Mac OS X Hints - April 2007

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Minimize all of a program’s windows

OS X’s window-minimizing feature shrinks an open window and stores it on the right-hand side of your Dock (as long as you haven’t moved the Dock off the bottom of the screen). This is a handy way to leave a window open for future reference without having it take up space on your desktop. There are a couple of ways to minimize a window to the Dock—press 1-M, or just click on the yellow button in the top left corner of an open window. When you need the window again, click on it in the Dock, and it will return to full size.

But what if you want to minimize all of an application’s open windows? Try holding down the option key before clicking on the minimize button (see “Minimize an Application’s Windows”). In most of Apple’s applications and many others—including Adobe Photoshop CS2, Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit, The Camino Project’s Camino, Mozilla Firefox, and The Omni Group’s OmniWeb—this trick will send all of that app’s open windows to the Dock.

When you want the windows back, try option-clicking on any one of the minimized windows in the Dock. Most of the time, they’ll all expand. But there are exceptions—Photoshop and BBEdit, for instance. Experiment with your favorite program before you minimize 20 open windows—and then discover that you have to click on them one by one to expand them again.

Select text with one click

Whether you’re filling in an online form or entering a URL in your browser, it can be a pain to press the tab key repeatedly just to get to a text field and select its contents. Luckily, there’s another way. In nearly all Apple applications, you can click on one of the field’s edges to select all its text.

Hover your cursor over a text field and then move it to the field’s edge—the cursor will change from an I-beam into an arrow. Click when the arrow appears, and you’ll select the contents of the text field. (See a video of the process.) This trick works in many other applications, too. Just try clicking on the edge of a text box in your favorite program, and see what happens.

Easier zooming via the keyboard

OS X 10.4.8 provides a useful new way to zoom in on your screen—hold down the control key and then scroll with your mouse’s scroll wheel, the Mighty Mouse’s scroll ball, or two fingers on the trackpad of your MacBook or MacBook Pro. The entire screen will zoom at the point where the cursor is. I use this feature quite a bit—for instance, to read a way-too-tiny font on a Web site or to make sure I select just the right area of the screen for a screenshot.

But I don’t enjoy all the scrolling required to return to the 100 percent view. You can simplify matters a bit by going to the Universal Access preference pane, clicking on Seeing, and selecting the On option under Zoom. Then, after zooming in on your screen, you can hold down 1-option-hyphen (-) until the zoom level reaches 100 percent again—though this can be annoying, too (when I’m done zooming, I want to get back to the normal view as quickly as possible).

So here’s a trick: Visit the Universal Access preference pane and click on the Options button in the Zoom section (make sure Zoom is set to On before you click). Now move the Maximum Zoom slider to anything other than the leftmost position (see “Max Zoom”). The value you pick will affect only zooming via the Universal Access keyboard shortcuts—not the control-key shortcut. Click on Done. Now zoom in as normal, and when you’re done, press 1-option-hyphen just once. Voilà! The screen will automatically return to 100 percent resolution.

Tame Address Book’s envelope printing

As of OS X 10.4, Address Book (/Applications) can print envelopes. Select an address in Address Book, select File: Print, set the Style pop-up menu to Envelopes, choose the correct envelope size from the Layout menu, and then click on Print. But using this feature can be very frustrating, as I found out while trying to send my holiday cards.

For example, take one of the program’s potentially cool features—the ability to automatically print a spouse’s name on an envelope. You add a spouse’s name when you’re editing a contact. Click on the pop-up menu below the Work or Home E-mail one and change it from Friend to Spouse. Then type in the spouse’s first and last name. (Don’t see these fields? Click on the Edit button at the bottom of the Address Book window to enter Edit mode.) If you’ve added a spouse’s name, Address Book will insert it in the printed address; for example, when you print an envelope for your contact Sally Sample, Sally and Steve Sample will appear. (If the spouse has a different last name, the envelope will be addressed to Sally Sample and Steve Smith, for example.)

The maddening thing is, in my testing, this worked only some of the time. Finding this problem’s cause and solution took some digging. The problem is Address Book’s fuzzy matching of first names. With the preceding example, if you have another Address Book contact for someone named Steve who has a different last name or address, Address Book will omit the spouse name when you print Sally Sample’s entry. Oddly, you won’t encounter this problem if you’ve coded the person as a partner instead of a spouse. But in that case, the envelope will be addressed slightly differently, to Sally Sample and Steve.

So what’s the solution? If you’re having trouble printing the spouse field, you must also create an Address Book entry for the spouse, and make sure that the address (as well as the last name) exactly matches what’s in the first record. After I’d created an entry for Steve Sample, the envelope turned out right when I printed from Sally’s Address Book record. It’s a pain, but it does work.

Even if the spouse has a card of his or her own, you must use both a first name and a last name in the Spouse field to make this work. If you don’t enter a last name in the spouse field, Address Book will print using the Partner format—with, for example, and Steve at the end. Note that you can use this to your advantage when you want to send cards to the more general Sally Smith and Family. Just type

in the Spouse (or Partner) field. (Get more Address Book printing tips.)

[ Senior Editor Rob Griffiths runs the Web site. Kirk McElhearn is the author of many Mac-related books, including The Mac OS X Command Line: Unix Under the Hood (Sybex, 2004). ]

Minimize an Application’s Windows: Want to minimize all of an application’s windows? Press option while clicking on one window’s minimize button, and they’ll all fly down to the Dock.Max Zoom: To speed your return to the 100 percent view after using the new control-scroll zoom feature, set a maximum zoom level in the Universal Access preference pane.Custom Cards: Address Book can help you print the names of your contacts’ spouses on envelopes.
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