Quickly create new Sticky notes

The Stickies app built into Mac OS X isn’t for everyone, but its devotees—and I count myself among them—can’t live without it. Using the app, which lets you play Post-It-style notes on your desktop, is pretty simple. But a pair of hints from Keir Thomas’s excellent Mac Kung Fu streamlines the steps for starting a Sticky so simply that you’ll soon be Stickying more speedily than ever before.

The first option Thomas shares involves using a built-in Service. We’ve extolled Services plenty, but one such Service makes the act of creating a new note as easy as highlighting the text and/or images you want to jot down and pressing a keyboard shortcut. That shortcut? Command-Shift-Y. (That’s the same as going to the current application’s self-named menu, choosing Services, and then selecting Make New Sticky Note.) Your new note will near-instantly appear on your screen, containing the text you just had selected.

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Enable local Time Machine snapshots on a desktop Mac

With Lion, Apple introduced local Time Machine snapshots. This mostly-silent feature lets your Mac use free space on your main drive to create iterative backups of your files when you’re away from your external Time Machine disk.

By default, Apple disables local snapshots on desktop Macs; the assumption is that you only need them when you're using a laptop, and that your trusty desktop machine is always connected to a Time Machine drive. But what if that’s not always the case? Perhaps you disconnect your Time Machine drive to connect other USB peripherals, or maybe you share the drive with other folks in your home. In any case, there's a way to enable local Time Machine snapshots on desktop Macs that Keir Thomas (author of the excellent Mac Kung Fu) discovered. All it takes is a quick trip to Terminal.

Local snapshots
Local snapshots are shown in gray, Time Machine backups in purple.

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Select and copy text within Quick Look previews

Quick Look is a delightfully simple way to browse the contents of the files on your Mac without launching their parent apps. (Select a file, press the space bar, that's it.) But if you’re looking at, say, a PDF or Word document, Quick Look can frustrate, because it doesn't provide any way to select and copy text; if you find a snippet of text you’d like to copy and paste, you still need to launch the parent app. Unless, that is, you know a secret shared by Keir Thomas (author of the excellent Mac Kung Fu).

To make text selectable in Quick Look previews, you just need to enable a hidden Finder setting. Select and copy the code below, open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities), paste that code at the prompt, then press Return:

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Clean out Launchpad completely

Launchpad takes the iOS home screen springboard and recreates it on your Mac. Some users love this new Lion feature; others aren't sold. If you're among the latter, you can ignore Launchpad pretty easily: Remove its icon from your Dock, turn off the Launchpad gesture, and you can live fairly Launchpad-free from then on. But what if you want to get a fresh-start with Launchpad, configuring it to give you quick access only to those apps you choose?

You could manually remove entries from Launchpad while it's onscreen by holding down the Option key and clicking on the jiggling apps. But that won't work on stock Apple apps, which seem permanently affixed to Launchpad’s surface. And it's a laborious process if you have a lot of apps.

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Post to Twitter with Siri

Siri on the iPhone 4S can understand a lot of instructions. Ask the virtual assistant to send a tweet to Twitter, however, and Siri will respond that she just can’t do that.

The truth is, however, she can. Here’s how: First, add a new contact on your iPhone. Make the first name Twitter, the phone number 404-04 (Twitter’s SMS shortcode), and save the contact.

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Photo Booth power user features

You may have forgotten about Photo Booth, but Apple sure hasn’t. In Lion, Apple updated its software for quickly capturing photos from your Mac’s built in camera, adding full-screen mode and new visual effects that leverage face-detection features. But while Photo Booth’s feature set is still pretty simple, there are a few power user tricks to the software that may help you get more out of it.

First of all, there's the flash. When you snap a photo with Photo Booth, the software briefly makes your Mac’s display go bright white, to simulate camera lighting. But there's a new option in Lion to disable that flash permanently: Go to the Camera menu, and deselect Enable Screen Flash.

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Hidden Lion gesture switches to previous space

One of Lion’s hallmark features was its introduction of a slew of multitouch gestures. By now, you may well have learned most of them. But Keir Thomas discovered one you probably don't know about, a hidden gesture that lets you quickly return to your most recently used space. If you use the four-finger swipe to move from your main desktop to another, or to a full-screen app or the Dashboard, you can quickly go right back to where you were before by executing a four-finger double-tap.

But if you try that right now, it won’t work. First, you need to fire up Terminal and paste in this command:

defaults write com.apple.dock double-tap-jump-back -bool TRUE;killall Dock
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