Frustrations

How to change the ‘Today’ highlight colour in iCal

iCal 1I love Mac OS X iCal, but there’s one thing that bugs me — the pale blue highlight that denotes ‘Today’ in the month view is all but invisible.

There’s no way to tweak this colour in iCal and the best the internet could suggest was to tilt the monitor back a bit… In fact, looking at the screen from a lower angle does make the pale blue more obvious, but not obvious enough.

While hunting around for a hack to fix this, however, I stumbled upon a partial fix. (more…)

Why your MacBook runs like crap

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I use a MacBook Pro as my my main computer, plugged into a desktop set-up. Like any right-thinking geek with such an arrangement, I removed the laptop’s battery to prevent it suffering from being charged all the time — the MacBook Pro is never used away from mains power and can’t be accidentally unplugged.

I only switched to Mac OS relatively recently (I ran Windows XP via Boot Camp for a spell), but in the few months I have been using it, one constant complaint has been about speed. Mac OS X 10.5.X seemed very slow in some circumstances and I was seeing the spinning beach ball far more often than I would see the hourglass in Windows (when simply switching to an open Firefox tab, for example).

After simply blaming this on the vagaries of Mac OS for a few months, something occurred to me this morning. I vaguely remembered reading a while ago about how MacBooks run slower when the battery is removed. Since I wasn’t a Mac user at the time, I didn’t follow the story that closely and assumed it only affected the new unibody MacBooks (which were launched around that time). I was wrong. (more…)

Custom keyboard shortcuts in Firefox for Mac OS are broken

picture-8I complained at length about keyboard shortcut inconsistencies in Mac OS X the other day — an OS that’s supposedly ultra-consistent — but it appears that the Apple isn’t wholly to blame. I singled out Firefox and NeoOffice as particular offenders (largely because as a new-ish Mac user, they’re the two apps I use the most), but I have now found an explanation for Firefox’s keyboard shortcut misbehaviour. (more…)

How to make the Home & End keys on a Mac keyboard work like Home & End keys

doublecommandWhen you press the cursor keys, modified cursor keys (with [Shift], [Ctrl], and so on) or [Home] and [End] keys on a Windows PC, the on-screen cursor reacts in a consistent way when it’s in a block of text, no matter what application you’re using. Its behaviour is controlled at operating system level rather than individual application level, and this consistent behaviour is a sign of good user interface design.

Now I’m the last person to suggest that Windows is any kind of benchmark for good interface design – in fact one of the reasons I recently switched to a Mac was the UI horror of Windows Vista and Windows 7. And, of course, the Mac has a wonderfully consistent user interface that’s far more logical and intuitive than anything Microsoft has so far managed. Apart from its stupid cursor control. (more…)

How to hide the Genre column in iTunes 8 for Windows and Mac OS

itunes-8-disable-genreiTunes 7 has a Preferences option to turn of the Genre column in the main window, iTunes 8 does not. This is very frustrating. I’m not in the least bit interested in seeing what genres are in my music library, and the Genre pane takes space away from the far more useful Artists and Albums pane.

So, here’s how to disable the iTunes Genre column, the hard way, for both Mac OS X and Windows. (more…)

How to type a hash (#) on a Mac UK keyboard

Mac keyboards don’t have a # (‘hash’ for the UK, or ‘pound’ if you’re American) key, which is a  bit of a problem when you want to type a # symbol.

The lack of a dedicated key doesn’t mean you can’t type the symbol, though – just type [Alt] + [3] or [⌥] + [3] (depending on your keyboard) and the # symbol will appear.

There’s just one thing to note – you need to press the [3] key on the top row of number keys as the [3] key on the numeric keyboard won’t work.

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