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10.9: Assigning Tags by keyboard shortcut in Finder Desktop
I'm not sure if this has been covered sufficiently already, but I've heard lamentations by various writers about the lack of a keyboard shortcut to bring up the file-tagging popup in the Finder. While none is provided by default, one can easily be set up.

In previous versions of OS X, the File menu had Label: followed by the row of colored cells. In Mavericks, the row of tags is still there, but the un-selectable Label: has changed to the selectable Tags…, which opens the tagging popup menu next to the selected file.

This process may already be familiar to MacOSXHints readers. Go to System Preferences » Keyboard » Shortcuts » App Shortcuts and click on the + button.

In the window that appears, set the Application to be the Finder, and enter Tags… in for the Menu Title. (To type the ellipsis character, use Option+semicolon, rather than three periods.) And then, of course, set your preferred shortcut. I like using Cmd+Opt+T.

[crarko adds: Handy. I hope this kind of customizing does not disappear in Mavericks' successor. I fear the worst.]
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Change a static event to recurring Desktop
I don't know whether this is a common issue. From time to time, I find myself changing an event in my calendar (which may have originally been recurring) that is static and that I now want to become recurring. At least sometimes, Calendar will not let me change the event from static to recurring.

This problem forces me to manually copy all relevant information into a new recurring event. I find it frustrating.This may be because this is achieved transparently in Outlook at work.

Anyway, I found somewhat of a compromise. Duplicate the event (many ways including right-click on it then select Duplicate). Open the duplicate event, and set it to the desired recurring period. Of course, don't forget to discard the original static event.

For some reason, whereas the original static event could not be made to recur, the duplicate static event can be.

This is not elegant by any standard even the lowest but is simple enough.
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Make a UTC Dashboard clock widget Desktop
The OS X Dashboard doesn't include a Clock widget specifically for GMT/UTC (Universal Coordinated Time). Even if you try choosing London, which is usually GMT, it doesn't always match UTC—since London observes daylight savings time.

If you would like to have a clock that always shows the current UTC time, a good option is to use Freetown in Africa. They use UTC+00:00, and don't ever change throughout the year.
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Use arrow keys to navigate Stocks widget Desktop
In the Stocks Dashboard Widget, the up- and down-arrow keys will change the selected stock, and the left- and right-arrow keys will toggle through the different time intervals (1d, 1w, 1m, etc.). This may have been possible in earlier versions of OS X but I have only noticed it in Mountain Lion.

[kirkmc adds: Not a game-changing hint, for sure, but if you use the Stocks widget regularly, it can save time.]
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Speed up your Mac by removing files from the Desktop Desktop
A family member owns a Mac, and he was complaining it was getting slow - especially the Desktop. He had a lot of files on the Desktop, but none of them were visible on the Desktop itself, but only in a Finder window displaying the contents of the Desktop. The Desktop only showed two icons: the main hard disk, and a Time Machine hard disk. The Desktop itself was very slow, and often displayed a beachball.

However, when I looked in the Desktop folder, there were more than 2,700 image files. When I removed the image files from the Desktop folder, everything went back to normal.

So, don't over-clutter your Desktop, as it might slow down your Mac and even hide files.

[kirkmc adds: This isn't new, and there have been a couple of hints about this in the past; the only ones I can find were in 2005 and again in 2008. I think it's worth pointing it out again, though, to users who aren't aware of the issue. If you have a lot of files on the Desktop, it will slow down your Mac; if you have Show Icon Preview checked in the View Options, it will slow it down even more. Personally, I don't put any files on the Desktop for this reason.]
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10.7: Set Finder labels by drag and drop Desktop
I use labels as a way of organizing files in the Finder and letting me know which ones still need work doing on them.

I have discovered that Lion's item arrangement settings (found on the Finder toolbar) provide a useful and simple way to quickly change labels from one colour to another.

To do this, set to arrange by Label and simply drag files between the different categories (ie Red, Blue, No Label, etc.) to change the label of that file to the appropriate color.

Two caveats:
  • This only seems to work when in Icon View.
  • You need to have at least one of your files set to each of the label colours you need or there won't be a section visible to drag your file into.

[crarko adds: I tried this in 10.7.3, and it does work as described, including the aforementioned limitation to Icon View.

And have a Happy Leap Day!]
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Force folders in the Dock to open in Finder Desktop
I keep frequently used folders and devices in the dock. The default behavior for clicking or using Dock focus then return is either the accordions, or with the command key opening the enclosing folder, neither of which I find very useful.

Solution: Create aliases (which I collect in one folder, also for easy access), and place them on the dock. Clicking or return when focused opens the folder.

[crarko adds: Simple, but useful. A similar technique was used for a long time to simulate portions of the classic Apple menu, before people really adjusted to using the Dock.]
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Bing picture of the day on your desktop. Desktop
Bing has those nice images on and every day they have a new one. I have put together a small python script which fetches today's image and displays it on the desktop.

Note: you will need to manually create the DeskFeed folder inside your Pictures folder.

Here's the script:
#!/usr/bin/env python
import os
import md5
import pprint
import sys
import subprocess
from time import strftime
from urllib import URLopener
from urllib2 import urlopen
from xml.dom.minidom import parseString

# Defines source and destination of image
rss_feed = '';
dst_dir = os.path.expanduser('~/Pictures/DeskFeed/')

SCRIPT = """/usr/bin/osascript<<END
tell application "Finder"
set desktop picture to POSIX file "%s"
end tell

def set_desktop_background(destination):
  subprocess.Popen(SCRIPT%destination, shell=True)

def parseFeed(rss):
  destination = "%s%s.jpg" % (dst_dir, strftime( "%y-%m-%d"))
  if os.path.exists(destination):

    rss_contents = urlopen( rss )
    print "Failed to read rss feed %s" % rss
  rss_src =
  dom = parseString( rss_src )
  firstitem = dom.getElementsByTagName('item')[0]
  link = firstitem.getElementsByTagName( 'enclosure' )[0].getAttribute('url')
  URLopener().retrieve(link, destination)

def main():

if __name__ == "__main__":
This, and other useful scripts, are available here.

[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. To actually run the Python script I recommend studying the brief tutorial here. I used the Python Launcher utility from MacPorts to manage the script.]
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Quickly switch to parent directory in Column View of Finder Desktop
When navigating through column view in Finder, at times your destination folder gets exactly aligned to the left (thus hiding the parent folder out of the visibile view).

If you need to quickly switch to the parent directory without scrolling or hitting the left arrow key, just click in the white space at the bottom of your current folder and Finder takes you to the parent folder.

It's small things like this that make OS X a pleasure to use.

[crarko adds: This is one of those things I think has been around a long time, but it's nice to see reminders sometimes.]
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Fix a Finder glitch when updating apps by drag and drop Desktop
If you ever try to update an application by locating the application package then dragging the updated version to the same window, you are prompted to confirm that you want to replace the one that already exists. When doing so, you may sometimes receive an error message about the open status of the application's info.plist file.

This may only apply in cases such as mine for which too many applications exist on the boot volume for them to all be stored in the Applications folder.

Presumably, the .plist file was opened in order to help you find the application package. The error message usually stops appearing after several tries to drag and drop the new application package, but if you don't want to wait, try the following.

Open a Terminal window, type lsof, and then press return. That apparently updates the Finder's recognition of what needs to be protected and what doesn't, and should allow you to successfully replace the application package on the next attempt to drag and drop. You can just close the Terminal after you're done updating.

[crarko adds: The command lsof gives a list of the files that are currently open by all active processes. Why it would have the side effect mentioned in the hint is a bit of a mystery.]
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