OS X

How to Completely Block Distractions on macOS with Self Control

You settle in to do some work, but first, you check email for a second. Okay, now work. Wait: let’s check Facebook. Work now? In a bit: first Twitter, then back to email, then Facebook one more time in case anyone responded.

We all fall into this cycle occasionally. When you don’t have enough discipline to avoid the spiral of sadness, Self Control is a free Mac application that can help. With this you can set up a list of sites you want to block and set a duration of time to block them. Your Mac will be incapable of opening the sites until the countdown is complete, and nothing you can do will change that. Switching browser won’t help, closing the program won’t help, uninstalling the program won’t help. You’ll just have to get to work.

It’s perfect for staying productive while working from home, or any time you need to buckle down and actually focus. To get started, head to the Self Control homepage, then download the application by clicking the big blue button.

The download comes in a ZIP file, which you can open on your Mac by double-clicking.

Try Out New Safari Features Early With Safari Technology Preview

Some of the coolest new features in the upcoming macOS 10.13 High Sierra are in Safari, and you can try them out now without upgrading your entire operating system.

During WWDC 2017, Apple bragged about faster Safari performance, showed off a new block feature for any and all autoplaying videos, and talked about blocking ads from tracking your movements. You can try these features out with Safari Technology Preview. This free download is primarily intended for web developers, who can use the tool to confirm their sites will work on upcoming versions of Safari for macOS and iOS. But it’s also a quick way to try out new features, including those upcoming in macOS High Sierra.

To get started, head to the Safari Technology Preview page on Apple’s website, then download the version for your current operating system.

Mount the DMG file and you’ll find a PKG file.

Double-click the PKG to run the installation process, following the prompts…

What Is hidd, and Why Is It Running on my Mac?

You recognize most of the processes you see while browsing Activity Monitor, but not hidd. The name is cryptic, and there’s no icon for you to recognize. Should you be worried?

Absolutely not. The process called hidd is not harmful, and is actually part of macOS itself. The cryptic name stands for Human Interface Device Daemon. This daemon interprets all of your mouse movements and keyboard taps, meaning it’s essential if you want to use your Mac. Other input devices, such as tablets for drawing and game controllers, are also managed by this daemon.

It’s rare for hidd to cause problems, but it’s always possible. Here’s what to do if that happens.

What to Do if hidd Is Using Excessive System Resources

It’s rare, but occasionally Mac users report that hidd is using an excessive amount of…

How to Set Up Multiple User Accounts in macOS

If you share your Mac with someone else, it’s a good idea to create a different user account for each of you. That way, you don’t see your husband’s email notifications, or have to sift through his bookmarks.. Here’s how to add a new account to your Mac.

This is also useful if you have kids and want to use macOS’ parental controls, so you can block particular apps and set a time limit for use. Even if you’re the only person who uses your Mac, multiple accounts can be useful: you could separate work from fun, for example, or use one account to test crazy settings without breaking your primary account.

Whatever your reason, adding more accounts is simple once you know how, so here’s the 4-1-1.

How to Add a New User Account

When you first set up your Mac, you’ll have one account—the primary administrator account for your Mac. You can add new users from this account, or any administrator account, but other accounts cannot add or manage users. If the steps below don’t work for you, ensure that you’re using an administrator account.

To add new users, head to System Preferences > Users & Groups.

You’ll see a list of users here in the left panel, but the option to add new ones is greyed out. To continue, you’ll have to press the lock button at bottom-left.

Enter your password when prompted, then you’ll find that the “+” option above the…

How to Burn Any Video File to a Playable Blu-Ray Disc

If you’ve ripped your Blu-Ray collection to make your library more convenient, you might also want to burn a back up or use a copy so you don’t damage your original. Here’s how to burn a copy of your movies—or even your own home videos—to a playable Blu-Ray on Windows or macOS.

What You’ll Need

To create your own playable Blu-Ray, you’ll need a few things to get started including:

  • A Blu-Ray burner drive: By the time Blu-Ray became a common standard, many computers were skipping optical drives altogether. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to buy a Blu-Ray burner drive, which usually go for around $40-60, depending on whether you want to get an internal or external drive. If you want to burn Blu-Rays from a Mac, you’ll probably need an external burner, as most Macs can’t use internals without some kind of enclosure.
  • A blank Blu-Ray disc: Naturally, you’ll need a blank disc to burn your movie to. Blank Blu-Ray discs are a little more expensive than DVDs, but they’re still relatively affordable if you buy them in bulk. The blank discs also come in two flavors: single layer and dual layer. Single layer Blu-Rays can store up to 25GB, while dual layer Blu-Rays can store up to 50GB.
  • tsMuxeR (Windows/Mac): Before you burn your video to a disc, you’ll need to put it in the proper format. If your video is in MP4, MKV, or other supported common video formats, tsMuxeR is a simple utility that can reorganize these files into something your Blu-Ray player can read. This process is technically “muxing,” not encoding, so it won’t mess with the quality of your video.
  • ImgBurn (Windows): This is a handy tool that can burn files, folder, or disc images onto a Blu-Ray for you. We’ll use tsMuxeR to create an ISO file that ImgBurn can easily burn directly onto a disc.
  • Finder (Mac): On a Mac, the burning process is even easier. Finder has the built-in ability to burn an ISO image directly as long as you have a disc drive connected.

Install or plug in your Blu-ray drive, install the apps you need, then fire up tsMuxeR to remux your videos into the proper format.

Step One: Convert Video Files to the Blu-Ray Format With tsMuxeR

No matter what OS you’re using, you’ll need to convert your video files to the Blu-Ray format. More technically, we’re going to use a process called multiplexing, or “muxing.” In this…

How to Stop Two-Side Printing From Being the Default in macOS

Two-sided printing is great in theory, because it uses less paper for multi-page documents. It’s also frustrating when you forget to turn the option off when you don’t need it.

macOS makes two-sided printing the default for supported printers. It’s the ecologically friendly thing to do, we suppose—at least, in theory. We’ve personally thrown out more than a few documents because of this default. Many of the things we bother to print these days—airline or event tickets, for example—need to be on their own pages. Often, we’ll quickly try to print some tickets, see that they’ve come out two-sided, swear under our breath, and then re-print the tickets one-sided.

Sure, it’s easy enough to turn off the “Two-Sided” option in the print dialog each time you print, but it’s also easy to forget. The good news is that you can change the default setting. That way, your printer will print one-sided pages unless you turn the “Two-Sided” option on. Changing this default requires opening the Terminal, and then accessing a browser-based user interface. It’s a bit convoluted, but don’t worry: it’s not as hard as it sounds.

Step One: Enable the CUPS Browser Interface

Printing on macOS is handled by CUPS, an open source system developed by Apple. Users can change CUPS settings with a browser-based interface, but this interface is disabled by default. To enable it, open…

How to Open and Browse ZIP Files on macOS Without Unarchiving Them

What’s up with ZIP files on macOS? Anyone coming from Windows, which opens ZIP files as though they were a folder, might feel confused about the way their new Mac handles things. When you open a ZIP file on macOS, the contents are automatically unarchived to a new folder.

Many Mac users prefer this functionality, which gets the archive file out of the way quickly so you can get to the files you want. But if you miss the way Windows works, you’ve got a few options to open and edit archive files, without uncompressing them first. Here are the two best free options we could find.

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Dr. Unarchiver: Straightforward ZIP, RAR, and Other Archive Management

If you want a simple program for opening and browsing ZIP files, Dr. Unarchiver is a simple option from security company Trend Micro. A free download from the Mac App Store that supports ZIP, RAR, 7z and many more file formats, Dr. Unarchiver sports a simple user interface.

Users can click and drag individual files from this window to the Finder, and even open files directly from the archive. There’s even support for Quick Look; just press Space and you can preview a file.

It’s not quite full Finder integration, but all the basics are there. And the toolbar offers a few more features.

“Open,” somewhat confusingly, opens a new ZIP file: it does not open files in the current ZIP file. “Extract” will extract all files or your currently selected file, while “Secure Extract” will scan files for malware, assuming you’ve downloaded Trend Micro’s Mac Malware scanner. Finally there’s the Share button,…

What’s New in macOS 10.13 High Sierra, Arriving Fall 2017

The next version of macOS is coming this fall, with improvements to Safari, Mail, Photos, and a lot under the hood. Here are the best features you’ll see in macOS 10.13 “High Sierra”.

No, that’s not a typo—they’re calling it High Sierra, after the highest region of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. And yes: Apple made a few weed jokes after announcing the name, because the most powerful corporation on Earth is nothing if not counter-cultural.

The High Sierra developer beta is available today; the public beta will be available later this month. The final release will come later this fall, but here’s what you can expect according to Apple’s presentation.

Safari Will Block Auto-Play Videos and Ads That Track You

Apple took the time to brag about the speed increases in the new version of Safari, which is the browser macOS users should be using anyway. Time will tell how accurate Apple’s bragging here is, but it’s exciting.

There are also a few very interesting features. Safari will now automatically stop auto-playing videos from interrupting you, a move we’re certain Facebook is already angry about. They also announced that Safari will block ads from tracking users out-of-the box, which we’re certain Amazon is already angry about (particularly because Apple announced Amazon Prime video on Apple TV just ten minutes before this). Regardless of which companies might be upset, these moves seem like they’ll make browsing better for everyone, and we’re excited to try them out.

Spotlight-Powered Search Comes to Mail

If you use Safari, you know that Spotlight-powered search results often pop up while you’re trying a URL. Sometimes these will be recommendations from Apple Maps, but mostly they’re just websites you tend to visit often.

The macOS Mail app will have this same feature, with Spotlight-powered suggestions at the top of your search results recommending particular emails. It’s a small tweak, but it could make finding particular emails just a little bit faster.

Apple also announced support for split-screen mode while composing a message. Hey: not every new feature can be amazing.

Photos Now Supports External Editors

Perhaps the biggest visual changes are coming to Photos. First of all, there’s a persistent sidebar. You can also browser your photos on a per-import basis, allowing you to see which photos you imported when. Syncing with other devices is also easier: if you change categorizations…

How to Quickly Unmount External Drives From the macOS Menu Bar

If you’re like me, you connect your Time Machine backup disk every time you’re at your desk. You know you should unmount that drive when it’s time to hit the road, but opening the Finder just to hit “Eject” feels like a waste of time.

Enter Semulov. This lightweight, open source application adds an “Eject” button to your Mac’s menu bar, so you can unmount any drive in just two clicks. You can even create a universal keyboard shortcut to unmount every drive connected to your computer, saving you from having to open the Finder and unmount everything individually.

To get started, download Semulov. The application comes in a ZIP file which you can unarchive by opening. Then, drag the icon to your Applications folder.

Start Semulov and you’ll see an Eject button in your menu bar. It looks just like the Eject button used back when Macs had optical drives and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Click the icon and you’ll see a list of currently connected external drives; click a drive to unmount it. You’ll see a notification when the drive is ready to disconnect.