Fix a Lion file-opening hang in Mac OS X 10.7.2

Acorn ( ), my favorite image editor, was giving me trouble. Whenever I’d open a file in the app, the image would appear immediately—but then the app would hang for five, 20, even 60 seconds. I saw the spinning beach ball of doom, and couldn’t do anything else in the app. I was running the latest version of Lion and the latest version of Acorn, and I checked with a few of my fellow Acorn-using Macworld coworkers; not one of them was having my issue.

Acorn is developed by Flying Meat Software, so I reached out to the company for tech support. After a lot of investigative back and forth, Flying Meat’s president Gus Mueller figured out the solution, discovering two scary truths in the process: First, the hang wasn’t actually Acorn’s fault at all; the second, other apps—among them iA Writer—could suffer the same issue.

Mueller suggested that I check the permissions on a folder I hadn’t heard of before: ~/Library/Application Support/Ubiquity/. It turns out that Ubiquity is an internal name that Lion uses to refer to iCloud. Mueller learned that occasionally the folder’s permissions become mistakenly tweaked, leaving the folder owned by the root user instead of the logged-in user’s account. When that happens, Mueller discovered, the exact hangs I experienced could occur in a variety of apps—even though those apps don’t (yet) use iCloud.

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Change application categories in Lion

In Lion's Finder, you can group files, folders, and applications in a variety of ways—by name or date last opened, for example, or, in the case of applications only, by application category. (View -> Arrange By -> Application Category.) Unfortunately, OS X lumps many apps into a catch-all Other category. Even when it does categorize an app more specifically, you might disagree with that categorization: For example, Amazon classifies the Kindle app as Reference, but I consider it Entertainment. Hints reader sd figured out how to change or add categories to applications yourself.

Quit the app if it’s running and find its icon in your /Applications folder. Then, Control-click (right-click) on the app in question and choose Show Package Contents from the contextual menu that appears. Open the Contents folder, look for the info.plist file, and open it in your plain-text editor of choice. (You may be prompted as to whether or not you really want to unlock the file for editing; assure OS X that you would indeed like to do so.)

If your app is already categorized in something other than Other, search for the string LSApplicationCategoryType. If you can’t find it, or if this is a previously-uncategorized app, you’ll need to add the new key yourself. (If you do find it, skip the next paragraph.)

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Turn off iOS 5 notifications

In iOS 4, there was a toggle-switch that let you turn Notifications off and on. (If you’re still running iOS 4, that’s in Settings -> Notifications.) But with iOS 5’s Notifications overhaul, there’s no longer an obvious means of disabling all notifications on your iPhone or iPad.

This toggle vanishes in iOS 5.

So what do you do if you don’t want to disable your notifications one app at a time, but you still want to be free from them once in a while? The answer depends upon your particular situation.

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Copy Mail's autocomplete database to a new Mac

You’ve just started using a brand-new Mac. You launch and start to compose an email to a friend. That’s when it hits you: You haven't yet sent any messages on the new machine, so hasn't had any addresses to remember, so it can't autocomplete your friend's address when you begin to type his name. Drat! Fortunately, as Marco Arment recently blogged, there’s a way to copy’s autocomplete database from your old setup to your new one. (Marco also happens to be the developer of Macworld favorite Instapaper [ ].)

On the original Mac—the one that successfully autocompletes email addresses for you—use the Finder to go to the folder ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/. (If you wish, you can select and copy that path here, then go back to the Finder, choose Go -> Go To Folder or type Shift-Command-G, and paste the path.)

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Use Automator to label files from the keyboard

Earlier this week, we shared a hint about applying Finder labels from the keyboard. But that hint, which focused on adding labels to the Finder’s toolbar, suffered from a few annoying limitations. One Macworld reader, who asked to remain anonymous, contacted us with a much better solution to the same problem.

This reader’s solution uses Automator. Launch Automator, and create a new Service.

Look for the “Services receive selected…” dropdown menu at the upper right, and choose “files or folders.”

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Show dates and times in Mail's message list

One of the new features in Apple’s Mail app in Lion (Mac OS X 10.7) is a widescreen-friendly, three-column layout, displaying your mailboxes on the left, your message list in the middle, and a message preview on the right. I love this layout—I used a Mail add-on to get it under Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6)—but it’s not without drawbacks.

One of those is that there’s less room to display information about each message in the message list. As a result, Mail shortens the date display dramatically compared to what you’d see in the “classic” Mail layout. Specifically, for messages received today, Lion Mail shows only the time received; for messages received yesterday, Mail displays just the word Yesterday; and for messages received prior to yesterday, Mail displays just the date.

Macworld reader Lynn P. wanted to know if there’s a way to get Mail to display both the date and time for all messages. Though I haven’t found a way to display the date and time for messages received yesterday—Mail is downright determined to use just Yesterday for those messages—with a bit of trickery, it’s possible to add the date for messages received today, and to add the time to messages received prior to yesterday.

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How to apply Finder labels from the keyboard

The Finder lets you apply different color labels to your files and folders, using the File -> Label control. But there’s no way to apply those labels from your keyboard, right? Wrong! Hints reader gabester discovered that indeed there is a way, if you’re willing to work for it up front. Here’s how:

First, add the Label button to your Finder’s toolbar. To do so, go to the View menu and choose Customize Toolbar. Drag the Label button into your window’s toolbar, and then click on Done.

Now launch System Preferences, select the Keyboard pane, and then open the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Choose Application Shortcuts on the bottom of the list on the left, and then click on the plus (+) icon.

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