Lately I have been trying to increase my productivity while using my computer. One idea that has really helped me is creating a Stack for files I am currently working on. I don't actually drag files into the folder, but when I start to work on a project, I drag aliases (hold Option and Command) for all the relevant files into this stack. This way I can very quickly access the files instead of having to open up a Finder window.
The working stack has helped a lot, but I found it annoying to have to empty the stack when I was done or switching projects. I also dislike having an empty stack, whereby the Dock will open the folder in the Finder when you click on it. To remedy both of these issues, I made a quick and easy Automator workflow that would clear all the files in the stack, and saved it into the stack. So for my Working Stack, my Automator workflow is as follows:
Finder » Get Specified Finder Items: The stack is the item that I specify.
Finder » Get Folder Contents
Finder » Filter Finder Items: Name ... is not equal to ... "Clear Working.app"
Finder » Move Finder Items to Trash
I then saved this as an application named Clear Working.app into the Working Stack, and run it when I finish each project. I also did something similar for my Downloads stack, because it tends to get a lot of files at once, and it was annoying to have to empty the stack.
You can use phrases like monday, next month, etc. to set the due dates for items. This only works when viewing the To Do list in Mail and double clicking on the Due Date column. It does not work when you select Edit To Do... on this same view, or when you select to change a To Do date from a Note, Mail Message, or iCal.
I find this quite handy, but I wish it was everywhere, and that it supported all the date-related data detectors (maybe that's coming). Also, if you put a number of any sort, then the text portion of the data entry is ignored. For example, entering 2 weeks sets the due date to November 2, which is the same date you get if you just type 2.
If you have FileVault enabled to encrypt your home directory, upgrading to Leopard gives you a scary warning:
Time Machine backs up home folders protected by FileVault only when logged out. You cannot browse items of the protected home folder in the Time Machine backup. Because you cannot browse the items in the Time Machine backup, you cannot restore individual items.
This warning is incomplete and misleading, and might lead you to avoid backing up your home directory. You can make FileVault work with Time Machine if you follow the rules in this hint.
This is not exactly a hint, but it is a very important thing to know. Luckily I realized it before it was too late. If you are using Filevault and Time Machine, you've probably already heard that Time Machine doesn't back up your FileVaulted home folder while you are logged in. What you may not know is that Time Machine also doesn't back it up while you are logged out! Time machine only backs up a Filevaulted home folder during the logout process for that user.
Why is this important to know? Some of you may be backing up your computer the way I was. If you are, then you are failing to back up your home folder, like I was. I have been following this incorrect procedure: (1) log out of my filevault user's account, (2) then attaching my Time Machine backup drive assuming Time Machine would back up the whole computer automatically overnight.
The problem is that the Time Machine drive was not attached while I was logging out of the FileVaulted user account, only afterwards. This means that my FileVaulted user's home folder was not being backed up; only the rest of my filesystem was. The backup of my FileVaulted user's home folder was stuck at a very old version (created the last time the Time machine drive was attached during logout.)
So, the proper procedure is:
Attach the Time Machine backup drive.
After the Time Machine backup drive shows up in Finder, then log out of your FileVault account and make sure the logout window specifically says that it's backing up the FileVault.
You can just leave the drive attached for automatic backups of everything else (everything outside your FileVault home folder), or you can log back in as an administrator, and tell Time Machine to "Back up now" if you want to make an immediate backup of everything else. For people with desktops, you could of course just leave your Time Machine drive attached. I have a laptop which I have to take to multiple locations, so it's not practical for me to keep my backup drive attached continually.
[robg adds: I thought it good to run this hint today as it goes hand-in-hand with this one.]
Today I noticed that you can review documents before you choose them in the Open dialog, if only at thumbnail size. After selecting File » Open, select column view mode then select the document you wish to review (single click). You can then see the thumbnail preview of the first page of your document. This isn't news.
However, now click More Info under that icon and the Finder's Get Info box appears. If the chosen file is a QuickTime-viewable clip, you can preview the file. If it's a document, hover the mouse over the document icon in the Get Info window, and click the arrow key buttons to go back and forth through the document's pages.
It's a simple way to quickly check the contents of a document before you open it.
[robg adds: You can do most of this in 10.4, too, but there's no ability to really preview the document.]
The major problems I have with the Leopard Dock are its inability to display custom icons for folders, and its inability to disable tiling (dynamic icon modification where content icons are superimposed on the original icon, and actual tiling when you click on it). To revert to Tiger way of doing things (far better in my opinion), use the following hack (admittedly techie).
Copy the following script to a text file (untile.sh or untile.command, for instance), make it executable (chmod -x untile.sh), make it a login item (add it to the list in your user's Login Items list on the Accounts System Preferences panel), and you are ready to go -- at your own risk, of course. If you run this script, you will disable Stacks completely. Note that you can also use this script by simply pasting each executable line in a Terminal window.
A lot of people have complained about the fact that folders stored in the Dock automatically work as Stacks. One possible way to get around this is to use saved searches instead.
If you can create a saved search with the items you want, you can add it to the right side of the Dock, and clicking on it will open the saved search in the Finder, instead of displaying a stack. Although you can change the icon of the saved search, all saved searches have a file extension of .savedSearch, and you can't remove it.
When attempting to save some changes to one of my Mail.app IMAP accounts in Leopard, it refused to save as I "already had an account" with that name.
Great, of course I did -- it was the one I was editing. The error was no more helpful than that. Taking a look inside ~/Library/Mail to see if there was old garbage left behind causing conflicts, I noticed CalDAV accounts set up in the new version of iCal were also stored here. And, of course, one of them had the same name.
Renaming the CalDAV account from within iCal's Accounts preferences then enabled me to save my settings within Mail.app without error.
So it seems that, oddly, Mail.app and iCal share an account namespace for entirely different functionality. I haven't found any mentions of this anywhere else, so hope it's useful for somebody else's troubles...
I have rules that sort some mails (e.g. Forums) into a folder on my Mac. The problem: I wanted to set up a smart folder that shows all Mails in Forums that have either MacOSXhints or Macnn in their contents.
So in 10.5's Mail, I set up a Smart folder with these rules:
Message ... is in Mailbox ... Forums
Entire Message ... Contains ... MacOSXhints OR Macnn
Now this may sound obvious to some, but for me it was great to see that you can create more complex rules for smart folders. I guess it's related to the new Spotlight features in 10.5 that allows the use of AND and OR expressions.
[robg adds: In 10.4, you had to create three smart mailboxes to pull off something like this; the fact that Mail uses the new Spotlight engine now makes it much simpler.]
When in a printer's panel, hitting the Option key changes the Resume button into a Resume on Page button. This will allow you resume printing of a document put on hold while letting you choose from which page onwards it should continue.
So if you realize you're printing one page too many, you can always put the printing on hold and remove the page without even deleting the document from the printing queue.