Mac OS X Hints - Oct. 2006

Close all but the current Finder window

Savvy OS X users might already know that option-clicking on a Finder window’s close button (the red dot in the title bar) closes all open Finder windows. But what if you want to close everything except the frontmost window? That’s possible too.

The Easy Way In the window you wish to keep open, press Command-shift-G. This makes the Go To Folder sheet appear. Now press Command-option-W—this is the keyboard equivalent of option-clicking on the close button. When you press this keyboard command, all Finder windows except the currently active one will close (OS X won’t let you close a window with an active sheet). Now just press the escape key to dismiss the dialog box, and you’re set.

The Fancy Way You can also accomplish this with a simple AppleScript. Put the script in the Finder window’s toolbar or sidebar, and you can close everything but the frontmost Finder window with just one click (see “Easy Window Closer”).

Open Script Editor (/Applications/AppleScript), and type this simple script (or copy it and paste it in):

	tell application "Finder"

repeat while window 2 exists
close window 2
end repeat
end tell

Select File: Save and then choose Application in the File Format pop-up menu. Name the script

close_windows
, or something else that will jog your memory when you see it in the sidebar. Select the Run Only option, choose a destination for it (your Documents folder, for example), and then click on Save. Now drag the application you just created onto a Finder window’s toolbar or sidebar. Once it’s there, click on its icon whenever you want to close all but the current Finder window.

Open items from Get Info windows

The Get Info window (File: Get Info, or select something in the Finder and press Command-I) and the Inspector window (Command-option-I) show you lots of interesting things about files and applications. You can see the selected item’s size, location, creation and modification times, name and extension, and more. But you can also use the Get Info window as a launcher of sorts. That’s right—you can launch applications and open documents directly from the Get Info box.

Double-click on the icon or image in the Preview section of the window, and the item will launch. If the selected item is an application, that application will open. If the item is a document, the application associated with that document type will launch and then open that document (just as though you’d double-clicked on it in the Finder). The only exceptions are audio and video files. Since these files can be played directly in the Preview area, you can’t launch them with a double-click. (You’ll find that this is also true with PDF files in Panther.)

This trick is useful for the times you use the Get Info window to figure out which version of a document you want to look at. Instead of opening the Get Info window, verifying the data, closing the window, and then double-clicking on the file in the Finder, just double-click right in the Get Info window.

Manage multiple Mail attachments

If your household’s e-mail inbox is like mine, you get a lot of e-mail messages with attachments—pictures of vacations, kids, pets, cars, and so forth. Unfortunately, my whole family has not yet been converted to the way of the Mac, so I can’t tell them to photocast their images. But that doesn’t mean I’m stuck clicking on attachment after attachment. Here’s what I recommend for OS X 10.4 users instead.

First create a new folder in Apple’s Mail (I named mine Pending) by choosing Mailbox: New Mailbox. Put the new folder in Mail’s On My Mac section. You’ll move all the attached images to this folder. Why? It’s a lot more convenient to deal with the photos once they’re together in a folder. You can select them all, drag them to Preview’s icon in the Dock or Applications folder, and then view the images as a slide show (View: Slideshow). This is a great way to view all your images at once so you can decide which ones to add to your iPhoto library. There’s even an Add To iPhoto button in Preview’s Slideshow toolbar.

One way to move the attachments is to look at each message and then drag the attachment into the Pending folder in Mail. But if you’ve got a lot of messages, that could take a while. Instead, select all the messages and then choose File: Save Attachments. Mail will save a copy of the attachments from all the selected messages, and save them to a spot of your choice.

Quickly set the system alert volume

Here’s one of my pet peeves: I’m happily listening to my favorite album when the system’s alert beep interrupts. Wouldn’t it be great if it were easy to set the system volume and the alert volume to different levels? You can do this by opening the Sound preference pane and adjusting the two to different volumes, but there’s a quicker way to do this in OS X 10.4.

Make the Volume control icon (a small speaker) visible in your menu bar if you haven’t already. To do so, open the Sound preference pane and select the Show Volume In The Menu Bar option.

To adjust your system’s overall volume, click once on the icon in the menu bar and then move the slider that appears. If you want to change only the system’s alert volume, hold down the option key when you click on the speaker icon. Move the slider as you normally would, and you won’t notice any change in your overall volume level. If iTunes is playing, for instance, your tunes won’t be affected. But your alert sounds will now play at the new level.

If you’re using OS X 10.3, you’ll have to take an extra step to make this work. When you option-click to change the alert volume, your system volume will also adjust. So you must click on the speaker icon once more (without holding down the option key) and reset your system volume back to the desired level.

Use icons in Camino’s bookmark bar

I use a few Web browsers, but for the last six months or so, my primary browser has been Mozilla’s free Camino (   ). While Camino has its shortcomings, I appreciate its interface and speed.

One of my favorite little features is the ability to put favicons (those small icons next to a site’s name in the browser’s Address bar) in the Bookmark bar. This lets me pack my Bookmark bar full of icons, instead of space-hogging words (see “Just the Icons”). And since favicons are easily recognizable, figuring out which site is which is easy.

To create an icon-only bookmark entry in Camino, first add the site to the Bookmark bar—drag the site’s address from the Address bar (known as the Location bar in Camino) to the Bookmark bar. Then control-click on the entry and select Get Info from the pop-up menu. In the window that opens, delete the name in the Title field and then click on the red close box. That’s all there is to it—the title is gone, but the favicon remains.

What about Safari? Sadly, Apple’s Safari lacks the ability to use a site’s favicon in its Bookmarks bar. But you can slim down your entries by renaming bookmarks with a character or two for the site’s name—for example,

MW
for Macworld.com,
MH
for the Mac OS X Hints Web site, and so on. If you have Safari 2.0 or later (which comes with OS X 10.4), you can make the various sites stand out more by using special characters in the shorter names—for example, use a dollar sign for your bank’s site.

To access the special characters, open the International preference pane and click on the Input Menu tab. Select Character Palette in the list, and then select the Show Input Menu In Menu Bar option. A flag icon will appear in your menu bar. Select it and choose Show Character Palette from the drop-down menu. The Character Palette organizes special characters into categories, so they’re easy to browse. To add a character to a bookmark, highlight the bookmark’s name in Safari’s Bookmarks window (Bookmarks: Show All Bookmarks). Then drag the character from the Character Palette to this field.

Easy Window Closer: Store a handy AppleScript in a Finder window’s toolbar or sidebar, as shown here, and you’ll be able to close all Finder windows except the currently active one with a single click.Just the Icons: If you use Mozilla’s Camino, save a ton of room in your Bookmark bar by using icons to represent bookmarked sites.
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