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10.6: Option-click audio menu extra to choose source System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintIf you want an easy way to change the input or output sound source on your mac (say between the internal microphone and audio-in) in Mac OSX Snow Leopard you can simply option-click on the audio menu-extra in your menu bar.

This hint is actually from commenter Monoclast on from a review on the program SoundSource which adds a new Menu Extra to do exactly this.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described.]
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10.6: Paste a file path directly into a Save dialog System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintA file/folder copied in Finder or a file/folder POSIX path string on the clipboard (such as '~/Documents/file.txt') can be pasted directly into a Save dialog by pressing ⌘V. The dialog will automatically open a Finder-style 'Go to the folder…' dialog and paste the path into it. Pressing enter will go to that location. It doesn't seem to work for Open dialogs, but pressing ⇧⌘G then ⌘V gives the same result.

I discovered this by accident the other day. I'm on 10.6.7, I haven't tried it on other systems.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. I did a search and did not find a duplicate, but this seems like something that may have been mentioned before. I tried it on 10.5, and it did not exhibit this behavior.]
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Compiling a Universal Binary from Autogen sources System 10.6
You can compile the package for more than one kind of computer at the same time, by placing the objects for each architecture in their own directory. To do this, you can use GNU make. Run cd to go to the directory where you want the object files and executables to wind up and run the configure script. Configure automatically checks for the source code in the directory that configure is in and in ..; this is known as a VPATH build.

With a non-GNU make, it is safer to compile the package for one architecture at a time in the source code directory. After you have installed the package for one architecture, use make distclean before reconfiguring a new architecture.

On MacOS X 10.5 and later systems, you can create libraries and executables that work on multiple system types (known as fat also universal binaries) by specifying multiple -arch options to the compiler but only a single -arch option to the preprocessor.

Working Example (for most autogen sources):
CC="gcc -arch i386 -arch x86_64" CXX="g++ -arch i386 -arch x86_64" CPP="gcc -E" CXXCPP="g++ -E" ./configure
You can add addition configure script switches, such as: --prefix=/usr/local. This is not guaranteed to produce working output in all cases, you may have to build one architecture at a time and combine the results using the lipo tool if you have problems.

The original printing of this hint was found after hours of mangled searches, only to find it right here.

I have tested this many times over the past few days, and have only found a handful that would not compile using this hint, but running the lipo -create commands on a few is a lot better than doing this for everything I need to compile.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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10.6: An Exposé feature in application switching System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintHere is another Exposé keyboard trick, this one available when doing Application Switching.

When Tab Switching between applications, besides Command+Tab, and Command+Shift+Tab (or Command+~); if you select the desired application, continue holding the Command key, and press 1, the selected application's windows are spread out Exposé style (from all Spaces).

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. Like this earlier hint and others, there are lots of keyboard shortcuts built into Exposé which are not expected. I'm sure Mission Control in Lion will be full of surprises, too.]
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10.6: Sync folder icons with Dropbox System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintAs you may know, with Dropbox all is kept in Sync between computers, but there is something that doesn't sync: Custom Folder Icons. To solve this I wrote an Automator Service.

With this Service you can select a number of folders (with custom icons) and launch the menu option 'Dropbox - Backup folder Icons' from the Services menu in Finder. Then when Dropbox does its next sync, in the other computer where you want to recover the icons, just launch the other Service: 'Dropbox - Recover folder Icons.'


Just expand the zip file after downloading and move the Services to your ~/Library/Services folder.

There is more information on how to install and use the Services (including screenshots) here.

NOTE: This Service uses the Setfile command, that comes with the Developer Tools, so you need to have these installed.


Dropbox - Backup folder Icons
Dropbox - Recover folder Icons

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one, but after you've unzipped the files you can open them up in Automator to look at what they do before installing and using them. Basically each runs a shell script to do its job.]
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10.6: Free up system resources using Automator System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintGiven the popularity of utility programs that let you free up computer resources, it is worth noting that we can get the same effect free of charge using built-in system tools. The simple trick behind utilities that free up computer resources is the purge command. Instead of using any of these apps, it is enough to fire up, type in 'purge' (no quotes) and press Enter.

This may be of course a bit cumbersome if we repeat this task often. In order to speed up the process and limit the procedure to a single click, we can use Automator to make a small app or a service to execute the 'purge' command.

Do do so we have to:
  • Open Automator and select 'Application' or 'Service' as our workflow.
  • Drag the 'Run Shell Script' action to our workflow from the Utilities section of the Actions Library.
  • Type in 'purge' (no quotes) in the text box.
  • Save the workflow as an Application or a Service.
  • Use the Application or Service to execute the command and free up some resources.
I have saved the workflow as an Application, and placed it in my grid. This way, the purge command is just one click away, and is always accessible from the dock.

I have tested this on 10.6 and 10.7.

[crarko adds: I tested this (in 10.6.7), and it works as described. Obviously you'll begin consuming resources again after the purging when you run applications.]
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10.6: Completely Disable Virtual Memory in Snow Leopard System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintThis hint is the result of an experience I tried in the last few days. It involves disabling the dynamic pager daemon and stop using virtual memory at all in Snow Leopard. I don't recommend doing it in previous OSX versions, or if don't want to take risks. Advantages, in my case, are obvious, and, so far, with no issues at all.

My MacBook Pro, Core i5, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB HD, has been a real pleasure to use; my previous machine was an old PowerBook G4, as slow as you can imagine. But even with the MBP, some slowness seems to sometimes appear in everyday usage (Parallels 6/Windows7, Firefox, Photoshop, Mail, iTunes always opened), specifically related to the disk activity (a 5400 RPM 320 GB, Hitachi drive). I suspected the paging activities of OSX to be responsible for the general system slowdown. If so, no doubt the disk drive is the weak side of the MBP 2010, as everything slows down when OSX is creating a new swap file. So one move I planned was to buy a 7200 RPM drive, or even better, an SSD drive.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to minimize disk swap activity. Last week, I discovered this page at, where virtual memory is shown to be easy to disable in Snow Leopard. To disable it, the solution is quite simple. In Terminal, type this line and restart:
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
To re-enable it, just repeat above command with the 'load' option.

The difference for me was quite impressive and immediately perceptible. As soon as I disabled the dynamic pager daemon, I restarted and notice a huge difference on how fast any application opens, that Windows 7 (in Parallels) reacts almost natively, and how the whole system now feels so much more responsive. I would estimate the difference is about 20-30% between enabling and disabling VM. Win7 launches in about 20 secs, even Firefox opens and responds much faster than before.

No swap files in Private/var/vm, 0% cache hits and about 800-900 MB RAM still free (3 GB used) during peak usage.

I can testify that, after a week of tests, having opened as much as 30 simultaneous applications (in fact all the Apps folder), I have notice no slowdown, no bug, no kernel panics, no unusual log file error reporting. I tried running some PC game demos in Parallels/Win7 (with 2 GB RAM allocated). There was still no panic, no issues. I was working at my academy this week, using Windows servers, online printers, and virtual private networks, with no issues at all. The MBP is okay, except faster than before (and even faster when waking from sleep).

So, if you have OSX 10.6 with as least 4 GB RAM, disable your virtual memory and rediscover your Mac.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. I will echo Rob's advice from this previous hint; I do not recommend disabling the virtual memory subsystem on any version of Mac OS X. However, if you have sufficient physical RAM and want to eke out that last little bit of extra speed, you can try this at your own risk.]
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Get Safe Downloads List last update time and current version System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintWhether you are an IT admin or a vigilant home user who wants to know when the Safe Downloads list (used with Safari) was last updated, here's the Terminal command to do that.

Date and Time (GMT):
defaults read /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.meta LastModification
Version Number:
defaults read /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.meta Version

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. I always turn off the 'Open safe files after downloading' setting in Safari on any machine I use, but this is good info to know.]
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10.6: A script to display available Apple software updates System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintThis is a script that is supposed to be used with GeekTool if you are running as a non-admin user (as I am) and thus no longer get to see when new software is available from Apple.

I grew tired of being a good user and not run as admin anymore, but then not getting info about new software from Apple. Therefore I wrote ',' a bash-script that gathers info from the command-line utility 'softwareupdate' and presents it.

In short:
  • It checks the software update every six hours.
  • It updates the presentation every fifteen minutes.
  • The script checks for a new version of itself every two weeks and automatically updates itself.
You can find all about it the options and functionality of the script here. You should read up on it a bit before proceeding with the installation.

Here is the install script:
# Program fˆr att installera
# 2011-04-26 / Peter Mˆller, Datavetenskap, LTH
# 2011-05-05: checksum-check
# Location: 

# Kolla s att anv‰ndaren ‰r "root"
if [ ! "$USER" = "root" ] ; then
  echo "Must be run by root!"
  echo "Exiting..."
  exit 1

# H‰mta och starta launchd-komponenten
echo "Fetching launchd-component"
curl -o /Library/LaunchDaemons/se.lth.cs.softwareupdatecheck.plist
chmod 644 /Library/LaunchDaemons/se.lth.cs.softwareupdatecheck.plist
launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/se.lth.cs.softwareupdatecheck.plist
launchctl start se.lth.cs.softwareupdatecheck

# H‰mta scriptet
echo "Fetching main script"
curl -o /tmp/${ScriptName}${ScriptName}
curl -o /tmp/${ScriptName}.sha1${ScriptName}.sha1
if [ "$(openssl sha1 /tmp/${ScriptName} | awk '{ print $2 }')" = "$(less /tmp/${ScriptName}.sha1)" ]; then
  mv /tmp/${ScriptName} /usr/bin/${ScriptName}
  chmod 755 /usr/bin/${ScriptName}
  echo "Checksum does NOT match!! Installation aborted!"
  exit 1

echo "Done installing base parts of \"\"."

if [ -z "`ls /Library/PreferencePanes/GeekTool.prefPane 2> /dev/null`" -a -z "`ls /Users/*/Library/PreferencePanes/GeekTool.prefPane 2> /dev/null`" ]; then
  echo "Fetching GeekTool"
  # ÷ppna webbsidan fˆr att h‰mta ner GeekTook
  curl -o /tmp/GeekTool.dmg
  hdiutil mount /tmp/GeekTool.dmg
  open /Volumes/GeekTool\ 3/
  echo "GeekTool fetched: You will have to install it yourself, though."
  say "Done installing base parts of software update check. Now you will have to install GeekTool yourself"

exit 0
Since 'softwareupdate' must be run by root, you will have to be an admin and use sudo when you run this script.

  • Get the most current version of the script from here.
  • Start
  • Become root: if you are an ordinary user, type su and then sudo -i; if you are alrea dyan admin user just type sudo -i.
  • Set the access rights for the downloaded script:
    chmod 755
  • Run the script:
  • Installation is usually quite quick. If you don't have GeekTool installed, it will be fetched as well. To install it, double-click its .PrefPane.
  • In GeekTool: click the icon named 'Shell' and drag it to an empty part of the desktop and make it the size you like.
  • In the 'Properties' window, enter:
    Refresh every: 900 s
    Change font and color as you like
  • Close GeekTool

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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10.6: Combining Spaces and Exposé in a single swipe System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintThis hint shows how to combine Spaces and Exposé to show all open windows on all workspaces, using AppleScript and BetterTouchTool.

Lion may have Mission Control but for Leopard/Snow Leopard users, it can be a pain to find a particular window among all the workspaces. The following AppleScript activates Spaces and Exposé together and orders windows by alphabetical order:
tell application "System Events"
  key code 100 -- F8 - Spaces
  key code 101 -- F9 - Exposé All Windows
  keystroke "1" using {command down}
end tell
It assumes you're using the default keys for Spaces and Exposé. Copy and Paste the script into AppleScript Editor, save it as a script and then add it as a gesture in BetterTouchTool under the Global section. I use the three finger down swipe gesture to activate the script.

The more RAM you have, the better -- on a machine with 2GB RAM, it took a second or two to run the script, whereas it runs instantly on a 8GB machine.

You can get BetterTouchTool at It's an amazing program to customize trackpad and mouse gestures to do pretty much anything.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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