One thing I've longed for is the ability to quickly see the contents of zip files from the Finder. I've written a Quick Look plug-in that will display the contents of zip files (support for other archive formats is on the to do list).
To install it (for the current user), copy the ZipQuickLook.qlgenerator file into ~/Library/QuickLook (you may need to create the QuickLook directory). Browse to a zip file in the Finder and press the Space Bar to try it out.
[robg adds: Someone at Macworld also told me about xdd's mac.com page, which contains a number of Quick Look plug-ins, including one for zip file viewing. I tried them both, and personally prefer one from xdd, as it shows more detail on the files in the zip. While working on this hint, I was also referred to this page, which creates a similar Quick Look viewer for your folders in the Finder.]
This might be very specific to me, but it's a solution to something that's been bugging me for some time, and is also a use for a feature that seemed to me to be "cool but pointless."
It seems that Quick Look windows are tied to Finder, rather than being windows in their own right. That means that if you take the focus away from Finder, you no longer see the Quick Look. That's been a problem for me, as I often Quick Look at Excel workbooks and want to do a short calculation using some of the figures I see. Trouble is, as soon as I start or switch to Calculator, Finder loses focus and I can't see the Quick Look window any more.
The solution is simple and obvious (once it dawns on you): bring up the Spotlight search box and type your calculation into that. That way, Finder doesn't lose focus, and so you can still see your "source document." It's almost as if Apple added calculations to Spotlight specifically to overcome this issue.
As of 10.4, I think, Apple started making plists in a binary format instead of XML. Though they had their reasons, it was a real pain if you just wanted to get a very quick look (no pun intended) at the preference settings, because it meant that you either had to convert the file to XML using plutil, or open the file in Property List Editor, which is not well suited for browsing settings at all.
But in 10.5, Quick Look displays binary plists in XML on the fly, so you can now select a bunch of plists, launch Quick Look, and view page after page of beautiful XML with all the navigation features that Quick Look offers. It's a very useful way of helping one assimilate or drill down into a system's configuration.
I've noticed one small oddity in Time Machine. If you try to completely restore your system from a Time Machine backup, it seems as if Time Machine has gone on holiday to California, rather than staying in wet London or cold Zurich: Your backups all have timestamps which are about nine hours prior to the actual local time at which they were saved.
It's not really a problem, but it is a little disconcerting, especially since by the time you're having to do a full system restall, your nerves are probably a little frayed anyhow.
[robg adds: As I'm located in California's time zone, I can't really test this one very easily. If you can confirm, please comment.]
I just noticed that in 10.5 you can scroll in any unfocused window by simply moving the cursor above it and start to scroll up/down with the mouse wheel. No need to pull the window into focus.
[robg adds: You could scroll background windows in 10.4, too, but you had to be able to see the scrollbar; Command-dragging would then scroll the window. In 10.5, as long as you can see some of the window, it will scroll when the mouse is within its visible area. This one is documented on Apple's 300 tips page, but I bet many (including myself) may have not even noticed it...]
A huge problem in 10.5 is starting multiple networked backups over a relatively slow network -- things just take forever.
To alliviate this, first mount the backup disk on each machine via AFP. Choose that disk in the Time Machine System Preferences panel, start a backup, and then stop it right after it starts. You will have to wait while it creates a sparsebundle over the network. Repeat with each machine.
Once the sparsebundles for all the machines you want to backup have been created, you can bring the external drive to each machine for the initial backup, and it will automatically use that sparsebundle. Once you've done that for each machine, put the drive back on the network, and enjoy not having to wait 10 days to back up over your slow wireless.
I wanted to see how good Time Machine was at keeping a complete backup, so I ran a diff between my disk and its latest backup. I was quite shocked to find that there were differences in places other than caches, logs, etc. which Time Machine does not back up.
Time Machine has forgotten to backup (i.e. the latest backup still contains the old version) two of my applications that I updated by downloading new versions in a DMG and copying them to /Applications, and also a Widget in my ~/Library folder. I also found a document in my documents folder that was backed up with the same modification date as the original, but with different content. This is very bad.
If you want to check your Time Machine backup, run the following command:
Replace time_machine_volume, machine_name, and drive_name with the proper values for your machines. You may want to run this at night, as the heavy disk activity will slow down your machine. Then look at the output to see what (if anything) Time Machine has missed. There are obvious missing things like logs and caches; what may be interesting are the other differences, if any.
Note that I have not had a single crash since Leopard, and that the filesystems on both my system drive and Time Machine's are fine. Also, I have not excluded anything from my Time Machine Backups.
An interesting possibility with Stacks is that you can add the Trash to your dock, allowing you to easily view and restore recently deleted files. However, you can't just add the folder to the dock.
Instead, open a new finder window. Press Command-Shift-G to open the Go » Go to Folder dialog window. In the inputbox, type ~/.Trash and press Go.
Now you have a Finder window that displays the contents of your Trash. Unlike the "real" trash, however, you now can drag the proxy icon from that window's title bar to your dock. Finder will now create a Stack with the contents of your Trash.
As another hint has pointed out, hitting the Space Bar when in Quick Look usually closes Quick Look. But when you're in Quick Look's full-screen mode for a PDF or Word document, pressing the Space Bar will page down, just as it does in most web browsers. And yes, Shift-Space Bar pages up.
Need to know more details about a file inside the Open or Save dialog boxes? Select the file(s) and press Command-I (the Get Info shortcut from Finder). This will bring up the Get Info panel for the items you've selected. Note that Command-Option-I doesn't work.
If you want to open the file's enclosing folder from the Get Info panel, hold the Command command key and click on the filename in the window title.