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10.4: Copy and paste to/from the Calculator widget System 10.4
Two of widgets that I always have running are Calculator and the Currency Converter. After doing a money conversion, I want to calculate the taxes, so on a whim I copied the results off of the Currency Converter widget, clicked on the Calculator widget, and Command-V indeed pasted the result. Copying also works, in and out of Dashboard. It just become more useful to me.

[robg adds: The Calculator application is also copy/paste capable, with an interesting twist -- copy a number with four or more digits in Calculator, then paste it into another application. While you may have copied 25305, when you paste into the new app, you'll see 25,305 -- the commas are automatically added. The Calculator widget does not do this, however; you just get the number.]
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10.4: Move items from read-only folders as non-admin System 10.4
In Panther, it was possible for a user to rearrange items within folders to which they didn't have write privileges by simply holding down the Command key modifier while dragging, and supplying admin credentials when asked to authenticate. If nothing else, this ability was useful in convincing users that it really wasn't necessary to work in an admin account, let alone enable root. Yet in Tiger, this is no longer possible as yet another useful feature has been removed from the Finder -- the user is not given the opportunity to authenticate at all to move items out of a read-only folder (Command-dragging to add items still works).

Of course it is possible to change permissions using Get Info, or move the item from the command line with sudo, but these methods lack the simple elegance of the past approach (definitely a step backward in usability). Furthermore, both these solutions require additional actions to restore the original state -- permissions have to be switched back, and in the case of the command line, System Preferences have to be locked up, since they are automatically unlocked by simply switching to an admin user on the command line. Forgetting to do this follow-up could leave the system in a mildly less secure state than it was in before.

If one is mindful of the dangers, a somewhat risky but convenient workaround for using the GUI to move items out of restricted folders is to move them to the Trash first. If a user with insufficient privileges initiates a move to the Trash (be it by dragging or using the Command-delete keyboard combination), the appearance of a password prompt is triggered. Upon successful authentication, the items end up in the Trash, after which they can be Command-dragged to their intended destination.

Heed any warning dialogues though -- if, for example, the user's Trash folder has incorrect permissions, the item is on a separate volume and that volume's Trash has incorrect permissions, or the item is on a network volume, moving the item to the Trash may cause it to be immediately and permanently deleted should the warnings be ignored.

[robg adds: I would be very cautious before using this solution, especially relative to the warnings at the end -- it's entirely possible to accidentally permanently delete something. If one is running as a non-admin user and needs to do this, my preferred solution would be to switch to an admin account via fast user switching.]
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10.4: Remapping keys in Mac OS X 10.4 System 10.4
The Mac OS X 10.4 Keyboard & Mouse preference pane provides a way to remap certain keys. However, the interface doesn't expose the full functionality -- a common problem with Apple software. Note that this guide assumes you'using the bash shell.

Read on to learn...
  • What keys can be remapped without the use of any third–party software?
  • How do I remap those keys?
  • How do I remap the Caps Lock key to the Escape key?
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10.4: Drag and drop objects onto Dashboard widgets System 10.4
I am not sure if this is already published here or not, but I am not able to find it anywhere on the site so I will publish what I found out about Dashboard's drag and drop behavior. I have just discovered that you can drag files, images, attachments in Mail, and selected text from your Desktop workspace to Dashboard widgets. This is performed, for example, by dragging a file in Finder, pressing F12 (to launch Dashboard), and dropping the file onto the appropriate widget in Dashboard.

To get a really good feel for how this works, install the Framing gallery and Dropper widgets that are located in /Developer -> Examples -> Dashboard -> Sample widgets. To get these widgets, you need the Developer Tools installed on your system. If you don't have the dev tools installed, you can just download the Frameurl widget and use it instead.

My favorite example is to take an image file from Finder or an attachment, drag it, hit F12, and drop it onto the Framing Gallery widget. The Frame will adjust to the size of the image. An additional bonus is if you have an animated GIF file and you drag it to this widget, it will play! The downside is that it will only take one image at a time.

Another good example is to take an attachment from Mail, drag it, hit F12, and drop it onto the Dropper widget. The result is that you get the file/URL location of the attachment. Sure you can do this with Terminal, but you have the option of using the widget if you want to. The Dropper widget also works on a URL from a browser.

A more generic example is you can select some text from Mail, TextEdit, your browser, etc. Drag the selected text, hit F12, and drop the selected text onto any widget that will accept the text such as the Dictionary, Wikipedia or Notepad widgets. From there, you can activate the widget on the selected text as normal.

There are probably other good examples with Dashboard drag and drop behavior, but I wanted to highlight the ones that I found interesting. Please feel free to weigh in on your experience.
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10.4: Boot Camp and the AltGr key on German systems System 10.4
All you Boot Camp users out there might know this already -- you can emulate the AltGr key with Control-Alt.

But today I installed the new Boot Camp 1.1 Beta, and a fresh windows XP Pro ... and found that the AltGr emulation function was gone. After some looking around, I found the solution in Control Panels -> Regional and Language Options -> Languages tab -> Details button. In there was a keyboard layout called german(apple). After I installed the default German keyboard, the problem went away. I can now emulate the AltGr key again, and even the new "right Command key as right-click" option works.
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10.4: Monitor file system events in real time System 10.4
OS X 10.4 has a private API that's used by Spotlight to monitor file system events such as file creation, renaming, and permission changes. Several command line and GUI tools are now available that can suscribe to the event notification system and provide a log of the events. These are useful for, e.g., monitoring files created by installers, and so forth. For reasons that will become clear in a moment, let me first mention a few GUI tools:
  • fseventer (donationware): Provides a real-time graphical view of changes occuring in your filesystem.
  • Sonar (commercial): File activity monitor (I haven't tried it).
  • Yank (commercial): An uninstaller (I haven't tried it).
Now for the meat of this hint, the command line tools...
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10.4: Disable Spotlight on a FAT32 external drive System 10.4
After scouring the internet for several hours trying to figure out how to stop Spotlight from indexing my external 300GB FAT32 drive (which I don't even need indexed and was causing slowdowns), the one thing that worked for me was a somewhat obscure thing I found on a couple of sites.

By putting an empty file named .metadata_never_index file at the top level directory of the volume, it has stopped searching the volume. To create the file, I just issued the command touch .metadata_never_index from Terminal (make sure you're at the top-level of the volume, obviously). This worked for my FAT32 volume; an NTFS partition may require a different solution. Here are the things that did not work for me:
  1. Spotlight preferences: adding to Privacy list does not work for FAT32 volumes (or NTFS volumes).
  2. mdutil -i off /path/to/volume/: Seems like it would clear the index out, but immediately begin to reindex it.
  3. Creating an empty .Spotlight-V100 file: FAT32 volumes do not have .Spotlight-V100 directories to begin with, so this doesn't work. This may work for an NTFS volume, though.
  4. Manually modifying files in the /.Spotlight-V100 directory: In a moment of desperation, I tried manually adding my volume to the _exclusions.plist file under /.Spotlight-V100, which of course didn't work.
  5. Spotless application: This app didn't recognize my FAT32 drives. It probably only works for HFS+ drives, but I didn't look to deeply in to it.
Well, I'm very relieved to have found this fix. I was close to resorting to turning on and off the external drive as I needed it (yuck!) to avoid the system slowdowns every time I did a Spotlight seach. Hope someone else finds this useful.
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10.4: Change default languages for the Translation widget System 10.4
I often use the Translation widget to translate from English to French, and the reverse. By default, when I choose English, it puts Chinese as the default translation to, and from French, it is Netherland. I had to change the translate to each time I changed languages.

So, I opened the /Library -> Widgets -> Translation.wdgt (control-click on it and choose Show Package Contents), and opened the Translation.js file in the Contents folder. At the begining of the file, there are a few var declarations for each language. So I selected the English declaration, and cut and paste the fr into the first position, and for French, I place en in first:
var English = [
    'fr',
    'zh-Hans',
    'zh-Hant',
    etc...
];
var French = ['en','nl','de','el','it','pt','es'];
Now when I switch the Translate From language menu to English or French, I always have the good Translate To language selected. That saves me lots of time in my day!

[robg adds: I always recommend copying the system widgets to your user's Library/Widgets folder before modifying them. The modified user-level widget will take precedence over the system widget, and you've automatically got a clean original in the original location.]
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10.4: Another fix for non-launching PowerPC apps on Intel System 10.4
The problem: Some PowerPC applications (such as Word) sometimes fail to launch on Intel Macs.

Level 1 solution: There is a root process called translated which seems to be launched with PowerPC programs. If this process is killed, then the application can be launched with no troubles. Note that an administrator password is required. translated can be found by opening up the Activity Monitor. Select the process and click on Quit Process. This was covered in this recent hint.

This solution works, but it is a pain. Read on for some alternative solutions...
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10.4: Change Spotlight search categories System 10.4
I've been trying to make Spotlight more useful to me, and one of the first things that came to mind was changing the categories of files that it searches. I rarely if ever search for Bookmarks, Fonts, Mail Messages, Contacts, System Preferences, or Events and To Do Items, and was wondering if I could replace them with something more convenient.

Anyway, it turns out that this is possible, although not as completely as I would have hoped. You can quite straightforwardly change an existing category to list a different type of file. Note that this does not stop Spotlight from showing files in the category you replace, it just makes them show up as normal documents. You can also add a new category. However, if you do this, it will only show up in the results window, not in the list that drops down from the menubar or in System Preferences. Changing an existing category will probably be more useful to most people.

Warning: these methods involve modifying five system files. You may completely stuff up Spotlight, or your entire system, if you do something wrong. Read on for the step-by-step...

[robg adds: I have not tested this one, and it does require editing some relatively deeply-buried system files. However, the concept seems amazingly useful; hopefully Apple adds the ability for self-created categories in 10.5 (or some enterprising coder adds a third-party GUI app for it in 10.4). For this one, though, proceed at your own risk.]
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