Archive for January, 2009

GrandPerspective: Quickly find big files on your Mac disk

Monday, January 26th, 2009

I recently ran out of disk space on my iMac (I regret buying the 250GB hard drive model and not the 500GB!). That meant I needed to delete some files – either a lot of small files, or a few big ones. Obviously deleting a few big files is less effort, which is why this Finder trick is useful.

However, I recently came across a better way to find big files. GrandPerspective is a free app that gives you a graphical representation of all the files and folders on your hard drive (or in a specified folder), using a clever technique known as treemaps.

Using GrandPerspective

When you open the app it asks you for a folder to scan. You can choose a folder, or click your hard disk icon to scan the whole disk:

Click Scan, and GrandPerspective reads all the files and folders (including subfolders) in your selected folder – this can take a few minutes. You then see a visual representation of all the files. Here are all the files on my hard disk:


The best iPhone apps: 15 ways to find them

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Let’s face it: the App Store isn’t the easiest way to find the best iPhone or iPod touch apps.

Sure, it’s great to have all the apps in one place, but the App Store is a pain to navigate, and you can’t sort apps by rating, making it hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Since the App Store now contains over 15,000 apps this can be a bit of a problem.

Fortunately, there are some great sites out there that make finding the best iPhone apps that much easier. Here’s my top 15:

1. Macworld’s iPhone app reviews

There’s a great list of over 250 (at the time of writing) app reviews at the Macworld site. Each app is given a thorough review (with user comments), and the list is sorted by rating. (The Sort by Date option is useful for finding new apps.)

2. App Shopper

This handy site lets you find apps in all sorts of ways. You can look at just paid or just free apps; find recently-updated apps; look at just new apps; and browse different categories. You can also browse the current top 100 free and paid apps.

A really nice feature of App Shopper is that it shows you the pricing history of each app (iPhone apps tend to go up and down in price a lot), so you can see if you’re getting a bargain.

3. Touch Arcade

This blog features tons of iPhone and iPod touch game reviews, often including a handy YouTube video with each review that shows off the gameplay. A great way to get a feel of a game before you download or buy it. Also has news of upcoming games and a busy forum.

4. iusethis iphone apps

The iPhone section of, a site that ranks apps by the number of registered members using them. As they put it, this is “a much more democratic way to rate apps” than the usual five-star ratings system. Interesting idea, and a great way to find and compare popular apps.

5. AppVee

If you prefer your app reviews served to you in video format then this is the site for you. Each app is accompanied by a video review and walkthrough of the app’s main features. This is a great way to get a quick overview of an app. If you’re really keen you can even download the AppVee app to your iPhone, letting you browse, search, and watch the video reviews right from your phone. (more…)

Mac troubleshooting: 10 quick tips for fixing your computer

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Apple Macs are pretty reliable (as computers go) but they inevitably throw their toys out of the cot occasionally (usually when you’re trying to meet a deadline). While there are a million different things that can go wrong with a Mac – many of which require a lot of time and patience to fix – there are a few general steps you can take to try and identify or solve the problem.

Read on for 10 simple Mac troubleshooting tricks that you can try when your computer acts up. These are in approximate order of priority, so try the first suggestion first, and if it doesn’t work, try the next.

(Disclaimer: Although these tips are fairly innocuous, there’s always a chance that trying them might make things worse. Always make sure you have a backup of all your data before proceeding!)

1. Restart the Mac

The classic tech support answer. If your Mac is behaving strangely then the first thing to do is shut it down, wait a few seconds, and turn it back on again. This resolves a lot of software (and temporary hardware) glitches.

2. Make sure your system and apps are up to date

Sometimes problems are caused by bugs in old versions of software. If you’re seeing a problem in a particular app, check to see if a newer version is available. Usually there’s a Check for Updates menu option under the menu with the same name as the app (e.g. iTunes) or under the Help menu.

To make sure your system software is up to date, choose Apple > Software Update. (more…)

The funniest Apple videos of all time

Friday, January 9th, 2009

There’s something about the cult of Apple and Steve Jobs that lends itself well to comedy and spoof videos. In no particular order, here are 15 of the funniest ever videos on an Apple or Mac theme – in my oh-so-humble opinion. 😉

1. South Park Mac vs. PC …

Because, at the end of the day, all computers suck.

2. … and vs. Linux

“Batman’s nemesis?”

“Frank Sinatra?”

3. Feline Mac user

Macs are so simple, even kittens can use them…


15 secret iPhone tips and tricks

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Happy New Year! 😀

I’ve been using my iPhone 3G for a few months now. Along the way I’ve discovered a few “less-than-obvious” tricks and shortcuts that save me a fair bit of time, and I thought I’d share them. While most of these are in the iPhone User Guide if you dig around, I’d say they’re useful enough to deserve a mention in their own right.

(By the way, most of these tips also work on the iPod touch.)

1. Quickly get to the first Home screen

Say, like me, you’ve gone a bit wild on the App Store and currently have a large number of apps installed. I have 101 apps, which means 7 Home screens to flick through. Your most important apps are on the first screen, right? Say you’re currently on screen 7, and want to get to the first screen. Simply click the Home button to jump there. Nice!

2. Flip between pages by tapping

Many iPhone apps feature a paging system with dots at the bottom of the screen, such as:

  • The Home screen
  • Safari
  • Weather

You probably know that you can flip between pages in these apps by swiping left or right across the screen. As an alternative, you can also tap the areas either side of the row of dots at the bottom of the screen:

(I find that, with a bit of practice, tapping is slightly quicker than swiping, but your mileage may vary.) (more…)