30 Apple Tips
Posted on: 06/17/2011 12:24 PM

Here a roundup of the latest Apple Tips from MacOSXHints:

Quickly open two instances of the same PDF in Preview
Sometimes you need to have two views of the same PDF document (e.g. to have a quick access to the list of references in a thesis without the need to scroll to it and then back to the text). However, Preview does not allow a file to be opened twice.

The quickest solution would be to hit Cmd-P and select 'Open PDF in Preview.' You'll have a temporary copy of your PDF where you can select the second view and have both views handy for easy switching.

Quickly open two instances of the same PDF in Preview

Bulk delete entries from Mail.app Previous Recipients using sqlite3
My company changed its name recently. This meant I was left with hundreds of username@oldname.com entries in Mail.app's Previous Recipients list that I wanted to delete, and a GUI that didn't want to help me do that.

Mail.app does provide a window for viewing and editing the list (Window » Previous Recipients), but its search function only matches against the beginning of names and email addresses. You can't search for substrings, which is what I needed to do in this case.

Bulk delete entries from Mail.app Previous Recipients using sqlite3

Toggle Airport On and Off
The hint 'Control Airport Without Menu Bar' in the June issue of Macworld (also see this article) was very informative and useful. I devised a simple script based on the article hint that toggles airport on and off.

Here is the script. Copy and Paste it into AppleScript Editor and save it as an Application.

Toggle Airport On and Off

Undo in iTunes
It is an unfortunate fact that iTunes doesn't have an 'Undo' function for some operations. Today, I discovered that force quitting may reverse a recent blunder.

My mistake happened in Podcasts. My 'This American Life' Podcast collection is a long freckled list of unheard, listened, and partially played programs. I accidentally marked the lot of them as new; meaning I would have no way of knowing which ones I'd heard and how much of them I had heard of them.

Undo in iTunes

Adobe Bridge CS5: Keep folders on external volumes in favorites bar
One of my favorite parts of Adobe Bridge CS5 is the Favorites panel, which lets you pin favorite folders to a sidebar for easy access.
However, one of my few gripes with Bridge is that if you click a folder in your favorites and that folder can't be found, the folder is removed from your favorites.

Adobe Bridge CS5: Keep folders on external volumes in favorites bar

Identify the print jobs in the queue
If you double-click a print job in a printer's queue, it will open a Quick Look window showing the printing preview of that job. Especially useful when the file names don't have descriptive titles.

Identify the print jobs in the queue

Starting foreign language Acrobat on English OS X
Acrobat 10 doesn't accept serial numbers for international versions of Acrobat (or the CS suite) if the operating system is running in a different language than the purchased one. This hint discusses a few workarounds.

Acrobat comes with several language packages and runs by default with the language of the operating system. In this case however it doesn't accept serial numbers which are bound to a specific language. As it seems there are three work arounds (the first two are also mentioned by the Adobe support team)

Starting foreign language Acrobat on English OS X

10.6 Server: Workaround for recurring CalDAV password dialogs on iOS devices
Follow these steps to work around an issue that causes recurring password dialogs on iOS devices that are configured to connect to a CalDAV account hosted by Mac OS X Server 10.6.

The procedure involves turning off Digest authentication and enabling Basic authentication. Since all passwords will be sent in the clear, make sure that all traffic to the iCal server is encrypted. This can be done either by requiring users to connect via VPN or by using a valid SSL certificate and setting SSL to 'Redirect' in the iCal Service settings in Server Admin.

10.6 Server: Workaround for recurring CalDAV password dialogs on iOS devices

10.6: Combining Spaces and Exposé in a single swipe
This 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:

10.6: Combining Spaces and Exposé in a single swipe

10.6: A script to display available Apple software updates
This 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 'SoftwareUpdateCheck.sh,' a bash-script that gathers info from the command-line utility 'softwareupdate' and presents it.

10.6: A script to display available Apple software updates

Restore behavior in the InDesign polygon tool
Here's how to restore the old method of adding sides and changing star inset to the Polygon Tool in InDesign CS5.

I have previously used the Polygon Tool to create star shaped objects in InDesign, and I like the old way of changing the number of sides and the star inset of the shapes dynamically while drawing the shape.

Restore behavior in the InDesign polygon tool

Keep 3G connections alive while also using WiFi
IRC is blocked at my work and I enjoy sitting in the chat rooms for live podcasts on my lunch hour while I listen. I'm fortunate to have rolled my unlimited data iPad 1 plan over to my iPad 2, but sometimes being on 3G can get annoying. But I don't want to drop the chat room connection either.

If you have a service like IRC that's blocked by your WiFi or you'd prefer using 3G network than WiFi then this is the ticket.

Keep 3G connections alive while also using WiFi

Swap Command and Alt keys on USB keyboard
Today I ruined my silver Apple keyboard by spilling coffee on it and had to switch back to an old PC keyboard with a German layout. Which is a fine keyboard with one very annoying attribute: the Control (Windows) and Alt keys are swapped, the bottom keys are from left to right: Ctrl - Windows(Command) - Alt - Space. It can drive you crazy. So I searched for a solution but it was not as obvious as I had expected.

With Snow Leopard the mapping can be changed via System Preferences » Keyboard, there choose 'Modifier keys...' and in the Dialog remap Alt (Option) and Command. However, some applications, like Eclipse, do not get these changes.

Swap Command and Alt keys on USB keyboard

Tweak Dashboard widget use to improve performance
If you notice your Mac is running very slowly, or if you begin to see a marked slowdown in your Internet browsing performance, it is possible a Dashboard widget could be the problem.

My Mac had been running slowly for weeks. Things seemed to pick up a bit if I restarted the computer, but that was virtually the only thing that seemed to make a difference; I could have just one application running, like Safari or Firefox, and it would slowly begin to slow down. I ran a third-party virus scan, and it turned nothing.

Tweak Dashboard widget use to improve performance

Set Boot Camp partition to boot to Windows via command line
I work in academia in a large 1:1 deployment of around 6,000 MacBooks. At one point in time when we made the switch to Macs an assessment testing software developer had not made a universal binary app yet and their PPC app just would not run right on Intel based Macs. So, I had to create and deploy a dual boot image for them. The thought had crossed my mind on how to allow managed users (with no admin rights) the ability to dual boot? I cannot use any boot loader that runs in EFI either because I have to have firmware passwords on the Macs via security protocols.

Set Boot Camp partition to boot to Windows via command line

Quickly get the contents of .webloc or .textClipping files
Here's is a very simple tip for working with .webloc and .textClipping files. Sometimes I drag some selected text to the desktop to create a clipping that I can forget about until later. When the selected text is an actual URL, the clipping becomes a .webloc file instead of a .textClipping file, of course.

I find that I want to quickly get either the contained URL of the .webloc file or the contents of the .textClipping back onto the Clipboard in a hurry. One quick way to do that is the same way I would get the text path of a normal file to my Clipboard. I just begin dragging the .webloc or .textClipping file to the upper right corner of the screen, and sometime before it gets there, I press Command+Spacebar to activate the Spotlight search field.

Quickly get the contents of .webloc or .textClipping files

Get Safe Downloads List last update time and current version
Whether 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.

Get Safe Downloads List last update time and current version

GUI script to reboot a Windows partition back to an OS X partition
You can use AutoIT, a free basic-like GUI scripting application to automate the bootcamp.exe in Windows to force a reboot back into OS X.

This is sort of part 2 to my previous hint found here. This AutoIT script can be automated by whatever mechanism you use to manage a Windows partition on your Macs, like Active Directory, Citrix, Novell/Netware, SCCM, or other third party tools to run scripts and policies in your enterprise.

GUI script to reboot a Windows partition back to an OS X partition

Best way to cool your iMac
My iMac killed its hard drive the second year of use and then the entire screen/graphics card and logic board had to be replaced at the three year mark. It unfortunately began to misbehave again shortly thereafter.

I use mine to run a 54" Bravia HDTV as the extended desktop and use EyeTV and noticed numerous graphics errors lines, and failures to refresh the screen during overheating bouts. I observed that the upper left hand corner of the iMac has some sort of an air pocket that traps extreme heat from the graphics card there. (The rear-viewed 'right' of the top air exhaust slot).

Best way to cool your iMac

A quick way to open a URL in QuickTime Player
I regularly listen to the Internet broadcast of a local radio station. To get it, I have to go their website, and then click on a button to open the online broadcast. It is in a Windows Media Player format. QuickTime Player opens and starts streaming.

Here is how I got to access it by just double-clicking an icon on the Desktop.

A quick way to open a URL in QuickTime Player

10.6: Completely Disable Virtual Memory in Snow Leopard
This 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.

10.6: Completely Disable Virtual Memory in Snow Leopard

Improve performance of Home Sharing in iTunes
You can make iTunes Home Sharing work better by switching off the old unused method of sharing.

Improve performance of Home Sharing in iTunes

10.6: Free up system resources using Automator
Given 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 Terminal.app, 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.

10.6: Free up system resources using Automator

Poor-man's AppleScript vocalizer
A bad cold has temporarily robbed me of my voice, so I decided to pay homage to Stephen Hawking and whip up a poor-man's vocalizer. More fun than function here, but it did let me order my latte at Starbucks without pain, and with a great many laughs all around.

Run this from the AppleScript Editor, save it to the Scripts Menu, or save it as an Application; whatever method works best for you.

Poor-man's AppleScript vocalizer

Assign a keyboard shortcut to Private Browsing in Safari
The Private Browsing mode in Safari has no default keyboard shortcut, and the toggle has a modal confirmation dialog. This hint shows how to assign a keyboard shortcut to Private Browsing and bypass the confirmation dialog.

One of my favourite features of Mac OS X is the ability to assign a keyboard shortcut to any menu item of any application. This is fairly straightforward and was covered in many hints before.

Assign a keyboard shortcut to Private Browsing in Safari

Share an Airport connection with iPad via Bluetooth
This is a useful hint if you have a Mac and an iPad (or iPod touch), and you want to share a hotel wireless Internet connection with both devices.

In the System Preferences Bluetooth pane, pair your Mac with your iPad (they don't need to be connected yet, just paired). Then, select the iPad in the list of Bluetooth devices, and click the Advanced button. Check the 'Share my Internet connection with other Bluetooth devices' option. This should switch you to the Network preferences pane and prompt you to create a new Bluetooth PAN device.

Share an Airport connection with iPad via Bluetooth

Unix mail notifications via Growl
This tip lets you get a notification through Growl whenever new Unix mail arrives, with the subject of the mail. I get Unix mail as a result of run cron-jobs. I use cron because whether you have lingon or not; it is far easier to schedule a job with cron.

When there is something that I really want to watch from a process run by cron I do:

Unix mail notifications via Growl

Delay Before Going into Sleep Mode
I had been experiencing a thirty second delay when I tried to put my iMac into Sleep mode.

Delay Before Going into Sleep Mode

Jump forward or backwards in iTunes
Maybe this is common knowledge, but I had never heard of it. I found out by accident that the key combos Command+Option+Right Arrow and Command+Option+Left Arrow will jump forwards or backwards in the currently playing item, respectively, by five seconds. This is the same key combo that VLC uses to jump forwards and backwards.

Jump forward or backwards in iTunes

Unfreeze when moving between spaces
Sometimes when I move between spaces, the little animation freezes (doesn't fade away), and it blocks out all keyboard access. I can still move between spaces (though this usually doesn't unfreeze it), and use the mouse.

Unfreeze when moving between spaces


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