With its Unix underpinnings, Mac OS X makes the Macintosh splendidly hackable. There’s an amazing amount of stuff you can do if you’re of a mind to explore. Of course, for every goodie Unix brings to the Mac, the Mac also brings one to Unix. Thousands of longtime Unix and Linux users are finding that OS X is the Unix they’ve been searching for all their lives.
Whether you’re a Unix user coming to the Mac, or a Mac user discovering Unix, Mac OS X Hacks is the perfect companion. Here are scores of great tips, ideas, and scripts for making OS X jump through hoops.
Some of this is about being more productive; some of it’s about solving problems; some of it’s about doing things you never imagined possible. And the range is truly remarkable: from Web to email, scheduling to GUI mods, shell scripts to hardware tweaking.
The backup tips on page 4 give you a sense of this book’s approach. Everyone hates backups: let’s automate it. If you’ve sprung for a $99 annual .Mac subscription, you’ve got 100 megs online and simple personal backup software. But if not? Well, you could use the hack the authors point you to online… or spring for Retrospect Express… or you could use psync, the free, Perl-based open source backup solution. (There’s even an Aqua front end.)
You’ll learn how to cope with scrambled linebreaks (one place where Unix and Macs don’t meld happily); how to fiddle with type/creator codes and file extensions; and how to inspect .app packages (the closest thing to the classic Mac Resource Fork).
Ever get a CD or DVD stuck in your drive? Forget finding a paperclip: eject that disk from Terminal. Need to open a Word document without Word? Here’s a freeware filter that lets any Cocoa application retrieve just the text from any Word document.
The goodies go on and on. How to mount one Mac’s drive onto another Mac, via FireWire. How to add a firmware-based password. How to keep your Stickies organized. How to print not only to PDF but also to TIFF. Software for downloading streamed audio. Scripting Apple’s speech recognition. Prying the “chrome” off an application. Resurrecting the handwriting technology once used in Apple’s long-lost Newton.
You’ll discover a $10 software package that lets you do video “pans and scans” of still photos -- great for making Ken Burnsstyle documentaries. How to stream your own private playlists 24/7 to any Web device in your house, using Apple’s free QuickTime server.
And here’s a hack for the ages: a nifty Perl CGI script that controls iTunes remotely across a wireless AirPort network, through the Apache web server running on your Mac. Believe it!
There’s a full chapter on Terminal. Another, on networking, covers everything from VPN connections to running a remote Windows program from your Mac. You’ll learn how to protect against Entourage database disasters; search Google without opening a browser; send a file to your iChat buddy; read syndicated blog content; even install the MySQL and PostgreSQL databases. If you appreciate a good Mac hack, here are 100 of the best. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.