Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Use modifier keys with Active Screen Corners System
You're probably aware that you can add modifier keys to the Exposé, 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 Exposé & 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 Exposé 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 Exposé, 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.
  Post a comment  •  Comments (7)  
  • Currently 2.33 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (9 votes cast)
 
[7,351 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
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.
  Post a comment  •  Comments (3)  
  • Currently 2.27 / 5
  You rated: 3 / 5 (11 votes cast)
 
[15,898 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
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 Exposé, 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.]
  Post a comment  •  Comments (8)  
  • Currently 1.00 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (7 votes cast)
 
[8,903 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
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 com.apple.StarTrek 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.]
  Post a comment  •  Comments (21)  
  • Currently 1.92 / 5
  You rated: 1 / 5 (12 votes cast)
 
[23,110 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
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.
  Post a comment  •  Comments (5)  
  • Currently 2.25 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (8 votes cast)
 
[8,381 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
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: http://www.mactipper.com/2009/03/script-to-change-default-name-of.html
--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: http://www.mactipper.com/2008/08/everything-there-is-to-know-about.html

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: http://tinyurl.com/changescreenshots
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
          repeat
            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"
              try
                (the_path as alias)
              on error err
                log err
                if err is (("File " & the_path & " wasn't found.") as string) then
                  exit repeat
                else
                  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.
read more (322 words)   Post a comment  •  Comments (12)  
  • Currently 1.00 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (7 votes cast)
 
[13,134 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
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...
read more (1,259 words)   Post a comment  •  Comments (8)  
  • Currently 2.00 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (8 votes cast)
 
[30,850 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
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.
  Post a comment  •  Comments (26)  
  • Currently 1.00 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (7 votes cast)
 
[11,566 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
Check filtering software if Software Update is failing System
You may have a problem were OS X's Software Update reports that your software is up to date, even when you know that is just not the case. There are hints about this on the web that discuss removing the com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.plist file for the affected user, or trying to update with a different user or new user account to resolve the issue. If that all fails, however, you may need to consider that internet filtering is the cause.

This could be done by an ISP, or by the local host that you happen to be using to connect to the net. I've found that -- assuming you can ask for changes in the filtering program -- adding swscan.apple.com and swquery.apple.com to the filter's allowed exceptions list solved the problem.
  Post a comment  •  Comments (0)  
  • Currently 1.00 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (6 votes cast)
 
[6,151 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
Easily change a filename while the file is being edited System
Say you're working in Pages or TextEdit, but you want to change the filename of the document you're editing. In the past, I've done this with File » Save As, but then you wind up with two documents. Recently, I (re)discovered another cool way to rename an active file, one that leaves you with one file, and demonstrates the real-time connection between the file system and the app.

As an example, consider you're editing in TextEdit. Command-click on the title of the current window to see the pop-up menu attached to the title. From there, open the folder containing the file; this will open a Finder window showing that folder. In the opened folder, rename the file and close the window. When you go back to the TextEdit document, you'll see in the title bar that the filename now reflects the renamed file.

[robg adds: This has worked for, well, a really long time, but it's something that those new to the platform may not be aware of.]
  Post a comment  •  Comments (14)  
  • Currently 1.71 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (7 votes cast)
 
[12,852 views] Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version