Between September 2005 and July 2011 I was a regular contributor to MacFormat in the UK.
Whereas I’m posting the published articles for my MacWarehouse writing, with the MacFormat ones I’ve decided to post the text as submitted, including any comments that I included for design. I am, however, allowing myself a few small edits for clarity.
The particular one is my fourteenth column, written in October 2006. This is presented purely as a historical record as much, if not all, of the information contained in it may well have changed in the meantime.
There are a number of features in Mac OS X that are not well publicised but which can be very useful. This is one of the downsides of most software, operating systems included, coming with virtually no documentation or indeed only coming with virtual documentation in the form of PDFs or help files. Mac OS X Server comes with nearly 2,000 pages of documentation in PDF form but few people will bother to read all of them due to the pain of having to print them all out and then bind or staple them, is it a surprise then that many OS X Server users don’t know about all of the really great features that it has. Having electronic documentation means that you can post updated versions of the web as soon as they are available, and Apple are very good at doing this, but we ought to at least have the option of purchasing a printed copy which we can browse through and make notes in the margin of. The growth of on-demand publishing sites such as Lulu.com and Blurb.com show that it is possible and Apple once used a similar service for their developer documentation. Blurb.com even have their own OS X software that you can use to create books in a manner similar to iPhoto’s photo albums.
When I got my first Mac, a 1990 vintage Mac Plus, not only did I get a proper printed manual but there was a very cute on-screen tutorial called Mouse Basics that taught me how to use a mouse. These days all you tend to get is a fairly slim booklet telling you how to plug everything in and a few pages on the basic interface. If you want to know more you need to look in Mac Help. The problem is that if you don’t know that a feature exists how would you ever be prompted to look in Mac Help to find out more about it?
One such feature is camera and scanner sharing, which is tucked away inside the Image Capture application. This is the ability to attach a scanner or digital camera to one Mac on your network and access it from another. You can have one Mac with central resources attached and then make use of those resources on all of your Macs, thus helping to cut down on your costs a bit. Scanner sharing is more fully developed than camera sharing, it will work with most scanners that have TWAIN drivers whereas it is a bit hit-or-miss telling if a camera can be shared or not as Apple don’t publish a list of compatible cameras.
Open up Image Capture, choose Preferences… from the Image Capture menu and then select the Sharing tab. You should now be able to check the box next to Share my Devices and then check which devices you want to share. Now quit Image Capture or else you won’t be able to access your device from another Mac as the Mac you are sharing it from will report that it is in use.
You now have two choices about how you access the shared device from the remote Mac. Firstly you can launch Image Capture on the remote Mac, go to the Devices menu, choose Browse Devices… and then Remote Image Capture devices from when you should be able to see your scanner or camera. Secondly if you selected the Enable Web Sharing option when you set-up sharing you can access your device with Safari. You can either enter the URL that is shown under the Enable Web Sharing option or more simply you can tell Safari to look for devices on your local network, though this only works if you are on the same sub-net as the device you want to access. Open Safari, from the Bookmarks menu choose Show All Bookmarks, or click the Bookmarks icon, and then select Bonjour from the collections list on the left-hand side. If Bonjour isn’t shown you will need to enable it by going to Preferences, selecting Bookmarks and then putting a check mark against Collections: Include Bonjour. You should now see your shared device in the list of bookmarks so double-click it. Whichever way you access your shared device you can now use it from the remote Mac.
With a shared camera you can see thumbnails of the images on the camera, download some or all of them to the remote Mac or delete pictures from the camera. If your Camera supports it, and again there is no definitive list of which ones do or do not, you can even take pictures remotely.
Want to know more? Now that you know the feature is there open Image Capture and select Image Capture Help from the Help menu and then See all Image Capture topics. Don’t just do this for Image Capture, open any program that you regularly use and look through the help files to see if there are any other hidden gems that you are missing out on.