How to tweak OS X Lion to disable window zooming and other eye-candy

lionDon’t like Mac OS X 10.7 Lion’s annoying window zoom effect for new windows? Thanks to Tomas Franz, you can disable it. Open Terminal (Applications > Utilities > Terminal) and copy and paste the following line:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool NO

You then need to restart any apps that are running for them to get the new setting.

Hurrah! Snappy window performance again.

Also, if you want to restore CMD+D to being “don’t save” as it was in previous versions of OS X, you can do that with this command:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSSavePanelStandardDesktopShortcutOnly -bool YES


HOW TO: set disk spindown time for hard drives in a Mac

I’ve recently installed an MCE Optibay with 750GB WD HDD into my new MacBook Pro, alongside the 512GB SSD I got from Apple, providing me with a beautiful 1.25TB of total storage in a slim MacBook Pro. (The MCE Optibay replaces the optical drive in the MacBook Pro, allowing you to install a second 2.5″ hard drive of your choice securely in its place.)

I’m planning to use the 750GB Optibay drive for storing music and video files, since they don’t need high performance, and the drive can be allowed to spin down when I’m not listening to music or watching videos, which seems like an ideal arrangement from a power efficiency perspective.

However, by default OS X seems to take about 10 minutes to spin down the drive after it was last accessed. I found a great tip on which describes how to set the system spindown time — you just open up a Terminal shell and type:

sudo pmset -a spindown 1

(where 1 is 1 minute; 0 disables entirely).

So now, my Optibay drive spins down one minute after it was last used — perfect! (Especially good since my MBP is near-silent with the SSD just in use, thanks to Apple’s really quiet fans when running at their default 2000rpm, and the WD hard drive in the Optibay is actually quite noisy — it’s an audial relief when it spins down!)

The same tip above can be used to disable spindown if you don’t want it to happen.

The only thing I’m wondering is what effect a spindown has on an SSD, if any. The value set using this tip is system-wide, affecting all hard drives, so if a spindown did happen to put the SSD into some sort of powersaving mode that might not be ideal, however, I haven’t noticed anything yet.

Fake Steve Jobs abuses CNBC anchor of being a patsy to Apple on his own TV show

The five screen shouting match between Dan Lyons (Fake Steve Jobs) and various CNBC anchors was gold, gold, gold!

Lyons: “there are two kinds of reporters who cover Apple. The kind who realize they’re getting snowed and they’re getting bullied and blocked out, and realize that a lot of what they’re being told is not true — and the other kind, who suck up in order to get access and end up getting played and punked. Like your Valley bureau chief got played and punked by Apple.”

I’ve gotta say, I 100% agree with Lyons on this one. The number of journos who say things like “Apple never comments so there’s no point even trying to get a comment from them” is disturbing. For some reason, just because Apple has obstructive PR policies worldwide, journalists forget their basic journalistic training and often just accept what they’re told.

Personally I love the stuff that Apple makes, and I wish them well as a company, but the brick wall PR strategy just makes me try 10 times harder to hold them accountable for product quality, truth in advertising, pricing, customer service and other important issues that all large companies should be scrutinised over.

Why Apple customers turn the other cheek

There’s an AP story doing the rounds on the web today looking at why Apple customers keep coming back for more, even when Apple ships products that are seriously flawed. Like MacBook Pros with endemic screen corruption. Or iPhone 3Gs with pathetic battery life. Or Mobile Me, which doesn’t work on so many levels.

To me the answer is obvious:

Apple is to Microsoft what a car is to a horse and cart. Unless the wheels fall off the car totally and the engine of the car blows up and can’t be repaired, you’re not going to go back to the horse and cart. In fact, even if your car did totally blow up, you’re not going to go back to the horse and cart. You’re going to try to find another car.

This is exactly why Apple users keep coming back for more. Despite Apple’s imperfections — which are HUGE — the product is still streets ahead of the fundamentally flawed products Microsoft churns out — Windows and Windows Mobile.

Make Safari use CMD+K for Google Search


One of the things that really annoys me about Apple Safari is that it doesn’t use the CTRL+K / CMD+K keyboard shortcut for activating the Google Search dialogue box, which is standard across most browsers — particularly Safari.

Instead, Safari makes you use CMD+Shift+L which is a “twister” of a keyboard shortcut — not very ergonomic.Â

Amusingly, in their efforts to make Firefox 3 more Mac-like, the Firefox team has implemented the CMD+Shift+L keyboard shortcut as an alternative to CMD+K in Firefox 3. However, I still much prefer CMD+K.Â

I found this great post over at 5thirtyone about how to make Safari recognise CMD+K as a keyboard shortcut for activating the Google Search box. It works a treat! Hurrah!

Fantastic collection of contextual menu items for Mac

Ever wanted to change the desktop picture in Mac OS X by selecting the file in the Finder, right clicking and selecting “set as Desktop Picture” from a context menu?Or perhaps select some files, then “move files to a new folder”, “create folder enclosing these files” or “make new folder for files”? (It’s about time Apple built a “move files” option into OS X rather than just having copy available via the GUI.)

The answers to these needs are at a great page listing various context menu plugins for Mac OS X. Check it out. The two mentioned above are DeskPicChangeCM and MoveItemsX.

I also discovered a wonderful program that sits in your menu bar and lets you change your desktop picture. It can change desktop pictures on a schedule, too (with very nice transitions). It’s called PictureSwitcher (pictured below). It’s $US30 shareware, which I will happily pay once I’ve got some damn money in the bank again 😉


And then there’s this handy Utility… Desktop 2 Login, which replaces the utterly hideous, gaudy, un-Apple-like purple starscape that sits behind the OS X login screen. It simply copies your current desktop picture to be displayed instead. Why couldn’t Apple have provided that as an option!! Grumble grizzle!

How to turn off slow sleep / hibernate mode on a MacBook Pro

Putting a Mac notebook to sleep is taking progressively longer and longer as time goes by. The reason? We’re all ordering notebooks with 2 to 4GB of RAM now, and by default, OS X writes the entire contents of memory to disk before going to sleep.

Since Apple is pretty good about force-sleeping the computer before the battery runs out entirely, it’s actually very rare to run out of battery altogether. I think in the entire time I’ve been using Macs, the safe sleep function has only been necessary once — and that was when I changed an old worn out battery over to a new one.

Fortunately, you can disable safe sleep mode, by entering the following into the terminal:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

If you want safe sleep mode back, just change the ‘0’ to a ‘3’.

Voila — your Mac will be back to the good old days of instant sleep.

There’s also a preference pane that can do this called Smartsleep, which lets you select a nice middle-ground: only use safe sleep mode if the battery is running low at the time you sleep the notebook. For me, who is usually plugged into the power point, that’s ideal!