Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Changing the default shell

I prefer tcsh but Macs now come with bash as the default shell. To change this you can do the following.

Go to Netinfo Manager. This should be in Utilities under Applications. (or use quicksilver)

Next select users, then select the user you want to edit. Make sure you have permission by clicking the padlock at the bottom of the window. Now the values for that user should go from greyed out to black. Double click the shell value and replace /bin/bash with /bin/tcsh or whatever shell you want to use.

When you click away, save the change and you're done.

Fast switching

When you first start playing with your mac it's worth having a look at
System Preferences->Keyboard and Mouse->Keyboard shortcuts.
keyboard options
For me APPLE+TAB is the most useful. This cycles through all of the applications that are currently running.
If an application has several Windows, you can rotate which has focus with APPLE+` (that's a back tick).

These two together lead to lightning fast switching between applications and windows.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Getting started (Applications)

One of the first things with a new OS is finding the really useful applications. Some of these took me months to come across but I wish I'd known about them from the beggining. Any list like this can only scratch the surface, but these are what have helped me.

Desktop manager: Mulitple desktops on your mac :)

Quicksilver: I have hardly scratched the surface with this, but within an hour or two my dock was obsolete as I can know launch every gui application with alt+space . How cool is that. There is a LOT more depth to this application, and I really must find the time to play with it some more.

MacTheRipper: Wrip DVDs (for backup purposes only of course).

Graphic Converter: Lots of image manipulation and conversion power in this tool.

X11: If you are a developer, installing the X11 tools that come on the developer DVD is a must.

VLC: Great for Video stuff

ourTunes: Really useful for copying iTunes music over your home network for backup purposes.

Fink: This is basically a mac version of the Debian RPM system. Installing other programs is as easy as
fink install

Tripwire: This should be installed as soon as possible. It takes a snapshot of your system and will warn when key files have been modified or deleted. This will help to spot any intrusion of your system.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More on spotlight

I just deleted my spotlight metadata catalogue and re-indexed. I was expecting a small difference but was pretty impressed to see it reduced from 329MB to 174MB. Took 3 hours for the re-indexing but worth it for my meagre HDD.

The tool I used to delete the database was called Tinkertool. It is shareware and has a host of optimisation and performance tools. five evaulations are allowed for free before you have to pay seven euros.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Vim comes pre-installed, but macvim
is the best solution I've found for gvim, the GUI version.

The instructions on the site a pretty good, but I'd recommend looking out for the suggested script that allows you to fire up multiple instances of gvim.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Opening a .app from the commandline

I spend most of my time on the commandline so I used to use this reasonably often.

open -a application

This will open that application under the GUI. So to start iTunes from the commandline it's simply

open -a itunes

So why don't I use it that much anymore? Quicksilver is the answer, and I'll cover it more in another post.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The three things about OS X that annoyed me at first.

I love using OS X, and even a year later I still regularly smile to myself when I do something that would have taken a lot longer on another OS. But nothing is perfect and when I started using the OS I had three frustrations.
I did get used to these "features" after just a couple of months, so if they bug you too, keep going.

1) No right mouse button. Apple are just being stubbon here (at least they have now released the mighty mouse).
I use an iBook so I got used to pressing the correct key to make a click a right-click.

Of course you have the choice of buying a 2 or more button mouse if you want to, but I like my laptops trackpad.

2) No # key. Ok so pressing ALT+3 is second nature now, but it was really annoying at first, especially as a vim user I'm used to just tapping away at it to search for the word under my cursor.

3) It's not possible to have one application at the front and then mouse over another application to make it the active window.
I used to use this a LOT on Linux and even XP could be made to do it. Apparently there is something inherent in the design of the OS X which prevents this from working. That said it is possible to turn this behavour on for apps running under X11, which for me saved my sanity as I run Open Office under X11 which is when I most need this functionality.

So what bugs you? Feel free to comment.....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Taming Spotlight

Some people complain about Spotlight because

1) They say they notice it scraping their disk.
2) Its database takes up a lot of space.

These problems can be solved by going to

System Preferences->Spotlight->Privacy

Here you can list all of the directories you want to exclude (including / :)
Spotlight will completely ignore these directories from now on.
eXTReMe Tracker