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Avoid After Effects slowdowns Apps
After Effects normally taxes your Mac's resources heavily, especially when you don't have a lot of memory. Using renice on the processes related to After Effects can greatly improve the performance of other applications you may be running.

By using renice on the processes related to After Effects and some others related to the system your system will be more responsive. Just launch this script after launching After Effects and render a few frames (RAM preview, render). The script will renice the priority of the After Effects processes, and some others that are related.

And then you may run iTunes, Dropbox, and other programs without problems while working with After Effects.
tell application "Finder" to set theApps to name of every process
set newPriority to "15"
set theApp to "After Effects"
set thePID to do shell script "ps -axww | /usr/bin/grep '[/]" & theApp & "'| awk '{print $1}' | head -1"
Renice(newPriority, thePID, theApp)

set newPriority to "15"
set theApp to "CS5.5ServiceManager"
set thePID to do shell script "ps -axww | /usr/bin/grep '[/]" & theApp & "'| awk '{print $1}' | head -1"
Renice(newPriority, thePID, theApp)

set newPriority to "15"
set theApp to "Adobe QT32 Server"
set thePID to do shell script "ps -axww | /usr/bin/grep '[/]" & theApp & "'| awk '{print $1}' | head -1"
Renice(newPriority, thePID, theApp)

set newPriority to "15"
set theApp to "iTunes"
set thePID to do shell script "ps -axww | /usr/bin/grep '[/]" & theApp & "'| awk '{print $1}' | head -1"
Renice(newPriority, thePID, theApp)

set newPriority to "15"
set theApp to "Dropbox"
set thePID to do shell script "ps -axww | /usr/bin/grep '[/]" & theApp & "'| awk '{print $1}' | head -1"
Renice(newPriority, thePID, theApp)

set newPriority to "15"
set theApp to "aeselflink"
set thePID to do shell script "ps -axww | /usr/bin/grep '[/]" & theApp & "'| awk '{print $1}' | head -1"
Renice(newPriority, thePID, theApp)

set newPriority to "15"
set theApp to "kernek_task"
set thePID to do shell script "ps -axww | /usr/bin/grep '[/]" & theApp & "'| awk '{print $1}' | head -1"
Renice(newPriority, thePID, theApp)

on Renice(newPriority, thePID, theApp)
    set theConfirmation to (do shell script "renice " & newPriority & " -p " & thePID)
  on error
    set theConfirmation to (do shell script "renice " & newPriority & " -p " & thePID with administrator privileges)
  end try
end Renice

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. The script lowers the priority of all the processes/applications included in it. The newPriority value of 15 is lower than the default value of 0. Given that renice is just a suggestion to the kernel about how to schedule the process the results can vary, depending on other factors in system. One obvious side effect here is that lowering the priority of After Effects can greatly increase the rendering time of a job. This may depend on the number of processor cores you have available. I guess my point is that doing this may or may not help with performance. It depends on what else your system is doing, and you might modify the script to accomodate that if you feel comfortable doing that.]
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10.7: Mail behavior in conversation mode Apps
This isn't really a hint, so much as an observation of surprisingly nice behavior by Mail in OS X 10.7.

I discovered this after I received an email from a colleague containing a long bulleted list of remarks and questions (dozens of them) about a project we're working on, only a few of which needed answers.

So I replied, inserting my points under his where needed and clicked send. To my surprise, in Mail, set to conversation view, the letter I sent appeared folded in several places, leaving only the questions I had answered visible.

[crarko adds: I don't have a good conversation to test this with at the moment, so please post your results and observations about this in the comments.]
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Like to use TextEdit? Hate not having Save as...? Apps
If you've found Apple's idea of eliminating 'Save as...' as disruptive of your workflow, then here's a simple solution:

Just copy TextEdit over from your Snow Leopard machine and rename it so you know the difference; I used 'TextEdit-SL.' Now drop it into your Dock and you'll have the traditional, proven, time-honored way to deal with files (instead of having to resort to TimeMachine to revert back to a version that decided to save changes you never intended to keep).

Unfortunately, Lion won't let you delete TextEdit directly. I haven't tried renaming it, replacing it with the SL version (with the proper name) and then trying to delete it.

[crarko adds: I copied (and renamed) TextEdit from my 10.6 drive and it works just fine. You'd need root privileges to try the renaming experiment; I didn't try it. I'd strongly suggest leaving the original alone, in case changing it would confuse Software Update. Also, if you want to have Auto-save and Versions support, continue to use the Lion version of TextEdit. Finally, if you do save a document from the 10.6 version, remember that when you double-click it that will launch the Lion version as the default.]
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10.7: Create a 'New To Do' Service Apps
Make it easier to create To Do items for iCal's Reminders list by creating a Service that can be invoked from the contextual menu or a keyboard shortcut.

Here's the procedure:
  • Launch Automator and create a new Service.
  • At the top of the workflow, set the following options, which are the default: Service receives selected text in any application.
  • Add New Action » Set Value of Variable. (To find this action, enter Set Value of Variable in the Automator search field.)
  • Click the Variable: pop up menu and select New variable...
  • Name the variable To Do Title (or whatever you like) and click Done.
  • Add New Action » New To Do Item. (To find this action, enter New To Do Item in the Automator search field.)
  • From the Variable section in the bottom right of the Automator window, drag the new variable To Do Title into the Title: field of the action.
  • In the New To Do Item action, click the Options button and select Ignore this action's input and Show this action when the workflow runs.
  • Save the new Service as New To Do and quit Automator.
  • Go to any application with some text content, select some of the text, right click, and select New To Do from the contextual menu. (You may have to go inside the Services sub-menu if you have a lot of Services that act on this data type.)
  • A New To Do Item dialog window will appear with the selected text in the title field. You can edit the title if you like. Select the desired options and click Continue.
  • Switch to iCal and you'll see your new To Do item in the Reminders list.
If you want to be able to invoke the command with a keyboard shortcut, go to System Preferences » Keyboard » Services » Text » New To Do and double-click in the invisible column to the right of the text. (Look for other keyboard shortcut listings if you can't figure out where to click. The list is divided into two invisible columns and if you don't double-click far enough to the right, nothing will happen.)

Advanced Notes: There are a few things that aren't immediately obvious about creating this Automator workflow that might be useful if you create others. It took me quite a bit of trial and error to figure these things out, so let me share them with you.

Most of you probably understand that creating this workflow as a Service allows it to show up in the contextual menu, the Services menu, and to be assigned a keyboard shortcut in the Keyboard System Preferences. Simply adding the New To Do Item action will create a new To Do item in iCal's Reminders list using the selected text as the title, but you won't be able to set any other options and you won't receive feedback that anything has happened. Selecting the option Show this action when the workflow runs presents the dialog box that allows you to set options for your new To Do item. When you create the Service, you can set what the default options should be and these defaults can always be changed by re-editing the workflow document in Automator.

The tricky part is figuring out how to make the title editable. With only the New To Do Item action, the title field in the resulting dialog is blank, but editing the field has no effect on the reminder that is created. This was very perplexing. By adding the Set Value of Variable action and placing that variable in the title field of the New To Do Item action, the selected text appears in the title field of the To Do item. However, editing the text in this field in the dialog box still has no affect.

The New To Do Item action is designed to always use the selected text as the title of the To Do item, no matter what you do in the dialog box. By selecting the Ignore this action's input option and using a variable to fill in the title filed using the selected text, you can then edit the title field as you are creating the new To Do item. This was the key to achieving the desired behavior.

I hope you find this Service useful, and I hope these technical tips help you create other useful Automator workflows.

[crarko adds: I tested most of this and it worked as described. It's a pretty straightforward Automator Service. The hint was a bit difficult to edit, so if any errors were introduced let me know in a comment and I'll correct them.]
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iCloud Documents sync for Snow Leopard, using DropBox Apps
For various reasons, I will not switch to Lion on my work MacBook Pro for a while. Still, I am interested to share some of my documents over iCloud between my iPad/iPhone/MBP (running Snow Leopard), and I also have an iMac at home running Lion.

What I did on my iMac running Lion is to link (with ln -s) the iCloud 'Mobile Documents' folder (in ~/Library) to my Dropbox folder with something like (substitute the actual user's short name for 'username' in the command):

ln -s /Users/username/Library/Mobile Documents /Users/username/Dropbox/iCloud

Then, on the MacBook Pro, the shared documents are available in the ~/DropBox/iCloud folder.

For example GoodReader on the iPad has iCloud support, so I can directly put PDFs from my MacBook Pro in this directory, and they appear directly in GoodReader. As soon as other iOS programs support Documents on iCloud, this will be extended to them as well.

You can also use this with iWork documents, but beware, make sure you put a copy of the documents from your OSX machine to iCloud, as reading them under IOS 5 changes the format irreversibly (for now).

Note: This of course requires your Lion machine to be on and connected.

[crarko adds: This is similar to the method of this previous hint, and the same caveats apply. Since doing the procedure described in these hints are unsupported by Apple, there is a possibility that you'll lose files/folders placed in ~/Library/Mobile Documents if changes to the underlying structure occur. So proceed at your own risk, and be sure there are backup copies of the files you try this with.

For my own use, since I don't make use of iCloud at this time, I just do my sharing directly in Dropbox, which of course is limited to those apps which support it. But GoodReader, mentioned above, fortunately has excellent Dropbox support. As a counterexample, iWork (for iOS) does not.]
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10.7: Move an ARD 3.x Installation/Install ARD Apps
Aside from the fact that the current Apple Remote Desktop Installer requires 10.6 and doesn't want to run in 10.7 one of the more vexing aspects of working with ARD is that eventually one becomes heavily invested in the library it creates and setting up a new installation or moving a library to another machine is problematic.

The following instructions allow for moving an ARD installation and/or the library of machines, stored commands, groups, etc. that collect with heavy use.

These are all the relevant files to make ARD work, assuming ARD doesn't exist on the target machine already:
  • /Applications/Remote Desktop (the application)
  • /Library/Application Support/Apple/Remote Desktop (folder)
  • /Library/Documentation/Applications/Remote Desktop (folder)
  • /Library/Preferences/ (serial number info)
  • /Library/Widgets/Remote Desktop.wdgt (the ARD Widget)
  • ~/Library/Application Support/Remote Desktop (folder)
  • ~/Library/Preferences/ (client list)
If it's already installed, here are instructions for moving the accumulated installation and customization (note that root needs to enabled for part of this):

Copy database to remote machine:
sudo scp -Epr /var/db/RemoteManagement root@machinenameorIP:/var/db
Copy the /Library preferences:
sudo scp -Ep /Library/Preferences/ root@machinenameorIP:/Library/Preferences
Copy home directory preferences:
sudo scp -E /Users/username/Library/Preferences/ username@machinenameorIP:~/Library/Preferences
Copy home directory Application Support Remote Desktop directory:
sudo scp -Er /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Remote Desktop username@machinenameorIP:"/Users/username/Library/Application Support/Remote Desktop/"

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. I just upgraded my existing Snow Leopard installation to Lion and the ARD support was retained. I trust Apple will fix the ARD installer (maybe they already have) to recognize 10.7 and there will be no need for this.]
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10.7: Mail message mouse rollover Apps
When rolling the pointer over the message dividing line four new instant selections appear for trash, reply, reply all and forward.

If you roll the pointer over the message dividing line four instant selections popup for Trash, Reply, Reply All and Forward.

This can be somewhat useful and avoids a trip to the tool bar or menus, especially if you are in a threaded message with numerous responses.

I never noticed this behavior before for the Mail client, and thought it was worth a mention.

[crarko adds: I looked in Snow Leopard and couldn't reproduce, so I assume this is indeed new behavior in Mail 5.]
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Create a comprehensive writing system font collection in Font Book Apps
To create a font collection within Mac OS X Font Book, which covers all characters/glyphs/symbols (i.e., the complete range) necessary for a certain writing system, we can use a little trick in conjunction with System Preference's language settings.

Remark: Throughout this hint, I use the term 'writing system' although the involved software applications and their labeling and naming conventions may also use terms such as 'language, script, etc.' interchangeably. Within context you will easily understand the instructions; I just mention this for completeness.

Here are the steps:
  • Open System Preferences » Language and Text » Language.
  • In the language list, leave your native writing system on top.
  • Click: Edit list.
  • Enable all writing systems for which you would like to create the font collection. Confirm the selection, leave this window open.
  • Open Font Book.
  • Move and resize the windows as necessary so that you can see both Font Book and System Preferences, and easily switch between them.
  • Repeat the following steps for each writing system for which you would like to create a font collection:
  • Go to System Preferences and drag writing system XX to the top.
  • Within Font Book's collection list, right beyond the first entry 'All fonts,' a dynamic font collection refreshes to the writing system XX, which you just have chosen in System Preferences. This dynamic font collection only shows those fonts, which contain the necessary character range for your chosen writing system.
  • Create a new font collection, give it a meaningful name, i.e. 'Japanese Script.'
  • Click on the dynamic font collection on the top (i.e. 'Japanese'), select all fonts (Command+A), then drag and drop them on the font collection, which you created in the previous step (i.e. 'Script Japanese').

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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10.7: Update for making Entourage play well with Time Machine Apps
I'd been using this hint to backup my Microsoft User Data for Entourage 2008.

I have been using Office Communicator 2011 sucessfully but, since upgrading to Lion I've had crashes and over the last few weeks have been unable to login with a message about clock settings or certificates.

Some background: my company is using an older version of Exchange (2003) with a newer version of OCS (2007) so I have both 2008 and 2011 versions of Office installed and am stuck with using Entourage until an Exchange upgrade next year.

Some searching suggested that some other Office apps do not behave when files are not in standard locations. I wondered if the method used to create an alias via the Finder to the Office 2008 Identities folder in the above Entourage hint was causing problems.

I deleted the alias and used the terminal to create a Unix symbolic link by entering the following:
ln -s /Volumes/Office_2008_Identities/Office\ 2008\ ~/Dcuments/Microsoft\ User\ Data/Identities/Office\ 2008\
Office Communicator and Entourage are both working OK now.

[crarko adds: A good reminder that a Finder alias and a symbolic link are two different things, despite some similarities.]
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10.7: Mac Mail - Get the Outbox back Apps
Newer versions of Mail, by default, don't show your Outbox in your folder list. Even if you go offline and then compose a new email and hit Send, you will still not see an Outbox (some users note that their Outbox will show up temporarily, but will be gone after restarting Mail). Many of us are very particular about email delivery and want to know if we have messages waiting to go out.

Searching around reveals a few articles and such, but most are very old (circa 2007) and not relevant to the newer version(s) of Mail in OS X Lion. The trick to getting the Outbox to stay permanently is to add it to your Favorites bar. But before you do that, you have to be able to see it. Here's how:
  • Go to Mail Preferences and to Accounts.
  • Pick an account and under 'Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP),' click what's currently selected and choose 'Edit SMTP Server List...'
  • Create a bogus SMTP server by clicking the +
    Description: Bogus SMTP
    Server Name: smtp.bogus.blah
  • Save the changes if prompted.
  • Now compose a new test email from this account and send it.
  • You should see a message indicating the server is offline.
  • Click the Try Later button.
  • And now you will see an Outbox in your folder list.
  • Simply click it and drag it up to your Favorites bar.
  • It will now stay there forever including after restarting Mail or your Mac.
To clean up afterwards, first go your Outbox and delete the test email sitting in your Outbox
  • Go back to Mail » Preferences » Accounts
  • Highlight your account, and change the 'Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP)' to what it was originally.
  • Next go back into 'Edit SMTP Server List,' highlight the bogus SMTP server and click the - to remove it.

[crarko adds: I tested this (in 10.7.2), and it works as described.]
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