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A paperless office workflow Apps
Use Spotlight in partnership with a cheap handheld scanner, plus some OCR software, and you can achieve the "paperless office" dream with remarkably little effort.

I explain more about this on my blog, but here are the basic steps. I use the excellent yet dirt-cheap Skypix TSN410 handheld scanner.
  • Scan in the document using the TSN410. Scan at the default 300 DPI to a PDF file (remember that the TSN410 defaults to JPG each time you turn it on). Remember too that there's often text on BOTH sides of the paper with bills.
  • Connect the TSN410 via USB and import the PDFs to a special folder within your Documents folder. Note that I don't change the filenames, which remain in the style of IMAG0009.PDF; I am relying totally on Spotlight to find each document as as when I need it based on its contents.
  • Check each PDF to ensure the scans have been successful. This can be done ultra-quickly using Quick Look. Select the first PDF in Finder, hit Space to Quick Look it, then hit the down cursor key to move down the list of files and view the others.
  • Use Adobe Acrobat's Recognize Text feature to OCR the documents. Acrobat can process many files at once although you'll have to open one of the files to get the option to recognize text, however. Acrobat adds the OCR'd text to the PDF itself, so I have both a scanned image of the document, and cut-and-pastable text (which Spotlight will index instantly once the PDF is saved).
  • You can use other OCR software but the Mac software market is weak in this regard. I couldn't find ANY OCR software that isn't costly.
  • Save the files back to the folder where they're stored, overwriting the originals.
  • Delete the files from the TSN410.
  • Destroy the original paperwork by shredding or burning to avoid identity theft. (It feels weird destroying bills that have just arrived!)
That's all that is needed. If in future I want to find electricity bills I can use Spotlight to search with a term such as kind:PDF electricity, although some creative thinking might be needed: kind:PDF energy might produce more results. I use Spotlight's Quick View pop-out window to see if the document is likely to be the one I want. The kind:PDF modifier tells Spotlight to only return PDF files.

[crarko adds: I'm guessing many of us have tried some variation of this type of workflow at some time. This tip is a nice example and is a good use of Spotlight.]
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Stop Safari from zooming unexpectedly Apps
Safari occasionally zooms right in on a web page. It's quick to return to the actual size, but you can also disable this behavior if desired.

Myself and friends/family who I support were being bothered by Safari occasionally zooming right in on a web page. Pressing Command+0 (zero) undid it, but it was still disconcerting.

I found this is caused by Safari on OS X trying to emulate Safari on iOS: a double-tap on the mouse zooms the page to the current column.

Take a trip to System Preferences to disable this behavior: it will be either Mouse » Point & Click, and turn off Smart zoom, or Trackpad » Scroll & Zoom, and uncheck Smart zoom.

[crarko adds: This is one of those things I never see since I disable Smart zooming as a matter of course on all of my systems. I have met a number of people who do encounter this phenomenon, and asked what to do about it. So it's not an earth-shattering hint, but perhaps less obvious than it seems. I do think pinch zooming on a trackpad is useful and a logically consistent thing to do. Do folks here make a lot of use of double-tap Smart zooming on a Mac? Knowing the circumstances where it proves useful would be a nice addition to the tip given here.]
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Tell Console to always scroll to the latest entry Apps
I have Console monitoring some log files, but found it wasn't always scrolling the log window automatically to display the latest entry.

It's not obvious, but down the bottom right of the log windows are some controls for Earlier/Later/Now. The Now button is actually a toggle; if you click it until it highlights in blue, the log window will always automatically scroll to the latest entry.

[crarko adds: I can confirm this in Console.app in Mountain Lion, and that there is no 'Now' button in Snow Leopard. Probably it's also in Lion, but perhaps someone can check and confirm that for us.]
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Reminders: Count of complete To-Do items by list Apps
In Reminders you can view the count of completed To-Do items for one or more lists.

After selecting one or more lists in sidebar, scroll down the main window. The count of completed tasks will appear at the top of the list. You can click on it to get a detailed view of completed To-Do items from selected list(s).

[crarko adds: I admit I'm one of those people who does not use Reminders.app very much, so I didn't know about this. I suspect if you are a regular user, this will be old news for you.]
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Merge contacts in OS X Contacts app Apps
This isn't a hidden feature, but it's one that many people may not know. I found it recently when I discovered that I had dozens of duplicate contacts in my Contacts app, caused by quirky iCloud syncing. If you find that you have two cards for the same contact, you can select them, then choose Card > Merge Selected Cards. This will copy all unique information into a single card.

There is also a Card > Look for Duplicates command, but when you invoke it, Contacts will tell you how many duplicates it has found, and ask if you want to merge them, but won't tell you which cards were duplicates before you merge them; I'd rather do this manually so I don't lose any information.
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iTunes 11: Keyboard shortcut to clear currently playing track Apps
Even though iTunes is my bailiwick over at Macworld, I've found the new Up Next feature to be quite confusing. It's taken me a while to suss out all its details and I've figured it out, but I find it quite confusing.

In updating my Take Control of iTunes: The FAQ ebook, my editor, Michael Cohen, noted a useful keyboard shortcut for working with Up Next. If you press Command-. (that's a period), this stops playback and clears the currently playing track from the iTunes LCD. I haven't yet found a way to clear the Up Next queue from the keyboard, however. If anyone's spotted a shortcut for that, feel free to post it in the comments or submit it as a hint. (As a reminder, you can display the Up Next queue by pressing Command-Option-U.)
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iTunes 11: Empty playlists and syncing to iOS devices Apps
If you choose to sync music by selecting specific playlists, you select your iOS device, then click the Music tab to check the playlists you want. I do this for my iPhone and iPod touch. I have found, however, that with iTunes 11, any playlist that is empty gets unchecked.

Here's why this is a problem for me. I have a few playlists that I use for listening to new music or podcasts. I manually place tracks in these playlists, when I have something to put in them. However, there are times when I sync my iOS devices that they are empty. In the past, this didn't matter; the next time I added something to the playlists, they would sync. But in iTunes 11, they become unchecked in the Music tab, and I have to manually go back and sync them again.

My solution is to add a very short silent track to the beginning of each of these playlists.Some time ago, I made these silent tracks to be able to use them as pauses in playlists, and posted them on my blog. The shortest one is .1 second, which I created for this hint. Just put the silent track anywhere in the playlist, but remember not to delete it, so the playlist never becomes empty.
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Change Mission Control Animation Speed (Mountain Lion) Apps
It's possible to change the time it takes for Mission Control to complete its animation. I'm all for decreasing animation times in Mountain Lion, so this is a handy tweak if you're interested in a similar thing.

In Terminal, type the following:
defaults write com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration -float 0.1  ; killall Dock 
where 0.1 is the time; you can set it to any number you want; try several different numbers to see how this changes the animation. Press Return, and Mission Control's animation time is changed.

To revert it back to the default, enter the following in Terminal, then press Return:
defaults delete com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration ; killall Dock 
[kirkmc adds: This is one of those hints that is, in part, "because we can," but I do understand the desire to make certain animations a bit snappier.]
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iTunes 11: Clear currently playing track Apps
With iTunes 11, when you start playing an album, all its tracks go into the Up Next queue. In addition, the first track starts playing, and is displayed in the iTunes LCD. If you display the Up Next queue - click the list icon in the iTunes LCD, or press Command-Option-U - you can click on Clear to remove all tracks from the queue. However, the currently playing track still remains in the iTunes LCD, which makes sense.

If you want to clear this track as well, and stop playback, display the Up Next queue and click the Clear button again. This is particularly useful if you want to stop playing the current track and add items to the Up Next queue. Since they don't replace the current track, this is one way to do this. (You could also click on the Next button in the playback controls to just skip over it.)
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Keep Yahoo IM Messsages accounts online Apps

If you use a Yahoo IM account in Messages and have a MacBook, you'll find your Yahoo account won't go back online whenever the Mac awakes from sleep mode. Apparently, AOL IM accounts are affected in this way too. Here's one simple solution to the problem that uses crontab to run a simple Applescript that periodically takes all the accounts online.

I write more about this on my blog, including a couple of caveats, but here are the basic steps:

1. Ensure Messages starts at login by right-clicking its Dock icon and Options > Open at Login. Remember that, in OS X Mountain Lion, apps not used for a while will appear to quit automatically, but don’t worry — these steps take that into account.

2. Open a Terminal window. You’ll find Terminal in the Utilities folder of the Applications list within Finder.

3. At the command-line prompt, type crontab -e

4. This will open your (probably) empty crontab file within the vi text editor. Press I to switch to insert mode, so you can type text. Then copy and paste the following, which is all one line:

*/15 * * * * osascript -e 'tell application "System Events" to tell application "Messages" to log in'

Note that if you copy and paste the line, the quotation/single quote marks might be “curly,” depending on which browser you use. This will stop the command working. You might need to delete the quotes, then type them again using your keyboard.

The command causes the AppleScript we specify to run every 15 minutes, which seems reasonable to me because I became a little wary that any more frequent running of the command might impact battery life of my MacBook. But you can change the 15 at the start of the line to any other value, such as 5 minutes.

5. Press Escape, then type :wq which will save the file and quit the editor.

That’s it. You can test it however you wish. Perhaps you might want to take all your accounts offline, then wait up to 15 minutes to find that you’re back online automatically in the background.


[kirkmc adds: I haven't tested this.]
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