How to delete the Dock delay

You probably know that you can configure the Dock to hide itself when you aren’t using it. (If not: Go to System Preferences -> Dock, and select Automatically Hide and Show the Dock, or Control-click on the separator in the Dock itself and select Turn Hiding On.) You may also have noticed that, if the Dock is hidden and you then move your cursor to the edge of the screen to make it reveal itself, there’s a slight delay before the Dock slides back into view. The delay may not be that long—maybe half a second—but it does irritate some users.

If you’re one of them, OS X Hints reader bahoom found that a simple Terminal command can make the Dock appear instantly. In Terminal, run the following command: defaults write autohide-delay -float 0 && killall Dock. That will change the setting and relaunch the Dock. When you move your cursor to the edge of your screen now, the Dock should reappear immediately.

If you ever want to restore the default delay, go back to Terminal and enter the command: defaults delete autohide-delay && killall Dock.

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Delete Dropbox cache to recover drive space

I use Dropbox to sync files across my Macs, but also to collaborate with others using shared folders. One day, I discovered that the disk space on my MacBook Air had dropped substantially. I started poking around, looking for swap files and other usual suspects, but eventually found one especially large folder hidden inside my Dropbox folder: .dropbox.cache.

Looking inside this folder, I found that it contained three dated folders, one each for the past three days. Inside each of those were a number of files; many, I could tell, were from my shared project folders. Because we use a versioning system on one of those projects, I could see multiple versions of many files. In all, I found 8 GB of cached files.

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Send text, files from Mac to iOS via Messages

Sometimes you want to send a file, URL, text snippet, or image from your Mac to your iPhone (or vice versa). I generally use email for this purpose, but Mac OS X Hints reader NaOH-Lye found another method (via MacDrifter): Use Messages.

If you have the Messages beta installed on your Mac, click on the Compose button at the upper left of the Messages window. At the To prompt, start typing your own name, then select your iMessage address from the list of suggestions. Then drag (or copy and paste) your file, URL, or text snippet into the text-entry field at the bottom of the window. Whatever you’re sending will appear on the “sent” side of the message pane; it will almost immediately appear in the “received” side, too. More importantly, it will almost immediately pop up on your iOS device as well.

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Unzip almost any archive file

I recently downloaded a zip archive of freely-distributed MP3 files. But when I double-clicked it to decompress it, all I got was a .cpgz file (an archive file in the CPIO format). Double-clicking that file just created the zip file again, and thus I was stuck in an endless loop

Searching on Google, I saw that plenty of other people had come across the same problem. Some of them suggested some fixes, but none of those fixes worked for me. Some online posts suggested that I download the file again, because the first file might have become corrupted. But as it was a very large file, I really didn’t want to try that.

The solution for me was to use the free The Unarchiver, which turns out to be a Swiss army knife for decompressing many obscure types of archives. Opening the file with The Unarchiver decompressed it correctly.

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Search for messages by domain in Lion

In versions of OS X before Lion, you could quickly search for messages from a given domain (, for example) just by typing it in the search field. But such searches are more difficult in Lion's version of Mail. That's because, when you type the domain name, the program will show you all of the messages that have been sent to or received from that domain, as well as any messages that contain that domain as a string of text in the body; it will also show you a drop-down suggestion-list of specific senders from that domain.

Reader pfernandes points out that there is a way to refine Mail searches to find all senders or recipients from a given domain: If you type from:@domain, you will see a list of all the messages you've received from any email addresses in that domain. You can also use to:@domain to look for the messages that you've sent to any addressees in it.

Note that you will see these search results in Mail's message-list pane after you type the search-term but before you hit Return. If you then hit Return, Mail will convert your search term into a token and treat it literally; in other words, it will look for senders (or recipients) whose addresses consist solely of the domain name and therefore return no results.

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Customize shortcuts for Mission Control, Dashboard

You probably know that you can choose keyboard shortcuts for Mission Control and Dashboard in the Mission Control pane of System Preferences. But the shortcuts listed there are limited. For example, for Mission Control you can choose function keys from F1 to F13, but you can’t select, say, F14 or F15; you have a few other options, such as the right or left Shift or Control keys. The same is the case for Dashboard, though it is limited to only the F keys.

Reader channui figured out a way to enter other keyboard shortcuts for these features. Just go to the Keyboard pane in System Preferences. In the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, select Mission Control or Dashboard and enter your keyboard shortcut there. It will automatically be reflected in the Mission Control preference pane. You can use this same procedure to set keyboard shortcuts for many other system features, such as Launchpad, the Dock (hiding and displaying), and so on.

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Auto-convert songs at higher bit-rates in iTunes 10.6

The recently released iTunes 10.6 has plenty of notable new features, including support for 1080p video and some tweaks to iTunes Match. But many music lovers will appreciate one new feature in particular: In the past, you could automatically convert songs with a high bit-rate to a more manageable 128 kbps when syncing them to an iPod or iOS device. Now, with iTunes 10.6, you have three bit-rate options for that conversion: 128, 192 and 256 kbps.

To access this feature, connect an iPod (or iPhone or iPad) to iTunes, select the device, and go to its Summary tab. At the bottom of that window, in the Options section, you'll see the Convert Higher Bit Rate Songs To option. If you select that option, you can then choose the bit-rate you want from a drop-down menu.

Many iTunes users have been hoping for this option for a while. If you have a lossless library, it allows you to convert audio tracks with higher quality when you sync your iOS device. Note that this conversion can take a long time the first time around, but subsequent syncs will be much faster.

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