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Older Core Duo Mac and Windows 8.1 System 10.6
Computers like the Intel "Mac Mini 2,1" were left behind with Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6.8) and Boot Camp 4. These restraints keep older machines from the benefits of current mac features, applications, and supported installs of Windows 8. However, these machines are well within the Microsoft system requirements for Windows 8.1 and installs are possible.

The older Core Duo Mac series cannot boot into 64-bit operating systems, and is excluded from modern versions of OS X, but Microsoft still supports 32-bit processors, giving many old Macs the opportunity to be re-purposed with a modern OS. I can confirm that if you use Boot Camp to install Windows 7 32-bit (no key needed) on a Core Duo Mac Mini, you can upgrade to Windows 8 32-bit from within Windows 7, and then do the same for Windows 8.1 (provided you have a license key for the final OS). Boot Camp 4 drivers work well for the 32-bit Windows 8.1, but I installed each one individually instead of using the BootCamp package installer. All of the hardware functions; however, I have not installed the Boot Camp shortcuts for startup disk selection, or for the onscreen display of volume and brightness controls.

I'm not sure if this is much of a tip, but the Windows 8 install disk freezes on a CD-ROM selection screen and I haven't seen these tips anywhere else online. I've read that new Windows 8 disks have a specialized MBR that doesn't work with older Macs, and EFI boot was added to Macs built much later.

I have replaced this Mac Mini with a much more capable iMac, but I like that the old computer can still serve a purpose. Sometimes, it's really convenient to have a Windows PC close by, even if it is not needed every day. It's even better when that Windows PC is a Mac. It's also nice not to have to restart into Windows 8 on my main Mac.

P.S.- Right now, this Mini is acting as a HTPC in my living room with a Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad, and a Windows MediaCenter remote and ATSC tuner.

[crarko adds: As someone with a lot of older hardware still around, I appreciate ideas like this. Never been a huge Boot Camp user (preferring virtualization) but I see where this could come in handy.

Note to all: I'm back again for a while, and my hope is to try to post something every day. I know the site has been pretty slow, and your continued help by submitting your hints and ideas is always very welcome. Thanks. -- Craig A.]
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Reduce CPU usage by removing video files from the Desktop System 10.6
I was working on my iMac recently when I noticed the hard disk was working overtime. I checked Activity Monitor and found out the Finder was eating into my CPU, from 40% to over 100%. I decided to take everything off my Desktop and enclose it in a folder. Doing so reduced the CPU to nothing until I opened the folder containing the documents. I narrowed it down eventually to an MKV file I had. I can only assume it was QuickLook rendering the movie.

Reduce the files on your desktop, especially movies as these seem to eat into CPU even though you are not using them. Even normal files need rendering every time your Mac launches, so there's no need to leave them there.

[kirkmc adds: The idea isn't new; we covered this back in 2005, and it's pretty well known that files on the Desktop can slow down Macs. The reason I'm posting this is because I have seen the same thing since Mountain Lion. (The hint was submitted as a 10.6 hint, but I've only seen this excess activity since 10.8) I have some video files on a network volume, and if I open a folder containing the files, I can see the network traffic and see in Activity Monitor that QuickLook is working very hard. So not only can this slow down your Mac because of CPU usage, but it can also cause a lot of network activity, if you have such files on a network volume.]
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View an application's graphical resources in Preview System 10.6
You can view all of an application's graphical resources - icons, pictures, UI elements, etc. - quickly and easily by dragging the application icon onto the Preview icon. When you do this, Preview's sidebar will show all of these items, and you can click on any of them to view it in the main window.

If you do this with Keynote, you'll have access to all the graphical elements in the various themes the program contains; and with Pages, you'll be able to see all the elements from the program's templates.

[kirkmc adds: Interesting, and a good way to copy certain graphical elements, notably from Keynote themes or Pages templates. Note that there are thousands of graphic files in these programs, so it can take a while to wade through them.]
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Build a service to count characters, words and paragraphs System 10.6
Apple does not provide any way to count the number of characters in a selected text. Fortunately, you can create your own very easily using Automator.

Launch Automator and create a new Service. Add the Run AppleScript script action, then paste the following code:
on run {input, parameters}
		set MyText to input as string
		set NombreSignes to the number of characters of MyText
		set NombreMots to the number of words of MyText
		set NombrePara to the number of paragraphs of MyText
		set LeResultat to "The selected text contains :" & return & "- " & NombreSignes & " sign(s) ;" & return & "- " & NombreMots & " word(s) ;" & return & "- " & NombrePara & " paragraph(s)."
		display dialog LeResultat buttons {"OK"} default button 1 with icon note
	on error errmsg number errnum
		display dialog errmsg & " [" & errnum & "]" buttons {"OK"} default button 1 with icon stop
	end try
	return input
end run
Now save the service and use a name such as "Count characters in selection."

To use the service, select any text in a text application (this does not work in Word, however), then choose your service in the contextual menu.

You can download a precompiled service here. This has been tested successfully on Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7.

[kirkmc adds: This works as advertised. For some reason, however, when I install the precompiled service, while its name is "Count characters in selection," it displays in the Services menu as "Compteur de signes," which is French for character counter. If you're unfamiliar with using services in OS X, you can see this Macworld article I wrote earlier this year.

We ran a hint using AppleScript to count words and characters back in 2007, which uses a different approach, requiring that you copy text to the clipboard.]
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10.6: Make a universal 10.6.7 Snow Leopard installer System 10.6
Why do we need this? Because Apple quit releasing full retail versions of Snow Leopard with 10.6.3. If you have an Apple computer made after the Core 2 Duos, the 10.6.3 retail disk may not boot, and the 10.6.0 version won't boot at all. Early 2011 MacBook Pros fall in this category. Version 10.6.7 was the last version released on DVD, but the DVDs were locked to specific machines. We are are going to unlock a 10.6.7 DVD and make it a universal Installer.

How to do it:
  • Use Disk Utility to make a read/write DMG of a 10.6.7 install disk for a MacBook Pro or iMac. Version 10.6.6 might work, but I haven't tried it.
  • Set the Finder to reveal hidden files:
  • open Terminal and type or copy and paste the following line:

    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

  • Press the Enter key.
  • Then type:

    killall Finder

  • Press the Enter key again.
  • To reverse this, rerun with FALSE instead of TRUE and killall Finder again
  • Insert a 10.6.0 or 10.6.3 OSX retail installation disk in your DVD drive and use the Finder to open the disk to system/Installation/Packages/
  • One of these package files is OSInstall.mpkg which is the set of instructions for the Installer. This file in the 10.6.7 Installer is where the checking is done to see if it's installing to the 'correct' computer.
  • Open another Finder window, and navigate to the same place in the 10.6.7 Installer. Replace the existing OSInstall.mpkg file with the one from the retail disk plus copy over all the printer related Installer packages. We do this because the retail installation script won't install the 10.6.7 printer packages. Check the 'copy all' box when the Finder warns you that the files already exist.
  • Open Disk Utility and plug in an 8 gig thumb drive. Find the drive on the left side of the Disk Utility window and click on it. Now click Partition, chose 1 Partition, give it a name and click the Options button. Choose the GUID partition choice and close the window. Click the Partition button. When the Disk Utility is done, use SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the modified 10.6.7 Installer to the 8 gig keychain drive. I had problems getting the Backup utility in Disk Utility to do this. You can boot any ready for Snow Leopard Mac with this Installer.

[crarko adds: I know we've published hints like this in the past, but I just want to point out that the intent here is not to rip off Apple, but to handle what can be a very messy systems management issue in environments with many different models of Macs, using the tools that are available.]
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A workaround for an iPhoto/set desktop bug System 10.6
On both my Mac Pro and my iMac, I've run into a problem where the iPhoto library simply doesn't show up in the Desktop & Screen Saver System Preferences panel (in Mac OS X 10.6.x). Well, sometimes it shows up, but simply as a line reading iPhoto, but without any actual content.

When this happened the first time, I looked in Console and found the following entry for each time I'd tried to load the Desktop tab of the Desktop & Screen Saver panel:
1/12/12 9:09:36 AM    System Preferences[4134]    **** DesktopPref error: DSKiPhotoRootSource -loadData TIME OUT!!! There something wrong with iLife Media Browser
Googling on that error led to a number of pages, including iLife: Cannot See iPhoto Files in Other iLife Applications on Apple's support site. But after trying everything in that article, I still couldn't see my iPhoto images when trying to set the Desktop picture.

I even tried deleting all cache files, rebooting, and (a very time consuming process) rebuilding the iPhoto library. Nothing fixed the problem. (This seems to be related to the size of the iPhoto library; I've only ever seen the issue on my main Mac, which has over 25,000 photos and videos, using 235GB of drive space.)

The workaround: While I still haven't solved the problem (as it seems to be a bug in OS X itself), there is a workaround. As posted by mrkgoo in this thread on Apple's Discussion site, here's what to do:
  • Open the Desktop & Screen Saver panel in System Preferences.
  • Click on the Screen Saver tab. You probably won't see iPhoto listed here, but just wait -- potentially quite a while, but keep waiting. Eventually, you will see a fully-functional iPhoto entry.
  • Click on the Desktop tab, and bingo, notice you now have an iPhoto entry there, too.
  • Choose the album you want to use for the images on each connected monitor.
  • Click back to the Screen Saver tab -- if you don't, then you'll have to repeat this process the next time you open the Desktop & Screen Saver System Preferences panel.
While this is moderately annoying, it definitely works. Why does the workaround work? I'm not sure, but to my non-technical eye, it seems that the Desktop tab has a short timeout for loading the iPhoto library, while the Screen Saver tab has no such limit. Once the data's been read in, though, the Desktop tab is quite willing to display and use it.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one myself.]
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10.6: Setting up the free iCloud account in Mail System 10.6
This hint describes how to connect your free iCloud account with on Snow Leopard.

Open Mail and do the following:
  • Set a new account (+) (in prefs on
  • Set the new account to use IMAP (this is important).
  • Set the incoming mail server:
  • Set the outgoing mail server:
  • Set the user name:
  • Use the password associated with your AppleID.
  • Turn SSL on (port 993).
That should do it.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one, but it seems pretty straightforward. It sounds like you may have to try alternate server addresses. There is some more information to be found here, as well as this previous hint about setting up iCal in 10.6 for iCloud.]
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10.6: Set a firmware password from the command line System 10.6
I am in the middle of mass deploying thousands of new MacBook Airs at work, and all my previous tools to set the firmware password no longer work in late 2010 or newer models of Macs. This was due to some sort of change on firmware, but I haven't dug deep enough to know what exactly changed.

I needed a work around fast so I was looking into the Firmware Password Utility found on the Installer DVDs. There is a tool called setregproptool inside the package contents of this utility. This command line tool can be used to set the firmware password on your Mac.

My problem of course was that I did not have a new Installer DVD at all, in fact all I had were a few thousand of the USB OS X installer disks that ship with Macbook Airs. So, if you open up Terminal and browse the Mac OS X Install USB stick, you will see these contents:
$ cd /Volumes/Mac\ OS\ X\ Install
$ ls -l
total 8254080
-rw-r--r--@ 1 hadmin  staff    13447709 Dec  8  2010 Extensions.mkext
-rw-r--r--@ 1 hadmin  staff      346540 Dec  8  2010 Install iLife.pkg
-rw-r--r--@ 1 hadmin  staff  4193180820 Dec  8  2010 MacOSX.dmg
-rw-r--r--@ 1 hadmin  staff       46401 Nov 19  2010 MacOSX_Media_Background.png
drwxr-xr-x@ 3 hadmin  staff         102 Dec  8  2010 Packages
drwxr-xr-x  3 hadmin  staff         102 Aug 25  2010
drwxr-xr-x@ 3 hadmin  staff         102 Dec  8  2010 System
-rw-r--r--@ 1 hadmin  staff      332464 Dec  8  2010 boot.efi
-rw-r--r--@ 1 hadmin  staff         361 Dec  8  2010
-rw-r--r--@ 1 hadmin  staff    18693813 Dec  8  2010 mach_kernel
You need to copy that MacOSX.dmg to your desktop or somewhere on your machine, then change the hidden flags via:

chflags nohidden ~/Desktop/MacOSX.dmg (if it is on your desktop).

Now you can mount the image and navigate into the /Applications/Utilities folder and find the Firmware Password Utility app, go into the package contents and find the proper version of the tool.
/Volumes/Mac OS X Install Image/Applications/Utilities/Firmware Password

sudo ./setregproptool -h
setregproptool v 2.0 (7) Oct  3 2010
Copyright (C) 2001-2010 Apple Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Usage: setregproptool [-c] [-d [-o ]] [[-m  -p ] -o ]

    -c              Check whether password is enabled. 
                            Sets return status of 0 if set, 1 otherwise.
    -d              Delete current password/mode.
                            Requires current password on some machines.
    -p              Set password.
                            Requires current password on some machines.
    -m              Set security mode.
                            Requires current password on some machines.
                            Mode can be either "full" or "command".
                            Full mode requires entry of the password on
                            every boot, command mode only requires entry
                            of the password if the boot picker is invoked
                            to select a different boot device.

                    When enabling the Firmware Password for the first
                    time, both the password and mode must be provided.
                    Once the firmware password has been enabled, providing
                    the mode or password alone will change that parameter

    -o              Old password.
                            Only required on certain machines to disable
                            or change password or mode. Optional, if not
                            provided the tool will prompt for the password.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. Obviously handy of you need to do a mass deployment. If you get this (or something similar) working in Lion as well please mention so in the comments.]
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10.6: Access DFS shares System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintThe storage admins where I work have gone DFS mad. But if you're a Mac user, that would just make you plain old mad. That's because as great as DFS is for Windows users on an Active Directory domain, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard doesn't know what to do with DFS paths.

The rumor is that Lion 10.7 due any day now will finally support DFS but that doesn't help me now. So I created a command line tool to help deal with Active Directory DFS shares from a Mac. Visit the dfstool homepage to download it and try it out.

[crarko adds: I don't have DFS-enabled servers to test the functionality of this with. I installed and ran the tool just fine. I put it in /usr/local/bin for ease of execution.]
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10.6: Move files or folders in Finder (Cut/Paste) System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintIn Finder there is no easy way to move files, similar to Windows cut and paste (Ctrl+X, Ctrl+V). I created a simple Automator Service, which does it for me.

To optimize it I created a macro in Keyboard Maestro.

When I select files or folders in Finder I call the macro and I can navigate to the target folder.

It's a pretty straightforward process:
  • Launch Automator and create a new Service.
  • The Service receives selected 'files or folders' in 'any application.'
  • Choose 'Get Selected Finder Items.'
  • Then choose 'Move Finder Items To: .'
  • Tick 'Show this action when the workflow runs' under Options.
In Keyboard Maestro create a macro which will Execute Automator Workflow.

[crarko adds: We've had similar hints before, using Quicksilver and moveAddict. This one uses another third-party application for the macro, but the Service works perfectly well by itself, too. I also found this old Tiger hint about enabling Cut in the Finder, but in 10.6.8 it will still only move the files/folders to the Trash.]
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