Ask TUAW: iPad VGA out, changing keyboard shortcuts, Time Capsule worries, and more

Welcome back to Ask TUAW, our weekly troubleshooting Q&A column. This week we've got questions about changing keyboard shortcuts in Keynote, the iPad's dock to VGA adapter, Time Capsule failures, Mac-compatible scanners, iPhone voice control, and more.

As always, your suggestions and questions are welcome. Leave your questions for next week in the comments section at the end of this post. When asking a question, please include which machine you're using and what version of Mac OS X is installed on it (we'll assume you're running Snow Leopard on an Intel Mac if you don't specify), or if it's an iPhone-related question, which iPhone version and OS version you have.

Josh asks

Here's a simple one. I'm using iWork '08, making a presentation in Keynote (as I do frequently). I enjoy listening to music in iTunes while working. When I go to leave my desk, I hit the play key (F8) to pause the music. And the slideshow starts. I'd rather not need to switch applications just to pause the music. Is it possible to change Keynote to not play the slideshow with that key?

You can easily change the keyboard shortcut for Keynote by going the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard Preference Pane. In the left column choose Application Shortcuts. If an entry for Keynote already exists, then just change the key. If not, click on the plus button and add a new shortcut for Keynote with the menu title "Play Slideshow." You can set the key for whatever you'd like (here I've chosen F3).

emil asks

Can anyone recommend a decent but affordable piece of Mac-friendly hardware to handle scanning statements and other physical documents quickly and easily to PDF?

Probably the best document scanners for the Mac are in the Fujitsu ScanSnap series. While they are not cheap, both their document handling and Mac software support seems to be the best available. If you're serious about scanning you should get a ScanSnap. I recently picked up a used S300M on eBay for $150 and have been very pleased with it.

AnonymousJoseph asks

I'm considering purchasing a Time Capsule, (odds are the 1TB if it makes a difference) and I want to know if people are still having problems with them dying at the 18 month mark or not. If not, what should I watch for to keep, for instance, a retailer from unloading their back stock of bad Time Capsules onto me?

From what I can tell online, it seems that the Time Capsule suffers overheating issues which then lead to failures with the power supply (specifically some of the capacitors). Since the Time Capsule does not seem to have been substantially redesigned in the last update (October 2009), it seems possible, if not likely, that the new models may still suffer similar overheating problems. Of course, Apple may have made some changes that we don't know about that will help with the issue, but I don't think we will really know the long term results until next year (i.e. 18 months after October 2009). If you want to be safe, you should probably go with an Airport Extreme (plus external USB hard drive), which don't seem to be suffering from the problems to the same degree (presumably because the AEBS has a lower heat profile without the hard drive).

Update: Just to be clear, there have been reports of problems using Time Machine with AirPort disk, so that should not be your primary backup.

devildog67 asks

Where is the best place to get a aftermarket battery for 15" Mac Pro?

Apple still sells batteries of at the Apple Store for older MacBook models, so that's where I'd go. However, there are aftermarket batteries available that promise better performance. Probably the most recognizable vendor is FastMac, though I have not used their products personally.

Pat asks

I've got an iPhone (OS 3.1.3) voice-control question. Is it not possible to use voice control to select a single song? I've had luck with the "Play songs by (artist name)", or "Play playlist _" or whatever. But it would often be nice to choose a particular song such as "Play Red Rain by Peter Gabriel" or something like that. Does anyone know if that's possible?

It's not possible to select a single song using the iPhone's Voice Control. If you check out this list of the available voice commands you'll see that the most specific you can get is a particular album. (You can can also see the complete list of commands on pp. 37-38 of the iPhone User Guide (PDF link).)

Knight42 asks

We know that you can get a VGA connector to output to a TV/Monitor. Can anyone tell me if you can actually mirror everything or is it just the videos? Am actually thinking of buying an ipad for my parents (they want to get into Ebay etc, and Im not buying them a Windows machine) so as they know zero about tech, this seems perfect. Im just hoping they can output to their TV so they can see bits larger when they need to. Thanks!

Since the iPad hasn't been released we can't really say for sure. However, check out this post over at the AppleInsider forums. The author claims information from an Apple Engineer that the VGA output is application specific and will not simply mirror the main display. We do know that iPad version of Keynote will offer VGA output, but it seems likely that other applications will only output VGA if specifically designed to do so. As I noted above, however, we simply won't know for sure until it's released.