This is a simple tip, but I wanted to submit it just in case.
When using iTunes, if you only have the Library selected, then the leftmost column of the main display be empty. If you have a playlist selected, the leftmost column will display numbers.
Why is this important? Well, if you choose to sort the list by using these numbers, when you enable shuffle mode you can see the order in which the songs are going to play. It's a little more user-friendly than watching the Library list jumping all over the place during shuffle play.
To do this if you don't have any playlists, just create one and add all the songs from your library to it.
I'm sure some users out there already know this, but Ogg Vorbis really needs to reach more people. Ogg Vorbis is an audio compression format that rivals MP3 even with the alt-presets. With vorbis, you can store files with higher quality at smaller file sizes.
Anyway, a QuickTime Components project has been started at Sourceforge, focusing on QT development of popular open source audio and video components. Their first project integrates Ogg Vorbis encoding and decoding into QuickTime (with a plugin a la divx or 3ivx). This is great news because conversion to/from ogg vorbis is done simply through qt player's 'export' function and ogg vorbis files will now play in iTunes! The files must be renamed from .ogg to .mov though.
The downloaded .qtx file goes into the /Library/Quicktime/ directory (like DivX); it is an import/export and playback plugin for Quicktime Player. Just open up a sound/music file in QT Player, choose export, then select Ogg Vorbis in the formats menu. The only option in this process is the quality slider. Even though the plugin is in the early stages of development and contains a bug or two, overall performance (including encoding and playback) is quite excellent; Vorbis is truly the MP3 killer.
Since we seem to be on the subject of backups today (see the story below this one), I thought this would be a good time to mention Carbon Copy Cloner, a $5.00 donationware (uncrippled shareware) AppleScript Studio project written by Mike Bombich. I've actually used this several times in the last few months, and kept meaning to write something up about it. Carbon Copy Cloner creates clones of one OS X installation onto other drives. This can be very useful not only for full backups, but also for creating identical mass installations of OS X (as in a lab environment, which is what drove Mike to create the program)
Carbon Copy Cloner uses AppleScript Studio to put an easy to use interface in front of AppleScript. When you launch the program, you choose source and destination disks with pop-up menus, specify which (if any) folders you do not want cloned, decide whether or not to recreate Darwin links and bless the system folder, and then simply hit the "Clone" button. Carbon Copy Cloner then proceeds to create a fully bootable copy of your existing installation.
Carbon Copy Cloner's focus is in cloning an entire drive; it's not targeted at programs like Retrospect that let you create backup sets, incremental backups, etc. But if you just want the security of knowing you have a full bootable backup of your existing installation, or you need to install a customized OS X folder on 100 hard drives, it's a near perfect tool for the job.
Posting to the X4U mailing list, Judi S. noticed that both InDesign 2 and Photoshop 7 allow for keyboard manipulation of any numerical value. Judi writes (and gave permission to repost here):
You can manipulate *any* measurement with the keyboard. This works in dialog boxes (such as Paragraph Rules...) and palettes (such as the Type or Paragraph or Info). Just click on the unit of measurement to the left of the input field. So if you wanted to change the width of a box you would click once on the "W:" in the Info palette. Now use your up and down arrow keys to either increase or decrease the measurement (set the increment in the preferences). This is wonderful if you want to adjust a drop shadow, or change kerning, or nudge something. No fudging with numbers!
I'm not sure if this was a feature in previous versions of the programs or not, but it seems like a real time saver.
One other thing in her post that caught my eye had to do with switching Photoshop to the background during long operations. After noting that you can do this and continue to work smoothly in other apps, Judi wrote:
In OS X, you get a progress bar on the Photoshop dock icon! No more clicking back and forth to see how things are going!
A great example of how the dynamic nature of the dock can be put to good use.
If you use Snapz Pro for your screenshots, you may find these tips on screen captures useful. Andrew Welch sent them to a Snapz Pro mailing list and granted permission to reproduce them here.
If you're snapping a picture of an entire window, try setting the clipping border to "Small" (in the Preferences pane), and the image border set to "Fade to White" (on the main Snapz Pro X pane), or "Fade to Black" if the screenshots will go up on a web page with a black background. These setting result in a smoother looking capture, as you can see in Ambrosia's sample screenshot.
If you're capturing just a portion of an interface item, Andrew suggests just using "Fade to white" and selecting an area (eight pixels or so) larger than that which you wish to capture. Although more subtle, you can still see the differences in this comparative screenshot.
I recently put these tips to work on a small project at work, and the results are clearly nicer than the drop shadow border I used for all the image captures in the OS X Solutions Guidebook. If there weren't 100+ images to re-shoot, I'd go back and re-do all of my originals :-).
I recently began receiving a lot of "stock alert" spam. The mail always started with "(OTCBB:", so I added a new rule in Mail.app to delete any email that contained that string in the subject line. Since I was 100% positive I would never receive a valid email with that string in the subject, the only rule option I enabled was "Delete the message". This seemed to work perfectly, as the spam stopped immediately, and I had been getting a few every week.
Over the weekend, I was logged in to the macosxhints.com host machine working on some stuff, and ran the command line "mail" program when I saw a "You have new mail in ..." message appear. Not only did I see the new message in the UNIX mail program, but I was somewhat surprised to also find three "(OTCBB:" messages sitting there.
These had apparently been filtered from my downloaded mail, as I had never seen them in Mail.app, but they were still on the server. Their status in the "mail" program indicated that they had been read, so Mail.app had acted on them. But they had never actually been deleted from the server, just from my local machine.
As an experiment, I sent myself a few "spam" email with various filter settings. After a few tries, I found that the solution was to also enable Transfer to mailbox and set Deleted Messages as the destination folder. This did the trick - a test email sent with the filtered subject never appeared in Mail.app (oddly enough, not even in Deleted Messages!), but was successfully removed from the server.
So if you have some high-volume spam filters in place and have only enabled the "Delete the message" option within rules, you might want to take a look at your mail server to see if all spam messages have been cleared. An easy way to do this without using the command line is to simply disable your spam rules and download your mail again -- anything that was sitting on the server will be downloaded to your inbox.
After trying to set up Mail.app on the first day I had my new iMac and finding that the "Get Mail" button didn't work, I didn't think a whole lot about it and just used Mozilla Mail instead. I looked into Mail.app a few times over the next several weeks, editing my preferences, trying various different combinations, reading up on ports, comparing Mail's settings to my settings in Mozilla Mail on this machine as well as my others, all to no avail. Mail.app would not download any of my mail.
I then went looking at Mac OS X Support at Apple.com in the Mail.app section and found quite a few people who had posted problems that sounded an awful lot like mine; one even went so far as to clue me in to the fact that a username with a slash in it (in my case evanrose.com/evan) might be the issue.
In Mail's account preferences dialog box, there is an account option that has an uneditable text field that told me my local mail folder was created based on my user name (the one with the slash in it) and, being a long time 'NIX user, got suspicious (especially after I navigated to the Library/Mail directory in my home directory and didn't see the folder in question at all).
To make a long story short, after searching online and in other various places for upwards of two hours, I created a new Mail account and just called it "evan" with a username of evan. This action automatically created the correctly named folder, and finally, I edited my username to include the slash and suddenly, my inbox filled up. All is now fine, and I've switched from Mozilla's mail to Mail.app due to the nicer interface and easier deletion of messages.
I have been using the same web-based email service for several years and it has always irked me that the only way of transferring emails to my home machine was by forwarding the mail to my POP account, which had the disadvantage of making it not apparent who the mail was originally from.
I have discovered that you can import individual emails into Entourage if you change the extension from ".txt" to ".mbox". You can also import many emails at a go if you paste them one after the other into a text editor and precede each with the text "From ???@???" and then save the file with an 'mbox" extension. You can then drag and drop the text into Entourage.
[Editor's note: I haven't used Entourage, so I can't say that I've tested this hint.]
All I wanted was a global hot key to go to the next/previous track in iTunes. Sometimes iTunes goes to a song you don't want, and you want to skip to another without using the Dock or switching to iTunes from whatever you're doing. I wrote two tiny AppleScripts to control iTunes, and then looked for ways to assign them to keys. No luck with function keys as in OS 9 (what ever happened to the F-key section from the keyboard control panel?), so Dragthing came to the rescue.
I didn't want anything to jump into the foreground, so I set up a new dock (called 'hotkey scripts') and set it to 'allow AppleScripts to run in background' in the Miscellaneous preferences tab. I then added my scripts to the new dock, and used the 'item options' from the contexual menu to set a hotkey for each. I set it so that Apple+left and right arrows are previous and next track, but any key combo would do it, presumably as long as it's not used elsewhere. The Applescripts, for anyone interested, are simple:
tell application "iTunes" next track end tell
Replace next with previous for the other script, obviously.
I don't know if this is really a hint or not but since I have been struggling with my Palm IIIx and Palm Desktop since its beta, I thought I would post my final findings in case it may help others.
I have a Palm iiix and a Beige G3/266 overclocked to 300 running OS X 10.1.3, with a Palm USB to serial and Palm Hotsync cable. My problem from the beta on has been that I get one hotsync that takes forever (I clocked it at 30+ minutes) or I cancel it. Then I can't hotsync again. Of course, serial syncing is not possible on this machine, another story.
Last night after my second consecutive completed hotsync in two days, I discovered something. Using the Palm USB cable and the desktop software, there is no setting for speed. However on the Palm side, if you change your settings to 115k and, this is the key, flow control to ON (not OFF and not AUTO), the hotsync connects quickly and efficiently. I have not yet sent this note to Palm but I think I will shortly.
I hope this helps the others out there who have been having problems with Palm hotsyncs in OS X.