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Nearly all of us have experienced a situation in which we have faced a corrupt hard drive, and due to not having any backups, have lost all our data. Good backups are always necessary. In this article we will show how you can use Automator to automate backing up your contacts in OS X.

1. Open up Automator on your Mac. You can do this by searching for it from Spotlight Search or by navigating to your Applications folder and opening Automator.

2. Select a new document if Automator prompts you to do so, and select “Calendar Alarm” in the type of document. This is a type of document that can be triggered by events in your calendar, meaning you can set it to run at specific intervals automatically.

3. From the left-hand “Actions” panel, choose Contacts, and drag “Find Contacts items” into the right-hand pane.

The option that comes up lets us filter which contacts we want to back up. As we’ll be backing up all of our contacts, simply leave the first two options to “people” and “All” as they are. Select “Name” and “is not” for the last two options and enter in “aaa.”

5. Now, from the second list, drag “Export vCards” to the right hand pane, making sure it sits underneath “Find Contacts People” in your workflow. Leave the Export option as it is (also seen in the screenshot below); just choose a custom location where you would like your Contacts to be backed up.

The following window should open up.

Here, in the Repeat section, you can set a regular interval for a regular backup of your contacts.

That’s it! It’s that simple to create an automatic task (workflow) to back up your contacts in OS X at a regular schedule. Although it is a bit lengthy, it’s a one-time setup that can prove to be life-saving in the occasion you have a hard drive failure. For that we recommend selecting a network drive location in the Automator workflow, but it’s entirely upto you.

Similarly, you can also mess around with other Automator options to create other backups. Let us know what you thought of this guide down in the Comments section.

Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier’s resident Mac tutorial writer. He’s currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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How To Hide All Desktop Icons In Mac Os X

Want to hide all desktop icons on a Mac? Desktop icon clutter can really impact workflow by overwhelming you with files and just too much stuff to look at. Inevitably, it can be hard to avoid since a lot of apps download things to the Desktop by default, we save things there, screenshots go there, it quickly becomes the generic catch-all location for documents and stuff that we’re working with.

If you decide you have too many icons on the desktop and maintaining the desktop is just too much to deal with, you can actually toggle a secret setting in Mac OS X to turn off the Mac desktop icons completely, thereby preventing them from being displayed at all. This effectively hides all the icons from showing up on the Mac desktop only, but all of your files and stuff will still be accessible from elsewhere through the file system and Finder. You can think of this kind of like disabling the desktop, because you can still actually save files and folders to the desktop, it’s just that the icons will not show up. Instead, you’ll just see your desktop wallpaper.

How to Hide Desktop Icons on Mac OS X from Appearing Completely

If you’re ready to hide all desktop icons on a Mac, you’ll be using the command line to accomplish this task. Here is how you can hide all Mac desktop icons by basically disabling the desktop from appearing:

Launch Terminal, found within /Applications/Utilities

Type the following defaults command string exactly:

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool false

Hit enter / return

Next you will then need to kill the Finder so that it relaunches and the changes take effect, do that with the following command in the Terminal prompt:

killall Finder

Again hit Return, this refreshes the Finder and the Desktop

Once the command is executed correctly, the Finder will refresh and all desktop icons will instantly disappear – the files will still exist, they are just no longer visible on the desktop.

This trick works to disable the desktop and hide all the desktop icons exactly the same in all versions of MacOS and Mac OS X, from Mac OS X Snow Leopard to OS X Yosemite to MacOS Mojave and everything in between, and presumably later too.

You can expedite the hiding of the desktop icons on the Mac by turning the command string into a single line to be copied and pasted into the Terminal window, like this:

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool false;killall Finder;say icons hidden

The desktop will no longer display icons, effectively hiding them from appearing. All of the files still exist, but they’re now discretely hidden in your home folder’s “Desktop” directory rather than cluttering up the visible desktop.

If you’re wondering what this looks like when it’s in effect, it’s basically a super-clean desktop like this:

Notice how there is literally nothing on the desktop? Just a clean image of the background wallpaper? That’s what this trick does.

Note that this process is different than simply hiding things like Mac hard drive icons and network shares from showing up on desktop, because this trick is all inclusive and hides every single icon regardless of what it is, completely preventing them from appearing on the Mac OS X Desktop whatsoever, despite still technically being stored in the users ~/Desktop directory. It’s obviously easy to implement, and it’s also easy to reverse if you decide the feature isn’t for you and you want to see everything visible as usual again.

So to be perfectly clear, this will hide your icons from showing on the Desktop by disabling that feature, but your desktop data, files, folders, and everything else is still available by manually going to the “~/Desktop” folder of the user account. None of your files are missing, they’re just tucked into your user Desktop folder on the Macintosh HD.

How to Show Desktop Icons Again in Mac OS X

To show the Desktop icons again, return to open the Mac Terminal and type the following defaults command – notice the only difference between the disabling of desktop and enabling of desktop is ‘false’ has been turned into ‘true’, thereby re-enabling desktop icon display on the Mac:

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool true

Again, kill the Finder and your icons will show on the desktop as usual:

killall Finder

Finder will relaunch, and the desktop will be revealed again with all of it’s icons shown. The image below shows an exaggerated example, with tons and tons of icons sitting on the wallpaper:

Similar to the hiding trick, you can condense those commands into a single command string to reveal the desktop icons again.

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool true;killall Finder;say icons visible

This even gives you a nice auditory clue announcing the state of the icons (icons hidden, or icons visible).

Other than being a nuisance to look at, desktop clutter can actually slow down a Mac (or any computer, for that matter), since each individual icon and thumbnail must be drawn by the operating system anytime the desktop is accessed or shown. As a result, every single file sitting on the desktop takes up a little slice of memory, and redrawing the thumbnail icons uses a tiny bit of CPU, but with hundreds of files laying about those will accumulate to a significant burden on the computers resources, thereby slowing down the computer. This is particularly true with old Macs, but it applies to newer models as well.

So when in doubt, keep that Mac desktop tidy and free of too many icons, or just hide the icons and files display like we described here so that you can gain a nice little speed boost until you sort through your files.

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How To Fix Wrong Hard Drive Data Usage Calculation In Os X

This storage view shows a small chart that breaks down the amount of space used by various audio files, movies, photos, backups, etc. However, sometimes the numbers shown in this window may be incorrect. For example, we’ve seen systems that report 0KB for audio files, even when there were about 100 files present on that particular device.

This issue is simply a result of an incorrect indexing of your hard drive and does represent the true contents of your system. In order for the utility to properly report the space usage, it needs to have a properly built and enabled Spotlight index.

1. Make Sure Spotlight Is On and Indexing Is Enabled

First you need to make sure that Spotlight is enabled for your system. To do this:

1. Open Terminal on your OS X system, and enter the following command:

If the result of this command shows “Indexing disabled,” then enable Spotlight by running the following command:

Note: You’ll need an administrator password for sudo commands.

2. Reindex Your Mac’s Hard Drive

The next step is to have the system reindex the hard drive, which can be done in two ways:

Reindex Your Hard Drive Using Spotlight’s Preferences

1. Open System Preferences.

4. Select your Mac’s hard drive from the left-hand pane. By default, it will be named as “Macintosh HD.”

After doing so, Spotlight will start to reindex your hard drive.

Reindex Your Mac’s Hard Drive Using Terminal

Alternatively, you can open up Terminal and enter in the following command to force OS X to clear the index and cause the system to rebuild it from scratch:

Once you’ve done this, you’ll see the indexing progress bar appear in the Spotlight menu.  This may take minutes to hours depending on your system, but once it’s done, the system information utility should properly report file sizes.

Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier’s resident Mac tutorial writer. He’s currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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How To Switch The Control And Command Keys In Mac Os X

If you have just switched to using Mac OS X from the regular Windows OS that you have been using all your life, you might have difficulty adjusting to the keyboard, particularly the Control and Command keys.

In Windows most of the keyboard shortcuts are done with the Control key. You press “Ctrl + A” to select all, “Ctrl + C” to copy and “Ctrl + V” to paste. When it comes to Mac OS X, the configuration is totally opposite. Even though the keyboard comes with a Control button, the “Command” button is used for most keyboard shortcuts. You have to press “Cmd + A” to select all, “Cmd + C” to copy and “Cmd + V” to paste.

If you are not used to the keyboard configuration, Mac OS X comes with a setting that allows you to remap the modifier key. This way you can switch the functionality of “Control” and “Command” and make it work like Windows.

1. In Mac OS X open “System Preferences” from the Launchpad.

If you are planning to switch to Mac OS X permanently, it might be better for you to continue using Command as the modifier key and get used to it. It will only take a while for you to become accustomed to the new system. If, however, you are often switching between different OS, like Windows on an office PC and Mac OS X on a home laptop, then switching the Control and Command buttons might just save your sanity.

Image credit: a swedish campground

Damien

Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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How To Create A Dynamic Resizable Disk On Os X

Disk Images are indeed most useful for file distribution, but they can also be used to store files on your system, any external media or on a local network server. The server option is most useful if you want to encrypt your files so that no one else can access them.

To create a Disk Image on your OS X system, simply follow the steps below:

2. Select “New Image” from the top row of options in Disk Utility.

3. A drop-down menu similar to the one below will show up. Here, you can name your image and set its size. For this tutorial, we’ve set it as 500MB, but you can set a size according to your own preferences.

(Tidbit: You can also encrypt your disk image here by using the “Encrypt” tab.)

Once created, the image will create and mount where you can copy files to it. However, you’ll notice that even if you don’t fill the 500MB image size, i.e if you enter less than 500MB of data, the image size will still be the same when you created it. So if you created an image that was 500MB in size, then the image file would be 500MB, even if there is only 90MB of data in it.

Now, this may seem logical to some people, but it might not be desired. You may want your disk to be able to contain 500MB of data but not always be 500MB on disk and only grow with the size of items you place in it. A dynamic resizable disk in OS X by following the below instructions:

How to “Sparse” or “Sparsebundle” Your Image With No Partition Scheme

Apple has included the options in Disk Utility to create “sparse” and “sparsebundle” image types. These images are dynamically resizable, meaning, if you create one without a partition, they will start with the size of the files you place in them. They’ll then grow as you keep on adding more files, up to the maximum size you set when creating the image.

To do this, when you’re creating your Disk Image using the steps above, simply select either “sparse” or “sparsebundle” from the “Image Format” menu when creating the image, and then choose “No Partition Map” from the “Partitions” menu, similar to the screenshot below:

Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier’s resident Mac tutorial writer. He’s currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox

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By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy and European users agree to the data transfer policy. We will not share your data and you can unsubscribe at any time.

How To Hide The Menu Bar On External Secondary Displays In Mac Os X

For Mac users who use external screens, multi-display support has been greatly improved in new versions of OS X, but one feature that is either loved or hated is the addition of the secondary menu bar that is visible on the external display(s). The secondary menu bar serves the obvious purpose of providing easy access to menu items, but it also functions as an active focus indicator, letting you know which of the multiple displays has the currently active focus for windows and the mouse cursor. When one screen is active, the menu bar on that display will be shown at normal brightness, whereas the display that does not have focus will show a dimly faded translucent menu bar, as shown in this screen shot:

OS X provides a setting to hide the external display menu bar (or show it, if it’s hidden for some reason) if you don’t like it and the whole dimming indicator thing, though the wording of the setting doesn’t offer much hint that it has anything to do with menu bars or secondary screens.

Disable the Menu Bar on External Displays in OS X Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan

This will remove the menu bar from the external display completely, including the translucent display focus indicator:

Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu and choose the “Mission Control” preference panel

Uncheck the box next to “Displays have separate Spaces”

Log out and log back in to the user account for the change to take effect (or reboot, but logging out and back in is usually much faster)

Note: if you toggle this off you may wish to set the primary display again to indicate which screen you want the Mac menu bar and Dock to appear on. The primary display also becomes where new windows and alert dialogs appear by default.

Toggling “Displays have separate spaces” to OFF does not play well with full-screen app mode, thus if you like how Mavericks handles full screen apps on multiple displays, you will not want to turn this feature off. That’s a fairly significant side effect and it’s important to understand that this basically causes OS X El Capitan, OS X Yosemite, and OS X Mavericks multi-display behavior to be like that of OS X Mountain Lion and other prior versions of Mac OS X. Yes, the secondary display is still entirely usable, so long as full screen apps are not used, since full screen apps become the “Spaces” this setting adjusts. Ideally, an update to OS X will separate the menu bar setting from the Spaces setting, into an optional and unrelated adjustment somewhere in Display preferences, similar to how you can indicate which display the menu bar shows up on.

There may be a defaults setting that can toggle the brightness and/or menu bar options separately, similar to how you can make terminal windows focus follow the mouse cursor, but we have not yet found it or been made aware of such a trick. If you know of one, send us an email, tweet, or post it on our Facebook or Google+ pages.

How Do I Show the External Displays Menu Bar?

By the way, the same setting for showing the secondary display menu bar in OS X also will allow you to see the Dock on an external display in OS X, something to keep in mind.

Thanks to @scottperezfox for the tip inspiration, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter if you haven’t done so yet.

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