Tagged With mac os x leopard

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Mac OS X Leopard only: Our favourite free virtual private network client for the Mac, HamachiX, has been updated (finally!) to work with Leopard. HamachiX is a graphical front end to the Windows Hamachi product, and essentially it lets you access your Mac remotely over the internet as if it were on the local network. That means you can listen to shared iTunes libraries, remote control your Mac, and access file shares as well. HamachiX isn't as easy to use or quite as stable as the Windows version, but it lets you network with PCs running the client as well. Here's how to create your own virtual private network with Hamachi.

HamachiX

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Windows/Mac/Linux (all platforms): OpenOffice.org, the free office application suite, has released a beta of its 3.0 version to the public with a few key features rolled in. The biggest update is native support for Mac OS X platforms, meaning no need to install X11 packages on older Macs or switch to NeoOffice for a smoother experience (although NeoOffice plans to release a 3.0 of its own, so stay tuned). OpenOffice also adds built-in conversion filters for Office 2007/Mac Office 2008 files, a new "solver" function for spreadsheets, enhanced notes and viewing options in Writer, and other enticements for those willing to risk a few bugs. OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta is a free download for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux systems.

OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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Blogger Dennis Best, who previously schooled us about the value of built-in Getting Things Done apps, expands on his all-inside-the-Mac thinking by noting a simple way to organise every email message, document, iCal event, or other file. Add the ° character (Shift-Option-8 on Mac keyboards) directly in front of any word you want to track with, and both Spotlight (and, of course, Quicksilver) can quickly catch and sort your keywords for you. Guest poster Nick Santilli suggested a similar metada system using the "&" character, but Dennis' idea tags files by adding only a single, non-intrusive step you can do right inside the text.

How to tag nearly anything anywhere in Leopard

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As Windows user, one of the strangest things about Mac OS is a running, active application can be in focus without any actual windows open. If you use Command+Tab to switch between apps and don't want to get stuck in no-open-window limbo, use the following key sequence to open a new window on your way there: Hold down Command+Tab, then press Option, then release Command. It doesn't work for all applications, but it does for Safari and Terminal at least.

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Blogger and remote-control enthusiast Tim Matheson, who previously showed us how to shut down Windows using a text message, posts a script and easy-to-follow guide for doing the same on a Mac. Everything needed for the hack comes included with OS X Leopard, except the cell phone, of course. Matheson suggests setting up a "super-secret" email address that you only use for shutdown messages, but there are other ways of remote-controlling a Mac using keywords. Hit the link to download a safe shutdown script, and post your own remote-control computing tricks in the comments.

HowTo: Shutdown your Mac with a text message

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Mac OS X Leopard only: Reader Ben points out that there's a lot more to Mac OS X's built-in Dictionary than definitions. He writes in:

I just noticed that in Dictionary.app (at least in Leopard), under to "Go" menu, there is an option labelled "Front/Back Matter." Clicking this brings up a whole slew of useful reference material, including a language guide (complete with a list of clichés to avoid), a list of the chemical elements, and the text of the Constitution. Next time I'm on a place, I think I'm going to brush up on the Bill of Rights.

It's true: the Ready Reference area of Dictionary.app's Front/Back Matter is a treasure trove of good stuff for writers or anyone who wants to see if they can name the capital of all fifty states in the U.S. Thanks, Ben!

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Mac guy Rob Griffiths points out a few brand new command line utilities in Leopard, like the handy dot_clean command, which sweeps away Mac system files that start with a dot and annoy the hell out of you when you use that thumb drive on your PC. Griffiths writes:

Prior to 10.5, you had to manually delete them on the other system, or use Terminal trickery to remove them on the Mac prior to copying. As of 10.5, though, you can just use the dot_clean command on the directory in question. Type dot_clean /path/folder to join the dot-underscore files with their parent files. Read OS X 10.5's manual pages (man dot_clean) for more information.

Now you don't have to disable .DS_Store file creation entirely; though you may still have to deal with Windows' annoying Thumbs.db system files on your Mac.

Leopard's Unix tricks

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All-things-Mac web site Mac OS X Hints discusses how to automatically Quick Look certain files as soon as they're downloaded to your Downloads folder. The best approach from the thread involves setting your browser to automatically open certain file types (like your PDF or Word documents) with the Quick Look Droplet, a simple application that launches a Quick Look preview of whatever file it opens. Of course you could just set your browser to automatically open downloaded files with their default applications, but if you don't want to load up heavy software like Microsoft Word just to peek at the file's contents, this Quick Look Droplet might be a worthwhile solution.

10.5: Automatically Quick Look certain downloaded files

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Mac OS X Leopard only: Free, open source application Secrets rolls every hidden feature of Leopard into an easy-to-use preference pane in your System Preferences. Developed by the author of the much-beloved Quicksilver, you can browse Secrets by application to see what tweaks are available for the apps you have installed. There's a ton to look into with Secrets, but the one secret that blew my mind off the bat was the "Arrows link to library instead of store" tweak in iTunes, which may be the most useful thing I've ever done to iTunes (and I've covered the best iTunes add-ons). Secrets is free, Mac OS X only. If you give it a try, share your favourite Secrets in the comments.

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Macworld's running a fantastic "Leopard Survival Guide" series, covering little-known Mac tips of all sorts, like how to customise the welcome text in a new Terminal window:

Open Terminal and enter cd /etc, press return, and then type sudo pico motd. That second command launches a text editor and loads a new file called motd (Message Of The Day). Type whatever you like for a message (for instance, "Welcome to the land where text is king"), press control-X (for Exit), press Y (for Yes, to save changes), and then press return (to accept the file name, which will be shown as motd). From now on, new Terminal windows will display your new greeting, right below the date and time of the last login.

Don't miss the rest of the series, which also covers the Dock and Stacks to Spaces, Expose and the Dashboard.

Leopard Survival Guide: System Preferences, Terminal

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Mac OS X Leopard only: Dig into advanced user settings on your Mac by Ctrl+clicking on an account name in the System Preferences>Accounts area. There you can change Leopard's default login shell, the account's home directory or short name, and other important, scary, things that are just daring you to mess with them. (Actually, don't, unless you really know what you're doing.) As for shell options? Mac OS Hints explains:

In the resulting Advanced Options screen, either type in the path to your preferred shell, or choose among the various shells already installed in /bin: bash, tcsh, sh, csh, zsh, or ksh.

Do you prefer an alternative shell on your Mac? Why? Tell us in the comments.

Change your login shell in Leopard

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Mac OS X only: Dashquit is an elegant response to an niggling issue many Mac users have known for years—that the Dashboard widget screen, while awfully convenient sometimes, can also be a memory-sucker. When activated, the Dashquit widget shows you how much memory the Dashboard feature is using at the moment, and offers a big, bold "Stop" button to shut it down (after confirmation). It's basically a graphical way to perform the terminal commands that shut down Dashboard, which is going to be a lot more convenient for many folks with less memory. Dashquit 3.0 is a free Leopard-only download and uses 50% less memory than it predecessors, but a 10.4-friendly version can also be found at the link.

Dashquit 3.0

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Tech blogger Phil Windley grew tired of trying to eject his external back up disk, first the suggested Apple+E way and then by yanking a cord, just to see that ominous red stop sign of warning every day, even when he knew his disk operations were (or should have been, at least) done. His suggestion for others suffering from clingy back up drives: Parse together a terminal command similar to the one below (substituting name and other portions for whatever fits your system):

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Mac OS X Leopard only: If you've got a FireWire drive hooked up to your Mac, chances are Leopard's dead simple backup utility, Time Machine, has you backing up your data—and that's a huge step forward if you weren't backing up at all pre-Leopard. But Time Machine is only one piece of a full backup scheme. Macworld runs down what Time Machine can do (effortless, regular, intervention-less local backups) and what it can't (system clones and online backup). If you want to complete your backup scheme, use an online service (Mozy Home Unlimited is the best 5 bucks I spend per month) and once in awhile, mirror your entire system to a bootable drive. That way if your FireWire drive gets stolen or dies, or your whole system crashes, you'll be up and running instantaneously. What other backup services do you use in addition to Time Machine? Tell us in the comments.

Is Time Machine all you need?

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Reader Ace writes in with a nifty customsation that will set your Mac apart from the rest. Find a desktop wallpaper image (Social Wallpapering's a good bet), save it to your desktop as background.jpg, and in the Terminal type:

sudo cp background.jpg /System/Library/CoreServices/DefaultDesktop.jpg

You'll have to enter your password to complete the operation, and when you do, next time you log off, your logon screen will have your new custom background. Slick. Thanks, Ace!

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Mac OS X only: Yesterday's software update added several subtle options all over Leopard for Mac users, especially for Stacks—to see them, simply Cmd+click on a Stack. We've posted before how to overlay icons on your Dock's Stacks for easy visual identification, but now under "Display as" you can choose "Folder" instead to see the folder icon. (Easier, but I still like the drawer icons better.) Instead of your Mac deciding how the Stack should be viewed (as a grid or list), you can choose under "Display as." Even more exciting, the "List" view isn't that arcing fan any more—it's a throwback to Tiger's hierarchical file list which lets you navigate down into subfolders.

Getting to Know the New Stacks

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Apple officially pushed out the 10.5.2 update to Leopard today, a release filled with the promise of numerous bug fixes and stability improvements. We're talking improvements with your AirPorts, Back to my Mac, Dashboard, Stacks, iCal, iChat, Finder, Mail, Time Machine, and oh-so-much-more. Hated the menu bar transparency from the get-go? Apple has felt your pain, and you can now disable transparency without third party apps. For a full rundown of changes, fixes, and improvements, check out the update details from Apple.

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Mac OS X only: The latest version of our favorite system cloning/backup utility for Mac, SuperDuper, is now fully Leopard compatible. What do you need a third party backup utility for when you're rockin' Time Machine, you ask? Good question, friend. While Time Machine is incredible for incremental file backups that happen in the background, without intervention, SuperDuper's strength is its ability to clone your entire Mac onto a bootable backup, which Time Machine does not do—well, not as easily as SuperDuper does.

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Mac OS X Leopard only: You wouldn't think that Leopard's new Quick Look feature would work anywhere but from Finder, but you'd be wrong. From the command line in Terminal, you can invoke Quick Look to preview the contents of a file. Tips web site Mac OS X Hints details how: the command is qlmanage -p somefile where somefile is your document. As Mac OS X Hints recommends, setting up an alias (qlf, perhaps?) is a good way to save your typing fingers when reusing this technique.

Use Quick Look from Terminal

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Of course you know all about Time Machine's marquee feature—the ability to browse your files back in time—but Blogger James Duncan Davidson details Time machine's equally-excellent-in-its-simplicity feature: restoring an entire system after a hard drive crash. The process is painless. Simply boot from the Leopard install disc with a fresh hard drive in place of your crashed drive; instead of continuing with the install process, go to Utilities -> Restore System from Backup. Then select your backup source (your Time Machine drive), choose which backup you want to restore (most likely you'll want the most recent), then pick the destination drive (your new drive). Then it's simply a matter of kicking back and waiting for Time Machine to do its magic. When all's said and done, your entire system (with a few small exceptions) should be back in the exact same state you left it. I've already done this a couple of times myself, and frankly, it feels good. The simplicity of Time Machine really does compel you.

Restoring from Time Machine