Speeding up your Mac #1

If you are like many Mac users, your desktop (the application called “Finder”) becomes your catchall location for saving all your files, downloads, work in progress, etc. Since the Finder is always running, you can lighten its load, as well as speed up your machine, by using Mac OS X’s included folders: Documents, Downloads, Movies, Music, Pictures. The fewer items you have “on your Desktop” the faster your machine will be.

You can automate this process if you download lots of files, or need to automaticaly sort your files with Hazel, from Noodlesoft. It’s what I use to keep my desktop clean and organized!

Here is a short demo I found on YouTube showing you how to use Hazel:

If you want to see one more video tutorial, check out this one.

Universal Access and VoiceOver

One of the most useful features built in to your Mac is Universal Access and Voice Over, which is accessed in the System Preferences application (in the Apple menu). Commonly used for people needing sight and hearing assisted computing methods, they are very useful for nearly everyone. You can read about all of the features on Apple’s site, or jump straight to Vision, Hearing, Physical & Motor Skills, or Literacy & Learning.

How can these features help everyone? I’ll cover one small feature of each option to show you how I use them:

Universal Access: Seeing

Have you ever wanted to see something on the screen just a little larger (or a lot larger!) than it shows up normally? Turn on Zoom (or press ⌘⌥8 to enable and disable Zoom without visiting the Universal Access System Preference), and then the press ⌘⌥= to zoom the screen in, and ⌘⌥- (minus) to zoom out. Click the Options… button for default settings as well as maximum and minimum levels. Need help with those “special keys?” See my post on Apple Modifier Keys.

Universal Access: Hearing

Have you ever wanted to use your Mac with the volume turned all the way down, but still want to be able to know when the computer is trying to tell you something? Enable “Flash the screen when an alert sound occurs” and you’ll get visual feedback when an alert sound chimes.

Universal Access: Keyboard

This feature lets you use your machine one handed; very useful if you have your arm in a sling! Turn Sticky Keys on, and then when you press a key modifier, such as Shift, Command or Option, you’ll be able to press them sequentially. If you want to use the keyboard to print one handed, make sure Sticky Keys is enabled (there is an option to turn it on and off by pressing the shift key 5 times in a row) and press the ⌘ key followed by the P key, and you’ll never have to time your keystrokes again! Be careful, though, as this can get confusing if you have the option to turn it on and off by pressing the shift key, as inevitably you’ll turn it on, not mean to, and wonder what is going on with your machine!

Universal Access: Mouse

This one is handy when if your mouse stops working and you don’t have another one handy, or don’t have the physical space to put a mouse. Enable Mouse Keys and then the numeric keypad becomes your mouse. 1,3,7, &9 moves the mouse diagonally, 2 is down, 4 is left, 6 is right & 8 is up. 5 is the mouse button, 0 holds the mouse button, and . releases the mouse button. If you have a portable computer or a keyboard with no dedicated numeric keypad, you have to press the Num Lock key, which is usually F6. It’s enabled when the green light is active on those keyboards.

If you have lots of screen real estate (if you are lucky enough to have 2 30″ displays on your desk, and you lose the mouse pointer on the screen, you can also control how large the mouse pointer shows up on screen here.

Now, for your reference, here is a list of all the commands:

Keyboard shortcut Description
Option-Command-8 Turn on Zoom
Option-Command-+ (plus) Zoom in
Option-Command– (minus) Zoom out
Control-Option-Command-8 Switch to White on Black
Control-F1 Turn on Full Keyboard Access
When Full Keyboard Access is turned on, you can use the key combinations listed in the table below from the Finder.
Control-F2 Full Keyboard Access
Highlight Menu
Control-F3 Full Keyboard Access
Highlight Dock
Control-F4 Full Keyboard Access
Highlight Window (active) or next window behind it
Control-F5 Full Keyboard Access
Highlight Toolbar
Control-F6 Full Keyboard Access
Highlight Utility window (palette)
Command-F5 or fn-Command-F5 Turn VoiceOver on or off (Mac OS X 10.4 or later)
Control-Option-F8 or fn-Control-Option-F8 Open VoiceOver Utility (Mac OS X 10.4 or later)
Control-Option-F7 or fn-Control-option-F7 Display VoiceOver menu (Mac OS X 10.4 or later)
or fn-Control-option-;
Enable/disable VoiceOver Control-Option lock (Mac OS X 10.4 or later)

How to change the outgoing mail port in 10.5

Select the Preferences from the Mail menu.


Select Accounts


Be sure to choose thenon-working Mail account

Click the drop down box next to the Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP)


Choose Edit Server List…

Click Advanced


Then click Use default ports. NOTE – if you are running a different version of OS X, your screen mail look a bit different from this picture. The important aspect of it is to make sure the settings, no matter the version, are the same.

So, if your Use Default Ports selection doesn’t show 25, 465, 587, the custom port to either 465 or 587 (25 will not work, don’t even try it). Some versions of OS X will allow 465, some won’t, and it’s a good guess as to which one will work, so if one doesn’t work, try the other one.

See below for how to test.

Testing to see if it works…


Choose Connection Doctor from the Window menu

Connection Doctor


You will see a screen similar to this appear. If you have green lights next to the outgoing mail server (or all green lights) you are good to go!