Average Joe's Tips

Add Some Extra ‘Magic’ to Your Trackpad with BTT

Apple finally got the trackpad right when they made it glass, multi-touch, and entirely clickable; but it gets even magic-er with a little customization courtesy of Better Touch Tool.

Apple natively offers some (limited) customization of trackpad gestures, but the free application BetterTouchTool deserves credit for making the hardware as useful as it is. BTT allows you to assign commands to 50+ gestures – from ‘5 finger swipe down’ to ‘3 finger tip-tap left’ – and better yet, assign unique gestures to unique applications. BTT also implements the pretty useful ‘Snap’ feature found in Windows 7, used to view two windows side by side (which I find very useful when comparing or transcribing data).

My favorite implementation of BTT is in Chrome; where four finger swipes left and right move me between tabs and three finger swipes up and down create and close tabs. I also  use it to control Spaces (five finger tap to view all, ‘tip finger swipe’ to switch between) which allowed me to actually enjoy the benefits spaces without having to wait for OSX Lion. Other cool features are ‘Live View’; a window that shows you’re finger motions on a virtual trackpad and the command that is recognized (so you can practice your ‘tip-taps’ and ‘tip swipes’), and you can easily toggle BTT on and off from the taskbar in case you have to share your mac with your clumsy fingered roomate.

The trackpad has come quite a long way (and has definitely destroyed its portable-input-device competition) and while it may not yet be ideal for gaming, graphic design, and other involved processes, it adds significant value over the mouse in everyday tasks; like web, editing documents, and viewing media, and may even beat out the mouse and become the input method of choice for the everyday user. I mean IBM definitely never created a desktop version of their ThinkPad’s little red dot…

For more details head to the Better Touch Tool site, or if you’ve heard enough download it now.

Average Joe's Tips

Google Voice: Making AT&T More Bearable (and cheaper)

I’m going to speak for everyone and say that the worst feature of the iPhone is its exclusivity with AT&T’s overwhelmed, under-loved network. Unless you have the guts to jailbreak (and don’t mind cruising on the vintage Edge network) you’re stuck cursing AT&T, waiting for the day the Verizon/iPhone rumors come true.

Stop reading those rumor blogs (which have been on repeat since 2007) and start setting up your Google Voice number, which will allow you to shave some precious dollars off of your AT&T bill and introduce your iPhone to some next generation features.

Google Voice is free, and lets you create a new number (of your choice) and link it to your current mobile number. Calls, texting, and voicemail are all possible, linked to both numbers. This is all done Google style; call screening, in browser texting (on your PC), voicemail transcription, and contact-assignable custom voicemail greetings make you wonder why no wireless carriers have implemented these great online features.

Now to the money saving- you can actually cancel your texting plan (saving you ~$20/month), and effectively rely on Google Voice and your data/wifi connection; just make sure to give everyone your new number. Another plus – over wifi you can easily text, even without service. By default, Google forwards texts to  your old mobile number (you’d get charged for these) – but this is easily turned off, and you can access your inbox through the Google web App. While an official App Store app would be nice (Google doesn’t play those games), there are no real functionality limitations and it is amazingly fast for a webapp -probably the same speed as the native iPhone SMS app before the 4.0 update. There are no push notifications, but with the ability to email texts to a separate email address, this is not a problem. There is currently no MMS support, but there are many other (more efficient) options for sharing media.

Aside from eliminating your texting plan, Voice greatly enhances your texting and voicemail. Send and receive texts with your browser (using your keyboard!) – and your phone doesn’t have to leave your pocket. With the browser extension, texting becomes possible right on top of any web page. This makes it much more efficient, and much less distracting. While Apple’s visual voicemail is great, Voice takes it a step further, by transcribing and emailing voicemail right to your inbox. The transcriptions aren’t perfect, but they are easily decipherable, and are much more convenient than checking your voicemail traditionally. The audio is even embedded right into the email .

Google Voice is a pretty easy sell, saving you money on top of doing a lot more. When you create your number, make sure you think of a good word or two for your number to spell (you can search for a number by word) – that way you can tell everyone your number is 617-The-Dude (or something along those lines).

Average Joe's Tips

Average Joe’s Biweekly Tips and Tricks

New to a Mac? Here are some helpful keystrokes:

Apple or Command Button + h = Hide Current Application

Apple or Command Button + q = Quit Current Application

Apple or Command Button + c = Copy Highlighted Texts

Apple or Command Button + v = Paste Copied Texts

Apple or Command Button + z = Undo

Apple or Command Button + f = Find

Apple or Command Button + m = Minimize

Shift + Tab = Allows you to view current applications that are running and select them

Average Joe's Tips

Average Joe’s Tips & Tricks

As of Today, we will be having Tips & Tricks coming every other week called Average Joe’s Tips & Tricks for all of the new Mac users. We hope that you will enjoy these tips and find them extremely useful.