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10.4: How to reuse Automator workflows System 10.4
Tiger only hintI often save Automator workflows as applications or plug-ins. The nice thing about that is that you just select it or double-click and it runs, without launching Automator. The bad thing is that if you don't save a seperate copy as a workflow, you can't modify it anymore and you'll have to create it again from the beginning if you don't like it. Actually, you can modify these files.

To reuse workflows saved as Applications, control-click or right-click the file and choose "Show Package Contents" from the contextual menu. Double-click the Contents folder in the new window, and you'll see a file named document.wflow. Double-click it, and it will open in Automator. Make your changes, and do a "Save As...," set it as an application or anything else (don't try to save it in the package as document.wflow, though; it won't work for some reason). If you don't want the old version of your application, you can trash it.

If you want to modify a workflow you saved as a plug-in, navigate to your user's Library -> Workflows -> Applications directory, and double-click the folder with the name of the application for which you saved the plug-in (i.e. Finder or iCal). You'll see your plug-in's name. Just double-click it, and it will open in Automator. You can then modify it and just save it; there's no need to "Save As...". You'll be able to use your modified plug-in.

[robg adds: For workflows saved as applications, an easier solution is to just drag-and-drop the application onto Automator's icon in the Finder (or Dock).]
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10.4: Yet another DVD screen grab tip System 10.4
Tiger only hintHere's how to take a screenshot from a DVD in Mac OS X Tiger. I noticed another hint said to quit DVD Player and all that other stuff ... but that's too much work.

Here's a much simpler workaround:
  1. Go to the part of the movie you'd like to capture. Hit the Stop button in the DVD controller.
  2. Press the Play button in the controller, and then immediately press down Command-Shift-4.
  3. Hit the space bar to take a screenshot of the DVD Player window, then click the mouse to take the shot.
You can do all this without ever quitting DVD Player first.

[robg adds: DVD screenshots are a relatively popular topic here (1, 2, 3) ... I tested this one, and it works as described. I still prefer Snapz Pro X for serious DVD screen grab work, but this is a simple workaround.]
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10.4: Use cron or anacron to run workflows System 10.4
Tiger only hintI was late installing Tiger, but one of the first things I did was to create the Astronomy Picture of the Day (apod) workflow in the December Macworld. Having done that, I realized I would actually have to run it every day; what a drag. The solution was easy.

I run anacron on a PowerBook (you could also use cron), so I just added the following to my daily.local file:
/usr/bin/open -a /users/rbp/Applications/
You should substitute your path to the application, obviously. anacron runs periodically while your laptop is running. It checks to see if the daily jobs have been run yet. If not, it runs them. Thus you will have the day's "desktop" within an hour of firing up your laptop.

[robg adds: You can find the apod workflow linked in this article on the Macworld site.]
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10.4: Change the iTunes widget's display font System 10.4
Tiger only hintThe stock Lucida Grande font that the iTunes widget uses was looking kind of boring to me, so I went in to see if I could find where to change it. Sure enough...

Navigatge to /Library/Widgets, and then open the package contents of the iTunes widget (control-click the widget and choose 'Show Package Contents' from the pop-up) after setting its permissions to Read/Write via the Get Info window. Now open iTunes.css in your favorite pure-text editor. The fragment of code we're looking for is this:
#titleDisplay {
  color: #393F21;
  font: 11px "Lucida Grande", sans-serif; text-align: center;
  position: absolute;
  top: 33px;
  left: 115px;
  width: 128px;
  height: 15px;
Simply change the font entry to whatever font (and size) you'd like. I have mine set to Hei; I love that font.

[robg adds: I would recommend using the 'create a local override version' method described in this hint when modifying widgets -- it just strikes me as a safer way to do things, and you don't need to change any permissions to edit a widget in your user's folder. Keep in mind that if you're using a font with a space in its name, you'll need to enclose its name in quotes (as is presently done in the file).]
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Create LightScribed DVDs using an HP burner System 10.4
Tiger only hintIn some sort of self-test, I got myself an HP dvd840i DVD burner today -- it's identified as HP dvd840b within System Profiler. As you might know, LaCie seems to offer the only LightScribe DVD writers available for the Mac at this point of time, and they are licensed by the LightScribe consortium.

However, it seems that HP's dvd840i with LightScribe is also supported by Mac OS 10.4 (tested on 10.4.3). My test machine is a G5 Dual 2.7GHz box with 8 GB RAM, running Toast Titanium 7 and DiscLabel 3.0.

Disk Utility, iTunes, iMovie HD , Toast Titanium 7, DVD Studio Pro, and iDVD definetly do support this burner. In addition, SmileOnMyMac's DiscLabel is able to burn images (tested on TIFF, JPEG and PSD) on LightScribe-enabled media. It takes anywhere from seven to 30 minutes (depending on contrast of the image) to burn a design to disc.

[robg adds: I have labeled this one 10.4 only, but if someone has the ability to test the burner in a previous system version, please do so and post a comment and I'll correct the classification if necessary.]
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10.4: Modify how the system classifies 'safe' files System 10.4
Tiger only hintYou can modifying what Safari considers a 'safe' file using a local file that will override the global file-type security assessments.

If there's a file named in your user's Library/Preferences folder, it will override the global defaults for which files Safari considers "safe." You can also use this technique to make currently-safe files treated as unsafe. In fact, there are four different top-level risk categories:
  • LSRiskCategorySafe - Auto-opened after download, if Safari has this option enabled.
  • LSRiskCategoryNeutral - A neutral file won't be auto-opened, but there won't be a warning about its contents, either.
  • LSRiskCategoryUnsafeExecutable - All executable files fall into this category, and you'll see a warning when you attempt to download one in Safari, Mail, etc.
  • LSRiskCategoryMayContainUnsafeExecutable - This covers 'container' formats such as disk images and archives. If Safari/Mail can see the contents of the container and determine they're all safe, then no warning will be generated.
For more details on how to create your own custom settings for various file types using the file, see Modifying Safari Safe Files on the website.

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one, but I would suggest caution if you're going to change how certain downloaded filetypes are handled...]
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10.4: View two different Spotlight searches at once System 10.4
Tiger only hintThis is partly a bug, partly a feature (perhaps?)...

If you have the Spotlight search results window open, but in the background, you can bring it forward by pressing (by default) Command-Option-Space. This not only brings the window to the front, but also hightlights the search term(s) in the Search field so you can type over them and run a new search.

But, if you press (by default) Command-Space instead, which displays the Spotlight menu, this also brings the Spotlight search results window to the front. While the search string in the window is highlighted, it is not active; the cursor is in the Spotlight menu search field.

But here's the bug: normally, if you press Command-Space to display the Spotlight menu, clicking anywhere else (in another window, on the Desktop, etc) makes the Spotlight menu fade away. When the Spotlight search results window is visible, however, clicking anywhere else takes you to that window, but the Spotlight menu remains visible. To get rid of it, you need to click in the search field, then press Escape. However, if you click in the Spotlight search results window, this makes the Spotlight menu go away.
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10.4: Finding Audible files with Spotlight System 10.4
This is clearly a bug, but it might be good to know...

If you do a Spotlight search for Audible files (audiobooks from, with the .aa extension), they do not show up in the Music category -- Tiger considers them to be documents. So if you get lots of hits and wonder why you don't see them in the Music category, check the Documents category instead.

Audiobooks purchased from iTunes, however (with the .m4b extension) show up in the Music category (as do podcasts), which makes more sense, since they are audio programs.
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10.4: Fix System Keychain corruption after migration System 10.4
Tiger only hintThis may be a rare glitch, but it's a nasty one: after I used Migration Assistant to move settings and accounts from an old machine to a new one, corruption in the System keychain prevented user keychains from working or being modified.

Situation: I was migrating my account, settings, applications, etc., from an old machine running OS X 10.3 to a new one running 10.4. Everything seemed fine except for a strange Safari bug: it wouldn't make HTTPS connections. Corrupt Keychain entries can cause Safari crashes suggested a reason for the problem. Well, something was definitely wrong with my Keychain. In fact, I couldn't use Keychain Assistant to do anything: attempting to open or repair my existing ~/Library -> Keychains -> login.keychain didn't work, nor could I create a new Keychain. Each attempt produced an error message.

I tried creating a new user to see if that user could use a Keychain. No go: the new user had the exact same problem with Keychain Assistant, and could not create a keychain.

I had previously enabled the root user, so I figured I would log in as root and see if that made a difference in running Keychain Assistant. It did: I was able to select the System Keychain, and determine that it was corrupt via Keychain First Aid. Running Repair in Keychain First Aid then fixed it.

After that, user keychains were accessible, and Keychain Access worked as it should. I can't think of a way to do this repair without enabling the root user, because Keychain First Aid operates on the login keychain only, and only the root user's login keychain is the System keychain.
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10.4: Use a graphical GUI to create launchd tasks System 10.4
Tiger only hintIn my case, I just wanted to start up snmpd at boot time on Tiger. I had quite a hard time configuring launchd to do so, until I found out about the open-source Lingon program. Lingon is simply a graphical user interface you can use to configure launchd correctly. It includes an assistant, as well as a built-in text editor for editing.

In order to start a daemon, I just added a Users Daemon, into which I entered the following:
  • Label: org.ucd.snmpd
  • ProgramArguments:
    • /usr/sbin/snmpd
    • -c /etc/snmpd.conf
  • Check RunAtLoad and enter a description.
Note that you need to supply the program's arguments on several lines -- the program itself, then its arguments, as seen above. In the Miscellaneous tab, you also need to enter UserName as root. Click on Save & Load, and watch the little button next to your new agent. If it's green, it means that it worked!

No need to say that Lingon doesn't need to be running for all this to work ... and I have no doubt that plenty of very cool things can be done with this tool, as there are a lot of very cool features in launchd.
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