Tagged: Mac OS X

Three great utilities that should be built-in to Mac OS X

Mac OS X FinderWith all the cool features found in Mac OS X, it’s hard to believe that there are a few obvious features still haven’t been added to OS X’s Finder. Finder tabs, window management, Dock enhancements, and a more robust dialog box have been shortcomings of Mac OS X for a long time.

Perhaps someday soon Apple will finally get around to enhancing the Finder with the features mentioned above, but until then you can have them now via three fantastic add-ons; Default Folder X, HyperDock, and TotalFinder.

HyperDock brings Windows 7 window previews to OS X’s Dock

Windows 7 has a cool feature where you hover your mouse over an icon in the Task Bar and a preview of the windows belonging to that application pop-up in a preview; allowing you to quickly switch to a specific window if you have more than one open in that app. It’s one of the few features found in Windows 7 that I wish was built-in to Mac OS X. Fortunately, there’s a System Preference utility available that brings that feature to OS X.

HyperDock (free while still in beta) gives you that capability and more. Because HyperDock is a Preference pane, no icon for it will clutter your Dock, and uses relatively little system resources to do its job.

HyperDock previews

HyperDock offers application window previews in Mac OS X's Dock

HyperDock allows for plenty of preview bubble customizations when hovering over Dock icons, including size of previews, a close button, and more. When you hover over one of the Dock previews for a second or so, the window itself appears on screen at full size as well.

Among some of the other cool features of HyperDock is what I consider a killer feature, Window Snapping. With the feature turned on, moving any resizable window to the left, right or bottom edge of the screen automatically resizes the window to fill half the screen and docks it to that side of the screen. Moving a window to the top edge of the screen resizes the window to fill the active area of the screen – leaving room for the Dock to remain in view.

There’s plenty to like in HyperDock, and hopefully it will be priced reasonably when it ventures out of beta.

Troubleshooting: List installed 3rd-party kernel extensions

TerminalBack in the days prior to OS X, it was easy to find 3rd party (and Apple) system extensions on your Mac. They were all located in the System>Extensions folder. With OS X though, the task of even knowing which kernel extensions are installed isn’t quite as easy, which can be particularly frustrating when you’re troubleshooting an issue on your Mac.

For the geeks among you, it’s quite easy though. To list all 3rd party extensions, simply launch the Terminal app located in your Utilities folder and type the following:
kextstat | grep -v com.apple

You can also list all the Apple-installed kernel extensions by typing:

I came across this little hint over at OSXDaily, a site I visit quite often because of the variety of topics covered.

Here, File File offers access to your home Mac from your iPhone

Here, File FileEver need a file while you’re out and about? Here, File File (HFF) is an iPhone/Mac pair of apps that allows you to access all of the files on your home Mac(s), wherever you go.

DropBox is fantastic, but you have to remember to put files in the DropBox folder. With HFF, you can access your Mac at home with your iPhone when you’re on the road. All your files are accessible as long as your computer is turned on, with no fuss on your part.

Here, File File requires a router that supports NAT-PMP or UPnP (you can set up port forwarding on your Mac if you don’t have a supported router).

If you’re wondering if the app is any good, consider the fact that Apple used the App in one of their iPhone commercials. Don’t need much more endorsement than that!

How to create customized OS X Mail stationery in Snow Leopard

Back in 2007, I wrote a tutorial on how to create your own customized OS X Mail stationery when Leopard was first released. To this day, it’s still one of the most popular articles on this site. I decided it was about time that I took a look at it again to make sure nothing had changed with all the updates to Leopard, and the release of Snow Leopard.

Mac OS X Mail Stationery

You can create your own customized Mail stationery quite easily

This tutorial is fairly simple, and you’re only limitations are your graphics skills. Of course, if you have knowledge of HTML, you can do a lot more with your customization. For the sake of this tutorial though, I’ll keep it simple.

The most annoying thing about Apple’s Safari web browser

SafariAfter years of loving the speed of the Safari web browser but hating the lack of features, I was anxious to see what Apple had in store for us with Safari 5. Unfortunately, I’ve found the most annoying behavior still exists, and it keeps me from using Safari on a regular basis.

For many years I was a fan of Firefox – mostly due to extensions, which I used heavily. While Safari was faster, it just lacked too much for my day-to-day use. When Google released Chrome for the Mac, I switched almost immediately. The developer releases contained extension support long ago, and I was happy to take advantage of the new speed, along with most all the extensions I used.

When Apple recently released Safari 5 with extension support, I decided to give it another try.

Easily add Spotlight comments to files in Mac OS X Finder

Searching for and finding files with Mac OS X’s Spotlight is fast and easy. Unfortunately, adding keywords and comments to your files and folders isn’t quite as simple. This little OS X Service will change that.

Add Spotlight Comments

AddSpotlightComments Service for Mac OS X

AddSpotlightComments Service is just what the name implies, a Service that makes adding keywords and comments simple. You install the workflow file to your ~/Library/Services folder and restart the Finder. Once installed, you can right-click on a file or folder in the Finder and select Add Spotlight Comments from the bottom of the Contextual menu. A dialog box appears where you can type in your keywords, comments, or whatever other info you wish. It’s that simple.

There are other utilities that offer this capability, but none are so seamless and simple.

Hide files and folders in the Mac OS X Finder

If you share a computer with someone, or your office computer is accessible to prying eyes and you want to hide a file or folder of private documents, it’s quite easy to do without the need to download any software.

Let’s say you want to hide a folder in your Documents folder called “MyStuff.” You can do it simply by launching the Terminal (found in your Utilities folder inside Applications) and typing the following:
chflags hidden ~/Documents/MyStuff

Once your MyStuff folder is hidden, it will not appear in the Finder, but it will still be accessible via the Finder’s Go>Go to Folder (Command + Shift + G) and typing in the path to the folder.

To unhide your MyStuff folder, simply type the following:
chflags nohidden ~/Documents/MyStuff

If using the Terminal isn’t your thing, you can download Hideaway, which does the same thing, only you just click a few buttons instead of typing code into the Terminal.

How to truly delete a file in Mac OS X

Securely Empty TrashMost people aren’t aware that when you empty the trash in Mac OS X, you aren’t actually deleting a file. It’s true. Selecting Empty Trash from the Finder menu, or using the Command + Shift + Delete keyboard shortcut simply marks the chosen files or folders in a way that allows the system to overwrite them whenever it needs to. The actual files remain on your hard drive until the system actually writes another file on top of them.

In order to truly delete a file or folder, you must use Mac OS X’s Secure Empty Trash command under the Finder menu. When you use this method to empty your trash, the system actually overwrites the file with gibberish data, mostly ensuring your file is unrecoverable.

Securely Empty TrashIf you’re concerned about security, you can set Mac OS X to always securely delete your files when you empty the trash the normal way by going to your menubar and choosing Finder>Preferences, and turning on the Empty Trash Securely item.

Create symbolic links the easy way

SymbolicLinkerSymbolicLinker is a tiny contextual menu plugin (for Puma through Leopard users) and software service (for Snow Leopard & later users) that, once installed, allows any user to create symbolic links to files inside the Finder. SymbolicLinker does this by adding a contextual menu item to the Finder that generates symbolic links to the selected files.

Dan Frakes recently wrote a review of SymbolicLinker for his MacGems column at Macworld, which explains more about why you would want this handy little add-on for OS X. Needless to say, if you know you have the need for creating symbolic links, this app will save you trips to the Terminal each time you need to do it.