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Stop the vibrating alarm clock

Apple’s iCal program can alert you to upcoming events in many ways. If you choose Message or Message With Sound from the Alarm pop-up menu, for instance, the iCal Dock icon bounces, a sound plays (optionally), and the small alarm-clock icon in the alert box vibrates to catch your eye.

These alarms provide a good reminder of upcoming deadlines, but the buzzing and bouncing may soon start to wear on your nerves. To stop both, you can close the alert box—but if you do that, you may forget all about the message it was trying to deliver. If you want to stop the buzzing and bouncing and keep the alert on your screen, just control-click on the clock itself and then select Stop from the pop-up menu that appears (see top screenshot).

Create burn folders anywhere

Tiger’s new burn folders mean the end of lengthy file duplication when you want to burn a CD-R. Simply create a new burn folder (in the Finder, choose File: New Burn Folder) and drag all the items into it that you want to put on the CD-R. OS X creates aliases of your files here, and waits until you click on Burn before it copies anything.

The process is fast, but it’s not perfect—what if you already have a folder full of stuff, ready to burn? Here’s how to create an Automator workflow that turns any folder into a burn folder with just a couple of clicks.

Start by launching Automator (/Applications). Click on the Finder entry in the Library column. In the Action column, click on Get Selected Finder Items and then drag this action into the workflow pane on the right. Next, click on Automator in the Library column. In the Action column, click on Run Shell Script and drag it into the workflow, below the previous action.

Click on the Shell pop-up menu, choose /bin/bash, and set the Pass Input pop-up menu to As Arguments. This will ensure that the shell script you’re about to create runs correctly.

Now click in the action’s text field (the spot that currently reads

for f in "$"
and so on). Erase all the text that’s there. In its place, type the following shell script, written by Alex Nicksay (I strongly recommend copying and pasting it from here ):

	for i in "$"; do if [ -d "$i" ]; then
	i="${i%/}"; f="${i##*/}"; p="${i%/*}"
	[[ "$f" = "$p" ]] && p="."
	[[ $f == *.fpbf ]] && n="${f%.fpbf}" || n="$f.fpbf"
	mv -v "$i" "$p/$n"
	fi; done

Basically, the script looks at the Finder selection and determines whether the selected folders are currently burn folders. Whatever their current status, the script reverses those settings—a burn folder becomes a regular folder and vice versa. When you’ve got the script all set up, your workflow is complete (see bottom screenshot).

Test the workflow before you use it on a real folder. Leave Automator open and switch to the Finder. Make a new folder, and then select it by click-ing on it. Switch back to Automator and click on the Run button. When the workflow completes, you should hear a noise, and the lower right cor-ner of the window should give you a message that says, “Workflow Execution Completed.” The folder you created should now be emblazoned with the Burn icon. Select the folder once more, switch back to Automator, and run the workflow again. This time, your test folder should return to normal. If that’s not what happens, you’ve mistyped the script.

Once everything works, you’re ready to turn your workflow into an easy-to-use contextual-menu item. Switch back to Automator and select File: Save As Plug-In. In the Save Plug-in As sheet, give your new workflow a meaningful name—for example, Toggle Burn Folder. Make sure the Plug-in For pop-up menu says Finder, and then click on Save.

Making burn folders is now as easy as clicking on any folder (or folders) in the Finder, control-clicking, and selecting Automator: Toggle Burn Folder (or whatever you named the workflow) from the contextual menu.

Silence the volume-changing beep

You’re probably quite familiar with the beep your Mac makes whenever you change its volume via the keyboard. This audio feedback can be useful at times, but I usually find it annoying. It can be especially bothersome if you’re trying to work quietly (in Microsoft Word, say) in an environment such as a library or a red-eye flight.

Thankfully, the solution is very simple. To silence the volume-changing beep, hold down the shift key while pressing the volume-up or volume-down key. (This doesn’t work when you use your mouse to select the volume menu on the right side of your menu bar.) If you’re using an iBook or a PowerBook, and you’ve set the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane to require the fn key in addition to the volume-changing key, don’t worry: adding the shift key still silences the beep and doesn’t require too much in the way of finger gymnastics.

Trash Mail messages via the Dock

If you use Mail, you probably know a few ways to delete a message. I can think of a few—with the message selected, press the delete key, click on the Delete button in the toolbar, or drag the message to the Trash folder in Mail’s sidebar. Since I prefer to use the keyboard for most things, I usually press delete.

If you prefer the mouse, or just happen to have your hand on it, you can also drag the message to the Dock’s Trash. If your Trash is empty when you do this, it won’t change to display the Full Trash icon—messages deleted in this manner actually move to Mail’s Trash folder.

This trick works in some other applications, too, including Apple’s iTunes and Safari (in Bookmarks view) and Panic’s FTP program Transmit.

If you like using iCal’s pop-up reminders but hate the buzzing alarm clock, a simple control-click can solve the problem.This Automator workflow lets you turn any folder into a burn folder with a couple of mouse clicks. (Only part of the shell script appears here.)
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