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Mac hints and tips

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Find where downloads came from (10.4/5)

OS X file infoHave you ever spent an hour or two browsing the web and downloading lots of great files such as shareware, freeware, demos, and other items? Of course you have, but can you remember where all the files came from afterwards? Sometimes it's difficult to remember what a file is and where it was downloaded from. Fortunately, OS X isn't so forgetful.

All you need to do is to display the Info window. Select a file in a Finder window (one in the Downloads folder is ideal), and then press Command+I or Ctrl+click and select Get Info or click the I button in the toolbar or select File, Get Info (why are there so amny different ways to do the same thing?). Whatever method you use to open the Info window, go to the More Info section and click the triangle to expand the section if necessary. You'll see the URL of the file and the web page it was downloaded from.

It would be useful if the URL was a hyperlink that enabled you to click it to revisit the web page or to redownload the file if it was corrupt. Sadly it's not and what's more, you can't even select it and copy it so you can paste it into Safari's address box. You'll just have to type it in if you need to revisit the website.

Calibrate your Macbook's battery (10.4/5)

Battery life is always on your mind when you are away from the desk and using your Macbook on the move. How much charge is remaining? How long will it last? These are important questions and fortunately there is a battery status indicator that can be displayed in the menu bar. To make this visible go to the Apple menu and select System Preferences. Click Energy Saver in the Hardware section and select the Options tab, Tick the option labelled Show battery status in the menu bar.

You'll see that the current battery status is displayed in the Preferences window and it shows the percentage charge and the estimated time remaining. Now that the bettery status indicator is displayed in the menu bar at the right-hand side, you can click it to access a menu with some useful options. For example, you can show an icon, and icon plus the percentage, or an icon plus the estimated time remaining.

This is a great feature, but is it accurate? When it says you have 27 minutes of battery power left, can you really use your Macbook for another 27 minutes? If you have a fairly new Macbook you will find that the battery status indicator is quite accurate, but as the Macbook gets older you will find that it becomes increasingly inaccurate. You may find that your Macbook says that there is plenty of battery juice left, yet it shuts down wthout warning. What's going on?

The problem is that the battery contains a processor that monitors the battery state and calculates the time and charge remaining, but batteries don't last forever and they deteriorate over time. After much use they don't retain as much charge and they expire more quickly. It's just a fact of life.

Unfortunately, the battery processor continues to assume that it's brand new and it displays the battery charge and esetimated time left based on this. What you need to do is to recalibrate the battery's processor so that it knows exactly how much charge the battery can hold and exactly how long it can last. It's actually quite easy and all you need to do is to run the battery flat - really flat, no just to the minimum. When you've extracted every last volt from the battery and there's nothing left in it, then the battery processor knows exactly what it's capacity is and can accurately display the time remaining and percentage charge indicator. You then won't be caught out by your Macbook unexpectedly shuttong down. Here's how to recalibrate the battery's processor.

Plug in the mains supply and charge up the battery until the green LED lights up to say that it is fully charged. Now the battery must 'rest' for two hours - you can leave the Macbook plugged in or you can disconnect it and you can use the Macbook on mains supply if you want to. Now disconnect the mains supply and simply use your Macbook in the usual way. Use it until it displays the low battery warning message and then ignore it and carry on until it shuts down. The Macbook will go into sleep mode. Let it sleep for at least five hours - leave it overnight if you want. Finally, plug in the mains lead and charge it up to 100%. That's it, the battery status indicator will now be much more accurate. You should repeat this process every few months to ensure that it stays accurate.

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