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Remove Finder and Trash icons from the Dock System
I just got into Path Finder (finally) and, like many other Path Finder users, quickly grew annoyed by the useless Finder and Trash icons in the Dock. So, through some digging, I found out how to kill them once and for all (kind of).

Navigate to /System » Library » CoreServices, Control-click on then select Show Package Contents from the contextual menu. In the new window that opens, navigate into Resources and open DockMenus.plist in your favorite editor.

Find the entries for finder-quit and trash. In each, change one of the commands so that the command entry is 1004 and the name entry is REMOVE_FROM_DOCK. Save your changes and restart the Dock (killall Dock), and you can then choose Remove From Dock for those two items -- assuming Finder is quit, which Path Finder will do for you.

Unfortunately, it would appear that these entries come back every time the Dock is relaunched, but it beats not being able to remove them at all -- plus, I think this could be easily handled by an AppleScript.

[robg adds: You'll need to do this editing as root (at least in 10.5); I did it in Terminal with sudo vi. Instead of changing an existing entry, I added a new DICT entry for the 1004/REMOVE_FROM_DOCK values in the trash and finder-quit sections. After saving my changes and restarting the Dock, I was able to remove the trash icon via its new Remove from Dock contextual menu entry, so this hint does seem to work as described.

Important note: Making this change in 10.5 will result in breaking code signing for the Dock app. You can confirm this by running this command before and after making the change:
codesign -v /System/Library/CoreServices/
I do not know what the implications are of using the Dock with broken code signing, but potentially, it may affect how it works. Proceed at your own risk -- and back up the original DockMenus.plist file before you start, in case you want it back!]
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Identify inserted recordable media type System
A reader emailed me a question; he wanted to know how to identify what sort of recordable media (CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, etc.) was in his machine's optical drive. Obviously, you could hit the eject button to answer the question, but I wondered if the system would be able to help. After a bit of testing, I found three ways to find this info, though I suspect there may be more.

The first solution is to use System Profiler (hold down the Option key, click the Apple menu, select System Profiler). Select Disc Burning in the Contents column, click on your optical drive in the Burning Device section of the window, and then look in the Media section below -- you'll see not only the media type, but also whether or not it's blank, erasable, overwritable, appendable, and the disc's available write speeds. This is the most-detailed information about the inserted media that I was able to find.

The second solution is to use Disk Utility, in Applications » Utilities. Select your optical drive in the sources list, and then look at the bottom of the Disk Utility window. Among the other items shown is Media Type, and that answers the question -- it will read CD-R, DVD-R, DVD-ROM, etc. based on what's inserted in the drive.

The final solution works in Terminal (also in Applications » Utilities). diskutil is somewhat like Disk Utility for the command line; it can provide a lot of information about the drives in your machine. First, though, you need to know the device ID for your optical drive. If you already know your optical drive's ID (let's say it's /dev/disk3), you can see what type of media is inserted by typing diskutil info /dev/disk3. In the output, you'll see an entry for Optical Media Type which tells you exactly what type of media is in the drive.

If you don't know your optical drive's device ID, read on for one way to find it using Terminal.
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Use modifier keys with Active Screen Corners System
You're probably aware that you can add modifier keys to the Exposť, Dashboard, and Spaces activation keys. Hold down any/all of Shift, Command, Option, or Control while setting any of those features' activation keys, and the modifier keys will then be needed to activate that feature. This isn't a hint per se, because Apple documents it in the small text that appears above those sections of the Exposť & Spaces System Preferences panel ("for more shortcut choices, press Shift, Control, Option, or Command").

What does strike me as a hint (perhaps obvious to some/many of you) is the fact that these modifier keys can also be added to the Active Screen Corners section of the Exposť tab on that panel. Click the top left menu in that section, for instance, and then hold down the Command key, and you'll see that each option is displayed with the active modifier key(s). I rarely use the screensaver, but there are times when I'd like to activate it, but never accidentally due to a mouse drag. So I've now got it set to activate only when I have the Command key down when I drag the mouse to the top left corner of the screen. Perfect.

Unlike the panels for Exposť, Dashboard, and Spaces, there's no explanatory text for the Active Screen Corners section that would let you think this possible, but it seems to work just fine.
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Check startup disk setting if boot times seem slow System
Shortly after getting my MacBook, the power-on boot became drastically slower, with over half of a minute going by before the Apple Logo appeared. I tried many of the suggested fixes, including checking the boot drive for errors, cleaning out caches, looking for duplicate fonts, and fixing permissions. Nothing worked.

I had assumed, because I had only a single hard disk, that it would be, by default, set as the startup Disk in the Startup Disk System Preferences panel. As it turns out, that was not the case. The MacBook's startup disk had somehow been set to Network Startup. So the MacBook would not boot from the hard drive until the network boot attempt timed out. To fix this problem, I selected System Preferences » Startup Disk, and chose my hard disk.

Note: There are multiple causes for slow boot-up and this is just one of them, so this fix, like each of the others, will work in only a minority of cases.
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A possible fix for non-functioning function key shortcuts System
I've had a few occasions where most Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts suddenly stopped working (e.g., F9 for Exposť, F12 for Dashboard). Strangely, Copy, Paste, and Cut continued to work. The only solution seemed to be a reboot.

I discovered the cause yesterday: Dashboard. There must be some circumstance where it must not properly release the keyboard grab. Fortunately, I also discovered that explicitly invoking Dashboard (by double-clicking on Dashboard in Applications) cures the problem.

[robg adds: I haven't experienced this problem myself, but I'd be curious to know if others have, and if this fix works.]
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Use Boot Camp Windows installation without rebooting System
A couple years ago, when the Intel transition was just beginning, Apple introduced Boot Camp. Probably you've heard of it -- Boot Camp lets you boot your Mac natively into Windows, with full driver support for all hardware. Really, if you need the best Windows performance from your Mac, Boot Camp tops all the virtualization applications. I, however, hate running Boot Camp, because it requires a reboot. Looking for a way around this problem -- I wanted the power of Boot Camp without a reboot -- I dug deep into the guts of OS X, going crazy with strings - in Terminal on a slew of binary files.

Finally, after much digging, I found a solution! Of course, you're probably thinking, "that's impossible!" Often, though, what seems impossible isn't, and such is the case here. Look, I didn't believe it myself until I tried it and it worked. So let's get started...

Fire up Terminal, enter this command, and press Return when done:
defaults write BootCampLive -bool true
That's it, you're done with the hard part (Star Trek was the code name of an old Apple project that involved porting the Mac OS to run on Intel-powered machines; Apple's engineers have apparently repurposed this word!).

Now, in the Finder, navigate to your Boot Camp partition (assuming Windows XP Pro, which is what I use), then drill down into Windows » System32, and double-click on bootcfg.exe. With the command above in place -- which creates a special file in your user's Preferences folder -- the bootcfg.exe file will launch, and soon enough, you'll see Windows booting in a window of its own!

What you see is real -- it's the full Boot Camp Windows installation booting directly on top of OS X, but not as an application. Instead, it's more like one of those TV tuner cards that puts an overlay on your screen. You won't be able to take screenshots, copy and paste into or out of the Windows window, or drag and drop to/from the window. (If you hold down Command and Option, you can resize and move the window, and you'll see the Boot Camp identifier, as seen in the photo at right -- sorry for the quality, but I had to use my digital camera to capture it). But everything else works! Hardware mounts natively, my iSight worked (it would disable itself in iChat, for instance, if I activated it in a Windows chat client), and even my Wacom tablet worked. Flight Sim X ran with excellent frame rates, too.

When you're done, just shut down Windows as normal, and the overlay window will vanish.

Note that this is very experimental, and you may experience system instability -- I had one full lockup while testing, so please, proceed at your own risk and make sure you're backup is current! If you've tried this trick, and you're not happy with the results, you can just delete the com.appleStarTrek file that you'll find in your user's Library » Preferences folder, and all will be back to normal.

[robg adds: For those reading this hint at some point in the future, the above was an April Fool's Day entry from April 1st, 2009. I have marked the giveaway characters in the first two paragraphs to make it bit more obvious, and this note to completely reveal the ruse to unsuspecting future readers.]
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Fix Spotlight task overload due to torrent downloads System
I just got a new Mac mini, and noticed it was crawling along. So I used Activity Monitor, and discovered that the mdworker and mds processes (both related to Spotlight) were constantly using 60% of CPU on both cores. After a bit of digging, I figured out that this was due to the constant indexing of the destination folders of some torrents I was downloading.

The fix was creating a dedicated folder for my torrent downloads, and then adding that folder to the Privacy tab in the Spotlight System Preferences panel, so Spotlight no longer indexes that folder.

Now the mdworker and mds processes are behaving normally and my system is running much faster.
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Automatically change the name of screenshot files System
One of the side-effects of running The MacTipper Blog is that I take a lot of screenshots. Right now, I have more than 150 screenshots in my trash can. My point with all this is that I deal with a lot of screenshots. One of my complaints when dealing with screenshots is that you cannot quickly select a screenshot with the keyboard. To do that, I need to navigate to the folder, hit Tab, then type in Picture, press the Space Bar, then type the number of the screenshot I want.

In order to solve this, I have written a script to rename any of the default-named screenshot files to a name you prefer with the number before the name. For example, this script will change Picture 1.png to 1 Screenshot.png. Here's the script:
--Written by MacTipper for The MacTipper Blog:
--This script allows you to change the default name of screenshots by combining it with a LaunchD script.
--Everything there is to know about screenshots:

property the_suffix : " Screenshot" --Everything that will appear after the number except for the extension.
property folder_path : "/Users/oliver/Pictures/Screenshots/" --Posix path to your screenshots folder. You can change the folder with this tip:
property default_extension : ".png" --Change this to the extension of screenshots you take.

on run
  tell application "Finder"
    set action_folder to ((POSIX file folder_path) as alias)
    set folder_items to every item in action_folder
  end tell
  repeat with an_item in folder_items
    tell application "Finder"
      set item_name to name of (an_item as alias)
      set the_comment to (get comment of (an_item as alias))
      log item_name
    end tell
    if the_comment does not contain "managed" then
      set an_item to (an_item as alias)
      if (item_name ends with default_extension) then
        if (item_name begins with "Picture") then
          set x to 0
            set x to x + 1
            set the_name to (x & the_suffix & default_extension) as string
            set the_path to (POSIX file (folder_path & the_name)) as string
            tell application "Finder"
                (the_path as alias)
              on error err
                log err
                if err is (("File " & the_path & " wasn't found.") as string) then
                  exit repeat
                  return err
                end if
              end try
            end tell
          end repeat
          tell application "Finder"
            set comment of an_item to (comment of an_item) & " managed"
            set name of an_item to the_name
          end tell
        end if
      end if
    end if
  end repeat
end run
You can also download the script if you prefer. Once you've created/downloaded the script, you'll need to set it up.
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Create, use, and share multiple Boot Camp partitions System
This hint explains how to set up your OS X hard drive and installation to be able to use Windows Vista or XP in a very, very smart way on your machine. It also includes the holy grail of virtualization. Here are the things this hint will let you do:
  • Use at least two NTFS (or otherwise formatted) partitions on a hard drive.
  • Be able to read and write to these partitions from OS X and the guest OS using NTFS-3G.
  • Use the same software installations whether virtualizing, using natively via Boot Camp, or via Crossover.
  • Have the same set of partitions in Parallels and in native Windows (via Boot Camp).
  • Do all of that without starting from scratch or reformatting the entire disk.
Read on to see the complete guide...
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Hear an odd anomaly in the OS X speech system System
This isn't really a hint as much as it is an amusing OS X glitch that I've never seen documented. I don't know how long this has been present, as I just discovered it recently.

If you use the speech service (whether through the Services menu, the say Terminal command, or an application) to speak the word bullfrog, OS X says bullfrogs. If you instead have the system speak bullfrogs, it says bullfrog.

What an odd little thing.
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