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10.6: View full screen Quick Look via the keyboard System
Pressing Option-Space pulls up the full-screen Quick Look view in Finder under Snow Leopard. This may be documented somewhere, but I haven't been able to find it.

[robg adds: It's documented if you hold down the Option key and look at the File menu. With the Option key down, Quick Look (selection) becomes Slideshow (selection).]
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Solve a Mac Mini invalid resolution issue after install System
After I installed 10.6 on a couple of my Macs, I had problems only with my (current generation) Mac Mini that is connected to a Dell television. I could not get any video after rebooting, turning off the TV, etc.

Since I have multiple Macs, I connected to the Mac Mini via Screen Sharing and went to the System Prefs » Display panel, and selected my previous resolution setting. This made the video work right away.

Without a second Mac, I have no idea how someone could fix a problem like this.

[robg adds: This should work for any installation that selects an invalid resolution.]
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10.5: A script to find what's using a CD or DVD System
Have you ever tried to eject a CD or DVD and were told that the disk was in use and couldn't figure out what was using the disk? After helping others answer this question, I created this shell script to provide the answers.


dr=($(drutil status | grep -i 'type:'))
device=($(mount | grep ${dr[3]}))
if [ $devtype = "No" ]
then echo No disk found. Sorry! >&2
  exit 1;
echo A $devtype is mounted on the device named $device
pids=($(sudo -p 'Please enter the administrator password:' lsof -t $device))
echo \nList of programs that may be preventing the disk to eject
ps -o pid,user,comm=COMMAND -www -p $(echo ${pids[*]} | sed 's/ /,/g')
The output is a list of the processes that lsof says is using the CD or DVD. You can probably plug this into GeekTool or some other GUI assist program; I just use the terminal.

[robg adds: Snow Leopard should provide this information automatically, so I marked this one as 10.5 only (though it probably works on 10.4, too). I tested on my 10.5 machine, and it seemed to work (though I didn't have a busy CD/DVD at the time of testing). Remember to make the script executable (chmod a+x script_name).]
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See invisible files in Finder via Spotlight System
There is an easy way to see invisible items inside a specific folder -- without changing Finder's hidden 'show hidden' preference or using other file managers like PathFinder or muCommander). Just use Spotlight in Finder:
  1. Navigate to the folder in which you want to see invisible items; let us call it Myfolder.
  2. Press Command-F, then choose search Myfolder (rather than This Mac).
  3. In the search attributes bar, which is by default set to Kind -- is -- Any, click on Kind and choose Other.
  4. From the Select the Search Attribute dro-down sheet, simply choose File Visibility, then click OK. (To make it easier to use in the future, check the In Menu box, and you won't have to use Other again.)
  5. Now choose File Visibility in the Search attribute bar, and then Invisible Items.
Now you can see all invisible items (or both visible and invisible if you prefer) in the folder in question. Save this search if it's something you do often.
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Set a blazingly fast keyboard repeat rate System
Everybody knows that you can get a pretty fast keyboard repeat rate by changing a slider on the Keyboard tab of the Keyboard & Mouse System Preferences panel. But you can make it even faster! In Terminal, run this command:
defaults write NSGlobalDomain KeyRepeat -int 0
Then log out and log in again. The fastest setting obtainable via System Preferences is 2 (lower numbers are faster), so you may also want to try a value of 1 if 0 seems too fast. You can always visit the Keyboard & Mouse System Preferences panel to undo your changes.

You may find that a few applications don't handle extremely fast keyboard input very well, but most will do just fine with it.

[robg adds: We originally ran a very similar hint back in 2003. However, that hint had the order of the values reversed, and made the change via editing a preferences file instead of via a defaults write command. So I felt it worth re-running this version as it's simpler and more correct. If anyone knows what service to restart to skip the logout/login step, please comment.]
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Create 'smart' burn folders System
Burn folders have been around since Tiger. But I only recently realized that you can place smart folders inside them, to make smart burn folders.

For example, let's say you want to regularly burn all the documents related to a particular work project to disk. To do so, start by creating a regular burn folder in the Finder Then, create a smart folder with whatever criteria you want (for example: search for the name of one of your projects in Contents, click on the plus-sign (+) button to add another search term and set Kind to documents. Then save your smart folder inside the burn folder.

Now, when you open the burn folder and click the Burn button, the system will find every document on your machine (including any you've added recently) that contain the name of your project and burn them all to disk.
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A possible disk-format-related cause of general Mac issues System
As the informal Mac support guy at work (a role many of us Mac users are no doubt familiar with), I had a coworker come to me complaining of a bunch of odd little behaviors on his Mac. Email acted oddly, applications would behave strangely, and sometimes when he first started his Mac, it would display the Net Boot logo for a couple of minutes, time out, then boot normally. When we tried to set his startup disk, we found that it wasn't listed as a choice in the System Preferences panel. Disk First Aid showed no errors, and repairing permissions showed some permission errors, with OS X claiming to have corrected them, but the errors remained on subsequent checks.

After a bit of sleuthing about, I discovered that he had recently swapped out the hard drive, and used Carbon Copy Cloner to move to the new drive. The drive was formatted as HFS+ Journaled, but the partition was MBR (Master Boot Record) and not GUID. Once we re-partitioned the drive, and restored his data, all his problems went away.

The moral of the story: OS X can boot off an MBR volume, but suffers indigestion. Just a little FYI for folks to put into their troubleshooting toolkit.
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Recover from a stuck screen after log in System
Playing with Skype and iChat, my Mac froze and I had to force shut down. At the login window prompt, I typed my username and password and pressed Enter as usual, yet only the Time Machine Desktop screen (the one with the galaxy-like picture and stars of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard) showed. It stayed like that forever. Eventually I found that pressing Command-Option-Esc and waiting some 30 seconds returned me to the login screen. From there, the story repeats.

Yet that was handy to reboot or shut down without forcing shut down. Repairing disk and permissions, running DiskWarrior, resetting PRAM, etc. did not help. I even trashed the preferences for Finder, Desktop and Dock. Even replaced the full Library and Desktop folders inside the user account suffering the issue from the latest Time Machine backup. Resetting the login password (after booting from the Mac OS X DVD) did not help either. The issue remained, but amazingly only on the standard booting account, but not on another extra account created for troubleshooting. In such a case, the Mac booted fine. Weird!

Logging in with the troubleshooting account, I found that right at the time of the failed login from the standard account, Console said something about Keychain. Indeed, some caches were corrupt, but Cocktail could not fix them.
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Adding and using keyboard shortcuts in the Print dialog box System
Generally I have found that added keyboard shortcuts for the drop-down menu in the Print dialog (such as in this hint) only work only for the items above the dividing line. As Apple notes, "you can create keyboard shortcuts only for existing menu commands." And all the commands below the dividing line are transient menu items, as they are there only because they are in the PDF Services folder, in the Library folder of the user or the system. If you take them out of there, they will disappear from the Print dialog drop-down. Hence it seems that they are not considered available for keyboard access by the system.

Except there is one way that I have just now discovered to get this to work.

You can use the Tab key to cycle through to the drop-down menu. Now you can use the down arrow to open the menu. At this point, you can use your shortcuts for items below the line. Two things to note when using this method are that the drop-down will not be highlighted as are the other items in the Dialog. However, you can see the highlight move to all the items before and after the drop-down, so you can tell by default when it is selected (four tabs works for me). Also, the shortcuts will not work only by selecting the drop-down, you need to use the down arrow first.

I have, in fact, cobbled together an Automator workflow to automatically download a batch of open tabs or windows using these ideas in an AppleScript along with Automator. Works great -- I did a year's worth of online articles from the fifties in under eight minutes.

[robg adds: Your experience will probably vary by application. In Firefox, for instance, the PDF button (and the others at the bottom of the dialog) aren't included in the Tab cycle, so you can't select it via the keyboard. If you have the expanded print dialog in a given app, it will take more than four tab presses to reach the PDF button.]
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An AppleScript/Java solution to move and resize windows System
I have been always extremely annoyed by the fact that one cannot resize the windows on Mac OS X using all four edges of the window. In fact, that is one of the most aggravating things for me about using a Mac. Another issue is that one cannot use the keyboard to move and resize the windows. I was aggravated enough to write a tool to address just those issues: MoveResize (free and open source). The MoveResize tool requires that System Preferences » Universal access » Seeing » Enable Access for Assistive Devices is checked.

How it works:

The implementation uses AppleScript to get the frontmost window and its bounds. It sends the bounds rectangle to a server implemented in Java over a socket connection. The Java server takes the screen shot of the full Desktop and uses it as the Image label (a JLabel with ImageIcon) as the content pane of an undecorated JFrame which has the same bounds as the Desktop.

A JPanel with semitransparent background and a dark rounded rectangular border is given the same bounds that were received over the socket. This JPanel is added to the PALETTE_LAYER of the JFrame's layered pane - which makes it appear floating in front of the front window.

A Mouse and a Key listener added to the JPanel allow moving and resizing of the JPanel. When the user presses the Enter key, the JFrame is hidden and the new bounds of the JPanel are sent back to the AppleScript over the socket connection, which moves and resizes the frontmost window. You can also directly enter location (x,y) and/or size (width,height) in the text fields, and then press Enter to move and/or resize the window.

[robg adds: I tested this and it works, though it requires that the MoveResize app is in the main Applications folder. Other solutions I'm aware of, both free and non-free, include Zooom/2, this AppleScript-based hint, MercuryMover, and MondoMouse -- though I'm sure there are others.]
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