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10.4: Change the displayed 'info' line in the login window System 10.4
Ever since the 10.4.3 update, MacOS X users have been able to change (permanently) which status line is displayed on the login window, directly below the Apple logo and 'Mac OS X' message, as seen below:


Granted there is no easy, "anyone can do it" GUI method provided by Apple, although Tinker Tool System can do it, but that's overkill for such a singular task as this. However by using a simple command in Terminal (all you regular users can shudder in fear now), you can make this change by yourself. Currently you can click on this information line to cycle through the options, but it does not stay set between logins and power cycles.

Now, thanks to AFP548 who originally included this tip in an article about 10.4.3 Server, your preferred displayed status line will remain between power cycles and reboots. Open Terminal (or your other preferred command line access method), and enter this command:
defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow \
 AdminHostInfo status_msg
(Line break added for narrower display; copy and paste will work, thanks to the backslash)

Be sure to replace status_msg with one of the following self-explanatory words: HostName, SystemVersion, SystemBuild, SerialNumber, IPAddress, DSStatus, or Time. Personally, I like time. This change will remain on the login window forever, where forever means until you wipe the drive clean, or a system update overwrites the file, or your Mac finally turns to dust because the universe has just imploded.

[robg adds: This tip was originally emailed to me by r00st3r, who tracked down the original at AFP548 after he couldn't find it here. This trick has apparently been around since last November, but this is the first I'd heard of it. It works as expected, on both my PowerPC and Intel Macs.]
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10.4: Fix some menu extras on Intel Macs System 10.4
Our Groupcal product integrates Exchange calendars with iCal calendars, and it uses a .menu item (Apple's right-menu-based Volume and Display controls are two examples of .menu items). Recently we've had multiple reports of this menu item not working, but were initially unable to replicate the problem. Eventually, we discovered that there can be issues with Intel-based Macs and applications that use MenuCracker. The problem results from a PowerPC version of MenuCracker being installed, instead of the Universal version (read on for the details on how that happens).

This situation will be an issue for many users, regardless of whether they use Groupcal or not (see background info, below). One of our developers created an installer to fix this issue (25 KB download), so we thought we'd share it. This installer will install MenuCracker 1.4 in Universal Binary format, adjust the UI Server's plist file, and require the user to log out and back in (to restart the UI Server and activate the installed MenuCracker). Note that some .menu products disable themselves (e.g., the wonderful MenuMeters product), and will still need to be turned back on after this fix.
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10.4: Use Spotlight on a FileVault protected Home folder System 10.4
I just discovered today why I am often taken aback by search results when using the Finder to search through my home directory. I use FileVault for protecting the contents of my home directory, which is what is causing the problems. In a Finder window, click on your Home directory, then start typing in the search field for a file or text string you know is somewhere in your Home. Make sure that Home is selected as your search target. On my machine, the results I get are identical to what I get from searching with Computer as target, and the reason is FileVault.

A way to get around this is to use the Others function to create another target container. Drag in your FileVault directory, and also add at least one other location as well -- for some reason, this does not work if you use only the FileVault-enabled home directory. Note that you can create or select a dummy folder created somewhere to get around this problem.

If you really only want to search your Home directory, you can try this rather clumsy workaround:
  • Do the "Others" stuff as described above.
  • Press Save and store your save results (the Others selection are not sticky as a location unfortunately), and check the Sidebar checkbox.
  • If you don't want the search string you defined to be part of the search, edit your search string as explained in this older hint.
Hopefully, Apple addresses this bug in the future.
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10.4: How to secure screen savers across users System 10.4
I use the well-known screen saver Ciao to automaticly take my computer to the login window without logging out the users (via fast user switching) after a designated time period. I do this not so much because of the supposed security concerns, but because in my household, everyone knows each other's password (and quickly discovers it if I change it), and this way it's just as easy to login to one's own account as it is to use the one that was last being used.

Anyway, the problems with this set up are:
  1. There isn't any easy way to set up a default behavoir for Ciao.
  2. Anyone can change their screensaver, and hence ruin the whole thing.
I was lucky enough to sumble upon this blog post about securing screen savers, and pass it on to macosxhints with a few tweaks and additions.
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10.4: Use serial Wacom tablets in Mac OS X System 10.4
Tiger only hintWacom doesn't provide a driver for "obsolete" serial tablets in Mac OS X. Nature abhors a vacuum. So an open source project emerged to fill the void. TabletMagic is a free, open source driver and preference pane for Wacom serial tablets.

Supported model numbers start with PL, SD, UD, KT, and CT, and end in -R. It has been tested with tablet models UD-1212-R, UD-1218-R, CT-0045-R, PL-300, and PL-400. Intuos (GD) is not yet supported. ADB tablets are not supported. The updated preference pane provides an improved interface to control the driver, configure low-level tablet parameters, set mapping options and presets, and test the tablet.

TabletMagic 2 includes full source code under the General Public License.

[robg adds: I have a newer tablet, so I can't test this one -- but I know there are a fair number of serial tablets out there, so perhaps this will help someone...]
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10.4: Hide all low UID users from the login window System 10.4
Tiger only hintIn the days before 10.4, a user with a user ID lower than 500 would be hidden from the login window. This was especially practical when creating server administration users like postgres. For some reason, 10.4 didn't preserve this behaviour. This hint explains one method of hiding such users by defining each of them in a list. Here's a solution that will simply hide all the users with IDs below 500, as previous OS X releases did by default.

Open Terminal, and type this command:
sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow \
Hide500Users -boolean true
This takes care of the login window, as well as the Fast User Switching menu. It also does not add the "Other..." option to the login window.
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10.4: Manually add a Tiger Software Update Server System 10.4
I've been using my computer on a network where there is a Software Update Server (SUS) available, but since my computer is not managed by Tech Support, I've been unable to use it. I recently found the secret location of the preference that Workgroup Manager saves the SUS location in; it's in /Library -> Managed Preferences -> short_username -> com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.plist.

Copy the following code into a plain text document and save it as com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.plist in the above mentioned location. Make sure to edit the string of CatalogURL to your specific SUS URL:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
  <key>CatalogURL</key>
  <string>http://PUT THE URL OF YOUR SUS HERE/</string>
  <key>WebKitDefaultFontSize</key>
  <integer>11</integer>
  <key>WebKitStandardFont</key>
  <string>Lucida Grande</string>
</dict>
</plist>

I suppose that if someone wanted to mirror the Official Apple SUS on a much faster connection, this hint would be beneficial to just about anyone.

Before anyone tells me what I didn't "know" ... I know that I don't personally need access to a server to have the Server Admin Tools installed on my machine, and that I can use them to manage the preferences of my local machine, specifically the SUS option.
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10.4: Set the Boot Camp startup disk during boot System 10.4
Tiger only hintIf you've got an Intel Mac, and you've installed Boot Camp, then you're familiar with the boot loader screen. As seen at right, it appears at startup and lets you select whether to boot your Intel Mac into OS X or Windows.

I accidentally discovered this tip -- I was invoking the boot loader when I realized that my Bluetooth mouse worked. Using the mouse, I could select my partition with a double click. The interesting thing is that if you click the arrow icon seen below the partition, then that partition will be set as your Mac's startup disk. For example, if you select the Windows partition, the Mac will then boot into Windows every time you restart it -- unless you hold down the Option key to bring up the boot loader again.

Update: This hint's assertion about permanently changing the boot disk is incorrect, as noted in the comments.
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10.4: Disable the installation of Dashboard Widgets System 10.4
Tiger only hintMy company is preparing to install Tiger on all of our Macs, and I was told by an IT guy in the know that there's an intent to completely disable the Dashboard. Having used the Dashboard since Tiger's release and loving it, I can understand that, for security reasons and not wanting users to be able to install any system-damaging widgets they come across, disabling the Dashboard completely is not unwarranted.

But I believe the Dashboard is an inherently useful tool, and if there could be a way to prevent users from installing their own widgets, the Dashboard should be allowed to remain active. That being the case, I figured out that you take these two steps to secure the Dashboard, and prevent unauthorized widget installs:
  1. Use Admin/Root privileges to lock the top-level /Library -> Widgets folder, to prevent system-level widget installs. Use the Admin/Root privileges to lock the user's Library -> Widgets folder to prevent User installs (this will also block drag and drop installs).

  2. Widgets are installed by a small program called the Widget Installer. It resides deep inside of the OS X System folder. Modify the permissions of this app so that the end user has no access, and this will prevent any installation of a Widget, while allowing full use of the Dashboard. The program is located here: /System -> Library -> CoreServices -> Dock (control-click and Show Package Contents) -> Contents -> Resources -> Widget Installer.app.
(You can also prevent users from deleting or disabling widgets with the built-in Widget Manager (called Widgets) by locking it. It resides in the same folder as the Widget Installer.)

Doing both of these things will disable the system's ability to install new widgets, but keep the Dashboard's ability to run existing widgets.

[robg adds: For this to work, the normal users must not have admin privileges, obviously, or they could just override the permissions settings.]
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10.4: Choose Intel Mac boot drive via remote control System 10.4
I've installed Apple's Boot Camp, which lets my Intel-based Mac boot into Windows. To do so, you hold down the Option key at startup, and then select either the Mac or Windows partition to boot from.

When at the boot volume selection screen on my 17" Intel iMac, I found I was able to switch between the available boot volumes, and select the one I wanted to boot from, with the Apple Remote. Note that my remote is bound to this specific Mac -- I'm not sure if that effects the feature.

[robg adds: Same thing worked here on the Intel mini...]
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