Tiger Secrets: System settings
Secret shortcuts. Hidden helpers. Mysterious menus. You could spend months tracking down all the undocumented features tucked away in Mac OS X 10.4, Apple’s newest operating system. But chances are, you’re too busy using Tiger for more-important tasks—such as doing your job. So Macworld sent in a team of specially trained spies to uncover Tiger’s deepest, darkest secrets.
From customizing your system settings to improving Spotlight’s searching know-how, and from working around stubborn quirks to unlocking new Unix powers, our experts show you how to take advantage of Tiger’s lesser-known features in this first of our five-part series. Best of all, you won’t even need your secret decoder ring.
Customize Tiger’s PDF print services
When you press Command-P to print in Tiger, you’ll notice that the Print dialog box sports a new PDF disclosure triangle. Click on it, and you’ll see a series of Automator workflows that you can apply when creating a PDF. The Compress PDF option, for example, slims your PDF file by compressing the graphics. However, you can easily modify the provided workflows—or create your own.
The provided workflows live in the /Library/PDF Services folder. Just double-click on one to open it in Automator. (You may want to duplicate the file first in case you decide to go back to the original version.) Make the changes you want. For example, you can modify the Compress PDF workflow so it moves the Quality slider to a more balanced position. Go to File: Save to save the modified workflow; the next time you print, you’ll be able to access it from the PDF menu.
To build an entirely new workflow, create a PDF Services folder in your user folder’s Library folder, use Automator to create the desired workflow, and then save it to the newly created folder. Your workflow will appear at the bottom of the PDF pop-up menu. —Rob Griffiths
Silence annoying sounds
If you like having audio feedback when your Mac has completed a task—such as moving something into the Trash—open the Sound preference pane and enable the Play User Interface Sound Effects option. For the most part, these sounds are unobtrusive. But you may find that one really grates on your nerves. Although the Sound pane doesn’t let you turn off specific sounds—it’s all or nothing—there is a workaround.
In the Finder, navigate to /System/Library/Components. Control-click on CoreAudio.component and choose Show Package Contents from the contextual menu. In the resulting Finder window, navigate to /Contents/Resources/System Sounds. Within this folder are subfolders containing AIFF files of all the sounds your system makes, each clearly labeled.
Before deleting one of these files, back it up by dragging the sound file to another folder. Then highlight the sound file, drag it to the Trash, and provide your administrative password.
You may need to restart the Dock, the Finder, or the system itself to have the changes take effect. You can easily restart the Dock and Finder from Activity Monitor (in /Applications/Utilities).
If you’re truly adventurous, you can replace the existing sounds with your own audio. Simply create an AIFF file, give it the same name as the file you’re removing, and then drag your replacements into the proper folder. But make sure you have a backup of any sounds you’re replacing—you may tire of hearing “D’oh!” every time you empty the Trash. —RG
Make Tiger bilingual
Unlike previous versions of Mac OS, Tiger lets you apply language preferences to Apple’s applications individually. For example, you can set Mail’s Autocorrect Spelling feature to French (for your e-mail messages to distant relatives) while keeping the Finder in English.
Here’s how to set it up: Go to the International preference pane and click on the Input Menu tab. Select the language(s) you want to add—French, in this case—and enable the Allow A Different Input Source For Each Document option at the bottom of the window.
Move to Mail and create a new message. Enter the French text you want. When Mail places a red line under the foreign words to signal that they’re not in the dictionary, simply control-click on the underline, choose Spelling from the contextual menu, and then choose Français from the Dictionary pop-up menu (see “Foreign Affairs”). —Christopher Breen
View size requirements for burn folders
Thanks to the Finder’s new Burn Folder feature (File: New Burn Folder), burning files to a CD is easier than ever. Just drag the files you want to burn into a burn folder, insert your CD-R, and click on the Burn button. The Finder fills the burn folder with aliases, rather than the original files. So once the burn is complete, you can trash the burn folder without losing your work. Unfortunately, the Finder’s size display for Burn Folders is incorrect—it shows the size of the alias files, not the originals. So how do you find out how much disc space your files will require?
(Click image to open full screenshot)
The quickest way is to click on the Burn button before inserting any recordable media. The Finder will display a dialog box listing the amount of disc space the files require (see “True Size”). The other option is to select the burn folder in the Finder, press Command-I, and then click on the triangle next to the Burning section of the resulting dialog box. When you click on the Calculate button, the Content Size field will display the size of the files within the folder. —RG
Get networked on-the-go
Tiger makes it very easy to connect two Macs via a FireWire cable—you don’t even have to use Target Disk Mode. On both computers, go to the Network preference pane, select Network Port Configurations from the Show pop-up menu, and enable the Built-in FireWire option. Next, go to the Sharing preference pane (again, on both computers) and click on the Start button to activate Personal File Sharing.
This is many times faster than using an Ethernet connection to transfer files. There’s only one problem: if you’re already using the FireWire port to connect peripheral FireWire devices, such as an iSight camera, either the peripheral devices or the network connection may not work. The simplest workaround is to disconnect the peripheral devices while using the FireWire network. (For more on setting up ad hoc networks, see “Ad Hoc Networking,” Mobile Mac ) —Ted Landau
Securely erase your hard disk
Before you sell or give away a Mac, make sure that no personal data remains on it. After you’ve copied all your files to your new Mac, restart the old one from the Mac OS X installation disc. Open Disk Utility and select your disk from the list on the left. Click on the Erase tab and then on Security Options. Next, choose one of the several erasure methods that are offered. The 7-Pass Erase option is probably sufficient for most people, but if you’re truly paranoid, select 35-Pass Erase, which will make it nearly impossible for anyone, even James Bond, to recover your files. If you’re using a laptop, make sure it’s plugged in. This process can take a long time. —Kirk McElhearn
Create better passwords
All of Tiger’s security measures are for naught if any passerby can figure out your passwords. To see how yours hold up, run them through Tiger’s new Password Assistant (see “Bulletproof?”).
You can access Password Assistant from the Keychain Access utility (/Applications/Utilities) or from the Accounts preference pane. In either, you click on the plus sign (+), enter your password, and then click on the key icon. (If you want to test a password but don’t need a new user account or a Keychain item, just click on Cancel when you’re finished.)
Password Assistant can also create passwords for you. Click on the Type menu to choose the kind of password you’d like to create: the Memorable option creates odd phrases such as emits40\dais, Letters & Numbers and Numbers Only passwords are much harder to remember, and a Random or an FIPS-181 Compliant password should meet the needs of highly security-conscious users. —KM