OS X Tips and shortcuts

This is a discussion on OS X Tips and shortcuts within the OS X How-To's, Tutorials, Tips & Tricks forums, part of the Mac OS X category; Whether you just like peace and quiet or you work in an environment that requires audio input and output to be disabled on a computer ...

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Thread: OS X Tips and shortcuts

  1. #151
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    How to Completely Disable Audio & Sound in Mac OS X




    Whether you just like peace and quiet or you work in an environment that requires audio input and output to be disabled on a computer for security purposes, it’s fairly easy to accomplish in Mac OS X. We’ll cover how to handle turning off audio for both situations, the first uses mute for basic audio disabling, and the second technique is much more secure and completely disables sound in OS X.

    Disabling Sound in OS X with Mute

    The most basic approach uses system mute for both audio input and outputs, this is easy to accomplish:

    Open System Preferences, click on “Sound” and from both the “Output” and “Input” tabs click the “Mute” checkbox




    No audio will go in or out now, easy enough.

    The problem with using mute is that it can be unmuted just as easily, and if you want audio to be completely disabled for security purposes with no chance of a user or third party tool turning it back on again, you’ll have to dig a little deeper and disable some kernel extensions.

    Completely Disable Audio Input & Output in Mac OS X

    From the Finder, hit Command+Shift+G and enter the following path: /System/Library/Extensions/

    Locate “IOAudioFamily.kext” and “IOAudio2Family.kext” and move them to a safe place for backup purposes, like somewhere in the home directory – you will need to authenticate this change with an admin password

    Reboot Mac OS X for changes to take effect





    On reboot you’ll probably notice there isn’t any sound, and with the audio support kernel extensions gone no audio input or output will work at all with any application. If you want to reverse the change and re-enable audio you just have to move the backed up .kext files to their original location and reboot again. Note that some system updates will replace these kernel extensions on their own, so if you’re in a sensitive environment that requires audio to be disabled then you’ll want to pay attention to how OS updates behave.

    What About Boot Sounds?

    If you like the idea of just disabling the boot sound but don’t want to remove all system audio functionality, you can silence it on a per-boot basis or mute it completely with StartupNinja.

    5-30-12

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  3. #152
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    Change Color Profiles Instantly from the Mac OS X Menu Bar with ProfileMenu




    Whether you’re a designer, gamer, or you just frequently switch color profiles to use different external displays, you’ll find ProfileMenu useful. As the name implies, ProfileMenu stores all color profiles in an OS X menu bar item that can be accessed from anywhere, allowing you to instantly switch from one profile to the next on the fly. This is much faster than switching profiles yourself through System Preferences, and really it feels like a feature that should be included in the optional Displays menu.

    Get ProfileMenu free from KHI Ltd

    Setup is as easy as double-clicking the app, you can select to launch it at login if you’d like otherwise there isn’t much else to it. All in all it’s a simple yet very handy tool for anyone who flips through different color settings with any regularity.

    ProfileMenu comes to us from the same developer who created the excellent Consultants Canary tool, while you’re over on the devs site it’s also worth downloading.

    6-1-12

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  4. #153
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    Retrieve a Files Original Direct Download Address from Safari



    Have you ever downloaded a file from the web and then down the road wished you could retrieve the origin download address? Maybe you want to redownload the file or send the direct download link to a friend.


    Discovering any files download address is made exceptionally easy with newer versions of Safari, here’s all you have to do:

    Click the “Downloads” button in the upper right of a Safari window to drop down the list of files

    Right-Click on the file you want the origin URL for and choose “Copy Address”

    You are now free to paste the direct download link to elsewhere, be it an IM, email, or just back in the URL bar

    Direct URLs to files are usually permanently live, but some sites using offsite storage either through a CDN or Amazon can have addresses that expire after a set amount of time. If that’s the case you’ll discover the link won’t work when you attempt to download the file again and you’ll have to locate it again manually.

    If you didn’t download a file through Safari you can often find out where a file was downloaded from within the Mac OS X Finder as well.




    6-2-12

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  5. #154
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    Find out where a file was downloaded from



    You can quickly find out where any file was downloaded from by using the Mac Finder’s Get Info command.


    Select the file in question within the Finder

    Now go to Get Info on the file (File -> Get Info or Command+i)

    From the Get Info window, click on ‘More Info’ to see where you downloaded the file under “Where from:”

    You may notice two URL’s listed as the ‘where from’ source, this is because the file was linked by one URL and downloaded from another. In the example screenshot, the file was linked to from a rcrdlbl.com URL (a music site) but the file itself was stored on Amazon’s S3 service, so both links are listed.

    This is a really handy trick if you can’t recall where you downloaded certain files from, it’s made even better by the fact that you can select the URL’s from the window and visit them again.

    6-2-12

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  6. #155
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    Show your IP Address in the Menu Bar




    Do you need your IP address often? If so, IPMenulet is likely the quickest way to have the number handy all the time, it’s a free and simple menu item that displays your current external IP address in the Mac OS X menu bar, there’s no other frills or features.

    You can download IPMenulet now (direct .dmg download) or visit the developers website for more information and to view the simple tools source code.

    Little utilities like this are really useful if you have a dynamic IP or just find yourself frequently moving around to different networks, although if you fall into the second category and need to allow local connections, you’d probably benefit from using a service like DynDNS, but that’s another topic.

    You can always find your IP address in Mac OS X through System Preferences, using the command line, or accessing a web site like whatismyip.org too.

    6-2-12

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  7. #156
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    Find a Router IP Address in Mac OS X



    The easiest way to retrieve a routers IP address is by going through System Preferences. This is much the same way that you get your Macs IP address, but the router IP is a few steps further in preference menus.

    Open System Preferences from the Apple  menu

    Click on “Network” preferences under the ‘Internet & Wireless’ section

    Select “Wi-Fi” or whatever network interface you are connected through and click on the “Advanced” button in the lower right corner

    Click on the “TCP/IP” tab from the top choices

    The routers IP address is the numerical address next to “Router:” and will look something like: 192.168.1.1




    Ideally the router IP would be included in the detailed network data shown when option-clicking on the Wi-Fi menu since it fits in line with troubleshooting, but it’s not exactly hard to click through system prefs either.

    Note: the above method retrieves the routers IP in relation to the LAN, not in relation to the internet. If you are looking for an external IP address as seen by the internet, you can get that by typing the following into the command line:

    curl whatismyip.org

    This will report back the IP of either your Mac or your router as it would be accessible from the internet and outside world, which is different than the router IP you use to connect locally.


    6-2-12

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  8. #157
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    Get Detailed WiFi Info From the Menu Bar




    You can retrieve extended wireless connectivity data from anywhere within Mac OS X by holding down the Option key and then clicking on the WiFi menu icon.

    Option-clicking will display a sub menu under your active wifi connection that shows what wireless band you are using (PHY Mode), the routers SSID (BSSID), what channel the wireless router is using, which encryption method (Security), signal strength (RSSI), the transmit rate, and MCS index (whatever that is).

    You can also mouse-over other SSID’s to see a slightly more condensed version of this information. All of this can be helpful for avoiding potential channel conflicts, or when troubleshooting wireless problems.

    And yes, I called it the WiFi menu rather than AirPort, since Lion is moving away from the AirPort references, at least in regard to the menubar.

    6-2-12

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  9. #158
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    Add the Voice of Siri to Mac OS X



    If you bought a new Mac with OS X Lion (or later) pre-installed you probably already have the voice of Siri enabled by default. Siri is actually called “Samantha”, but if you upgraded to OS X Lion manually from Snow Leopard you may have missed the addition of Siri’s voice completely, so here’s how to add it to a Mac.

    Launch System Preferences from the  Apple menu and click on “Speech”

    Click the “Text to Speech” tab and then click the pulldown menu next to “System Voice”

    Choose “Customize” from the dropdown menu

    Check the box next to “Samantha”, a notification will be added to the window saying the voice will be automatically downloaded, click “OK” to start the voice download

    Confirm at the next screen to install the Samantha voice by clicking “Install”

    When finished, verify that the voice is selected to use it as your default text to speech voice in Mac OS X, click “Play” to hear the voice sample

    With the voice active you can now use any of Mac OS X’s text to speech abilities to hear Siri talk to you.

    There are tons of other voices to add as well, but keep in mind that each voice is fairly large weighing in around 500MB each. If you want to be conservative with hard disk space it’s possible to delete voices you aren’t using, though it’s always a good idea to keep at least one installed at all times.

    We casually mentioned this when showing how to use text to speech in iOS, but apparently we haven’t addressed it directly.


    6-4-12

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    Create a Sorted Applications Launcher & App Menu for the Mac OS X Dock



    If you keep the Applications folder in the OS X Dock for quick app launching you’ve probably noticed it’s just a giant list of all the apps installed. Sure you can change the display to use a grid, list, or fan, but if you have a lot of apps you’ll still end up with a humungous unsorted launcher with a lot of apps you probably don’t want in there.

    Here’s an easy way to get around those limitations and annoyances by creating a separate app launcher for the Dock that is sorted by defined categories, featuring only the applications you want. This is perfect for anyone with large amounts of apps installed who likes to keep things organized.

    First things first, pull the existing Applications folder out of the Dock

    Now create a new folder, preferably somewhere in the users Home directory like ~/Documents/ and name it “Applications”

    Within the newly created Applications folder, create subfolders for app categories, like “Productivity”, “Games”, “Music”, etc

    Open the primary Applications folder in a new window (Command+N followed by Command+Shift+A), and then drag and drop apps from the primary Applications directory to the respective categories folders you just created – in OS X 10.7 and 10.8 this automatically creates aliases rather than moving the app out of the Application folder, earlier versions of OS X will want to manually create aliases with Command+L

    Repeat until you are satisfied with the sorting, and then drag the sorted Applications alias directory to the OS X Dock

    Right-click on the new Applications folder and choose “List” as the view type

    Click to use the newly sorted and well organized Mac app launcher

    You may want to remove the “alias” reference from each app name, or rename them as you see fit in general. Additionally you can complete the overhaul by copying the primary Applications folder icon to the sorted folder of aliases, this gives the appearance of it being the normal Application directory.

    If you keep the Dock hidden by default don’t forget to remove the hide and show delays for much quicker Dock access too, it makes menus like these even more useful by rapidly speeding up their accessibility.


    6-5-12

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    Remove the Auto-Hiding Dock Delay in Mac OS X



    If you use a hidden Dock in Mac OS X, you can speed up the time it takes to show the Dock with a defaults write command. This command removes the delay from when a cursor is hovered near the Dock location and to when it’s displayed, it doesn’t change the animation speed of the dock sliding in and out itself.

    Remove the Delay for Auto-Hide & Auto-Show of Dock

    Launch the Terminal and enter the following defaults write command:

    defaults write com.apple.Dock autohide-delay -float 0 && killall Dock

    The tail end of the command includes killall which will cause the Dock to relaunch in order for changes to take effect. After it has been refreshed, hover over the area of the screen where the Dock is hidden and you’ll notice it shows up immediately, without the fraction of a second delay.

    This tip also impacts how to show the Dock in a full screen app, preventing the need for a double-swipe down when in full screen mode, and instead displaying the Dock instantly with a hover in the region.

    Return to Default Dock Hide/Show Delay

    To return to the default setting and autohide delay, go back to the Terminal and enter the following command:

    defaults delete com.apple.Dock autohide-delay && killall Dock

    The Dock will again relaunch and settings will return to their default state.


    6-5-12

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