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Refresh Finder windows via AppleScript Desktop
For a long time, I was very annoyed with the lack of a Refresh command in Finder windows, until I found out that I could force any Finder window to refresh just by creating a new folder and then deleting it. So I wrote the following simple script to automate it:
tell application "Finder"
  delete (make new folder at (front window))
end tell
I've added the script to the Finder toolbar, so that refreshing any Finder window takes just one click.
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Hide just the Sidebar via the keyboard Desktop
I don't know if this has been addressed, but I noticed that you can hide/show the Sidebar in a Finder window with this key combination:

Control-Option-Command-T

[robg adds: The Finder's View menu shows Command-Option-T, which hides the Toolbar and the Sidebar, but I can't find any mention of this method of hiding just the Sidebar. I also don't know if it works on 10.3 -- if someone can test it, please comment. For now, I have not marked it Tiger-only...]
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10.4: Avoid a Spotlight Command-F search issue Desktop
Tiger only hintThe other night, I was trying to explain to a buddy how I had used Spotlight to find the new intro movie in the Setup Assistant. Despite my step-by-step directions, he couldn't replicate what I was seeing. After a while, we gave up for the night. He came back the next day and told me he'd figured it out. After he walked me through the problem, I thought it was worth sharing here as a general heads-up that might catch you by surprise.

To see the issue for yourself, select your Pictures (or any) folder, and then hit Command-F. More than likely, the "bar" portion of the Find window will show Servers, Computer, Home, and (selected) Folder "Pictures." On his machine, though, he was seeing Server, Computers, (selected) Home, and Others. This made it really difficult for him to run a Spotlight search inside the package folder where we were digging -- his machine kept popping back up to his home folder. It's possible to work around this by using the Others button, and then dragging in the folder from the Finder, but that's a major hassle.

So what was the problem and the solution? In his Finder Preferences, he had enabled "Always open folders in a new window." With this setting enabled, when you hit Command-F, a new window opens, since the new Find is now really a folder. And since it's a new folder, it doesn't know anything about its parent, so it shows the default settings, with the highlighted item matching the Finder's settings for "New windows open in." So the fix was to, at least temporarily, disable the "Always open folders in a new window" option. Since most people I've met leave this disabled, you may not ever run into this glitch. I'm not sure it's a bug, but it's certainly not the behavior I was expecting, although it makes logical sense.

Update: This "feature" (and the setting that disables it) only seems to work in column-view windows. After testing based on the comment below, I found that both Icon and List views do not contain the currently selected folder as a Spotlight option. Yet another reason to use Column view, I guess! Can anyone else confirm this?]
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Use QuickTime 7 to preview VOB files in the Finder Desktop
Tiger only hintI was surprised to learn that QuickTime 7 (at least in Tiger) has the ability to open and display VOB (Video OBject, see note) files found on DVDs. These can also reside on your hard drive if, for example, you use a DVD authoring system such as DVD Studio Pro. This enables one to preview VOB files within the Finder, a very welcome change, indeed. This new capability extends also to encrypted (including commercial) DVDs.

Note: VOB files are muxed, meaning they contain both video and audio streams. For now, QuickTime simply displays the video information, leaving the sound stream inaudbile both in QuickTime Player and the Finder preview.
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10.4: Drag and drop text to dock icons Desktop
Tiger only hintNow in Tiger, you can drag text directly onto an app's icon in the dock.

For instance, drag text onto Safari's dock icon, and Safari does a Google search with the string of text. Drag text onto TextEdit, and it opens the application and creates a new document with the dragged text. Drag onto Mail to create a new message with that text, etc.
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10.4: Find items by name in the Finder Desktop
Tiger only hintIn the Mac OS X 10.4 Finder, enclosing the search string in double quotes (e.g. "42") will perform the search only on file names, similar to the search in previous versions of Mac OS X.

[robg adds: I'm not sure if this is a bug or a feature, but it definitely works. If it's a feature, then how do you search content for quoted text?]
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10.4: Login via Bluetooth keyboard when Bluetooth is off Desktop
Tiger only hintI have an Apple Wireless Keyboard, and I was logged in to OS X 10.4 when I accidentally switched Bluetooth off -- losing the connection to the keyboard. My screen saver kicked in a few minutes later, and I couldn't type my password on the keyboard. Nightmare!

However, I clicked the "Switch User..." button in the dialog box, and was taken to the login screen, where I was able to type in my password. It seems that Bluetooth is automatically switched on for the login window. Excellent!

[robg adds: I've marked this one 10.4 only, but only because I can't test it at all, as I don't have a Bluetooth keyboard at home. If you can test this in 10.3 and/or 10.4, please post your results in the comments...]
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10.4: Find emails and contacts in Smart Folders Desktop
Tiger only hintSmart folders don't return emails or contacts, even though the Spotlight menu search does. To work around this limitation, open the Smart Folder in Property List Editor (or a text editor) and edit the "RawQuery" string, removing this text:
 && (kMDItemContentType != com.apple.mail.emlx) 
 && (kMDItemContentType != public.vcard)
Note that the text is one continuous line; it's been shown here on two lines for a narrower display. You can also modify this string to build complex boolean queries that the GUI doesn't support, as has been discussed in other hints...
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10.4: Reposition the control bar in Finder Slideshows Desktop
Tiger only hintIn 10.4, when you start a slide show from Finder (highlight the photos you want and control-click, then pick Slideshow), you can move the control bar that shows up at the bottom of the screen.

All you have to do is click on it somewhere other than the buttons and drag it to where you want it. For better or for worse, the position resets the next time.
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10.4: Update Weather widget in the background Desktop
Tiger only hintNormally, Tiger's weather widget only updates when the widget screen is active. This is a rather poor implementation that causes a bit of frustration for people who casually just peek at the weather, but appears to have been intentional.

A minor modification to the widget's underlying Javascript (commenting out four lines of code) will enable the widget to update when the widget display is not active (e.g. in the background). Control-click on the Weather widget in /Library/Widgets and choose Show Package Contents. In the new window that opens, open Weather.js in your favorite text editor. There are two areas to change: the onshow and onhide functions. To find this area, search for function onshow (); the two functions are right next to each other.

In the onshow function, comment out these two lines, as shown:
    //if (timer != null)
    //    clearInterval(timer);
Just below that, in the onhide function, comment out these two lines, again as shown:
    //clearInterval(timer);
    //timer = null;
Save the file, quit the editor, open the widget and hit Command-R, and you should have a constantly-updated widget.

[robg adds: I edited this hint relatively extensively (it originally was a diff of the before and after), so any mistakes are mine. That said, I used these instructions to do the edits, so I'm pretty sure they're right. You'll need to have root abilities to edit this file -- so if you're working in the Finder, you'll need to use Get Info to change its permissions first, and remember to change them back when you're done. In the Terminal, just use sudo to edit with root capabilities.Remember to make a backup before you edit, though in this case, the changes are easy enough to undo...]
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