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Synch your Palm with Palm Desktop 4.0 Desktop
At last! Palm have released version 4.0 of Palm Desktop - which has allowed me to sync my Palm m515 five times so far without crashing, timing out or corrupting my Palm Desktop file. Prior to this update only one sync out of five would be even vaguely successful.

Definitely worth the download for any OS X / Palm users out there...

[Editor's note: I don't normally post standard software announcements, and this one is slightly "old news" by now, but it's worth mentioning given the large number of Palm users out there. Palm 4.0 works very nicely, especially when compared to the beta. I connect via Keyspan USB to serial connector on two different machines. I had mixed success, at best, with the beta, but have had 100% success with the new final code. I was waiting to publish this story until I had some time to test more extensively. Now that I've run the thing a number of times on three different machines, I'm now confident that this is a good release.]
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Activate a Finder window with the keyboard Desktop
The new global "command+h" shortcut means that I regularly switch to the Finder without clicking on a Finder window. This often results in my being presented with a Finder window which is not active.

Not wanting to have to reach for the mouse, I wanted a keyboard shortcut that would make the frontmost finder window active. There does not appear to be a built-in shortcut for this purpose. However, I found the the following achieves the desired effect:

"command+~" (tilde) followed by "esc"

It's not rocket science but it's handy.
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A quick fix script for a column view bug Desktop
I've been working around a strange bug in the Mac OS X Finder with an AppleScript for quite some time now. Most users don't notice the bug at all, but I do. Rather than describe it, follow these steps and see it for yourself:
  1. Make a new Finder window
  2. Set its view style to column
  3. Adjust the column width/s with the slider, making them wider together
  4. Leave the window open and log out
  5. Log back in. At this point, your window will be open, but its columns will be at OS X's default widths.
  6. Close that window
  7. Open a new Finder window (should default to column view now)
Now, you'll see your custom widths respected. It just seems to affect the first window you make or see that's in column view. This bothers me, honestly, and I wrote a tiny -- and really dim-witted -- AppleScript to get around the problem.

Read the rest of the article for the script...
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Debugging a Word v.X crash problem Desktop
For some time, I'd been battling with Word 'Unexpectedly Quitting' on me as it launched. The only help I could find was on the Microsoft Support site where it is suggested that Toast, a corrupted Normal template, or corrupted fonts might be the problem.

I had tried deleting font directories (as suggested) and also had replaced all my fonts from a friend's computer - to no avail. On a tip, I created a new user, logged in and found that Word worked perfectly. This meant that the problem was somewhere in Word's user settings for my primary user.

I dug down and found Word keeps two files in
/Users/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/
called Word Font Substitutes and Word Settings (10). I deleted both of these and Word started perfectly, re-generating the files. After closer analysis I discovered that it was Word Settings (10) which had caused the problem.
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Create a one-click cursor location pop-up menu Desktop
If you miss things like the old OS 9 Now Menus and you're into customization, you can combine USB Overdrive and Proteron MaxMenus in an interesting way.

MaxMenus lets you assign a keystroke, like a function key, to cause a custom menu to appear. USB Overdrive lets you assign a keystroke to all those extra mouse buttons on things like the MS Intellimouse. If you tell USB Overdrive to "type" the same keystroke that you have assigned to a MaxMenu, what you have is a custom popup menu that appears directly under your cursor when you click the appropriate mouse button!

I use this in two ways: The middle button (wheel) gives me a popup list of running applications; this is a nearly instantaneous way to switch into another running application. Furthermore, if you hold down command-option this autohides all the other applications when you switch. Second, I have button four assigned to show all all mounted volumes; this gives you a complete file browser that appears at the click of a button.

Theoretically, this can give an amazing amount of flexibility, since USB Overdrive can be configured to map different keystrokes to mouse buttons depending on which application you are in. This gives the bewildering prospect of custom popup menus that are application specific. I haven't thought of a use for that yet, but would be interested to hear if others do.

[Editor's note: Cool trick ... I may have to download and register USB Overdrive!]
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Create aliases to retain toolbar server icons Desktop
You know how you can have an icon in your toolbar that brings up your iDisk with no password or "connect to server with the Go menu" business? Well I wanted to have the same functionality on my TiBook connecting to my other systems around the house.

Originally I went through the basic "Go" menu method and made sure that my password is automatically accessed on my Keychain. Then once the server was up, I dragged its icon to the toolbar. The problem was that it reverted to a question mark whenever not connected. Since I reduced my toolbar to icon only, when there are several servers there's no way to tell which is which.

So what I did was make an alias of the mounted server and drag that alias somewhere generic (I stuck it in the general Documents folder at the top level). Then just drag the alias up to the toolbar and, presto! You have the server's original icon retained even after disconnection. Clicking on the icon skips all the other connection windows including password because I put it on the keychain. So in one click I have whichever drive on my other computers pop right up.

One thing is that because you're clicking on the alias, it brings up the drive's contents as a descendent of the alias under whatever directory you are storing them in (ie. in column view). The drive also appears in its usual place at the top of the hierarchy and functions as normal.
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Command-option-drag files in open and save dialogs Desktop
as a user who doesn't have nor want a scrollwheel equipped mouse, i was quite happy when finding this one: in every "open file" and "save file" dialog in os x, you can press command-alt for scrolling in the columns by dragging the contents up and down.

at the same time all clicks still select the item you are over, which means that it's very easy to select multiple items which are not viewable at once and would require scrolling to see the next.

this way you don't have to go back to the scrollbar over and over again when choosing multiple items distributed in a folder with many documents or finding a certain item.

[Editor's note: We published a hint on doing this in column view a while back, but no mention was made of the fact that it works in open and save dialogs as well.]
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Turn web browser images into custom icons Desktop
You can create a custom icon by copying any image from a web browser's window [with OmniWeb: Right Click:Copy image to clipboard], and pasting it into the Finder's Show Info window of any file.

Cool.

[Editor's note: This trick is old-hat to many Mac users, but it's probably new to a number of readers here. The expansion of this, of course, is that any image on your clipboard can be pasted to create a custom icon.]
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Fix the script menu icon Desktop
Someone over at the AppleScript Discussion boards grumbled about the lousy black icon that
ScriptMenu.menu
displays. He also mentioned that when you click-hold on it, a perfecly good icon shows up ... that got me thinking that maybe somebody accidently swapped the icon and the mask file names. So here's how to switch them:
  1. 1) find ScriptMenu.menu on your hard drive.
  2. click-hold on it and select "Show package contents"
  3. navigate to ScriptMenu.menu/Contents/Resources
  4. make backups of these two files (in case you want to put it back the other way or doing the hack causes some unforseen problem): 9likemenumask2.tiff and blackmask2.tiff
  5. swap their filenames
  6. log out, log back in
Now the black mask will be used when you click and hold, and the whitish one will be the default.

[Editor's note: I'm not sure if they're reversed or not; ScriptMenu.menu looks and behaves just like the other menubar additions I have ... but if it bothers you, certainly no harm should come from swapping a couple of TIFF filenames around!]
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Create your own customized screensavers Desktop
Like OS X's built in screen savers? Got a bunch of photos or some artwork you'd like to turn into a screen saver? Don't want to switch between different folders using the 'Slide Show' option every time? So make your own screensaver!

OS X's built-in screen savers come in two flavors, bundles with some config files, or a bundle with true executable code inside. We're going to grab one of the first kind, and replace its image resources with our own artwork.

Read the rest of the article for the how-to...

[Editor's note: You should be reasonably comfortable with privileges and the terminal before proceeding. I haven't tried this myself yet, but it seems very straightforward and I'll give it a try later this week.]
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