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10.5: Search multiple locations in Leopard System 10.5
This is similar to a problem outlined in this previous hint, but for the time being, I've solved the problem with an ugly hack, so I'm submitting it as a new hint.

In 10.5, there's no way to do a smart search on multiple locations (and even searching one specific location is a pain). I've searched everywhere and found no real solutions, but I've discovered it does work if you manually edit a previously-saved search in a text editor. This is obviously no good for quick searches, but if you want to use a saved search as a smart folder, this method will work.

First make a search with the other criteria you want (date, filetype, etc), but for any location and save it. Then go to your user's Library » Saved Searches, and you will see the search you just created. I'm not sure what other text editors you can use, but I used Smultron and it worked great. I dragged the search to Smultron on the dock and it opened it as a text file. There are many keys where it lists the location of the search, so I did a find and replace to change them all.

For example, you might find:
  <array>
    <string>/Users/Username/Documents</string>
  </array>
Replace that with:
  <array>
    <string>/Users/Username/Documents</string>
    <string>/Users/Username/Pictures</string>
    <string>/Users/Username/Music</string>
  </array>
Now, just save the file and when you click on the saved search, it will search all the locations. This is obviously not the best way to do this, but it will work until Apple realizes we might still want to search based on folders.

[robg adds: This is another reason that HoudahSpot was last week's Pick of the Week -- it's very easy to specify which folders to include in or exclude from your search.]
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10.5: Sleep all displays via keyboard shortcut System 10.5
This hint is mainly useful for iMacs (I have just gotten a new one recently, thanks to this amazing website), where you cannot turn the brightness down to zero to turn off the screen as you can on Apple laptops, or to simply turn off an external monitor. I don't know if it's documented, but hitting Shift-Control-Eject (the keyboard key at top right) will turn off your screen (which is very different from putting the computer to sleep, and is very useful in my opinion). This provides a fast way to sleep the displays without using the hot corner provided by Apple in Leopard (in the Spaces & Exposť System Preferences panel -- isn't that logical?).

Also, there is a little program called Sleep Display that can do this for you, and it is useful because you can associate it with programs such as Remote Buddy to put your screen to sleep remotely.

[robg adds: This didn't work for sometimes-Hint-meister Kirk McElhearn, probably because he's using a non-Apple keyboard. It worked fine for me with Apple's wireless keyboard and my Mac Pro with an Apple Cinema Display and Sony LCD panel -- both instantly go black when I hit the keyboard shortcut. I couldn't, however, make it work in 10.4 on my Mac mini, which is connected to the same Sony as is my Mac Pro, so I've marked this one as 10.5 only. I wasn't able to find this documented anywhere in Help.]
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10.5: Set custom number and currency formats System 10.5
You can set custom number and currency formats using the defaults system. For example, entering the following code in Terminal sets the thousands separator to a space, and the decimal separator to a comma, leaving the currency symbol as set in International preference pane:

defaults write -g AppleICUNumberSymbols -dict 0 ',' 1 ' ' 10 ',' 17 ' '

Some useful keys for the AppleICUNumberSymbols:
  • 0 -- decimal separator for numbers
  • 1 -- thousands separator for numbers
  • 4 -- starting character for numbers; for example, if you set the value to a, instead of numbers 0-9 you will see characters a-j (well, this is not that useful!).
  • 8 -- currency symbol; don't set this to honor the settings in the International preference pane
  • 10 -- decimal separator for currency
  • 17 -- thousands separator for currency
[robg adds: This worked as described, and seems to be the only way to customize the number formats -- the International System Preferences panel includes a Customize button for Dates and Times, but not for Numbers. I don't know if this only works in 10.5, but the hint was submitted that way, so I've left it marked as such.]
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10.5: An iCal/Microsoft Exchange time zone fix System 10.5
One of the major drawbacks to working on an Apple Mac in a large corporate company is that most IT departments still use Microsoft Exchange Server for email and calendar support. While we've found many a workaround to get email up and running using Apple Mail there remains this irritating bug that prevents Exchange iCal events from syncing correctly with Apple iCal.

The reason this bug exists is because Exchange doesn't use standard compliant time zone information, but Apple does so, leading to two different time zone formats. As a result, iCal can't figure out what the correct time zone is from Exchange iCal invitations. Here's a quick example of the South African time zone differences between the two:

Exchange format: (GMT+02.00) Harare/Pretoria
iCal format: Africa/Johannesburg

This means that when a meeting request comes in from a Windows PC, iCal can't read data beyond the GMT+02.00 and it simply adds on two hours to the event. So a meeting sent from Exchange, scheduled for 14:00, actually appears in iCal as 16:00. We've missed many a meeting as a result! Over the last few months I've spent countless hours trying to find a fix, but no one has managed to get this issue resolved -- not even Apple. I've now resorted to creating my own bug fix, which I've detailed (with screenshots) in this blog entry.

[robg adds: Due to the length and complexity of the fix, I've left this hint as a link to the source site instead of duplicating it here -- if the source files change, it would be important to have the newest versions for this to work properly. The fix involves a shell script and AppleScript that gets called by a Mail rule. I've downloaded all the source files, and it's all pretty straightforward; there's nothing to fear from installing the fix. Note, however, that you will probably have to do some editing of the script to make it work for the time zones you deal with regularly. Instructions for doing so are included in the bug fix package. I have not tested this one, and the author notes it's only been tested on 10.5.1 and 10.5.2.]
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10.5: Join 'wheel' group as possible fix for system issues System 10.5
As many would be aware, and many may be suffering from, 10.5 and in particular 10.5.2, has been causing many people headaches with permissions and ownership of files and folders, particularly temporary folders. This has been causing odd problems ranging from failed software installs, script errors, Preview silently failing to open images, and a biggie for me, the GUI version (but not the command line version) of Software Update failing with a -3001 error, referencing a network failure.

In various forums around the usual places, many working band-aids involving a chown here, a chmod there, or up to and including an Eerase-and-reinstall have been used to alleviate the suffering.

After much frustration and poking around, I finally noticed that my login was no longer part of group wheel. I understand from various forum posts that under 10.5 this was not required of an admin user. However, after I added myself back to group wheel, all my symptoms have vanished, without having to do a re-install at this time. It would seem the update installs don't have a clear migration path for these permissions yet.

Given that NetInfo is now gone, and editing Unix config files is just plain anathema, the easiest way to do this sort of operation is to download Apple's Server Admin Tools package, as described in this hint. This may be an incomplete panacea, and a more complete understanding of both current and future plans for the permissions structure are necessary, but it sure did save me from a lot of work.

[robg adds: I haven't had any permissions-related issues since installing 10.5, and that includes one machine (my MacBook Pro) where I did my first-ever upgrade install (I typically do clean installs only). If you have had issues, though, it'd be interesting to know if this hint helped you out at all. Alternatively, if you know of a different cause and solution, and this hint isn't applicable at all, please post that as well!]
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10.5: Show files that Time Machine does not back up System 10.5
Leopard's Time Machine is a huge step forward in backup for the average Joe (or Jane). However, one problem is that applications can tell the system to not back up certain files. This is intended to avoid backing up working files, cache files, and such that don't generally need to be backed up. However, we know that VMware, at least, is using the mechanism to quiet exclude virtual machines from being backed up, and others could come. While this makes sense in some ways, it could easily lead to a disaster for those who aren't aware of it happening.

So, with that background, I played around for a few minutes and I figured out how this flag is stored. Turns out that Apple's doing the right thing here and using the metadata store. This means we can find the files with the Spotlight engine. To do this from the command line, do this:
sudo mdfind "com_apple_backup_excludeItem = 'com.apple.backupd'"
And you'll get a nice list back. If you're not comfortable with the command line, here's a simple line of AppleScript that you can build into a double-clickable application with Script Editor:

set myItems to do shell script "mdfind "com_apple_backup_excludeItem = 'com.apple.backupd'" > ~/Desktop/Files excluded by Time Machine.txt" with administrator privileges

When you run that script, you'll be asked for an admin login (so that directories other than your home folder can be searched), and the results will be deposited into a file called Files excluded by Time Machine.txt on your desktop.

[robg adds: Note that the output of this command will not reflect any files, folders, or volumes that you've excluded from Time Machine using its preferences panel. As best as I can tell from looking at the mdls output, Time Machine uses an internal mechanism, not metadata, to track those items.]
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10.5: Show user pictures with transparency System 10.5
It bugged me for a long time that the user pictures in the login window would not respect a user picture's transparency mask, but draw the icon on a white square instead. Luckily I found out how to get rid of this in Mac OS X 10.5! As this solution requires the use of Terminal, the usual "use at your own risk" applies.

Leopard stores the cache where it keeps the user pictures accessible via the command line utility dscl. Let's assume the user account whose picture we want to change is called steve. (Obviously, replace steve with the short name of your account in the following commands). Type the following into the terminal:
dscl . -read /Users/steve Picture
This should give output like this, reflecting your currently-selected image:
Picture:
 /Library/User Pictures/Animals/Butterfly.tif
There is also an entry in dscl called JPEGPhoto that contains a hex-encoded JPEG version of this picture. If you delete this JPEG version, the OS will use the TIFF, which may actually have an alpha mask!
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10.5: Fix Transparent Dock and invisible Stack problems System 10.5
If your Dock sometimes becomes transparent, and Stacks only show as label backgrounds -- often iTunes' Cover Flow mode stops working, too -- as illustrated here, you can use this Terminal command to recover:
sudo killall -HUP WindowServer
Warning:The above command will log you out and quit all open programs without warning -- so ideally, you should close any open programs before running the command. It does, however, prevent you from having to reboot, which is the only way I'd found to otherwise solve this problem. You can read more about this command in this hint; it's basically a way to restart the GUI without restarting the entire machine.

[robg adds: There are a few threads (1, 2, 3) about this problem on the Apple Discussions site; it appears to be somewhat common, but not really widespread. I haven't seen it myself across the collection of machines here in the Mac OS X Hints labs. Note that the above solution isn't really a permanent fix despite my titling of the hint. As I understand it, the problem may well recur after restarting the GUI.]
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10.5: Speed up initial AirPort - Time Machine backups System 10.5
I found the initial Time Machine backup to a disk hooked up to my AirPort Extreme to be painfully slow. This procedure sped the process up enormously. The only tricky part about this is that you don't have to tell Time Machine you're moving the drive. I'm using an external disk with one partition formatted with "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)," and sharing it with a disk password.

First hook your USB drive up to your AirPort Extreme and configure the disks for Time Machine. Add the disk to your time machine and start the initial backup. Once Time Machine is past the "preparing" stage and is actually copying data, cancel the backup. This step creates the sparsebundle image that will contain the backup on the drive.

Unmount the disk. You'll probably also want to disconnect all users using the AirPort Utility. Disconnect the drive from the Airport Extreme and connect it directly to the computer you're backing up. After the disk is mounted, just go to your Time Machine status (or dock icon) and force a backup. You do not need to try to change the Time Machine disk or muck around with the sparsebundle. Time Machine should pick it up automatically.

Once the initial backup is done, eject the disk and put it back on your AirPort Extreme. Time Machine should still be able to find the drive and do its incremental backup to it.

[robg adds: The ability to back up to an AirPort Extreme USB disk was added with the recent Time Machine and AirPort updates -- see this article for more information.]
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Share USB Printer on Mac OS X Server System 10.5
Normally, you can't share USB printers via Mac OS X Server because the Print Server can only deal with Postscript printers. However, you can share USB printers normally via CUPS.

Set up your printer as normal (System Preferences » Print & Fax). Then, in Safari go to CUPS, which is usually at http://localhost:631. Click the Administration tab, then click the Share published printers connected to this system checkbox. Click Change Settings, and enter your admin username and password. Voila, plain old USB Printer Sharing works.

Note that you can't use Print Server to manage the printer, but who cares?
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