Shrink Preview files without ruining image quality

Savvy Preview users know they can do some interesting things to PDFs—convert them to black-and-white or sepia tone, increase or decrease their lightness, and more—by selecting File -> Export, then selecting one of the Quartz filters in the resulting dialog box. Reader zpjet is one of those users, but he was never satisfied with results of the Reduce File Size filter (which he'd use when trying to make PDFs small enough to send by e-mail): It made them too small and made the graphics fuzzy.

After a little digging around, he found that these filters are located in the folder /System/Library/Filters, and that they're XML files that are easily edited with TextEdit (or any other text editor). Examining the file for the Reduce File Size filter, he found out why it didn't work for him: Two of the parameters—Compression Quality and ImageSizeMax—were just too low (0.0 and 512, respectively).

So he copied this file to his Desktop, made two copies of it, and then renamed all three: Reduce File Size Good, Reduce File Size Better, and Reduce File Size Best. Then he changed the parameters of each file: 0.25, 0.5 and 0.75 for Compression Quality (respectively) and 842, 1684, and 3508 for ImageSizeMax (ditto). (The first is A4-size at 72dpi, the second A4 at 144dpi, and the third A4 at 300dpi).

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Find out what's keeping your Mac awake

Have you ever been annoyed to find that your Mac won’t go to sleep when you tell it to? Reader wjv found that, in Mac OS X 10.6 and later, there’s a simple way of finding out what’s keeping your Mac awake. To do so, run the following command in your Terminal: pmset -g assertions .

In the first section of output, you’ll see the status of two kernel assertions (essentially, assumptions the system makes about the state of your system) named PreventSystemSleep and PreventUserIdleSystemSleep. An accompanying status of 1 for either of these means that it is currently triggered. For example, here’s what I see when I run that command on my Mac mini:

Assertion status system-wide:
  PreventUserIdleDisplaySleep    0
  PreventSystemSleep             0
  PreventUserIdleSystemSleep     1
  ExternalMedia                  1
  DisableLowPowerBatteryWarnings 0
  UserIsActive                   0
  ApplePushServiceTask           0
  BackgroundTask                 0
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Quick Look in Messages, renaming Safari bookmarks

A new operating system means new reader tips, and we’ve been getting plenty of them for Mountain Lion. Here are two quick ones for two of the most popular OS X apps.

First, if you previously used iChat to send and receive screen shots or graphics, you may have used Quick Look to view them. More specifically, if you had the iChat File Transfers window open, you could click on an inline graphic that someone sent you in a chat and press the space bar to preview it with OS X's built-in file-viewer. In Mountain Lion’s Messages app, this no longer works. You can, however, click on the graphic right in the Messages window, then press the space bar to view the image in Quick Look.

Second, you no longer need to right-click and summon the Edit Name dialog to rename a bookmark in Safari's Bookmarks Bar. Now, in Safari 6, you can just click and hold the bookmark; the name will become editable, so you can rename it then and there. This applies to Safari 6 as a whole, which is provided with Mountain Lion, but which is also available for Mac OS X 10.7.

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How to save search URLs in Safari 6

As you’ve probably heard, Safari 6 has a new combined URL and search field. If you type a search term into that field then press Return, you’ll get a Google page with search results. But, oddly, the URL for that Google search won’t appear in that search-address field; instead, the search term itself will remain there. This can be frustrating, because sometimes you want the URL for the Google results page, either to save or to share.

Macworld Senior Editor Dan Frakes recently tweeted a quick AppleScript that enables you to get that Google search URL. Many Tricks developer Peter Maurer suggested an improvement to the script, then Jordan Kay posted a final, one-line version of it. The sum of their collaboration: Run the following script and it will save the URL for the frontmost Safari tab to the clipboard; from there you can paste it wherever you want.

tell application "Safari" to set the clipboard to URL of current tab of window 1 as string
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Mountain Lion: Pause notifications, edit bookmarks

Couple of quick ones to welcome OS X Mountain Lion to Hints:

If you need a temporary break from all those alerts and banners, but you don’t want to turn off notifications altogether, Hints reader guillaumegete notes that you can pause the Notification Center with one click: Press the Option key while clicking on the Notification icon in the right end of the menu bar. This will pause the display of notifications. To reactivate them, you can either Option-click the same icon again; display notifications at the right of the screen by clicking on the Notification Center icon, then toggle the Show Alerts and Banners switch from Off to On; or just wait until tomorrow, when they’ll go back on automatically.

And an anonymous reader points out that, as of Safari 6 (which debuted with Mountain Lion, but is available for those still using Lion, as well), you no longer need to Control- or right-click on a bookmark in the Bookmarks Bar then fill out a dialog box in order to rename that bookmark. Now you can just click and hold the bookmark; the name will be highlighted and you can then rename it right there.

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Force iOS to use YouTube site instead of app

The default YouTube app that comes with iOS was great back in 2007, but it hasn’t seen a significant update in years and is lacking many features compared to the newer mobile YouTube website (m.youtube.com) that Google launched two years ago.

Reader seanm5 points out that you can stop iOS from launching the native YouTube app when you click on a YouTube link, and force it to use the superior YouTube mobile website instead. To do this, simply disable YouTube under Settings > General > Restrictions.

Once you’ve done that, all YouTube links you click on in an iOS browser will open YouTube’s mobile website; the native YouTube app will also be hidden. If you decide you want to revert these changes and go back to using the YouTube app for those links, go to the Restrictions settings and toggle YouTube back on.

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Back up blog or FTP directory with AppleScript

Reader lucaslivingston has a WordPress blog, and wanted to make sure to back it up regularly. But while there are plenty of WordPress plugins that claim to do backups, he frankly found them daunting. Instead, he decided to create his own simple Mac-native solution using AppleScript, and then set up a daily iCal event to run that script at 4:00 every morning.

The script he came up with:

  1. Simulates a double-click on the alias to the Web server where his WordPress blog lives, mounting it as a WebDAV volume (just like iDisk);
  2. Runs the handy Unix backup command rsync to copy the remote contents locally; and
  3. Unmounts the web server.

Here's the script. Open AppleScript Editor and paste the following into a new window, then save it as an Application:

set filepath to "Macintosh HD:Users:USERNAME:Library:Favorites:www.example.com"

tell application "Finder" to open filepath

delay 30

do shell script "rsync -av /Volumes/www.example.com/blog/ '/Volumes/Backup/wordpress-backup'"

tell application "Finder" to eject "www.example.com"

If you're adapting it, you'll obviously need to provide you own user name, domain, and backup destination in the script. You should be able to use this with any web server or FTP directory that you work with.

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