Skip to Main Content

Archive for the 'Mac Skills' Category

Cross-Platform Keyboard Shortcuts in Office 2016

The good news for MacOS users is that support for cross-platform keyboard shortcuts in Office 2016 has dramatically improved; potential downsides include the cross-platform shortcuts are PC-centric, and may interfere with some default Mac OS key assignments you may be accustomed to using (e.g., switching between desktops, or Show Desktop). You can also make the Ribbon appear more like the Windows one by enabling the Group Titles*, which can make finding a particular tool easier, particularly if you are using our workshop materials in self-study mode.

To enable the Control key shortcuts for Office 2016 for Mac, the process is simple, but the labeling is less-helpful than many might wish. To enable the cross-platform shortcuts, Click System Preferences… -> Click Keyboard -> Click the Shortcuts tab, and then Click the “All controls” radio button. Closing the window will keep your changes.

When enabling the cross-platform keyboard shortcuts, the dialog box will look like:
System Preferences Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box, with All controls radio button selected
Read the rest of “Cross-Platform Keyboard Shortcuts in Office 2016” »

12 Free Courses from Adobe KnowHow

partial listing of free courses on Adobe KnowHow.I just got an email from Adobe KnowHow about free courses available on popular programming languages.  When I went to investigate, I discovered that Adobe KnowHow is a learning platform providing training on various Adobe programs. While most of the courses on KnowHow are not free, there are 12 courses, including the Try an Hour of Code for Free, which are available without charge.

Read the rest of “12 Free Courses from Adobe KnowHow” »

Rename a file without going nuts

F2 keyI’ve always appreciated the ability to open a list of files in Explorer (that is, just a regular window, or even on the desktop itself), single click on a file name, wait a sec, and then single click again to be able to quickly and easily rename a file. I think I discovered this by accident, early in my GUI experiences with PCs, which made me feel quite clever!

However, I’ve found that my mouse skills are not always up to the job, or more precisely, that I’m not always patient enough to wait that extra beat between selecting the file the first time, and the clicking the second time to edit the file name. If I click the second time too fast, what happens? Why, my oh-so-helpful computer assumes I was double clicking (albeit a bit slower that usual), and happily opens the file for me. Noooo! I didn’t want to open it, I wanted to rename it!  (Could I just use “Save as” in the application it opened in, and give it the new file name? Sure, but then I’ll have two copies of the file, and now I have to go back and delete the one with the old name. Boo.)

In the course of teaching some of our Excel workshops, I learned that the function key F2 can be used after selecting a cell to enable editing. Since you can also use the click-once-pause-click-once-more to edit the contents of the cell, I wondered if that would work for renaming a file. Turns out, it does! Read the rest of “Rename a file without going nuts” »

The basics of switching from a PC to a Mac


Have you made the switch? Are you as confused by the differences of PC and Mac devices as I was? Hopefully this post can help you combat some of the confusion and teach you a little bit about how to use a Mac when you’re used to a PC. I’ll tell you about things like the Finder, installing and uninstalling programs, some windows management, and the app store.

Read the rest of “The basics of switching from a PC to a Mac” »

Take a break with Big Stretch Reminder for PC or Dejal Time Out for Mac

image of aerobic-dancer

Do you sit at a computer screen all day? Does this cause repetitive stress syndrome, eye strain, or mobility problems? You can combat these problems by using several free or inexpensive software applications that urge you to take breaks. You can configure them to do many things, including darkening your screen and halting your work until you tell it to postpone or skip the break.

I work on both PC and Mac, and my favorites for each platform are both free: Big Stretch Reminder for PC, and Dejal Time Out for Mac. Both of them can gently remind you to take a break on a regular basis, and are quite customizable.



Big Stretch Reminder (PC):

With Big Stretch Reminder, you can configure the time between breaks, the length of the breaks, or the time of the break. You can create your own custom reminder and choose how to be reminded, from a gentle reminder to an intrusive work stoppage. It will allow you to postpone or skip the break. There are reminders in the form of dialog boxes and audio alerts, all customizable. See

Dejal Time Out (Mac)

Time Out lets you configure two kinds of breaks: a longer break to move, stretch and relax, plus a “Micro” break which is a very brief pause of a few seconds every few minutes. You can set how long each kind of break lasts and how long between. Time outs are announced by slowly dimming the screen. You can even run an Automator workflow, AppleScript, Python script, or application at the start and/or end of each break. This would allow you to listen to music or play a video, for example, during the break. When the break is finished, the screen resumes. You can pause or skip each break. See


Manage Spotlight Indexing on Your Mac

Mac OX Spotlight search is a powerful resource, bringing you all kinds of search results in a flash. However, the downside is that it can take up precious CPU that you may need for other tasks. You can switch it off when you don’t need it and then turn it back on when you aren’t working with processor-intensive applications. Here’s how:

It’s also best to understand how Spotlight works, and how to manage and fix it. See:

What Is That Keyboard Shortcut Again?

Do you struggle to remember keyboard shortcuts? Do you tack up sticky notes with Ctrl and Alt symbols everywhere? Instead, you can go directly to, the one-stop shortcut place. is an open, wiki-style Reference Database that contains Keyboard Shortcuts for hundreds of applications– in Windows, Mac, Linus, and web applications. Boost your productivity and save yourself time. 

PHP Workshops: Install and Use PHP Locally

To develop database-driven PHP applications, we need three things, the Apache web server, the PHP processor, and MySQL. This tutorial will walk you through all of the installation and setup that you need to do on your own machine to have a local instance of a Apache/MySQL/PHP (AMP) environment.

The instructions below will walk you through the setup you need for each of our PHP workshops, starting with PHP: The Basics.

At the time of writing, PHP: The Basics is the only PHP workshop offered by IT Training.

PHP: The Basics

The following links contain step-by-step instructions on configuring XAMP for the PHP: The Basics workshop.

Macintosh OS: Install and Configure MAMP for PHP Development

If you are planning on developing PHP applications on Mac OS X, you’re in luck! Most of the tools come built-in to the operating system; all we need to do is activate them.

This tutorial is written for the most recent (at time of writing) version of Mac OS X, 10.8 Lion. The instructions listed here will work on most of the recent versions of Mac OS X. If you need help with another OS version, leave a comment on this post.

This instruction set is also focused primarily on the setup needed to complete PHP: The Basics. Specifically, this post will not detail what needs to be done to set up MySQL and phpMyAdmin to administer a MySQL database. Instructions for that topic will be included in another post.

Configuring Apache for Mac OS X 10.8 Lion

Let’s start with Apache, the web server. This is built in to the operating system, but it’s not accessible by any of the graphical interfaces available. Let’s begin by launching Terminal.

  1. To launch Terminal,
    Press Command – Space,
    Type Terminal,
    Press Return

    This will launch Terminal to your home directory:

  2. To start Apache, type: sudo apachectl start
    Press Return

    Apache will start.

Other Useful Apache Commands

Now that Apache has started, let’s take a moment to review some other useful Terminal commands for Apache.

  • sudo apachectl stop — stops the Apache service
  • sudo apachectl graceful — restarts the Apache service
  • httpd -v — shows the current version of Apache (Apache 2.2.22 comes installed with Mac OS X 10.8 Lion)

These commands will be useful throughout your time working with apache. Let’s test that Apache has started.

  1. To see if Apache has started,
    Launch a Web Browser,
    In the Address bar, type: localhost,
    Press Return

    If apache has started, you should see a web page that says “It works!

    By default, this will make your document root be /Library/WebServer/Documents. When we navigate to http://localhost, the files in this directory are displayed. This is not a good place to do our work since it’s in the root level of the operating system. We will create a folder inside our own user directory that will contain all of our sites. This will be referred as User Root.

    To begin this process, let’s set up a folder called Sites in our user directory.

  2. To make the appropriate directory, in Therminal, type:
    mkdir /Users/username/Sites

    Where username is replaced with the short username of your account. If you do not know your short username, in Terminal, type: whoami and press return.Now that we have a User Root directory for all of our sites, let’s tell Apache where to find them. To do this, we need to create a file called username.conf and add some XML to that file.

  3. To create username.conf, in terminal, type:
    sudo nano /etc/apache2/users/username.conf

    Replacing username with your short username.The nano editor launches with a new file called username.conf. This is where we will add our XML.

  4. To add the XML needed to configure the User Root, type:
    <Directory "/Users/username/Sites/">
    Options Indexes MultiViews
    AllowOverride All
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all

    Again, replacing username with your short username.

  5. To save the file, press:
    Ctrl – O, Return, Ctrl – X

    Before we are finished, let’s make sure the file has the correct permissions.

  6. To change the permissions of the file, in Terminal, type:

    sudo chmod 644 /etc/apache2/users/username.conf

    Replacing username with your short username.

    Apache is now configured to look in /Users/username/Sites when we browse to http://localhost/~username. Let’s restart Apache and configure PHP.

  7. To restart apache, in Terminal, type:
    sudo apachectl graceful

Configuring PHP

Now that Apache is running, we need to start PHP. This is done by uncommenting a line in the Apache configuration file located at /etc/apache2/httpd.conf. Let’s do that now.

  1. To open the httpd.conf file, in Terminal, type:
    sudo nano /etc/apache2/httpd.conf
    Press Return

    Now, we will use nano’s built-in search functionality to find the line that talks about PHP.

  2. To search for PHP, in nano, type:
    Ctrl – W, php, Return

    This will locate the apropriate line.

  3. To uncomment the line,
    Remove the octothorp (#) from the beginning of the line

  4. To save the file and continue, press:
    Ctrl – O, Return, Ctrl – X

    Now that the line is uncommented, let’s restart Apache to have the changes take affect.

  5. To restart Apache, in Terminal, type:
    sudo apachectl graceful
    Press Return

Testing PHP

Now that we have PHP configured, let’s test the installation by creating a php document that contains the phpinfo(); function in our User Root directory.

  1. To create the PHP information file, in Terminal, type:
    nano /Users/username/Sites/phpinfo.php
    Press Return

    Again, replace username with your short username.

    This will create the file, now let’s add the code.

  2. To add the PHP code, type:
    <?php phpinfo(); ?>
  3. To save the file, press:
    Ctrl – O, Return, Ctrl – X

    This saves the file. We are now ready to test the connection.

  4. To test the PHP configuration, in a Web Browser, navigate to:

    You should now see the PHP installation information.

This concludes what is needed to move through PHP: The Basics in self-study mode. The last bit of information here is a list of recommendations on how to set up your Sites folder to complete the workshop.

  • Create a sub-folder in your User Root directory named PHPBA. This will be the Local Site Folder when configuring your site in Dreamweaver.
  • Since you are working on your local machine, you do not have to upload files using the Ctrl – Shift – U keyboard shortcut in Dreamweaver. Simply save and refresh the web browser.
  • To make sure all of your exercise files are ready to go, place the contents of the PHPBA folder in your newly created PHPBA folder inside your User Root directory.

That’s it! Happy PHP’ing!

Understanding Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

Apple has made a lot of changes to the behavior of their keyboard shortcuts over the last several operating systems. In the days before Exposé, things were pretty straightforward; the function keys worked the same regardless of how the operating system was configured.

Today, with Mission Control and Exposé, things aren’t so easy. Apple keyboards now have fancy little icons on some of the F-keys, and by default, they don’t function like a windows F-key. This can be confusing and it makes it difficult for us to keep our materials accurate for Macintosh systems.

Read the rest of “Understanding Mac Keyboard Shortcuts” »

Get Training Tips via RSS Subscribe to Entries feed or Read Comments via RSS Subscribe to Comments feed.