how to

How to edit your Mac's Hosts file, and why you would want to

If you're setting up a new web server or another device that's going to be connected to the Internet and you want to put it through its paces before it's live, or if you're having trouble with spyware and adware networks, there's an invisible file on your Mac that can help. It's called the Hosts file, and this is how to use it.

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Get the most from Do Not Disturb on the Mac

Most of the time you want to be alerted when something happens on your Mac — when it's time for an appointment, say, or if you get an important e-mail, when the web sites you're interested in have new headlines to read, or when apps need your attention. But other times you want your Mac to stay quiet, and that's where Do Not Disturb comes into play. Here's how it works, how to activate it, and how to make it easier to use with a keyboard shortcut.

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How to enable and disable notification banners on the Mac

OS X's Notification Center puts you in touch with what's happening on your Mac and elsewhere in the world — displaying banners, alerts, badge notifications and lock screen notifications to let you know what's going on. Notification banners — those little bubbles of information that appear in the upper right corner of your screen — can be helpful but they can also be distracting, so here's how you can turn them off.

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How to enable and disable notification sounds on your Mac

Sometimes it's best for your Mac to be seen and not heard. Applications and services often make a sound associated with their notification, but did you know that sound can be deactivated? Here's how.

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How to move your iPhone and iPad backups to an external drive

If you sync your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch on your Mac, you know that the first thing iTunes does is back it up (unless you've told it not to). Depending on the size of your device and how much data you have stored on it, this can gobble up dozens of gigabytes of space. Did you know you can move those backups to an external hard drive? You can, and we can walk you through how.

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How to enable and disable notification badges on the Mac

Badges are those app notifications that show you that something is waiting for you — maybe a to-do list item is due, or maybe you have a new email. Sometimes badges can be helpful. Other times they can be really irritating. Here's how to activate them and deactivate them.

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How to turn off Lock screen notifications in OS X Mavericks

OS X Mavericks introduced notifications to Mac's lock screen. Here's how to turn them off, and why it matters.

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How to move your Mac's iTunes library to an external drive

If your iTunes library has grown beyond what you can or are willing to sacrifice on your Mac's internal hard disk, there are a couple of things you can do. You can move it to the cloud, using Apple's iTunes Match service, or, if you're not comfortable doing that, you can move it to an external disk. Here's how.

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How to downgrade from Yosemite to Mavericks

Installed Yosemite developer preview and regretting it? Downgrade to Mavericks by following these instructions

You've installed a developer preview of OS X Yosemite, and you didn't take my previous advice to partition your hard drive. Now you're in a pickle: For whatever reason, you need to downgrade to Mavericks. How do you do it? Let's take a look.

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How to set up a complete backup strategy for your Mac: Time Machine, cloning, and the cloud!

Make sure to have multiple backup strategies to make sure you never lose a file

It's one thing to back up your Mac. It's another thing to have a coherent backup strategy that includes local and off-site components. That makes sure you're never more than a few minutes from recovering in the event of a critical failure or problem. In this how to, we'll look at how to set up just such a routine using a combination of backup strategies .

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