Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mac OS X tips and tricks

I strongly dislike Windows Vista because it is bulky and slow and includes nasty DRM software. For that reason I've decided to switch to a MacBook. It comes preinstalled with a well-supported commercial Unix-like operating system known as Mac OS X and similar to BSD Unix.

This page summarizes some useful tips and tricks about the "Leopard" version of Apple's OS. It's all stuff I found out by surfing the net. Before including a tip here I throughly tested it to make sure all works as stated. Should something be wrong please let me know. Lines starting with a $ must be entered in the Terminal application.

GUI tips

  • To rename a file in Finder you can: click on the file name or select the file and press the return key
  • To delete a file drag it to the trash or press cmd+backspace
  • To format a USB disk use Applications->Utility->Disk Utility
  • Enable (1) o disable (0) Development menu and other advanced options in Safari:
    $ defaults write \
    IncludeDebugMenu 1
  • The Finder can be used to burn CD and DVDs

Command line tips

  • To extract ZIP files larger than 4 GB use p7zip. Install it with:
    $ sudo install -m 755 -o root -g wheel \
    /path/to/7za /usr/bin/
    Example usage:
    $ 7za x

Keyboard tips

Please note that some applications can remap the keyboard differently. The meaning given below for each key is the default and most common behaviour found in OS X. You can change most shortcut keys in the keyboard shortcuts section of the keyboard and mouse system preferences.
  • The apple or cmd key is mapped to the (unfortunately) Windows logo key on an external keyboard
  • The alt key is also called options key
  • cmd + I to get detailed info about a selected file or directory
  • Make a screenshot: cmd+shift+3 for full screen o 4 for a sub-area to select. A numbered PNG image file will be put on the Desktop
  • Show the desktop: fn+F11 or F11 with an external keyboard
  • Show miniatures of all the windows for the currently active application: ctrl+F3 or ctrl+F10
  • alt+5 or Alt Gr+5 to enter a tilde (~)
  • alt+9 or Alt Gr+9 to type a backtick (`)
  • fn+backspace is the delete key, if missing (deletes the character to the right of the cursor)
  • In most Mac apps the home/end keys or their equivalents cmd+Up/cmd+Down move to the beginning/end of the document, not of the line. For that use direction keys combined with cmd: cmd+left = home, cmd+right = end. Adding a shift highlights text till the beginning/end of the line
  • alt+right, alt+left to jump to the previous/next word

Useful add-on apps

  • 7zX: file archiver with high compression ratio (7z format)
  • Adium: multi-protocol chat client
  • AppCleaner: tidies up the clutter left in your home directory by some applications even when you uninstall them
  • Burn: advanced burning program
  • Camino: web browser similar to Firefox (same layout engine) but better integrated with OS X
  • Create Booklet: make your own book(let)s
  • ext2fsx: An implementation of the Ext2 (Linux) filesystem for Mac OS X
  • ffmpegX: quickly encode and author video
  • Gimp: photo editing
  • iChm: Windows Help file (CHM) reader
  • NeoOffice: open office suite
  • Nvu: WYSIWYG HTML editor
  • Opera: fast, lightweight browser
  • Remote desktop: for connecting to windows PC
  • Skype: to make internet audio and/or video calling
  • StarDict: dictionary software with mouse inquiry
  • SWF & FLV Player: I use it to play video download from YouTube
  • TextWrangler: good GUI plain text editor
  • Tunnelblick: OpenVPN client
  • Unarchiver: better archive unpacker
  • UnRarX: RAR archive extraction utility
  • VirtualBox: virtualizer to run other OS'es (e.g. Linux or Windows) inside OS X


Hardware hints

Use a MacBook with the main display off, revisited

No comments: