Mac OS X Questions
When I was new to the exciting world of Mac OS X, I created this page of
questions that I had about Mac OS X. Since then I've found some of the
answers and people have been kind enough to send me some answers. So,
even though I'm no longer new to OS X, I figure I should leave this page
here with those answers as a community service.
Unfortunately, I still finding the Mac OS X experience to be
very frustrating despite my familiarity with UNIX™
and Linux and my early exposure to the Xerox Star and Apple Lisa and now,
more than a year of constant use of Mac OS X. The following is a list of
questions, peeves and misunderstandings that I've run into and a few
answers. If you're an expert, feel free to pass on the asnwer to any of
the unanswered questions or any refinement on answered ones and I'll post
it under the question. I've tried to be as accurate as possible here,
but if some of my bold statements are wrong then please forgive my
ignroance and let me know so I can correct the page.
Questions that I have been lucky enough to find the answer for are
gray'ed out and the solutions should be indicated by a
happy face icon
How do I...
- start up a second copy of an already running application, but as root?
- For example, as a regular user, I already have jEdit running,
but don't have permission to edit a particular file. In Linux
land, I'd just
su to root and start a second jEdit
job, from which I could edit the file that the other jEdit job
couldn't. However I can't seem to be able to do the same trick in
OS X land. Using
sudo open -a
/Applications/jEdit/jEdit.app merely brings the existing
jEdit window to the front rather than creating a new job with root
works in the case of jEdit. Most other apps work in a similar
fashion. For example:
/AppPath/SomeApp.app/Contents/MacOS/SomeApp works for
SomeApp in general. jEdit is a little different because
it is a Java Application
- add to the effective host table?
- In regular UNIX, just adding hosts to the /etc/hosts file will
do the trick, but Mac OS X wants us to use an amazingly complex
system of settings in NetInfo to accomplish what should be a
- This has been fixed in 10.2 (A.K.A. Jaguar -- you
know, the one with the Leopard spots). Even though
the hosts file still claims to only work in single user mode, it
does, now, work in standard multiuser mode.
- An even better solution, however, is to use the
niload command to import host entries directly into
- execute a .app?
- For example jEdit installs a jEdit.app directory that you can
click on to start jEdit, but if you need to run a second copy as
the root user, there's no shell script to execute. How can I type
something at the command line to run the resource bundle?
- Oops, this was obvious... use the
- record Text-To-Speech as a .wav file?
- Since the release of OS X 10.2, this has been possible, but not
widely known. It can be done simply using AppleScript, but there
are also other tools available. Solutions include:
a free utility to record systen audio.
- iSpeak It
commercial text to speach app. Haven't tried it myself.
free Apple scripts to render speech from text as
- set the monitor power/sleep button to put just the
display to sleep and not my machine?
- Lifeng Tian pointed out that in 10.3.4 Apple has added this as an
option in System Preference - Energy Saver - Options - Allow power
button to sleep computer.
- Set the monitor and CPU power button lights to not be so bright that
they cast shadows at night? It would be really nice if I couldn't see
the pulsing of the computer under the desk in my dining room from my
bedroom, even when the door is shut!
- get OmniOutliner to recognize .scriptSuite files?
- get the pointer back when it's been "lost"?
- Sometimes the mouse pointer disappears (typically on restart).
Solaris has a utility to restore the pointer if lost. Mac OS X
needs one too.
- It would also be helpful if it was easier to
exit/restart/shutdown using the keyboard only, especially from the
- From the login screen
will pop-up the restart/shutdown window.
Then hitting the 'R' key will restart the
machine. Just setting it up so that the tab
key also cycled throught the buttons instead
of just the text fields would have been a
much better solution.
- add root to the login window?
- Apple doesn't want you to be able to login to a GUI
session as root, so this isn't really doable. Using
su is the only reasonable way to work as root in a
GUI session. To kick off GUI programs, you need to go into the
Contents/MacOS directory to find the actual
- set an image's icon to a thumbnail of the image?
- Open image, copy contents, bring up "Get Info"
window in the Finder, select icon, paste
- set all folders except the actual desktop to show
defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
works fine to set hidden files visible in all finder windows, but
it also makes them visible in the desktop.
- Can this setting be reversed for JUST the desktop?
- stop a finder network search? (eg: did a
lookup server - nfs://192.168.0.2/eCSProgs/, and the finder
spinning colour icon appeared and stayed for an inordinate amout of
- Duh! Use
kill to kill the
- remove a Quicktime icon that I don't want any more (eg:
- Not required anymore because QuickTime player has been changed.
- get more of those auto releasing cable ties that came with the monitor
- wake on LAN?
- Open multiple windows of an application in different views?
- for example, if you have multiple Mozilla windows open in
one view, then switch to another view and try to open just
one of those Mozilla windows, then you will get them all.
There doesn't seem to be a way to get it to open just one
window in a particular view.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- keep it from opening up the window (as opposed to the document
- Get it to work right with the cinema HD format monitor.
Peeves, Problems and Suggesions for Improvement
- Shouldn't have to pay for Jaguar!!!
- Peer-to-peer networking doesn't work in Darwin despite the claims
by Apple that Mac OS X works with windows networks, so the networking
fixes in Jaguar are BUG FIXES, not new features.
This is stuff that is currently broken! I should be demanding my
money back, not paying for an upgrade! This is outrageous.
- Even if Apple argues that there are new features, they should, at
the very least make, Rendezvous free.
- Tiger has enough improvments that it makes sense to
actually lay down cold, hard cash for an upgrade.
- Why is jEdit mind numbingly slow?!? Even on a dual 1GHz PPC
system, it's easy to type a few characters, whatch the CPU
meter(s) go up to 100% and have to wait several seconds for the
third character to render. This is abismal Java performance.
- Inadequate back-up software
- Back-ups are a fundamental feature that is
REQUIRED for any serious computer work
- Apple wants people to pay extra for something that aught to be
fundamental. It's like asking extra for a steering wheel in your
car. Actually, it's even worse because they want it to be a
- There's a DVD recordable in my machine
- Why can't I just do a massive tar, piped through gzip to the
- Why doesn't it appear on my desktop as something I can drag
and drop to?
- Can't size windows bigger than the screen limits.
- For example, some aps have an image in them that I want to see
as large as possible, but there is all sorts of junk like window
borders, buttons and so on around it. Resizing the window to be
taller than the screen will allow the image to be displayed at
its absolute maximum size, but Mac OS X won't allow this.
- Wake-up with brightness button breaks sleep!
- Using the power button to make the display (computer?) sleep
works just fine. If you hit the brightness button on the
display, it will wake up. However, once awakened that way,
you can no longer use the power button or even the Finder sleep
menu item to put the display (computer?) to sleep!
- Solved in OS X 10.2. However, now, the brightness
button does not wake up the machine at all. You need to use the
power button or the keyboard.
- Help really needs some more work.
- Massively improved in Jaguar!
- Pop-up dialogs are attached to the title bar of the app and can
obscure information that is required
- Middle Mouse button scroll is great, but doesn't work everywhere that
- For example, the help window doesn't allow scrolling
- Where's the tutorial?
- Where's the "Missing Manual"?
- The help key doesn't do anything. It should.
- Doesn't find files I KNOW are there! (eg:
tcsh.defaults -- in /usr/share/init/tcsh, though Sherlock won't
- Qicktime Player
- TechTV is no longer available, but I can't figure out how to
delete it from the list of icons on the main page.
- Dragging a playing window that is streaming a live broadcast
such as the npr stream, is enough to lock up the streaming.
- Eskape's MyTV (Version 0.1b)
- Audio is right channel only!
- Suffers from timing difference between video and audio when
using iMic, but not as bad as with the 0.3a version
- Needs a mechanism to prevent sleep and screen locking.
- Doesn't survive system sleep
- Version 0.1b causes a kernel trap!!! This locks up the
- EskapeTV cannot find the MyTV device again after that.
Have to disconnect and re-connect MyTV device before it will
- Full-screen mode doesn't show image as large as possible on
- Needs to be able to show letterbox programs even larger so that
they will work well with the Apple Cinema HD Displays.
- Needs more extensive keyboard commands to make it easier to
integrate with the
Keyspan Digital Media Remote
- Minimized view should show TV screen -- active
- About EskapeTV menu item doesn't work
- Makes it hard to be sure I've got the right version installed
- Doesn't work on Jaguar (OS X 10.2)
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This page last updated 2005-Oct-05 01:35 EDT (Wednesday) by Mark Crocker