How to convert an MOV file to MP4 on macOS

QuickTime is the stock video player on macOS and it’s one of the least popular apps that Apple has developed. That said, up until Sierra, it had one saving grace; it could convert a MOV file to an MP4 file. That feature is gone now so if you’re running a macOS version that is Sierra or later, you don’t have a simple way to convert an MOV file to MP4. You’re going to have to use iMovie. It comes pre-installed on most recent versions of macOS so you should already have it on your system. Unfortunately, it’s complicated to use so much so that it might be enough to send you looking for an alternative. Here’s how you can use iMovie to convert an MOV file to MP4.

Convert MOV to MP4

Open iMovie and create a new project. Add the MOV file to the project’s library by dragging and dropping it on to the My Media area. Once added, drag & drop it onto the timeline. That’s all you need to do.

You can now export the file as an MP4 file. Go to File>Share>File.

In the panel that opens, select a resolution and quality for the video. Do not select ProRes because you’ll end up with an MOV file again. All other qualities will give you an MP4 file. Click Next and give your file a name and save it wherever you like.

The process isn’t complicated but iMovie is hardly intuitive to use. The feature that lets you convert a file to an MP4 file is hidden under a ‘Share’ option. You wouldn’t really expect to find a save feature there.

MOV files can be converted using online apps but if you explore the export option, you will be able to change the quality freely and select any resolution you want. You get an estimate of the output file’s size and it will change to match the quality you’ve set. It’s handy if you need the file to be below a certain size. As for the ‘Compress’ option, you can choose whatever you want. It won’t change the format.

As to why you need to convert MOV files specifically to MP4 files, it’s because the built-in screen recording utility on macOS saves the recordings as MOV files. MOV files aren’t as universally supported as MP4 files, in fact, they don’t even come close. Additionally, these files tend to be larger in size and if you have a size limit to be careful about, the MOV file can be a problem.

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How to stream audio from macOS to Windows 10

macOS and Windows 10 are two operating systems that are rarely easy to use together. There are so many differences between the two that developers seldom see the need to create something for both platforms. Similarly, since it’s so hard to get the two to work cohesively, users tend to just stick to one machine. If you need to stream audio from macOS to Windows 10, you might find yourself abandoning the idea before you figure out a solution. There is a fairly simple way to do it though but it carries a $29 price tag. If that’s a price you’re willing to pay, check out Airfoil. You can start with the app’s trial version and if you like how it works, you can buy a license for the app.

Stream audio from macOS to Windows 10

In order to stream audio from macOS to Windows 10, you’re going to have to install the Airfoil app on both systems. You can use Airfoil to stream audio to multiple Windows 10 systems but each one must have the Airfoil app installed. All systems must be on the same WiFi network.

On your Windows 10 PC

Download the Airfoil Satellite app for Windows 10. Install and run it. That’s all you need to do. The app can run in the system tray and you won’t need to interact with it at all to start streaming. You can close the window and the app will go to the system tray where it will continue to listen for audio.

On your Mac

Download Airfoil for Mac and install it. Do not install the app with Satellite in its name. You want to install the main Airfoil app. Once installed, run the app. Open the dropdown and select which app you want to stream audio from. In the screenshot below, we’re streaming audio from the Music app.

The app will automatically detect which systems are running the Airfoil server app and list them. If you want to stream audio to a Windows 10 PC but also want it to play on your Mac, do not mute any of the listed devices in Airfoil’s interface. If you want to only stream audio to a Windows 10 PC but do not want it to play from your Mac’s speakers, you can mute the internal speakers.

Since the app is streaming audio over WiFi, latency is going to be a concern. During tests, the audio was a bit choppy to start out but it soon smoothed out and made for a perfectly good listening experience. Try the app’s trial version and see how well it works for you before you buy it.

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How to screenshot individual UI elements on macOS

Screenshot tools tend to focus on windows, specific areas on the screen, or the entire screen. On macOS, those are the three types of screenshots you can take out of the box. Third-party screenshot tools have similar options and they all tend to focus on entire screens, whole windows, or select areas. If you need to screenshot individual UI elements on macOS, you will find yourself cropping them out of larger screenshots. A quicker way to screenshot just the UI elements is to use Snipaste. It’s a free app that’s available for Windows 10 as well, and it does a great job on both platforms. A Linux version is in the works.

Screenshot individual UI elements

Download and run Snipaste. The download appears to be slow even though the file is small and this likely has to do with the server the file is hosted on so be patient. Once installed and running, you need to enable the app’s ability to detect UI elements.

Click Snipaste’s menu bar icon and select ‘Preferences’ from the menu.

On the Preferences window, go to the Snip tab. This tab has three more tabs under it. Select the ‘Behavior’ tab. On the Behavior tab, enable the ‘Auto detect UI elements’ option. When you enable this option, you will have to give the app additional accessibility access. Go ahead and do so. Quit the app and run it again.

Tap the F1 key (don’t forget to hold down the Fn key as well), to activate the app. Move your cursor over various UI elements. An outline will appear around the elements that it detects. Click to capture the screenshot, and then save it.

Snipaste works fairly well on macOS but it works better on Windows. The Mac version of the app is still in beta so we can’t complain much.

The screenshots aren’t upscaled; if the element that you screenshot is small e.g., a button, the screenshot will also be small. It will not be resized to be much larger. You can try resizing it with Preview but at some point, the image will lose its clarity and tear. If you have a high-resolution display, you can get away with resizing it to a greater extent but you will eventually end up with tearing.

Snipaste is in beta but it has some really great features for taking better screenshots and it has excellent keyboard shortcut support. It also has some basic annotation tools but they’re not better than what Preview has to offer.

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How to mount an ejected drive without physically disconnecting it on macOS

Mounting a drive on macOS is simple; you connect it to a port and it will automatically be mounted. If you want, you can use a Folder Action and have the mounted drive open in Finder when it is mounted. Unmounting is manual since the drive can’t guess when you’re done using it but once you’ve unmounted or ejected a drive, you have to physically disconnect it from a Mac and connect it again if you want to mount it. At least, that’s how most people do it since it’s straight forward but you can mount an ejected drive without physically disconnecting it. The process isn’t the simplest but it is doable.

Mount ejected drive without disconnecting

First, connect the drive to your Mac. Make sure that it is mounted. Once the drive has been mounted, open Terminal and run the command below.

diskutil list

This will list all the drives/disks that are connected to your Mac and it will include the drive you connected. Here, you need to take note of the name of the drive. In the screenshot below, the drive that was mounted is called /dev/disk2. You will notice that this disk has volumes under it. This is fine but when you’re dealing with a disk that has volumes, the command for mounting and unmounting it will differ from if the disk has no volumes. All you need to do is make the distinction and it will be obvious when you run the above command. The numbered items listed under a drive/disk indicate it has volumes.

If the disk has volumes, run the following command to unmount it. Replace the name of the disk with the one your disk has.

diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2

If the disk does not have volumes, run the following command to unmount it. Again, change the name of the disk to that of the one you’re unmounting.

diskutil unmount /dev/disk2

Now that the disk has been unmounted, you have to mount it again. The command will differ again based on whether the disk has volumes or not. If the disk has volumes, run the following command. Change the name of the disk accordingly.

diskutil mountDisk /dev/disk2

If the disk does not have volumes, use the command below but change the disk name to the disk you’re mounting.

diskutil mount /dev/disk2

That’s all you need to do. You will no longer have to physically remove a drive and connect it again to your Mac to mount it once it’s been ejected. Removing and reconnecting a drive on a MacBook isn’t too hard but on iMacs, and Mac Minis, the ports aren’t as easy to reach.

You can do this on Windows 10 as well but the process is far more complicated and it has limitations.

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How to add a location bar to Finder on macOS

Finder shows the name of the current folder in the title bar. You can also enable a path bar if you want. The path bar appears at the bottom of the Finder window and if you click on any of the folders in the path, you can jump straight to it. The path bar is more or less the same as a location bar but if you’re looking for something that’s closer to what Windows has i.e., a way to copy the path and view it in a simple text format, you’re going to have to enable a different sort of path bar and use an app.

Location bar in Finder

Before you proceed, check if the path bar will do the trick for you. It is easy to enable/disable so it’s worth a try. Open Finder and go to View>Show Path Bar. The path bar will appear at the bottom of the Finder window and all Finder windows that you open.

If the Path bar isn’t what you’re looking for open a Terminal window and run the commands below, one by one.

defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool YES
killall Finder

This will add a location bar to the top of the Finder window i.e., the title bar. You can hide the Path bar if you want or leave it since it is a quick way to jump to a folder. To hide this bar, run the following two commands, one by one.

defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool NO
killall Finder

This location bar isn’t interactive i.e., you cannot select it and copy the path to the clipboard. To enable copying the path to the clipboard, you need to install a free app called FinderPath. Download the app and make sure you move it to the Applications folder before you run it. You will need to give it accessibility access before it can be used.

Once it’s all set up, double-click the location bar and you’ll be able to copy the path to the clipboard. FinderPath works with Catalina. To remove focus from the location bar, tap the Escape key.

macOS has a pretty simple way of copying paths to the clipboard and it works for both files and folders. All you have to do is right-click either a file or a folder and hold down the Option key. You will see an option in the context menu to copy it as a path. It’s still not the same as having a location bar though.

FinderPath has a few other useful features too and they all work with keyboard shortcuts. You can move to the parent folder, go to the Home folder, and open a new window among other things.

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