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Quickly open two instances of the same PDF in Preview Apps
Sometimes you need to have two views of the same PDF document (e.g. to have a quick access to the list of references in a thesis without the need to scroll to it and then back to the text). However, Preview does not allow a file to be opened twice.

The quickest solution would be to hit Cmd-P and select 'Open PDF in Preview.' You'll have a temporary copy of your PDF where you can select the second view and have both views handy for easy switching.

When you're done, just hit Cancel in the temporary document.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. A nice workaround; I looked and didn't find any duplicates of the hint.]
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Bulk delete entries from Previous Recipients using sqlite3 Apps
My company changed its name recently. This meant I was left with hundreds of entries in's Previous Recipients list that I wanted to delete, and a GUI that didn't want to help me do that. does provide a window for viewing and editing the list (Window » Previous Recipients), but its search function only matches against the beginning of names and email addresses. You can't search for substrings, which is what I needed to do in this case.

It turns out, though, that the previous recipients list is just an SQLite v3 database that's stored here:

~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/MailRecents-v4.abcdmr.

After inspecting the database using the sqlite3 command in Terminal, it transpired that the table you need to modify is called ZABCDMAILRECENT, and the field containing the email addresses is called ZEMAIL. So to delete all the entries whose email address ended with, I simply typed these commands (bold parts are what I typed, non-bold is terminal prompt/output):
[bash-3.2$] sqlite3 ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/MailRecents-v4.abcdmr
SQLite version 3.6.12
Enter ".help" for instructions
Enter SQL statements terminated with a ";"
This will show a list of records that will be deleted, for visual confirmation. If it looks right, continue with the next SQLite command:
sqlite> delete from ZABCDMAILRECENT where ZEMAIL like ''; 
sqlite> .quit
And boom... they're gone. Obviously with some knowledge of SQLite commands you can delete other combinations of entries, or even add new ones (although that would be a bit odd). There is of course potential to delete things you didn't mean to, so make sure you have a backup of the MailRecents-v4.abcdmr file before you start.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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Use iPhoto to change the sorting of events in iTunes photo sync Apps
When syncing photos to my iPhone using iTunes, I've long been frustrated by the order in which the list of photo Events was sorted.

Quite by accident, I discovered that the sort order is set from within iPhoto, with a twist.

If you open iPhoto and select Events, then change the sort order using the View menu, the order will also change in iTunes, but - and this is the actual hint I guess - you have to quit and restart iTunes to see the differently-ordered list. (Not really up to Apple's usual standards of transparent useability!)

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described.]
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Fix an iPhoto '11 slowdown Apps
As I've been adding photos to iPhoto '11 (9.1.3), it's been getting slower and slower. On Friday, it ground just about to a complete halt, such that even force quitting took about 20 minutes to accomplish.

According to Activity Monitor, there was no CPU activity and no network activity to speak of, which stumped me because I was assuming it was Faces or Spotlight laboring mightily away in the background.

After many trials and errors, I determined that the problem was due to my entries in the Accounts preference. I had MobileMe (times two), Facebook, Flickr, and six other e-mail accounts registered there. About a minute after each launch, iPhoto had been attempting unsuccessfully to connect with at least one of the accounts, which brought iPhoto, Finder, and any other open programs to a screeching halt.

As luck would have it, I was one of the lucky ones hit with MobileMe's latest outage, but after I deleted all the Accounts preference entries, iPhoto sprang back to life.

I subsequently determined that it is normal behavior for iPhoto to attempt indefinitely to connect to services listed in the Accounts preference, with no time-out or notification to the user about what is going on.

If you find yourself in this predicament -- iPhoto open but utterly unresponsive -- you may be able to shorten the time it takes your Mac to return control to you by severing all network connections (Ethernet, Airport, etc.), at which point iPhoto is supposed to detect the lack thereof and stop trying to connect.

[crarko adds: I have not experienced the issue, so I can't test that this fixes it. Sure sounds worth trying if you do, though.]
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A script to find Dropbox conflicts Apps
Dropbox has become my favorite method of syncing files. The one thing I don't really like about it is how it handles the times when multiple computers report new versions of a file. Dropbox decides to keep both, and adds the words Conflicted Copy and some other info to the filename of the one it's not sure about. I got tired of regularly having to manually hunt for such files, so I wrote a script to do it for me.

This AppleScript uses the find command to find the affected files. It opens Finder windows with each file selected so they're easy to find and deal with. I hope this script is as useful to you as it has been to me.

Paste this into AppleScript Editor and save it as an Application. Run it whenever you want to find conflicted copies.
set conflictedFiles to do shell script "cd ~/Dropbox; find -L . \\( -path \"*.dropbox*\" -prune \\) -o \\( -name \"*conflicted*\" -print \\)"
set fileList to paragraphs of conflictedFiles as list
repeat with currFile in fileList
  set currPath to (path to home folder as string) & "Dropbox" & POSIX file (characters 3 thru -1 of (currFile as string) as string)
  tell application "Finder" to make new Finder window to currPath
end repeat
Note: I've tried a few different versions of the shell script, but this is the one that's been the fastest for me. If you tweak this script and it runs faster, please post in the comments! I'm always eager to see my scripts made better.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described, as far as I can see.]
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A quick Office hint, and a request Apps
I just encountered a bug at one of my clients' place that looks a whole lot like a really super-old bug (like from the time when megabytes of RAM made a big difference in price).

The bug, in itself, is insignificant: the first version of MS Office for the Mac had a limit on the number of documents it could handle without quitting, but the problem was that each save counted as a new document, so Office apps would lock up pretty quick.

The same thing seems to be happening now with the newest version of everything involved.

The hint to get rid of the MS Office apps no longer saving is to quit them often, then re-launch as needed. Yes, it's a bit simple-minded, but sometimes that's what you need to do.

And now I'm writing you with a request:

With MacFixIt now gone as an effective service for me, there is no longer a communal memory of these quirks and hiccups. I think this site need a new side-line in which you discuss common bugs (rather than hints--which, generally being solutions, are at the other end of the spectrum).

Well, that was just a thought from a really really old timer (once hinter) and just a great fan!

[crarko adds: Actually, we already have such an area, the MacOSXHints forums. Are people here generally aware of these? I'll take advantage of the opportunity to put in a plug for them, as they serve the requested function quite well, I think. And it's a more appropriate venue to work on problem solving than here. I urge people who have questions to sign up and post them there. Note that the user databases are separate, so a separate registration is required.]
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Options for removing the system-wide Flash plug-in Apps
While recent versions of the MacBook Air ship without Adobe Flash installed, the idea of voluntarily removing Flash from /Library/Internet Plug-Ins got some attention when John Gruber wrote about his technique. Put simply, Gruber removed Flash from its default location, thus trying to force sites to load HTML5 versions of content. For instances when that didn't suffice, he would load the page in Google Chrome, a browser which has the Flash plug-in embedded within it. His add-on trick is to enable the Develop menu in Safari and use System Preferences » Keyboard to map a shortcut for taking a page in Safari and opening it in Chrome.

The underlying logic of such an approach is generally twofold. For one, it helps site developers get a sense of how many folks are viewing pages using Flash-free systems, thus possibly encouraging them to publish content that doesn't rely on Flash. Two, and much more pragmatically, it reduces the system load since Flash on the Mac is known to regularly use a large percentage of the CPU, sometimes even after the user has closed the window (or tab) where Flash content was viewed.

Should anyone pursue a route like this, Google Chrome is obviously an option for when content is only available using Flash. I tried that for a while, but for subjective reasons I didn't much like Chrome, mostly because of its lack of support for system-level features (e.g., the built-in pop-up dictionary), large footprint, and auto-updating behavior. So I went hunting for alternatives. Here's what I've found that works:

InDesign CS4: Perhaps earlier versions have it, too, but this version of InDesign has a Flash-embedded version of Opera embedded within it (I recall it was version 9.x of Opera). I can't speak to the current version of InDesign, now at 5.5, but standalone version 5 does not have Opera. Perhaps it's only installed when a full Creative Suite installation is performed.

OmniWeb (currently v. 5.10.3): Right clicking on this application and choosing Show Package Contents will reveal a PlugIns folder. Simply move or copy the Flash plug-in here (even the one embedded in Chrome) and this browser will handle Flash content.

iCab (currently v. 4.8): This is my personal preference. It has the leanest footprint of the options I've found, and it easily imports (or just uses) things like Bookmarks, History and Cookies from Safari. While it doesn't have a Plugins folder embedded within it, simply creating one called PlugIns with a copy of the Flash plug-in will work.

Perhaps there are other browsers which can be used, but my tests with SeaMonkey, Camino, Firefox, Shiira, Sunrise, and the current Opera (v 11.10) were not successful.

[crarko adds: I tested this on a few of the mentioned browsers, and it works as described.]
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How to Turn on Anti-Aliasing in GeekTool Apps
One of my biggest pet peeves on my Mac has always been that GeekTool doesn't have the option for anti-aliased fonts. After searching around, I found countless complaints about this on a bunch of web sites and forums, but not any solutions that actually worked.

After a little OS X font research, I found that shadows force anti-aliasing, regardless of the application. This method allows you to reap the benefits of anti-aliasing without having to see a shadow next to all your widgets.

To turn on anti-aliasing in GeekTool widgets, go to the font preferences for the widget and, if you can't see it already, resize the font window so that you can see the shadow sliders. Click the shadow button (the button right before the sliders) and then set the opacity to as close to 0 as it will go, but not 0. Just a pixel above. Then set the other two sliders to 0. This will cause Mac OS X to force antialiasing on your widgets, even though GeekTool doesn't support it out of the box.

[crarko adds: I tried this with GeekTool 3.0, and as far as I could tell it only applied to the 'Image' type Geeklet.]
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Change Default Bullet List format in Word Apps
Changing the default for bulleted lists in Word is neither intuitive nor obvious.

I use Word 2008 as my main text editor. Somewhere along the way, the default style for the bulleted list that arises when you click the bullet icon in the toolbar got completely mangled. The first line was indented a full inch, while subsequent lines in the bullet point were indented an inch and a half. Ugly. I finally figured out the process for changing the default bullet format and I'm sharing in case anybody else has the same issue. I'm assuming similar steps would apply in Word 2004 and 2011, but I don't have them and don't know.

  • In a new, blank document, Choose 'Bullets and Numbering' from the Format menu
  • Click on the first option under the 'Bulleted' tab and click the 'Customize' button
  • Choose the options you want for type of bullet, font, indent, etc. (I use Bullet position of 'indent at .25' and text position of 'indent at 0.38,' but you may prefer different options)
  • In order to ensure that these options apply in any new document you create, you must add the Bulleted List style to your Normal template.
  • Choose Format » Style... and click the 'Organizer' button.
  • On the left of the Organizer window, choose 'List Paragraph' and then click the 'Copy' button to copy to Normal.dotm
Now every document you open should have the default bulleted list style you prefer. You can also create a regular old style for your preferred bullet style to apply whenever you want, but I prefer to be able to just click the 'bullet' button and keep writing.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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Another way to remove PDF passwords Apps
My insurance company requires me to fill in claim forms in a .pdf form, but won't let me save it once it's filled in (it is password protected). After using virtual printers, utilities, etc. I have found an easier way to bypass the password and save the .pdf (and thus the drudgery of filling in the same info every time I make a claim). Just mail it!

When Preview doesn't allow you to save a file, nor 'Save as PDF' (nor open in Preview) from the print dialog, you can still use 'Mail Selected PDF Document' from the File menu.

Mail will then open a new message with the unprotected document as an attachment. The unprotected document is buried deep inside the private/var folder but can simply be opened in Preview by clicking on it in the mail message and then saved (unprotected) wherever you like.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. This strikes me as a bug.]
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