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OS X's free drawing program - Sketch Apps
Some people may not have noticed the free drawing program which comes with OSX. It's located in Developer/Applications/Extras and it's called Sketch. It's only installed if you do the developer install. It's a simple drawing program, with lines and circles and type, similar to Microsoft Draw. It's nice for simple diagrams when Illustrator is just too much work. The only catch is you have to save your work as a Sketch file (.sketch) before you can Save As a TIFF or PDF file.

[Editor's note: You'll also find Bomb.app (a program to show that a dying program won't affect the system) and WorldText.app (a TextEdit replacement with some nicer features) in the Extras folder - it's worth a look if you've installed the Dev Tools.]
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Replace the built-in FTP server Apps
Apple's built-in FTP server, which is started by clicking a button in the Sharing prefs panel, is probably sufficient for most users. It gives easy access to your machine via FTP, but has some limitations. If you wish to allow others to FTP to your machine, you need to create an OS X account for each user. If you want those users restricted to their home directory, you need to create an 'ftpchroot' file that limits their access. Other more advanced tasks, such as space limitations, require further tweaking to the FTP server.

If you'd like an easy way to put a more robust FTP server solution in place, check out CrushFTP by Ben Spink. CrushFTP is a Java-based application that runs on OS X (and OS 9!).

It has a wealth of options, including:
  • User (add/delete/modify) management within CrushFTP
  • Set disk quotas and other privileges by directory
  • Set maximum idle and connect times and bandwidth limits
  • Limit max downloads per session
  • Easily specify which port CrushFTP will serve from
  • Control which days a user may connect
  • Limit or allow connections based on IP address
  • Generate detailed usage reports
I ran a very simple speed comparison this afternoon (transfer one 7.9mb file from my Mac to my Win2000 laptop), and I was surprised to find that CrushFTP beat the built-in FTP server (444K per second vs. 440K per second). A more extensive test would have to be done on multiple files to verify the results, but CrushFTP seems to be just as speedy as the bundled FTP server -- at least in a single-user scenario.

CrushFTP is a $20 shareware application, and it's a fully try-before-you-buy package. If you're looking for a more advanced FTP server package, check it out.

NOTE: I am not a registered CrushFTP user, as my FTP needs are simple. It just seems like a well-developed alternative to the bundled OS X FTP server, with easily defined options. As with anything that allows direct access to your machine, please make sure you're comfortable with the product and its background before installing or using it!
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Access mail.app's POP mail boxes from OS 9 Apps
If you're ever booted in OS 9 (as I was earlier) and have a need for something that's in your OS X mailbox (which I did), I found that that it's fairly easy to find that something from OS 9.

Apple's mail.app stores your mail in ~/Library/Mail. Inside that folder are a series of directories for each email account you have enabled, along with a folder called Mailboxes. Inside of Mailboxes, you'll see Deleted Messages.mbox and Inbox.mbox. These are both plain-text files which can be opened and searched by almost any text processing application; I used Alpha in OS 9. I was able to find the data I was looking for, and then closed the file (without saving any changes, of course!). Later, when I rebooted into OS X, I found that (as expected) the mailbox files still work normally in mail.app.

I believe this only works for POP-style mailboxes where the mail is stored locally; I don't think it can be used to view your mac.com IMAP mailbox, for example.
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Maelstrom for OS X released! Apps
In an interesting example of 'coming full circle', Ambrosia's Maelstrom (an Asteroids-based space shooter with great playability) has been released as an OS X native application! I say 'coming full circle' because this version of Maelstrom was ported by Sam Lantinga from his Linux port of the original version of the game, which was written for the Mac IIsi (yes, it's that old!).

Even more impressive, the game now includes support for multi-player network play over the internet, and full source code is available. You can read all about it on the Maelstrom 3.0 home page, and you can download the game by clicking this link.

It plays great under OS X, and brings back fond memories of hundreds of wasted hours. If you think you're good, you can even enable the 'network high scores' option, which will show Internet-wide Maelstrom high scores ... I don't even come close to the bottom of the list!

One note of caution: On my G4/733 with the GeForce3 card, the game ran fine in full-screen mode. When quitting, however, my screen was completely black. OS X was working fine; I just couldn't see or do anything! So you may wish to exercise a bit of caution (quit all other apps, for example) before you try full-screen mode the first time.
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QuickTime preview 'throttle' in the Finder Apps
Caught this one over on the MacAddict OS X Tricks forum, posted by Jasoco. You'll need a two-button mouse to make it work...

In the Finder, use column view and select a QuickTime movie such that you can see the 'preview' square in the far right column. Start playing the clip in the preview window (just click the Play icon; don't double-click the movie).

Once it's started, click-and-hold on the fast-forward button on the right edge of the screen. As you're holding down the left mouse button, click-and-hold the right mouse button. The FF/RW buttons turn into a little slider that lets you control how fast you go backwards or forwards through the movie.

I couldn't find a key to hold down that would mimic this behavior, so it looks like it's restricted to two-button mice. Strangely enough, it also does NOT work in the actual QuickTime Player; only in the Finder.

I'm not sure what value this is, but it's sort of interesting...
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Free stuff for iMovie2 Apps
Although this is not strictly OS X-related, I've been playing with iMovie2 a lot lately (working on a project for my wife's company), and thought I'd pass along a pointer to some free iMovie stuff that can further enhance your projects.

If you go to http://www.apple.com/imovie/freestuff, you'll find a ton of free goodies, including some nice artistic backgrounds, sound effects sets, and looping music tracks.

While you're there, also check out http://www.apple.com/imovie/freestuff/audio.html, as that page seems to have even more background sound sets that are not linked from the primary 'freestuff' page.
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Sherlock and the 'Unexpected error' message Apps
On occasion, for no apparent reason, Sherlock will get stuck in an infinite loop of error messages reading "An unexpected error occurred. If you continue to encounter problems, quit and start again." If you click "OK", you get the same error message again and again and again. The only way I found to resolve the problem was to restart.

A new Apple TIL article points out the actual cause and provides a workaround. The error can occur when you have a graphic file on the clipboard. The solution is to copy something else (plain text) to the clipboard before trying to use Sherlock.

I hope we get a better solution than "copy some text first" in the 10.1 release!
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Open new Explorer windows through Sherlock Apps
I'm not sure if this feature was also available in Mac OS 9, but when you doubleclick on a search result from the internet in Sherlock with the command key pressed, Explorer will open a new window instead of loading the page in the frontmost window.

[Editor: Yes, it was also available in OS 9, but it's still a good tip! If you use OmniWeb instead of IE, this is the default behavior. Submitted by marcelv on Wed Jul 25]

Marcelv
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Synch iTunes between OS X and OS 9 Apps
To synchronize your playlists between iTunes for OS X and OS 9, simply replace the OS 9 iTunes library file (found on your OS 9 drive, /Documents/iTunes/iTunes Music Library) with an alias pointing to your OS X iTunes library (/Users/yourname/Documents/iTunes/iTunes Music Library).

[Editor's note: I accomplished the same result by going to the "Advanced" tab in preferences and setting the "Music Folder Location" to point to the same spot in both iTunes X and iTunes 9.]
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Apple's NetInfo Manager documentation Apps
NetInfo Manager (in /Applications/Utilities) is a very powerful utility for dealing with a number of advanced topics in Mac OS X, including moving a user's directory, managing groups, and setting passwords.

Until now, documentation has been hard to find. The X4U mailing list, however, contained a pointer to a 1.9mb Apple PDF file called "Understanding and Using NetInfo". There's a ton of information in this document that you may find useful and/or interesting if you'd like to more about the inner workings of OS X. Although it's written relative to OS X Server, it should be generally applicable to the consumer OS X package as well.

I've also added the URL to the permanent OS X links page here.
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