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Sleep displays with password protection Other Hardware
The following hint is useful to me because I use my iMac in my bedroom, and I don't shut it down or put it to sleep. I prefer to sleep in the dark. Additionally, I don't want people hopping on my computer and changing my stuff - so I need the password protection a screen saver provides.

Since 10.5 was released, my workaround has been to set Energy Saver to sleep the display after a certain amount of minutes, and set a screen saver to start one minute after the display sleeps. It didn't always work, unfortunately.

Here's my new solution. For this to work properly, you're going to need to have either a hot corner set up to activate the screen saver, or have the screen saver set to a timer. It's a good idea to disable Energy Saver's display sleep. Then, download and install Sleep Display and ScriptSaver.

First, write yourself an AppleScript that contains this one line:
do shell script "open -a SleepDisplay"
Save it somewhere safe. I made a folder called ScriptSaver Scripts in ~/Library/Application Support/.

Then, open System Preferences, then click Desktop & Screen Saver. Click the Screen Saver tab, then select the new ScriptSaver item. Click the Options button, and leave everything at the defaults, and select your script as the Activation Script. Click OK.

That's it. When your screen saver is activated, the display will shut off. I've tested this with an iMac (Mid 2007) and a Mac Mini (Early 2009), both running 10.5, and it worked great.

If you're running 10.4, you can probably substitute SleepDisplay with Sleep Display (a completely different application that works only with 10.4).
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Mark shows as watched on Apple TV 2.4 Other Hardware
After installing the latest update to my Apple TV, I was having a look to see what had changed. There are a couple of things that have been posted on the net; for instance, the new Remote app for the iPhone/iPod touch, the new UI that sorts shows with the oldest first rather than the newest, and the ability to display unwatched episodes only.

However, one feature that I have not seen documented is that when you have a TV Show or Movie highlighted, if you press and hold the center button on your remote for a second or so, a menu will appear allowing you to mark the item as Watched.
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Add a ROM-launching front-end to Apple TV Other Hardware
I wrote this Apple TV plug-in to provide a clean front-end for launching ROMs with various emulators. Of course, this requires the AppleTV to be modified so that you can install custom code, and it is not sanctioned by Apple, but I thought some of you might find it useful.

It's a great way to augment the utility of the Apple TV in the living room with a wireless USB controller. Plus, my source code is open if others need a jumping off point for creating their own plug-ins.

[robg adds: There are lots of instructions out there on how to modify your Apple TV, including sites such as AwkwardTV. My Apple TV is stock, so I haven't tested this particular plug-in.]
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Use a Folder Action to create a 'wannabe' iPod Shuffle Other Hardware
I created a Folder Action that turns your cheap screenless MP3 player into an iPod shuffle (3rd gen) wannabe. It reads the title of the track into a file, converts the tracks, and merges them together. This way, the audio file starts with a computer voice saying the name of the track, just like the iPod Shuffle. Or, if you drag multiple files into the folder, it asks you for a playlist title and merges the tracks together, adding the title to the front of the playlist.

To install it, download the Shuffle Wannabe Folder Action [30KB download], and add it to /Library » Scripts » Folder Action Scripts. Plug in your MP3 player, and Control-click on its drive icon. In the More contextual menu item, select Enable Folder Actions, and select the script.

I originally wrote this up on my blog

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one. Note that the download link is for a .scpt file, which Firefox (at least) doesn't like; I had to Control-click and use Save Link As to save it. I've also mirrored the script locally (as a text file), in case the source site goes away. Check the original source first (in case of updates), but if that fails (or you want to view the source before downloading), try our copy.]
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Enable third button options for generic third-party mice Other Hardware
I won't discuss the pros or cons of Apple's Mighty Mouse here, as mine just broke. Or more to the point, I broke it -- the sticking little ball just drove me round the bend. Anyhow, I ended buying myself a simple, cheap and quite nice USB optical mouse. Nothing fancy. Two main buttons plus a scroll/button wheel (ie: a scroll wheel that you can also click). So far so good. Until I re-installed my System.

Once in I started setting the system up like I wanted it, to my horror, the Mouse preferences didn't show me the third button on my mouse! Now what? Well it turns out that the System treats the Mighty Mouse special. That is, it recognizes it as such and brings up the corresponding preferences. Great, what about the rest of us?

I scoured the net for several days trying to find out if someone had worked it out. I did find one solution. Just plug in a Mighty Mouse, set the preferences, plug it out, use you other mouse -- the preferences will 'stick.' Fine, what if you don't happen to have a Mighty Mouse just lying aroud?

Most people replace their mouse with fancy Logitech, Microsoft or MacAlly mice that bundle their own drivers that allow all kind of wonders to be done. But what about us simple folk that want a no-frills but functional mouse (not to mention five times cheaper)?

Caution: Terminal and root access required.
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Eject any disc even if system cannot boot Other Hardware
In the newest versions of the boot manager (Intel only, I believe), it is possible to simply Option-Boot the computer and press the Eject key on the keyboard to eject a disc. This works even if your computer has a completely blank, newly-formatted hard drive.

This may also work on the older PowerPC versions of the boot manager, but I haven't tested it.

[robg adds: This would have come in handy for me when I was trying to upgrade our iMac to 10.5.7 -- one of the problems was a non-ejectable CD in the drive.]
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Use Keyboard Viewer to work around broken keys Other Hardware
Recently a friend shared a beer with his Macbook Pro, which resulted in a dead Down Arrow key. One way to work around such a problem is to enable Keyboard Viewer (System Preferences » International » Input Menu) and use it to click the dead key instead.

The viewer can be toggled on/off from the menu bar if Show input menu in menu bar is also checked. Apparently Apple charges quite a lot for a repair involving a liquid spill, so if the broken key is not a frequently-used alphabet or punctuation key, perhaps this is a viable solution for users in this situation. It isn't the keyboard viewer's intended purpose but it works.

[robg adds: If you were going to do this for any length of time, you might also want to use this hint, which lets you toggle the viewer off and on via an AppleScript.]
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Reduce travel gear by one device with AirPort Express Other Hardware
I recently bought an Airport Express, and to me, it's really the ultimate MacGyver tool for my needs. At home, I use it to extend my wireless LAN; when traveling, I use it to create a new wireless network to free me from the cords required in the typical hotel room. No hints there, obviously; that's what it was designed to do.

But what I also figured out is that I can use the USB port on the AirPort Express to charge my phone, so I can leave the iPhone's charger at home.

[robg adds: I know this hint is relatively simple ... but as someone who will admit to having traveled with both an AirPort Express and an iPhone charger, it's definitely a tip I'm going to take advantage of on my next trip. I figured if I overlooked the obvious, maybe some others have as well.]
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Access all Exposť modes on new keyboards Other Hardware
On my new Unibody MacBook, I really enjoy the dedicated Exposť key (F3). The only problem is that I assumed it did only one thing: enter the All Windows mode of Exposť. Through experimentation, however, I have learned that is not the case; the following modifier keys change the behavior of the F3 key:
  • Control-F3: Current application windows mode
  • Command-F3: Show desktop mode
  • Option-F3: Opens the Exposť & Spaces System Preferences panel.
I assume these shortcuts will work on all Macs with a single dedicated Exposť key. As I have been in 12" PowerBook land for five years, I don't know exactly which models this will apply to.

[robg adds: I thought we had this documented here somewhere, but a search on all the obvious, required words comes up empty.]
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Play any region-coded DVD Other Hardware
Here's one way to make your Mac play most any DVD, regardless of its assigned region coding:
  1. Get an external DVD drive -- the internal drive does not seem to allow region-free viewing!
  2. Install VLC media player.
  3. Create an auto-run AppleScript for VLC. Open Script Editor (Applications » AppleScript » Script Editor), and paste in this code:
    (* LaunchVLCDVD by Mohan Noone, 2009*)
    set diskname to "/dev/rdisk" & ((length of (list disks)) - 1)
    activate application "VLC"
    tell application "Finder"
      set frontmost of process "VLC" to true
    end tell
    tell application "VLC"
      OpenURL "dvdnav://" & diskname
    end tell
    Save this filea as, for example, LaunchVLCDVD to the Applications folder (or any other folder).
  4. Change the system's auto-run options. Open System Preferences » CDs & DVDs. From the drop-down menu for When you insert a video DVD select Run script..., and select the saved script you just created.
That's it. To use, just insert a video DVD in the external drive, grab your Apple Remote, sit back, and enjoy your region-free movie.

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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