Mountain Lion 101

This is a discussion on Mountain Lion 101 within the Mac OS X forums, part of the Mac Software category; Mountain Lion's Notification Center is handy. It displays banners and alerts from notification-aware apps to keep you informed of changes, like a new Twitter mention, ...

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  1. #41
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    Silencing Notification Center alerts



    Mountain Lion's Notification Center is handy. It displays banners and alerts from notification-aware apps to keep you informed of changes, like a new Twitter mention, Calendar event or email message. That last one can get distracting, depending on how much email you receive. Here are some ways to tame email alerts:

    Disable alerts and banners in System Preferences. Open System Preferences and click Notifications. Select Mail from the list on the right and then click None. You'll no longer see email notifications.

    Quit Mail. Apple's Mail app won't push notifications if it isn't running.

    Turn them all of at once. Open Notification Center on your Mac and swipe up to the very top. Move the slider labeled Show Alerts and Banners to the Off position to silence all pop-up alerts and banners (they still appear listed in Notification Center itself). Slide it back to On to restore alerts and banners.

    If you're worried about a notification popping up when you're making a presentation, don't be. Notification Center is smart enough to recognize when you've got Keynote open and silences notifications on its own. Additionally, it won't display alerts or banners on a mirrored display.



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  3. #42
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    Battery not charging? Recalibration may be the answer



    If your MacBook (any model) is not charging to 100%, it may need to be recalibrated. Apple explains how to do this, but basically it comes down to three steps:

    Fully charge your MacBook (and leave it charged for about 2 hours)

    Fully drain your MacBook (by using it on battery until it turns off)

    Fully recharge your MacBook again.

    That should help the battery indicator recalibrate so that it shows the correct information. If it doesn't, you might need to reset the System Management Controller (SMC), but in most case I've found that a simple recalibration will work.

    When I recalibrate, I prefer to make sure that my MacBook will not be interrupted at all either during the drain or the recharge period, so I will leave it on overnight while running Caffeine set to "Indefinitely" and let it really, fully discharge. Then, the next day, I will plug it in and let it charge through the workday, again running Caffeine to keep it awake. (Note: Caffeine will also keep your screensaver from running. You might prefer to go to System Preferences » Energy Saver and set "Computer Sleep" to "Never". I use an external monitor at my office with the MacBook closed, and simply turn off the power to the external monitor if I'm not going to be using it for awhile.)


    Determining the health of your Mac


    Book's battery

    If recalibrating doesn't seem to help, you might need to check your battery's overall health. The easiest way to do that is to run the "System Information.app" found in /Applications/Utilities/. Note: "System Information.app" is the name of the app in Lion and Mountain Lion. Previous versions of Mac OS X called it "System Profiler.app."

    You can also launch "System Information" (or "System Profiler") by going to the Apple Menu, look for "About This Mac" and then hold down the Option/Alt key and it will change (see image below).





    Or, for maximum geek points, paste this into Terminal.app, which will run the "system_profiler" tool at the command line, but limit it to just the information relevant to the battery status.




    /usr/sbin/system_profiler |\

    sed '1,/Battery Information/d ; /System Power Settings/,$d'

    view rawbatteryinfo.shThis Gist brought to you by GitHub.

    Whichever method you use, look for the Cycle Count and the Condition as shown in the image at the top of this article.

    Further reading

    Like religion, politics, and text editors, battery calibration is a topic which lends itself to vigorous debate and arguments across the Internet. Some of it is based on outdated information, some of it is just incorrect, and some of it may simply not be applicable to your situation. I would encourage you to read Apple's official information and guidance on the subject as your starting point to understand how to best care for and maintain your laptop's battery.



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    Decide For Yourself Which Apps Can Access Mountain Lion Contacts


    OS X Mountain Lion added some new security features to an already fairly secure operating system (not perfect, we know!). One of these features is an alert you get when you use an app that wants to access your Contact information from the Contacts app on your Mac. When you see this, you’re able to allow or deny that app access to your contacts – this is there to help make things a bit more transparent, and hopefully more secure.

    Once you’ve given that access, however, that app gets tracked as one that can always access your Contacts info. If you want to change that access, today’s tip will help.

    Launch System Preferences, either from the Dock, or the Apple menu, or with an app Launcher like Alfred or Quicksilver. Click on the Security & Privacy panel, and then click on the Privacy button at the top. You’ll see several things to the left, including Contacts, Location Services, Twitter, and Diagnostics & Usage. Click on Contacts to bring up the privacy settings for that app.

    Click the lock in the lower left corner of the preference pane and enter your admin credentials. Then, simply uncheck the checkbox next to each app you want to revoke Contacts privileges from. Go ahead and quit System Preferences when done.

    When one of the affected apps asks you again whether it can access your info or not, you can disallow from there. The whole point of this is to help you be more aware of what is being used on your system, thus increasing the security of your Mac. Bravo, Apple!



    9-13-12


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    One System To Rule Them All Send Growl Alerts To Mountain Lion’s Notification Center


    So, you’re a longtime Growl user, and now you get some alerts from Growl, and a bunch of other ones from Notification Center, and your inner OCD-child just wishes it could all come through Notification Center? I mean, Growl 2 will send stuff right to Notification Center, anyway, so why not get a head start on the process?

    With the help of a third-party app called MountainGrowl, you’ll be fashionably ahead of the curve once again, you hipster, you.

    Make sure you have Growl installed, first of all. You can grab it from the Mac App Store if you don’t.

    Head on over to the GitHub MountainGrowl page to read all about the app, then download it from the download page there.

    The version I pulled down is 1.11, but depending on when you read this, just grab the latest version. Your Mac should un-zip the file all on its own, but if it doesn’t, double click on the file in your Downloads folder, or wherever you have your web browser send downloaded files.

    Once downloaded, double click on the .growlview file and Growl should take care of adding the plugin. Growl will ask if you want to configure it, and you should say yes. Make sure you choose MountainGrowl as the default Style, and all Growl Notifications will now be sent through Notification Center.

    Sweet, right? The developer, Ullrich, Schäfer, says the only downside is that “all the notifications are still sent by Growl, so they all show the Growl icon. I’m curious how Growl 2 will target that issue. Mountain Growl is showing the original application name in the subtitle though.”


    9-14-12


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    Change The Notification Center Menu Bar Icon In Mountain Lion


    With the profusion of menu bar icons in the upper right of our Mountain Lion screens, it might be time for a change. If you’re bored with the same old Notification Center icon that everyone else who’s upgraded to Apple’s latest Mac operating system has, this tip’s for you.

    First of all, head to your main system Library folder. You can use the Go To Folder menu in the Go menu in the Finder. Or you can hit Command-Shift-G to bring up the same Go To Folder field. However you choose to do so, paste in the path /System/Library/CoreServices/ and then scroll down to Notification Center. Right click on it and select Show Package Contents.

    Open the Contents folder, then the Resources folder. Find menuitemNormal.tiff and copy it. Click out to your Desktop folder and Paste it as a backup. You can Option-Click and drag it out to the desktop, or just hit Command-C and Command-V like you would any other file or text you want to copy and paste.

    Now, either open the TIFF file and modify it in any image editor, or create your own 54 X 44 pixel image to suit your whimsy. I grabbed a picture of the 1Up mushroom off of Google images, and resized it in Preview to 54 X 44, with a resolution of 72 pixels per inch.

    Now, head back to the package contents folder and delete the menuitemNormal.tiff file. Save this new file in the same place, renaming it “menuitemNormal.tiff.” If you need to make it a TIFF file, use Preview, or just rename in the finder. You’ll need to enter your administrative password when you do each step, from deleting, to moving your new file in, to renaming your file.

    Now let’s relaunch the Notification Center process. Head to your Utilities folder and open it to find Activity Monitor. Launch that app and find the Notification Center process. Click on it to select, then click on the Quit Process icon that looks like a stop sign in the upper left. The process will quit and restart, adding your image to the top corner of your screen. Pretty sweet, yeah?

    If you want to put it all back to default, simply do the steps again, but this time, put the original file you copied and pasted to your desktop in the Resources folder for Notification Center. Kill the process in Activity Monitor, and you’ll be good to go.


    9-14-12


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    Update OS X Mountain Lion Without the App Store




    Using the command line softwareupdate tool you can update Mac OS X system software without using the App Store. This is particularly useful for Mac users running OS X 10.8 or later where the software update system is primarily handled through the Mac App Store, but can occasionally either go awry or be inaccessible in situations of remote administration.

    Get started by launching Terminal, found in /Applications/Utilities/.

    To list the available software updates, use the following command.

    sudo softwareupdate -l

    All available software updates can be installed with the following command:

    sudo softwareupdate -i -a

    Install specific updates from those listed with the following:

    sudo softwareupdate -i PackageName

    The softwareupdate command only handles key system software components and updates and will not update third party applications. Applications downloaded from the App Store will need to be updated through the App Store and can not be updated through the terminal.

    The video tutorial below demonstrates how this works when installing the iTunes 10.7 update:



    Advanced Mac users know the softwareupdate command has been around for some time, but the new App Store based software updating system has made it more useful than ever before.



    9-14-12


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    Speak Selected Text with a Keystroke in Mac OS X



    The excellent OS X text to speech function can be activated with a simple keystroke, but first you have to enable the feature:

    Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu

    Choose the “Dictation & Speech” panel then select the “Text to Speech” tab

    Check the box next to “Speak selected text when the key is pressed”

    Once this is enabled, select any text then hit Option+Escape to speak the text in the system voice.

    To speak all text, hit Command+A to select all, followed by the Option+Escape keyboard shortcut, and all words will be spoken using the text-to-speech engine that’s bundled in both Mac OS X and iOS. If you aren’t happy with the default system voice, you can add new high quality voices very easily.

    The default keystroke is Option+Escape but can be adjusted easily, assuming it doesn’t interfere with any other custom keyboard shortcuts you set it’s probably a good one to keep as is.


    9-15-12


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    Dropbox 1.5.12 – Online synchronization tool with Finder integration; free 2 GB accou



    Free 2 GB account (beta).. (Free)




    Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keep them up-to-date between systems. Note: You must first sign up to use Dropbox.


    Free Download



    9-15-12


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    Turn Off Notification Center in OS X Mountain Lion Temporarily



    Looking for some temporary peace and quiet from alerts and notifications but don’t want to completely disable Notification Center on your Mac? There are two quick ways to temporarily hush all notifications in OS X, both methods last until the next day before automatically resuming:

    Option+Click the Notification Center menu bar icon, it will turn grey when disabled

    To re-enable Notifications, just option+click the menu bar icon again. It will turn black to signify that it’s active again.

    If you’re less of a keyboard fan and more of a gestures person, you can also hush notifications directly from the panel itself:

    Swipe open Notification Center, swipe down, and flip “Show Alerts and Banners” to OFF

    Flipping the switch back to ON, or option+clicking the icon works to re-enable alerts again. Here is a quick video showing both of these methods in use under OS X Mountain Lion:





    If you want to continue to be alerted by are annoyed with the sounds, remember that you can mute notifications on a per-app basis too.


    9-16-12


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    How to Encrypt an External Drive Quickly in Mac OS X



    It’s now easier than ever to quickly encrypt external disks and hard drives from Mac OS X, whether they are USB drives, Firewire, or even SD cards. While you can still use the traditional route to encrypt disks through Disk Utility, from OS X Mountain Lion onward the process is streamlined directly into the Finder and desktop:

    Connect any external drive to the Mac

    Right-click on the external drives name in the Finder and choose “Encrypt DiskName…”




    Set and confirm a password, then set a reasonable password hint, followed by clicking the “Encrypt” button – do not forget this or you will lose access to the data!

    Wait while the encryption takes place

    For help generating strong passwords, clicking the little key icon will summon the password strength tool and generator.




    The encryption process can be very quick for smaller drives like USB keys and SD cards, but can take quite a while for large external hard drives used for backups or personal data. Be prepared to wait a bit for anything larger than a few GB in size, as the general encryption-to-GB time ratio seems to be about 1GB per minute.

    Once the drive has finished encrypting and is disconnected, a password will be required before the data can be accessed from the Mac. To maintain the password protection, be sure to uncheck saving the password to the Keychain when asked.

    The contextual menu approach makes this process very fast and easy, let’s just hope a future version of OS X provides similar encryption and password protection directly for local files and folders as well. Until then, you can continue to password protect individual folders and data with Disk Images to achieve that.


    9-17-12


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