Top tips for Mountain Lion: Apps

Macworld Australia Staff
25 December, 2012
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Whenever a new operating system comes out, Mac users madly scramble around looking for tips and tricks that will make using that OS easier and more efficient. The tips on this post range from basic to advanced, so we hope there’s something here for everyone.


Choose number of days displayed in Calendar

In iCal, you could access a hidden Debug menu that contained a number of interesting options. Apple has removed that menu in the new Calendar app, but you can still access some of its options.

For example, if you would like to view two weeks at a time in Calendar’s week view, quit Calendar, open Terminal, and type defaults write iCal CalUIDebugDefaultDaysInWeekView XX, replacing XX with the number of days you want
to display.

You can use really large values – 90, for instance, to display three months in a week view – but each day will be proportionately smaller.

If you don’t like the results you get, go back to Terminal and enter this line:

defaults write CalUIDebugDefaultDaysInWeekView 7

Then relaunch Calendar.

Combine multiple reminders

In the Reminders app, you can select several reminder lists by clicking on one of them and then c-clicking on others; similarly, you can select all of the lists by selecting one and then pressing c-A.

When you select multiple lists, the reminders from those various lists will display in one window. That combined list’s header will indicate the number of lists you’ve selected; reminders below that will be separated according to their original lists.

If you then click the Hide Lists button at the bottom left of the app, you get a neatly organised list of all of your unfinished tasks.

Add default fonts to Notes

Out of the ‘box’, Notes offers only three default fonts (Noteworthy, Marker Felt and Helvetica), and there’s no option in the app’s preferences or menus to change them or add others. There is, however, another way to add fonts.

Control-click (or right-click) on the Notes application, select Show Package Contents, and navigate to Contents/Resources/en.lproj/DefaultFonts. plist. Open this file in a text editor and look for three sets of text that each look like this:

<dict> <key>FontName</key>

<string>Noteworthy-Light</ string>


<integer>15</integer> </dict>

Copy one of those sections, paste it below those three sections, and edit its text to include your preferred font and size. (You can consult the lists in Font Book to get the names of your fonts.) Note that you can specify weight as part of the name: -Light, -Bold and so on.

Save the file (you’ll probably need to provide your administrator credentials), relaunch Notes, and then choose your new default font from Format > Font > Default Font.

Any PDF with lines and rectangles acts like a form in Preview

Any PDF file with horizontal lines and rectangles can be filled in as if it were a PDF form, even if it wasn’t originally intended to be used that way.

Clicking on a line opens a text field that’s the same width as the line. Clicking on a small rectangle toggles a checkmark; a rectangle large enough for text entry is treated not as a checkbox but as a text field the same width as the box. After you enter text on a line or in a text box, you can move the text elsewhere in the document and retain its formatting.

If you want to create an actual PDF form with entry lines and boxes, create a new document in Pages or Word, and add lines and rectangles. Try different sizes to see how they work. Press c-P, click on the PDF button at the bottom of the Print dialogue box, and choose ‘Save As PDF’. Open the PDF and start typing above horizontal lines and inside rectangles.

Pinch to zoom in TextEdit, Preview and Safari

You can use two-finger gestures to zoom in and out in TextEdit documents and in Preview: spread your fingers apart to zoom in, and pinch them together to zoom out.

This also works in Safari, as long as you have only one tab open. If you have multiple open tabs, this gesture does something different; see ‘View and select tabs with two-finger pinch’ on Page 40.

Quickly change outgoing email accounts

Prior to OS X Lion, you could create keyboard shortcuts for switching outgoing mail accounts. That ability vanished in Lion, but it’s back in Mountain Lion.

To implement it, go to the Keyboard pane of System Preferences and click on Application Shortcuts. Click on the plus-sign button (+), and choose Mail from the Application menu.

Then enter the name of your account exactly as it appears in the From pop-up menu when you create
a new message. It will look like this: first_name last_ name my_email@my_host. Make sure to include the angle brackets that enclose the email address and put a space before the first bracket. Choose a shortcut and then click Add.

To use your new shortcut, create a new message in Mail. If the default account isn’t the one you want to use, press your shortcut to select another account.

Collect RSS feed URLs from Mail

Mountain Lion removed RSS functionality from both Mail and Safari. To transfer your feeds to another RSS reader, you can collect all the URLs of your subscribed feed by running the following command in Terminal: pubsub list client com. apple.mail.

This produces a list of your feed names and their URLs. You can then copy the URLs for those feeds and add them to your chosen RSS reader app.

c-drag to Terminal to change directory

If you use Terminal, you probably already know that you can drag a file or folder onto the Terminal window to insert the item’s path in a command. With Mountain Lion, however, this method has changed slightly.

If you hold down the c key while dragging an icon to a Terminal window, that will change the current working directory to either the directory you dragged (if it’s a folder) or the directory containing the item you dragged (if it’s a file). This means Terminal not only accepts the path of the item, but also performs a cd command with that file.

As in earlier versions of OS X, you can also drag a folder onto the Terminal icon in the Dock to change the working directory for the command line. If you drag a file onto the Terminal icon, however, nothing happens.

Use Quick Look to view inline graphics in Messages

Previously in iChat, you could open the iChat File Transfers window, select a graphic someone had sent you in a chat, and then press the spacebar to preview it in Quick Look. In Mountain Lion, this no longer works. You can, however, click on the graphic in the Messages window, and then press the spacebar to view the image in Quick Look. You can also double- click the image to do the same thing; in iChat, this would open the image in Preview.

Drag emails to create reminders

Many people use their email inbox as a kind of to-do list. Using the Reminders app in OS X – and its ability to sync with the iOS version of the app via iCloud – you can convert such emails into Reminders tasks.

To do so, you just drag an email to the Reminders app. However, the process is a bit finicky.

First, if you want to add the email message to a list that has no reminders in it, you just drag the message from Mail to the name of the empty list in the Reminders section of Mail’s sidebar. (If lists aren’t showing, choose View > Show Sidebar.)

If you’re adding the message to a list that already contains one or more reminders, you can drag the message to the name of the list in the sidebar and the item will be added to the bottom of the list.

If you want to place it in a particular position in that task list, drag the message into the list itself and position it wherever you want. However you choose to place it, you can click the ‘Show In Mail’ link in the Reminders app to display the original message.

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