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10.5: Automatically set iChat status when in A/V chats System 10.5
Here is a way to automatically change your status when sending or receiving audio/video invitations. You'll need to create four simple AppleScripts, and save them into your user's Library » Scripts » iChat folder (create the folder if necessary).

Open Script Editor (in Applications » AppleScript), then copy and paste these scripts, one at a time, into the Script Editor window. Click the Compile button, then select File » Save As and point to the previously-noted iChat folder. Name them as shown with each scripts code, on the second page of the hint...
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10.5: Improve networked Time Machine performance System 10.5
After using a 500GB Time Capsule for Time Machine backups for awhile, I noticed increasing duration of the backups. Mainly the prepare and post-processing phases, and transfer of large number of small files, took a lot of time. For the transfer of large files, the slowdown was not so noticeable.

I inspected the sparsebundle disk image on the Time Capsule, and inside the disk image bundle of about 150GB, I found nearly 20,000 band files of 8MB each in a single folder. These 20,000 data pieces contain the data of the backup image. When Time Machine reads, creates or deletes folder structures in the backup image, the operating system must randomly access data distributed over these 20,000 band files. And that causes a remarkable amount of additional administrative accesses to the AppleShare volume of the Time Capsule.

I decided that a better size of the bands of the backup sparsebundle disk image is 1GB, i. e. my 150GB backup would contain about 150 band files in one folder. I converted the Time Machine backup image with the following method, which will also work fine for an AirPort-connected hard drive, not just for a Time Capsule.

[robg adds: Note that the following solution is clearly not Apple-approved, and there may be very good reasons why Apple chose an 8MB band size. If you're going to try this hint, realize that you're potentially endangering your backups. With that said, I've noticed the same performance issues on the USB-connected hard drive on my AirPort Base Station, so I'm going to try this later today to see how it goes. (I use this disk for backups of our laptops, neither of which contain critical can't-lose information, so it's a relatively low-risk test.) Read on for the proposed solution...]
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10.5: How to 'wrap around' the Command-Tab switcher System 10.5
I had grown accustomed to using Command-Tab and the Right- or Left-Arrow keys to switch apps in 10.4, but that functionality changed a little in 10.5.

In 10.4, holding the Command key, tapping Tab, then using the Left Arrow twice, one could get the end of a (potentially long) list of running apps -- the first Left Arrow press would select the 'previously used' application (the leftmost icon in the Command-Tab bar), and the next Left Arrow press would jump to the icon at the far right of the Command-Tab bar. Basically, if the leftmost app icon was highlighted, hitting the Left Arrow would highlight the app at the right end of the list, and vice versa. 10.5 doesn't allow this wraparound feature; pressing Left Arrow with the leftmost icon highighted does nothing at all.

The solution? It was hidden in this older hint: after pressing Command-Tab, release Tab (still holding down Command) and then press the backtick/tilde key (above Tab on the US keyboard -- this key may differ in other regions of the world). The backtick/tilde key, along with the Tab key, doesn't care about the new "hard stop" at the left edge of the Command-Tab switcher, and will jump across that boundary to the rightmost application icon.

[robg adds: As noted in the original hint, you can also press the End key to jump to the rightmost entry in the Command-Tab switcher (and Home to get to the lefmost entry). I don't know why they blocked the wrapping of the arrow keys, whether it's a bug or a feature. If it's a feature, expect that the Command-` shortcut will also stop working this way in a future update.]
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10.5: Use Automator to create audiobooks from PDFs System 10.5
I have recently undertaken some training in which I have to cover a massive amount of material. Being the natural procrastinator that I am, I immediately went on the prowl for better books, better methods, and all other sorts of periphery that doesn't actually count as studying.

One of these projects was to convert the text versions of my study guides to audio, so that I could listen to the text in the car while I drive (an ideal time to study). The process was actually surprisingly simple. Start by opening the PDF in Preview, then press Command-A (select all) and Command-C (copy). Open a new document in TextEdit and press Command-V (paste), then convert the document to plain text (Format » Make Plain Text). Save the file to a .txt document; for this example, we'll name it rawfile.txt.

At this stage, you might want to do some clean-up on the text. For instance, you might want to do some additional regular expression hacking to clean up the document for things like Footers, headers, or page numbers.
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10.5: Build your own keyboard-based app launcher System 10.5
I used to call Spotlight to open my apps, but since i have a slow hard drive, I started to look for faster options. I didn't want to install Quicksilver or Launchbar or any other program for that. I had two goals:
  1. I should rely only on what OS X could offer me.
  2. I wanted fast access using only the keyboard.
So here's what I did: I dragged the Applications folder to the dock, creating a Stack. It was set to Display as folder and View contents as list. In System Preferences » Keyboard & Mouse » Keyboard Shortcuts, under the 'Keyboard Navigation' section, I checked the Move focus to the Dock box and used Control-Command-D as my shortcut. That's all it took.

Here's how it works: Hitting the shortcut keys brings the Dock to the front (or shows it if it's hidden), so you can navigate through the items with the arrow keys. Instead of the arrow keys, however, you can simply type app, and the highlight will jump directly to the Applications folder entry on the right side of the Dock. Then press the Space Bar to show the folder's contents, then type the name of the one you want to open and press Enter. So, when I want to launch Mail, the sequence of the keys goes:

Control-Command-D » app » [Space Bar] » mail » [Enter]

It's a lot faster than waiting for Spotlight to show the results, and without the need for additional software. The downside is that applications in sub-folders may require a bit more work to get to.

[robg adds: I've found 10.5's Spotlight speed for app location to be quite fast, and Spotlight has the advantage of knowing about all programs on your machine, not just those in Applications. The methods described in this hint, however, are useful as general guidelines for quickly accessing items in docked folders.]
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10.5: Allow Time Machine to run after logout System 10.5
Time Machine by default does not run when no user is logged in. But that doesn't mean it can't. In fact, Time Machine is perfectly capable of running without a user logged in, but Mac OS X un-mounts all external drives -- including your Time Machine drive -- at logout. If you want Time Machine to continue backing up after you've logged out, it's as simple as setting your system to leave FireWire drives mounted after logout. You can find the instructions on how to do this in this hint.

I've also posted an installer package that will take care of it for you in my blog post on the matter.

[robg adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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10.5: Eject drives and run iSync before sleep via script System 10.5
This is a little AppleScript that I wrote to check and ask if the machine should unmount peripheral disks, and optionally perform an iSync, before sleeping. I was motivated to write this after about the fifteenth time I woke my laptop up after taking it home from work only to be greeted with a warning that I did not properly disconnect my Time Machine Disk.

Additionally, since I use iSync to sync my date book and address book with my Nokia cell phone, I thought it would be a good idea to have it auto-sync before I put the machine to sleep. If you are capable with AppleScript, you can go in and make modifications for your system (e.g. turn off iSync, or the options to unmount). One caveat: if your home disk is not the same as the startup disk (unlikely on a laptop), the script will ask if you would like to unmount that disk before sleeping.

I packed the script as an application bundle (with a 10.5-sized icon) for optional placement directly into the dock -- download it from [464KB download]. Here's the source:
-- A few commands of interest before sleeping
-- AVN   Mon Apr 21 16:04:40 EDT 2008
-- Run iSync to get latest information on phone 

-- Unmount the backup disk if it is currently mounted.  
-- This should really be done with all external disks
tell application "Finder"
  display dialog "Preparing to sleep.  This will attempt to eject the BackupDisk, and run iSync before sleeping. " with title "mySleep?"
  set SDstring to name of startup disk as string -- get startup disk name  
  set AttachedDisks to name of disks -- get list of attached disks
  set DiskCount to number of disks -- skip repeat if only 1 disk
  if DiskCount is not equal to 1 then
    repeat with CurrentDisk in AttachedDisks -- run on all disks
      set CDstring to CurrentDisk as string -- create stringname for comparison
      if CDstring is not equal to SDstring then --if not the startupdisk
          display dialog ({"Unmount ", CDstring, "?"} as string) with title "mySleep: eject disk?"
          eject disk CurrentDisk
        end try
        display alert ({CDstring, " is being skipped"} as string) giving up after 2
      end if
    end repeat
  end if
  set dosync to display dialog "Please disconnect power and all unmounted peripherals before continuing." buttons {"Cancel", "Sleep now", "Sync then Sleep"} default button "Sync then Sleep" cancel button "Cancel" with title "mySleep: disconnect peripherals"
  if button returned of dosync is "Sync then Sleep" then
    tell application "iSync"
      tell application "System Events" to set visible of process "iSync" to false
        if not syncing then exit repeat
      end repeat
    end tell
  end if
  tell application "Finder"
    display dialog "Good night" default button "Ok" giving up after 2 with title "mySleep"
  end tell
end tell
[robg adds: I haven't tested this one, but I did download the disk image and confirm that it's just the script rolled up in an application bundle.]
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10.5: Reset a user's password in single user mode System 10.5
We needed to reset the password on a Leopard system, but we didn't have the OS X install DVD available. After a few minutes of playing around, I came up with this solution:
  1. Boot into single user mode (press Command-S at power on)
  2. Type fsck -fy
  3. Type mount -uw /
  4. Type launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
  5. Type dscl . -passwd /Users/username password, replacing username with the targeted user and password with the desired password.
  6. Reboot
This allows you to reset the password in single user mode without booting from the install media.

[robg adds: For everyone about to comment about this massive security hole, please don't do so. We ran a similar hint at the time of the OS X 10.0 release, and you can read the comments there for some of the give and take on the security issue. The bottom line is that someone with physical access has full access to your machine, regardless of whether or not they happened to bring a boot DVD with them. If you're truly worried about such things, then you'll want to use a combination of File Vault, a firmware password, and a case lock to minimize the chances that your machine is accessed.]
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10.5: Show file in Finder from the Open dialog box System 10.5
I found this by accident while trying to find a target for a broken alias. While browsing the file system in an File » Open dialog box, pressing Command-R will open (and bring to the front) a new Finder window showing the chosen item's folder in the Finder. Note that you must have a file or folder selected in the dialog box for this to work.

Curiously, the File » Save dialog box also tries to perform this behavior, but only switches to the Finder without the desired folder appearing in a new window. Presumably this is because you cannot select a file in the Save dialog box.
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10.5: Set any number of recent items System 10.5
If you followed this hint to create a Recent Items stack in the 10.5 Dock, you know that by default it shows or lists five items.

Now, if you're like me, you'll think it looks silly with a row of three on the top and only two on the bottom. To change it so that there are six items listed, go to the Terminal and type this:
defaults write ABC -dict MaxAmount nn
Replace ABC with either Applications or Documents, and replace nn with an even number. Your stack (and the Recent Items menu) should now have an even number of entries.

[robg adds: You can use the Appearance System Preferences panel to specify certain numbers of recent items, but the above command gives you precise control. When I tried it, however, the results weren't predictable. Sometimes it seemed it worked, sometimes it seemed that whatever value I had previously set in the Appearance pane seemed to stick, and sometimes both values were ignored and the recent items stack showed only five items. Restarting the Dock sometimes seemed to help, sometimes not. If anyone can get this working reliably, please comment.]
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