Mac Power Users #398: Creating 60 More Mac Tips

Brett Terpstra joins David and me on Mac Power Users this week to discuss his new eBook and video series with David Sparks - 60 Tips Volume 2 and the revision to their original 60 Tips book. We discuss the new book and the workflows they used to create it.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • PDFpen from Smile With powerful PDF editing tools, available for Mac, iPad, and iPhone, PDFpen from Smile makes you a Mac Power User.
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Sparks and Terpstra Release 60 Tips Volume 2

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My friend and podcasting partner David Sparks along with Internet automation superstar Brett Terpstra (drink) released a new MacSparky Field Guide, 60 Tips for Mac, Volume 2.

60 Mac Tips, Volume 2, is a collection of tricks and tips to make you more efficient on your Mac. There are 60 screencasts and two hours of video that explains why each tip or trick is special and how to use it on your Mac. Learn these tips and turn yourself into a Mac power user.

We discussed the book release and the process behind making the book on Mac Power Users this week. The Book is available through iBooks as an enhanced eBook or as a streaming/downloadable product from Vimeo.

In addition to 60 new tips released in volume 2, David and Brett also updated Volume 1 of their original 60 Mac Tips Book to update and replace several of the tips. It’s a free update for those who purchased Volume 1 and is also available from iBooks or Vimeo.

You should check them out.

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ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine: Disaster Preparedness

This month’s issue of ScreenCasts Online Monthly Magazine is now available in ScreenCasts Online Magazine App. In the October issue you’ll find an article from me about disaster preparedness.

The monthly magazine is packed with streamable versions of Don’s excellent video tutorials as well as articles, reviews and tips from authors including David Sparks, Katie Floyd, Allison Sheridan, Wally & Wendy Cherwinski, Mike Schmitz, Frank Petrie and more.

The ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine is available on the iTunes App Store, and is available for individual purchase or as part of a subscription which includes a free trial period. Find more info at https://screencastsonline.com/magazine/

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Mac Power Users #397: More on iOS 11 and High Sierra

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I continue to explain the new iOS 11 and High Sierra features along with their experiences and recommendations following their use of the beta versions of these new operating systems.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.
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5 Home Additions Under $50

Recently, I’ve written about technology in my new home. I typically write about fairly significant (and expensive) additions or systems to integrate into your home. For a change of pace, I thought I’d take a look 5 less expensive additions that all cost under $50 that can make a real difference.

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1) USB Outlets - For now, most of our devices charge via USB. That means we can have unsightly “wall warts” and cables laying around anytime we want to grab a quick charge. I’ve strategically installed a few USB outlets around my house for quick and convenient charging. My current favorite is theTopgreener TU21548A Smart Dual USB Charger Outlet. This outlet will support 4.8-amps charging across two USB ports which means it will charge two iPads at full speed. Topgreener also makes a similar outlet with one USB-C port and One USB-A port if you want to future-proof your setup. While these outlets will occasionally go on sale, they typically range between $23 - $30.

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2) Retractable Charging Cables - Since I’m trying to keep ugly power bricks out of sight I want to minimize cable clutter as well. I’ve picked up a few retractable Lighting cables. These cables will quickly retract to a compact size and can be tucked away in a drawer. Neat and easy. The Amazon Basics brand has a retractable cable that runs about $13.

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3) Cord Hider - Perhaps you’re noticing a theme, I don’t like looking at cords. Whenever possible I try to hide them behind furniture, run them through drywall or otherwise minimize their appearance. However, sometimes a run of cable cannot be avoided. When that happens, I try to hide as much of the cable as possible. For that, I like Wiremold Cord Organizer. This thin plastic tubing will cover unsightly cables and has a peel and stick backing. I typically run my cable along baseboards where it simply blends in as if it were a piece of trim. If necessary the cord organizer can also be stuck to walls and painted. It’s a lot more appealing than an unseemly wire. Depending on size, they typically run $15 per pack.

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4) Occupancy Sensor - There are a few rooms in my home I always want the lights to turn on when I enter, and off shortly thereafter. Two examples include my laundry room and my walk-in closet. These are places where I typically only spend short periods of time but turning on and off the lights is a hassle because my hands are usually full. For these rooms, I’ve installed occupancy sensors. Occupancy sensors replace the light switch and will sense motion in the room and activate the light for several seconds or several minutes depending on their programming. With occupancy sensors installed I never have to worry about entering a dark room or leaving the light on. Sensors range from $15 - $30 depending on features.

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5) SnapPower Guidelights - Adding lighting to a home can be very expensive. The SnapPower Guidelight is an easy way to add a little extra ambient light to a room at night by adding three LED lights to a standard outlet cover. A sensor on the light automatically activates the LEDs when it’s dark. I’ve found these lights a great alternative to ugly night lights. I use them to add light to a dark bathroom or hallway at night. Because the SnapPower draws power from the existing screw terminals on your outlets so they install in just a few seconds. Individual covers are $20 with multi-packs available.

*This article first appeared in the July Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles, and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly. Find out more at https://www.screencastsonline.com/membership_benefits

Downgrade Your QuickBooks Online Plan

On a previous episode of Mac Power Users when we discussed my Mac Based Small Business, I lamented that QuickBooks online did not let you downgrade once you signed up for their service. I encouraged new business owners to start with the smallest plan they could and only upgrade when they needed to.

(QuickBooks customer service offered a way to “downgrade” but it involved downloading the data file and a PC version of the software and starting a new plan and re-importing the data. I was warned this may result in data loss.)

I’m pleased to report after numerous customer complaints QuickBooks has finally offered customers a way to downgrade, but they don’t make it easy. You have to log into your QuickBooks Online account through the web and navigate to the “change plan” screen. I never could find this screen so the easiest way is to just change the URL so the last portion ends in /changeplan

From there you are presented with this image:

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For weeks I tried to change my plan and it failed.  A series of DMs with QuickBooks Support on Twitter revealed that they are still having trouble with the system and their engineers are “working on it” and they would add me to a list of impacted users. I never received any follow-up but tried again this week and was able to downgrade my plan and am now happily saving $35 a month

Hopefully this helps someone else.