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10.4: Stop in-progress Finder Spotlight searches Desktop
I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but I sure have and it drives me crazy: You open a Finder window and enter a search term in the little search bubble in the upper right section of the toolbar. Spotlight starts doing it's thing, finding items and adding them to the list in the window. When you see the item you're looking for, you select it, but Spotlight's still looking and dynamically updating the list, and your selection keeps moving around. You've found the item you're looking for, but Spotlight, not knowing any better, dutifully keeps looking.

You can stop the Spotlight search by clicking the small "X" in the bottom right corner of the window. Or better yet, you can do this via the key combo Command-. (the period). This will cause Spotlight to stop its search and stop updating the window, leaving only the current, incomplete results viewable, after which you can make your selection without having it moved out of view.

[robg adds: Yes, this may be obvious to some (most?), but I asked two buddies in iChat, and neither they nor I had even noticed the X, nor had we tried Command-. to stop a search. If only this worked for standard Command-Space Spotlight searches -- you can stop the search with Command-., but the in progress results are cleared.]
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A script to create uniquely-named screenshots Desktop
There are a few hints to manage screenshots, such as this one, but with the advent of the command-line screencapture command, this doesn't need to be so hard or complicated. What was I trying to do? I wanted to...
  1. Save each screenshot with a unique name
  2. Save the screenshot into ~/Pictures/
It turns out that this is simple to do with a shell script, which I made into an application using Script Editor and launch using LaunchBar.

This AppleScript will prompt you (as does Shift-Command-4) to select some area to be captured. When captured, it will be saved to your user's Pictures folder, with the name as "Screenshot YYYY-MM-DD_hour.minute.second.png," and opened in Preview.app.

[robg adds: This previous hint used a script to grab a shot and open it immediately. This version adds the unique naming convention and changes the save location, and the script worked as described in my testing.]
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Set desktop picture via drag and drop Desktop
If you want to quickly change your desktop picture to a random image you have somewhere on your Mac, you can simply drag that image into the desktop image preview panel in the Desktop tab of the Desktop & Screen Saver System Preferences panel (see image at right). I find this much easier than adding a folder to the list and scrolling through to find the photo you wish to use.

[robg adds: This older hint referenced a simple app you could use to do this for you -- drag and drop to the app, and the desktop image was set. It doesn't appear, however, that the app is available any longer. I also thought we had this method documented here already, but I couldn't find it, so here it is!]
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Strange facts about copy and paste of Finder items Desktop
Today, I stumbled on this tip from Apple's Pro Tip of the Week page -- it explains how to copy a filename only, instead of the entire object, when copying things in the Finder (enter edit mode for the filename, then copy). But what this tip do not mention is:
  1. If you copy and paste a folder to a Mail message, you will send a sort of alias that, if clicked, will open the same folder on receiver's computer.
  2. If you copy anything to TextEdit, you will get a low-res icon of the item you pasted. In fact, this is not a normal icon, as you are pasting the entire item -- application or alias (in case of folder).
  3. If you paste an item to a place (field in a form or text editor) that can't receive rich-formatted items, then you will get the item's name.
[robg adds: I'm pretty sure we have the second item above in a hint here somewhere, but I couldn't find it with a quick search.]
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Easily copy all versions and sizes of a file's icon Desktop
Here's an easy way to create a copy of all sizes of a file's icon from the Finder:
  1. Select the file whose icon you want to copy.
  2. Copy it (using the Edit menu, Command-C, or the contextual menu).
There's no need to open a Get Info window first; just copy the selected file. You can then put this into a .icns file using Preview's File -> New from Clipboard command (Command-N). This method includes all sizes and alpha channels -- you get everything. And from there, you can save as TIFF or PNG or any other format.

Saving to TIFF will keep all the images (TIFF supports multiple images per file, and Preview takes advantage of this). When you save to any other format, such as PNG, you can choose any of the representations in the drawer. Whichever one is selected is the one that will be saved.
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10.4: Print a folder's contents via Automator Desktop
On numerous occasions, I've been asked by my PC-using colleagues if there was a way to print out the contents of a folder. My quick hack usually involved hitting the Print Screen button with Windows Explorer open on the specified folder, and then pasting the image into word processor for printing.

Automator makes it easy to get the contents of any folder on a Mac as a text file ready for printing, batch processing or any other purpose.

First, open Automator and from the list of Finder Actions, double click on Get Selected Finder Items (or drag it from the Action list to the right side of the window). Then, double click on Get Folder Contents, and finally, double click on New Text File from the list of TextEdit Actions.

For more flexibility, under the New Text File action's options, check Show Action When Run and Show Selected Items with both Save As and Where options checked. The Finder will in return, ask you where to save the file and how to name it.

Save the action as a Finder plug-in, and control-click on any folder in the Finder to run your newly-created action from the contextual menu. The contents of specified folder will be saved in a text file (one item per line), incredibly useful in certain situations. (Now, if scripting is your niche, I also find it useful to trim the path of the file and keep the names only...)

[robg adds: As an alternative, we've covered printing folder contents via drag-and-drop to a desktop printer icon before. For more advanced Finder window printing needs, I'm partial to Print Window.]
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Fix multiple ghost aliases in the Finder's sidebar Desktop
For some strange reason, my Finder sidebar started to add aliases by itself. Sometimes it would duplicate multiple copies of aliases a few times, but these duplicates were actually just ghost aliases, but it still slowed down the Finder.

Finally, I trashed the file com.apple.sidebarlists.plist, and that solved the problem. Here's the path to the file:
~/Users/Home/Library/Preferences/com.apple.sidebarlists.plist
[robg adds: This is probably a somewhat isolated incident (I've never seen such issues on my Macs), but for those who are having similar sidebar issues, knowing the name of the file to remove will save a bit of time.]
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Create a keyboard-shortcut for Show Package Contents Desktop
In case you're new to the Mac, let me give you a bit of a background. In the Mac OS X filing system, there are some special kinds of folders that are treated like files. These folders-treated-as-files are known as packages. A Pages document, for example, is actually a folder package. So are most applications.

At times, it can be advantageous to see the contents of these packages, and you can do that by control-clicking on the package and choosing 'Show Package Contents' from the pop-up menu, or by selecting the package and clicking on the Action button in the Finder's toolbar and selecting 'Show Package Contents.' Enter my dilemma. As a long-time Mac user, whenever I need to navigate through the filesystem, I usually use keyboard shortcuts such as starting to type the name of the file/folder I want to navigate to or through. However, there is no keyboard shortcut to reveal the contents of packages, and since the command is not found in the Finder's menu bar, I can't easily create one through System Preferences.

The solution: Automator and AppleScript with GUI Scripting.
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10.4: Set desktop picture via Automator Desktop
I was stumped by how to quickly establish a picture as a Desktop background image. After some thought, I have created an interesting solution. First, launch Automator, in your Applications folder. Once it's running, choose File -> New (if necessary) to give yourself a blank working slate.

Then follow these steps to create your new Desktop picture changing application:
  1. Choose File -> New
  2. In the Library column, choose Applications -> Finder.
  3. In the Action column, double-click on the Get Specified Finder Items entry.
  4. In the same Action column, double-click on the Set the Desktop Picture item.
  5. Now choose File -> Save As. Here we type the name, for example Picture to Desktop, and below in the File Format drop-down list, change Workflow to Application.
  6. Specify any place to save file. For example, your Home directory.
  7. Open your Home directory. It is possible (with the Get Info window for the new file) to paste a new icon onto the application, in case you don't want the default Automator icon.
  8. Don't close your Home directory, and then drag your new application to the Dock.
There you go! Now the Desktop wallpaper is established by simply dragging an image onto the Dock icon for your new application.

The program reacts to files which are not the images as follows: it deletes existing wallpapers, and does not put anything in exchange -- simply a screen of continuous color. It is possibly to get rid of this issue, if between Get Specified Finder Items and Set the Desktop Picture you insert the Filter Finder Items Action, and list the corresponding filters for image files.

[robg adds: In my testing, the results were somewhat inconsistent -- sometimes this script worked, sometimes it didn't. I tried using various methods of getting the Finder selection, but everything I tried had the same issue. I'm not sure if it's something particular to my setup, or just a not-quite-there implementation of setting the desktop picture via Automator.]
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Remove the dot extension from folder names Desktop
Sometimes I'd download some file that, after unzipping, will create a folder named something like coolapp 1.2. I often rename the folders to my liking, so I'd click on the folder's name in the Finder and rename it to something like coolappfolder. However, the Finder would try to keep the .2 file extension, and would return the folder's new name as coolappfolder.2. This didn't seem right to me, so I tried a few more times, and sure enough, the Finder would always keep the dot.X extension.

So, here's the hint ... rather than making a new folder called coolappfolder and moving the contents of the coolappfolder.2 into it, you can simply use Get Info (Command-I), and rename the folder in the Name & Extension field. Voila! The silly folder extension is gone gone dot gone.

[robg adds: In testing, I couldn't replicate this issue, but I'm not sure which version of OS X the poster is using, so perhaps this affects something other than 10.4.7.]
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