Over the weekend, I decided to take some of the more general tips from the site and combine them into a more formal document designed to help people get started with OS X. To test OS X as a truly usable OS, I decided to do the entire project with only native apps. So, using primarily AppleWorks, Graphic Converter, Grab, OmniWeb, and Preview, I created a nine-page introductory tips document for new OS X users. The general idea is to help someone understand the OS, and perhaps start using it productively more quickly than if they stumble through on their own. I cover the OS in general, the dock, the Finder including the toolbar, and a few key apps.
There's nothing in the document that hasn't been published here, except for the section covering how I use the desktop and toolbar. So if you read here regularly, you probably won't find any new information - but perhaps it will help someone you know who is just starting the transition. I didn't try to cover everything, and the UNIX-related content is intentionally kept at minimal to none. The guide is strictly targeted at the OS X user transitioning from OS 9.
To keep the load off the macosxhints server, the file is available on my mac.com homepage. It's a PDF file about 1.1mb in size, and you can find it here:
If you select Help from the Finder, and then Mac Help (the only choice), you get the standard "What is your question?" box, with a few blurbs about OS X. However, I noticed tonight that the "back" arrow is lit, which seemed odd given that I'd just opened Help.
If you click Back, you'll be taken to the Help Center screen, which shows all the help files that have been installed on your machine. On my box, for example, I see BBEdit Help, DragThing Help, and the Developer Help Center (which I never knew was there!). From there, clicking on any one of them takes you to that appplication's help files without opening the application first.
I just noticed that Adaptec has released revised (beta) drivers for the 2906, 2930, 29160, and 39160 SCSI cards. If you've got one of these, head on over to Adaptec's OS X beta page to download the driver. They've also provided an email address for beta feedback: OSXSCSIfeedback@trillium.adaptec.com.
It's been noted here before that holding down command-option and dragging an item to the dock will force an application to try to open whatever you drop on it.
Tonight, I noticed a really cool variant on that trick. If you'd like to open a new terminal window in a given directory, simply drag that folder to the Terminal icon in the dock while holding down command-option. Terminal will open a new window, leaving any that you have alone, and 'cd' into the folder that you dropped on it. The first line you see is your prompt with the path showing that you're in the directory you dropped! I love the subtle niceties in X!
Bart Van den Broeck wrote in with the following tip for extracting individual files from the OS X installer package. Bart writes:
On MacFixit's Mac OS X late-breakers page a few days ago it was suggested you could "extract individual files" from Installer packages by decompressing the entire archive and than getting individual files from that. Since I don't have loads of hard drive space to spare, I figured out a better way. I hope some of you with limited HD space might benefit from it.
Read the rest of this article if you'd like to learn how to extract individual files...
This is another one for the department of the obvious, but I finally noticed that it's quite easy to add words to the system-wide dictionary (the Public Beta had no means of adding words). The dictionary is used in Cocoa apps such as OmniWeb, TextEdit, and Stickies.
To add unknown words, simply control-click (or right click if you can) on the underlined word, and you'll get a contextual menu that contains suggested corrections, as well as "Ignore Spelling" and "Learn Spelling". Cool!
While trying to help me debug a glitch on my particular DragThing installation, James Thompson pointed out a nifty little tool built into OS X but not enabled by default. The tool is called "Crash Reporter," and it's quite easy to enable.
Open a terminal session, navigate to /etc, and edit (in vi, emacs, or pico) hostconfig. Add a new line (at the end, if you wish) that reads
Save the changes and exit the editor. On your next reboot, the Crash Reporter will be active. To make it work immediately, type
in the terminal window [Note: I haven't tried this myself, and a posted comment seems to indicate that it doesn't work; a reboot may well be required.]
Once activated, when an application crashes, you'll get a dialog box with the option to write details to a log file. If you say yes, details are written to a log file kept in /var/log/crash.log. Some of the info there can be useful, if not to you, then to the author of the program in helping them debug the problem.
There's a new thread on the MacNN forums that discusses the how-to's of editing the Mac OS X extras.rsrc file, which controls the overall appearance of the system. The first post is a nicely detailed how-to, and there are a couple of clarifying follow-ups.
You'll need a copy of Theminator, which is no longer actively distributed, but can probably be located on the net with some sleuthing.
So head on over to MacNN and give the article a read if you're interested in modifying your system's appearance. Note that anyone distributing modified extras.rsrc files has been hit fairly heavily by Apple legal, so you should plan on keeping your modifications to yourself.
If you'd like to have an application running, but without a dock icon, there's a way achieve this by modifying the application's plist file. Read the rest of this article if you'd like the (fairly simple) instructions.
NOTE: This one goes in the clearly 'experimental' category. I have not tried this myself yet, but the source (the X4U mailing list) is generally good, and it seems to make logical sense. Use at your own risk!!
After installing 10.0.1 update the brightness keys will work on a PBG4 once the Display System Preference panel is opened. This needs to be done after every restart, or put the Displays as a startup item.