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Use custom icons for docked URLs Desktop
You may already know that if you drag a URL into the right hand side of the dock, it'll stay there and clicking it opens the page in your chosen browser.

Trouble is, the icon for URLs is generic and unintuitive and you can't change the icon directly. There is a solution...

Instead of dragging the URL straight into the dock, drop it into a suitable folder and the use the standard cut'n'paste method (described in the rest of this article) to swap the icon. Now drag the URL/icon into the right hand side of the dock. Hey presto, you have a custom url with custom icon in the dock. I have an icon of Dilbert that takes me straight to his daily comic strip.

Read the rest of this article if you need a primer on cutting and pasting icons in OS X...
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Stupid dock tricks Desktop
I haven't noticed anybody mentioning this yet. It isn't useful at all, but here goes:

Open a Carbon or Cocoa app and dock one of its windows. Then hide the app (command-H or from the app menu).

The docked window "flies" over to hide behind the app's icon in the Dock! Unhide the app by clicking it in the Dock (or command-tab) and it flies back.

It's this kind of attention to detail that makes me love Apple. Now if only the interface wasn't so slow. :)

[Editor: Make sure your dock is visible first; hit CMD-OPT-D if you usually leave it hidden; it's not so impressive when you can't see it ;-) ]
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Steps to a more responsive desktop Desktop
Try the following to maximize the speed of the desktop:
  1. Don't change the opacity of the terminal. [Editor: But it looks SO good!]

  2. Change the dock minimization effect to "scale" by typing defaults write com.apple.dock mineffect scale

  3. Increase the mouse tracking speed and the keyboard repeat rate through the System Preferences application.

  4. Set your colors to thousands, not millions. [Editor: Audion 2.1 looks so much better in millions!]

  5. Increase the priority of the Window Server. This requires root access. First type ps cx and look for the PID of "Window Manager". Now type sudo renice -(number between 20 and 0) (PID of Window Manager). You will be prompted for a password; enter yours (not root's). Take note that as root, a lower number means higher priority; try -5 or -10 as a start. The situation is reversed if you are just doing a renice as user.

    So if 'ps' returns the PID of Window Manager as 243, you'd type "sudo renice -10 243" to set set the window manager's priority at -10.NOTE: See the comments for proof that this speed-up is purely pyschological at this point ;-)
PS: Some applications are not threaded properly. A good example is MSIE, it exhibits the exact same behavior under Mac OS X as it does under Mac OS 9. e.g. animated GIFs are "locked" in a frame if the mouse button is held down.
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Rename files/folders without the delay Desktop
This is really rather too simple, but... :-)

Browsing through the Help system helped me get over being cheesed off with the extra delay that Apple has inserted on the second click when renaming items in the new Finder.

All you need to do is to hit the Return key, and you're instantly in edit mode on the file name.
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Use screensaver images for desktop background Desktop
I believe I saw this one on the MacFixIt forums today. If you like some of the images that are loaded by the screensaver application, you can also use them as desktop pictures. Navigate in the GUI (use the terminal if you wish, but these are GUI instructions) to:

/System/Library/Screen Savers/

There are four screen savers with images (Abstract, Beach, Cosmos, and Forest). Control-click on any one of those four, and pick Show Package Contents. When the new window opens, navigate to Contents/Resources/Images, and you'll see a list of images (and their previews, if you switch to column view).

To use the images as desktop pictures, just copy the one(s) you are interested in to a destination in a new finder window. You can now tell Desktop Preferences to use these images as desktops!
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Share one desktop between 9.1 and X Desktop
[Editor's note: Although this probably has no side effects, always be cautious when messing around with system-created folders! The thought of having one desktop in both mode is certainly appealing!]

I was sick of having two different desktop folders in Mac OS 9 and OS X, so I decided to combine them into one. Here's how I did it
  1. I fired up the terminal app and found out where everything lived:
    OS 9 desktop folder = /Desktop Folder/
    OS X desktop folder = /Users/username/Desktop
  2. I deleted the folder from /Users/username/Desktop with an rm -R Desktop
  3. I logged in as root and did a ln -s /Desktop Folder/ Users/username/Desktop
After logging out and logging back in, OS 9 and OS X now share the same desktop folder!
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Arrange your desktop by filename Desktop
The finder's desktop preferences let you snap the desktop icons to a grid, yet somehow the icons always get randomly rearranged. The easy Classic-like fix is to turn on the 'arrange by' desktop view option (which I belive is currently hidden). I did this with prefedit (or any xmlproperty editor) in the following property:

~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder

Look in the DesktopViewOptions property for ArrangeBy which you can set to "dnam" for sort by name or "kind" for sort by kind. Save your changes...

Now log out and log back in and your desktop is sorted. I found a desktop sorted by kind with the trash can on the desktop and a couple of good aliases ("Home", "Print Center", MacOS 9 Apps, MacOS X Apps, etc...) makes the desktop suddenly look very much like Classic.
---
hope this helps
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Mac OS X and RedHat7 netatalk issues Desktop
[Editor's note: John K. submitted this writeup a few days ago, and I managed to lose it in my inbox for a bit. My apologies for the delays in getting this posted, John!]

John writes:

My OS X install does not work well with netatalk, the unix AFP file server. When I log in as guest and mount a share, it displays correctly, but the following problems occur:
  • Copies do not work at all. I get an error -43.

  • Changes to the directories don't get displayed, and attempts to use the directory after a change can cause OS X to crash.

  • I cannot authenticate myself anymore. I think this is probably because I have a vanilla RedHat 7 and am missing some kind of library necessary to do secure authentication.
This was all a real bummer, because I backed up my disk to this server. If you're using netatalk, it's a good idea to move the data to an Apple server before upgrading.

If you're stuck (like I am), there's a utility, megatron, that can make macbinary files which can be ftp'd or copied via NFS, and then unmacbin'd by Stuffit Expander. I'm working on a tool to run megatron on a large number of files, so it won't be so difficult to recover from this snafu. I'll post the link here when it's done.
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Cool uses for the command key Desktop
Most people know by now that you can hold down the command key and drag around a background window without bringing the window to the front. However, I also discovered that you can hold down the command key and do just about anything in a background window that belongs to a Cocoa application without bringing the window forward. You can resize the window, move scrollbars, click buttons, and pop up menus, among other things.

You can't, however, click buttons that are in customizable toolbars. This is because you can command-drag a toolbar button to a different position in the toolbar, or off of the toolbar completely, regardless of whether the window is is front or not.
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Show and hide the dock from the keyboard Desktop
If you normally leave the dock visible, it sometimes gets in the way when apps (especially Classic apps) take over the whole screen. It's a pain to mouse to the dock, switch the setting to autohide, do what you want, and switch it back to always show.

A much easier method is to hit Command-Option-D, and the dock will hide. Do what you need to do, and hit Command-Option-D again, and the dock will show itself.

Caught this one on the MacFixIt boards tonight...of course, from comment #1, I should have 'caught' it by just looking at the Apple menu! Oh well, it was a long day!
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