Archive for February, 2009

24th February
2009

Need to go back to Safari 3? Here’s how.

written by Mark Wheadon

SafariSo, you’ve tried the new Safari 4beta downloaded from apple.com, and now you need to revert to Safari 3?

That was case for me — as adding hyperlinks in wordpress caused the browser tab to hang (documented by Geek Guides here). However, if you’re thinking about returning to Safari 3.2.1 because you can’t input hyperlinks in wordpress‘ visual editor then think again — you may not need to — as there is now a work-around.

You still need to downgrade?

What doesn’t work

What doesn’t work is downloading Safari 3 and installing that — the installer complains that you already have a newer version on the hard drive and so won’t continue.

What works

Safari 4 installIs to re-run the Safari 4beta installer (fetch it from apple.com if you don’t still have it) and run the uninstall from there.

One reboot later and you’re back running Safari 3.2.1.

Safari image by timmargh.

22nd February
2009

Always open a file with a particular application in Mac OS X — the easy way.

written by Mark Wheadon

press alt

First, the hard way

When you wish to open a file using a particular application, it’s simple. Just right-click on the file (ctrl+click) and select Open With.

open-withHowever, if you’d like that file to always open with the selected application then things are less elegant: right click, Open With, Other…, select the application and tick Always Open With. Fiddly.

The easy way

Fortunately there is an easier way.

Right click on the file as before, but this time depress the alt key. Hey-presto, the Open With option changes into Always Open With.

always-open-withHow’s that for handy?

Changing the default application for all files of a kind

The above method sets the default application for this file only. If you’d like to change the default application for all files of a type (a kind in Mac OS speak) then here’s how to do it.

15th February
2009

Windows-L for the Mac.

written by Mark Wheadon

The need

Coming to Mac OS X from Windows (XP and Vista), I missed being able to lock my session using a simple key-chord. I work in a shared office so it’s sensible to lock the session every time I walk away — something I do regularly.

In Windows, you simply press Windows-L and that’s it — time to go. Mac OS X Leopard doesn’t provide anything as succinct as standard, but there are ways.

Firstly, there are a couple of solutions that are accepted as standard ways of doing this — but unfortunately both have problems. I’ll cover these methods first in case they work for you, and then I’ll cover a solution that really is as quick and easy to use as the Windows’ lock screen key chord.

Partial solution number one: use a hot corner

A hot corner allows you to drop into the screen saver by moving the cursor to a chosen corner of the screen. To do this, first go to System Preferences->Desktop & Screen Saver and click on Hot Corners… Then select Start Screen Saver for one of the corners:

hot-corner-screensaverNow, when you place the cursor in that corner (I chose the bottom-left), the screen saver will start.

Of course, this doesn’t help unless your system is configured to require a password when woken from the screen saver. You can set that in System Preferences->Security:

require-password

And that’s it. Now, before you walk away from your Mac, just drop the cursor into the bottom-left corner of the screen.

However, there is a problem with this method — at least for me — as I don’t want the system to prompt for a password on wakeup. I end up typing my password far too often — every time I’ve left the machine alone long enough for the screen saver to start.

What I want is the Mac to remain unlocked until I explicitly lock it. So, on to solution two…

Partial solution number two: select a pull-down from the menu bar

Here’s another way of locking the machine, and this one doesn’t require that you tick Require password to wake up this computer from sleep or screen saver.

The trick is to enable fast user switching in System Preferences->Accounts->Login Options:

enable-fast-user-switching

which will then place your user name in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

When you want to lock the session, just click on your user name:login-window-from-userand select Login Window… and you’re done. (You can also achieve a similar result by ticking Show Status in Menu Bar in Keychain‘s preferences if you prefer.)

What’s my beef with this solution? The problem is that it’s still rather slow and fiddly — and it’s something I do regularly, so I want to just press and go, just as I did with Windows.

A full solution

To implement a full Windows-L style solution we need Dockables to provide us with an application that locks the Mac OS session, and Quicksilver to launch that application.

First, download and install Dockables from cocoaapp.com. This gives you a bunch of useful applications in a sub-folder of your Applications folder:

dockables

and the one we’re interested in is Lock Screen.

exit-quicksilver-windowNext, download and install Blacktree’s Quicksilver and run it to configure a new Lock Screen key-chord. Quicksilver will present you with its main window — just quit that and instead move to Quicksilver’s menu bar at the top of the screen and select Triggers… from the drop-down menu.

quicksilver-triggers

In the Triggers window that appears, click on the + at the bottom and select HotKey.

add-hotkey

A new window will appear. Click on the first field and start to type lock screen. Quicksilver will rapidly find the Lock Screen dockable you installed earlier. Click Save.

type-lock-screen

Nearly there

You now have a new command, but with no trigger. So click on the None in your new command,

click-on-noneclick in the input field labelled Hot Key: and press the key combination you wish to use to lock your session from now on. (I chose alt+cmd+L because the obvious choice — cmd+L — is already used by Thunderbird — my email client.)

press-hotkeys-copy

I suggest you don’t use the ctrl key as part of your hot key-chord. If you do then quicksilver presents this dialog every time you type the chord:

press-run

Now, having typed a key-chord (which doesn’t include ctrl), exit the Triggers window and you have yourself a new Lock Screen hot key-chord: alt+cmd+L in the example above.

And finally, tweak some settings

You need quicksilver to run at all times, so bring up Quicksilver’s preferences (available from the Quicksilver menu in the menu bar at the top of the screen):

quicksilver-start-at-loginand tick Start at login. You may also want to tidy up the dock a little — as quicksilver is running all the time I’d rather it didn’t appear in the dock and instead appeared in the menu bar:

alt+cmd+Lso I untick Show icon in dock (and I also tick the option check for updates):

quicksilver-full-prefsAnd that’s everything sorted. Any time you need your display locked, just type alt+cmd+L…

cmd+alt+L

and walk away…

8th February
2009

How to change the default application for al files of a given type in Mac OS X.

written by Mark Wheadon

Under Mac OS X, you can easily open a file using something other than the default application by right clicking on the file (cmd+click) and selecting Open With. So, for example, to open a particular text file with MacVim I can do

open-with-for-1-file

And indeed, if I use the Other… option at the bottom of the above menu, I can change the default application for that file. (Although in practice I use an easier way.)

However, that’s only the default application for that one file changed — all other files of the same type will continue to open with the original default application.

To set the default application for all files of that kind (in this example, .txt files), you need to open the Get Info dialogue by right-clicking on the file (or typing alt+cmd I):

get-file-infoopen-with-for-all-filesNow set the application in the file’s info window and click on the Change All… button, confirm by clicking Continue and you’re done. From now on, all files of this kind will be opened with your chosen application.

4th February
2009

Tree? What tree?

written by Mark Wheadon

A challenge for you

See the Christmas tree in this photo?

stealth tree

You don’t? I’m not suprised. Try harder — if you squint, and with a little help, you may just be able to make it out:

Stealth tree spoiler

Still no joy?

Incredible, isn’t it? The military has been working on stealth technology for decades, and is only just getting there. With their crude, light-emitting clothing that shows an image of what’s behind them, soldiers can just about merge into the background.

As fate would have it, they could simply have waited and then visited Chez Wheadon. As we’ve invented the same technology purely by accident.

You see (or rather, you don’t?), there is a Christmas tree in the above images, but it’s so well disguised that not only did the the fine folk from SERCO Waste Management not spot it when they should, just after Christmas, but they even had a second go after we complained. And still they failed.

Apparently “It wasn’t there when we tried to collect it the second time either, so the case is now closed.”.

Amazing.

For those of you who still can’t see the tree (and I admit, it isn’t easy). Here’s more help:

Stealth tree spoiler, the sequel

Trust me — if you look hard enough, it is there.

3rd February
2009

Bless you.

written by Mark Wheadon

SneezeIt’s official

I have the cure. And it’s simple.

Stay away from small children — small children and babies, they’re the worst. Stay away from babies and small children, and large children as well.

And adults. Stay away from them all. Stand in a field with your arms spread and avoid all contact. You may feel like death, you may even wish for death.

But you won’t die of the common cold.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Brian “DoctaBu” Moore.