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Permanently change non-Home folder views Desktop
Mac OS X folders outside the Home folder don't seem to remember their view settings, such as list view or icon positions. The reason is that they are owned by root, and only the owner can make permanent changes. Login as root, and your settings will stick.

[Editor's note: I have not tried this myself yet, mainly because I hardly ever open a folder any more :-). But if you do use folder views, it makes sense that only the owner would have permission to change the view settings...]
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Resize-to-fit all column-view columns Desktop
Here is a handy tip for Finder column view junkies (like myself). If you double click on a column resize widget, all columns will resize to the width of the longest named item in that column. I find this trick especially useful when looking for items with long names that are similar - like Preferences.

[Editor's note: Thousands of hours with OS X, over a thousand tips published here, a guidebook out the door ... and I had never tried this! Amazing ... thanks Buddha!]
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Creative ideas for your desktop Desktop
Head on over to ResExcellence's snapshot section to get some ideas for your OS X desktop.

What's exceptionally nice is that they have links to the programs you see being used in the snapshot, so you can find out all sorts of useful programs people are using on their machines.

[Editor's note: And if you'd like to put your OS X box in the holiday spirit, make sure you check out Xmas Lights, Wreath in Dock, and Sno ... I was going to post these as a separate tip, but it seems to go with the "customize your desktop" theme of this hint! I have added the ResExcellence snapshot site to the links page as well.]
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Quick access to Favorites and OS 9 apps Desktop
Two tips to speed up navigation in OS X:
  1. This tip allows quick and tidy access to files using the AppleScript menubar. It avoids having to go through the Finder to open your Favorites folder and once the item is opened, there is no Finder window left open.

    Simply open the script in Script editor and change the path to that of your Favorites folder (ie "Macintosh HD:Users:your user name:Documents:Library:Favorites"). Save the script into your AppleScript menubar scripts folder (yourdisk:Users:YourName:Library:Scripts) and you now have quick and tidy access to the files in your favorites folder. I also use this script a lot for FTP bookmarks. Just change the referenced folder in the script.

  2. On my PowerBook G3 400Mhz, it takes up to five seconds for the icons to appear in a long pop-up list. This can be annoying if you are used to using the Apple Menu a lot for launching apps. Even with Classic Menu, it seems to take forever. The solution: I created a folder of aliases to my OS 9 Apps folder in the Library:Scripts folder of my user's folder. Now the list of apps pops up really quickly when I select it in the AppleScript menu (this only works if there are no folders in the aliases folder).
Screenshots and downloads for both tips are available here:
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Create a root desktop Desktop
You can have two desktops (one for root, one for your normal user) in the same Mac OS X session by using this small trick I found while trying a previously published tip on running the Finder as root. That hint does not seem to work in 10.1.1, possibly due to the Security Update.
  1. Copy from /System/Library/CoreServices/ to your user's Applications directory (/Users/user_name/Applications; you may have to create this folder if it does not exist). Do not copy the Classic application also named Finder; the one you want is around 5mb in size.

  2. Rename the file with a different name (say rootfinder) and change the icon.

  3. In the terminal, execute the application by typing:
    sudo /Users/user_name/Applications/ &
    Enter your password when prompted, and replace user_name with your user's short username. "Open -a rootfinder" from terminal doesn't start the Finder as root, and so it won't bring up two desktops.
That's it! The Finder starts as root (you can move/delete any file) and comes up with a new desktop.

If you have ASM, you can switch between the two Finders and you will find the desktop picture and Finder preferences changes when you switch. You cannot switch using the dock as rootfinder does not appear in the dock. The only way to get rid of the root finder is to force quit.

[Editor's notes: As cautioned earlier, be careful when using a root Finder. You can do all sorts of bad things to your system with this trick! I experimented with this a fair bit, and had some mixed results. I was able to launch the root Finder with the simpler "sudo open -a ~/Applications/", but this gave me a different desktop picture than did the above method -- yet both images were different than my standard user's desktop! Also, if you have DragThing you can switch between the two Finders and quit either one of them via the Process Dock. My desktop picture would NOT switch when switching back and forth between environments. Lastly, please be careful if you're going to try this hint! This is clearly a hint that falls in the 'experimental' category!]
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Move files in one column-view window Desktop
With the new Finder, some things are different in OS X. Let's say you're copying files within the Finder. Most people would say that you need two Finder windows open. However, you don't neccessarily, which is nice (at least for me since I like it as "clean" as possible).

Okay, let's suppose you're in column view in your Documents folder. You just created a new folder inside the Docs folder for Recipes. Now you wish to move all your recipes lying around in the Doc folder into that new folder. It can be tedious to move them from one Finder window to another or to make the column terribly long or to drag the item along the scroll bar to move up or down.

Just select the target folder (one click). It'll show up to the right (its content, that is). Now select the doc you wish to move and drop it to the right. You only have to make sure that you don't actually click the doc (or any item), but keep the mouse button down and only release it over the open folder to the right. So, very often, you'll just need one Finder window.

[Editor's note: You can traverse as far up the hierarchy as you can see using this method. Grab a file from three columns back and drag it into the far right column to move it there. Or release it on any of the folders displayed in the in-between columns. This is much harder to describe than to actually do, so just experiment a little bit to see how it works.]
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Make folders invisible in the Finder Desktop
If you wish to hide certain portions of your system in the Finder, open a terminal session and type:
sudo pico /.hidden
After putting in your password, it will open a file in pico with a list of folders. Adding any folder to this list will hide it. For instance, for some reason Mac OS 9's "temporary items" folder is not hidden by default, so by modifying .hidden, it can be.

If you want to access a hidden file or folder in the finder, choose "Go to Folder..." from the Go menu, or create an alias before you hide the folder.

I've hidden everything but my users, Applications and Applications(Mac OS 9) folders in the root. It really cleans up the root folder, and I can still access everything. I cannot get a .hidden file to work in my Home folder, though. If anyone knows how, I would like to hide my Desktop Folder.

[Editor's note: This is essentially the opposite of a hint posted a while back that explains how to use .hidden to make things visible in the Finder.]
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An AppleScript to create dual Finder windows Desktop
Here is the most useful Applescript I have found yet. It will open two Finder windows stacked above one another in a similar fashion to Rob's preferred Finder set-up as described in his guide. The beauty of this script (or an appropriately modified version of it) is that it can be launched from the dock at any time to give you your own preferred Finder window set-up.

I found the original script on Apple's Applescript site, which is well worth a visit if you haven't been there lately!

This particular script is designed for people who like to have two finder windows in column view stacked one above the other, filling a large portion of the screen. Download the script from my iTools web site.

Read the rest of this article for the source of the script, as well as some comments on tweaking it for your particular machine.
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Put the date in the menubar Desktop
Inspired by the "internationalize your menubar clock date" hack, here's the "put the date right in your menubar" hack.

It effectively changes the "show the day of the week" option for the menubar clock to "show the day of the week and date". For example, mine now says "Mon Nov 26 2001 5:40 AM"

Here's how to do it ... (if you're cautious, back up or just Clock)
  1. Fire up Terminal
  2. cd /System/Library/CoreServices/Menu\ Extras/
    sudo perl -p -i -e "s/%a /%x /" Clock
  3. type in your admin password, obviously, for 'sudo'. If you are typing by hand, be extra sure to include the space after "%a" and the space after "%x".

  4. Logout and back in (or kill SystemUIServer, if you're into that sort of thing).
Voila! Make sure that the "Show the day of the week" option is checked in System Preferences/Date & Time/Menu Bar Clock. Unfortunately, because it's such a low-level hack, there's no straightforward way to change the format of the date.

To put it back, change to the same directory and do:
sudo perl -p -i -e "s/%x /%a /" Clock
This is tested to work under 10.1.1. It should work fine on other versions, but no guarantees.

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See the login window in slow-motion Desktop
Of course we all use the control-shift-click-trick every time we minimize a window to see the glory of Mac OS X in slow-motion. But I have noticed that this trick can also be used in the login window when clicking on a user. It's neat.
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