Tag Archive for 'OSX'

Changing the icon order on Apple menu bar

If you have Apple OS 10.5 (Leopard) and want to move the icons around on your Apple menu bar, for example you want the volume icon to the right of the clock or the time machine icon on the left of everything, you can move them about just holding down the Command (apple) key while clicking on the icon in question and dragging it to the desired position.

It’s as simple as that.

Email address auto-complete in Apple Mail

Apple’s Mail application has this great feature that completes a recipient’s email address as you start typing it in the To field of an email. This is a useful time-saver but, if one of your contacts changes email address, Mail reliably but stubbornly continues to auto-complete the old, defunct address even if you have updated your Address Book.

There is however, a way to delete old or unwanted addresses from the auto-complete list. Once the old address is removed and you subsequently use the new one, it will be remembered and the auto-complete feature is again as useful as ever.

To remove an email address from the auto-complete list in Apple Mail:

  1. Open Apple Mail
  2. Click on Window then Previous Recipients
  3. Scroll to and select the desired address(es) from the list (you can highlight multiple addresses by holding down the Command key when selecting)
  4. Click on the Remove From List button

If you want to save an email address rather than remove it, you can do so from the same Previous Recipients window. On the right-hand side you will see the Add to Address Book button which enables you to add the selected email address to either a new or existing contact in your Address Book.

Enable the Safari Debug menu

Why would you want to? Well, one of the most useful facilities in the Debug menu is one that lets you change the User Agent. This enables you to tell the website you are using different browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape and Mobile Safari. This is useful for website development testing. In addition, as a result of lazy and inadequate development, some sites are blocking visitors who are not using Internet Explorer. By changing your User Agent you can bypass these stupid restrictions. Anyway, here’s what to do:

  1. Quit Safari
  2. Launch Terminal
  3. Type defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeDebugMenu 1
  4. Re-start Safari and the debug menu will be enabled

To disable the debug menu, repeat the process but replace the 1 at the end of the terminal command with a zero.

Deleting files from Time Machine backups

If you are working with confidential files and you may want to make sure they are erased from your Time Machines backups when you delete them as well as your live file system. It is, fortunately, very easy to do so. Launch Time Machine, then navigate to and select the file you want to erase. Now select the Action menu and choose Delete All Backups of XYZ (where XYZ is the name of the file you are erasing).

Screen capture

To capture a screen image in Apple OS X, you have two options. Firstly, to capture an image of your entire screen, select Command-Shift-3. You will hear a camera click sound and a PNG file will be created on your desktop containing the image. To capture a particular section of your screen, select Command-Shift-4. Your cursor turns in to a crosshair, now just click and drag your mouse to select the part of the screen you want to capture. When you let go of the mouse button, you will hear the same camera click sound and, as above, a PNG file will be created on your desktop containing the captured image.

Show ungrouped Address Book contacts

When using groups in the Address Book, you may want to see which contacts are not assigned to any of your groups. This is a pretty convoluted method but until Apple provide a smart group option in Address Book to accommodate this requirement, you can do the following:


  1. Backup your Address Book by selecting File then Backup Address Book
  2. Create a new group and call it anything you like (I suggest “Z”)
  3. Select all of your contacts and drag them in to this new group
  4. Click on your first existing group (let’s pretend it is called Group1) and select all of its contacts (Command-a)
  5. Click on the Z group and you will notice that only the contacts you have just selected are highlighted
  6. Press Tab once to switch focus to the Name column
  7. Hit the Delete key and then click the Remove From Group button

At this point, you have a group called Z which contains all your contacts except those listed in Group1. Repeat steps 4 thru 7 for all your remaining groups and you will end up with group Z containing only those contacts not assigned to any other groups.

Cycling between windows

To quickly cycle through open applications in MS Windows, hold down Alt and repeatedly press Tab. Just let go of all keys once the desired application is highlighted. Similarly, in Apple OS X, hold down Command and repeatedly press Tab. Another option in OS X is to use Expose. Press F9 to invoke it and then just select the desired window with your mouse. However, if you have Spaces enabled in OS 10.5 (aka Leopard), Expose will only show you open windows in your current Space whereas the Command-Tab method will cycle through all applications across all Spaces.

Character palette

If you ever used a System 7 Mac, you will probably remember the character palette. Just like the character map in Windows, you can find all sorts of symbols that are not easily reproduced on a keyboard. Strangely, this feature seemed to have disappeared in OS X. However, it does still exist, it is just not a standalone application any more, now it is really a component of each application. You can find it in the Edit menu of nearly all applications and it is called Special Characters. You can also launch the character palette using Command-Option-T.

Navigate dialogue boxes using the keyboard

When a dialogue box appears, there is usually one choice highlighted and pressing Enter will just accept that default choice. You may like to be able to select different options in the dialogue box using Tab and Shift-Tab as you can in Windows. To enable this functionality open System Preferences, select Keyboard & Mouse and then the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Now select the All controls radio button and you will be able to Tab navigation in all dialogue boxes.

Creating aliases without renaming

What are known as shortcuts in Windows environments are called aliases in Apple OS but, frankly, the process of creating them can be a pain. When you use the Make Alias menu item or Command-L shortcut in Finder, it creates the alias in the same folder and adds alias to the name. You then have to move it around and rename it. However you can create an alias while dragging it to another folder. You simply have to hold down Command-Option while dragging it. An arrow will appear showing you that you are indeed creating an alias and not moving the original file. This is faster not only because you will not have to subsequently move the alias but also, Finder does not add alias to the title so you do not have to rename it.