How To Automatically Start Up and Shut Down Your Mac

If you’re as lazy as I am, you really couldn’t be bothered with shutting down your computer every night before sleeping, and then having to turn it on again in the morning. Besides, being a minor annoyance, this really shouldn’t be a necessity in the 21st century! I mean, shouldn’t the computer know when I’m not using it, and turn itself off automatically?

Imagine if your computer would shutdown on it’s own every night after you’ve finished using it and then be available the first thing in the morning as soon as you wake up? Imagine the amount of electricity you would be saving ?

If I were to tell you, you could have this functionality for free, right now with Mac OS X, would you believe me ?

Well, it turns out that Apple really did think about people like you and I while designing Mac OS X, because they have a solution for this very problem.

Start by opening System Preferences

Click on the Energy Saver icon as indicated above. This is where you make all settings related to power management and energy use on your Mac, including the auto start up and shutdown settings we’re interested in. Click the Schedule button.

A pop-up dialogue will appear where you can indicate the time you want your Mac to start up and shutdown. You can also choose a setting to, say, reboot the Mac every Wednesday. Unfortunately there is no way to have multiple settings for one event.

You can, of course, also choose to only put your Mac to sleep instead of a full shutdown if that’s what you prefer.

This is just one of the many hidden gems in Mac OS X that’d make your computing life so much easier. Do you guys know of any other little know OS X features ? Let us know of your favorite ones in the comments.


How To Combine PDFs Using Automator

Automator - LogoAutomator is one of my favorite applications on OS X. Wait … scratch that ! It is my favorite automation tool. Period.

Now, there are automation tools available for all consumer operating systems but as far as I know there isn’t any that makes automating tasks as easy as Automator. It’s really a pity that the drag and drop convenience that it brings to Automation, only works on OS X.

Coming back to the topic of this post, I’ll be teaching you how to automate a task that is fairly easy and simple to do manually, but takes more “clicks” and effort. Exactly the kind of task that you’d like to automate – Combining PDF files.

Suppose you have two PDF files that you want to combine into one file. One way is to open the first file in Preview and then select and drag the second file into the sidebar pane. This is fine for one file but quickly becomes a pain if there are more than two files that you want to combine.

This is where Automator comes in. We’ll create a service using Automator that lets us combine PDF files with a single click.

First of all launch Automator and select the Service template.


Since, we’re only interested in working with PDF files, make the following selections from the drop down at the top of the workflow window. This will ensure that our context sensitive service is only active when we select PDF files in the Finder application.

Automator - Select PDF Files

The next step is to drag in some Automator actions to our workflow. Search for the action named “Combine PDF Pages” in the left side pane and drag it to the main workflow window.

Automator - Combine PDF Pages

That is essentially all that we want to do. At this point, we have a service that will let you select multiple PDF files in Finder and then combine them all by appending pages and create a single PDF file out of them. But, we still don’t know where that new file will be saved. Automator will, by default, save the file in some esoteric system location but that is not what we want. Let’s drag the action named “Move Finder Items” to the workflow.

Automator - Move Finder Items

The default select of moving items to the Desktop should be fine, unless you want to move the newly create file to another folder.

Save the workflow and give it a nice descriptive name. You can quit Automator now.

Now, whenever you want to combine PDF files, just select them in Finder, right click and choose the service that we just created.

Automator - right click

OS X will now combine the two (or more) PDF files and create a new file on the desktop.

Are there any other cool Automator actions that you guys want to know more about ? Have you guys any other cool actions in the past ? Let me know in the comments.

[Mac] How To use Automator to Test your Website’s iPhone version

Automator - LogoBefore the iPhone came, only the largest websites had a separate version exclusively for mobile visitors which was usually based on WAP. And since there weren’t too many mobile visitors anyway, a lot of site owners just didn’t bother with creating a lighter version of their websites. The mobile web was a mess and those of us (un)fortunate enough to have meddled with it back then were a bruised lot !

The iPhone definitely changed the mobile web landscape for the better. The  iPhone’s browser was probably the first mobile browser that could actually display regular websites almost as well as desktop based browsers.

But, the consumers wanted even more. They weren’t happy with pinching, zooming and double tapping their way around to navigate a website and wanted all websites to have a version for the iPhone.

So, let’s say you have made the decision to build an iPhone version of your website, coded it all up and now want a way to test your new iPhone optimized site. What are your options ?

Continue reading “[Mac] How To use Automator to Test your Website’s iPhone version”