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MacAddict Tips for Mac OS X

by Alan Graham

As a Mac OS X junkie, I'm always on the lookout for any publication with a snippet of OS X info to add to my arsenal.

Imagine my geeky delight when I saw the June 2001 issue of MacAddict with that lovely Aqua "X" on the cover. To date, this issue contains the best magazine piece I've seen on Mac OS X, and I recommend that your rush on out and pick up a copy. The also have a terrific web site,

In the June issue of the magazine, you'll find a wide variety of Top 10 lists covering everything from why/why not to upgrade, how to troubleshoot OS X, security tips, working with Classic, and much more. Also included with this issue is a CD with 50+ Mac OS X apps.

Editor's Note: Speaking of the June MacAddict CD, I'm already hooked on Drop Drawers X, which more than compensates for the lack of a Scrapbook in Mac OS X. I also really appreciate Volume Dockling 1.0, which provides sound control directly from my Dock. I'm still mining the MacAddict CD, but these are my two current favorite discoveries. -- Derrick]

We asked the folks at MacAddict if we could reprint one of their lists, and they gave us a big thumbs up. I chose "10 Ways to Customize OS X" because I wanted to include a little something for everyone. So a shout out and a thank you to our friends over at MacAddict. Now, on to the goodies!

10 Ways to Customize Mac OS X

  1. Start with System Preferences -- Apple has dispensed with control panels and replaced them with the System Preferences that you launch from the Apple menu. Here you can fiddle with the Dock's display options, change your Alert sound to Funk, Tink, Bonk, or others, and choose from an array of truly gorgeous screen savers -- or create your own.

  2. Comment on this articleWhat is your favorite Mac OS X tip? Tell us! Tell us!
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  3. Tweak the Toolbar -- At the top of any Finder window, you'll see the toolbar. To change its contents, choose Customize Toolbar from the Finder's View menu and drag icons to your heart's content. We recommend adding Path (this gives you a hierarchy of where you've navigated) and Find (also known as Sherlock). Want to ditch the toolbar and have new windows open for each folder just like in the Good Old Days? Simply click the bubble button in the upper-right corner of any Finder window.

  4. Decorate Your Windows -- With any Finder window open, choose Show View Options from the View menu. There you can change icon size and arrangement as well as the folder background, either for the open window or globally. Be forewarned -- if you have Icon Arrangement set to None or Always Snap To Grid, your icons may scatter erratically.

  5. Dock Your Hard Drive -- For quick access to everything on your hard drive, just drag it into the right side of your Dock. Click and hold, and a window will appear with submenus for each folder on the root level of your drive. If you've been good and haven't cluttered this level with extraneous folders, this is an easy way to navigate through your system.

  6. Add Key Caps to Your Dock -- One glaring omission from OS X is the ability to click a font suitcase and be rewarded with the familiar sample text about the cozy lummox and the job-hunting squid. Want to know what a font looks like? You have to use Key Caps, so drop it into your Dock (it's in the Utilities folder inside your Applications folder).

  7. Conquer Dock Clutter -- To prevent your Dock from becoming overloaded with icons, create a folder in your Home directory called Top Apps, fill it with aliases to all your frequently used apps, then drag the folder into the right side of the Dock. Martha Stewart would be proud.

  8. Your Home is Your Castle -- Remember when others log into your Mac, they don't have access to your Documents folder. In addition to anything incriminating, Documents is a good place to store such potentially destructive applications as Terminal and Netinfo Manager (both let you control the Unix layer). Wouldn't want Uncle Joe playing "what if?" with those utilities after the bars close, right?

  9. Carry Your Library with You -- The Library folder in your Home directory contains all your customization preferences, as well as personal fonts and other goodies. If you travel from Mac to Mac, keep an updated copy of this folder on a Zip-equipped Mac. By the way, a USB Zip drive worked fine with OS X when we tried it.

  10. Play Favorites -- Don't enjoy Finder navigation? Want to keep your Dock pristine? Use the Add To Favorites command in the Finder's File menu to add any folder, document, or application to the Favorites list which you can access from the Finder's Go menu.

  11. Get a Good Start -- Use the Login pane of the System Preferences application to tell your Mac which apps you want to launch at startup. For fun, we recommend CPU Monitor (tells you how much power your CPU is using); for convenience, try a minimized Sticky displaying 800-275-2273 (Apple's tech-support number).

Alan Graham is the creator of the Best of Blogs book series and is a frequent writer on the O'Reilly Network.

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