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How to Make an OS X Recovery USB Drive

[Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from Master Your Mac, a new book for Mac users who want to travel beyond the basics. Click here to learn more about the book!]

Enabling Firmware Password Protection on Your Mac

[Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from Master Your Mac, a new book for Mac users who want to travel beyond the basics. Click here to learn more about the book!]

How to Check Your Magic Mouse's Battery Life

Apple's Magic Mouse is probably the best wireless Bluetooth mouse available. But as with all wireless devices, the batteries will die eventually and you'll need to replace them. That's why it's a good idea to check your Magic Mouse's battery life before you leave home or deliver a presentation.

Fortunately, there's a quick way to check your mouse's remaining battery life. Here's how to do it:

How to Rebuild Spotlight's Index

Spotlight is the revolutionary search technology built into OS X that creates an index of practically everything on your hard drive — including email messages, contacts, and even calendar events — and then uses this index to search your hard drive. OS X is supposed to update this index in real time when you create or modify files or folders, but problems occasionally crop up. Spotlight won’t work correctly if this index is incomplete or corrupted. When search results don’t appear as expected, it’s probably time to manually rebuild Spotlight’s index.

How to Set Your Mac's Time Zone

Keeping your Mac's clock current used to be a challenge, but OS X now allows you to automate the process entirely. By specifying a time zone in system settings, your Mac can automatically adjust to changes in daylight savings time. And if you're a road warrior, you can set OS X to use location services to automatically determine the current time zone, so the current time zone will always be selected and the current time will always be displayed no matter where you are.

Here's how to set your Mac's time zone:

How to Find Your iPhone's Phone Number

When you activate a new iPhone, your carrier provides you with documentation that contains the iPhone's phone number. But if you haven't yet committed the phone number to memory, or if you live in the United States and use a different phone number with Google Voice, you may need a quick way to find your iPhone's number. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to do it as long as your iPhone is already activated with a standard SIM card.

Here's how to find your iPhone's phone number:

How to Share an iPhone Contact with a Friend

The iOS Contacts application makes it easy to store contact information for friends and family members on your iPhone. But did you know that by tapping a button on your iPhone, you can share a contact's information with a friend? This is a great way to share the phone numbers and email addresses of extended family members, friends of friends, and even contractors.

Here's how to share an iPhone contact with a friend:

  1. From the iPhone's home screen, tap Contacts, as shown below.

How to Output Stereo Audio in Mono

Recently I replaced my aging Bose OE2 headphones with a pair of Sennheiser HD 380 Pro headphones.

Schedule Your Mac to Automatically Sleep

If you're one of those people who forgets to turn off your Mac at night, you might be interested in a little-known OS X feature capable of automatically putting your Mac to sleep at a time of your choosing. It's a great "set it and forget it" setting that automates a task that can save you energy and prolong the life of your Mac's components.

Here's how to schedule your Mac to automatically sleep:

  1. Verify that your Mac's clock is set to the correct day and time.

  2. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences. The window shown below appears.

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