I work with UNIX servers in my day job, and love having X11 on my Mac systems. Unfortunately, every now and then the Finder either crashes or is restarted for some reason. When that happens, any X11 applications minimized to the Dock disappear and can't be reactivated. You can see the application if you control-click on the X11 Dock icon, but if you select any of them, nothing happens.
I found that if I kill and restart quartz-wm then the hidden applications will reappear. Having had this happen to me several times, I came up with this quick fix. First, make a backup copy of /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.
Next, using sudo, edit the original, replacing this line at the bottom of the file:
Restart X11 after you make this change. Now, the next time the Finder dies/restarts and you find yourself with missing X11 windows, either open a new xterm from X11, or launch Terminal and run this on the command line:
This finds the process id (pid) of quartz-wm (and skips the pid of grep) and sends it to kill. In five seconds, quartz-wm will restart and all of your missing X11 apps should reappear. If this doesn't happen, then you have stubborn quartz-wm that doesn't want to die. Just repeat, but add the -KILL (same as -9) option to kill:
It happens to the best of us: Desktop clutter. Try as we might, we always end up with all sorts of files on our beautiful desktop, and if you're anything like me [ie: retentive], it irks you, but you live with it until you can no longer see any remnants of your wallpaper. Then you must finally go through the arduous process of manually filing all that clutter. No more!
Now I know there are lots of ways to keep desktop clutter to a minimum, like changing default download folders, etc. However, I didn't want to sacrifice the convenience of working with archives, files, and such on the desktop in the short run. Instead, I created an Automator workflow (my first such endeavour) to automatically purge my desktop and file that mess for me, and it does the job very well!
This is what I did, you can obviously ammend it to suit your needs...
One thing that I've always missed from Classic was the Launcher (or folder tabs with button icons). Neither the launcher nor folder tabs were perfect and neither is this hint, but they accomplished a task somewhat efficiently: easy access to all applications.
I've found that I like to have single-click access via the Dock to all my applications, but given limited space, that's just not feasible. Navigating the Finder is just too much of a hassle for me. I also liked the way you could categorize applications in the Launcher (or folder tabs with button icons), so I have combined the two concepts with a pair of AppleScripts attached as folder actions.
It works like this. I create a folder analogous to the categories I could make in the old Launcher, and I populate it with aliases to applications. I put this folder in the Dock. I then decide on a default application: an application I want to launch if I click on the folder in the Dock. I then insert the appropriate code into an AppleScript, and attach it as a folder action.
I came upon a problem once of not being able to minimize windows into the dock. This problem occured several times and appeared to me to be random. I searched my guts out online trying to find an answer to my problem with no results. I even contacted Apple and still got nothing. So I just lived with it for a while. Whenever it happened, any window that was currently open would not minimize, but newly opened windows would. So I would just have to close whatever windows were open and re-open them, which was a pain.
Then one day I figured it out. The problem is caused by some programs that display full-screen and change the resolution, namely video games. Whenever I exit these types of program, the problem occurs. The fix I found was to open up any QuickTime movie, hit Command-F to go to fullscreen mode, then close the movie. After that, voila, the problem was solved.
After a Finder crash, I found that I had two instances of the Desktop in the Save dialog box, but only one in the regular Finder sidebar. To fix the problem, simply delete the preferences file named com.apple.sidebarlists.plist, found in your user's Library/Preferences folder.
This might sound silly, but I went looking in all the wrong places (like com.apple.finder.plist) first.
I subscribe to far-too-many podcasts now, and I've found that most of the podcasters can actually be cleanly understood even if you speed up their speech by 50%. So, when my iTunes shows that I have 45 minutes left on a podcast, and I'd rather hear that in 30 minutes, I pull down my script menu to reveal and execute the following AppleScript (saved in my user's Library -> Scripts -> Applications -> iTunes folder as Play this song at 1.5x):
tell application "iTunes"
set my_track to location of current track
set my_seconds to player position
tell application "QuickTime Player"
set my_movie to first movie
set ts to time scale of my_movie
set current time of my_movie to my_seconds * ts
set rate of my_movie to 1.5 -- starts playing
Basically, this tells iTunes to stop playing the podcast, figures out where I am in the podcast, then tells QuickTime Player to start playing the podcast at the same place (within a second), but at 1.5 times the speed. Note that the pitch is unaffected -- only the playback rate changes.
I haven't done a lot of testing with what happens when you have multiple windows already open in Quicktime Player, so I could be wrong on guessing my_movie in the script. Feedback welcome!
Occasionally, I would find several items left in my trash that would not empty. Even delete commands with tools like Onyx did nothing. I then found the cure: grab all the items in the trash, and drag them to the Desktop. Then return the icons to the trash, and empty the trash. The files are gone!
The Mac has always had an easy way to trace back to the original file of an alias. Select the alias in the Finder and choosing 'Show Original' from the File menu (or just hit Command-R), and the Finder will highlight the original file. What I did not realize until recently is that this functionality also extends to multiple files.
So, if you have aliases to several files, say, in a Burn Folder, and you click 'Show Original,' the Finder will highlight all the original files. If the original files are in the same folder, they will all be highlighted in one window. If they reside in different folders, each of these folders will open in a new window with the original items highlighted. This saves a lot of time and brainpower if you want to label -- or perform any action -- on multiple files in your Burn Folder, or any other folder full of aliases.
Maybe this was obvious to most people, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise to me.
So, what is the perfect outliner? I wanted it to be project related. Ideas and project files should be organized in one simple way. I tested many outliners, but they all had the same problem: some stuff stays in the Finder (important but unsupported project files like Freehand, Illustrator etc.) and other stuff (ideas, mindmaps, notes...) goes into the outliner.
So you need the Finder for the project files, and the outliner as a conceptional layer. That just didn't feel right. I think the Finder is still the best way to organize files and folders for projects. So I just needed some way to store text and multimedia in one file inside these project folders ... and there is a somewhat obvious way: .rtfd files.
These are textfiles with the option to store any Apple-supported media files within them. Movies, pictures, bookmarks, you name it. Now every project folder contains a folder with the cheesy name projectname__ideas. I made the name unique with the two underscores. Later you will see why. Inside is one (or more) .rtfd file containing notes, tables, bulleted lists, pictures, movies, basically all project-related stuff.
But what about a nice sorted overview of all ideas, like in a classic outliner application? Well, I just saved a Finder search for the term __ideas. Thanks to Spotlight, you get a nice list of all folders whose title includes __ideas. Thanks to the unique naming with the underscores, only the expected folders were found by Spotlight.
That's all I need for my outlining needs: a folder-based project structure with all contextual information in one place, and a quick overview of all that information. What's missing is some inline view of the .rtfd files to make this concept perfect. But I really believe that the future of the Finder will include the ability to work with even more metadata, to make it a nice tool for organizing all your data in one place. The ultimate outliner.
I am not sure if people are aware of this, but I discovered it completely by accident. Go to the Finder, click on a file and open the file's Get Info window (Command-I, via the contextual menus, or File: Get Info). Look for a triangle next to the Preview section, and click on the triangle so it is pointing downward. Now here are some things to try...
If you hold down the Option key and move the icon, it will copy the file to the dragged location. If you simply drag it to a new location, the file will be moved to that location. You can even drop files onto an application icon and open files associated with the icon. If you double-click on the icon, the document will open up in its chosen application.
It appears that the Preview section has all the properties associated with a file in a Finder window, except for a contextual menu.
[robg adds: This worked for me on everything other than movie files. With a movie file, the Preview area is a small QuickTime player showing the movie itself, and I wasn't able to do anything with this, other than watch the video.]