Preview the print queue with Quick Look

When you print documents with your Mac, they show up in your printer's queue. You can view that queue by clicking the printer icon in your Dock. Sometimes, though, it's difficult to tell exactly which documents are which in that queue—especially if you're printing a bunch of untitled or similarly-named files. Hints reader ppinheiro76 figured out a delightfully simple way to get quick previews of the files you're printing.

Once you're in the print queue, just double-click on an individual print job to open a Quick Look preview of the document being printed; since it's Quick Look, you could instead tap the spacebar to trigger the same effect.

This reminds me that Quick Look pops up in some unexpected places, and it's often a delightful surprise. For example, I frequently use it in Open and Save dialogs to preview files there. And don't forget that the print queue has some other hidden functionality, too: Remember the one about dragging documents directly into the queue to print them?

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Solve printing problems with Preview

Sometimes documents just don't print properly. My latest example: After filling out an expense report in Microsoft Excel, I tried to print it, but the document came out cut off on all four sides. I tried printing it again, specifying in the printer dialog that I wanted to scale the document to fit on one page; it still didn't work. I didn't know where the fault lay: Was it an Excel issue, a printer issue, or something else? But I didn't have time to investigate; I needed to get that expense report in the mail. My solution: I remembered a recent hint about opening two copies of a PDF at once, and used a variation on that to get the report to print.

In Excel, I went to File -> Print, and then clicked the Preview button at the bottom left. (Excel, like some other apps, uses that Preview button instead of an Open PDF in Preview option in the PDF dropdown; the functionality is the same.)

With a PDF version of my spreadsheet now open in Preview, I tried printing the document again—still specifying that I wanted the expense report shrunk to fit. This time, the spreadsheet printed exactly as desired. The same trick should work in any app that isn't printing properly. If you're facing printer frustration and don't have the time or inclination to resolve them, opening a PDF version of your file in Preview and then printing that can be a quick and functional workaround.

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Open two instances of one PDF in Preview

Ever tried to open two PDFs side-by-side in Preview? The app normally only lets you open a single copy of a document, so if you want to keep open a second copy—say, for easier footnote retrieval, or continued access to the table of contents—you would seem to be out of luck. We showed you one workaround a couple of months ago: running two copies of Preview simultaneously. Now an anonymous Hints reader as figured out an even easier solution.

The trick takes advantage of the PDF drop-down in any OS X Print dialog box. Open the PDF you'd like to see double in Preview. Then go to Preview's File menu and choose Print. From the PDF menu button in the lower left corner, choose Open PDF in Preview (not Print as PDF). Preview will open up a copy of the same PDF document you've been reading, which you can then arrange side by side with the original window. When you're done with your copy, you can just close it as you normally would.

One added benefit of this trick: the Open PDF in Preview command doesn't create a new temporary file that you'll need to clean up later.

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How to re-sort photos on your iPhone

An anonymous Hints reader was flummoxed: He (or she) used iTunes to sync pictures from iPhoto to his (or her) iPhone. But when he looked at the pictures on his phone, iPhoto Events didn't appear in the order he wanted. As far as he could tell, neither iTunes nor the iPhone offered any option to change the phone's photo-sorting behavior.

As the anonymous reader discovered, however, there is a solution—one that's less obvious than it might appear at first. The iPhone will honor whichever sorting option you select within iPhoto. To change the sorting order there, launch iPhoto, select Events, and then choose View -> Sort Events. You can then sort Events by date (in chronological or reverse-chronological order), alphabetically by name, or in a manual order of your own creation.

But, wait, there's more: If you switched to iTunes now, your photos still wouldn't be in the order you wanted; they'd be out of order on your phone, too. You must first quit and relaunch iPhoto. Once you've done so, iTunes will notice the new sort order you've set for your Events. When you sync your iPhone this time, events will appear the way you want them to.

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Get rid of .zip files once they're expanded

Mac OS X makes opening .zip files simple: you double-click them, and the OS quickly unzips them. But one thing has always bugged me: After I unzip it, the original .zip file—for which I no longer have any use—is still there. I'd rather my Mac clean up the zipped versions of files automatically after I expand them, instead of leaving me with one more thing to get rid of.

I'd known about the Archive Utility app—the Mac's default application for unzipping files, which only runs for the duration of the act of unarchiving and then quits automatically. And I know we've talked about tweaking its settings before. That's where I found the solution to my problem.

Archive Utility is really tucked away, in System/Library/CoreServices. Once I'd found it, I opened it and selected Archive Utility -> Preferences. There, I selected Move Archive to the Trash from the After Expanding drop-down. (I could have chosen Delete Archive, but that seemed too final. I could also have chosen to move unzipped archives to another folder—Old Zips, for example—if I wanted to maintain an archive.)

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Quickly delete iPhone photos from your Mac

It's easy to take lots of photos with your iPhone. But when you're ready to wipe the slate clean—without wiping out other photos you've synced to your device—there's no obvious way to completely (or even selectively) use your Mac to delete the photographs you've taken with the phone.

A couple of years ago, blogger Colin Devroe came up with a clever way to make that happen. His solution relies on OS X's oft-neglected Image Capture utility. (I like to use Image Capture to prevent iPhoto from launching every time you sync your iPhone.) To implement it, connect your iPhone to your Mac and launch Image Capture. That app will see your iPhone as just another camera.

In Colin's original hint, you'd then download all the photos and tell Image Capture to delete them all when it's finished. Turns out Image Capture now offers an easier, faster way to do that: You can selectively delete photos without ever importing them from your phone. (I've been unable to ascertain exactly when this became possible.) In Image Capture, Command-click all the photos you want to delete. If you really want to delete everything, just hit Command-A or choose Edit -> Select All. Then, at the bottom of the Image Capture window, click the delete icon—it's the red No symbol. Image Capture will ask you to confirm that you want to delete all those photos. And if you tell the app that indeed you are ready to bid all those pictures adieu, it will delete them immediately.

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