Mac OS X Hints

Relocate Applications from the Dock

If you like to download and try out lots of shareware and freeware, you probably put the apps in a special downloads folder (or just leave them on the desktop) until you decide whether they’re keepers that belong in your Applications folder. And when you’ve found a program worth hanging on to, you probably quit the program, switch to the Finder, and start moving windows around to file the program away. Here’s a little time-saver for next time: Assuming that you’ve put the app in the Dock for easy access, you can simply Command-click on its icon in the Dock and drag it to your Applications folder (or any folder you choose). Release the mouse button, and you’ve moved the file. (You can also move an open application, whose icon automatically appears in the Dock, but it’s always safer to quit the app first; otherwise, it might not open when you next launch it.)

Manage Autofill of Recipients in Mail

You may have noticed that Mail seems to recognize some people when you start entering a name or e-mail address and completes the address for you—but that’s not always a positive thing. For example, even after a friend has changed her e-mail address, Mail keeps showing the old one—despite the fact that you’ve updated her Address Book entry. Or you get a list of 20 entries when you start typing Dave, Susan, or another common name. Why? Mail remembers all the addresses of people to whom you’ve sent previous e-mail messages. To tidy things up, open Window: Previous Recipients, and you’ll see a list of everyone to whom you’ve sent messages—regardless of whether they’re in your Address Book. Here you can easily remove people from Mail’s internal list. You might want to start cleaning up the list by sorting by Last Used, highlighting older entries you don’t want anymore, and then clicking on the Remove From List button (the delete key won’t work for this). This list is also a quick way to add new names to your Address Book, and to search for someone when you know you’ve sent a message to that person but you can’t recall his or her e-mail address.

Send Windows-Friendly Attachments in Mail

Are you a lone-wolf Mac user in an office full of Windows PCs? If so, you may get tired of always having to tell Mail to send Windows-friendly attachments (it’s a check box at the bottom of the Attachments dialog box). Forget to select it, and you’ll confound your Windows recipients, who will see multiple attachments to your message (Mail causes this by sending the file’s data fork and its resource fork).

There’s an easy workaround, and it’s hiding in plain sight—just select Edit: Attachments: Always Send Windows Friendly Attachments when you don’t have a new message window open (the option will be grayed out if you do). From now on, all attachments will default to Windows-friendly mode. After you choose this option, if you attach files to e-mail messages going to Mac users, the missing resource fork may render the attachment unusable for those recipients. In those cases, deselect the Send Windows Friendly Attachments option that appears when you click on the Attach icon.

Change the Column Order for List View

If you rely on list-view windows on a daily basis, you may have discovered a limitation of the Finder. While it’s quite possible to choose which columns you want new list-view windows to display (just use View: Show View Options or type Command-J), you can’t control the order in which those columns appear. That is, if you prefer to see Size to the left of Date Modified, for example, you can drag the columns into that order for the window you’re viewing—but the change isn’t global, so you’ll have to do it again every time you open a list-view window. Here’s how to work around this limitation.

The first thing you need to do is set global list-view options. So open a folder in list view, select View: Show View Options, make sure it’s set to All Windows, and then pick a few columns to show—just make sure you change something. This ensures that the file you’re about to edit has all column headers in it.

Next, navigate to your user folder /Library/Preferences folder, make a backup of the com.apple .finder.plist file, store the backup somewhere safe, and drag the original file onto the TextEdit application icon. Now press Command-F to bring up the Find box, type

StandardViewOptions
, and press enter. TextEdit will highlight that string in a line that reads
<key>StandardViewOptions</key>
.

This is the section of the file that controls the default look for list, icon, and column views. If you scroll down just a bit, the first section you’ll see should be for list view, and it starts with a line that reads

<key>N1sv</key>
(See screenshot). Below that, you’ll see eight separate
<dict>
sections. Each one of these sections represents a list-view column; the value below the
ColumnPropertyID
key identifies the column. The eight possibilities are
dnam
(Name),
phys
(Size),
kind
(Kind),
modd
(Date Modified),
ascd
(Date Created),
labl
(Label),
shvr
(Version), and
cmmt
(Comments).

To rearrange the default column order, you need to cut the entire sections from

	<dict>
	
to
	</dict>
	
, and then paste them in the order in which you’d like them displayed. For example, to see the Label column after the Name column (Name must be the first column), scroll down to the
<dict>
section that has the
labl
key and cut the entire section, including the opening and closing tags. Now scroll back up to the top of the
StandardViewOptions
section, and paste the
labl
section directly below the closing (
</dict>
) tag for the
dnam
section. Arrange the other sections as you like; note that sections with a
ColumnVisible
key of
0
are those you’ve chosen not to see, so there’s no reason to reorder them.

When you’re done editing, save the file and quit TextEdit. To see your changes, you’ll need to restart the Finder. You could log out and log in, or use Activity Monitor (Applications/Utilities) to quit the Finder, and then click on its Dock icon to relaunch it. When you do, you should find that all list-view windows open in your preferred column order.

[ Contributing Editor Rob Griffiths is the author of Mac OS X Power Hound, Panther Edition (O’Reilly, 2004) and runs the Mac OS X Hints Web site.]

By rearranging these <dict> blocks in the Finder's preference file, you can control the default order of columns in list-view windows.
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