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10.5: Change the Finder's default Find window Desktop
Want to tailor the Finder's Find (Command-F) window? Copy the following into TextEdit, make it plain text, and save it to the Desktop as default_smart.plist:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
  <key>CompatibleVersion</key>
  <integer>1</integer>
  <key>RawQuery</key>
  <string>((_kMDItemGroupId > 6))</string>
  <key>SearchCriteria</key>
  <dict>
    <key>CurrentFolderPath</key>
    <string>/</string>
    <key>FXCriteriaSlices</key>
    <array>
      <dict>
        <key>criteria</key>
        <array>
          <string>com_apple_SearchSystemFilesAttribute</string>
          <integer>1220</integer>
        </array>
        <key>displayValues</key>
        <array>
          <string>SEARCH_SYSTEM_FILES</string>
          <string>YES</string>
        </array>
        <key>rowType</key>
        <integer>0</integer>
        <key>subrows</key>
        <array/>
      </dict>
    </array>
    <key>FXScope</key>
    <integer>0</integer>
    <key>FXScopeArrayOfPaths</key>
    <array>
      <string>kMDQueryScopeComputer</string>
    </array>
  </dict>
  <key>ViewOptions</key>
  <dict>
    <key>SidebarWidth</key>
    <integer>135</integer>
    <key>ToolbarVisible</key>
    <true/>
    <key>ViewHeight</key>
    <integer>582</integer>
    <key>ViewStyle</key>
    <string>icnv</string>
    <key>WindowBounds</key>
    <dict>
      <key>bottom</key>
      <integer>850</integer>
      <key>left</key>
      <integer>457</integer>
      <key>right</key>
      <integer>1207</integer>
      <key>top</key>
      <integer>268</integer>
    </dict>
  </dict>
  <key>Version</key>
  <string>10.5.3</string>
</dict>
</plist>
This version of Finder's search box shows the user's home folder as a place to search, includes all system files, is taller than the original window, and the cursor displays in the search box. Note that the ViewHeight field is the difference between bottom and top. So you can adjust it, and the window's width, to suit your needs.

To change the default Find window, run these commands in Terminal (don't type the $), pressing Return after each:
$ cd /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/Resources 
$ sudo cp default_smart.plist default_smart.plist.bak
The first command changes to the proper directory, and the second one saves the original default search file, so you can restore the current behavior. Enter your admin password at the Password prompt when asked. To activate your modified search box, use this command:
$ sudo cp /Users/username/Desktop/default_smart.plist default_smart.plist
Replace username with your user's short username. To return to the original file, cd to that same directory in Terminal, then use this command:
$ sudo cp default_smart.plist.bak default_smart.plist
[robg adds: You'll need to kill the Finder for this change to take effect. We've covered this sort of edit before (1, 2), but this one adds the 10.5-specific ability to search system files.]
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10.5: Use a spring-loaded Path Bar in Smart folders Desktop
One advantage of the Path Bar in the Finder is that it supports drag and drop. This is great for moving files up a folder level, or to other folders within the selected file's current path. To move a file to a folder outside of the current path, however, is more tedious -- that's because the Path Bar in regular Finder windows is not "spring loaded," so hovering over it won't pop up a new window pointing to the targeted folder.

The exception to this is Smart Folders. For whatever reason, the Path Bar in a Smart Folder is spring loaded; you can open new Finder windows by drag-hovering over a folder on the Path Bar.
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10.5: Maximize a docked window via Command-Tab Desktop
Do you have minimized windows that you'd like to expand -- without resorting to mousing down to the Dock or using the Control-F3 "move focus to the Dock" keyboard control option? Here's a shortcut.

Say you've got Safari running, and its one window has been minimized. If you're currently working in another program, press Command-Tab until Safari is selected, but don't release the Command key yet. Now press and hold Option, and release Command (you can then release Option after release Command) -- the minimized window will free itself from the Dock when you release Command while holding Option.

[robg adds: In my testing, this only worked when the program with the minimized window had no other open windows. Also, if there's more than one window minimized to the Dock, only the newest window will expand out--at least with Safari, Mail, and Camino; note that it doesn't seem to work with the Finder (and perhaps other apps). Finally, it doesn't work at all in 10.4 that I can see.]
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10.5: See more file info while browsing with Quick Look Desktop
Often I've found myself wanting to see more info about the files I'm viewing with Quick Look. For example, I'd like to see a panel with EXIF information as I'm Quick Look-ing through a folder of RAW images with the arrow keys. Turns out this is easy, using the non-obvious Inspector version of the Get Info panel.

Select a file in the folder of interest, and press Command-Option-I to bring up the floating Inspector version of the Get Info panel -- this displays limited image metadata. Now, bring up Quick Look, and begin skimming through your images with the arrow keys. Both the Quick Look preview and the Get Info panel will update together.
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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5 Desktop
This is not a hint per se, more of a cautionary tale, but I figured it might be useful to somebody out there. A few weeks ago, I updated my wife's copmuter to Leopard. It's a 1.4GHz PowerBook; certainly not the fastest machine around, but should keep her company another couple of years.

When it came up after the first reboot, it was slow. Incredibly slow. It was unusable. Whenever I switched to the Finder, I'd get the spinning beachball, and then everything ground to a halt. I reinstalled -- same problem. Then I had an inspiration: my wife is hopeless with keeping order on her computer. All files that she uses, downloads, gets sent via mail, etc. end up on her desktop -- and there were more than 600 of them there at the moment.

In Tiger, this was merely an aesthetic problem. In Leopard however, the live preview feature means that the computer has to generate a preview for every file. And since the Desktop is visible whenever you look at a Finder window, the Finder had to use a huge amout of processing power to generate 600 previews ... which basically rendered it unusable. So I simply switched to the Terminal and issued this command:
mv ~/Desktop/* ~/Downloads/
That moved all files from the Desktop to the new Downloads folder. After that, the computer immediately became responsive again, and our marriage was saved!
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How to arrange a messy desktop on a one-time basis Desktop
Scenario: You have a Desktop with too many things on it and you haven't got it (and probably don't want it) to snap to any grid or arrange by any kind. You have icons all over the show, some overlapping others and there's no way you're going to actually move things off the Desktop. OK, so maybe you don't, but a client of mine does.

Requirement: Because things are so higgledy-piggledy, my client couldn't find a particular file in amongst the godforsaken mess. When I showed her the 'Arrange by Kind' option, she hated how "...inflexible and un-Mac-like" it was. So I needed a one time way to arrange the files in some order (so she could find what she needed), and then go back to letting her move them about without constraint.

Solution: You may think: "Oh, just choose 'Arrange by Kind' then 'Arrange by None,' and things will be fine." No, they won't -- when you do, the icons will go straight back to their original disorganized state when you do. The trick is to arrange by kind, then by grid, then by none. So here's how to do it.

In 10.4.x, go to the Desktop and press Command-J, tick the box next to 'Keep arranged by,' and choose your method. Then tick the box next to 'Snap to Grid' ('Keep arranged by' will automatically untick), then finally untick 'Snap to Grid.' In 10.5.x, go to the Desktop and press Command-J, pick one option (other than 'None') from the 'Arrange by' pop-up menu, then choose 'Snap to Grid,' and finally set the 'Arrange by' pop-up to 'None'. Using these methods in 10.4 and 10.5, the icons will stay in their newly-arranged order, but they will be freely movable again.

A word of warning. If you subsequently choose an 'Arrange by' option (in either 10.4.x or 10.5.x) then unset arranging without going through 'Snap to Grid,' the icons will fly back to their original manic positions. Let me just end by saying there's really no substitute for a tidy desktop -- not just because your Mac will run faster (to an extent), but if you organize your files sensibly, you'll run faster.
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10.5: Create separators for the Finder's sidebar Desktop
I've been looking for something like this for a while, but couldn't manage to find anything, so I whipped something up myself. I really like the sidebar of the new Finder, but since there aren't any separators you can put in, it's hard to have things like sub-categories of the "Places" section, especially if you've got something like a second Applications folder.

Inspired by all the dock separator packs that are floating around, I mocked up a bunch of fake applications with line-drawing characters as their name, gave them a completely transparent icon, and then put those fake apps in the sidebar as separators.

I've gone ahead and packaged up a bunch of separators, and they can be downloaded from my site.
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10.5: Get the old desktop icon position behavior back Desktop
As mentioned in this hint, server icons will appear at the same position you left them when they were mounted the last time. For me, this is more of a bug than a feature, so I added the following command to a login script to get the good old behaviour back:
defaults delete com.apple.finder FXDesktopVolumePositions
This deletes the server icon positions every time you log in to your account, so the icons will appear in the good old order: At the next empty place from top right. Use at your own risk.
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10.5: Drag screen grabs from videos in Quick Look Desktop
If you're playing a video in Quick Look, you can pause the video, then click and hold on the displayed image, and drag a screenshot into another application, such as a TextEdit document in rich text mode. This doesn't work with other types of files, as best as I can tell.

[robg adds: You can also drag and drop the image onto a docked application icon, such as Preview.]
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10.5: Organize Automator workflows in Finder menu Desktop
I think this is only possible in 10.5, but you can now organize Automator workflows in the Finder's contextual menu. Go to ~Library » Workflows » Applications » Finder, create folders, then drag and drop your workflows into them to organize them.

This is very handy if you have a lot of workflows there (which I do).
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