MacOS Sierra is finally out of beta -- which means you can download the final version for free from the Apple Store. Get it here.
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For the first time ever, Apple has been forced to shut down a ransomware attack targeting Mac users running OS X. The file-encrypting malware is embedded in version 2.90 of the BitTorrent client Transmission and demands a bitcoin payment of approximately $400. If you are using Transmission 2.90, you are advised to delete it immediately. Here are the steps you need to take.
All platforms: Firefox 3, the next version of everyone's favourite cross-platform browser, has released a public beta for early adopters, web developers and other curious souls. New features include a Places Organizer for bookmarks and saved searches, a plug-in manager for the likes of Flash, Java and other helpers, and many more improvements and changes. Like any beta, there are still a few bugs to be smoothed out, and none of my extensions from Firefox 2 worked in this version. Still, it's an interesting look ahead at what browsing will look like in a few months. Firefox 3 Beta 1 is a free download for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Mac OS X only: The default behaviour for the Home and End keys on the Mac can be very annoying—particularly for Windows-to-Mac switchers. Freeware application KeyFixer remaps your Home and End keys so they move the keyboard cursor to the beginning or end of a line, duplicating the behaviour of the Home and End keys in Windows. (Cmd-Left/Right arrow perform the same function by default.) We covered a nitty gritty method for accomplishing this once before, but it requires manually editing system files and doesn't actually work for Firefox. Together, the two flavors of KeyFixer will fix the Home/End behaviour both across your system and in Firefox, which means that's one major OS X annoyance you can cross off your list. KeyFixer is freeware, Mac OS X only.
Windows and Mac only: Monitor your computer activity easily and efficiently with freeware application RescueTime. Just install the application and let it run in the background so that it can capture data for your online activity and application usage, then check the dashboard and view graphs and charts about your habits. Beyond the rich set of analytics provided, RescueTime also knows when you're away and will not collect any data during that time. If you really want to know how you're spending your time while you're "working," RescueTime is a solid choice. RescueTime is a freeware application for Windows and Mac, requires a free registration to download.
Your Mac's lack of a second mouse button means you have to Ctrl+click to get context menus and other "secondary click" options. Mac laptop users can stop reaching for the Ctrl key and secondary click by touching the trackpad with two fingers instead (then hitting the single mouse button.) In OS X's Keyboard & Mouse System Preferences pane, under Trackpad, check off "For secondary clicks, place two fingers on the trackpad then click the button." For more Mac tips, see weblog Hack the Day's roundup. 7 geek tricks for a fresh OSX Tiger install
On Tuesday I detailed how how I built a Hackintosh Mac from start to finish on the cheap, but one obvious question remained unanswered: How does my Hackintosh stack up to the Apple-built competition? To find out, I put my Hackintosh, a Mac Pro, and a MacBook Pro through the paces. Here's what I learned.
Apple has released possibly the last major update for OS X Tiger, the predecessor to the shiny new Leopard. CNET reports that OS X 10.4.11 updates its browser to Safari 3 and fixes some bugs and security holes. It also improves support for Intel based Macs running VMWare's Fusion virtualisation software.
Mac OS X only: Copy songs from your iPod directly to your iTunes library with free, open source application Senuti. We've mentioned Senuti in the past, but this app keeps getting better. Aside from the fact that Senuti has updated to work with Leopard, it also has a greatly improved interface since we last featured it. But what's most useful is the new blue dot, which indicates whether or not the song is already in your iTunes library, making Senuti perfect for "borrowing" a song or two from a friend's iPod without introducing duplicates to your iTunes library. Senuti is freeware, Mac OS X only. Windows users, check out previously mentioned YamiPod.
Windows/Mac/Linux (Firefox): Keep track of your daily to-read list with the Read it Later Firefox extension. Similar to previously mentioned Readeroo—which integrates directly with Del.icio.us—Read it Later takes a slightly different approach, keeping your reading list local until you read it and decide whether or not you want to bookmark it. If you do, you have the option to bookmark on any number of popular bookmarking sites, from Del.icio.us to Digg. The drawback is that Read it Later doesn't currently sync across browsers, which would be a nice touch. Read it Later is free, works wherever Firefox does.
Open source Mac utility Quicksilver isn't just an application launcher—it's a comprehensive keyboard interface. Launching applications and documents is just Quicksilver's gateway drug: The more you get used to doing things with Quicksilver, the more things you want to do with it. Out of the box Quicksilver comes with the barest essentials, but once you add the right plug-ins that interact with menus, apps, documents, and settings, you can accomplish more and more complex tasks from that familiar three-paned prompt. After the jump, check out top 10 favourite Quicksilver plug-ins, and how to set them up.
Integrate video and audio chat with the popular open source chat application Adium using the freeware MeBeam plug-in. Once installed, you can start a video chat by right-clicking a contact and selecting "Initiate MeBeam Videochat"; Adium will automatically create a web-based chatroom and send the URL to your contact (sort of like Meebo is doing). As a bonus, the video chat is completely cross-platform and application independent since it lives in your browser. Unfortunately, the quality of the MeBeam chat was mediocre in my tests, with audio dropping regularly and a much lower resolution picture than you can expect with video chat from the likes of iChat. That said, I'd expect the MeBeam service to continue to improve, so if you've been dying for video chat integration with Adium, the free, Mac OS X-only MeBeam plug-in will do the trick.
Mac users: Access your menu bar and launch dock items from the comfort of your keyboard with the Ctrl-F2 (menu bar) and Ctrl-F3 (dock) shortcuts. Especially handy for former Windows users used to navigating menus from the keyboard using the Alt key, these shortcuts have a few key differences. You can use the arrow keys to navigate if you prefer, but on the menu bar, for example, there aren't trigger letters for each item like Windows menus offer. Instead, just start typing the name of the menu bar item you want (for example, Edit) and then hit Enter once it's selected. You can then repeat this for actions within the drop-down menu. If these shortcuts don't work for you, you may either need to use Ctrl-Fn-F2/F3 or enable them with Ctrl-F1 (or Ctrl-Fn-F1).
Just like in the physical world, it's easy to let digital clutter accumulate on your Mac: in fact, right now your Downloads Stack is filled with no-longer relevant files and your Desktop is covered in documents you finished with last week. The Windows Janitor cleans out files of a certain age from a given folder on PCs, but Mac users have an even more robust, graphical alternative: the automated, rules-based file manager Hazel. Let's take a closer look at how Hazel can keep your Mac's hard drive free of files you don't need anymore.
Mac OS X only: Process all of your email from the comfort of your keyboard with free, open source Mail.app plugin Mail Act-On. If you're new to Mail Act-On, just install the plug-in and then read the documentation for how to create rules for filing emails with your oft-used actions. When all's said and done, Mail Act-On is similar to the Gmail Macros script but with less focus on navigation and much more potential for creating powerful rules for dealing with email. We've mentioned this plug-in once before, but this latest version adds support for Leopard. Mail Act-On is free, Mac OS X only. If you use Mail Act-On, share your favourite actions in the comments.
Mac OS 10.5 only: With VNC built right into Leopard, you can remote control your Mac from any other Mac via iChat or the Screen Sharing client—OR any PC using the right VNC client. Apple doesn't advertise this, but since Screen Sharing is just regular old VNC (albeit with a much more grokable name), our favourite Windows VNC client, TightVNC, works with it just dandy—with one small catch.
While some of us are still waiting to get our hands on the new Apple OS, the guys over at APC mag have been putting the cat through its paces. They've published a couple of useful articles looking at the state of play with application compatibility and Leopard, as well as an interesting article looking at the features which Apple seems to have dumped from their new OS.
Logitech mouse and keyboard users will hopefully already be aware that one piece of software it installs, Unsanity's Application Enhancer, needs to be uninstalled before installing Leopard to avoid a system "bluescreen of death" at start up. On the plus side, there's a growing list of newly updated apps which are Leopard compatible, including "Filemaker, EyeTV, BBEdit, Newsfire, Transmit, XTorrent, Parallels (Beta, Build 5540) and Audio Hijack Pro."
David Flynn's article looking at what's been cut from Leopard is an interesting read. Apparently its new version of Address Book no longer lets you "use Bluetooth to dial your mobile and send SMS messages from the Address Book, and then to read and reply to incoming SMS messages on your Mac". The article looks at a third party app which will help, and looks at other features which have gone MIA.