Monthly Archive: October 2009

Snow Leopard broke my Finder habits

One thing that I’m noticing about Snow Leopard is that there are some subtle changes in the way the Finder works, that break habits I have. I don’t like the changes, I can’t see why they’re positive.

File copying: These are the most annoying things. If you have a couple of file copies running and one completes, the Copy window showing the progress comes to the front, disrupting anything you may be doing (e.g., naming a folder, which then gets named based on however far you got when the Copy window decided to assert itself). Further, there is some kind of weird (but not very accurate) file tracking that copying now does, so the window you copy a file into scrolls down to someplace like where the file landed, once the copy completes. Often it, or nearby files, will also be selected. There are no obvious preference settings to change this back to the way it was (basically: copy and do nothing else, don’t try to show me what a good job you’ve done when you’re finished). The worst thing is that it is often quite inaccurate, with unrelated things winding up selected (I assume because I copied a couple of things into the window and it was selecting based on the original state of the window). It’s also much harder to drag something into a window full of folders. There used to be kind of a “sweet spot” on the edge you could drag to in order to select the window rather than one of the folders within it. It’s still there, but it seems to be much smaller.

File renaming: Sometimes I have, say, an .mp4 file that I want to rename to be an .m4v file. You can rename it in the Finder, and you’ll get a dialog box coming up to say: “You sure? That’s going to change what kind of file this is treated as.” The default option is: “No, I’m not sure, keep the old file extension.” I used to be able to hit Tab to move the selection over to “Yes, I’m sure, use the new file extension” and then Space to confirm. Now, the Tab key does nothing, I have to mouse over there to click “Yes, use.” Update: Thanks to Will Robertson, who pointed out in a comment that this dialog can be completely turned off in the Finder preferences, in the Advanced tab.

I’ll look around when I have time to see if there are any Terminal commands that can set these as preferences, though I’m not sure there will be.

The pointless power to set the primary email address on Address Book cards

People have a lot of email addresses, but sometimes they prefer to use one over the other. I generally like to send email to people using the address they last used to write to me (e.g., students have an official university email account, but also a gmail account, etc.). The Mac OS X Address Book has its own ideas about this, and sometimes it won’t pick the right one.

Oddly enough, there is a setting in the Address Book for primary email and phone, but there is no way to change this setting from the Address Book itself. I found two plugins that appear to have promise. They both do basically the same thing. Once the plugin is installed, go to an Address Book card, right-click on the email address (when the card is not in editing mode) and choose “Make primary” (or observe that the card “is primary”).

The first is the Set Primary Addresses plugin by Robert Stainsby, which I have used in the past, I thought successfully. It currently requires that you run Address Book in 32-bit mode, but that’s do-able.

The second is the Address Book plugin from ProjectWizards (created in support of a program they sell) that does the same trick, and doesn’t seem to require 32-bit mode.

However, this didn’t seem really to solve the problem. Sure, now I can make different email addresses primary, but Mail.app itself doesn’t seem to make use of this information. The best I was able to do was to set the address in the Address panel (Window -> Address Panel, or Command-option-A); for people with multiple addresses, you can pick which one you want to use and it will remember your choice. It only works from the Address panel, though; if you start typing in a person’s name in the “to” field, it will still list the options in a fixed order (shortest first?) with the first one as default, regardless of what is set in the Address panel or what is set as primary.

This seems kind of dopey to me. It looks like the choice in the Address panel does stick, so perhaps I can train myself to address my emails with that, though it requires extra keystrokes to call it up and dismiss it. Any ideas about how to make this work with the primary address are welcome.

Addendum: I think that the (not very intuitively named) “Edit distribution list” will perform the same task that the Address panel does in Mail. But it seems to still only take effect when you send to a group that includes the person. Dragging the person’s address card into a Mail message does not seem to respect this choice.

Is this really such a weird thing to want to do?

Too many Twitter clients + password change = lockout

Thinking I was doing a good thing, I changed my pretty weak Twitter account password to a stronger one (since even if I can’t remember it, 1Password will do that for me). Problem is, I have many Twitter clients running (Tweetie on my laptop, and SimplyTweet, TweetDeck, and Tweetie on my iPhone). And, bang. Now I’m locked out due to too many invalid login attempts (as all of the clients kept trying to connect with my old password). I don’t know how long this will last, but I’ve waited a while and I still can’t get in via the web interface. I shut down my Mac client, I’ve moved my iPhone into airplane mode. But what a pain.

What’s worse, several of these clients don’t seem to have the option to start up without immediately pinging the API, before I get a chance to change the password it will use. I think I may have solved this using Keychain Access to update my password for each Twitter client that saved it there, but not all of the iPhone apps have the account settings available via Settings.

According to Twitter help, the lockout period is an hour. Neat.

Thanks to KeyRemap4MacBook, I have my en-dashes back

Maybe I’m kind of a typography snob, but it just looks wrong to me when a range of numbers is indicated with a simple hyphen. When I’m typing a bibliography or something, I always use en-dashes. There used to be an easy way to do that, and it became a habitual thing in my typing: Command-fn-;, which is Command-Keypad-minus. Or it used to be.

A little while back, my mostly trusty white MacBook expired, and I replaced it with a new MacBook Pro. But the new MacBook Pro has no embedded numeric keypad. Why? Really, why? I don’t care if they don’t like the aesthetics of the little numbers on the keys, I can remember what a numeric keypad looks like. But, Apple actually removed the embedded keypad altogether from their new keyboards. So, now, I just wind up typing semicolons where I wanted en-dashes. In many of the places around the web that I see complaints about this, the basic response was “who cares? I never used it anyway.” Which is fine, except for those of us who used it all the time.

I just now came across KeyRemap4MacBook. This is a preference pane which can do all kinds of crazy remappings, but the cool thing, at least in Snow Leopard, is that you don’t actually need to turn on any of the key mappings. Just by being installed at all, it re-enables the embedded numeric keypad.

I am pleased to report that, having installed it, it seems to work. Granted, I have only had it installed for about 10 minutes, but it does not seem to interfere with either Quicksilver activation (which I have set to a tap of the fn key) or Google Quick Search Box activation (which I have set to a double tap of command), which were two of the things I was most anticipating having some kind of conflict.

I can now go back to my subconscious automatic routines, let my fingers do what they want, and get en-dashes in all the right places.