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Posted at 9:04 AM ET, 01/10/2011

PostPoints tip: Have your Mac pick your time zone

By Rob Pegoraro

If, like me, you'll be starting the new year with some travel, you don't have to change your computer's time zone at each stop if it's running the current release of Mac OS X. In Snow Leopard, the relatively minor upgrade Apple shipped in 2009, you can have the system shift time zones for you, based on nearby WiFi signals. Open the System Preferences app, click its Date & Time icon, click the Time Zone heading and then click the checkbox next to "Set time zone automatically using current location."

This little option will tell Mac OS X to consult a database of wireless access points to pin down your location--in most cases, correctly identifying not just my time zone but my city. (Then again, when I tried this in Denver International Airport it thought I was in Tokyo.) With this enabled--remember, it's off by default--you should never have to worry about confusing recipients by sending e-mails with a Pacific Standard Time stamp while you're sitting two time zones to the east. Now if only my digital camera could acquire a feature like this...

(About the "PostPoints tip" title: I archive each tip-of-the-week e-mail we send to PostPoints members under this blog's "Tips" category. An earlier version of today's item went out on Jan. 4; that overstated how much information OS X's time-zone interface displays about your location. I also revised the tip to reflect an unsatisfactory experience I had with this software on the way to CES.)

Speaking of CES, that yielded not one but two columns this weekend:

* On Saturday, I predicted much higher attendance at CES, judging from the crowds--and have since been proved right, as the Consumer Electronics Show now estimates that 140,000 people attended the show--and looked at a few trends on display on the floor.

* Sunday's column explored how CES has been both a showcase for what wireless technology can do and demonstrated how badly it can fail in a worst-case situation.

* In Help File, meanwhile, I evaluated some possible upgrade options for an older laptop and noted a source of confusion for beginners trying to uninstall a program in Windows.

By Rob Pegoraro  | January 10, 2011; 9:04 AM ET
Categories:  Tips  
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