Monthly Archives: January 2016

Use Spotlight to quickly launch applications in Mac OS X

If you use a Mac and love using keyboard shortcuts to speed up simple tasks, take the time to acquaint yourself with Spotlight. Spotlight is a search utility built into Mac OS X. In addition to searching your files, Spotlight also doubles as a very convenient application launcher.

To get started, just press + spacebar to pull up Spotlight. (Alternatively, you can click the magnifying glass icon on the menu bar in the top right corner of the screen.) You’ll see the following window on your screen:

spotlight

Simply begin typing a search term for an application installed on your computer to see results. Spotlight will search lots of things on your Mac—files, dictionary entries, etc.—but we’re specifically looking for applications, which normally appear at the top of the search results.

Typing the word safari into Spotlight search yields these results:

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In this example, the Safari web browser appears as the top result. Since the top result is automatically highlighted, we can simply press Enter on the keyboard to launch the program.

By default, Spotlight searches a lot of locations—including online resources, such as the Bing search engine and Spotlight Suggestions, both of which send your search queries over the web to deliver results. You can customize what Spotlight searches, as well as turn off these online features, by going to System Preferences > Spotlight.

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By combining one simple keyboard shortcut and the Spotlight search feature, you can launch programs and search for files incredibly quickly.

-Jesse

Cord Cutting: How to Find Replacements for Cable TV

Cord cutting refers to the trend of people getting rid of their cable or satellite TV service in exchange for much cheaper online streaming services. With a number of inexpensive devices and services on the market today, it’s easy to become a cord cutter.

Is it for me?

For most people, cord cutting provides most of what you get from regular TV at a fraction of the price. If you are primarily interested in watching movies or TV shows, you’ll find that you can replicate what cable or satellite TV offers quite easily.

If you want to watch live sports or news, however, you may find that there aren’t a lot of options out there, and the ones that do exist are less than ideal. This may change in the future, but for now, there’s no perfect replacement for traditional television in those specific areas.

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The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a device you can plug into your TV to access online streaming services like Netflix (Image courtesy of Hedwig Storch/Wikimedia Commons).

What device will I need?

For starters, you’ll need a device that will allow you to view streaming services on your TV. If you have a smart TV, it may have built-in apps for services like Netflix. If your TV doesn’t offer this feature, you can purchase a cheap device such as the Roku Streaming Stick, Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV Stick for less than $50.

If you want the ability to still rent or purchase physical discs, a smart Blu-Ray player is a good option. Many Blu-Ray players feature apps for streaming services. Recently released video game consoles also provide access to streaming services. If you already have an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or Nintendo Wii, it might be a good idea to utilize the hardware you already have.

Finally, you can always connect a laptop to your TV using an HDMI or VGA cable. This is a bit more inconvenient if you don’t have a wireless keyboard, but it might be the cheapest option if you already have a computer.

Finding a service

In addition to hardware, you’ll also need to subscribe to a service of your choice. Netflix is a solid place to start; it offers plans starting at $7.99 per month and features a massive catalog of movies and TV shows. Netflix also offers a one-month free trial.

There are lots of other options out there, though, some of which cater to particular interests. Hulu, for instance, specializes in TV shows, offering complete series of many popular and obscure shows. And if you already pay for Amazon Prime, you might as well take advantage of their Instant Video service.

-Jesse