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Turn on hidden Siri feature in OS X 10.8.3 Stickies System 10.8
Apparently Apple has included a pre-release version of Siri in 10.8.3. While I've gotten Siri to work in Stickies, it doesn't seem to be accessible from any other OS X apps. This may be a mistake; it may be testing code that was not removed from the final release, and this may explain why 10.8.3 went through so many betas.

To turn on Siri in Stickies, run the following Terminal command:

defau1ts write com.apple.stickies personalAssistant -bool true

After you run this command, launch Stickies, and, while pressing the Option key, press the fn key twice. A small popup will appear in the current note with an icon similar to the Siri icon on iOS. Speak into your Mac's microphone - either an internal or external mike - and Siri will do your bidding.
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Prepare iOS device to give or sell iOS devices
I'm giving one of my iPads to someone soon, and a recent TechHive article pointed out the easiest way to prepare an iOS device to give or sell to someone.

Go to General > Reset, then tap on Erase All Content and Settings. If you have a passcode set, you'll need to enter the passcode to continue. An Erase iPad dialog will inform you that this will erase all media and data, and reset all settings; tap on Erase. Another dialog will ask if you're really sure you want to do this. Again, tap on Erase.

The screen will go black with an Apple logo and a progress bar, then you'll see the iOS device's name (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) and a slider. Slide the slider to begin setting up the iOS device as a new device.

The TechHive article also noted that you can use this process to wipe and restore an iOS device; at one point in the setup process, you'll see a choice to set up the device as a new one, or to restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup.

When the process has completed, you'll have an iOS device with the stock apps and settings.
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Change volume and brightness in quarter-step increments System
You can use modifier keys, together with F keys, to change volume and brightness by quarter increments. To do this, press Option-Shift-F1 or Option-Shift-F2 to change the brightness by quarter steps. For volume, press Option-Shift-F11 or Option-Shift-F12 to change by quarter steps.

[kirkmc adds: This isn't new; we have a hint about this when it returned to Mac OS X 10.7.4; it had existed prior to 10.7, but was removed in the early versions of Lion. But it seemed useful to remind readers about this, and point out that it works for both volume and brightness.]
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Quick Look files in Open window System
If you wish to view files in an Open window, you can use Quick Look. Just select a file and press the space bar to view it. (This works only with those files that Quick View can display.) You can also move around and view other files using the arrow keys.

[kirkmc adds: I had assumed this would already have been on the site, but I only found this hint which offers a workaround. So I wonder when this was added to OS X.]
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Tidy up launchpad in Mountain Lion System 10.8
Mountain Lion's Launchpad is pretty good but it's still hard to get something out of it after you put it in if you didn't get it at the Mac App Store. If Launchpad Control is overkill for you, this might help.

Drop one or more application icons onto an AppleScript droplet created from the script below to have those items' Launchpad entries eliminated. You can drag items or be prompted to select them when the AppleScript runs if you don't want to save it as an application. There is some error checking and information in the script. It doesn't do anything to the apps themselves.

You can test it on the app itself. In AppleScript Editor, save it as an app, drag the app's icon onto Launchpad, activate Launchpad, launch the app, then drag the app's icon into the window and press return when prompted.

on open the_items
	my Lighten_LaunchPad(the_items)
end open

on Lighten_LaunchPad(the_items)
	repeat with the_item in the_items
		set the_item to the_item as alias
		--try
		tell application "Finder"
			set nameString to name of the_item
			set sost to (my get_the_name(nameString)) as string
		end tell
		display dialog "Are you sure you want to remove \"" & sost & "\" from the Launchpad? The app itself won't be deleted."
		try
			set my_command to "sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\\ Support/Dock/" & "*.db \"DELETE from apps WHERE title=" & (quoted form of sost) & ";\";osascript -e 'tell application \"Dock\" to quit'"
			do shell script my_command
		on error the error_message number the error_number
			activate
			if the error_number is not -128 then
				if the error_number is 1 then
					set the error_text to "Error: " & the error_number & ". " & "You probably have too many old versions of the LaunchPad database file." & return & return & " To fix that, move some old ones out of ~/Library/Application Support/Dock. You can safely move any file with a name that ends with \".db\" or \".db.backup\" except for the most recently modified one." & return & return & "Do you want me to open that folder for you?"
					display dialog the error_text buttons {"Yes, please open it.", "Cancel"} default button 1
					if button returned of the result is "Yes, please open it." then
						do shell script "open" & space & quoted form of POSIX path of (path to application support folder from user domain) & "Dock"
					end if
					error number -128
				else
					set the error_text to "Error: " & the error_number & ". " & the error_message
					display dialog the error_text buttons {"Cancel"} default button 1
				end if
			else
				error number -128
			end if
		end try
	end repeat
	display dialog "All done!" buttons {"OK"} default button 1
end Lighten_LaunchPad

on get_the_name(nameString)
	tell AppleScript
		set olD to text item delimiters
		set text item delimiters to "."
		set reqItem to -1
		if last item of nameString = "." then set reqItem to -2
		set theName to text item reqItem of nameString
		--try
		set theNameNoExt to ((text items 1 through (reqItem - 1) of nameString) as string)
		set text item delimiters to olD
		return {theNameNoExt}
	end tell
end get_the_name

on run
	set the_items to ((choose file) as list)
	Lighten_LaunchPad(the_items)
end run

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"Airplane mode" for OS X Network
A reader at Stack Exchange asked an interesting question about whether it was possible to set up an "airplane mode" for OS X. The idea was to ensure that there is no network activity through any possible network interfaces.

It's actually pretty simple to do this. If you go to the Network pane of System Preferences, you'll see a Location popup menu at the top of the window. Click on that menu and choose Edit Locations. Click on the + icon to add a new location, then enter a name, such as AirplaneMode. Click on Done.

Next, choose that location in the Location menu, and click on each available network interface in the list at the left of the window. Click on the Configure iPv4 menu, and choose Off. For Wi-Fi, just click on the Turn Wi-Fi Off button. Click Apply, and this location will block all network activity.

To activate the location, there are two ways. You can click on the Apple menu, then Location, and choose the location. Or, if you wish to do this from the command line, as the poster had requested, you can run this command:

networksetup -switchtolocation AirplaneMode

Replace AirplaneMode with the name you've chosen for the location.

Using airplane mode can be useful if you're worried about security when using a laptop in public places. It can also save battery power, as Wi-Fi will go off, and your Mac will no longer search for networks.
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Show the total number of messages in Mail mailboxes Apps
Mail lets you choose to show the number of unread messages in mailboxes, but there's no way to show the total number of messages in your mailboxes. While most people may not want this, you might want to know how many messages are in certain mailboxes.

There's an interesting solution to this problem over at Stack Exchange, where user jaume presents two AppleScripts to accomplish this. The idea is to use the AppleScript to count the number of messages in the mailbox, then change the name accordingly, to something like "Messages (23)." The two scripts either change the names of a number of specified mailboxes, or of mailboxes whose names begin with the @ character. The script can be set to run via a Mail rule, such as every time new messages are received.

This is a nifty solution to a problem that many people wouldn't think of, but that can be useful in certain situations.
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iOS text to speech from iBooks iOS devices
Our sister publication, Macworld UK, published a neat hint on recently, showing how to have an iOS device read texts from iBooks. iOS has accessibility features that can perform text to speech, but you need to know the trick to get this to work in iBooks.

First, turn on text to speech: go to Settings > General > Accessibility, and set Speak Selection to On.

Next, in a book, switch to scroll mode (tap the aA icon, then tap Themes to get to this theme), you can select a word and drag the selection far ahead in the book. Then, in the menu that displays, tap on Speak.

You can use this technique to have text spoken in any document, and there is a limitation in iBooks, where you can't select all the text and have it spoken. Since selecting is annoying - having to drag the handle a very long way - you may find this troublesome, but if you really want to have a text spoken, this lets you do so, even in iBooks, which is read-only.
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Create split zip files from the command line System 10.8

It appears that OSX 10.8 removed the tar --tape-length flag, and I see no other way to create split tar archives as described in this hint.

One alternative is to create split zip files using the zip tool provided with OS X.

As described in man zip, the resulting files are not just one big zip file that has been split into pieces, and thus they cannot gracefully be concatenated back together as described in another hint, so this differs from simply using the split command. I needed to send files to a Windows user with 7zip, so split was probably out of the question.

To get 4699717632 byte files that would fit on a DVD I used zip -s 4482m output.zip /source/directory

[kirkmc adds: I'm on the road with only my iPad, so I havent been able to test this.]
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Fix Dropbox Permissions Denied errors Apps
I use Dropbox to sync a backup of a number of local folders, and run a backup script every evening. When I got up the other morning, Dropbox was still running hard, and my Mac mini's fan was spinning. I clicked on the Dropbox menu item, and then on the gear button (this is with Dropbox 2), and saw that some files couldn't be copied because of "permissions denied" errors.

It turns out that Dropbox has a hidden feature to fix such things. Open the Dropbox preferences, click on Account, then press the Option key. The Unlink This Computer button will change to Fix Permissions. Click that button and let Dropbox go through your files.
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