Use Instagram as a Screen Saver in Mac OS X or Windows with Screenstagram

May 17, 2012 - Leave a Comment

Screenstagram is an Instagram screen saver

There are tons of interesting pictures posted to Instagram all the time, but unless you’re using the iPhone apps, the website, or Android app you can’t really see what’s going on there. That’s where Screenstagram comes in, it creates an attractive screen saver using an array of images pulled from either public photos or your personal Instagram feed, and sets those images as a lovely changing grid screen saver in Mac OS X or Windows.

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By Paul Horowitz - Customize, Fun, Mac OS X - Leave a Comment

Use Growl Notifications to Alert When Command Line Tasks Have Completed

May 17, 2012 - 4 Comments

Growl Notification sent from the command line with growlnotify

A recent tip covered how to announce when a command line task finished by using OS X’s text-to-speech abilities. The obvious downside to that method is the sound makes it less useful to those who are using Macs in quiet environments like offices, schools, or libraries. An alternate solution is to use growlnotify to create a silent notification when a command line task has finished.

You will need the following for this to work:

Assuming both Growl and growlnotify have been installed, append growlnotify to the end of another command and use the -m flag to specify the notification message to use after the initial command has finished running. For example:

make install && growlnotify -m "Install Completed"

The Growl message “Install Completed” will appear when make install has finished running.

Growl also makes it simple to send notifications to other hosts running growl, this can be done with the -H flag and by specifying an IP address. This is helpful if you’re compiling something large on a desktop Mac and want to send the completion notification to a MacBook Air while you’re working elsewhere.

The notification icon and other details can be modified through growlnotify command as well, use the –help flag to see all the options.

Thanks to Theo & Jason for the tip idea

By William Pearson - Command Line, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks - 4 Comments

Quick Fix for iOS 5.1.1 Battery Life Problems

May 17, 2012 - 32 Comments

iOS battery life

iOS updates can come with some unexpected surprises regarding battery life and iOS 5.1.1 isn’t much different. While there are a fair amount of reports of positive battery improvements not all of us were so lucky, the battery life on my iPad 3 absolutely tanked after updating to iOS 5.1.1.

After rebooting several times and trying a handful of troubleshooting solutions, I discovered this to be a fairly common issue with users who updated iOS through on-device OTA updates, though there doesn’t seem to be much explanation as to the cause. Fortunately the fix is simple, so if you have experienced a drop in device longevity after the 5.1.1 update try the solution below.

Before proceeding you should perform a quick manual back up through iCloud or iTunes just in case something goes wrong. This process resets all iOS device settings, meaning you will have to re-enter Wi-Fi passwords, auto-fill info, Apple ID, etc.

  1. Open “Settings” and tap on “General” then “Reset”, tap on “Reset All Settings”
  2. Enter the passcode if you have one set, then tap “Reset” to confirm the settings adjustment
  3. Reboot the device and set it up as new, reentering personalization data as necessary

Battery life should be immediately improved, though a comment left on Apple Discussion Boards suggests letting the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch drain down to 0% and then recharging for an hour or so past 100% before disconnecting from a power source is a good follow-up.

This worked wonders for my 3rd gen iPad and battery life is now back to the 10+ hours I had before the update. If you’re still having problems you can try some of our past tips on improving and maximizing battery life for iDevices.

OS X Mountain Lion DP3 Build 12A206j Released

May 16, 2012 - 13 Comments

OS X Mountain Lion icon

Apple has pushed out another update to OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3, as the anticipated summer public release of OS X 10.8 nears. The new build is 12A206j and can be downloaded through the Mac App Store by any registered Mac developer running 12A193i or later of Mountain Lion.

The latest build includes noticeable changes to Notification Center, Notes, Share Sheets, and several other prominent OS X 10.8 features. 12A206j also features many bug fixes though it continues to have a handful of prominent issues that are yet to be addressed. Additionally, some 2007 MacBook Pro models are currently missing support in the new version, though that is expected to be resolved in a future update.

By Matt Chan - Mac OS X, News - 13 Comments

Disable Automatic iTunes Backups for iPhone, iPad, and iPod

May 16, 2012 - 3 Comments

Disable Automatic Backups in iTunes for iOS Devices

Having a backup of your iOS device and its settings is important, so rather than completely disabling iOS backups in iTunes, you can choose to selectively disable only the automatic backup process. This is a much better solution because it allows you to create and retain local backups of an iPad, iPhone, or iPod when you want them, but they are no longer initiated on their own during the sync process.

The vast majority of users should retain the default behavior and allow iTunes to manage and back up your devices. This tip is intended for advanced users who have a compelling reason to disable the automated process.

Disable Automatic iTunes Backups

  1. Quit iTunes and then launch Terminal, found in /Applications/Utilities/
  2. Enter the following defaults write command:
  3. defaults write AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

  4. Relaunch iTunes for changes to take effect

Once automatic back ups are disabled, you can backup manually at any point by right-clicking on the device within iTunes sidebar and choosing “Back Up”, and you can continue to use iClouds manual initiation as well.

Re-Enable Automatic iOS Device Backups in iTunes
To reverse the change and re-enable automatic device backups, open Terminal and use the following defaults command before relaunching iTunes:

defaults write AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool false

Both sides of this change should only impact iTunes and have no effect on iCloud behavior.

A big thanks to Matt for the tip left in our comments!

By Paul Horowitz - iPad, iPhone, iTunes, Tips & Tricks - 3 Comments

How to Save iPhone & iPad Apps & Downgrade an App to a Previous Version

May 16, 2012 - 7 Comments

Save iOS Apps and Easily Downgrade to Previous Versions

We’ve all had the experience of one of our favorite app getting updated and the new version being worse than the previous version. Maybe it’s more intrusive ads, maybe it’s a terribly annoying feature, whatever it is, a poor app update can easily ruin your app experience. The easiest way to avoid this potential letdown is to save a copy of iOS apps, allowing you to downgrade them if you discover the new version is worse. This is much easier to do than you may think, we’ll cover the process of saving a local backup of the app and also how to downgrade to the prior version if you dislike the newest iteration.

Note that if you backup exclusively through iCloud you won’t have this option because the apps will not be stored locally. You can always backup locally in addition to iCloud to prevent that being an issue.

Save iOS Apps & Easy Version Downgrading

This process is best done manually before you update an app.

Saving & Backing Up Individual iOS Apps

  1. Navigate to the iOS app location, this can be done by right-clicking the app in iTunes and choosing “Show in Finder” or by manually going to the local iOS app location at ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Mobile Applications/ and finding the app
  2. Copy the app file to another location to serve as the backup, the iOS app files have a .ipa extension

If you feel like it, you could backup that entire directory to another location, though that’s usually unnecessary.

Sidenote for Windows users: the directory you are looking for is: C:\Users\Username\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Mobile Applications\

With the app backed up, you can now safely update to the newest version directly on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. If you decide the new version is awful, downgrading is very simple.

Downgrading to Previous Version of an iOS App

  1. On the iOS device, delete the app you wish to downgrade
  2. On the computer, quit iTunes
  3. Again navigate to the local iOS app location at ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Mobile Applications/
  4. Remove the newest version of the app .ipa file from that directory
  5. Copy the previously saved version of the app to the /Mobile Applications/ directory
  6. Relaunch iTunes
  7. Resync the iPhone, iPad, or iPod, and the older app version will restore to the device to complete the downgrade

In some situations the older versions of apps won’t be compatible with the newest version of iOS, you’ll know this is the case because the app won’t launch when you attempt to open it on the iPhone/iPad, or you will get a message stating a new version is available and asking to upgrade.

Finally, if you use something like Time Machine, you can always dig through the Time Machine backups to access older versions of apps if you’re in a pinch, but it’s generally easiest to just keep a specific backup of an app if you prefer a past version.

By Paul Horowitz - iPad, iPhone, iTunes, Tips & Tricks - 7 Comments

Next iPhone Will Have Larger 4″ Screen

May 16, 2012 - 9 Comments

New iPhone 5 with larger screen mockup

The next generation iPhone will feature a 4″ display, according to two separate reports from Reuters and Wall Street Journal.

The dual reports appear to confirm long existing speculation that Apple would increase the size of the new iPhone screens from the current 3.5″ display to a larger 4″ display. Larger displays are increasingly common in the smartphone world, and both Reuters and WSJ cite competition from Android phones as part of the motivation to increase the screen size.

Other details are scant and the source of the information is the routinely vague “people familiar with the situation”, but WSJ and Reuters have a history of providing accurate Apple rumors and leaks in the past.

Assuming existing iPhone 5 rumors pan out, the next-gen phone could potentially include the following features:

  • 4″ Display at similar screen resolution to existing iPhone models
  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • A5X CPU borrowed from the iPad 3
  • 10 megapixel or higher camera
  • All new redesigned enclosure
  • Ships with iOS 6

The next iPhone is expected to launch later this year, likely around September or October.

By Matt Chan - iPhone, News, Rumor - 9 Comments

Disable Automatic Termination of Apps in Mac OS X Lion & Mountain Lion

May 15, 2012 - 22 Comments

Disable Automatic Termination of Apps in Mac OS X

Automatic termination is a feature of OS X Lion and OS X Mountain Lion that comes from the realm of iOS, the idea is that after an app is unused for a period of time and becomes inactive, it will automatically terminate to free up resources for other tasks. With the help of the new auto-save feature, the user should theoretically never notice any of this going on and they can continue on with their work as usual when they need to, letting Mac OS X manage processes and resources for them without quitting apps or manual interaction through Activity Monitor.

For the vast majority of users this is a good thing and most are probably completely unaware of the features existence, but not everyone is thrilled with the prospect of dormant applications being quit without their command and some find it really annoying. If you fall into the second category and want to turn off automatic app termination in OS X, here is how to do it. Don’t worry, we’ll also show you how to turn it back on.

Disable Automatic Termination in Mac OS X
Launch Terminal and enter the following defaults write command:

defaults write -g NSDisableAutomaticTermination -bool yes

Relaunch apps that use auto-termination for changes to take effect.

Re-Enable Automatic App Termination in Mac OS X
You can always reenable the default behavior of OS X and turn auto termination back on:

defaults delete NSDisableAutomaticTermination

Or by reversing “yes” to “no” and running the original command again:

defaults write -g NSDisableAutomaticTermination -bool no

Again, relaunch apps for the changes to take effect and to have auto-terminate enabled again.

This is something that Mac OS X and iOS handles fairly well, and if you’ve never been annoyed by the feature it’s recommended to leave it enabled and let OS X manage tasks itself.

Thanks to qwerty for finding the tip in a StackExchange thread.

How to Disable the iTunes Backup For iOS Devices Completely

May 15, 2012 - 10 Comments

Anytime an iOS device is connected to a computer it will sync and backup the device, and though the syncing process can be annoying sometimes, the backup process should be considered crucial so that you always have a way to restore your iPhone, iPad, or iPod should anything go wrong.

With that said, there are a few limited situations where some users may want to disable the iTunes & iOS backup process completely, which is different than stopping iTunes from automatically syncing because it continues to allow for device syncing but minus the backing up aspect.

We’ll show you how to turn off backups, but we want to warn everyone this is not a good idea unless you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, leaving this option best for select jailbreakers or just for demonstration purposes.

Disable iTunes Backups for iOS Devices

  • Quit out of iTunes and launch the Terminal, then enter the following defaults write command:
  • defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool YES

  • Relaunch iTunes, connecting iOS devices will sync but without a backup copying over

With backups disabled nothing will be added to the local directory or iCloud, and anything already there can be deleted through iTunes or manually. Remember, disabling this feature removes the ability to restore an iOS device should you need to, which for 99.9% of people is a bad thing.

Re-Enable iTunes & iOS Backups

  • Quit iTunes again and launch Terminal, entering the following defaults command:
  • defaults delete DeviceBackupsDisabled

  • Relaunch iTunes and connect an iOS device to confirm backups are working again

The instructions above are intended for Mac OS X, but Windows users can disable the device backups by launching iTunes with a flag attached to it, this can be executed from the Run menu or by right-clicking iTunes:

"%ProgramFiles%\iTunes\iTunes.exe" /setPrefInt DeviceBackupsDisabled 1

To reenable backups with windows, change the 1 to a 0 and run iTunes exe again.

Thanks to Jeremy for the tips.

Start an iMessage Conversation From the Web with Custom Links

May 15, 2012 - 4 Comments

Start an iMessage conversation from the web

By using a custom URL inside of an anchor tag, you can place a link on any website that will initiate a new iMessage conversation. Anyone clicking the link will then launch the Messages app in iOS or iMessages in Mac OS X to begin a new conversation with the specified Apple ID.

Even if you have limited knowledge of HTML the link structure is easy to use, here’s the format you’d want to use for Mac and iOS;

Read more »

By Paul Horowitz - iPad, iPhone, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks - 4 Comments

Get Dictionary Definitions From Anywhere in Mac OS X with Spotlight

May 14, 2012 - 5 Comments

Instant dictionary from Spotlight in Mac OS X

While you can immediately access a dictionary definition by three-finger tapping on a single word in Mac OS X or double-tapping in iOS, the Mac also provides another instant dictionary option: Spotlight.

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By Paul Horowitz - Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks - 5 Comments

New MacBook Pro Coming Next Month at WWDC: Retina Display, Thinner, SSD

May 14, 2012 - 14 Comments

MacBook Pro

Apple will release a new thinner MacBook Pro next month at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), according to a report from Bloomberg.

With a thinner design, the new MacBook Pro is expected to feature “high-definition screens like those on the iPhone and iPad” commonly referred to as a Retina display, and also include SSD storage which will extend battery life and increase performance. The new laptops are said to run on Intels newest Ivy Bridge processors, though precise clock speeds are currently unknown, and there is no word on bundled graphics card capabilities.

Earlier today, 9to5mac had reported on some information they had received regarding the new MacBook Pro model, and the Bloomberg report seems to confirm much of it. 9to5mac suggested the new MacBook Pro won’t have a tapered enclosure like the MacBook Air, and instead would resemble a thinner version of the square unibody enclosure that already exists but without a SuperDrive.

Rumors of retina Macs have swirled for quite some time, and evidence has been piling up since early OS X Lion developer previews were released. HIDPI mode is currently buried in OS X and can be enabled manually, though there is no official Apple screen capable of utilizing the high resolution.

WWDC 2012 is scheduled to run from June 11 to June 15. Other than an all new MacBook Pro, the event is expected to reveal iOS 6 beta for the first time, in addition to providing a GM build of OS X Mountain Lion, the latter of which is set to be released this summer.

By Matt Chan - News, Rumor - 14 Comments

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