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Remove last used username from login screen System
By default the login window retains the name of the last person to log in. This annoys me, since I usually have to erase someone else's name when I go to log in. To make the login window not display this information, do the following:

Edit the file /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist. You'll need to be have root privileges, so you'll most likely want to open the terminal and sudo pico /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow.plist. Add the following two lines right after the <dict> tag:
  <key>AlwaysClearUserField</key>
<true/>
When you log out, the user name field in the login window will be blank the next time you go to log in.
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Move your swap space onto a disk image System
hello everybody, I was reading a ResExcellence article about improving app run times (and minimising pageouts), but it required one to start up from the OS 9 disk (ugh!) and format the existing hard drive (ugh! ugh!). So I created an alternative method.

I have the information up here, but I'll copy and paste the steps here. Read the rest of the article for the step-by-step instructions.

[Editor's note: I have no idea if this works nor the implications of trying it. There are other tips posted here with info on moving swap to another hard drive, but this seemed interesting enough to merit posting as an independent alternative. As with anything like this, make sure you have a good backup before you start changing the system files!]
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Firmware password and non-American keyboards System
Minor hint, and maybe obvious to most users, but could save time for some...

The recently distributed Open Firmware Password Utility allows users to protect their computer from starting up from an external cd ("C" boot) or another partition ("option" boot). However, option boot still works, but requests for the firmware password first.

Non-English users might have bad surprises after creating and activating their firmware password - in order to boot from another partition, the password has to be entered with the keyboard set as US-qwerty, presumably because the system doesn't yet know about international settings.

Good to know beforehand, specially since these non-standard procedures tend to be used only in special/emergency cases...
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Sharing files with older Macs System
A Dutch website known as System 6 Heaven has created a page of tips for sharing things between older Macs and Macs running OS X. One of the little tidbits on the page explains how to enable AppleShare over AppleTalk, thereby allowing your System 6 Macs to see your OS X box directly on the network.

If you have some older machines that you'd like to network, check out the System 6 Heaven tips page for some good pointers.
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Disable the volume changing beep sound System
ResExcellence has posted an interesting article that explains how to disable the beep you hear if you use the keyboard volume up and down keys.

Head on over to ResExcellence and read the full details on how to make this modification.

[Editor's note: It appears this may only work on pre-10.1.2 machines, based on the comments. If anyone figures it out in 10.1.2, please post the workaround!]
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OS X 10.1.2 update online System
Tonight, Apple released the OS X 10.1.2 update. This substantial (30mb) update includes a ton of bug fixes, including a fix for the contextual menu bug in column view mode. I installed the updater last night, and all seems fine so far!

I've appended the contents of the "What's New" box from the update dialog box (did you know you can copy and paste that text? I didn't until I tried it!) into the remainder of this article if you'd like to get a quick look at what's new before you install. This is by no means a complete list, but it's a start.
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Detailed system backup how-to guide System
A while back, there was a story and a thread about backing up a Mac OS X volume so it can be successfully restored without an OS reinstallation. A man by the name of Mike Bombich posted a link to a page of his that outlined various backup methods, one of which involved Disk Copy and Apple Software Restore (Editor's note: Mike's page of tips is listed on the Links page).

For my job, I had to create an instruction sheet for this technique as we have to have a simple, restorable method of OS X archiving. I wrote a rich text version, and after discovering OS X's native ability to print to PDF (why it took me this long to find this ability is WAY beyond me), I created a PDF version of my sheet for public consumption.

I figure someone might get some use out of it, as it's a bit more detailed than Mike's--rightfully so, since he makes it quite clear that it's not an efficient method for regular, scheduled backup, like Retrospect, etc.

[Editor's note: This PDF is a nice expansion on Mike's original document, with step-by-step guidance through the whole process.]

[Editor's second note: Again revised and at a new URL.]
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New Unix Applescript commands System
The new December 2001 Developer CD provides a couple new applescript commands. The most useful one is do shell script [shell commands as string]. This sends commands to the unix-layer without opening a Terminal window. It will also return the result. So, if you want to get a list of files in your Documents folder in long format into a variable, do the following:

set my_doc_list to {do shell script "ls -al ~/Documents"}

The other new command is POSIX path of [mac path]. Sadly, this only does half the job. It does change the ":" delimiters to "/" and adds the "/Volumes/" directory for mounted volumes, but it does not add the escapes for special characters.

If you'd like an AppleScript soubroutine that finishes the job, read the rest of the article. Note: this still can't handle high-bit characters in the path (option-f for instance).
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Office v.X and modal dialog boxes System
On occasion, after putting Word v.X or Excel v.X in the background, I'm unable to switch back into the application. Instead of the expected window switch when I click a portion of a visible window, I'm greeted with a "beep" and no switch. It turns out that the nearly-vanquished "modal" dialog box is to blame. Modal dialog boxes are those that, in OS 9 at least, cannot be moved to the background until they are dismissed. Office v.X uses them for its Print dialog boxes, and perhaps in other locations.

In OS X, of course, almost any window can be moved to the background. So there's no issue switching out of Word or Excel after opening the Print dialog. However, the modal dialog box retains its "modality" within the application from which it was called. So to the application, that dialog box is in full control, even though you're now using another app and have probably covered the dialog box with other windows.

When you go to switch back to the original app by clicking on a visible window, you'll see the behavior I described - a beep and no switch. This is because the modal dialog box is waiting for input, even though you probably can't see it. Since you didn't click inside the dialog, you get an error beep, just as you would if you tried to click outside a modal dialog box in OS 9.

The hard way to get back to your original application is to move or hide any of the windows that block the modal dialog box; once you can see it, click in it to re-activate the original application. The easy way to do this is to click the app's dock icon; this forces the modal dialog box to the foreground as it switches back into the application.

I'm not sure if this affects Entourage and PowerPoint, but it definitely affects Word and Excel.
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How to ignore certain software updates System
In the midst of playing around with the newly discovered Software Update log file (see the recent hint), I also found out how to remove those annoying notices that pop up when you try to quit Software Update without installing all the updates. In my case, it's the AirPort update on my desktop G4. It shows up every time, and when I quit the updater application, I get a warning dialog about "are you sure you want to do this even though you haven't installed this update?"

Like a few others published this week, this tip is probably blatantly obvious to many people, but I'd never previously looked at the menubar in Software Update. If I had, I would have seen the Update -> Make Inactive option. If you simply highlight the package you'd like to ignore and then select this menu item, you'll get a dialog box warning you that you won't be able to update this package while its inactive. Click on Make Inactive and that's the end of the warnings when you quit Software Update.

If you ever wish to update the inactive package, select Update -> Show Inactive Updates and then reactivate the package(s) you are wish to update.

Again, my apologies if this was obvious to everyone but me, but I had no idea you could ignore updates!
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