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Four favorite tips for green computing

Scholle Sawyer McFarland, | April 21, 2011
In honor of Earth Day, Macworld's readers chime in with their favorite tips for going green with their Macs.

Whether you call yourself green or just a good-old-fashioned miser, saving energy and resources usually means saving some money too. But how does that apply to using computers? In honor of Earth Day, we polled Macworld's readers to find their favorite tips for green computing. Here are the results.


1. Use PDFs whenever possible

Paper products represent the largest portion of the United States’ trash, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2007, they made up roughly 68 million tons (or a little over a quarter) of all materials in the municipal waste stream. But even if you don’t feel ready to go all the way to a paperless workflow, you can still cut back on your paper use.

It's easy to take advantage of OS X's built-in support for the PDF file format in small but significant ways. Reader ckasper called out the ever handy Save As PDF feature as a paper saver. For instance, instead of printing receipts for every online purchase, press Command-P and in the Print window that appears, click on the PDF button. Choose Save PDF To Web Receipts Folder and a copy of the receipt—images and all—will be saved to a pre-made folder in youruserfolder/Documents.

If you want to save PDFs in a different folder you can do that too. (For instance, make one for “Donations.”) Create your new folder wherever you’d like. Then, next time you need to save a PDF, press Command-P, click on the PDF button, choose Edit Menu from the menu, and then click on the plus (+) button to add your folder. The folder will appear in the PDF menu from then on.

Reader Matt Clement also vouched for the power of PDFs. He e-mails reports to himself so he can view them on his iPad instead of printing out hard copies. “I send them in PDF and them open them in iBooks, so I’ve got them all week in one handy place,” he said. (We recently shared an Automator workflow that simplifies moving PDFs onto an iPad or iPhone.)


2. Make the most of your paper

If you really must print, use both sides of the page, noted reader bradhurley. Most newer printers can do this automatically. (Without requiring you to turn the paper over and put it back in the paper tray.) Press Command-P, click on the menu at the lower-right of the dialog box and choose Layout. If you have the option, you’ll see a Two Sided menu at the bottom of the dialog box. Choose Long Edge Binding or Short Edge Binding.

Both sides
Select Layout from the pop-up menu at the lower-right of the Print dialog box. If your printer offers two-sided printing, you should see the Two-Sided pop-up menu.


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