Brewster Academy Blogs


Mac 101

Macintosh operating system tips and tricks.

Upgrading to Yosemite – Mac OS 10.10

It is important to know that these upgrades are absolutely necessary for you to interface with students, faculty and staff members in the coming year. After the upgrade process, you will not notice a big difference in how it looks or where your files are – most everything is going to be where you expect it! The most notable change is that iPhoto has been replaced with Photos (click here to see more info on Photos). Continue reading “Upgrading to Yosemite – Mac OS 10.10”

Mac 101: Quick Dictionary Lookup

Often when reading an article online or writing we would like to look up the definition of a word.  To do so easily without having to open another application try this quick tip:

While typing or reading, highlight the word you would like to look up and press either

Command+ Control + D         OR            Control-click on the highlighted word and select “Look Up”

dictionarymeanings-582x279                Dictionary lookup

You should see results that look like this:




Mac 101: Turning volume up/down without clicking noise

Tired of that loud “Click” noise when you change the volume on your computer?

To Turn your volume down without your computer making that loud “clicking noise”

Hold “Command” button + Volume increase F12 or
Hold “Command” button + Volume decrease F11

Avoid tears, backup your computer!

In our Technology Office we regularly see technical glitches, like hard drive failures, or user mistakes that result in users losing all or most of their files.  These disasters are ABSOLUTELY AVOIDABLE providing the user does regular file backup!

Step 1) Buy an external hard drive if you don’t already have one (FYI, it’s on the student’s list of required items to bring to Brewster).  Your backup drive should ONLY be used for automated backups – don’t use it in any other way.  If you need more storage, buy a second external hard drive, but then you will have to back that one up too!   If you need recommendations for backup drives, or help erasing older ones please contact our friendly ITD staff for assistance!

Here’s one of the ones we issue faculty here at Brewster:


Step 2) Plug your external hard drive into your laptop.
Note:  The first time you backup your computer may take 1-3 hours, so don’t plug it in for the first time unless you can let your computer sit in one place for a while.
You CAN still work on your computer as it backs up!


It will initially look like this on your desktop (Though it could be named anything)

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.39.14 PM

Step 3) Your computer will ask you if you want to use this for Time Machine Backup. Please click the button labeled “Use as Backup Disk”

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.39.08 PM marked

A new preference window will pop up on your screen and it will start counting down (120 seconds) until it begins to backup your entire computer.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.39.38 PM markup

Step 4) Let your computer backup fully, the first time. If you continue to watch that same window you will see a progress bar appear.Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.40.55 PM

Also, the icon for your backup drive will change to look like this once the backup starts:

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.40.03 PM

Step 5) Plug your backup drive into your computer regularly! Time Machine backups are completely automated but the drive needs to be connected to your computer in order for that to happen. We recommend plugging your drive in EVERY NIGHT (or day) and checking to make sure it backs up. When your backups are finished, or you are ready to unplug your backup drive, please make sure to properly ‘eject’ it before you disconnect it. This will prevent any backup in progress from getting corrupted. You can eject the drive simply by dragging it to the ‘trash can’ in your dock. As a note, when you start to drag the backup drive to the ‘trash’, the trashcan icon will change into an eject symbol!


How can you be sure that your computer is backing up?

There is an icon placed in upper right hand corner of your menu bar. It looks like this:

Screenshot 2015-04-08 17.33.00

If you click on it you will see the status of your current backup, or a message telling you when the last backup completed.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 2.40.19 PM

Further Advice

Only the first backup should take a bit of time (1-3 hours). Each daily backup after that should be quite fast. Usually under five minutes. However, if you go a long time between backups or suddenly download or create a large volume of files, it may take more than just a few minutes!  You CAN still work on your computer as it backs up!

If you have any questions please contact us down here in the ITD!






Mac 101: Adding a New “Desktop” aka “Spaces”

Add one or more “Desktops”

Why would I want extra “Spaces”?  It’s an easy way to expand and organize the work that you are doing on your single screen.
Say I want have my “Stickies” open at all times- I don’t necessary want my stickies cluttering up all my view while I’m checking email, or working on a word doc.So on one “Space” I will have all my stickies open and in my second “Space” is my active applications.


  1. To see your Desktops, either press the Mission Control key on your keyboard or swipe up on your trackpad using three or four fingers.
  2. Move the pointer toward the upper-right corner of your screen. (If you keep your Dock on the right side of the screen, move the pointer toward the upper-left corner.)
    Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 1.31.49 PM
  3. To add a space, click the Add button (+). You can add up to 16 spaces/”desktops”
    Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 1.34.28 PM
  4. To leave Mission Control, swipe your trackpad again, or press the Mission Control key on keyboard. (F3)

    Moving from one space to another

    Do one of the following:

    • Press the Mission Control key on your keyboard, then click the space you want to use.
    • Press the Control key and an arrow key to scroll through the spaces.
    • Swipe left or right with three fingers on your trackpad to scroll through your spaces.

Mac 101: Zapping the P-RAM

  1. Shut down your machine. Yes, all the way down, not sleep or logging out 🙂
  2. Press the power button and then press command-option-p-r immediately…
  3. Release the keys after you hear three startup chimes and then your Mac will reboot normally.

What Is PRAM (Parameter RAM)?

PRAM (Parameter RAM) is the memory that stores default settings for the nitty gritty details of your Mac. It contains stuff like the alarm clock setting, mouse scaling, start up disk, virtual memory and speaker volume among other things. Resetting the core data to its default is a great way to restore things to way they are supposed to be.

Adding Brewster’s Master Calendar to your Google Calendar

  1. Copy this link, either by pressing control while clicking the link or by highlighting the link and pressing Command-C
  2. Once you’ve copied the link, go to your Google Calendar.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.00.42 AM

3. Once inside the Calendar, you will see a section at the bottom of the sidebar called “Other Calendars.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.04.22 AM

4. Click the arrow next to Other calendars and select “Add by URL”

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.11.15 AM

5. Paste the address you copied into the empty field next to “URL”, then click the “Add Calendar” button.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.15.22 AM

URL again 🙂

6. You should now see “BA Master Calendar” under “Other Calendars.”  You can change the Master Calendar’s color in the settings menu found by clicking the arrow next to the calendar name:

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.18.26 AM

Mac 101: Taking Screen Shots

Taking a screenshot of a specific area of your desktop in Mac OS X

  1. Open the application, window, or other item that you’d like to take a screenshot of.
  2. On your keyboard, press Command + Shift + 4 and then release all keys.
  3. You will see that your mouse cursor has turned into crosshairs that you can move around.
  4. Drag the cursor to where you’d like to start one of the corners of the screenshot and press down and drag the mouse over the area you’d like to capture.
  5. When you’re done selecting the area simply release your mouse button. Check your desktop and you should see a new .png file that contains the screenshot you just created.


How to take a screenshot of your entire screen in Mac OS X

  1. Open the program or applications you’d like to include in the screenshot. Basically, set up your desktop as you’d like it for when you take the screenshot..
  2. On your keyboard, press Command + Shift + 3 and then release all the keys.
  3. Check your desktop and you should see a new .png file that contains the screenshot you just created.


Mac 101: Force Quitting Apps

If an application becomes unresponsive and “frozen”, it is sometimes helpful to “Force Quit” the application.  To do so, simultaneously press Esc+Option+Command on your keyboard

This will pull up the Force Quit Window

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 10.29.17 AM
You can now select which application you wish to “Relaunch”

Alternatively, you can select “Force Quit…” from the Apple Menu to quit the currently active application.

Force Quit menu

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