Expose, Mail, and other 10.5 tips

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Another day, another Hints blog entry, and another batch of Leopard -related tips.

First off, here’s one of my favorite OS X 10.5 tips so far, and it’s amazingly simple but oh-so-useful. If you use Exposé, you’re probably aware that once you’ve invoked either all-windows (F9) or application-windows (F10) mode, you can see the name of any window (in a translucent white-on-black box) by simply moving your mouse over the window—this is quite useful when you’ve got a lot of windows open, and many of them look the same in their reduced state.

While this is a useful trick, it’s also a bit of a pain to have to move your mouse to each window to check if it’s the one you want or not. In 10.5, though, there’s a shortcut: Just hold down the Option key after activating Exposé. When you do, the floating white-on-black box appears over every window. So instead of mousing around, just press and hold Option, identify the window you’d like to switch to based on the displayed name, and then select it via the mouse. Simple, as I said, but very nice to know.

For today’s second tip, we’ll switch to Mail. As you’ll know if you use Mail, it organizes your mail through the use of a number of top-level folders, shown in the leftmost column. There you’ll find Mailboxes, Reminders, Smart Folders, On My Mac, and maybe some other IMAP-related folders. In Tiger, you can’t do anything with the order of these folders—you get what Apple provides, basically. In Leopard, though, you can drag any top level folder to any position in the sidebar. Just click and hold, then drag and watch the insertion line that shows where the dropped folder will go. You might, for instance, want to move the Reminders entry to the bottom of the list, if you’re not using Mail for to-dos. As a side hint, if you’re not using Mail for RSS, go ahead and delete the one entry Apple provided—when you do, the RSS entry will completely vanish. Sadly, this same trick will not work in iPhoto, iTunes, or the Finder—just Mail.

Finally, here’s a small timesaver for iCal’s new interface. If you just want to change the name of an event, don’t double-click it, which brings up the editing pop-up window. Instead, highlight it by clicking once with the mouse (or by using the arrow keys), then press Return. You can edit the name in place, without ever seeing the pop-up editing window. It’s still a far cry from the easy event viewing and editing we had in OS X 10.4, but it’s a step in the right direction.

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