card), is a device that will replace the somewhat unwieldy iPhone charging cable. The concept behind the gadget is to replace the charging cable with something you can fit in your wallet.

The Charge Card is a credit card sized charging device which is .1 inches thick and made of a hard plastic. In the middle is a rubber USB connector that pops out and is compatible with any USB port. On the opposite end is a small 30-pin connector - the standard connector used by Apple. The 30-pin connector will work with the iPhone 4s and older; the iPad 3 and older; and any iPod. It is compatible with the new iPhone 5, iPads and iPods if you have the adapter.

How it works is you pop out the flexible USB connector, plug it into a USB port on a computer, TV, airplane seat, etc. and plug the other end into your iDevice. While it isn't a battery, it does allow you to leave the cords at home, and USB ports being pretty much everywhere these days, you can charge your device whenever you need to.

What is interesting about this is that the project was crowdfunded through Kickstarter, meaning people think it's a good enough idea to invest in it. You can learn more about the project here, and if you'd like to learn more about using the iPhone in the office, give us a shout, we'd be happy to chat with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
November 7th, 2012

When people talk about different operating systems, ease of use is usually one of the most debated topics. OS X users often note that the OS is a lot easier to use and is more user friendly than the competitors. While there are many great apps for OS X, there are also a number of apps most users don’t know about or hardly use.

One lesser known Mac OS X program is Automator - an OS X program that was designed to help automate everyday tasks. Automator has many uses, and upon first glance it seems a little complicated. The truth is: it’s only as complicated as you make it. Here’s a brief overview of Automator and how to make your first automated application.

Automator in brief Automator is found in your Applications folder, and is the app with the robot holding a grey pipe. When you open Automator, the Choose a template for your workflow window pops up with different options. The three most popular items are:

  • Workflow: This is used to create a workflow that's run in the Automator. For example, if you import a bunch of photos onto your computer and want them to be automatically resized into a more web-friendly format, you can set up a workflow and have Automator take care of that
  • Application: Is similar to Workflow, only it creates an application that you can drag and drop files onto to execute a workflow. Our example lower in the post will use this option.
  • Folder action: Allows you to create a workflow and attach it to a folder. When items are added into the folder, the workflow will run.
After selecting a workflow type, you’re taken to the main Automator screen. It’s comprised of three main parts:
  1. The Library: Located in the left side of the window, the Library contains a list of the Automator options installed on your computer.
  2. The Action column: Located beside the Library panel, the Action column displays a list of all actions you can execute with the related Library item. Clicking Library at the top of the Library panel will show a list of all actions.
  3. The Workflow pane: Located beside the Action column, the Workflow pane is the space where you combine actions to make a workflow. You can drag-and-drop actions into this space. When creating multi-step actions, the action on the top is run first, followed by subsequent actions. To re-arrange the order, just click and drag the action you'd like to move earlier or later in the operation.
There are also four buttons on the top right of the window. These are used for recording specific steps in the workflow, and if you have chosen to create a simple workflow, these will allow you to execute it.

Create your first automated workflow Here’s how you can use Automator to create an application that pulls text from a PDF document.

  1. Open Automator, select Application and press Choose.
  2. Select PDFs from the Library panel.
  3. Click and drag Extract PDF Text from the Action column to the Workflow pane.
  4. Choose your Output. Rich Text will take text and document formatting while Plain Text will take just the text.
  5. Pick where you want the output - in this case, the text file - to be saved by selecting the box beside: Save Output to.
  6. Press Command + S and select where you want to save the application.
To see if the application works, pick a PDF file and drag it onto the application you’ve just created. You should see a new document with the same name as the PDF, but with .txt in the name. All the text from the PDF should be in this document. This is just one of the many things you can do with Automator. You can make more complex workflows by dragging other actions into the Workflow pane. Want to get your calendar to remind you it’s the weekend and play Kenny Loggins' Highway to the Danger Zone every Friday afternoon at 5:00 pm? With Automator, it’s possible.

If you have any questions about Automator, or any other Mac feature, give us a shout, we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple