Mac OS X Hints


An article I came accross while I was surfing on the internet, thought I could share with everyone…

1. Get TinkerTool – It has a whole mess of useful tweaks in it and it’s free. Just get it, you won’t be sorry: 

2. Use Go -> Go to Folder to jump to Finder folders – Shift-Command-G for quicker access, use Tab for auto-complete of folder names. Works in Open/Save dialogs but is case-sensitive there for some reason.

3. Remap shortcut keys – Go to System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse and click the tab called “Keyboard Shortcuts.” You have to use the exact name of the menu command you want to change. It’s pretty simple, you’ll figure it out from there.

You can also add commands that Apple left out (like Secure empty trash in Finder).

4. App switching tricks – Command- ` will cycle backward, scroll wheel, arrow keys, mouse to pick an app. H will hide the highlighted app, Q will quit it. Home/End will jump to start/end of list. Command-Tab works in Expose mode.

5. Dictionary tricks – Control-Command-D will give a dictionary popup when hovering over words in an app like TextEdit. If you assign the dictionary to a shortcut key like F7, it’ll always come up with the popup.  You can nav thru the dictionary with double-clicks on other words. Also, check out the Preferences on the Dictionary app.

6. Use Preview’s powers – Open a whole folder of images by Command-Option drag a folder onto the Preview dock icon.  Change the sort order by Control-clicking on a blank section of the drawer. Tools > Annotation will allow you to add annotations to PDF’s. Adding a keyword to a pic will allow Spotlight to find it more easily.

7. Open files in trash – If you drag something from the trash on to a dock icon, it’ll open up.

8. Take the PRO features out of my menus in unregistered Quicktime – On the option menu for Quicktime Player, click on “Show Package Contents,” go into Contents > Resources and rename “ProMenuitem.tif” to something else and it’ll disappear. You can change any of the images there, but be careful!

9. Download from the internet without a browser –/System/Library/CoreServices contains  “VerifiedDownloadAgent.” Add it to your sidebar and you can drag/drop links into it and it’ll download the file.

10. Run widgets one time to see if you want to keep it – When asked “Do you want to install the widget…” , hold down Command-Option and the install button becomes a Run button.  To install it, you’ll have to run it again.

11. Set login background – Go to Finder>Library>Desktop Pictures and replace “Aqua Blue.jpg” with your own image keeping the name the same.

12. Set Login Window Info – Clicking on the login window with your mouse will give you more info. To make it stick to something like the time/date, you must type (case-sensitive) in Terminal:

defaults write /Library/Preferences/ AdminHostInfo Time and it’ll stick.

13. Spotlight hits in Finder – Command-Space searches bring up a drop-down menu. If you hover over something after a search in Spotlight, you’ll see the path to it. To open a Finder window of that location, hold the Command key down and click it, and it’ll open to that path.

14. Advanced Spotlight searching and tips – The pipe characer | acts as an OR. Minus – is NOT, Space is AND.  Example = cat|dog(-mouse) is cat or dog but not mouse.

You can remove Applications and System Preferences and Contacts from Spotlight which will also speed it up. Look in System Preferences > Spotlight to uncheck it from your searches.

Anything added to Spotlight’s Privacy tab (in Sys Prefs) will not be indexed. If you add your mailboxes to it, Spotlight will speed up since it has less stuff to search.

When searching in Finder, you can add criteria much like an iTunes smart playlist. With it, you can view everything in a folder by  using a “Size greater than 0” criteria.

15. iPhoto selective import – Before importing, click return twice and you can preview all the images on your camera and drag/drop the images you want. Shift-Command and you can click as many as you want. You can not delete this way, it’s a read-only thing. Might not work with every camera. Check the date on the photo too.

16. iPhoto movie books – Create an iBook and then Share>Send to iDVD. It’ll be in your Movies folder with all the transitions and stuff.

17. Change the “Welcome to Darwin!” greeting in Terminal – Do the following in Terminal which will also make a backup:

cd /etc

sudo cp motd motd_ORIG

sudo pico motd

18. Change iTunes’ arrows – To change the behavior of the arrows to be a search within your iTunes instead of searching the iTunes store do the following.

In Terminal with iTunes exited, type the following line:

defaults write invertStoreLinks -bool YES

To reverse, repeat the above with NO at the end.

19. Force plain text Mail

To display all mail as plain text, do the following in Terminal with Mail not running: defaults write PreferPlainText -bool TRUE

To change it back, make it FALSE

20. Better Save dialogs – Make the expanded triangle the default for every program by typing this in Terminal: defaults write -g NSNavPanelExpandedStateForSaveMode -bool TRUE

21. Make your screen saver run 24/7 – It’ll probably make your machine run slower, but if you want your RSS screensaver to run while you work, type the following in Finder:

/ScreenSaverEngine -background & This will return the job number, like 1411. To end it, type “kill 1411” and it’ll stop running.

22. Easily combine PDFs – Launch Automator. Click on Finder > Get Selected Finder Items and add to the right. Add “Sort Finder Items” too. Click on PDF>Combine PDF Pages and click “Appending”. Then add “Open Finder Items”. Save it as a Plug-In called “Combine PDFs”. 

After all that, select your PDFs with Contro-Click, then in your menu, you’ll see Automator>Combine PDFs. Click that and you’ll see your combined PDFs.

3 comments so far

  1. Find Any Phone Number with Name and Address Worldwide!

    Find Any Phone Number with Name and Address Worldwide!

  2. Chris Snyder on

    Hey, thanks for posting this. Nice that most of these tips are applicable in Leopard as well.

  3. name on


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