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10.5: Open parent folder in a new window Desktop
By default, double-clicking a folder in the Mac OS X Finder opens the folder in the current window. You probably know that you can open a new window for a folder that appears in the current window by holding down the Command key before double-clicking. You might also know you can open the parent of the current folder in a new window with Command-Up Arrow -- but this will close the original folder, too.

To open the parent folder of the current window in a new window, while leaving the current window open, hold Command and Control, and then press the Up Arrow key on the keyboard.
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Create timestamped duplicates of files via AppleScript Desktop
I sometimes modify and save a file, only then to realize I need to undo something, but it's too late. So I've created an AppleScript which duplicates any files selected in the Finder, and adds the date and time to their names. This makes it easy to go back by looking at the date and time embedded in the filename. I suggest you work with the original file, and make versions of that one before modifying the file, so you can always go back to your starting point.

Here's the AppleScript (note that some date and time code was sourced via a Google search):
property extensionhidden : true

tell application "Finder"
    set theselection to selection
    repeat with i from 1 to (count theselection)
        set folderCheck to item i of theselection
        if folder (folderCheck as text) exists then
            set extensionhidden to extension hidden of (item i of theselection)
            set extension hidden of (item i of theselection) to true
        end if
        set theItemName to displayed name of (item i of theselection)
        if folder (folderCheck as text) exists then
            set theItemExtension to name extension of (item i of theselection)
        end if
        set upOneLevelFolder to folder of (item i of theselection) as alias
        set {year:y, month:m, day:d, time string:t} to (current date)
        set date_format to (y * 10000 + m * 100 + d) as string
        set time_format to (t) as string
        set t to (do shell script "echo " & "'" & t & "'" & " | sed  's/://g' ")
        set thedate to date_format & " " & t as text
        if folder (folderCheck as text) exists then
            set theNewName to theItemName & " " & thedate as text
            set theNewName to theItemName & " " & thedate & "." & theItemExtension as text
        end if
        log theNewName
        set theDuplicate to duplicate (item i of theselection) to upOneLevelFolder replacing no
        set theDuplicateAlias to theDuplicate as alias
        set name of theDuplicateAlias to theNewName
        if folder (folderCheck as text) exists then
            if extensionhidden then
                set extension hidden of theDuplicateAlias to true
                set extension hidden of (item i of theselection) to true
                set extension hidden of theDuplicateAlias to false
                set extension hidden of (item i of theselection) to false
            end if
        end if
    end repeat
end tell
Paste into Script Editor, and save as application. Select some file/s in the Finder, then run the saved AppleScript.

[robg adds: This worked as described.]
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10.5: Speed drag-selection of large icons Desktop
There appears to be a minor bug in the Leopard Finder: drag-selecting multiple icons when they are set to full size is very slow and unusable (at least on my 2.4GHz 17" MacBook Pro running OS X 10.5.5).

The solution is to change the icon size to 112x112 pixels or lower. Still pretty big, but much faster for some reason.

[robg adds: I tested this on my Mac Pro, and indeed, there's a big change in performance when you compare, say, 116x116 to 112x112. It's especially noticeable if you're drag-selecting in a folder with a large number of items in it.]
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An easy way to identify specific docked document icons Desktop
I have several FileMaker Pro documents in my Dock for work purposes. All look the same withe their stock 'FileMaker document' icons, so when I try to find Chemistry 1B 2007 or Chemistry 1B 2008, it's not real easy. I could copy and paste a custom icon for each document, of course, but then I'd have to remember which custom icon went with which document.

Instead, I opened up TextEdit, set the font size to 20, and moved the cursor away from the edge. Then I typed:
 1B     1B
 08     07
Then I held down Shift-Command-Control-4 and took a snapshot of the screen -- just enough to have each four-letter-block surrounded. Then in Finder, I used Command-I on each document to open the Get Info window, and Command-V to paste the clipboard contents.

This doesn't look real flash, but just the time saved in the "which file is which?" department makes it bearable.
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Correct a 'filename cannot be used' error Desktop
Sometimes, when copying/pasting text on a file or folder name field, you get the error message: "The name. [filename] cannot be used. Try using another name". Yet, the name seems fine; there aren't any obvious illegal characters in it. The problem is that the pasted text may contain some invisible characters, in the spaces between words, that are not accepted by Mac OS X. Yet no clue is given as to where such characters may be located in the filename.

The fix is to delete and retype every single space between the words of such a name. A much faster and convenient solution is to use an application like SmartWrap (I am not affiliated with them; their product just works well for this sort of thing).
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Create a permanent sidebar entry for networked folders Desktop
If you're anything like me, then you probably access files within folders within folders on removable media (i.e. external hard drives, Flash drives). It can become quite a hassle (with a trackpad, anyway) to open the the media device, select the folder, navigate, select another folder, navigate, and then select the desired file or folder.

I tried adding my commonly-accessed (but time consuming to reach) external hard drive folder to the Finder's sidebar, but whenever I took my MacBook somewhere and the folder wasn't present, the sidebar alias disappeared.

So my solution was to make a local alias of the removable folder, put it in my Documents (or any other local) folder, then drag the alias to the sidebar. Now I can eject removable media without losing my sidebar shortcut.

[robg adds: I thought we had run something similar in the past, but I can't find it now -- so if this is a duplicate, please let me know. Also, if you use this hint, you should be aware that the cautions in this hint are still valid in 10.5.4: if you delete (via Command-Delete) or rename the "alias" in the sidebar, you will rename or delete the original folder on the networked volume instead! When you place your local alias in the sidebar, the Finder converts it into a direct pointer to the remote folder, instead of placing the alias in the sidebar, so any changes you make affect the original, not your alias.]
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Add user's trash can to the sidebar Desktop
Here's how to make your trash can as accessible and manageable as every other folder in the Sidebar. Show invisible files in the Finder by your preferred method -- I use MainMenu -- and then just drag the invisible ".Trash" folder in your User directory to the Sidebar.

Now turn off the show invisibles feature, and the trash will remain visible, and forever after make life on a Mac so much easier.

[robg adds: An easy way to show/hide hidden files is via this simple Terminal command. (Change YES to NO to hide the hidden files again, and use your favorite method of restarting the Finder to make the changes take effect.). Note that this Sidebar trash will only display those items in the trash from your boot drive; if you have more than one hard drive or partition, those volumes will have their own trashes.]
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View maximized Cover Flow window via AppleScript Desktop
The following script will take the frontmost finder window and maximize it for a 15" MacBookPro while changing the Finder's view mode to Cover Flow. I have found it helpful if I need to quickly use Cover Flow to find a file. Although it is set for a 15" screen, the parameters can be edited for any screen type. I invoke it using Quicksilver, and have named the script max.
tell application "Finder"
  select Finder window 1
  set window 1's position to {0, 44}
  set bounds of Finder window 1 to {0, 44, 1440, 900}
  set current view of Finder window 1 to flow view
end tell
I also use an AppleScript to minimize the size of the window once I have found my file. Again I use quicksilver to invoke it, and have named this one min:
tell application "Finder"
  set bounds of Finder window 1 to {143, 164, 1300, 825}
  set position of Finder window 1 to {143, 164}
  set current view of Finder window 1 to column view
end tell
[robg adds: The lines to edit if you'd like to modify this for your screen size are those that begin set bounds of....]
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Use a Smart Folder to remove certain iChat log files Desktop
With family, friends, and coworkers scattered around the country and the world, iChat is one of my most-used applications. Given that a lot of important conversations flow through it, I've archived my iChat logs for years using the "Automatically save chat transcripts" feature in iChat. One annoyance, though, comes courtesy of the VPN we use to reach the Macworld servers. Every time I connect and disconnect from the VPN (many times a day), AOL generates a warning that shows up as a new iChat message:
Your screen name is now signed into AOL(R) Instant Messenger (TM) in 2 locations. To sign off the other location(s), reply to this message with the number 1. Click here for more information.
Of course, each and every one of these messages is logged, though I clearly don't need to save them. To make it simpler to get rid of these extraneous logged files, I created a Smart Folder with the following search criteria, with "Any of the following are true" at the top level:
  • Name -- begins with -- aolsystemmsg
  • Name -- begins with -- AOL System Msg
For whatever reason (related to being on or not on the VPN, perhaps?), there are two different names for the sender of the message from AOL, so I search for both names. Once I set up the search, I dropped it in the Search For section of my sidebar. Deleting these saved chats now only takes a couple of mouse clicks and keystrokes. There are other more automated ways to do this -- some sort of find command run as a launchd task or cron job comes to mind, but this method was simple and fast.
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Jump through files alphabetically regardless of sort order Desktop
This sounds too simple for a hint, but I haven't heard of it before, and couldn't find a reference for it on the web (and I discovered this completely by accident). By Pressing Option-Tab in the Finder (in List or Icon view windows), you can jump alphabetically through the files, regardless of the displayed sort order.

[robg adds: This also works in Cover Flow view in 10.5, though it's pretty strange watching the icons do a seemingly-random dance as you press Option-Tab.]
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