After poking around Leopard’s nooks and crannies for a couple of months now, here are a few miscellaneous tips and tricks we’ve uncovered for making the system work even better.
Improve Screenshot Selections – Pressing command-shift-4 has long allowed you to take a screenshot of a selection of your screen, but in Leopard, you can fine-tune your selection by using several keyboard modifiers. While selecting a region of the screen, you can press the shift key to lock the selection area along the x- or y-axis, and press the option key to change the resize-selection mode so it resizes from the center instead of from a corner; you can also press option-shift to resize from the center along a single axis. Pressing the spacebar freezes the size of the selection area and lets you move that area on screen.—Dan Frakes
Banish the Printer Icon – In OS X 10.5, Apple changed the way the system handles printer icons. In OS X 10.4, the printer icon vanished as soon as a print job completed; in OS X 10.5, it sticks around in the Dock even after the job is done. If you prefer Tiger’s vanishing act, the fix is simple: when the print job completes, control-click on the printer icon in the Dock and choose Auto Quit from the pop-up menu. From now on, the printer icon will vanish from the Dock after each print job. You’ll have to repeat this process for each printer you use, but you’ll have to do it only once per printer.—Rob Griffiths
Shortcuts to PDFs – You can now assign keyboard shortcuts to the entries in the Print dialog box’s PDF drop-down menu (the one that appears when you click on the PDF button). So, for instance, if you often save PDFs with the Save As PDF menu option, you can activate just that feature with a keyboard shortcut (after opening the Print dialog box by pressing command-P). Open the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane, and then click on the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Click on the plus sign (+) at the lower left to add a new shortcut, and when the new dialog box appears, leave the Application pop-up menu set to All Applications. In the Menu Title box, enter the exact text of the PDF menu command you’d like to create a shortcut for.
Get AirPort Details – The AirPort icon in the Leopard menu bar contains a lot of useful information, but it’s hidden by default. To reveal it, hold down the option key when you click on the AirPort menu icon. Once the menu opens, you should see more-detailed information below the name of the network to which you’re connected: the hardware (MAC) address of the wireless station, which channel is in use, the signal strength (RSSI), and finally an indication of the data transmission rate. If there’s a negative number next to Signal Strength, don’t worry: a perfect connection would be represented by an RSSI of 0. A negative number simply means the signal is less than perfect.
While you’ve got the menu open and the option key pressed, move your mouse over one of the other networks on the list. Hover over the network name for a second, with the option key still pressed down, and a tooltip will pop up showing the network’s signal strength and the type of security it’s using. This can be very useful info if you’re out and about somewhere with lots of wireless hotspots; at a glance, you can find the public connection with the strongest signal.—Rob Griffiths
Copy Text between Two Macs – Leopard’s screen sharing is great. Apple has even included a way to send items to and from a remote Mac’s Clipboard, using the Edit: Send Clipboard and Edit: Get Clipboard menu items. But there’s a simpler way to retrieve a snippet of text from the remote machine: you can drag and drop text to and from the remote Mac. Say you want to copy a URL from the browser on a remote machine to your local Mac. Just highlight the URL in the address bar of the remote Mac’s browser, click and hold the mouse button down for a second, and then drag the text off the edge of the screen-sharing window.
After a brief delay, you’ll see the dragged text appear over your cursor on the local Mac. Now just continue dragging to the destination program (your local browser’s address bar, in this case), and then release the mouse button to drop the text. This trick works only with text. If you need nontext data from the other machine, use the Clipboard functions; if you need to transfer files, you’ll have to do that as if you were sitting in front of that Mac—drag a file onto a mounted server, for instance, or drop it into a user’s drop box.—Rob Griffiths