Monday, September 3, 2007

Know Your Status (Any Time, In Any Window)

The status bar (the thin little bar that shows how many items are in your window and how much drive space you still have available) was at the top of every Finder window back in Mac OS 9. In earlier versions of Mac OS X (including Jaguar), the status bar was off by default, so you had to turn it on, and then it appeared at the top of your Finder windows. In Tiger you’ll find the status bar info displayed at the bottom center of every Finder window by default (well, that’s true as long as your toolbar is visible). If that’s the case, why is there still a menu command called Show Status Bar? That’s because, if you hide the toolbar, it hides the status info at the bottom of the window, so you need the old status bar back. It’s still off by default, so to turn on the status bar, first open a window, hide the toolbar (see previous tip), then go under the View menu and choose Show Status Bar. (Note: If you don’t hide the toolbar first, Show Status Bar will appear “grayed out.”)

Screen capture

Switching Apps Within Exposé

Screen capture

Once you have Exposé invoked (you pressed either F9 or F10), you can toggle through your open applications and Finder windows by pressing the Tab key. Press the Tab key once and the next open application and its miniaturized windows come to the front. Press Tab again, it goes to the next open app. Want the previous app? Press Shift-Tab.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Adding Automation Through Folder Actions

At the office, I’m on a network and I have a Drop Box where my co-workers (freaks that they are) can send me files. However, for a long time, if a freak put something in my Drop Box, I wouldn’t know it unless they called or emailed me and told me so. But now anytime one of them drops something in my Drop Box, a message dialog appears that says, “Something freaky is in your Drop Box.” This is a simple AppleScript (think of an AppleScript as a built-in automation for your Mac, just like Photoshop actions add automation to Adobe Photoshop). Mac OS X includes some cool sample scripts (actions), or you can download about a bazillion from the Web for free.

To assign a script to a folder, Control-click on that folder and choose Configure Folder Actions from the contextual menu that appears. This brings up the Folder Actions Setup dialog, where you toggle various scripts assigned to folders on and off, or even edit scripts (if you know how to write AppleScripts). Click the plus sign (+) button at the bottom left of the dialog to add your folder to the list (this actually brings up a standard Open dialog showing your folder, so click on your folder in the dialog and click Open). Once you do this, a window will pop down with a list of built-in sample scripts you can assign to this folder, and their names give a cryptic description of what they do. Pick the one that sounds like what you want to do (to replicate my Drop Box warning, choose “add — new item alert .scpt”) and click the Attach button (you’ll see your newly assigned script appear in the column on the right of the dialog). Now click the Enable Folder Actions checkbox at the top-left corner of the dialog.This is a global on/off switch, so any folder to which you’ve attached scripts is now “activated.”

By the way, once you’ve applied actions to a folder, you can turn Folder Actions on or off globally by Control-clicking on any folder and choosing Enable Folder Actions or Disable Folder Actions from the contextual menu.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Super Shortcut to Having an App Load at Login

If you’d like a particular application to open every time you log into (or start up) your Mac, now all you have to do is Control-click (or click-and-hold) on the application’s Dock icon and choose Open at Login from the pop-up menu.

Screen shot

Now restart your Mac and the application will launch automatically. If you want to hide the application after it automatically launches (so it stays hidden from view until you click on it in the Dock), here’s how: Go under the Apple menu (or to the Dock) to System Preferences. In the System Preferences pane, click on the Accounts icon, then in the Accounts pane, click on the Login Items tab. Now click on the Hide checkbox next to the application’s name. Close the dialog and your application’s set.