OS haX: Undocumented, inaccessible, and incredibly useful

As enjoyable as Apple’s software is to use, they like to make us work.  Hidden below the surface of most Apple software are hundreds of undocumented little “switches” which can be turned on to enable new sooper-seekrit features.  By the same token, these switches can be disabled to remove unwanted behavior or features from applications.

Today i offer to you my personal collection of must-have haX and helpful/fun tweaks.

All of these tips require a brief visit to the Command Line Interface, that dark & scary screen that computer nerds on TV are always staring into.  The Terminal application for accessing the command-line can be found in the Applications folder inside Utilities.  But don’t fret too much, for one thing, command-line hacking is fun and sexy!  And i’ll make the tutorials real simple for you, you can cut & paste, right?

Quicklook into folders (without a plugin)

By default Apple’s whizbang file preview utility doesn’t peer into folders, although there are Quicklook plugins that will provide this function.  This hack will display folder contents in a very simple fashion, not a super-powerful tweak, but certainly useful for at-a-glance peeks into folders.

1. Quit/Relaunch Finder using the Force Quit menu
2. Open Terminal
3. Paste (or type) the following command:

defaults write com.apple.Finder QLEnableXRayFolders 1

4. Relaunch Finder

Note to Path Finder users:  It works for us too!

quit finderAdd Quit to the Finder menu

Do you ever need to quit the Finder?  It is just another application that runs on your Mac after all.  Albeit, one that runs constantly.  But no ill will come to you if you quit it, and in some cases, it’s useful to be able to do this.  This command will add Quit to the Finder menu, it will also allow you to use the command + Q keyboard shortcut.

1. Quit/Relaunch Finder using the Force Quit menu
2. Open Terminal
3. Paste (or type) the following command:

 defaults write com.apple.Finder QuitMenuItem 1

4. Relaunch Finder

Another note to Path Finder users:  If you REALLY want to marginalize the Finder, there are much hackier ways to remove the Finder entirely from the GUI.

iTunes_arrows_ACKRemove the iTunes arrows

In this next hack, lets turn OFF one of the more obnoxious pieces of visual clutter in iTunes, those pesky iTunes Store arrows that appear next to EVERY SINGLE track, artist and album.

1. Quit/Relaunch Finder using the Force Quit menu (OR the new Quit menu option 😉
2. Open Terminal
3. Paste (or type) the following command:

defaults write com.apple.iTunes show-store-arrow-links -bool FALSE

4. Relaunch Finder

Change your login screen background

This one is just for fun, but it can be pretty fun.  It is also a useful hack for office workgroup computers that spend their off-hours sitting on the login screen.  I like to replace the wallpaper to reflect the companies branding.  For this tip you’ll need to first pick a wall paper image to use, then place it in a folder that the system will be able to access, i recommend the /Users/Shared folder.  In the example below be sure to replace mynewbackground.jpg with the filename that you are actually using!

1.Open Terminal

2. To change background img:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow DesktopPicture /Users/Shared/mynewbackground.jpg

3. To reset:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow DesktopPicture /Library/Desktop\ Pictures/Aqua\ Blue.jpg

You’ll obviously need to log out to see this in effect.

Do you have some defaults tricks that you like?  Please share in the comments, i love new tips and know what/how folks use them.

1 comment to OS haX: Undocumented, inaccessible, and incredibly useful

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