Browsing the Mac App store and iTunes Store can be annoying if you're used to using tabs in your web browser. You can only view one page at a time in either store, so if you want to check out a number of items, say, after you've run a search, it's click, back-arrow, click, back-arrow…
The Finer Things in Tech web site notes a nice trick to make this easier that I hadn't thought of before. Just drag icons from the Mac App Store or iTunes Store to your web browser, or on your browser's icon in the Dock. You can see most of the same information in Safari as you can in these stores, as they are simply collections of HTML pages. If you want to view multiple items in your browser, open a new tab before dragging an icon; if not, it loads the most recently dragged icon in the frontmost tab, rather than in a new tab.
iTunes stores iOS device backups in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup. Each folder within the Backup represents a different "backup" that will be presented as a possible restore source when restoring an iOS device.
In the process of restoring from a backup, iTunes migrates the data from one of those Backup folders into another, sibling folder, that will naturally end up being the same size.
Because you end up with two distinct backup folders, it follows that in order to restore an iOS device, you need to have at least as much free space on the device as the size of the backup subfolder. In my case it was more than 50 GB.
In order to restore my iPhone, I needed more than 50 GB free on the disk where iTunes finds my backups, so I copied the backups folder to another disk with lots of space, then made a symbolic link to it at the original location:
(Replace the volume and folder names by those on your hard disk.)
Now when I open iTunes I can restore from the backup and iTunes does all that work in /Volumes/BigDisk/Backup.
[kirkmc adds: This hint was sent to me by Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software. Dan's problem is interesting, and something that would prevent a restore if he didn't have a second disk and the knowledge to do the above. It's surprising that the restore process will actually fail in such cases. With lots of Macs having SSDs, excess storage space on the startup disk is now rare for many people.]
Now that Apple has presented the iPhone 5, will you buy one? It's an evolution, not a revolution, and many people won't see the need to upgrade. In addition, lots of iPhone owners get subsidized phones and are stuck with contracts. What about you? Vote in the iPhone 5 poll.
Since Lion, I love using my always-open apps (Chrome and iTunes) in full-screen mode, but I want to know what time is it without using the mouse or keyboard. I figured out a way to do it using a widget with GeekTool.
Making the widget
Open the application and drag a new Shell element onto the desktop. Edit it in the Properties window in this way:
In the Command section, insert date + followed without spaces by one of these commands: %R or %H:%M to have a 24h clock; %l:%M to have a 12h clock (put " "%p after your text if you want to show am/pm).
After that, check Keep on Top and set 1 (or less frequent value) in the Refresh every X s text field.
Now you can customize all the other properties as you want, like font, color and background; I like to use it in Lucida Grande 14 pt (the same as the system digital clock in the menu bar).
Download the widget
If you want, you can download my Geeklet by right-clicking on this text and selecting "Save link as...". It has enabled a white shadow that makes it visible over dark pages without having to set a opaque light background.
[kirkmc adds: Back in the day, I used GeekTool a lot. I didn't know it was on the Mac App Store, so if only for that, it's worth looking at. It's come a long way since I last used it, with some really interesting possibilities and much easier configuration.]
Sometimes you want to be alerted when you have new e-mail, but you don't want an audible alert. Here's how you can do it.
If you take a silent audio file, when you install it as a new silent ring tone and set it for the New Mail alert, your phone will vibrate only. Since the iPhone lowers any audio currently playing, you want to make this as short as possible (.1 sec), so the audio dip will be at a minimum.
[kirkmc adds: It so happens that I have a bunch of silent MP3 files on my website, in an article about adding silence to iTunes playlists. I added a .1 second file, as well as a .1 second ringtone to the zip archive.
I set up the ringtone on my iPhone, but I wasn't able to test if it works or not. I happen to be part of the 1%; that is, the 1% of people whose iCloud e-mail has been down for more than 24 hours, and none of my other accounts work with push e-email.]
I stumbled on this useless but curious "defaults write" trick for the Finder that displays the frame rate when you flip through files in Cover Flow. I've only tested it in Mountain Lion.
The following will show the cover flow frame rate (as frames per second) within the Finder alongside each filename when flipping through files. On my system I get around 58 FPS consistently; try and beat that! I'm interested to see how retina MacBook Pros do, and, as such, this could be a useful if non-scientific benchmarking trick:
defaults write com.apple.finder IKImageFlowShowFrameRate 1;killall Finder
To get rid of it:
defaults delete com.apple.finder IKImageFlowShowFrameRate;killall Finder
[kirkmc adds: I, too, get 58 fps on my Mac mini, the same on my retina MacBook Pro. (Actually, it looks like it peaks at 58.87.) This suggests that there's something in the system that is limiting it, or that it simply can't go any faster.
I'll agree with the terms "useless but curious," but I'm sure someone will find something interesting to do with it.]
I wanted Mail to remind me to follow up on a given e-mail, as Outlook does. I realized that Reminders and Mail can do just that.
If you want to set a reminder to follow up on an e-mail, just open Reminders, and without even switching back to Mail, drag the e-mail you want to be reminded about to Reminders. It will create a new task with a link to your specific e-mail. You may add an alert, and you will never forget to follow up on an email again.
[kirkmc adds: This isn't very different from this hint, but it puts it in a different context. I hadn't used Outlook in ages, but its Follow Up menu item (in a contextual menu when you right-click on an e-mail) is very practical.
I'm still amazed that there is no direct link between Mail, Reminders and Calendar. This hint seems a good way to connect them, though it requires several steps. In Outlook, you have a number of default follow up times, whereas here you need to set the date and/or time of the reminder manually. Note to automator experts: I tried to create a workflow that would do this, but it wouldn't let me set a time. Feel free to try and build something useful.]
Although it's handy to be able to flag an important e-mail message in Mail, there is a more eye-catching method. Click to select a message, then open the Colors window by pressing Command-Shift-C. Choose your preferred color, and it will be applied to the message's background in your inbox or in a folder.
[kirkmc adds: Interesting; I see this hasn't been hinted before. In Lion, you have to actually drag the color from the top section of the window - that shows the selected color in a rectangle - onto a message. In Mountain Lion, just click on a color.
This sets the color of the background of a message; if there were a way to set the color of the text of a message, that would be interesting. I use the latter in a number of Mail rules to make specific senders and accounts stand out, and you can set the background color of messages in rules as well.]
If you use Camino 2.1.2, you'll see warnings about it being an "out of date" browser or that there are incompatibilities with code, even though it uses a recent version of the Firefox Gecko engine. GMail notably displays these warnings. This fix solves the problem without "spoofing" the user agent to look totally like Safari or Firefox.
We want websites to know that we use Camino so they'll continue to support it. There's a simple change that will let you keep "Camino" as the user agent while enhancing compatibility.
In the Camino address bar, type "about:config". If necessary, click OK to be allowed to edit the settings.
In the search bar at the top of the settings list, type "user". This will shorten the list.
Double-click the setting called "general.useragent.extra.notfox". At this point, it probably has the value "(like Firefox/3.6.28)"
Edit that value, changing it to say "(like Firefox/13.0)"
Save, quit and restart Camino.
On my machine, this changed only the last part of the browser's agent string, from:
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.7; en; rv:184.108.40.206) Gecko/20120308 Camino/2.1.2 (like Firefox/3.6.28)
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.7; en; rv:220.127.116.11) Gecko/20120308 Camino/2.1.2 (like Firefox/13.0)
This fixed our problems with GMail and Blogspot.
This works because Camino 2.1.2 truly has the same core version of the Gecko web browser engine as Firefox 13.0. And Firefox 13 is modern enough for nearly every site on the Internet today, while Firefox 3.6.28 looks ancient.
Hopefully the maintainers of Camino will address this soon. But if you're having trouble with Camino, try this fix before switching to Safari or Firefox.
[kirkmc adds: I didn't test this; I don't use Camino.]