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Travel tips for Mac laptop users on United Airlines Laptop Macs
Not sure this is a hint, more a warning and how to get around it. I fly often and have to upgrade to Business so as to ensure a power socket at the seat. And I fly United because of their generous air miles packages which make upgrading affordable. However, United Business have new lie-flat seats, with a new 110V power supply instead of the old airplane-style one. The problem is that the socket is recessed in the console, and even the smaller power brick for the MacBook Air won't fit (you can insert the pins, but not far enough). There are a few ways around this:
  1. Upgrade to First -- the power socket is not recessed.
  2. Ask if you can charge the MacBook in First, and watch a movie at your regular Business seat while it charges.
  3. Bring an international travel adaptor with you (e.g. use the 3 pin UK plug on the power brick, and attach it to an adaptor for the US 2-pin style -- if your adaptor is a standard size, it's likely to fit into the recessed socket).
  4. Travel with the long power cord, and connect that to the brick and plug it into the recessed socket.
I have used both the second and third options above, which both work. Option two has the advantage of maintaining a healthier life-work balance, but it also relies on there being an empty seat in First.

[robg adds: I don't travel often, but when I do, I bring the long power cord with me, just because the end plug is very standard, and will fit in any three-prong outlet, regardless of what might be surrounding it.]
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Multi-touch behaviors on new Macbook/Pro Unibody Laptop Macs
Four-finger swiping on multi-touch trackpads have a few interesting behaviors not shown in the Trackpad System Preferences panel.

As documented, a four-finger down swipe executes ExposÚ, while a four-finger up swipe shows the desktop. Without any intermediate steps, a four-finger swipe (up or down) will bring the windows back to their prior locations. The System Preferences window makes it appear as though after swiping up, the user must swipe down to return to a normal view, and after swiping down, the user must swipe up to exit ExposÚ.

However, when using ExposÚ, it is possible to scroll through the ExposÚd windows using two-finger scrolling in any direction. Then a four-finger swipe up or down can be used to select the highlighted window as the new frontmost window.

With Spaces active (i.e. more than one Space being shown), two fingers can highlight different spaces. A four-finger down swipe activates ExposÚ within the Spaces; a four-finger up swipe whisks the desktop to the selected Space and shows only the desktop. A four-finger left or right swipe switches to the selected Space and opens the application switcher overlay.

A four-finger left or right swipe opens the application switcher overlay. Two finger scrolling then highlights different applications. A four-finger tap then selects the application. (That is the hint I'm most proud of; the system will recognize up to a four-finger tap!) This happens whether the option for "tap to click" is on or off. Also, four-finger swiping in any direction while the application switcher overlay is open takes precedent. A down swipe will activate ExposÚ and the application switcher overlay will disappear.
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Use a two-handed scrolling technique to work quicker Laptop Macs
This is for MacBook and MacBook Pro users who work with a mouse connected...

I've been working with large spreadsheets with swathes of scientific data and graphs, laid out in "split" format, which splits the screen to show multiple areas of the worksheet at once. I found navigating it all very tedious after many days using a USB mouse.

But now, I've found a great solution: use the left hand to utilize two-finger-scrolling on the trackpad, and keep using the mouse with the right hand. Since my spreadsheets are split, and the two-finger scroll applies to whatever is currently 'under' the mouse, I can make a slight movement of the mouse to one pane, quickly scroll left and right with the left hand on the trackpad, quickly move back to the other pane with the mouse, and then do the same in that pane.

Two hands really are better than one; hope this helps someone else.
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Switch MacBook power on/off with its lid closed Laptop Macs
If you want to use your MacBook as a desktop system, you can connect a USB keyboard (and of course, a monitor), and the internal screen will stay turned off that way. I rarely use my MacBook outside the office, so this setup is perfect for me. It also turns out that the Macbook fits perfectly between the stem and the panel of my Belinea o.display 24" -- which means that it does not use any valuable desktop space at all.

Problem: In order to power-on the MacBook, I had to remove it out of its resting spot, to open its lid which is covering the on/off switch. Not a nice concept, Apple.

Solution: I taped an old PCI slot cover to my MacBook, as shown here: Mounting 1 Mounting 2. The slot cover sticks out far enough, and can easily be bent a little bit (just about 1/4 inch), which presses the button on its other end, inside the MacBook.

Here are some pictures of the full setup: Setup back 1 Setup back 2. Mounting and remounting of the slot cover is a matter of seconds.
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Use OS X 10.4 on a MacBook that came with 10.5 Laptop Macs
I was able to get Mac OS X 10.4 to run on a new OS X 10.5-based Intel MacBook. To make this work, you need to own an intel iMac or Mac mini that runs on 10.4, as well as a USB hard drive. Here's how I got it working:
  1. Connect the USB disk drive to the iMac or Mac mini.
  2. Run Disk Utility, in the Utilities folder.
  3. Click on the USB disk's icon, then on the Restore tab.
  4. Drag your iMac or Mac mini's disk drive from the left hand column over to the source area.
  5. Drag your USB drive to the destination area.
  6. Check Erase Destination and then click on the Restore button. (This will take a while!)
  7. After this completes, take your USB drive over to your new MacBook.
  8. Remove the battery and remove the screws so that you can take the MacBook's hard drive out.
  9. Plug in your USB drive and power up your new MacBook. It will then boot into 10.4, off the USB drive.
  10. Go to System Preferences and click on Startup disk. Change your startup disk to the USB hard drive and restart your MacBook.
  11. Before you restart your MacBook, and while it is still powered up, plug its internal hard drive back in. [robg adds: The original hint submission was unclear about which disk is being reconnected, and no contact email address was provided. I'm assuming the internal hard drive is the one that needs to be connected, as its currently not in the MacBook.]
  12. After your computer starts up, repeat steps two to six again, but make your source the USB drive and your destination your MacBook's hard drive.
  13. When this completes, you should be able to go to System Preference » Startup Disk, and change your startup disk to your MacBook's hard drive.
Reboot to boot your new MacBook into 10.4 on its internal hard drive.

[robg adds: I have not tested this hint, nor would I recommend it for most users. If you are going to try it, however, I would recommend first cloning (via Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper) the MacBook's 10.5 drive to a separate external drive -- just in case you ever want to easily go back to the existing 10.5 setup.]
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10.5: Switch Spaces via gestures on newer laptops Laptop Macs
If you find yourself switching Spaces frequently and use a laptop with multi-touch capability, you can use MultiClutch to map gestures to Spaces commands.

First (and the order is important) disable any keyboard shortcuts you use for Spaces. Then go into MultiClutch and add (in the Global application) Swipe gestures to the key commands you want for Spaces up/down/left/right. Finally, set those key commands in the ExposÚ and Spaces pane. This lets you "sweep away" your old space with a single gesture (no finger juggling), kind of Minority Report-style.

One caveat: although this overrides most applications' built-in three-finger gestures, it doesn't override the Finder's back/forward support, so you get stuck sometimes when a Finder window is in the foreground. Just choose another app, and you're on your way.
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Reduce battery usage by controlling Flash in Safari Laptop Macs
If you use Safari and a laptop, you may be surprised to find that sites that incorporate Flash may be draining your battery. Unless you're one of those people who browse with Activity Monitor open, you're probably not aware that many sites are sucking your battery dry. Many sites incorporate Flash, in particular to display advertisements. These little Flash tidbits may be poorly written, and can make your CPU work really hard. This, in turn, will drain your battery at a fast rate.

You can prevent Flash from automatically loading in Safari using Safari Stand. Install it, launch Safari, go to the Stand menu, choose SafariStand Setting, then click on Advanced. Check the Load Plug-in Manually box in the Flash section and restart Safari.

Now when your browser encounters Flash, you can click the box where the Flash would have been to load that bit of Flash. You can also add exceptions to the site alteration area -- for example, you might want to let Flash automatically load when you visit youtube.com. (This tip originally appeared on my blog.)

[robg adds: Many of the browsers offer some sort of Flash controlling plug-in. With Firefox, I use FlashBlock to control how Flash behaves.]
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Use hardware test mode directly on latest MacBook pro Laptop Macs
On my 15" MacBook Pro (2.4GHz Penryn, February 2008), I've found I can boot into the hardware test mode without having the hardware test disc in the machine. If I press F2 before the startup bell, the machine directly enters hardware test mode. I don't know if this works with MacBooks or iMacs, however.

[robg adds: This doesn't work on my older MacBook Pro. I know that you can press 'D' at startup on the MacBook Air to get into hardware test mode, but this is the first I've heard of it on other models. (Any model should boot into hardware test mode by holding 'D' at boot with the install disc in the optical drive.) If someone else can confirm the no-disc-required behavior on a newer MacBook Pro (or other Mac), please post in the comments.]
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Dim the (early 2008) MacBook Pro's sleep light Laptop Macs
I'm not sure on how many laptops this works on, but on my early 2008 MacBook Pro, when the computer is asleep with the screen down, the pulsating sleep light is quite bright. In the older G5 and first intel iMacs (and I'm not sure which other models), when the computer is asleep in a dark room, the light dims right down.

The hint is to put your computer to sleep using the Apple menu, or the power button if you have it set up that way. Then leave the screen open and allow the computer to make use of the light sensors in the speakers. This will then make the flashing light dim. It seems that closing the screen turns the light sensors off, and the light shines at its normal brightness.
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More three finger Safari swipes on new laptops Laptop Macs
So I keep experimenting with the new three finger trackpad swipes, and came across the following in Safari. Command and three fingers swiped to the right or left will create the forward or backward page in a new tab. Option-Command and a three finger swipe (left or right) opens the backward or forward page in a new window behind the current one. Finally, Shift-Option-Command and a three finger swipe (left or right) opens the backward or forward page in a new window in front of the current one.

Obviously, for any of these to work, you must have a page or pages in the forward and/or backward buffers.
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