Quickly Toggle “White on Black” Screen Mode on iPad

Jun 27, 2012 - 2 Comments

Toggle White on Black with iPad

iOS for iPad includes a nice feature that lets you triple-click the Home button to toggle ‘White on Black’ screen mode. If you haven’t used White on Black before it essentially inverts the screen, which makes reading at night or in low light conditions less harsh on the eyes.

Triple-click the Home button to try it yourself, the default option summons the “Ask” menu shown in the screenshot up top, but you can change the settings to make a triple-click instantly toggle between black on white or normal:

  1. Open “Settings” and tap on “General”
  2. Scroll down to and tap on “Accessibility” and then “Triple-click Home”
  3. Select “Toggle White on Black” to make the triple click automatically invert the display

If you haven’t seen it before, this is what it looks like. Images don’t look that great, but text is much easier to read at night:

White on Black mode inverts the iPad screen

iBooks has similar features that are built into the app settings.

By Paul Horowitz - iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks - 2 Comments

New MacBook Air Freezing & Crashing? Try Using Safari or Chrome Canary For Now

Jun 27, 2012 - 16 Comments

Mac Kernel Panic

We’ve discussed some pretty flattering attributes of the new MacBook Air lately, but here’s one that’s less than pleasant: a sizable amount of users are reporting the machine will completely freeze up seemingly out of nowhere, requiring a hard reset. Though not every new MacBook Air owner is experiencing the freezing issue, those who have seem to all being running the Chrome web browser when the system freeze occurs.

This has anecdotally been confirmed by Gizmodo and their staff writers, and they also cite several Apple Discussion Board threads and MacRumors forum posts on the matter. With a reasonable amount of evidence pointing to a software bug in an existing version of Chrome, the solution for the time being is simple enough, try using the latest Chrome Canary build, Safari, or Firefox, each of which seem to resolve the issue for the time being. Google typically releases new stable versions of Chrome with some regularity so an update probably isn’t too far off and hopefully it will resolve the freezes and crashes once and for all.

Update 6/28/2012: Google has confirmed that an existing version of Chrome is causing conflicts and crashes with the Intel HD 4000 GPU on the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro:

We have identified a leak of graphics resources in the Chrome browser related to the drawing of plugins on Mac OS X. Work is proceeding to find and fix the root cause of the leak.

The resource leak is causing a kernel panic on Mac hardware containing the Intel HD 4000 graphics chip (e.g. the new Macbook Airs). Radar bug number 11762608 has been filed with Apple regarding the kernel panics, since it should not be possible for an application to trigger such behavior.

While the root cause of the leak is being fixed, we are temporarily disabling some of Chrome’s GPU acceleration features on the affected hardware via an auto-updated release that went out this afternoon (Thursday June 28). We anticipate further fixes in the coming days which will re-enable many or all of these features on this hardware.

If you have a new MacBook Pro or MacBook Air and use Chrome, update it now to receive the temporary fix.

By Paul Horowitz - Troubleshooting - 16 Comments

Battery Life on MacBook Air (2012) is Better Than Advertised

Jun 26, 2012 - 20 Comments

MacBook AIr 2012 Battery Life

Apple advertises the MacBook Air (mid-2012) battery as lasting “up to 7 hours”, but we’re pleased to report that Apple’s marketing is understating that number by as much as an hour and a half. In our (admittedly unscientific) tests based on real-world use case scenarios, the battery life on the new MacBook Air is simply phenomenal, and we were able to get 8:25 out of the 13″ model while doing tasks that could be considered typical of an average computer user. Here are various reported samplings from the 2012 MacBook Air 13″:

  • 8:25 – screen at 40% brightness, keyboard backlighting on 50% brightness, light web browsing with Safari (no Flash plug-in installed), and text-based work in TextWrangler and Pages
  • 6:45 – screen at 70% brightness, otherwise same as above
  • 5:33 – screen at 80% brightness, keyboard backlighting on full brightness, heavy app usage
  • 4:15 – screen at 100% brightness, keyboard backlighting on full brightness, heavy app usage with tons of apps open including Chrome (with Flash) open with about 25 browser tabs, image editing in Pixelmator, using 6GB of RAM, while driving an external 22″ display
  • 3:40 – screen at 80% brightness, reasonable app usage, heavy wi-fi usage downloading 16GB sustained at 1.2mb/sec

Having a computer last over 8 hours while actually doing work is simply phenomenal, if your daily activities are mostly web or text centric – be it research, writing, web browsing, or even development – you’d do quite well in the battery department with the 2012 MacBook Air models. There is no performance sacrifice either, these are still the fastest MacBook Air models ever made.

The lowest end number deserves some notice too however, and what seems to impact battery life the most is not the brightness of the screen, but rather sustained heavy wireless internet usage. Downloading a large file over wi-fi plunged the expected battery life dramatically, even with screen brightness reduced. This is something we weren’t able to replicate as dramatically on 2010 and 2011 models, but we have experienced it on two different new models (one base model, another upgraded with 8GB RAM). As far as we can tell the wi-fi hardware is the same as the 2011 models, so this is an interesting discrepancy that is not fully understood.

In all, battery life on the new MacBook Air is as good as it gets on an ultra-portable laptop and represents a nice improvement over the previous generations. If you’ve done any independent battery testing yourself, let us know how long your MacBook Air lasts in the comments.

Highlight Non-Retina Image Assets in Red to Insure High Resolution Images Load

Jun 26, 2012 - 2 Comments

Highlight and tint non-retina images in red

For the developers and UI designers out there, Apple’s developer docs show us how to highlight non-retina images in red, making it easy to determine if the 2x image assets are loading properly for retina displays. You can set the image tinting to occur in all apps, or on a per-app basis.

Enable Non-Retina Image Highlighting for All Apps
This defaults command impacts all applications:
defaults write -g CGContextHighlight2xScaledImages YES

Restrict 2x Image Tinting to a Single Application
Use the following defaults command to restrict to the specific app, changing com.mycompany.myapp to your app:
defaults write com.mycompany.myapp CGContextHighlight2xScaledImages YES

Larger elements look like the image above, and smaller images are highlighted as the image below demonstrates:

Highlight non-retina assets to see images that aren't 2x

Apple recommends using this in combination with HIDPI mode, assuming you have a display which supports it of course.

This tip is probably only useful for developers and UI designers, but if you fall into that boat and you’re in the midst of updating apps for high-res @2x support you’ll certainly appreciate it. For everyone else, this could be viewed as an indicator that the entire Mac lineup will eventually feature retina displays. In many ways the release of the Retina MacBook Pro could just be an initial staging ground for devs and designers to update their apps before a wider rollout of retina displays comes across the Mac platform.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in.

How to Convert Currency in Mac OS X with Calculator App

Jun 26, 2012 - 9 Comments

Calculator app converts currency

Need to quickly convert a value in one currency to another? You don’t need to hit the web to learn the latest exchange rates, instead you can turn to the trusty old Calculator app. The OS X Calculator is bundled with a variety of built-in conversion tools, currency included. Using it is simple:

  1. Launch Calculator app through Spotlight (Command+Spacebar) or find it in /Applications/
  2. Enter a number you wish to convert from one currency to the next, then pull down the “Convert” menu and select “Currency”
  3. Click “Update” to get the most recent conversion rates, then select the currency to convert from and to

Convert Currency in Mac OS X with Calculator app

Calculator will update with the new amount in the new currency, though you won’t find a symbol to indicate so. Any frequently u

The conversion rates are pulled from Yahoo, but it’s always a good idea to hit the “Update” button so you can be sure to get the most recent exchange rates. This is a really handy feature if you’re participating in international commerce or even just traveling.

A similar feature is also available in Dashboard with the Unit Converter widget.

By Paul Horowitz - Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks - 9 Comments

OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4 Update 2 Released

Jun 26, 2012 - 2 Comments

OS X Mountain Lion DP4 Update 2

Pushing towards next months public release, Apple has released a second developer update to OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4. The new build is 12A256 and the update appears to focus primarily on security features and updates, and 9to5mac points out the latest build will check daily for security updates.

Developers running OS X 10.8 DP4 can access and download the latest update directly from the Mac App Store, where it’s labeled with the message “Install this update as soon as possible,” indicating some urgency for testing.

Apple has been rapidly releasing their beta OS’s for developers to test recently. The first update to Dev Preview 4 was released about a week ago, and earlier today Apple released iOS 6 beta 2.

By Matt Chan - Mac OS X, News - 2 Comments

iOS 6 Beta 2 Released as Over-the-Air Download

Jun 25, 2012 - 7 Comments

iOS 6 beta 2

iOS 6 continues it’s march to a fall release with the freshly released second beta version. iOS 6 Beta 2 comes as a delta update available to those running the prior beta build through OTA (Over the Air) update and weighs in around 300MB.

Beta 2 IPSW will likely appear on Apple’s Dev Center with full release notes soon, but for now those running beta 1 should use OTA update to jump to the newest version.

The update probably focuses on bug fixes, but one change to be immediately noticeable is the new spinning gears animation when an over-the-air update is installing, shown in the video below:

For developers who tire of running the latest beta version, it’s still easy to downgrade from iOS 6 back to iOS 5.

By Matt Chan - iPad, iPhone, News - 7 Comments

Remove Rounded Corners from QuickTime Player Video Windows

Jun 25, 2012 - 6 Comments

Remove rounded corners from QuickTime video windows

QuickTime Player automatically rounds the corners of any video window, a nice touch that fits in line with the rest of the OS X desktop and window experience. If you don’t like the rounded movie window appearance though, you can easily disable them:

  1. Quick QuickTime
  2. Launch Terminal and enter the following command:
  3. defaults write com.apple.QuickTimePlayerX MGCinematicWindowDebugForceNoRoundedCorners 1

  4. Relaunch QuickTime and open a movie to see the difference

The change is obviously very subtle, but if you watch a lot of windowed movies it can be an attractive change.

If you want to get the rounded corners back, use the following defaults write command and then relaunch QuickTime Player:

defaults write com.apple.QuickTimePlayerX MGCinematicWindowDebugForceNoRoundedCorners 0

The defaults command works in practically all versions of QuickTime in Mac OS X including OS X Lion and Mountain Lion. We had covered this a while back as part of a group of QuickTime hacks but thanks to David for the reminder that it works in new versions too.

By Paul Horowitz - Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks - 6 Comments

Add FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Other Social Profiles to iPhone Contacts

Jun 25, 2012 - 3 Comments

Add Social Profiles to iOS and iPhone Contacts

Many of your contacts probably have social profiles they use on services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr, and these social profiles can be added to their existing contact card information easily in iOS. Here’s how:

  1. Open Contacts and tap a contact that you wish to edit
  2. Tap the “Edit” button in the upper right corner
  3. Scroll down and tap on “Add Field” and then select “Twitter” for Twitter, or “Profile” for Facebook
  4. Enter the contacts Twitter username in the field then hit “Return” to see “Facebook” appear as an additional entry point directly below, enter the Facebook username and hit return to see additional social profiles for other services including Flickr, Linkedin, and even Myspace

Once the contacts social profiles have been added, you can then tap on them to perform various tasks. With Twitter profiles, you can then directly send a tweet to the user, or view that users tweets from the Twitter app. Tapping on the username of other social profiles will either open the respective app if it’s installed on the device, or launch Safari directly to their profile.

If you discover a few cards of the same person you can merge duplicates easily, and don’t forget to back up the contacts list if you spend a lot of time customizing the entries.

By Paul Horowitz - iPad, iPhone - 3 Comments

Remove the Alias Arrow Badge From Icons in Mac OS X

Jun 23, 2012 - 10 Comments

Remove the alias arrow badge from icons in Mac OS X

Anytime you create an alias in Mac OS X the resulting alias of a file, app, or folder, will include the arrow icon in the corner. This makes it easy to identify any item as an alias, but you can hide the alias arrow badge from icons if you don’t want to see them:

  1. From the OS X Finder hit Command+Shift+G and enter the following path:
  2. /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/

  3. Locate the file named “AliasBadgeIcon.icns” and rename it to “AliasBadgeIcon-no.icns”, you will need to authenticate the change because this is a system folder
  4. Launch the Terminal from /Applications/Utilities/ or by hitting Command+Spacebar and typing “Terminal”
  5. Type “killall Finder” to relaunch the Finder

The Mac OS X Finder and desktop will refresh and all the alias icons will be gone.

This is not a permanent change. To re-enable the arrow badges again, go back to the same Resources directory and rename the “AliasBadgeIcon-no.icns” badge back to “AliasBadgeIcon.icns”, then kill the Finder again to refresh and to see the alias arrows again.

Most users won’t want to do this but there are certainly use cases where people may want to, like when creating a custom app launcher or even just to create a more minimalist desktop appearance.

Thanks to @oldrobot for the tip idea. Have a question or tip idea? Follow us on Twitter or send us an email and ask away!

By William Pearson - Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks - 10 Comments

Mac Setup: Dual Screen Mac Pro with Analog System Activity Meters(!)

Jun 23, 2012 - 13 Comments

Dual screen Mac Pro desk setup with analog CPU meters

Rather than watching system activity in Activity Monitor, have you ever wished you had physical analog meters on your desk that showed you what was going on with your computer? You know, maybe having a gauge that showed you what your CPU cores were doing, another to show network activity, and another for RAM usage. If that sounds like a loose pipedream it’s not at all, and this awesome Mac Pro setup proves it. Sounds awesom? We agree, here’s the full hardware shown in this setup, and read on to learn how to configure such a desk yourself:

  • Dual Dell 2408 24″ Displays for a total of workspace resolution of 3840×2400
  • Mac Pro 1,1 Quad-Core Xeon with 7GB of RAM, Radeon 5770 GPU, 128GB SSD for the OS, dual 2TB HDD’s for data
  • Apple wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad
  • Analog dials measuring the Mac Pro’s CPU load, network activity, and RAM usage, all via an Arduino connected via USB
  • Hidden in the ventilated(!) cabinets are: Drobo with 4 1TB drives for Time Machine backups, Wii, PS3, printer, UPS, iPad and iPhone chargers, routers, adapters, switches, etc

If you were wondering how this awesome desk setup was put together, including all the necessary Ikea parts for the desk, don’t miss Matthew’s blog where he lays out the entire project and provides the source code for the meter reading.

Check out some more pictures to really appreciate this workstation:

Analog CPU meters

Mac Pro desk setup with cabinets open

Mac Pro setup in the dark

We get a lot of submissions to our weekly Mac setups but this one is one of the more creative desks we’ve seen in a while. If you have a sweet Mac setup, send a good picture with some hardware details and what you use it for to osxdailycom@gmail.com.

Thanks for sending this in Matthew!

By William Pearson - Mac Setups - 13 Comments

Merge & Clear Duplicate Contacts from Address Book and iPhone

Jun 22, 2012 - 15 Comments

Find and remove duplicate contacts from Address Book

Duplicate contact entries occur with some regularity, whether it’s because a contact has changed an email address, phone number, name, or just because you accidentally entered someone twice into your iOS contacts list. If you have a Mac, the Address Book app makes it very easy to merge these duplicate contacts and then automatically remove the duplicate entries, clearing out a messy contacts list.

Before beginning, you’ll want to have the iPhone or iPad address book already synced with the Mac and backed up so that you are working with the more recent contacts list:

  1. Launch Address Book and pull down the “Card” menu
  2. Select “Look for Duplicates” to get a report back of the number of duplicates found, click “Merge” to combine those contacts
  3. Resync to have the changes take effect on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

Merge and remove duplicate contacts from Address Book an iOS

If you keep a separate backup of contacts, you’ll probably want to manually back up the Address Book again with the updated version.

By Paul Horowitz - iPad, iPhone, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks - 15 Comments

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