How to Use FileVault

Found on Mac OSX 10.3 and later, FileVault is a great tool to make sure all your data is completely safe at all times. FileVault encrypts the files, as in it stores them as a Sparse Disc Image, which is essentially one large file and uses a key derived from the user’s password.

It is always safe to take some extra precautions for your Mac and FileVault will help you do just that by allowing you to encrypt your drive.

Encrypt the entire home folder into one file

The entire home folder can be encrypted into one big file. If iTunes, iPhotos and movies are all moved out of this, the file size can be kept small and this helps improve the reliability. By going to Preferences in iTunes, you can go to Advanced and allocate where your iTunes library need to be kept. Then by going to Consolidate Library in Advanced, your files will be moved by iTunes. The same can be done for iPhoto by just moving the iPhoto library.

Create a maintenance user account

By clicking on Accounts in System Preferences and adding the user there, a maintenance user account can be created. It should be ensured that it is an Administrator account to allow unhindered access to system privileges. This account is critical, as without it the FileVault gets corrupted.

Create a complete backup of the Mac

By logging into the maintenance account, a complete backup of the Mac’s contents can be made into an external drive. This saves everything on your Mac and a restore will return your system to its exact current condition.

Create a backup of all your files

After logging out of the maintenance user account and logging in the normal user account, a backup of all the files on the Mac can be made using the Retrospect solution.

Create a whole-drive backup solution

Creating a backup solution of the entire drive is optional, but it is advisable to do so. The SuperDuper software and an external drive can be used for this. It is always safe to have a bootable backup of all the files as you never really know when your system decides to take a walk on the wild side.

Set a master password

A master password can be set by going to Security in the System Preferences option. It is recommended to write down the master password in a secure place in case you forget it.

Request password to wake computer

The settings on the bottom can be changed to request a password to wake the computer, whenever it is on sleep mode. Automatic login can be disabled as it leaves the system open to anyone and everyone while you are away or busy….not a very good idea if you have confidential material on your Mac.

Find more great Mac articles in our articles section.

For more great Mac articles, resources, tools and downloads, visit: Macintosh Tools. You can also visit our blog for the latest industry news and tips.

Ten Great Mac Apps For College Students

For many people this time of year means saying goodbye to summer, finding the old sweaters and hoodies from last year, and preparing for that familiar back-to-school ritual.  With Apple once again offering their back-to-school deal of giving an iPod Touch away with the purchase of a Mac, there will be plenty of college students looking for apps to go along with their new computer that will help them during the hectic school year. With an ever-growing number of applications available on the Mac platform it could become quite a task finding the right thing, so a few apps that stand out in their category that aid students will be spotlighted.

Studying and Management

Cram – One of the newest to the bunch is Cram, which offers students the ability to study and prepare for tests in either flash card or multiple choice testing mode. Cram also grades and keeps track of testing attempts and tweets out test results to Twitter. The application also features a user-generated test library to download existing tests.

Timeline 3D – An application that will help students add pizzaz to timeline presentations is Timeline 3D. This app allows users to present full screen interactive timelines with a 3D perspective. If you have to display any chronological events Timeline 3D is perfect for adding a unique splash to your presentation featuring the ability to add images, video, use your Apple Remote and more.

Schoolhouse – Trying to keep up with your assignments and notes for each class can be a pain. Schoolhouse offers a remedy to that problem by providing the ability to manage and keep track of assignments, notes, and tasks. Schoolhouse’s clean and easy to use interface also features the ability to manage your grades over a term, add an attachment, and email an instructor about an assignment among other features.

1Password – So you’re trying to remember all the new passwords this semester without using the same easy to hack password for every site but finding it hard to manage. Well remember no more with 1Password. 1Password is an application that manages all of your usernames and passwords and quickly restores them when it’s time to log in. Use a single password to access and manage all of your accounts. 1Password also integrates perfectly into Safari, Firefox, and other browsers for seamless one-click account log in.

Lifestyle

SousChef – You can only eat pizza and soda so many nights in a row. That’s where SousChef comes in. SousChef is a digital cooking assistant that among other features allows you to store and organize your recipes. The application also provides access to over 110,000 recipes to download when you’re in the mood to try something new. Sharing recipes with friends and family is also a simple task in SousChef.

Tweetie – Everyone has a Twitter account so why not have a slick way of using it? Introducing Tweetie, a beautiful Twitter client for Mac. Tweetie adds a layer of simplicity and style while at the same time including all of the same functions you’re used to on Twitter. Manage multiple accounts, easily view conversions, chose your favorite URL and image service and more.

The Hit List – Keeping up with college life is hard enough. Adding family, friends, work, and other outside obligations make it nearly impossible. In comes The Hit List, a simple yet sophisticated application to manage the daily chaos of your modern life. One of the strong points of the application is its ‘Today List’ which shows all of the tasks for that day in one view. The Hit List is a feature-full application with seamless integration with system applications such as iCal to access tasks with other applications and devices.

Times – Who says newspapers are dead? Well, technically they are, but an app called Times puts a classic newspaper look to your favorite blogs. Unlike most RSS readers, Times presents headlines, categories, and images in once place letting you more easily discover the news you want to read. The detail put into the presentation and animated transitions in Times is top notch.

Entertainment

World of Goo – Two words that explain this game can only be “fun” and “addictive”.  World of Goo is a physics based puzzle/construction game that features little globs of goo that can be connected together to achieve the goal at hand. Play this game and you probably won’t get any studying done, but you’ll have fun time doing so.

Hulu Desktop – With all the studying and late night projects you might have this semester, chances are some of your favorite shows will be missed. Hulu Desktop puts many of your favorite TV shows on your Mac so you can watch them on your time. Browse by channel, category, movies, and more.

Patrick Chukwura is the developer and co-founder at http://www.simpleleap.com SimpleLeap Software develops Mac and iPhone software.

How Can I Play Windows Media Files (Wma and Wmv) On a Mac?

Introduction

Apple’s Quicktime movie format (recognizable by its *.mov extension) has become and almost standard for video files. It beats most other video formats in terms of compression and both video and audio quality. The quicktime format, however, is by no means the only format for videos out there. In a world where over 90% of all personal computers run Microsoft Windows it is no surprise that you are bound to stumble over videos in the Microsoft Media File format (.wma and .wmv). How can you play these kind of videos on a Mac?

While there are about a handful of options, two of them are more reasonable than the others for a bunch of reasons: the Flip4Mac Quicktime plugin and VLC Media Player.

Flip4Mac

Flip4Mac is a plugin for Apple’s Quicktime movie player. Being a plugin it will enable Quicktime to play Windows Media Files. This has the advantage of there not being an additional application being installed on your Mac. Also, you will be able to watch (and listen to) Windows Media files in the software you are used to that has the type of user interface you expect when working on a Mac.

Flip4Mac is produced by a company named Telestream which offers five different versions of the plugin (Player, Player Pro, Studio, Studio Pro, Studio Pro HD). While it is reasonable to buy one of the commercial editions (buying software to support developers is always a wise idea) you can do very well with the free edition.

Installation of Flip4Mac is very easy. After downloading the plugin from either the Telestream site or Microsoft (for links see the resource box) open the downloaded .mpkg file and the plugin will be installed.

After installation you will be able to play following additional file formats with Quicktime:

  • Windows Media Audio (.wma)
  • Windows Media Video (.wmv)
  • ISO Mpeg Layer 3 (MP3)
  • ISO Mpeg-4
  • Microsoft Motion JPEG
  • And a few other, less used formats

VLC Media Player

The free VLC Media Player is your second reasonable option. This piece of software is open source, continually worked on by its open source developer community and is probably the most versatile media player in terms of supported formats out there.

Installation is as easy as downloading the dmg file (for a download link see resource box) and then drag and drop the dmg file into your Application folder.

VLC Media Player is a very reliable and versatile media player. There is one downside however: like so many other pieces of software written for all major platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OS) its user interface does not follow Apple’s guidelines. VLC simply doesn’t look or feel like a Mac application.

Summary

Both, VLC Media Player and Flip4Mac, are very good options if you need to play Windows Media files on your Mac. There is no problem having both of them installed on the same machine. If, however, you prefer to have as little software installed on your Mac as possible, you should opt for Flip4Mac.

Flip4Mac: http://www.telestream.net/flip4mac-wmv/overview.htm
VLC Media Player: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

Brian Leanza

5 Mac Security Tips You Can’t Live Without

So, you’ve bought a new Macintosh, and now you may be wondering how to make it safer. There are several things that you can do which will protect your Mac from viruses and hackers. Macs are already very difficult to hack, but don’t let that fact allow you to become lenient with your security.

1. Download all of the software updates available. This seems like a no-brainer, but some Mac users forget to download the newest updates. You can even set your computer to automatically download new updates. However, some dial-up users encounter trouble when trying to downloaded updates. If you are a dial-up user, the best suggestion is to leave your Mac on overnight and let it download. Apple releases many programs that fix bugs in iLife applications, and in Mac OS X. Probably the most important of these updates are the security updates. Apple periodically offers security updates for its operating systems (Panther and Tiger).

2. Be careful what you download. Some people use P2P downloads for Macintosh (I.E. Poisoned). Be careful when downloading using a P2P because you do not know where the music or file is coming from. Some P2P users specifically make corrupted files to send via music downloading programs. Generally, it is a good idea to stick to iTunes, because those files are ACC Protected and offered through Apple so they certainly won’t have viruses.

3. Choose the best and safest Internet Browser. Safari comes standard on all new Macs as part of iLife. However, some people do not enjoy Safari as much as others. Some say that Safari is not as safe from hackers as other browsers. Safari can also be a problem if you are going to a web page that requires a version of Internet Explorer or Netscape to view it. You can download Internet Explorer and Netscape for Mac, but again, some believe that these browsers are not as safe from hackers. Many people believe that Mozilla Firefox (my personal favorite) is the safest browser to use because of its customizable features. Firefox is available for downloading on the Macintosh.

4. Don’t be afraid to buy anti-virus software. If you have to download files from the internet as part of a job or hobby, then it is probably a good idea to have some sort of anti-virus software on your Macintosh. Apple provides a wide-variety of anti-virus software that is constantly updated.

5. Finally, keep an eye on those e-mail attachments and instant messages. Some hackers have programmed viruses to IM you from one of your friends’ screen names. Don’t click on any link without knowing what it is first. Most e-mail providers use virus scans automatically, but you should always be extra careful when downloading an attachment. If it is from someone you do not know, don’t trust it.

Apple computers are very safe from hackers, but they can always be improved. Keeping a computer safe, and running well requires a great amount of time and energy. Just remember that if your computer is safe, your Apple experience will be much more rewarding.

Paulo Fretowski enjoys writing about computers because he uses them for his job with BizNicheMedia.

iPod Error – ‘Firmware Update Failure’

iPod is the Apple provided brand of portable media players that supports a line of digital file formats. To support file transfer from iPod devices from computer systems using Macintosh or Windows operating systems, iTunes is used. iTunes can transfer photos, email settings, calendars, Web Bookmarks, contact information and other data. But sometimes iTunes report that it cannot read or write information from iPod disk. One of the typical reasons for such behavior to occur is disk structure damage, which requires iPod to be restored. But this leads to data loss and hence you should recover lost data from backup. If you don’t find it feasible to recover from backup, use iPod Data Recovery tools for this purpose.

While trying to update or restore your iPod, you might receive the below error message:

“Firmware update failure. Disk write error”

This error message suggests that iTunes cannot read/write any information from/to iPod.

Cause

Possible reasons for this error message are:

• You are using an outdated version of Windows or Mac OS X operating system
• You computer is not updated
• You are using some software that are interfering with iTunes
• One or more music files are damaged
• If you are using Windows, unregistered .dll files could be the issue
• Damaged iPod photo cache
• Connection is lost
• Damaged or incompatible hardware
• iPod disk structure is damaged

Solution

Try resolving this issue using these steps:

• Make sure that you have installed all latest updates of your Windows or Mac OS X operating system, including device connections updates
• Ensure that you have the latest updates available for your computer
• Try uninstalling any software and disabling add-ons that might be interfering with iTunes
• Check for damaged music files and delete them
• Register the unregistered .dll files, if any
• Delete the corrupted iPod photo cache
• Check the system for valid connection
• Diagnose your system for damaged and incompatible hardware and replace or remove them
• Restore your iPod using latest version of iTunes. Restore lost data from backup or alternatively use iPod Recovery tools if you face backup concerns. iPod Data Recovery applications perform safe and effective lost data recovery.

Stellar Phoenix iPod Recovery is a complete iPod Reocvery solution to recover lost data. Available for both Windows and Mac operating systems, this non-destructive tool supports iPod generations like iPod Nano, iPod Classic, iPod Shuffle and iPod Mini. It comes available with advanced features like File Mask, File Filter etc. It can restore all music files, pod casts, audio books, documents and graphic files.

Simpson has 6 Years of Experience in the Software Technology field working as a freelancer with Stellar which offers data recovery services, ipod recovery and unixware data recovery software for more than 10 years.

How to Backup Your Mac Data With Time Machine

Mac is a line of personal computers developed by Apple Inc. and the Time Machine is the state-of-the-art-automatic backup built into the Mac’s Operating System. It keeps a copy of any kind of file that has been saved on the Mac including photos, movies, music, documents and everything else. It enables one to ‘go back in time’ and recover anything that he/she has lost or needs, hence the name.

Installing the Time Machine to the Mac is pretty simple. On connecting an external drive, Mac asks the user whether the drive is meant to be for backup and on saying yes, everything else will be taken care of by the Time Machine. After installation, all the back up will be done automatically and the user won’t have to worry about this anymore.

During installation, the software copies the Mac’s entire contents to the backup drive. Without compressing anything, all files are copied as it is. After the initial backup, only periodic backups are done and that too only for files that have been modified since the previous backup. Time Machine also creates links to all the files that are unchanged so that you can see the entire contents of the Mac on any given day.

Like every other backup software, the Time Machine also copies every file on the Mac, but there is something that sets the Time Machine apart from all these other softwares. It not only keeps a spare copy of all the files but also remembers exactly how the Mac looked on a particular day.

By searching on the Time Machine browser for missing files, the user can find long-lost files which you might have lost ages ago, but still need. You can also find the most recent changes by specifying the precise date or you can even do a Spotlight search to locate exactly the file you are looking for. As per the user’s requirement, the Time Machine can restore the entire folder or just the required files. Even the entire computer can be restored using Time Machine, if need be.

By default, a backup of everything is saved by the software, but files can be excluded by going to preferences and changing the Options. Files that are to be skipped can be set here. The user can also delete files whose backup has already been made by selecting the files he/she wishes to delete and then by choosing ‘Delete from all backups’ from the action menu in the Folder toolbar, all unwanted backups are eliminated instantly.

Eventually the program is bound to run out of space, as no matter how large the backup drive is, it will one day be filled. Hence, the software will start deleting the files, oldest first, but before doing so it informs the user. Moreover, before deleting anything, the software copies files that might be required to completely restore the user’s disk for future backups.

For more hints, tips and articles visit Mac Tools.

Speed Up Mac OS X

The MAC computers run on the operating system X known commonly as OS X. In this article we shall discuss some tips that can help you to speed up the OS X of your MAC computer.

Clear the Cache.

Most MAC systems either use the web browser Firefox or Safari. Both browsers have a fairly large capacity to store the names and addresses of the websites visited. As this list of records grows longer and longer with the passage of time, the performance of the web browsers starts to get negatively affected. This also slows down the performance of the OS X. Hence, it is advisable to regularly clear the history of the web pages visited every few days to keep the browser working at optimal rates.

Disable Apps & Effects you can do without!

Many people use programs that automatically update their desktop settings from time to time. This involves shifting the wallpaper by automatically picking from the stored files or downloading a new one each month. Even though such functions are a great way to jazz up your computer and seem very attractive because they are extremely convenient, the truth of the matter is that they use up a lot of the computer’s memory space in order to be able to function. This again slows down the working of the computer. Hence it is important to remove any applications that change the desktop settings on their own on a regular basis. It might take some effort on your part, but it’s hardly anything compared to the space and time that you will be saving.

Another attractive function that causes you to use up unnecessary space and thus interfere with the working of the OS X is that of animated desktops. While animated wall papers and folder icons and function buttons might seem like fun and are certainly a great way to jazz up the computer screen and bring it to life, the energy used to sustain these adversely affects the operating system in the form of extra space and battery power, thus resulting in slowed performance.

Minimize the use of Memory-intensive programs.

For those who like their favorite applications to be used, to open up each new file, for example, opening up image files with Photo shop each time, here is a word of caution: resetting the default settings and adjusting them so as to use a more complex application for a relatively simple task each time involves using up more of the computer’s performance power. If you specifically want to work on a file then right click and select the desired application using the ‘Open With’ tab, but for the default settings allow programs like Picture Preview for opening images to function regularly. This way the application takes less time to open and the work is done, without involving extra effort on the operating system to load up all the complicated tools and functions associated with the advanced program.

The Speed Recognition software is an attractive feature of the MAC system but if you do not use it on a regular basis or are not currently employing it then go to the System Preferences option and click on Speech Recognition and turn it off to save disc space and speed.

For more Macintosh tools, resources, articles and freebies visit: Macintosh Tools

5 Reasons to Buy a Mac Over a PC

While both categories of computer systems are rated to be equally useful and advanced by most users, in this article we shall discuss some of the advantages that are unique to using MAC in the form of 5 reasons to buy a MAC over a PC.

Most viruses are for Windows, not Mac!

The first advantage that a MAC system has is that it is stronger when it comes to preventing virus entries into the computer system. Unlike what many users believe, MAC systems are not completely immune to virus attacks, but are, to a certain extent, more protected than the ordinary Windows PCs are. The principle behind the supposed immunity of a MAC system to most common viruses lies in the fact that most common viruses are developed using systems that run on one variety of the Windows Operating System or the other. Because the basic programming of the viruses is done on systems using the Windows software, the structure of the viruses is not, for the lack of a better word, compatible with the structure of MAC systems. Since Windows based viruses cannot subsist in a MAC computer system, the infiltration rates in MAC systems is drastically lower than it is in Windows computers. The viruses are so designed that they target only other Windows computers. The structure of the Windows software was designed with a number of weaknesses and flaws that often allowed for the un-containable spread of malware and by the time the user became aware of the threat, the damage to the system was already great.

Advanced software system

The software system that comes with MAC is far more advanced in comparison to the software used in the Windows computers. Windows personal computers use the Vista software while the MAC computers use OS X or Operating System X.

Smooth compatibility

Another reason why one should opt for a MAC system over a Windows system can be seen in the smooth compatibility between both the hardware and the software devices in the MAC systems as compared to the Windows systems where the two sets of components of a computer system- that is the hardware and the software- are not very compatible with one another, causing work to slow down. The reason as to why the software and hardware in the MAC systems work so smoothly lies in the fact that the Apple Company manufactures both on their own and hence the relationship between the two is more controlled and even and there are fewer kinks. Hence, the computer system requires lesser maintenance in the long run and is much easier to use.

High stability, High performance

Owing to all the aforementioned reasons, the MAC system is invariably more stable than the Windows system. Hence, the chances of your PC crashing, the disk drivers spoiling and your losing vital information are immediately reduced. The system is on the whole more stable and less prone to problems of unsteadiness, security threats and system failures.

Versatile functionality

The MAC PCs allow for a greater variety of functions and thus can be used by professionals from all walks of life. One can use the system for all kinds of purposes such as editing movie clips, sound files, photographs, business-related work etc.

For more Macintosh tools, resources, articles and freebies visit: Macintosh Tools

Top Five Mac Tweaks

The Mac (short for Macintosh) is a wonderfully versatile system by Apple Inc. The Mac enjoys a huge fan following worldwide due to its high customisation options as well as a freakingly high style quotient. However, Mac’s aren’t the cheapest gadgets on the block and many people cannot afford to upgrade them and some simply don’t know how to get the best out of their Mac. The following is a list of tweaks to help you get the most out of your Mac:

Mac tweak number one: handle your auto start programs and applications well.

Whenever you log into your Mac, come programs open up automatically, taking up a lot of time and memory space in the process. Therefore, it would be a good idea to remove those programs that you do not need or are not keen on using immediately after logging on. Some of these programs are Quicksilver, iTunes helper, Geektool, Twitterrific, Instantshot! and Magical. In system preferences, go to the Login Items tab and disable the programs you don’t need immediately to open up upon logging in.

Mac tweak number two: enabling and utilizing the tab key.

Go to System preferences, and then to the keyboard and mouse pane. At the bottom of this pane, click the ‘all controls’ radio button. This will enable the Tab key to move between the controls apart from and in addition to moving between text boxes and lists. Saves a ton of time and is really simple too!

Mac tweak number three: allot custom icons for the hard drive components.

This is a great way of easily and quickly differentiating between several application icons. Xcode has an Icon Composer software. This is usually available in your OS x install disk. If not, you can easily download it from Apple website. Icns2Rsrc converts the icon into a proper file format and creates your chosen icon to be assigned to whatever component you want to assign it to. This is another way to make your drive area both user friendly as well as well organized.

Mac tweak number four: a new addition to finder’s toolbar – the Path Button.

This is a smart tweak which helps you save a lot of time and agony in the long run. Have you ever noticed that in the path finder, the chain of command of the programs is usually difficult to estimate? Does this bother you? Wish you could change it? Well, you can. All that you have to do is drag and drop the Path button. To help you out, the Path button resembles a set of steps which clearly differentiates each level.

Mac tweak number five: application shortcuts added to the Finder’s toolbar.

This will allow you easy access to your applications as well as save considerable time while searching for the relevant applications. You can add application shortcuts to the sidebar also. To do this, simply assign drag and drop to useful and helpful accessories and applications on your system. This will enable you easy access to your favorite applications in a click while all the time making the whole process a stress free affair.

Use these tips and enjoy your Mac’s hidden capabilities!

The Latest Macintosh Resources, Software and Tools can be found at: Macintosh Tools.

Data Recovery Services – Choose Wisely

When looking for reliable data recovery services in Kenya there are some things you should look for. Not all recovery experts are genuine. There are others who will mess up your hard drive and will then tell you that the data is unrecoverable. The following are some ways you can use to choose genuine recovery companies in Kenya:

Get to know the methods and technology being used to perform the recovery services. There are many recovery companies in Kenya that are not genuine. With the rampant corruption in that country they look for the fastest way to get money out of your pocket. This is why making a visit to the premises where the recovery is done would be good so that you can see some of the tools, technology and software being used. You can be able to judge whether the technology is up-to-date or outdated. Some things you may ask are: Is the equipment being used a reflection current technology? What is the general environmental condition of the data recovery area? It would also be good to inquire on the methods to be used to recover data and some small explanation. This will help in making proper judgments about the company.

It would be good to get some general procedures and background information on data recovery. Going to various Kenyan recovery specialists will help you make a wise decision in making a proper choice. Have one of the experts give a general explanation of the process. Most companies should give that description but there are some corporate secrets that they may never tell. Ask as many questions as possible to gauge the competency of the recovery experts. Having some insight on what takes place during the data recovery process may help one judge the competencies of a certain data recovery company.

In Kenya, it has been found out that their many data recovery companies that do not comply with legal requirements of doing business. This is why checking for qualification is important. These qualifications include license certificates, certificates of operation and also tax compliant certificates. This helps in getting to know the genuineness of the company e.g. it would be good to know the minimum standards a company should have attained before having be fully declared as a data recovery company.

For more articles on data recovery services follow the link.

For more information you can link to http://recover-deleted-files-africa.blogspot.com/