7 geek tricks for a fresh OSX Tiger install

I spent the day before yesterday cleaning up my MacBook hard drive and reinstalling anew my Tiger operating system.
Sure, OSX is a very powerful system, but even it gets cluttered after months of intense usage and hundreds of apps installed. So.. nothing like a fresh new install to get rid of all unwanted apps, documents, archives or garbage.

So, if you are a new Apple owner, here’s my list of 9 tips for you to do on a fresh OSX install:

  • First of all, download the updates. Look carefully for the available updates and only install those for the apps you actually use. If, for instance, you’re not a music composer, then perhaps you might not need the latest updates for Garage Band. Similar, if you’re not into video editing, then the latest updates for iMovie might not be for you. Updating apps you never use will only add garbage on your system.
  • Declutter your Dashboard. Press F12(by default) or the dashboard icon in the doc, and you’ll get to see the nice list of preinstalled and preactivated widgets. You’ll be surprised, but a Dashboard widget takes out about 4-10 MB of your RAM. So, 10 opened widgets will take A LOT of memory. Simply close all those that you don’t use, and your computer will be happier – more RAM available for apps you actually use.
  • F1-F12 Keys. First thing is first – I am a geek and, especially on my MacBook, use the shortcuts intensively. No wonder I trigger up System Preferences, the Keyboard & Mouse menu, and activate the “Use F1-F12 keys to control software features.”
  • Keyboard Shortcuts Still in the same window, in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, I activate most of the available shortcuts. I’ll never use most of them, but there are some I couldn’t live without: For instance, Ctrl+F2 to access the menubar, or ⌘+Shift+4 to take snapshots of the selected screen area.
  • Enable the Full Keyboard Access I got so used to having, in most dialog boxes, a blue hallo around some buttons(usually the “Cancel” one), that I never quite remembered how I got it in the first place. The blue halo around a control makes it accessible by pressing the Space key. So, for instance, in an OK/Cancel dialog, the OK would be blue and Cancel would be gray, but with a blue halo. Pressing the Enter key would then press OK, while the Space key would mean Cancel. It’s a neat and addicting shortcut.
    In order to activate this, in the same Keyboard Shortcuts window, you’ll have to select the “All controls” checkbox.
  • Two fingers Right Click (Seconday Click) I mentioned this before as well – Apple laptops only have one mouse button; in order to do “the right click”, you usually need to press “Ctrl” while clicking. The alternative is to select, in the Trackpad tab of the same Keyboard & Mouse System Preference, the checkbox saying “Tap trackpad with two fingers for secondary click”
  • Ignore accidental trackpad input – If you have an Apple laptop and you don’t select this option (in the same window as above), you’ll be deeply sorry: every time you type something, the slightest touch of the trackpad will make the cursor jump to some other place. So.. it’s a great thing to prevent this.

For a more geek insight into Apple’s OSX shortcuts (some of them extremely important), this is the page you want to go to. I’ll only quote a few of them:

Press X during startup Force Mac OS X startup
Press Option-Command-Shift-Delete during startup Bypass primary startup volume and seek a different startup volume (such as a CD or external disk)
Press C during startup Start up from a CD that has a system folder
Press Shift during startup start up in Safe Boot mode and temporarily disable login items and non-essential kernel extension files (Mac OS X 10.2 and later)
Press Command-V during startup Start up in Verbose mode.Option-Command-esc Force Quit
Control-Eject Restart, Sleep, Shutdown dialog box
Control-Command-Eject Quit all applications and restart
Option-Command-Eject or Option-Command-Power Sleep
Command-` Cycle through windows in application or Finder (if more than one window is open)

Happy Mac geeking!

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