Mac OS X Toolbar Tips and Tricks

Mac OS X Toolbar Tips and Tricks

Customizing OS X Toolbar

If you’re new to Mac OS X you might not know that you can customize OS X Toolbar. Here are some tips that might help you improve your work-flow and get organized. At the top of every Finder window is a row of function and navigation buttons. By default your Finder window will have the folder back and forward buttons, view controls, Actions and Search. One click of any of these base icons lets you quickly backtrack your folder navigation, get a new perspective, trigger a command, or search your location. Here are some additional tips for getting the most out of your Finder Toolbar.

Removing or Shrinking
If you are not interested in having the buttons on top of the Finder window or need space simply click the oval toolbar button in the upper-right corner of the window. You can also hide the toolbar by either selecting View > Hide Toolbar or pressing Command-Option-T.

Customizing the Toolbar
There are a lot of different options in customizing your Toolbar. To customize simply open a Finder Window and select from the Finder Menu > View > Customize Toolbar. A window will appear and you can add additional favorite items into the toolbar by dragging and dropping them. You can also remove items by click and dragging them out of the Toolbar. To reset the Finder Menu Bar you can drag the default set into your toolbar. If you need to conserve space you can adjust the size of the icons or just show the icons, icons and text or just text. You can also add Files and Folder to the toolbar by dragging and dropping a folder or file from one Finder Window to the active Customize Toolbar.

Using Finder Views
Improving your work flow is key in managing your projects. Using your Finder Views can help you view important files and organize lists quickly and efficiently. The four views you can use are the Icon, List, Column and Cover Flow.

Icon View lets you see each folder and file as an icon and is typically the default Finder view. This view is useful id you want to arrange icons in a specific way, create groups, or help you remember file locations. With OS X 10.5 you can view detailed information about each file or folder. Drawback of this view are that it can easily becomes messy.
List View is the most versatile in that it not only shows the file’s name but also its attributes such as size, kind, version, comments and labels. The advantages of using this view is that it allow for sorting of files by the column headings and that you can see a folders contents without leaving the initial folder. Drawbacks are mainly in the creation of new folders as you can loose them in the list.

Column View displays files and folders in a hierarchical view allowing you to easily keep track of where you are within your Mac’s file structure. This is by far my favorite view in that you can see an items path and you can easily move files and folders around easily. The only drawback is that the Column view is dynamic and changes usually occur when you’re selecting or moving and item. This might need some getting used to if you are new to Mac OS X.

Cover Flow View is the newest Finder view. New to OS X 10.5 Leopard it is my least favorite view. It is based on a feature found in iTunes and allows you to see the contents of a file as thumbnails. The only real advantage for using this view is when browsing an images folder. You can easily thumb through multiple images with ease. Main disadvantage is in displaying the thumbnail previews can hog resources, although most new Macs shouldn’t have any problems.

Apple Time Machine

Apple Time Machine

Exploring Network Attached Storage

When Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was announced Apple’s Time Machine features were revealed creating a great deal of buzz and anticipation of what this type of solution this would be. Integrated systematic backups were a long standing desire by many Apple users but to have it integrated as a part of the operating system was unheard of. The primary feature of Apple’s Time Machine is that it automatically saves an up-to-date copy of everything on your Mac including photos, music, videos, documents, applications, and settings. The simplest way to start using Time Machine is to set it up using an external drive, however with the arrival of Time Capsule users had an additional option. Frequently I am asked what is the best option when setting up Time Machine and what are the associated costs.

External Hard Drive
Essentially the most straightforward option for Time Machine is using it with an external hard drive. It is really easy to set up, backs up quickly using USB 2.0, FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 and is arguably the most reliable. A external hard drive could run you anywhere form $89 for a Maxtor USB 2.0 to $154.94 (Lacie d2 Quadra, my pick). To set this up all you have to do is:

  1. 1. Attach the drive and Mac OS X 10.5 will ask you if you want to use this drive as your Time Machine backup drive.
  2. 2. Click OK
  3. 3. System Preferences will automatically launch with the Time Machine window open.
  4. 4. You will be asked to choose you backup Disk.

That is pretty much it. The first backup takes a while but after that it runs fairly quickly.

AirPort Extreme with External Hard Drive
The current AirPort Extreme Base Station with Gigabit Ethernet ($129.99 +LaCie d2 Quadra 500GB ) offers external USB hard drive sharing with all users on your network and can be accessed remotely over the Internet. An additional plus is that you don’t have to sacrifice a wireless printer when you hook up the hard drive. Just connect a USB hub to AirPort Extreme and attach your devices to the hub, that’s it. You can share a printer and a hard drive or multiple printers and multiple hard drives. To set this up you will have to already have your AirPort Extreme configured.

  1. 1. Launch Apple AirPort Utility
  2. 2. Click the Disks icon
  3. 3. From the main window of AirPort Disk Utility enable “Show AirPort Disks in the menu bar”.
  4. 4. Enter the username and password required to access the AirPort Disk.
  5. 5. Click the AirPort Disk menu bar icon and select the Base Station with desired USB hard drive.
  6. 6. Select the desired hard disk (AirPort Disk).
  7. 7. Enter the username and password required to access the AirPort Disk(s).
  8. 8. Once mounted on your desktop launch System Preferences.
  9. 9. Click on Time Machine.
  10. 10. Click on Choose Backup Disk.
  11. 11. Select the AirPort Disk.

Network Attached Storage – Time Capsule
The easiest route to take here would be to purchase a Time Capsule Dual-band ($275.69 + tax). Here you getting a router and drive in one. Just plug in, configure and let Time Machine do the rest. Here are some quick setup steps.

  1. 1. Connect your Cable/DSL to your Time Capsule via an Ethernet Cable.
  2. 2. Connect the Time Capsules power cable.
  3. 3. Open AirPort Utility (Applications > Utilities).
  4. 4. Your Time Capsule will appear with a name like “Time Capsule fea88c”. Click continue.
  5. 5. Select “Create a new wireless network” and click Continue.
  6. 6. Follow the rest of the on-screen instructions. Apply the settings.
  7. 7. Click the AirPort Disk menu bar icon and select your Time Capsule.
  8. 8. Login.
  9. 9. Launch System Preferences.
  10. 10. Click on Time Machine.
  11. 11. Click on Choose Backup Disk.
  12. 12. Click on Set Up Time Capsule.
  13. 13. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Network Attached Storage – non-Apple
If you are interested in using Time Machine with either a non-Apple router with a USB hard drive connected or Network Attached Storage (NAS) device like a Drobo + DroboShare Bundle ($652.99 ) or 500GB LaCie Network Space ($116.99) or similar you are going to be disappointed. What I have read is that any NAS or non-Apple router is not going to work with Time Machine unless you do some terminal commands to override it. What I have seen to make this work with any NAS based drive is that you need to trick Time Machine in to backing up to the drive. Here’s how:

  1. 1. Setup your Drobo and DroboShare and make sure everything is working together.
  2. 2. Next you will need to create a sparse bundle image using Disk Utility. Start by launching Disk Utility.
  3. 3. Click on New Image at the top.
  4. 4. Save your image temp.sparsebundle. Your Volume Name: Back up < Name of your Mac >. The Volume Size is typically twice the actual size of the installed HDD you are backing up.
  5. 5. Copy the disk image to the root folder of your NAS.
  6. 6. Open a Terminal and execute the following command for the Mac to be backed-up by Time Machine.

    defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

  7. 7. Launch System Preferences.
  8. 8. Click on Time Machine.
  9. 9. Click on Choose Backup Disk.
  10. 10. Time Machine will fail or stop the prepare action as soon as it starts. If you now look at the connected NAS drives root folder you will notice an additional file is created. The file will be named something like :


    Rename this file to NAMEOFHARDDRIVE_001debec863e.sparsebundle.

  11. 11. In System Preferences > Time Machine click on the Change Disk and select None from the list.
  12. 12. You can now delete the xxx.temp.sparsebundle from your NAS.
  13. 13. Now again you select your NAS as your Time Machine Disk. This time there should be no errors and Time Machine will start backing up your Mac.

Mac Kiosk With Saft

Give Your Mac Kiosk Some Saft!

Configure a Mac Kiosk

I am constantly on the lookout for doing things more efficiently. A few months ago I posted a how-to Configure a Mac Kiosk. In the article I talk about how Mac 10.5.x OS has made it simpler to set up your computer as a Kiosk. I outline some steps using Terminal, System Preferences and a browser and what hardware I would use.

I was recently asked to put together a Kiosk environment and found a plug-in for Safari that has been available since Mac OS 10.3 Jaguar. I guess I was to set in my ways of hacking my Macs to notice it before. The plug-in is called Saft developed by Hao Li ( has a long standing reputation and has gotten great reviews from MacWorld.

What can Saft do for you?
Saft adds features to Safari like drag-able tabs, full-screen browsing, searchable bookmarks and history, URL short cuts and a really great Kiosk mode. The Kiosk feature, modifies Safari in many ways to secure the system and user information with out having to make as many modifications to the system. Here is are some of it core features:

  • Fix menus by removing Quit, Open File, Save As, Hide, Services and more
  • Delete all cookies when going to home page after inactivity
  • Disable contextual menu for browser and plugins
  • Disable help button in dialogs if any
  • Add password protection of the preferences panels
  • Add options to limit access to Apple menu, process switching, force quit and session termination
  • Add option to go to home page after defined inactivity time
  • Allow only HTTP and HTTPS and disable Finder access via AFP, FILE, FTP and so on
  • Prevent opening multiple browser windows by opening URLs in tabs
  • Prevent JavaScript from opening and loading files
  • Stop normal termination and reboot
  • Add “Empty Cache” button in browser windows
  • Quit Finder

Getting Started
Similar to my last guide on how-to Configure a Mac Kiosk you need to replace Finder with Safari and disable Bluetooth and Keyboard Shortcuts. This will give you a basic deployment of a Kiosk. You can further restrict sites thought Saft or use Mac OS X Leopards built in Parental Controls. To start using Saft follow these few quick steps to get started.

  1. 1. Download Saft (
  2. 2. Make sure you are running the latest version of Mac OS 10.5.8 and have Safari 4 installed.
  3. 3. Install
  4. 4. Launch System Preferences > Accounts and create a non-admin account for kiosk deployment. See “How to Configure a Mac Kiosk”.
  5. 5. Replace Finder with Safari using Terminal. ( See Replacing the Finder below.)
  6. 6. Disable Keyboard Shortcuts and Bluetooth. Navigate to the System Preference and Turn-off Bluetooth and the same for Keyboard Shortcuts.
  7. 7. Close System Preferences.

    1. Replacing the Finder
      Next you will have to Launch Terminal (still in Guest Account):

      1. 1. Close System Preferences.
      2. 2. Launch Terminal from the Application/Utilities menu by hitting APPLE (Command) + “N”. (You can also do this from the Admin area but will have to log in as guest in Terminal with the su guest command + password)
      3. 3. Once Terminal is open type the following:

        defaults write Finder /Applications/Path

      4. Tip! To set the Application path you can have the Applications Folder open behind Terminal and once you have typed Finder drag the Application from your Applications Folder in to the waiting cursor point in the Terminal window.
      5. 4. Type “exit” and Quit Terminal and Log Out of your Guest Account.
      6. 5. Next simply Log Out and re-Log In as Guest and you should only see the application launch instead of your Finder.

      Finally Log-in to your new guest account, which will launch Safari on Start Up.

      1. 1. Find the site you want to bookmark and set it as the home splash page.
      2. 2. Go to the Finer Menu at the top and click on Run Full Finder.
      3. 3. Enter your Admin user name and password.
      4. 4. Double click on the hard drive and navigate to Saft. Once launched Set Safari as launching Saft on start up.

      Hopefully this will be easier than my last Kiosk how-to!

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