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10.4: Fix a kernel panic after Security Update 2005-009 System 10.4
Tiger only hintI thought I'd post this fix for a potential kernel panic problem after installing Security Update 2005-009 -- as this happened to me, I thought others may be affected, too. The original solution (along with alternative solutions) was originally posted on

To summarize the solution posted on MacFixIt, you need to reboot in Safe mode (hold Shift during startup). Once the machine is booted, try deleting the following cache files:
  • /System/Library/Caches/
  • /System/Library/Extensions.kextcache
  • /System/Library/Extensions.mkext
  • /Library/Caches/
  • In /Library/Caches, remove all the files.
I removed the listed files, and following a restart, all worked well.

[robg adds: The linked-to MacFixIt article provides details on what to do if the above doesn't solve the kernel panic issue--namely, a method of reverting the Security Update install that involves a backup and restore of your system. As one data point, I've put the installer on four Macs now, and haven't seen a kernel panic on any of them, so I'm not sure how widespread this issue may be.]
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10.4: Find and modify the 'About this Mac' box System 10.4
Tiger only hintAs of 10.4.3, it seems Apple has changed the location of the "About this Mac" images, and made them into one image. It took me some time to find the location of the new image with Terminal, as the usual places were not working.

The new file can be found in /System -> Library -> CoreServices -> -> Contents -> Resources -> MacOSX.tif. This TIFF now holds the Apple image and the Mac OS X tag line.

There are other places, however, that still use the two-image format (applelogo.tif and MacOSX.tif), such as:
  • /System -> Library -> CoreServices -> -> Contents -> Resources
  • /System -> Library -> CoreServices -> SecurityAgentPlugins -> loginwindow.bundle -> Contents -> Resources
  • /System -> Library -> CoreServices -> SecurityAgentPlugins -> MCXMechanism.bundle -> Contents -> Resources
This info is potentially useful for those of us out there who want to lightly personalize our Macs...
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10.4: An AppleScript to automate Address Book backups System 10.4
Tiger only hintI was browsing through old hints and the forums the other day and I came across this hint about Address Book and iCal data loss during a sync on 10.4. As usual, the first thing in my mind was, how do you automate backups then? While searching for an answer, I came across this forum post on I took some of the code there and made this AppleScript to perform an automated backup via ApplesSript UI scripting. I found that using the iCal AppleScript appointment reminder is a nice way for those of us who don't like using cron to schedule backups and such.

There are some Apple failsafes built into the code to make sure that UI scripting is enabled. Also, I did make the "move" section hard coded to the ~/Documents/ABBackup/ folder, so make sure that is created prior to running the script. I know that this works on Tiger, but because of the UI scripting, I am not sure if it will work on previous system builds.

NOTE: You do have to have the "Enable access for assistive devices" box checked in the Universal Access preference pane, so that the UI scripting code works.

[robg adds: I tested this, and it works as described (I didn't schedule it via iCal; just ran the script in ScriptEditor). If someone tests this on 10.3, please let me know if it works and I'll take off the 10.4 tag...]
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10.4: How to easily secure a nearby iMac G5 (iSight) System 10.4
Tiger only hintI was reading through the User's Guide for my new iMac G5 (iSight), and noticed that the addition of the Front Row remote has added a new way to put the machine to sleep.

If you press and hold the Play/Pause button on the remote for three seconds, the computer will go to sleep. Combine this with requiring a password to wake up the computer, and you've got a potentially useful means of securing your system if you notice someone is starting to explore areas of your system you'd rather they didn't.
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A helper script to enter SafeSleep on demand System 10.4
If you're using 10.4.3, you may have already tried out enabling Safe Sleep on your computer using the tips from Andrew Escobar's blog. I found it works great on my Powerbook G4 867, but I didn't want to have to keep using the Terminal to switch it from hibernatemode 3 (computer uses regular sleep, only Safe Sleeps in extreme situations) to hibernatemode 1 (goes straight into Safe Sleep).

So I wrote an AppleScript application that flips the machine to mode 1, sleeps the machine, then turns it back to mode 3 upon awaking, so that I can use Safe Sleep on demand.
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10.4: Change the default Spotlight Preview zoom level System 10.4
Tiger only hintThe new Spotlight feature in Tiger does a great job at searching the contents of PDF files. Clicking on the result will open the file in Preview, starting at the first reference. However, the default zoom is so large that the context containing the reference is lost without manually zooming out.

It is possible to change the default zoom when opening PDFs from Spotlight using a plist editor, such as the Property List Editor (part of Xcode) or a third party tool like Plist Edit Pro.

Open the file ~/Library -> Preferences -> and look for this key:
Root -> Preview -> PVPDFSpotlightSelectionSize
Change the value to 1, then save the file and quit the editor. Next time a result is opened from Spotlight, the entire page will be displayed.

[robg adds: This works as described -- hooray! No more massively-zoomed-in PDFs from Spotlight. You can also edit the file in the Terminal, if you first convert it to XML via plutil -convert xml1... and then back to binary1 when done.]
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10.4: Enable safe sleep on some older Macs System 10.4
Tiger only hintAs soon as I heard about 'safe sleep' (which lets you replace a battery without a shut down, for instance) on the new PowerBooks, I wanted it. I have often been in the position where my 12" PowerBook G4 has run out of juice while hibernating (due to various reasons), and then I have lost all my open programs. Well it appears that safe sleep can be implemented on many Macs, as described in this excellent entry on Andrew Escobar's blog.

It works. I've tried it.

[robg adds: I tested this on my 12" PowerBook G4 (1.33GHz), and it worked -- on the second attempt. The first time I yanked the power and restored it, the machine just cold booted. But on the subsequent attempts, it worked as it should. Very cool! If you try this one yourself, please post your Mac model info and success/failure results in the comments.

It should be obvious, but I'll say it anyway: this is potentially quite dangerous! Andrew provides good recovery instructions, in case things go wrong. However, I would recommend having a current backup, just in case...

The above-linked article is very well done, with clear step-by-step directions and additional information. In the event that entry ever disappears, though, I thought I would at least provide the basic steps here; Read More to see them...
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10.4: Hide Automator applications when they run System 10.4
Tiger only hintI've set up a number of Automator workflows as iCal plugins, but it annoys me that when the alarm triggers, the plugin shows up in the Dock as an application and, worse yet, the focus switches to the plugin.

The solution is simple: Go to the ~/Library -> Workflows -> Applications -> iCal folder, choose the Automator plugin that you want to remain hidden while it runs, control-click on it, and choose Show Package Contents from the pop-up menu. Inside the Contents folder, open up Info.plist, and change LSUIElement from No to Yes (if using Property List Editor) -- or change the line after the LSUIElement key line to <true/> (if using a text editor). Save Info.plist.

Now when the alarm triggers, the Automator plugin will run in the background, without a Dock icon or a menu bar, and the focus will remain on the application you're using.

Three things to note:
  1. You might have to move the plug-in out of the iCal folder and back in for this to work. Tiger caches the LSUIElement info; moving the app forces Tiger to renew the cache.
  2. You probably do not want to do this with any iCal plugin that has dialogs or requires user interaction! This works best for maintenance actions, automated downloads, and that sort of thing.
  3. Third, this will work with any Automator workflow that is saved as an application, not just with iCal plugins.
[robg adds: I tested this on a simple plug-in, and it works as described.]
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How to make a headless older PowerBook work System 10.4
Tiger only hintBefore I started using Macs, I used to take old, broken, Gateway laptops and turn them into little "Convertibles," as I like to call them. Well, I got a hand-me-down TiPowerBook with such a destroyed screen that I began using it as a portable 60GB FireWire drive. In the end, I couldn't help but make my first Mac Convertible.

The easy part was to image the machine using either Disk Utility or CCC, whichever you prefer (my image had 10.4.3).

When that is finished, boot it as a FireWire drive (if it hasn't been already) and boot another machine from it (preferably one with a monitor!). Set up an account with auto-login. Also, I think that if you hook up an external monitor at this point, then you *should* be able to set up display mirroring. I wasn't able to, because of a restriction I had with my booting machine.

If you don't have the luxury of setting it there, boot the TiPowerBook normally, with an external monitor attached. Wait for it to auto-login, and then put your mouse all the way in the top left-hand corner of the unseen screen (by default the external monitor is positioned to the right of the "primary" display). Click the mouse, hit the down arrow four times, and type mirror (this uses Spotlight searching, so it won't work on pre-Tiger OS), and then hit Return. This will bring the Secondary monitor display options on the screen -- and I believe there is a Gather Display Options button. Hit that, and it will bring you the other display screen. Feel free to set up the mirrored displays and -- ta-da -- you have a headless Tiger TiPowerBook.

I should note, in newer machines, just use the monitor switching function key... that makes this a lot easier!
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10.4: About the Java SE 5.0 Release 3 update System 10.4
Tiger only hintYesterday, Apple released Java 2 Platform Standard Edition (J2SE) 5.0 Release 3. It's in Software Update, and you can read more about it (and find a download link) on Apple's About the Java 2 ... Release page. If you're like me, you might be slightly confused by the version number -- it seemingly jumps the Java version from 1.4.2 to 5.0, which is quite the move. In addition, unlike prior Java updates, this one doens't replace the 1.4.2 version; it's installed right next to it.

To help clarify the situation, macosxhints forum moderator hayne has put together a nice write-up that explains what's up with the version number, why two versions are installed, and how to put the new version to use.

Here's a summary of the topics he covers:
  • The update (which is only available on Tiger) installs Java 5 (which is also known as Java 1.5)
  • The default version of Java remains as Java 1.4 even after the update. Thus it should be quite safe to install this update since by default it makes no change to the Java environment.
  • You can change the version of Java to be used by certain Java programs/applets by using the new Java Preferences app, which is found in the Java/J2SE 5.0 folder, within the /Applications/Utilities folder.
  • Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, you should not modify anything (e.g. symbolic links) in the /System area of OS X to change the default to be Java 5.
Read his writeup for the details behind this somewhat-complex (to me, anyway!) Java update.
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