Smart Folders offer a lot of possibilities. Here's how I'm using them to track my current projects.
I have created a Smart Folder and labeled it Current Task Items -- it pulls in all files (or folders) that I am currently working on. For instance, I have a contract in Microsoft Word that needs review, a PSD image of a postcard that I am designing for a client, and an index.html page that I need to update on my personal webpage. The problem is that I have those files scattered all over my computer.
I have set the color label "red" as my "current taks items" and then I make sure to label all my current task items in red. Finally, I created a Smart Folder to search for any items with the color label of red. Voila, I have everything within a click.
When I'm done with the current item, I open my Smart Folder, de-color that item, and it's gone. Have fun smarting away!
[robg adds: This is a simple example of how Smart Folders can be used. I don't intend to run a whole series of "here's my favorite smart folder" hints, but I thought this one might give some less-experienced users some ideas. If you have a favorite use for Smart Folders, add your usage in the comments...]
OK, this is a very simple hint, but I've been using Tiger for nearly a week now and only found this by accident. It completely blew me away, so I thought I'd share it for the other 'mere mortals' out there.
If you select a range of graphic files in the Finder, you can control-click on the selection and choose "Slideshow" from the popup menu. This brings up an iPhoto-like slide show of the images. This is amazingly useful to me as a product designer, I have hundreds of images that I need to routinely review, and this makes it very easy to go through them.
But wait, there's more! If you click on the "Index sheet" icon in the controller at the bottom of the screen, you get an Exposť-like effect wherein all of the images are shown at once. This is gold to me, as I review lots of documents and need to pick just one from a range. Windows XP has had an image view for folders, and I was lusting even after that, but this is much better. This appears to work only for graphics files, including Photoshop, but it doesn't work for PDF files (single or multi page).
You can now Control-click (or Right-click) on items in the Sidebar in the Finder and perform a number of actions on them. For example, you can click on a volume and eject it, or 'Open Enclosing Folder,' etc. Very handy.
[robg adds: This was one of my bigger complaints about the 10.3 sidebar; items put there were essentially useless, other than for clicking. Now you can do most anything to a Sidebar item via its contextual menu. The Desktop item even has an entry for Change Desktop Background, which takes you to the Desktop & Screen Saver System Preferences panel.]
For those who use Fink and had modified /.hidden so that Fink's /sw folder wasn't visible in the Finder, you'll probably have noticed that /.hidden is gone in 10.4.
Actually, this signals good things. The 'invisible' attribute on files is properly respected by the Finder again. So to make /sw (or any folder) vanish, simply install the Developer Tools, open the Terminal, and do this:
I haven't really read about anyone using the "Other..." option in the query field of a Finder Search. In Finder, open up a window and type Command-F to get the search. Then pop-up one of the query buttons with "Kind", etc, and choose "Other..." at the bottom. There are dozens of kinds of query types, and you can add favorite ones to the main menu. An interesting one is "Raw Query," which lets you type in mdfind-style command-line queries!
If you select a favorite file and in the Terminal do mdls filename, where you replace filename with the name of the file you're interested in, you can see the attribute types that MacOS tracks. Looking at a Quicktime movie, for instance, I see 30 attributes that are currently maintained automatically for us. These include the name, the codec used ("Motion JPEG A"), when the file was created, when it was last accessed, when it was last modified, when its attributes (as opposed to content) were last modified, its kind ("Quicktime Movie"), its media type (Video), its pixel height and width, its bitrate, and much more. (You can add your own metadata in several ways, including using Get Info's Spotlight Comment field.)
For example, to find all movies that are nine seconds or longer, use this raw query:
mMDItemDurationSeconds >= 9.0
As you can see, this is very powerful...
[robg adds: I realize many of the Spotlight query hints I've run are somewhat similar, have overlapping content, etc. But for now, since it's both so new and so powerful, I feel it's best to get as many tips out there as I can that have at least some amount of unique content. Apologies in advance if I mess up and publish a true duplicate or two!]
Once you've used F12 to view your opened Dashboard widgets, it's a pain to have to grab the mouse and click the "+" sign to open the Dashboard bar to see the others.
Thankfully there's a keyboard shortcut: Command-equal. This will toggle the Dashboard bar on and off.
[robg adds: This seems to be yet another undocumented keyboard shortcut -- I searched Help quite extensively, and the only mention of Dashboard keys I could find was for F12. There's also nothing in the Keyboard & Mouse preferences panel. Unfortunately, once you have the dashboard bar up, there seems to be no non-mouse method of choosing a widget (anyone find a way?). Still, it's nice not having to reach for the "+" sign all the time.]
I prefer to use the same view to see a folder. The problem is that you can only set it on a folder-by-folder basis in the Finder. It's really painfull to go in to each and one of them to change it.
In Tiger, you can use Automator to do this for you. Drag your home folder to an empty Automator workflow. Search in Automator for "folder view" and drag the "Set folder views" action to your workflow. Set up the desired view, and click "Apply changes to sub-folders". Click the run button, and you're done -- though it might take a while to run.
Whenever I try to find a file in Tiger, as I could with Panther's Command-F, I get too many results -- Spotlight shows me too many things I don't need. So every time I hit Command-F, I need to reconfigure the search options to find Name Contains. What a pain!
But I found a way to get the old "Name Contains" default search back, using PlistEdit Pro 1.1.2. First, navigate to this file: /System: Library: CoreServices: Finder, then Control-click on the Finder and continue navigating to Contents: Resources: default_smart.plist. Make a backup of the file before you do anything else.
Now replace all the text in that file with this text. Save the modified file, and restart the Finder. You can do that with Activity Monitor, or by Option-click-and-hold on the Finder icon in the dock. After a restart, you'll find that Command-F defaults to the 'Name Contains' search criteria.
[robg adds: I have edited this hint's writeup (but not the code) extensively -- OmiElGato is not a native English speaker, and I wanted to make sure that this hint was understandable by everyone, as it's clearly one of my favorite 10.4 tips thus far. I really hate the new Command-F behavior in the Finder, but that's a rant for another day. I don't have PlistEdit Pro, so I implemented the tip a bit differently -- I just used the Terminal. The only slight trickery (apart from needing to use sudo) is that the plist file needs to be converted to/from binary and XML to be worked on, as described in this hint. Once you have it in straight text, you can use vi or your favorite editor to make the changes. To change the default "contains" text from , change the string value What_File_you_need_By_OmiElGato to whatever you want. If you use my method, remember to convert back to binary when you're done editing ... and regardless of how you try this, please make a backup of the file before you start...]