Tuesday, July 31, 2007


One of my presenter buddies turned me on to Caffeine. It's a tiny little application on the menu bar that, when invoked, keeps your Mac from drifting off to sleep, prevents the screen saver from kicking in, or any other behavior that might disrupt your presentation. When done, de-caffeinate your machine by clicking it again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On a bright day, Nocturne

I travel a lot, and often find myself using my Mac and Verizon EVDO card in cabs or shuttles to/from airports to get a feel for the area I'll be at. During bright days, the screen can be hard to read. BlackTree to the rescue: Nocturne.

Nocturne provides a much improved version of the "White on Black" display in the Universal Access preferences pane. It works much better though - I've been told by a friend who's been having vision problems that it works much better for high contrast display.

I'd post a screenshot, but I can't figure how to take one that shows the inverted colors. ;) Try it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Go to directory in Finder and Path Finder

Simple Finder and Path Finder short cut I didn't know about: cmd-shift-g. It pops up a go to directory dialog with tab completion. The Path Finder version is quite a bit more powerful (as most things are when comparing Path Finder to Finder):

Tip courtesy of Neal.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Alternative Drawer for TextMate

I use TextMate a fair bit. The standard file drawer makes resizing it a pain, especially when you're using it full screen.

The other day, at erubycon, Chad Humphries was showing me some of the plugins and bundles that he uses. I just got around to trying out Missing Drawer and it solves that problem - instead of the standard drawer, it modifies TextMate's interface to an Xcode-like project window interface without the drawer. This makes it really easy to resize the file tree.

Mandatory screenshot:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Keyboard shortcut to start application/open file in Finder

If you're using Quicksilver, you won't need this much, except occasionally
when Quicksilver quits unexpectedly.

To open a file or start an application, you may be tempted to hit
the enter key. Sadly, this would let you modify the application/file
name instead of starting or opening it.

To open a file or launch an application in Finder, you can either hit
apple - O or apple - down arrow.

What if you want to open a file using some other application other than
the default? See the related post: The QuickSilver Files: Grabbing the Universe

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Boy, those Blacktree boys write some good software (you know, like Quicksilver). The latest gem I've found is Visor, which mimics the console found in lots of video games, but for the entire OS, using Terminal. If you spend a lot of time in Terminal, Visor allows you to drop a terminal window down from the top of the screen with a hotkey, then use the same hotkey to slide it away again. It takes a couple of steps to install it, but man is it cool.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

cd to Directory within Terminal

When using terminal, if you need to drill down to different directories, you don't need to type the entire path. You can use tab key to expand file/directory names. For instance if I type cd P and tab, it expands P to Presentations which is a directory I have under my current directory. If there is more than one file or directory that starts with a P, then it lists them all so I can be more specific.

I discovered by accident a related feature. If you hit escape before hitting the tab, it expands all the way to the most recently navigated directory (from your history) that matches what you've entered. For example, since I use Parallels, I have a need to navigate to ~/Documents/Parallels/shared directory on my mac to exchange some files with my Windows Vista (As of this week, I will need this less on recent Parallels 3.0 since the Windows directory is fully exported/mounted on the mac!). I could type cd ~/D and tab, and then P and tab, and then s and tab. Instead, when I type cd ~/ and escape and tab, it expanded straight to cd ~/Documents/Parallels/shared. Very convenient.

One last thing. If you want to open a terminal on any directory, there is a easy Quicksilver way to do that as well.

Go to Quicksilver (ctrl + q on my machine).
Start with the home directory and type first letter or two of the directory you're interested and type forward slash to drill down to that directory in Quicksilver. For example, to go to ~/Documents/Parallels/shared, I type the following characters in sequence ~d/p/s followed by a tab to select an Action in Quicksilver. For the action, type t and it brings up "Go To Directory in Terminal." Hit return and it opens the directory in terminal window.

Related Posts:

The QuickSilver Files: Grabbing the Universe

The QuickSilver Files: Quick Folders and Select All

The Quicksilver Files: Triggers

Command line tips

One of the things I like the most on the Mac is I can open terminal and
play at the command line. I seem to spend about 40% of my time on the
command line.

As you are typing a (lengthy) command, you may find a need to go back and
change it. You can use the left and right arrow to move one character at a time, but that's painful.

You can quickly navigate through that line of command by using some shortcuts.
ctrl-a takes you to the beginning of the line.
ctrl-e takes you to the end of the line
ctrl-w eats the word to the left
ctrl-h eats the character to the left
ctrl-d eats the current character
ctrl-k eats everything to the right of cursor

When I make presentations I find two other tricks very useful.
I often want to clear the screen.
ctrl-L clears the screen. You can type it even when you're in the middle of typing commands.
ctrl-+ will increase the font size (need to hold shift to reach the +).
ctrl-- will decrese the fond size.

Quickly locking your computer using keyboard shortcut

In the previous post, I mentioned how you can use the mouse to lock your Mac.

On Windows I can type Windows + L and lock my computer quickly. It would be nice to do the same on the Mac, right.

You can do that by setting up a trigger in Quicksilver. Neal has talked about Quicksilver and triggers.

If you are still not using Quicksilver, stop reading this blog and go download it right now.

Bring up Quicksilver (I have ctrl + Q setup to activate it, so I type ctrl + Q). Press Apple-' (Apple + single quote) to bring up the Triggers window.

Click on the + in the bottom to create a new trigger. Select Hotkey. Type a dot (period) and enter the following for "Select an Item":
Hit tab and leave the Action as "Open." Hit return to save.

Now we're ready to assign a keyboard shortcut/trigger. Double click on "None" for the trigger item you just added and type in your trigger key (for instance Alt and L).

Go ahead the try it out. Press Alt-L (or Option-L) and see if this bring up the screen saver. Of course, I generally like to password protect my computer when I walk away from it. Yes, it is a pain to enter the password several times a day, but that is less painful than compromising the computer.

You can ask your computer require password when you return. Under Security System Preferences (Alt + F4 and type Security and hit return) turn on the check box "Required password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver."

Quickly locking your computer using one mouse stroke

How do you quickly lock your computer screen on the Mac?

Yes, you may use iAlertU, but sometimes I simply want to lock and not arm my Mac.

You can lock quickly by using the Dashboard and Exposé settings. Press Alt + F4 (or fn + Alt + F4) and type dash in the search window and hit return. This will bring up the Dashboard and Exposé System Preferences dialog. Under Active Screen Saver, select one of the four corners and set it to "Start Screen Saver." For instance, I've chosen the top left corner. Now, close the dialog. Anytime you run the mouse to top left corner, the screen saver should kick in.

You can also configure this under the Screen Saver preferences by pressing the Hot Corners button.

The above steps only started the screen saver. In order to make this really a lock, you need to turn on one more setting (which you may have done already). Under Security System Preferences (Alt + F4 and type Security and hit return) turn on the check box "Required password to wake this computer from sleep or screen saver."

Monday, July 2, 2007

Quick access to System Preferences Dialog

Every time I connect to an external projector, I need to modify settings (depending on projector I am using). I am too lazy (some call it efficient) to be clicking on menus. So, I wanted to get to the settings dialog without any effort.

Press alt + F1 (if you use function keys to control software like I do (see previous post), then press fn + alt + F1) to get to the Display settings quickly. Similarly, you can press alt + F4 (or fn + alt + F4) to get to the Sound settings. Now, what if you want to modify some other settings? Simply press alt + F4 and start typing what you're looking for. For example, to go to Network settings, type "network" and as you type, you will see the relevant items are highlighted (brightness determines the probability of a match for each item). Hit return if the bright match is what you're looking for.

Removing Function key conflicts

This tip may be useful to avoid other conflicts than the example I give below.

I use Parallels to use Windows. I use Visual Studio, to execute my .NET (C#) program. When I typed Ctrl + F5, it ended up conflicting with the Function keys on the Mac (every time I tried to run, it would try to increase the volume of my speaker—not very helpful).

On the Mac, in the Keyboard settings, I turned on the option "Use the F1-F12 keys to control software features. When this option is selected, press the Fn key to use the F1-F12 keys to control hardware features."

Now, if I really want to change the speaker volume, I press Fn + F5 (or Fn + F4), and Ctrl + F5 within Visual Studio (in Parallels) runs my C# program.

Zoom in/out

While giving presentations, I often find it necessary to zoom into the directory structure in the TextMate Drawer window or other parts of the window. I also find a need for this when I want to show some part of the window to someone a couple of feet away. It is very easy to do. Here are two ways:

1. Hold the Ctrl button and run two fingers (index and middle) on the track pad up or down. Alternately, you can hold the Ctrl button and use the middle button of your mouse to move up or down. Then let go and simply move the mouse to areas of windows you like to view while the window is zoomed in. You can modify the settlings for this (like ability to navigate the window while zoomed in) by changing the options next to "Zoom using scroll ball while holding" under the Mouse tab in the Keyboard & Mouse settings.

2. If you're like me and don't want to touch that mouse (or track pad), you can achieve the above operation by holding Applet key, alt key, and pressing the = button. You can then zoom out by pressing Apple + alt + - keys. Again, to configure this, go to Universal Access and check out the "Zoom" options under the "Seeing" tab.