Computers and hardware posts on CNET

Computers and hardware

Convert images using Preview in OS X

There may be times when you might need to convert an image from one format to another on your Mac, either because of some requirement for a specific format, or to compress batches of images to save space.

Regardless of the specifics, if you need to convert images then you might find yourself considering expensive tools like Photoshop, or perhaps free open source projects like The Gimp as options for converting images; however, in doing so you will be overlooking a built-in option for doing this in Apple's included Preview program.

Single-image conversion Preview is Apple's utility for … Read more

Convert audio to ringtones using OS X Terminal

Have you encountered a sound bite, or perhaps a full song, that you would like to use as an alert or ringtone on your iPhone? If so, then you can do so using a simple utility available in the OS X Terminal to convert into a tone for your iOS device.

The utility is called "afconvert," which stands for "Audio File Convert" and is a tool that Apple has included in OS X since 2003. As its name suggests, this tool allows you to specify one audio file and convert it to another format, managing bitrates … Read more

Brevity is the soul of email

You don't have time to sort through the hundreds of expert opinions on how to rein in a runaway inbox. That's why I did the sorting for you.

As I worked my way through about a dozen of these strategies for boosting email productivity, a theme arose: Keep it brief.

In that spirit and without further delay, here are the top suggestions of productivity gurus for avoiding email time sinks.

Don't let your inbox set your schedule I'm one of those people who visits his inbox before I have my coffee or open a newspaper in … Read more

View your iPhone on your Mac

Apple's iPhone and iPad support several options to display on larger screens, including using a VGA, HDMI, or DVI adapter. In addition, Apple supports its Wi-Fi-based AirPlay mirroring technology that allows streaming of the iPhone or iPad's screen to supported devices. This allows for viewing through projectors and on televisions which have this technology.

While this feature is convenient if you have a device that supports AirPlay mirroring, you might find that Apple's own line of Macs lack this feature. As with iOS, Apple has included AirPlay mirroring in OS X to stream to devices that support … Read more

How to run both Chrome OS and Ubuntu on a Chromebook

You've probably heard a lot about Chromebooks. These affordable computers are manufactured by companies like HP, Acer, Toshiba, and Samsung, among others, and run Google's cloud-based operating system known as Chrome OS, which relies on an Internet connection to run most apps.

The big appeal for these computers are their price tags, with most models retailing for under $400 and some even dipping as low as $179. Many people aren't aware, however, that Chromebooks are capable of doing more than just running Web apps. In fact, you can run both Chrome OS and Ubuntu, a popular Linux … Read more

iBetterCharge monitors your iOS device battery level from a Mac

Forgetting to charge your smartphone or tablet, only to realize the battery is almost dead when you're heading out the door is a bummer. If only there were some way for your Mac to alert you when your device's battery was getting low. Wait, there is.

As reported by 9to5Mac, a free OS X app called iBetterCharge will monitor your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch battery level for you.

After downloading and installing the app, you'll need to ensure that you have iTunes Wi-Fi sync enabled for the specific device(s) you want to monitor. After that, … Read more

How to save to hidden directories in OS X

While in standard uses there may be little reason to save files to a hidden directory in OS X, there are sometimes cases when you might want to do this. The operating system contains numerous hidden directories, such as the Library folder in your user account, a number of system folders that contain configuration files and programs, as well as the ability to manually hide specific folders on your system which, for fun or otherwise, can be used to keep items relatively hidden.

If you would like to access a hidden folder on your system, you might find that accessing … Read more

Remotely control a Mac with Mac.remote for Android

Many of us rely on our computers as entertainment hubs for watching videos and listening to music. Having a remote control to manage simple functions like play/pause, fast-forward, and volume makes a lot of sense. Every now and then, you'll see a physical remote control included with a computer system, but they're pretty rare.

In the absence of an actual remote control, you can use an Android device with the Mac.remote app to control many multimedia applications on your Mac. You can even put your Mac to sleep, shut it down, and control the screen's … Read more

How to make Skype calls in a browser

Skype voice and video calls in HD are now available worldwide thanks to a new plug-in by Microsoft. The free plug-in supports modern versions of Chrome and Firefox on both Mac and Windows computers, as well as Internet Explorer 8 and higher.

To make calls with Skype on the Web, visit Outlook.com and sign up for a free account if you don't already have one. Once you've done that, sign in.

Click the messaging icon on the top right corner and the messaging pane will appear on the right side. Under the "Add people to chat … Read more

Secure file sharing in OS X

If you would like to share files and folders on a network for others to see, or for you to access from another system, then you may be concerned about how to do so and properly protect your documents from prying eyes. Ideally, you would like to have your system available for access, but only after proper authentication from a remote user.

To enable file sharing on your system, go to the System Preferences (accessible from the Apple menu) and then in the Sharing preferences pane check the box for "File Sharing."

By default, enabling this will give … Read more