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Mac OS X Panther Hacks
By Rael Dornfest, James Duncan Davidson
June 2004
More Info

How do these hacks stand up? Comment on a hack from the book by choosing the associated "Discuss" link below. You can also view the code from any of the hacks by clicking on the "Listing" or "Code" links. A number of hacks have been selected to be featured online in their entirety; you may view those hacks by clicking on the hack titles that are linked.

You can also download all the scripts and other files for this book here.

Jump to: GUI  | Scripting  | Web, Chat, and Mail  | Multimedia  | Gadgets and Hardware  | Networking and Network Apps  | Servers  | Files and Backup  | System Administration

GUI

HACK
#1

Enjoy the Animations
Mac OS X is full of little touches that, while sometimes silly, make the overall experience a little more fun
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#2

Spice Up Your Desktop
Go beyond the Dock and menu extras to turn your entire Desktop into an information billboard
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#3

Use Labels Effectively
Labels aren't just for neat-freaks; they're also an effective way to keep track of what's in your queue
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#4

Launchers, or, Dial &command;-Space M for Mail
Two Dock alternatives, LaunchBar and Quicksilver, put applications, URLs, contacts, and just about anything else you might want within easy reach from your keyboard
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#5

Wear Multiple Hats, Run Multiple Desktops
Stretch your screen real estate up to 100 times its size and organize different views of your workspace with virtual desktop software
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#6

Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts
Go beyond the menu, keep your hands on the keyboard at all times, and work faster than before
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#7

Tweak Menu Extras
Tweak two menu extras to make the most of the space available on your menu bar
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#8

Incorporate Services into Your Workflow
The Services menu is an integral part of the tricked-out Mac OS X environment
[Discuss (2) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#9

Autocomplete Your Words
Use old-school hacker word completion in modern GUI applications
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#10

Get Sidetracked
SideTrack makes your tired trackpad go to 11, adding scroll areas, extra buttons, keystroke equivalents, and more
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#11

eMac, Meet eBook
Turn your Mac into a big, beautiful e-book reader, thanks to the wonders of Preview
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#12

Build Your Own Konfabulator Widget
Build a Konfabulator widget (which we will call HAWG) and display a window with the top three processor hogs on your system
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

Scripting

HACK
#13

A Hacker's Introduction to AppleScript
Bootstrap your AppleScript with this introduction by Matt Neuburg, author of AppleScript: The Definitive Guide
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#14

AppleScript the GUI
Expand your automation options by getting GUI with applications not otherwise readily AppleScript-able
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#15

Fulfill Wishes with Address Book
This hack will find anyone in your Address Book that has an Amazon Wish List, but it's up to you buy them something!
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#16

Fetch the Paper, AppleScript Style
Download web pages to your laptop or iPod for morning reading on the bus, train, plane, or ferry
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#17

Batch-Convert Screenshots to JPEGs
Drag PDFs into a folder and make use of Apple's Image Events and Folder Actions to automatically convert them into JPEGs
The Code
[Discuss (2) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#18

Build AppleScript Apps with FaceSpan
FaceSpan is a self-contained program-building environment that leverages the power of AppleScript to build standalone Cocoa applications
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#19

Mac::Glue Your Perl
Mac::Glue makes the Mac sticky enough to entice even this wiley Perl hacker
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#20

Update iChat Status with Mac::Glue
Keep your many committed fans apprised of what you're doing at just this moment in time, as reflected in your iChat status
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#21

Hack Your Address Book with Perl
Perl, with a little glue, can interact directly with Mac's built-in applications' databases
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#22

Manipulate Images on the Command Line
Tap into the power of Quartz to poke, prod, and manipulate images from the command line
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#23

Script CoreGraphics with Python
Use Python 2.3 and its interface to the CoreGraphics library to rescale and decorate images for publication on the Web
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#24

Tap RSS with Shell Scripts
A little shell scripting can go a long way. It can get you the latest Slashdot news at your fingertips whenever you drop down to the Mac OS X Terminal
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#25

Add a Dab of GUI to Unix Scripts
Build a graphical dialog front-end to your Unix scripts with just a snippet of Perl or Python glue code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#26

Automatically Dim Your Laptop Screen
Those of us with laptops are always trying to maximize the amount of time we can run on battery power. One of the most important ways to minimize power consumption is to dim your screen
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

Web, Chat, and Mail

HACK
#27

Hack Safari
Squeeze all you can out of Safari, the venerable Mac web browser. Combine keyboard shortcuts, alternatives to Google, debugging features, and live dictionaries for browsing to the ndegree
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#28

Browse Different
If you are still using Internet Explorer on Panther, I have good news for you: your turtle of a web browser that slowly loads the Internet like the prehistoric pre-Panther piece of abandoned bloatware that it is is about to be replaced by a fast speedy little fox: Firefox
[Discuss (1) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#29

Avoid the Ads
Speed up and tone down the Web by filtering out annoying banner ads, pop-ups, and unwanted Flash and MIDI files
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#30

Read Syndicated Online Content
The syndicated news reader is to syndicated content from weblogs, web sites, and online magazines as newsreaders are to Usenet news of old
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#31

Breathe Life into Your Staid Buddy List
Why settle for a boring old "Available" message and equally staid iChat buddy icon when you can stream your mug and status live to your loyal fans?
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#32

Better iChat Transcripts
Browse and search your iChat conversations and even export them as plain text or, with a little AppleScript magic, web pages
The Code
[Discuss (1) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#33

Gather Ye Buddies While Ye May
Keep those Rendezvous buddies, even when you're not on the same local network
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#34

USB Videoconferencing
Coax iChat into treating your old USB webcam as a legitimate video input source
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#35

Provide Remote Support
As any tech support person can tell you, the hardest part of helping somebody with her computer remotely is getting the person on the other side to give you the right information. Thankfully, there are a few tools at your disposal to help
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#36

IRC: Chatrooms for Hackers
Leave the safety of your iChat buddy list and step out for an evening of conversation in the world of Inter-Relay Chat
[Discuss (16) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#37

Label Your Mail
Bring Eudora's colorful labels to your Mail messages, and learn a little something about the Scripts menu and keyboard shortcuts in the process
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#38

Search Your Mail with ZOË
Google's Gmail service offers a gigabyte of email storage and full-text searching of all your messages since the dawn of time—at least since you started using Gmail. ZOË brings an analogue to your very Desktop
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#39

Encrypt and Sign Your Mail
Sign and seal your email with a personal certificate before sending it out into the wild and wooly Internet
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#40

Interleave Mail and Pine
Use Mac OS X's Mail and Terminal-based Pine email applications interchangeably as the mood strikes
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

Multimedia

HACK
#41

Build a Household MP3 Server
Turn just about any Mac into an iTunes-powered jukebox and bring your home alive with the sound of streaming music
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#42

Clutter Your Desktop with Music
Neatness sometimes just doesn't count, particularly when it comes to artistic expression. Clutter your Desktop with click-to-play album covers from your iTunes library
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#43

Feed Streaming Audio to Your iPod
Capture an Internet audio stream to an MP3 file, save the file to your hard drive, and automatically upload those files to your iPod when it connects to your computer
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#44

Autofeed Text to your iPod
Place RSS and text files into your iPod automatically, or convert them to audio files
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#45

Automate a Web Photo Gallery with iPhoto and Perl
If iPhoto is working nicely as your digital shoebox, but you want to automate the process of creating web galleries for your own server, here's a nifty setup using sendmail, MySQL, and Perl
The Code
[Discuss (1) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#46

Keep a Digital Diary
Diaries enable us to document the big and little moments in life. And your pocket digital camera might be the greatest journaling tool of all
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#47

Rendezvous Picture Transfer
Everybody is using their Mac for storing and sorting photographs. But what if the device you want to get a picture from is connected to a different Mac? Rendezvous to the rescue!
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#48

Rotate Your Movie from Horizontal to Vertical
Who says you have to shoot all your movies horizontally? Just as with stills, sometimes it's fun to turn the camera on its side. But when you upload your movies to your computer, they're turned the wrong way! Here's how to fix that
[Discuss (1) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#49

Store Pictures and Movies in Your iPod
Yes, iPods make terrific digital music players. They're also not so bad for storing movies and pictures from your digicam
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

Gadgets and Hardware

HACK
#50

Expand Your Screen Real Estate
Don't let a simple matter of screen real estate get in your mouse's way when you have a second display at hand
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#51

iPod Tips and Tricks
There's nothing worse than when your trusty iPod starts acting up. It's like an angel falling from grace. Here's what to do when you need to take action and restore your iPod to its lofty place
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#52

Build an Emergency iPod Boot Volume
An emergency iPod boot volume can be just the thing when your drive goes south
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#53

Pair and iSync with Bluetooth Devices
You have a Bluetooth-enabled Mac and a Bluetooth-enabled cellphone, PDA, or other device, but how can you team them up to do something useful?
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#54

Use Your Cellphone as a Bluetooth Modem
Avoid the WiFi HotSpot hop and take the Internet on the road with you wherever you might find yourself: on a bus, train, or walk in the woods
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#55

Share Your Mac's Net Connection with a Bluetooth Phone
Instead of wasting time and kilobytes on GPRS, use the Bluetooth functionality of your mobile phone to access your Mac's Internet connection
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#56

Control Your Mac with a PDA
With your Palm as remote control and your Mac a few feet away, you have a powerful presentation tool at hand
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#57

Listen to Bluetooth
Using iChat AV with a Bluetooth-enabled headset has great potential and some immediate benefits. We wrestled with the configuration and show you what works, what almost works, and what to look out for
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#58

Print Without Wires
WiFi Internet and long battery life have freed us from the wires that bind us while we work on our laptops—except, that is, when we want to print. Here's how to cut the printing umbilical cord and generate documents with wireless freedom
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#59

Zip, Zap, and Sync Your Gizmos
Charge and sync your gizmos without toting that weighty and ungainly tangle of chargers, cradles, and cables. Behold the magic—and power—of USB
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#60

iOscillate
Get in enough face time with your fans by means of an iSight, an oscillating fan, a little ingenuity, and a well-developed sense of play
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

Networking and Network Apps

HACK
#61

Share Your Address Book and iCal
Use iSync's machine-to-machine synchronization to share your Address Book and iCal calendars with your boss, assistant, spouse, or housemates (if you're just that close)
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#62

Collaborative Editing with Rendezvous
Using Rendezvous-based collaborative editing tools, you can share the job of taking notes at a meeting with a peer or build an augmented transcript of a conference session with those around you
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#63

See Spike Share His Clipboard
Share text snippets, images, documents, and files of any type with Spike, a peer-to-peer networked clipboard
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#64

Detect Wireless Networks
Learn all about the networks available in your area
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#65

Secure Your AirPort Network with WPA
Move over WEP; now there's something far more secure. Wireless Protected Access on your AirPort extreme base station will keep those snoops next door from watching while you browse, email, and chat
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#66

Manage Multiple AirPort Base Stations
Managing one AirPort Base Station is easy enough, but managing multiple stations can be an exercise in repetition. But it doesn't have to be
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#67

Access Remote Desktops
Whether you need to administer multiple computers in the workplace or classroom, or connect to that Unix fileserver or Windows print server downstairs, remote desktop software will make your life easier
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

Servers

HACK
#68

Apache Behind the Scenes
To go beyond the basics of using the world-class web server built into Mac OS X, you'll have to learn a bit about its configuration files
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#69

Turn on WebDAV
Share a space on your web server for remote file sharing and collaboration
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#70

Turn on PHP
PHP is a fabulous scripting language for beginners to try their hands at serving up dynamic web content
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#71

Advertise Web Sites with Rendezvous
Announce your web site to all the other Macs on your local network
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#72

Set Up a Postfix Mail Server
Previous versions of Mac OS X shipped with the powerful, but complicated, sendmail. Now, Mac OS X comes with Postfix to handle your SMTP needs
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#73

Relay Mail with Postfix
Once you have configured Postfix to send and receive mail, the next step is to let it relay mail for you when you are using a different machine
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#74

Set Up Secondary Mail Servers
The problem with running your own mail server is that sometimes the connection to it goes down. When this happens, mail bounces—not a good thing. To prevent this, you'll need to set up a secondary mail server
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#75

Create Mail Aliases
Email aliases direct mail sent to webmaster@, me@, and so forth to the right email address
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#76

Set Up IMAP and POP Mail Servers
There's tremendous value in having all your email with you at all times. Unfortunately, this usually means being tied to a particular mail client. IMAP allows you to have this particular cake and eat it too. This hack focuses on IMAP but installs POP along the way, since it's just so simple to do
[Discuss (1) | Link to this hack]

Files and Backup

HACK
#77

Synchronize Your Files
If you own multiple Macs, keeping all of your work everywhere can be challenging. But a couple of tools can help you work seamlessly between PowerBook and PowerMac
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#78

Edit Special Unix Files
Special Unix files need special handling. You can't simply edit them in Word and expect things to work. Here's a crash course in editing using the pico command-line editor and TextEdit GUI editor
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#79

Find and Unerase Misplaced and Deleted Files
Several options are available for recovering data that has been taken down by a crashing app, mistakenly erased, or simply misplaced somewhere on one of your many memory cards, USB jump drives, and external drives
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#80

Store and Search Your Records as PDF
Replace paper with PDF and keep your files with you without the weight of the filing cabinets
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#81

Flex OmniOutliner
When is an outliner not just an outliner? When it can as easily export to your iPod as your calendar, lay the groundwork for an amazing presentation, and perform feats of calculation usually found in a spreadsheet
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#82

Decide What to Back Up
The toughest part of backing up is figuring out what needs to be saved and what can be safely lost
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#83

Automate Backups with Existing Tools
You don't have to buy fancy software to perform backups. There's a whole slew of tools already installed on your Mac
The Code
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#84

Back Up Your Digital Music Collection
Hard drives don't last forever, so it's best to start thinking now about how you can safely back up your digital tunes
[Discuss (4) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#85

Make a Carbon Copy
Use Carbon Copy Cloner, Apple Software Restore, and Disk Utility to back up and (more importantly) restore your hard drive and important data
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#86

Bluetooth File Exchange and Browsing
Rendezvous and wireless networks have made it easier than ever to swap files. But if your Mac is Bluetooth-enabled, there's an easier way, if all you want to do is quickly swap a file
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#87

Secure File Sharing with SSH
Do you distrust AFP's built-in security? Good. Use SSH to secure your shares or even access them safely over the Internet
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

System Administration

HACK
#88

Become an Administrator for a Moment
Your Mac does its best to protect you from yourself and your family by requiring authentication, both in the GUI and on the command line, when you're about to do something potentially problematic
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#89

Understand Your User Account
Before Mac OS X was released, there wasn't really a concept of a user or account in the Macintosh environment. This hack introduces you to what it means to have an account and what this business of a Home directory is all about
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#90

Rename a User Account
While OS X makes it easy to create new accounts, alter their capabilities, or change and delete their passwords, it's less than helpful when it comes to renaming an account (i.e., changing its Short Name)
[Discuss (1) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#91

Use the Terminal
Much of a Mac user's life is spent using the GUI. But under the Technicolor surface lies the command-line environment, which gives you access to the nuts and bolts of the system
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#92

Set Shell Environment Variables
An environment variable is a magical piece of invisible data that is acted upon by shell programs and utilities that look for its existence. They're innocent enough, and you rarely interact with them, but they can prove to be quite powerful and time-saving when used as part of your daily lifestyle
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#93

A Security Primer
This hack provides a hands-on overview of the security tools built into your Mac OS X computer, including recommendations for best practices to protect your data and identity in a potentially dangerous world
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#94

Stash Data in the Keychain
An overlooked location to store personal data securely is in the same place that the system uses to store your passwords: the Keychain
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#95

Panther Maintenance
Maintaining good computer hygiene keeps your system humming along smoothly without gathering the digital moss that usually accumulates over time, updates, and everyday usage
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#96

Use iCal to Schedule Tasks
iCal can keep not only your appointments in check, but also the appointments of your system
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#97

Use periodic to Schedule Tasks
periodic, as the name suggests, makes sure important system tasks run on a regular basis
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#98

Use cron to Schedule Tasks
Use the venerable built-in scheduling tool to execute various tasks when you want them to run
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#99

Reinstall Mac OS X
One of the least appealing system administration tasks is reinstalling the operating system. Here's a checklist for you to use when you have to perform this tedious chore
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]

HACK
#100

Bypass the GUI
Bypass the beautiful Aqua GUI for those die-hard command-line fans
[Discuss (0) | Link to this hack]


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