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10.4: Change the Print dialog's default page orientation System 10.4
Strangely, the default page orientation in all my apps seems to be landscape view. For most apps from which I print regularly, this is no problem as once I've changed the orientation it seems to stick. However, when printing from Preview, a new app, or an app that I don't use often, this quickly becomes irritating. System Preferences enables you to change the default page size, but not the page orientation.

To change the default page orientation for all apps, open the file located in ~/Library » Preferences. I have the Xcode Developer Tools installed, so the plist automatically opens in Property List Editor, which makes editing easy. However, it is also possible to use a plain text editor and change the "integer" value of the key identified below. The key you want to change is:
For portrait, the value of this key should be 1, for landscape it should be 2, and I assume that for flipped landscape it should be 3, though I haven't tried it out.

[robg adds: My plist file only contains one key, and I have no access to a printer here in the hotel room, so I can't test this one...]
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10.4: Easily check Bluetooth software version System 10.4
Not exactly the most useful hint, but I figured someone may want to know.

If you need to check the Apple Bluetooth software version, holding the Option key while clicking on the Bluetooth menu bar item will display the version number in the first (grayed out) row, right next to the On/Off message.

[robg adds: If you want even more details about the adapter, try clicking next to Bluetooth Device Name in the Bluetooth System Preferences panel, as explained in this hint.]
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10.4: Automatic time resync after Boot Camp usage System 10.4
I've noticed a wrong time setting every time I'm booting in Boot Camp. One possible solution to avoid this issue is to automatically set the date and time at every Mac OS X login. To do that, you can set "Users Deamons" in Lingon to send ntpdate -u.

Please post if you have a better solution...
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10.4: Move a FileVault home directory between Macs System 10.4
I wanted to add the user of a different Mac to my new Mac by copying his home directory to the new Mac. I like to use FileVault for home directories, and the user has a FileVault directory on the original Mac, so I thought I could do this:
  • Create a new user on the new Mac, with same username, password, and short name.
  • Set up FileVault on the new location for the user.
  • Copy the sparseimage file from the original Mac to the new home directory.
Well, yes and no. When I tried to log in as the user on the new Mac, I kept getting the error: 'Home folder for user "Some User" cannot be found in the usual place,' where "Some User" was the user's username on the new Mac.

I tried to fiddle with the permissions (setting ownership of the directory of the user to the user, chmod 777, emptying ~/Library/Caches, all sorts of things), but couldn't get it to work.
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10.4: Watch zoomed-in video without the mouse pointer System 10.4
I've always used the handy Control-scroll zoom feature to zoom in on videos or Flash animations that are embeded in web pages. I think I solved my last complaint about this process, the lingering cursor, today. This is how I view videos full screen on the web:
  1. Set up zoom preferences in the Universal Access System Preferences pane. Under Options, I prefer "only when the pointer reaches an edge," but it's worth trying out all the options.
  2. Load up a video on a web page and hit play.
  3. Click in the Search Box field or the Address Field or your chosen browser (you'll see...)
  4. Zoom in via Control-zoom and center. Now it's looking good, except for that pesky mouse cursor!
  5. Type a key on your keyboard; I like the up arrow. This hides the cursor.
Now watch your video fullscreen without the annoying mouse cursor. Steps three and five let you hide the mouse cursor without any third party software. The Mac OS hides the cursor any time you start typing, so it doesn't get in the way. You can type any key, but I prefer the arrows because they don't input anything into the text box and they're an easy target.

One other option to hide the cursor is to use Tab to get to an obscured text field then type something. Enjoy!
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10.4: Move Users directory to another partition System 10.4
I spent quite a bit of time looking for information on how to move my Users directory to another partition or drive in 10.4. I'm used to Linux, where you would just edit the /etc/fstab file and you're done. Well, after reading a few articles, it was clear that it wasn't possible to use the fstab file without problems, though I did find a few good articles for part of what I wanted to do. I've put this hint together based on several postings and recommendations from macosxhints and other sites.

I basically wanted to move my Users directory to another partition without creating problems when adding applications or doing backups. The following is what I did to make it work with Tiger. After setting up your partition or RAID volumes, proceed with the following. Note that this setup assumes there are two partitions, Boot and Users. The second partition is for /NewPartUsers.:
  • Boot partition: The partition where Mac OS and applications are installed.
  • Users partition: The new partition that the user directories will be moved to, i.e. /NewPartUsers. (The following examples detail one user account named marty.)
Read on for two different ways to accomplish this task...
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10.4: Phrase searching using Spotlight and Python System 10.4
One of the most serious problems with Spotlight is that you cannot search for phrases in document content. One solution is to troll through the results of a Spotlight search using other utilities to do the phrase matching.

I wrote a python script to demonstrate this. "frank zappa" will first search the Spotlight index for all documents containing frank and zappa. It will then extract the text using mdimport -nfd2 to take advantage of Spotlight plug-ins. The script has command-line options for limiting the search to specific directory hierarchies, and searching using regular expressions. The output of the script is a list of all files with the given phrase.

You can always find the latest version of the script on my site (the first link above is hosted on This was tested using python 2.3 and 2.4, and obviously requires 10.4.

[robg adds: I tested this script by grabbing a phrase ("wrong one more than once") out of an old Macworld column, then searching for it using Spotlight and Spotlight found the right document, but it also found about 15 other columns that contained those very-common words. found just the one document, but it took a while -- over 10 minutes on my Mac Pro. Execution time would have been much lower if I'd restricted the search to only my Macworld columns folder, but I wanted to see how it did with my whole system.]
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10.4: Disable integrated iSight cameras System 10.4
I've been moved to action on this because of a recent NSA security document that states that it is not possible to disable the iSight cameras integrated into Apple computers without also disabling things like USB keyboards and mice. This is simply not true. When a program from OS X (Tiger at least) needs to access the integrated iSight camera, it has to call the QuickTimeUSBVDCDIgitizer.component. This file is located in the /System » Library » QuickTime folder.

Simply deleting this file will prevent any program from being able to access it. Instead, the system will simply display a message stating that the hardware is already in use by another program, and that it recommends you quit that program in order to use the camera. The beauty to all of this is that any program on your Mac that needs to verify the iSight at the hardware level can still do so. This allows things like Skype and iMovie to continue functioning, but without use of the camera. I've been using this on over 200+ MacBooks and iMacs at our Academy, and it works beautifully without causing other issues.
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10.4: Avoid the 10.4.9 Eject key activation delay System 10.4
Users who have installed the recent OS 10.4.9 update have probably noticed that it introduced a delay between the time the Eject key is pressed and when the eject function is activated. This delay also carries over to the Control-Eject shortcut for bringing up the Shutdown dialogue. Whereas a delay might be useful in preventing accidental presses of the Eject key, the Control-Eject combination is far less likely to be pressed accidentally, so the delay is a bit of a nuisance.

Fortunately, the shutdown dialogue can be summoned quickly without waiting for the delay. Instead of using the usual simultaneous Control-Eject combination, use Eject-Control. That is, press and hold the Eject key first, and then quickly (before an eject is triggered) press Control.

And if you'd like an immediate eject action, use Eject-Option in the same manner as above. The same seems to apply when you wish to sleep the machine immediately; use Eject and then Command-Option.

I suppose I should be grateful that the option of bypassing the delay is there, but I'm not sure I like the complexity of key combinations where the order in which the keys are pressed matters. I see no reason why the usual convention of a simultaneous (or modifier-first) Control-Eject, Option-Eject or Command-Option-Eject couldn't be used for their respective functions, given how unlikely it is to accidentally press those combinations.

[robg adds: These revised shortcuts work as described on my MacBook Pro. On my Mac Pro, however, I can't access the instant-eject feature -- I think that's because I have a second DVD-R in the machine, and Option-Eject is reserved to open that second drive.]
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10.4: A couple of Exposé tips System 10.4
Hopefully by this time, everyone knows how Exposé can be used to cut through window clutter and navigate the tons of windows you might have open. What I've never seen outlined is how it can help in a couple of problem cases.

The first helpful thing I've noticed F10 can do is simply gather the windows for an app together. Apple just touts it for letting you switch between windows in the frontmost app, but it can do more than that. Say you want all your Finder windows to come forward so you can copy files between them. You could click the Finder's icon in the dock, or just click on one window to bring it forward, and then double-tap F10. When you do, all Finder windows will move to the front.

The second Exposé trick is for dealing with some apps (notably Disk Warrior and Carbon Copy Cloner) that don't like to bring their windows to the front if you click on them, or switch to them while they're busy. There are two ways around this: First, use All Windows (F9) and click on the hidden window there and it will come forward (for DiskWarrior, be sure to click specifically on the progress pane in the miniature window or it will be hidden by the main window when it comes forward). Second, if part of the window is visible, click on it -- even though it doesn't show it, Exposé and the App Switcher will now see that app as frontmost. So just do a quick double-tap on F10 (or whatever you've assigned Application Windows to) and the window will come forward.
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