For quite a long Rob Griffiths and his thrice-weekly Mac OS X Hints blog posts have been a great resource for Mac users all over the world looking for some insight into little known features, tips, tricks and hints having to do with everything Mac OS X. Many have been saddened to learn he will be leaving Macworld to pursue a career with Many Tricks, after a ten year stint with macosxhints.com, and 5 years with Macworld. Luckily, before leaving he would offer up his collection of favorite Mac OS X Hints(Below). Thank Rob for these great tips, tricks, and hints!

  • Run a screensaver as your desktop background: This one is still my all-time-favorite hint for showing off the power of OS X. It lets you run a screensaver as your desktop “image,” complete with full motion. When I first wrote about this, this trick took 50% of the CPU power of a G4/733MHz machine. Now it takes around 1% to 3% of my 2.66GHz MacBook Pro’s CPU. Very fun!
  • Quicker custom icons: A simple timesaver to ease creation of custom icons. On a related note, I also really like the Easily view an application’s icons hint, which explains how to quickly see all the icons—including the glorious 512×512 versions—for any application.
  • The color picker: The color picker—that small dialog that appears when you want to pick a color for fonts, boxes, and so on—is amazingly powerful, but surprisingly few people know all of its tricks. Secrets of the color picker revealed many of those tricks. Later, I explained how to use images in the color picker.
  • Safely modify Apple’s widgets: I love to muck about with stuff in the system, and Dashboard widgets are a favorite target. Because they’re mainly HTML, CSS, and Javascript, it’s possible to change how they look and work with some minor tweaks. The linked hint explains how to do that safely, and includes links to a sampling of modifications.
  • Display info in the login window: You may know you can cycle the information you see in the login window, but did you know you can permanently change what appears there? I have mine set to show the date and time, which seems much more useful than the machine name.
  • Change the login window background: While I love Apple’s desktop pictures, I’d really rather see one of my own when I’m on the login screen. This hint explains the safest way to change it in OS X 10.5 and newer.
  • Limit the bash shell’s prompt length: If you spend much time in Terminal, and navigate into deeply-buried folders, the path that shows as part of the prompt can get really long. This hint explains how to limit its length. Note the instructions are a bit out of date—you’ll be editing .profile, not .bash_profile, but the rest should work as described.
  • Terminally fun Friday: A couple fun examples of completely non-productive things you can do in Terminal. If you want even more Terminal fun, how about a text-based adventure game?
  • Force Mail to go ‘old school’: Old school as in nothing but monospaced text. This hint forces Mail to ignore all formatting commands in e-mails and display them in plain text…the way all us old fogies prefer to read our e-mail.
  • Hints about sound levels: There are two volume-level hints that I really like. The first is an odd, but definitely not-a-bug, behavior of the Mute key on your keyboard: you can use it to set a super-quiet volume level—something above Mute but below the first bar of the onscreen slider showing volume levels. Speaking of the onscreen slider, you can change that in fine-grained increments, instead of one full block at a time.

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