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Before you lose your Mac laptop Laptop Macs
This hint is something that may increase the chance of getting your MacBook back if you ever lose it or it is stolen.

You will need to install an open source application called Prey that runs in the background and uses zero memory until it is activated and is also not visible in the Activity Monitor.

Once you lose your laptop you will login to your account on the prey website and report the laptop as missing. Now, even though prey works without the user being logged in, you can get more information about the user if he is using the computer, such as websites visited.

Prey only works if the laptop is connected to the Internet, so if the thief has an encrypted connection, prey will not work until it finds an open WiFi hotspot. Your laptop probably has a password, so you will need to activate the Guest account and lure the thief into using the laptop.

To do so, leave a message on the login window saying something like this 'If you find this laptop please email xxxx@gmail.com, to do so type Guest in the username field to login, thank you!'

The thief will probably not email you, (although an honest finder may well do so), but you will get valuable information in the form of reports from prey when he starts surfing the web.

To add the message to your login window use the Terminal command:
sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow LoginwindowText "TYPE YOUR MESSAGE HERE"
or to do this in the GUI you can download the utility OnyX. In OnyX click Parameters tab » Login tab and check the 'Show message in the login window' checkbox. Type your message in the text field and then click 'Apply.'

[crarko adds: My understanding is that Apple is working on a Mobile Me based Find My Mac function, that is similar to the current Find My iPhone.]
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Make a more obvious low battery warning Laptop Macs
I once owned a ThinkPad T60 series and when the battery in it became critically low it would beep wildly and make its low battery status very well known (impossible to ignore) and forced me to do something about it.

I am distracted easily, and when focused on other things, I tend to completely ignore that little warning window and the tiny alert noise that comes with it that Mac OS X presents me when my battery is low. I have created an AppleScript and developed a method to get a similar effect on my Mac laptop.
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Repair MacBook Pro cooling fan rattling Laptop Macs
The little cooling fans inside of Mac notebooks run upwards of 6000 RPM, and they can eventually wear out. People report symptoms of rattling and even loud grinding. Well, the fan MAY need replacement. Or perhaps it just needs to be relubricated.

When my 2007 MacBook Pro's left cooling fan started rattling really loudly last night, I thought I was in for a time-consuming repair. Every place I called had a 2 or 3 day lead time on the part and a 2-day turn-around for the repair once the part was in. The fan itself costs at least $40, and the labor charges were at least $60. I was irritated at the prospect of spending at least $100 on a 4-year-old notebook that I plan to replace in like two months when the new model comes out.

One of the places I called suggested that blowing the dust out might help. Dust can accumulate on the blades and throw it out of balance. I opened up the computer (according to an article like this) and aimed my can of 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane at it. That didn't work for me, unfortunately.

After some research and tinkering, I learned that some of these brushless fan motors can lose their lubrication over time, and moreover, they can be RE-lubricated.

This is what the fan looks like when removed from the computer. I wish I had taken a photo of the fan disassembled. You can unscrew the two tiny phillips head screws on the fan and lift the top plate and motor from the housing below. Then you can gently pry the black plastic circular hub (with the blades) away from the motor, and it'll pop off. What's left on the top plate looks vaguely like this. The circular hub contains a magnetic ring and a spindle pin that kinds looks like what's on the right side of this image.

I dipped a swab in some motor oil (sewing machine oil would probably be better, and soybean or canola oil might be adequate) and put a light coat on the metal spindle pin. I popped it back together and tested it. Now it's silent again, almost like new!

This may only be a temporary fix. The pin looked a little worn, probably because it had been rattling not too badly for months now. Was it noisy because the lubricant had migrated way? Or had it worn out? I don't know, but this isn't a brand new fan, so it's probably not going to last another 4 years before it needs to be lubed again or replaced entirely (assuming this notebook is in use for any purpose at that time). But it saved me $100, and I can now use my old MBP peacefully until I'm ready to get a new one.

[crarko adds: Obviously if you still have a warranty or AppleCare in place you should bring this to an Apple Authorized repair center to get it fixed. But, once out of warranty any repairs to the hardware can get quite expensive, so it's nice to have do-it-yourself options available.]
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Using a MacBook Pro as firewire pass-through Laptop Macs
Their are many options today for you to attach your trusty old FireWire 400 goodies to your shiny new MacPro (that doesn't include FW400 anymore). 6 pin to 9 pin adapters, cables or just buy new gear...except you didn't plan that far ahead and now your in the middle of a critical project with one file stuck on a trusty FW400 drive and no way to plug it into your new Mac. Sure you could load it onto that old MacBook Pro you got, but the HD is too full to for the 65GB video file.

Simply connect your MBP (powered off) to your new Mac via a FW800 cable (9 pin to 9 pin). Then plug in your FW400 peripheral to the MBP and it will mount on your new Mac no questions asked! In a pinch the MBP can be used as a pass-through for firewire (converting from 6 pin to 9 pin) and it doesn't even need to be plugged in, or have the battery in.

I tested this with a self-powered HD enclosure, a Gen 4 iPod, and a JVC DVCam/Mini DV tape deck (4 pin to 6 pin) and all worked flawlessly.

[crarko adds: I have used techniques similar to this ever since Apple moved to FireWire 800 only machines. With both the 400-800 converters and also using those Macs that have both types of port as an intermediary.]
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10.6: 3-finger drags on some older laptops Laptop Macs
Snow Leopard only hintIf you have an older MacBook Pro or MacBook Air (with multitouch), with OS 10.6.4 and the Multi-Touch Trackpad Update 1.0, but can still only get inertial scrolling, and you want the 3 finger drags, this method shows you how. It involves editing system files, so proceed with caution.
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Improve projector display on a MacBook Pro Laptop Macs
After switching from a G4 PowerBook to a new MacBook Pro (Tiger to Snow Leopard), I found that external projection displays were noticeably dimmer and off color.

I tried calibration with the ColorSync Utility (located in /Applications/Utilities) without success. I copied the VGA color profile over from the G4 (Version 2.0.0) and changed from the Snow Leopard color profile (Version 2.1.0) and the result was a major improvement in the projector image.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. It's good to know the color profiles are compatible. If it's a projector you use frequently, creating a custom profile for it in ColorSync could also be useful.]
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New Macbook Pro 17'': Detect Displays fails after sleep Laptop Macs
Today I noticed that the external display attached to my new 17" MacBook Pro Core i7 is not recognized any more after I put the system to sleep by closing the lid. The 'Detect Displays' command from the Displays menu or the Displays preference pane didn't work. Rebooting the system is a possible solution, but not the preferred one.

I tried out some things and then searched some forums, but found no working solutions. Then I remembered that little tool GfxCardStatus from Cody Krieger and fired it up. I switched the active graphics card by selecting 'NVIDIA only' and then hit 'detect displays' and immediately the MacBook Pro detected the external display.

I did a little more testing and could reproduce the behavior; I switched to the Intel card by selecting 'dynamic switching' in GfxCardStatus, put the Mac to sleep, woke it up again and once more the display was not recognized. Now I switched back to the NVIDIA graphic by starting iPhoto (you can see that NVIDIA is active with GfxCardStatus), and the display was detected again. Aperture or any other software, that causes a switch to the NVIDIA card, should also work, I tried it with Aperture (which I mostly use in conjunction with the external display, which also explains why I not earlier noticed this issue).

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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Some tips for using external batteries with laptops Laptop Macs
I have a Hypermac external 100W external battery for occasional use with my MacBook Pro (and sometimes iPhone). As is pointed out on Hypermac's website in their FAQ section, the best way to use their battery is to start with both a fully charged MacBook and a fully charged Hypermac battery.

This hint is mostly about using HardwareGrowler (available in the Extra's folder of the Growl disk image) to be made aware of which power source you're using. It also includes a little detail on using an external battery like Hypermac's, or more than likely, any other vendor's external battery.

If your MacBook battery has run down very much at all, the Hypermac will try to recharge it. If you are using the MacBook at the time, there will probably not be enough power for both charging and using, and this leads to a back-and-forth switch between charging and not charging. The worst situation is when your internal battery is completely dead, and the Hypermac battery runs down. At this point, your MacBook will think it is on external power, the internal battery will be completely flat but not charging, and when the Hypermac dies, your machine will just die too: no hibernation and no warning.

I would suggest using HardwareGrowler and setting its preferences to make changes in power source high priority alerts that stay on the screen. This way you know which source you are on -- you want to avoid the situation of having your internal battery at 0% while the Hypermac is charging your computer.

If you have a 0% internal battery, the best course of action is to power off the Mac. Leave it connected and charging from the Hypermac for as long as you can, then restart it and use it -- paying very careful attention to the internal battery level.
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Remap only the Exposť key for Spaces use on Unibody laptops Laptop Macs
The Unibody Macs have some pre-defined function keys that are hard to remap. For those of us who use Spaces, but not Exposť, here's how to remap the key. The Exposť key on Unibody MacBook Pros can't easily be remapped through System Preferences without unmapping all the other special function keys, like volume and screen brightness. If you just want to remap the single Exposť key, here's how to do that:

First, download and install the open source KeyRemap4MacBook System Preferences panel. Once it's installed, go into System Preferences » Keyboard, and unmap all the special keys by checking 'Use all F1,F2, etc. keys as standard function keys.'

Switch over to the KeyRemap4MacBook panel, and remap all the special keys there, except for the one you want to change (in this case, the Exposť key). Expand the 'Remap F1...F16' section, then click on 'F5, F6 to Functional,' then each of the single key entries for 'F1 to Brightness Down,' 'F2 to Brightness Up,' etc.

Now you're back to where you've started, except you're allowing the F3 key to fall through to the system. You can go to the Exposť and Spaces panel and make sure F3 isn't mapped to anything in the Exposť pane, and is mapped to Activate Spaces.
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Increase battery run time on laptops with SSDs Laptop Macs
If you have a Macbook Air with a solid-state drive, you can increase battery life by forcing your machine to always hibernate, rather than sleeping.

Generally, Macs only hibernate (storing the existing system state to disk and powering off) when the battery has gone to nearly absolute zero. At all other times, they sleep -- meaning that the existing system state is stored in RAM, and the machine goes into a low-power mode. The reason for this is that it takes longer to restart/restore from hibernation state. But having the machine fully off does save battery life.

Since the MacBook Air's solid state drive (if you have a model so equipped) has exceptionally fast startup times from disk, hibernation restores are very quick (five or so seconds, in my experience). Also, hibernating all the time will save you battery life -- again, in my experience, up to ten percent longer run times. YMMV.

Numerous utilities are available to change the default low-battery mode to hibernate. I like Jinx's Smart Sleep, which installs as a pref pane and is Snow Leopard compatible.

Remember, if you're hibernating, you use the power button to "wake up," rather than just hitting a key on the keyboard.

[robg adds: You can use this tip on any machine with an SSD, if you're willing to put up with slightly longer "wake" times.]
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