Master-Title MAMP (for websites) Master-Title
bookstack10 bookstack10
BookshelfHistory BookUpright1
bookstack10 Changing Your Fonts
bookstack10 bookstack10
bookstack10 Adding eMail Links bookstack10
BookUpright1 Finding "Home" BookUpright1
bookstack10 Fast Hard Drives
BookUpright1 Junk eMail BookUpright1
bookstack10 Color-Matched Colors bookstack10
BookUpright1 Checking The Battery BookUpright1
bookstack10 Safari's Tools bookstack10
BookUpright1 Virus Protection BookUpright1
bookstack10 Blaming Apple bookstack10
BookUpright1 Buying Used Equipment BookUpright1
bookstack10 Reliable Mac Info bookstack10
Computer Humor
bookstack10 Screen Brightness bookstack10
Famous Sayings
bookstack10 Empty Your Inbox bookstack10
BookUpright1 Safari Mimics Other Browsers
bookstack10 Tech Support bookstack10
The Progression Of Bytes BookUpright1
BookUpright1 Storing Compressed Files BookUpright1
Posted: 6/12/10
BookUpright1 Charlotte Apple Store Photos
M.A.C.S. Resource Library BookUpright1
BookUpright1 Transferring Files To A PC BookUpright1
BookUpright1 Opening PC Files On A BookUpright1
Buying An External Drive

If you're buying external speakers for your Macintosh, you have two connection options: USB and Audio.

USB speakers may provide extra functionality, such as allowing your Macintosh to turn off the speakers when the Mac shuts down or when music is no longer being played. The downside to USB speakers is that you'll need to use yet another USB port on your Mac. If you run out of ports and use a USB Hub, you can sometimes run into problems with reliability. USB devices, especially USB Hubs, can act up from time-to-time and may cause your Macintosh to exhibit different problems, such as not being able to start.

By purchasing speakers which use an 1/8th-inch (3.5mm) audio connector, you eliminate the problems associated with USB devices.

  • NOTE: You can also use external speakers which use a quarter-inch (1/4-inch) Phone Jack or RCA connector but you'll still need an 1/8th-inch connector on the other end (which will plug into the Macintosh).

Simply connect the speakers to your Mac's headphone (sound out) port, using a standard audio cable.

Also, because the speakers have an audio connector, you'll be able to connect them to any device which offers this type of port -- including Apple's iPad (which does not have its own USB connector.


Storing Compressed Files

Sometimes, we may want to "encrypt" (password-protect) documents, to keep their contents from prying eyes. In the "old days", when floppy disks and hard drives had tiny capacities, we used to "compress" a lot (or most) of our files, just so they would fit on the storage medium. These days, although music, photo and movie files take up MUCH MORE room than a typical text document, there really is no need for the average user to compress files when backing them up. In fact, doing so, can sometimes (although rarely) result in not being able to retrieve your information in the future.

An example of this is when a file was compressed long ago and either the program which will "decompress" it is no longer available or simply will not work in your current Macintosh. Keep in mind... Some programs which can automatically backup your files (such as "Retrospect" by Dantz and "Backup" by Apple) may store your information in a special format. If this happens, and you do not have access to that program in the future, you may not be able to retrieve those files.

Another example, of not being able to retrieve previously-compressed files, happened with the release of Mac OS X, 10.4.9. According to this Apple Knowledgebase artilce (number 305111)... "Mac OS X 10.4.9 improves the ability of Mac OS X to detect damaged or corrupted disk images before mounting them. Mounting a damaged or corrupted disk image can result in data loss or corruption." The above Knowledgebase article offers two possible solutions to this problem.



Safari Mimics Other Browsers

There may be times, when browsing web pages, when you run into a page which refuses to load or doesn't load properly. You may even see a message stating that you must use a different Browser -- one which may only be available on PCs or which you may not otherwise have.

There is a feature of Apple's "Safari" Browser which you may not know about. This feature allows you to tell Safari to pretend to be one of those other Browsers -- it can even pretend to be a PC Browser! Before being able to access this feature, you must first activate it. Here's how to do it:

Open Safari (version 3 or higher).

  1. Pull down the "Safari" menu and choose "Preferences..."
  2. In the dialog box that appears, click the "Advanced" button at the top.
  3. Click (to add a checkmark) next to "Show Develop menu in menu bar".
  4. Close this dialog box.
  5. Notice that Safari now offers a new menu called "Develop" (See below)
  6. Pull down the "Develop" menu and select "User Agent". The pop-out menu will provide lots of different disguises for Safari.
    • Note: For those of you who like to explore, or who simply need to know about the various technologies and functions going on in the background, while viewing a web page, take a closer look at these menu choices:
      • Show Web Inspector
      • Show Error Console
      • Show Network Timeline

Buying An External Drive

Some Hard Drives and Flash Drives are set at the factory so they can be used on both Macs and PCs. This means they will be formatted as "FAT 32" or "NTFS". Both are"PC" (non-Macintosh) formats and do not provide maximum performance with a Macintosh. So, unless that external drive will be used on both Platforms (Macs & PCs), it will achieve better performance and compatibility if you reformat it as "HFS+" or Mac OS Extended (Journaled)". Having a Mac-formatted drive also means you can run DiskWarrior on it. (Yes, every storage medium that has a "Directory Structure" needs to have DiskWarrior examine it every now and then. This includes:

  • Hard Drives,
  • Flash Drives,
  • Floppy Disks,
  • CDs and DVDs
    • NOTE: Because information stored on a CD or DVD cannot usually be changed, if you want to run DiskWarrior on that information before burning the disc, you must first create a "disk image". This is accomplished with Apple's included "Disk Utility" program (included in each Mac) (or "Toast", if you've purchased it). Next, copy your files to the disk image and then run DiskWarrior on that virtual disc. Finally, you Burn the disc image to a blank CD or DVD. Now you have an un-corrupted "Directory Structure" on that CD or DVD.

Reformatting a drive can be accomplished with the help of Apple's "Disk Utility" program (go to your "Applications" folder and then look for it inside the "Utilities" folder). (Some hard drives come with maintenance software. This may also provide the necessary tools to reformat the hard drive.)

Finding "Home"

Sometimes, when reading problem-solving tips or speaking with someone at a tech support center, you'll be instructed to navigate to a specific folder on your Mac's hard drive, in order to throw out a certain file (such as a "plist" -- pronounced PEE-list). However, in order to keep the instructions short, they can sometimes look a bit confusing. Here's an example of what you might see:

Home > Library > Preferences >

Here, you're being asked to locate a file called "". The above list of words is a "Path". It's like a map, which briefly explains which route to take. First, we must figure out the starting point referred to as "Home". Click the "Finder" icon in the Dock and you should be presented with a Finder window.


If your Macintosh is running Mac OS X version 10.3, 10.4 or 10.5, look in the "Sidebar" for the icon which looks like a house. (In the above screenshot, the name next to the "Home" icon is "liam".) (If you don't see the Sidebar, click once on the Toolbar toggle button. )Click that icon and the white portion of the window (to the right of the Sidebar) will change. Now open the "Library" folder. This window's contents will change once again. Now open the "Preferences" folder. This is where you'll find the "" file.

  • NOTE: If your Macintosh is running Mac OS X version 10.0, 10.1 or 10.2, you won't see a Sidebar. In order for you to locate your "Home" folder... Open the hard drive. Then open the folder called "Users". Inside this folder is where you'll find the icon of the house. This is your "Home" folder -- open it.
item3a Toolbar toggle button
Sidebar item3a

Virus Protection

Apple has made every effort to protect our beloved Macs from the negative influences in the outside world. They constantly stay on top of this and seem to patch potential "holes" before most people even know they exist.

  • Virus: Software which purposely performs malicious tasks inside a computer. (Such as delete files, send junk eMail using your own address book, etc.) There are a few virus "categories", worm, trojan horse, etc., but they all come under this definition.

Viruses are usually employed simply to cause problems and panic and sometimes just to see if such a program can be created -- the "thrill" is in the doing. Others will create viruses simply for the glory. The further a virus travels around the world and the more people make a big deal about it the more excited its creator becomes.

  • Hack: To break into a computer. To bypass, trick or change software to gain access to a computer and the information it contains. Some hacks are performed "remotely". A program is sent out, randomly or directly, (over the Internet or network) to search for specific flaws or "features" in another program which would allow access. Once this is accomplished, information from the hacked computer is sent to the Hacker -- the person who originated this process. Hacking can also be performed directly... A person, using various hacking or monitoring programs will control this software in real time and instruct it where to look and how to accomplish its tasks.

Hacking is usually performed in order to locate personal or secret information -- credit card numbers, etc. This data will then be sold or used by the Hacker.

  • NOTE: If your Macintosh accesses the Internet via a high-speed connection, visit the following Symantec page. Scroll to the bottom and click "Check for security risks". Within a few minutes, it will diagnose your Internet configuration and provide a report explaining which ares, if any, are vulnerable to attack.

  • NOTE: Since viruses and hacks can be more easily performed on software which contains security shortcomings (loopholes) and because microsoft products are well known to contain such "features", I STRONGLY recommend NOT using, installing or even keeping ANY microsoft programs on your hard drive!!!

Protecting Ourselves

Although nothing is ever 100% secure 100% of the time, there are ways to lessen our odds of becoming a victim to these tactics:

Virus Protection Software - Installing this type of program in your Macintosh will keep an eye on suspicious activity. A good program will give you the option of automatically checking EVERY file that's opened, downloaded and decompressed. Of the 3 anti-virus program I am aware of, I would recommend Symantec's "Norton AntiVirus"

Firewall - A Firewall will protect your computer from being hacked. I'm told you get the best Firewall protection simply by using a "router". This is a piece of hardware about the size of a postcard but an inch thick or so.

  • NOTE: If you're using "dial-up", a standard telephone line, to connect to the Internet, you cannot use a router for this purpose.

If you have high-speed access, your modem may include Firewall protection. If it doesn't, open "System Preferences", click "Security", click "Firewall" and at the very least, click the "Advanced..." button and turn ON "Enable Stealth Mode".

-- Paul Rego

Junk eMail

In the world of "spam" (un-requested eMail) there is no sure-fire method of stopping all unwanted eMail. However, there are a few things you can do to slow it down a bit...

Don't Open It

When looking at the list of eMail, notice the "Subject" and who it's from. Sometimes you may not know it's junk mail from one or the other but putting them together with a sprinkle of detective-style thinking may help determine if a piece of eMail is worth reading or should be deleted. Here are two examples:

eMail Address:...................................Subject: This month's bank statement with your check account.................lkf3khp-xeuk

In the first line, although the "bankmanager" part of their address looks good, everything to the right of the @ sign looks suspicious. This is junk mail. Don't open it.

In the second line, the entire eMail address looks legitimate but the Subject line starts us thinking. (Yes, spammers [junk-mail Senders] CAN forge an eMail address to make it look authentic.) First of all, if there was a problem with your account, the bank would most likely phone you or send you a letter in the mail. The words "problem", "need your help", etc. from a suspicious Sender should be avoided and not opened. Just delete it. Also, sometimes a junk-mail message will have a long space after the Subject and then some strange characters to the right. If you don't see them, place the Pointer over the bottom-right corner of your mail window (where you see your current list of eMails) then hold down the mouse button and drag to the right. This will make that window wider enabling you to see if there are any extra characters to the right of any Subject line.


Remember, if you know you have found a piece of junk mail, DO NOT open it. DO NOT reply to it. If there is a horizonal bar separating the message "list" from the message "content", double-click it (see illustration below). This will send it to the bottom of that window. Now, when you click on an entry in the Message List, the eMail won't open (its contents won't be displayed). This is important because sometimes junk eMail can send a note back to the Sender informing them that you opened their message. They will then add you to their "real" eMail list and send you more unwanted eMail. Yes, this can happen simply by you opening a message.

  • Regarding the word "real"... Some junk eMail Senders use a computer program which generates eMail addresses. The Sender doesn't know if any of them are real addresses so lots of special messages are sent out to those people. If anyone responds or, if the message has been programmed to "report back", they will know yours is a "real" eMail address.

While the Mail List / Mail Content divider is at the bottom of that window, just click once on any junk eMail then click the "Delete" button. By doing it this way, you won't be opening the message. You'll just be deleting it.

  • NOTE: Your eMail window may look different. Each version of Apple's "Mail" program has a slightly varied look. The Mail List / Mail Content divider will work the same as the one above.
  • The Mail List / Mail Content divider can be dragged Up or Down but double-clicking it will quickly drop it to the bottom of the window. When it's at the bottom, double-clicking it will instantly move it to its previous location.

Block Spam Yourself

Apple's "Mail" program allows you to set up your own criteria for blocking junk eMail. Pull down the "Mail" menu and select "Preferences". In the dialog box which appears, use the "Junk Mail" and "Rules" buttons (across the top) to configure these settings. Pull down the "Help" menu to learn more about how to do this.

Take Responsibility

Each of us must make sure we do not contribute to junk eMail. How? Two ways come to mind...

Stop Joking

First, I know all of you mean well but PLEASE stop sending your loved ones eMails about your favorite JOKES! We've all received these but believe me, there are probably HUNDREDS of web sites with tons and tons of great jokes. If someone sends them to you, please stop the chain and just delete it.

Yes, I know there's not enough laughter in the world and everyone could use a good smile. That's fine but what you're really trying to do is tell that person "Hey, I was thinking of you today", or "How's the weather where you are?" or "Remember that great time we had...".

eMail doesn't convey those nuances we create with our handwriting when we used to send letters through the Post Office. It doesn't provide the detail, emotion and excitement we deliver when we talk on the telephone. Trying to lighten someone's day by bombarding them with a hundred of the best jokes or one joke every day or so will probably just annoy them.

There's no need to hide behind a list of jokes. Tell them how you really feel. Tell them you care about them. This will mean a lot more to them.

Just BCC

Whenever you send eMail to more than one person, BE SURE to mark EVERYONE as BCC (Blind Carbon Copy). Just about every eMail program, AOL's included, will allow you to send to someone as "TO" or "CC" (Carbon Copy or Courtesy Copy) or "BCC".

When sending a message to ONE person or ONE company you really don't have to do anything. The default for most programs is "TO".

When any of the recipients read your message, they will not be able to see any eMail address which had a "BCC" next to it.

Why is this important? Sometimes one or two people you sent a message to will send their own message to everyone on that list. Even if they don't. Most likely someone on your list will click the "Reply All" button and send a response to EVERYONE! or... They will click "Forward" and send this to someone else. When they do this, guess what?... That next person will see EVERYONE's eMail address which did not have "BCC" next to it. We've all gotten this type of message! Sometimes one group sends to someone who sends to another group, and so forth. At some point, there are SO MANY eMail addresses listed that no one can find the MESSAGE!

Please practice "BCC"!!!

If someone sends me a group mailing without listing me as "BCC", I will politely explain the ramifications to the sender. I will then make a note of "who" sent me this and "when". Then, if they ever send me another without listing me as "BCC", I immediately go to the Preferences section of my Mail program and block all eMail from that person. I'm sorry but junk eMail is difficult enough to deal with without someone unknowingly distributing my address throughout the Internet kingdom.

-- Paul Rego

Transferring Files To A PC

There are three ways to do this:

(The network way of transferring information from one computer to another requires two or more computers to be connected together with Ethernet cables or a wireless system and will not be covered here.)

Transferring Files To A PC via eMail

One thing you must remember... Your file must be in a format which the PC (non-Macintosh) can understand.

File formats are like world languages (English, Italian, French, German, etc.). Each program has its own native file format. When you save a file with this format it means you'll be able to take advantage of all the features that program has to offer. The disadvantage to "native" formats is if you need to use that file on the web or in a different program or when you need to have another person use it on a non-Macintosh -- a PC.

In order to use files between programs and computers you need to find a generic format:

Generic File Formats

For use on the web

For use in word processors

For use in graphics programs

For use in spreadsheets

For use
in PCs

Shows text and graphics, and their placement on the page, in another program or a PC




(doesn't apply)




(photos, drawings, etc.)


(doesn't apply)


(doesn't apply)



Pros and Cons to these Formats




Will duplicate the look of the original page in "most cases".

Screen quality is good. May not look good when printed


Very universal format for words and numbers. Word processors, spreadsheets and even database programs can open files in this format

Strips out all formatting -- no bold, underline, color, font size, pictures, etc.

(Rich Text Format)

Stores ALL the characters, words and paragraph breaks. Stores MOST of the formatting (bold, italic, underline, etc.)

Doesn't store graphics.


Can duplicate the look of the original page. Text and graphic quality is high (for screen and printer) and placement of these items is precise.

File size can be large.


Small file size.

Doesn't handle transparency.


Small file size. Saves transparency information

Can't handle more than 256 colors.


An original Macintosh graphics format. Saves Raster (paint, dot-based) or Vector (drawing, math-based) images

File size is not as good as JPEG.


Can store complex picture information.

File size can be larger than JPEG, PICT or GIF.


Saves transparency information.

File size can be larger than JPEG, PICT or GIF.


Can be opened in most spreadsheet programs (Mac or PC)

Does not retain special, program-specific data -- such as charts.

Below we will cover how to save a word processing document so it can be used in a PC. You can start with any word processor: AppleWorks, Pages, NisusWriter or even the dreaded microsoft word.

  • NOTE: If you really think you have to buy microsoft word, why not try a cheaper and perhaps better alternative. One such product is the free "NeoOffice". There are even helper programs, such as MacLink Plus (by DataViz) which will convert MANY different formats between Macs and PCs.

We will start with Apple's Pages program...

Saving Your File In A Different Format

A document you create with Pages can easily be converted into a format which can be understood by a PC:

1 - (I assume you know how to create a word processing document in Pages, so we'll start at the point of you saving that document.) Pull down the "File" menu and select "Export..."

2 - In the dialog box which appears, click the "RTF" icon.

3 - Click the "Next..." button.

4 - Give this file a name.

5 - Indicate "where" you would like this document to be saved. Storing it on the "Desktop" will help us find it quickly. Then click the "Export" button.

That file has been "translated" into a different format (from its original, editable form) and can now be used by just about any word processing program (Mac or PC). To get it into a PC you can:

  • eMail it,
  • transfer it over a network,
  • "burn" (place onto a blank) CD,
  • place onto a floppy disk, or
  • place it onto a "flash drive". (see below)

Now Let's eMail That File

Now we're going to actually attach our file to an eMail message.

(These steps are part of the "every time" routine and will follow directly after step 5 above.

6 - Open the program you use for eMail and start a new message. It's always a good idea to describe what you are sending, so go ahead and do that.

7 - I don't know which eMail program you are using (hopefully Apple's "Mail" program) but when you are looking at the message there should be something along the top or down the side of that window which will allow you to attach a file to this message. It may have the word "Attach" or "Attachment" or "Enclose" or it may simply have a small picture of a paperclip. (If you don't see this you may have to pull down a menu from the top of the screen to access this feature.) When you click on this icon a dialog box should appear. This is asking you to locate the file you want to attach to this message. If there is a "where" menu pop it out and select "Desktop" (in our example, we placed the file on the Desktop). Now locate your document.

8 - Finish your message with the Subject and who it is going to. (Of course, you can do any of this, including the attachment, in any order you like.) The final step is to go ahead and send this message -- just as you normally would.

Getting A File Out Of Your Macintosh

Why would you want to get a file out of your Macintosh?... To back it up for safe-keeping or to transfer it to another Mac or even to a PC (a non-Macintosh). Here are some common ways to get a file out of a Mac:

  • Use a floppy disk - Most older (pre-iMac, pre-1998) Macs came with floppy disk drives. Your new Macintosh will not have such a device but you can still find them (under $50).
  • Use an Iomega "Zip" or "Jaz" disk - These were extremely popular methods for backing up and transferring files and they do hold a LOT more data than floppy disks. However, they are not as reliable as they should be.
  • "Burn" (create) a CD - Although this will allow you to transfer files from Mac to PC, it's not always easy to find a "CD burner" (the actual device) which will work on older Macs.
  • Use one of the forms of a new technology -- A USB "Flash Drive" (see below).

If you're going to use a floppy, Zip or Jaz disk to transfer a file from your Macintosh to a PC, you may be able to simply re-format (erase) it using the features built into your current Mac. (Use the "Special" menu in the Finder of Mac OS 9, 8, 7 or try the "Disk Utility" program included with Mac OS X. If re-formatting is not possible, you'll need to purchase a PC/IBM-formatted disk or bring it to a PC, insert it and re-format it that way.

  • NOTE: When using floppy, Zip or Jaz disks, keep in mind that the material inside, which the data is stored on, can break down over time. The rule is... If one of these disks is more than 1-year old, buy a brand new disk and transfer your information to that. Then either throw the old disk out or use it as a scratch disk or one in which you never expect to be returned (when giving files to others).

Placing A File Onto A "Flash Drive"

A USB "flash drive" is made up of a USB port, for connecting to any USB-based computer -- Macintosh or PC... Computer memory (RAM)... Has no moving parts and comes in various sizes and shapes.

The best "type" of flash drive depends on your needs... If you like the idea of having a flash drive with you without thinking about it, then you might find a wristwatch version very useful. If you like having a flash drive sit on your desk, yet be unrecognizable, then you may want to buy one which comes inside a plastic dinosaur (or some other physical shape). On the other hand, if you simply want one which will work in every USB port, whether it's in your Macintosh or your friend's PC, then buy one which is as narrow and thin as possible.

If you have a flash drive simply insert it into your Macintosh and drag any of your files to the flash drive's icon. At that point, the Mac will make a copy (an exact duplicate) and in the flash drive. Once this is done, remove it and it's ready to be inserted into the USB port of any Macintosh (using MacOS 9.0 or higher) or PC.

Opening PC Files On A Macintosh

This can be accomplished in several ways:

  • Using a helper program, such as MacLink Plus (by DataViz). (NOTE: MacLink Plus is the best program for this type of use. Buying it and installing it in your Macintosh means you only have to double-click on most any PC file and MacLink Plus will convert it for you automatically.) Some of these helper programs are even free, such as DOCtor (by Stone Design).
  • Download and install "NeoOffice".
    • Note: NeoOffice is a full-blown "microsoft office" clone and may seem overly complex (like microsoft office). Although this software is free and because you'll probably only be using this it to convert PC files, you may to use a simpler alternative.
  • You may also be able to use your existing word processing program. (For these steps, we will use Apple's "TextEdit" program -- it's a basic word-processing program and is included free with every Macintosh.

No matter how you approach this at some point the program you are using will have to be upgraded, in order to keep up with the technology. Let's say you buy MacLink Plus today and are able to open microsoft word documents (created on a PC). Some time in the future, microsoft will upgrade their PC software and one day you'll receive a file from a PC user and you will not be able to open (read) it. So buying microsoft word or microsoft office is not the most economical way to go.

I mention this so you can plan your long-term spending on converting files from PC users.

Just as we saved our file as "RTF" (Rich Text Format) in the steps above ("Transferring Files To A PC"), if a PC person is sending you documents and you can talk them into converting them to RTF before sending them to you, you won't have to spend any extra money AND you'll be able to always read their files. Most of them aren't willing to do this however, so we have to do the following...

Let's say someone has eMailed an attachment to you or you've transferred a file into your Macitnosh via a "flash drive". (see above) Let's say you double-click on this file's icon but nothing happens or a message appears informing you that the program which created it cannot be found or that you should indicate which program should be used to convert it:

  1. Open (launch) Apple's "TextEdit" program (in the "Applications" folder).
  2. Pull down the "File" menu and select "Open".
  3. Using this dialog box, navigate until you see the file you want to open. Then click on its name once. Now click the "Open" button. If you don't see the file (and you're sure it's where you are looking) or if TextEdit fails to display this file properly, then you don't have a new enough translator. At this point, you'll need a newer version of AppleWorks or you'll have to purchase MacLink Plus (or a newer version).

That's all there is to it.

-- Paul Rego

This page was updated on 10/15/10

The Power Of Audio
MAMP (for websites) MAMP (for websites) Changing Your Fonts Changing Your Fonts Changing Your Fonts Changing Your Fonts Adding eMail Links Adding eMail Links Finding "Home" Junk eMail Checking The Battery Virus Protection Blaming Apple Buying Used Equipment Computer Humor Famous Sayings Empty Your Inbox Tech Support The Progression Of Bytes Storing Compressed Files M.A.C.S. Resource Library Transferring Files To A PC Opening PC Files On A Buying An External Drive