Mac 911


Is there one folder that holds OS X’s icons? I’d like to change the icons that appear in the Finder, but copying a new icon into a Get Info window doesn’t seem to work.— Adam R. Totten

The procedure is more complicated than you might think. You can find many of the icons in OS X by going to System: Library: CoreServices and then control-clicking on SystemIcons.bundle. In OS X 10.3, you can then select Show Package Contents to rummage through the Resources folder within the Contents folder. However, the root owns these icons, so you can’t edit them in place. Rather, you must make copies (after making a full backup of the Resources folder so you can restore things if necessary), edit the copies, and replace the originals with the edited versions. But there’s even more to it than that, and because there is, I’ll refer you to InterfaceLift, which spells out the procedure in all its command-line glory.

Or you can take the easy route: Purchase Panic’s $13 CandyBar utility. Its drag-and-drop interface lets you replace an icon by dragging a new icon into a well where the old icon resides. It’s as simple as that. CandyBar also supports iContainers—prepackaged collections of icons—that you can load with a double-click. For tips on working with icons and images in Terminal, see this month’s Mac OS X Hints .

Setup Assistant Redux

Is there a way to force OS X’s initial Setup Assistant to run again?— Rick Roder

Yes, but unless you have a very good reason for running the Setup Assistant—your Mac won’t start up because your user account appears to be hosed, for instance—don’t do it. And if you must, back up your data first. Then keep these two points in mind: First, in order to retain access to the files associated with the current user—including music, e-mail messages, contacts, and calendars—the user you create in Setup Assistant must have exactly the same name as the current user. Otherwise, the transfer of permissions between your new and old identities will end up a mess, and, until you change file permissions with a tool such as BatChmod, you won’t be able to open some files.

Second, if you’ve created additional users on your Mac—an account for troubleshooting or one for your spouse, for example—you won’t be able to access those users from the login screen.

Now that you’ve been warned, here’s how to run the Setup Assistant again: Restart your Mac while holding down Command-S to boot into Single User mode. When the prompt appears, type the following, pressing the return key after each line (note the spaces):

mount -uw /

cd /private/var/db/netinfo

mv local.nidb local.old

rm ../.AppleSetupDone


Translation: You’ve navigated to the hidden NetInfo directory and renamed the NetInfo database—which contains the Mac’s user settings—in such a way that the Mac will create a new database when Setup Assistant runs. You’ve then removed the AppleSetupDone file. When the Mac doesn’t see this file, it runs the Setup Assistant that allows you to create a new user.

If you’d like to put things back the way they were before you undertook this procedure, boot into Single User mode again and type the following:

mount -uw /

cd /private/var/db/netinfo

mv local.nidb local.1old

mv local.old local.nidb


This gives the new NetInfo database the name local.1old and restores the original NetInfo database.

Away with Artwork

I’ve heard that iTunes’ artwork is embedded into music files. How do you back up artwork and remove it?— Dylan Drazen

Artwork is indeed embedded in music files (and rightly so, as you’d want the artwork to transfer when you move audio files to another computer). But iTunes is more than happy to let you archive and remove it. To back up the artwork, launch iTunes, select a track whose art you want to archive, press Command-I to produce the track-information window, click on the Artwork tab, and drag the artwork to the desktop, where it turns into a picture clipping. To delete the artwork, click on it and then click on the delete button.

Old OS, Old iPod

Can you use an iPod with OS 9?— Ivan Manson

Third- and fourth-generation iPods and the iPod mini require OS X, or Microsoft Windows 2000, XP Home, or Professional, but you can use the first two generations of iPods—which have navigation buttons arrayed around the scroll wheel—with OS 9. Because Apple no longer sells these models, you’ll have to find a used one.

To make the device work with OS 9, you need compatible versions of iTunes and the iPod software. You can download the last OS 9-compatible version of iTunes—that would be 2—from 0107. And you’ll find the iPod Software 1.3 Updater for Mac OS 9 at here.

Mouseless Menus

With my Windows PC at work, I use the keyboard to activate a menu. When I type a letter, the first menu entry that begins with that letter is highlighted. Then I can just press the enter key to select that menu option. I would like to do this on my Mac at home, but I don’t know how.— Jason Kuebelbeck

Recent versions of OS X let you do the same thing. Just hold down the control key and press F2. The Apple menu will drop down. To move to the next menu to the right, press the keyboard’s right-arrow or tab key (press the left-arrow key or shift-tab to move to the left). In OS X 10.3, typing a letter will take you to the first item that begins with that letter. You can use the up- and down-arrow keys to move up and down in the menu. If a menu contains multiple items that begin with the same letter, type the first couple of letters of a particular command name to highlight it. If an item has a submenu, use the right-arrow key to open it.

Upside-down iSight

I’d like to find a more aesthetically pleasing way to incorporate my iSight into my work environment. I thought I had found the perfect solution—mounting it under a bookshelf—but the image is flipped, and iChat doesn’t have any control for rotating it 180 degrees. Is there a fix for this?— Blair Feldman

It’s possible to flip the video image with software—for example, Ben Software’s $50 SecuritySpy can do it. But as you’ve discovered, flipping images isn’t among iChat’s talents, and because Mac OS allows only one application at a time to use video input, you can’t flip the image in one program and then use that flipped image in iChat.

I’m afraid you must turn to mechanics to solve your problem. You could do it with mirrors—point your iSight at a concave mirror (which flips your image, much as a shiny spoon would), and angle a second mirror so that the camera can see you. As deliciously scientific as this setup may be, it adds more clutter to your room.

Instead, look at MacMice’s $30 SightFlex. It features a FireWire cable built into a flexible, 20-inch arm that’s attached to a solid base. Connect the iSight to the top of this arm, place the base in a convenient spot, and twist the camera into a position that shows your best side.

Unsolicited Advice: Extras for Excel

I’ve been using Microsoft Excel more frequently of late, and I wanted to pass along a couple of spreadsheet tips.

And here’s a cool way to make a pop-up menu: Enter values—Giants, Dodgers, Rockies, Padres, and Diamondbacks, for example—in a series of out-of-the-way cells, such as J1 to J5. Click on the cell you’d like the pop-up menu to appear in. Choose Validation from the Data menu, click on the Settings tab, and choose List from the Allow pop-up menu. In the Source field that appears, enter

and click on OK. A pop-up menu containing your team names appears. To tidy up, select the team names in the J column and apply a white font color so they’ll be invisible (just remember not to enter other values in these cells!).

Tip of the Month: Calendars Redux

In your August 2004 column, you suggested that in order to publish all your calendars to .Mac, you could print a compiled monthly calendar as a PDF file and then publish it to a .Mac home page. A more graceful solution is to create a new calendar, give it a name such as All Calendars, and export all your other calendars to the desktop. Then drag the .ics files from the desktop to the new calendar entry you created to add all those events to the calendar. Finally, publish this single calendar to .Mac.— John Moskalyk

[ Contributing Editor Christopher Breen’s business card also includes the words Editor in Chief, . ]

CandyBar makes it easy to update your Mac with yummy icons.
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