Taking Out the Trash

trash icon.jpg

That little gem of an icon is your trash can. Duh. However, if you’re like me, you tend to either forget about the little guy sitting so quietly down there in your dock, your you neglect him. Shame, shame. If you manage it correctly, the trash can can either save your life (business, studies, school work, etc…) one day, or be your best friend in terms of freeing up some space on your hard drive.

When you delete a file on your Mac, either by dragging it onto the trash can and letting go or by using the shortcut key sequence (Apple + Delete), you’re not really trashing the file. What you are doing is moving the file from where ever it was, to the trash can with the purpose of eventually being deleted. You see, sometimes you might accidentally delete a file prematurely, then realize that you need it back. The good thing is that if you just go to your trash can, it’s right there waiting for you. All you need to do then is drag it out and put it where you want it to go. Simple huh? Or course it is. It’s a Mac. :)

But there is one thing that you need to be cautious of. That is, you need to get in the practice of “taking out your trash”. That is emptying it. Once you do that, you will be able to reclaim some disk space. The downside is that, any files you put in there, are now gone. Forever. That is, unless you have backed up. But we’ll save that for a future post.

How To Empty Your Trash

1. Right-click (or CTRL+click) on the trash canempty trash.jpg

2.   Choose “empty trash”

3. Confirm your decision

Getting Rid of Unwanted Applications

trash.png If you have a Mac, you already know the ease of which you are able to get rid of unwanted applications (software). If you have (have had) a PC, I'm sure you are familiar with the multi-step process of trying to uninstall a piece of software, only to find out later that there are still small traces of it lying around your hard drive.

Luckily when you purchase a Mac, there isn't alot of extraneous software on it that you want to dump. But every now and again, you might find that you don't use something anymore and want to get rid of it to free up space. So in order to do that, you just open the applications folder, and drag that specific app to the trash and POOF! …it's gone. Well, not quite…

Depending on the app, there may still be some system files that are left. You may have gotten rid of that application itself, but the registry files, or other “mac bits” may still be floating around.

Rest assured…I have a solution for you.


I picked up AppZapper when I was new to the Mac and googling around trying to find out the best way to ditch an app. I can't say enough about this simple application. I guess the first thing I would say is that this application is…well…simple. You want to get rid of an app? You just open AppZapper, drop the app you want to get rid of, it finds the other associated files, hit “ZAP” and it makes a very cool sound and your app is gone! Just like that!

QuickTip: Screenshot on a Mac

camera.png Every now and then I hope to offer a quick tip or two to make working on your mac a little easier.

It seems like the common theme that comes up when you are describing a Mac to a non-Mac user, is simplicity. Simplicity of use. Simplicity of design. Simplicity of functionality. “It’s just like when you expect it to do something, it just does it”, is probably what you’ve said before. I hear ya.

Have you ever wanted to capture a quick snapshot of something on your screen? Or say you are trying to describe to someone where to click on the screen? Or, maybe you just want to grab a photo from the web, but you can’t drag it over? Easy

Shift + Command + 4 – is the command sequence that will bring up a cross hair that will then allow you click and drag to select and area of the screen that you would like to take a picture of. That’s it! That simple.

Control – Alt – Delete for Mac?

Occasionally, you might have a situation where you Mac will “lock up” or become unresponsive.  In the PC world, the set of keystrokes you would use to try break the computer out of a stuck cycle would be Control-Alt-Delete or Ctrl-Alt-Del.  On the Mac, there is a similar combination…it is Option-Command-Escape.  By holding down Option and Command, and pressing the Escape key, you are asking the computer to Force Quit an application.  A window will pop up looking like this


Just select the application that is giving you trouble, and press the Force Quit button.  Your computer will then release that application from it’s memory and things should speed up after that.

How to get iMessages to Sync

So, if you’re like me, you’ve been loving the ease to which you can “text” people with another iDevice from your Mac. But the most frustrating thing that I’ve found with using this new workflow has been that the messages between my iPhone/iPad and Mac don’t necessarily sync up all the time. Well, I’ve found a quick and easy solution to get your iMessages to sync cleanly and clearly.

All you have to do is go into the Preferences panel in iMessage, and if you have any other accounts other than your iMessage account that may be running, you have to DISABLE them. Once you do that, your iMessages will sync across your various iOS devices.

Caffeine – Keep your Mac Awake!

mac caffiene.png So, say you just logged on to Hulu to watch the latest episode of “The Office” and you get all settled in, and low and behold, your Mac keeps going to sleep on you. Meaning, either the screen goes dim, or the screensaver turns on, or it just plain shuts off. Well, it’s supposed to do that because at one point or another, that’s how you set it up in the System Preferences. (More on that later)

Here’s a quick, easy and free application to keep your Mac awake. It’s called (appropriately)…Caffeine.

Caffeine is a free app that sits up in your menu bar. The implementation is brainless.

If the cup is empty, you’re out of caffeine = your Mac will fall asleep.

If the cup is full = you have caffeine = your Mac will stay awake.

caffiene capture.jpg

Just click it on or off depending on what you are doing at the time. It’s brilliant! You can download Caffeine for free, here.

MacJargon – Definitions of Terms Used in the World of Mac

cultofmac.jpgIt’s no lie that the Mac community is a colorful bunch. They have their own Expo, there are numerous magazines , books , and countless blogs and websites. So it’s not that far out that they would have their own language right? I mean, the computer industry itself has all these different terms, definitions, etc… just in order to communicate what’s going on with our beloved tech gadgets. So I thought I’d take a couple of minutes and hopefully be able to define some of the Mac jargon.

Apps: (applications) – sometimes referred to as “programs”. There are the actual components on your Mac that allow you to accomplish a task. Mail would be an app. iCal would be an app, and so on.

Bluetooth: a wireless technology used to create a temporary connection between two blue-tooth enabled devices. Bluetooth technology is used in instance where the two devices are in close proximity, such as a cell phone and headset or a mouse and your mac.

Dock: usually located on the bottom of a Mac’s desktop, the Dock holds icons, minimized and running applications.

Force quit: to force an application to shut down. On a PC, it’s known as Control+Alt+Delete. On a Mac the key combination is Option+Apple+Esc (but you won’t really have a use for it). ;)

MobileMe: an online service offered by Apple. Having a MobileMe subscription allows you to have server/storage space online. It’s great for hosting pictures, files, syncing calendars, and even hosting a blog or website. More to come on this…

Screenshot: also referred to as a “screen grab” – to take a picture of what’s on your screen. :)

This is literally just the “tip of the iceberg”. There are a thousand other terms. Some are related specifically to the Mac platform, and others could be just general computing terms. So, I’d like to know what terms you are confused about. Click the “Comment” button on this post, leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer you question. If you like, you can subscribe to the newsletter by going up to the top of this page, and fill in your name and email. Make sure you check back, or subscribe to the RSS feed to stay updated. Another option is if you’re on Twitter, you can follow @beginnermac and speak your question there.

(The picture used at the top of this post is from a great book entitled “The Cult of Mac”. If you are interested in some of the genesis of the Mac culture, this is a great read.”

The Cult of Mac (Paperback edition)