I was asked to figure out how to reinstall Java on a Mac without reinstalling the OS. Apparantly the user was complaining that Java would not work in Safari and, while trying to fix the problem, the Help Desk deleted enough required files that Java was completely trashed. Here's what I did to completely reinstall it:
Download (from Apple's Support Downloads page) but do not install the latest Combo Update for OS X, as well as all of the JavaForMacOSX10.5s you see there. (I used Updates 1, 2, adn 3, even though 1 was not a prerequisite for 2). Save these files in an accessible place -- you'll use them later.
Next, make sure you have the latest-available shrink wrap version of OS X (it was 10.5.6 when I did this). Now, after this next step, you will be beyond the point of no return...
In apps like TextEdit, Mail, Safari, etc. (but mainly Mail), I like to use the Multilingual option in the spell check dialog (Edit » Spelling » Show Spelling & Grammar) because I regularly write in English, French and Spanish. However, I really have little everyday use for the other languages, and they pose the problem that a word that may be misspelled in English, French or Spanish may actually exist in another language that is covered by the Apple spell checker.
So I removed all those other languages from the spell checker, and it works exactly as I'd hoped (even for grammar). Read on to see what I did.
As we all know, Leopard's Spotlight can supply definitions of words. These definitions are pulled directly from Dictionary.app, and make a quick and convenient way to look up a word.
But what if you don't want to look up a word in the New Oxford American Dictionary? What if instead you want Spotlight to look up words in the thesaurus, or to find English translations of German words (or vice-versa) in the BeoLingus German-English dictionary plug-in?
The answer is simple. Spotlight gets its definitions from the first source in the source list of Dictionary.app's preferences. Just drag your desired dictionary to the top of the list, and its definitions will be used in Spotlight.
This seems to work for all normal dictionaries, whether built-in or supplied by third party plug-ins. However, it does not work for Wikipedia (Spotlight will skip it and move on to the next source in the list), which is fine since the Spotlight menu only shows the first few words of a definition anyway, which is hardly useful for Wikipedia entries.
Initially, I wasn't too enthused about Leopard's Spaces. Originally I tried using with the Command keys, then the arrow keys and even the menu icon, but it seemed a little more trouble than it was worth. Then I found a combination that, for me, completely improved my productivity.
First, set the Mac Mighty Mouse scroll button (System Preferences » Keyboard & Mouse » Mouse » Scroll Button) so that when it is pressed (not scrolled), it will initiate Spaces. Then set Exposť to activate when you go to a corner of the screen -- I use the bottom-right corner (System Preferences » Exposť & Spaces » Exposť » Active Screen Corners).
Now when you are working, use a separate Spaces window for each category of your major activities (such as a window for internet and mail; a window for Photoshop; a window for Deamweaver; and a window just for sorting files in the Finder). To swap windows, just press the scroll button to jump to the window you want to use.
If you slide your mouse over to the corner of the screen to reveal Exposť first, and then click the scroll button, all your windows will reveal themselves in the Exposť windows format. Then while in Exposť format and the Spaces layout, you can click and drag any application or Finder window from one Spaces window to another, making it very easy to reorganize your Spaces categories.
All this without ever lifting your hand off the mouse!
[robg adds: While I generally prefer the keyboard to the mouse, in this case, the mouse works better -- at least when I need to rearrange windows in Spaces, as you can't easily do that via the keyboard.]
Personally, I can't stand double clicking a disk image file (.dmg) on the Desktop and not getting instant notification that the disk is being mounted. This is probably not as much of a problem on newer, faster Macs. However, depending on how many processes I have running at the time, it can take my iBook G4 a while before it displays the disk mounting progress dialog.
As a result, I often end up double-clicking a disk image more than once, thinking I may not have properly double-clicked it the first time. Often times, I've just resorted to highlighting the file and using Command+O to insure that the disk will mount soon.
Here's one way to make the DiskImageMounter application icon appear in the Dock while mounting a disk image. This will provide you with almost instantaneous notification that the disk mounting process has been successfully initiated, even if the dialog box is missing in action.
Launch Terminal (in Applications » Utilities).
Make a backup of DiskImageMounter.app's Info.plist file first:
$ cd /System/Library/CoreServices/DiskImageMounter.app/Contents
$ sudo cp Info.plist Info.BU.plist
Provide your admin password at the Password: prompt.
Use the defaults command to change the LSUIElement setting:
$ sudo defaults write /System/Library/CoreServices/DiskImageMounter.app/Contents/Info LSUIElement 0
Re-set the permissions on the Info.plist file:
$ sudo chmod 644 /System/Library/CoreServices/DiskImageMounter.app/Contents/Info.plist
This hint may not be for everyone. It's just been something that has bothered me personally for some time now. The progress dialog doesn't take all that long to appear on my iBook. But, at times, it does take long enough for me to wonder what's going on. Having the icon appear in the Dock just gives me a little extra peace of mind. Plus, the icon immediately goes away once the disk mounting process has completed.
This is something I came up with because of a support issue. I've now finally gotten my act together in sharing this with the world at large, inspired by Chris Breen's Scheduling OS X Software Update article at Macworld.com. Now, I'm the resident Mac Guru in the family, and for some associates. One of my female associates has a daughter who has borrowed my old decommissioned second-generation 800MHz 15" PowerPC iMac (you know -- the 'Luxo' model!). She is very happy with it, but I have some support issues as:
Their ISP blocks every outside access, including ssh and vnc
The computer is so old that screen sharing through iChat doesn't work -- that requires at least 64MB on the graphics board, and this model iMac has only 32MB.
Updating Mac OS X Leopard remotely is thus somewhat problematic, so I came up with the idea of automating the Software Update by installing a LaunchDaemon and an associated script. Now, I just have to tell her not to turn the computer off when she goes to bed in the evening, and my script does what's needed.
In OS X 10.4 and earlier, you could configure Help Viewer not to search the web for support articles related to whatever it was you were getting help with. In Leopard, however, this setting appears to be hidden as a result of the removal of most of Help Viewer's GUI.
To prevent searching for support articles, open Terminal and type this command:
defaults write com.apple.helpviewer HVIncludesKBSearches -bool NO
This can be useful if you don't want Help Viewer to contact Apple about your searches, or to just speed up your searching. To restore the default behavior, repeat the above command, but change NO to YES.
The multi-touch features on my MacBook Air are great. Although, I mostly switch apps with keystrokes (Command-Tab) and/or Quicksilver, I wanted to make better use of multitouch when I could. You can activate app switching with a four-finger left/right swipe, but the navigation of picking an app and then making it active can happen in a few ways.
You can pick an app by either moving the pointer with a single finger to hover over the app of choice, or by sliding two fingers (left/right or up/down) to move the activation selector over the available apps.
You can select an app, though, apparently only by clicking the mouse button. This is what I found annoying. I hoped I'd be able to tap the track pad to activate the selected app. After some experimentation, I found out you can activate an app with a single four-finger tap, but not with a one-, two-, or three-finger tap.
Some users find Tiger's appearance more pleasing than Leopard's. If you are one of those users, simply type these commands into Terminal:
$ defaults write -g AppleUseCoreUI -bool NO
$ defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSUseLeopardWindowValues NO
Logout and Log back in again, and Leopard will now look a lot more like Tiger.
[robg adds: I tested these commands, as written, on our iMac. On re-login, about the only real difference I noticed was the highlight color of selected buttons in the toolbar (dark grey in Leopard-look, blue in Tiger-look). Then I noticed that the second command was (I believe) missing a -bool, so I reversed the original commands, and tried again with the added -bool. Bad idea. When I logged in, I had no right-hand menu bar items, and any launched program wouldn't show its windows at all. Fixing this required connecting via SSH to reverse the offending commands. After logging out and back in, all was fine again. So please be careful if you're going to experiment with this hint!]
If you need to restore your iPhoto Library from a Time Machine backup, make sure that you first disable any screen savers which access your iPhoto pictures!
Pretty obvious, really, but the Desktop & Screen Savers System Preferences panel makes it so easy to point to an iPhoto album -- and restoring an iPhoto Library usually takes time, which allows the screen saver to kick in. If the screen saver is active while restoring, however, the screen saver will either recreate a missing file in a partially-restored iPhoto Library, or cause an access conflict which will prevent the Time Machine restore from completing successfully.