Power users know that, when you're composing text, it's often easier to move your cursor around (and potentially highlight chunks of text) using the keyboard, instead of moving your typing hand over to the mouse. Most Mac apps support something called Cocoa key bindings, a fancy term for system-wide keyboard shortcuts for navigating and working with text. Some are probably familiar to you, such as combining Command with the arrow keys to move the cursor within the current line or document (or Command-Shift-arrow to select text). There's also Option-left arrow and Option-right arrow, which move the cursor through your text word by word. Others are less well-known: Control-A, for example, moves the cursor to the beginning of the current paragraph; Control-O splits the current line, inserting a return without moving the cursor to the new line; Control-T transposes the two letters on either side of the cursor.
Daniel Jalkut, tech blogger and founder of Red Sweater Software, noted on his blog that Lion tweaks the behavior of those Option-arrow text navigation shortcuts. In Snow Leopard, Option-arrow treated certain punctuation-separated strings (like.this.one) as separate words—meaning you could Option-arrow navigate between each of those three words. Lion, on the other hand, treats such strings as single words. Lion's change may well make sense for you. But for programmers, or for people who type (and edit) URLs often, the change may be less welcome.
Fortunately, Jalkut discovered a straightforward way to revert Lion's keyboard navigation behavior to match Snow Leopard's. Launch System Preferences and select the Language & Text pane. On the Text tab, take a look at the Word Break option on the right side. Lion's default selection is Standard; to emulate Snow Leopard's behavior, change that to English (United States, Computer). (Jalkut's commenters pointed out that the Word Break preference was introduced in Snow Leopard, but it seems that Lion changed the default to Standard.)
Hints reader nathanator11 discovered that Lion includes a handy app that provides all sorts of diagnostic information surrounding your wireless network. Much of the information the software generates gets pretty technical, but even Wi-Fi novices may find some of the details that the utility aggregates useful.
Wi-Fi Diagnostics is tucked away in the /System/Library/CoreServices folder. To get there, I pressed Shift-Command-G in the Finder (the equivalent of going to the Go menu and choosing Go to Folder), and then typed in the /System/Library/CoreServices path and pressed Return. Once in the folder, I found Wi-Fi Diagnostics and double-clicked it. Alternatively, you could launch the Terminal and type open "/System/Library/CoreServices/Wi-Fi Diagnostics.app", and then press Return.
However you find and launch it, Wi-Fi Diagnostics gives you four options: Monitor Performance (which shows you signal strength, noise level, transmit power, and data rate); Record Events (which can keep a log of network happenings); Capture Raw Frames (which records everything coming and going on your Mac's wireless connection); and Turn on Debug Logs.
Hints readers keep discovering clever Mission Control tricks. Once you enter Mission Control in Lion—either by swiping up with three or four fingers, hitting Control-Up arrow, clicking on the Dock icon, or any other means—there are a lot of secrets hiding away in Apple’s new mash-up of Exposé and Spaces.
Mission Control organizes stacks of windows by app. Hints reader geoffliang points out that you can get a better view of the windows open in a given app within Mission Control by performing a four- or five-finger spread gesture (the same gesture you’d use to reveal the Desktop when you’re in Mission Control). If you prefer a simpler gesture, a simple two-finger swipe straight up over the app you’d like a better look at works, too. When you do that, the visible windows for the app expand and fan out a bit (as seen in the screenshot at the bottom of this article).
Remember, too, that as you move the mouse over the windows visible in Mission Control, you can press the spacebar to see an even bigger Quick Look preview of the window in question. And Hints reader vczilla discovered that you can change which window within Mission Control gets selected by typing the first few letters of that window’s title.
Back in the glory days of Snow Leopard, three-finger trackpad swipes could help you navigate the Finder: A three-finger swipe left took you back one step in your Finder navigation; three fingers right brought you forward again. In Lion, of course, three-finger swipes perform a very different function—they navigate between spaces. (You can change that gesture to a four-finger swipe in the Trackpad pane of System Preferences; note also that if you enable three-finger drag, then Lion enables four-finger swiping automatically.) Hints reader rbrough discovered an intriguing way to restore Snow Leopard’s old behavior on an as-needed basis.
The trick? Hold down the Option key while you perform your swipe. That suppresses the space-switching gesture, and lets the old Snow Leopard functionality shine through.
And here’s the best part: The Option-swipe trick doesn’t just work for navigating Finder windows. Back when I ran Snow Leopard, I loved using three-finger swipes to navigate the official Twitter app; when I hold down Option and swipe, I get those gestures of old back again.
We've published a varietyofhints over the years about opening a Terminal window that's already focused on the folder of your choosing. But Hints reader ceej discovered that Apple's built a new Service into Lion that can make this task even simpler.
To enable the Service, launch System Preferences and click on Keyboard. From the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, choose Services on the list at left, and then choose New Terminal at Folder (or New Terminal Tab at Folder). While you're here, you can add a keyboard shortcut by double-clicking in the whitespace along the right margin of the Services list and choosing a new key combo.
Now, when you Control-click (right-click) on a folder in the Finder, your new Terminal Service should appear near the bottom of the contextual menu. Use that new menu option—or your new keyboard shortcut—and Terminal will open a new window (or tab) focused right on the folder you chose.
Blogger Pierre Igot was frustrated with the search behavior in Lion's Safari. Back in Snow Leopard's version of Safari, if you hit Command-F (or selected Edit -> Find) and then entered a string of text, the program would find any instance of that text in the current webpage: It would match the search string whether it was a whole word or just part of one. But in Lion's Safari, search didn't work the same way: It matched strings that were whole words or that appeared at the beginnings of words, but didn't find them within words. So, for example, searching this page for man in Snow Leopard would find my last name in the byline above; in Lion, by default, it doesn't.
Some of Pierre's readers offered him the solution. As it turns out, Safari in Lion offers finer-grained controls for setting the search scope. Once you've hit Command-F to initiate a search, you can click on the magnifying glass within the search box to expose a small menu. From that menu, you can choose between Contains and Starts With.
Starts With, the default, only matches substrings when (as you'd guess) they start words; that is, it would find my last name if you searched for fried instead of man. The Contains option does what the name implies: As in Snow Leopard, it finds substrings regardless of where they occur in the word.
If you found Spaces too confusing or too much trouble in Snow Leopard, you should give virtual desktops another try in Lion. Mission Control combines features of Spaces and Exposé and makes them way more usable. A trio of Hints readers have offered up some tips that make Mission Control easier to work with—which could make you more productive.
First, to help you distinguish your virtual desktops from one other, Hints reader simplebeep points out that you can choose a unique desktop picture for each one. Launch System Preferences in your first desktop, go to the Desktop & Screen Saver pane on your first desktop, and set the background image you'd like. Then enter Mission Control (by pressing Control-Up arrow, using the three- or four-finger up-swipe, or clicking on the icon in your Dock). Once you're there, drag the System Preferences window from its current workspace to another desktop. (If you haven't yet created a second desktop, drag it to the ghosted desktop that appears in the upper right corner of Mission Control once you start dragging.) Go to the Desktop & Screen Saver pane again and choose another desktop picture; whatever you choose will appear on that second desktop only. Repeat for as many workspaces as you like. Your separate backgrounds will be saved after you restart.
An anonymous Hints user points out the efficient way to select a different desktop without exiting Mission Control. Say you're in Desktop A and want to drag an app from Desktop B to it. After you launch Mission Control, your instinct might be to click on Desktop B—but that would cause you to immediately exit Mission Control and go to Desktop B. To avoid that, just hold down Option when you click on Desktop B; that will open it within Mission Control.