Mac Hacks
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Today I'm going to share a few "Mac Hacks" that I've found useful on my Macintosh. Namely:

Mail Reply Header

UPDATE: This tip no longer works since Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard

When you reply to a message in Apple Mail, I really dislike the appended prefix to the original message:

<Your reply goes here>
On 17/12/2008, at 6:53 PM, friend wrote:

How are you today James?
I bought a beautiful dog today!

In pretty much every e-mail application, it gives the standard information including the name of the original recipient, their e-mail address, the date/time of sending and the subject of the message. Interestingly, Apple Mail provides this format when you forward a message (as opposed to replying).

Fortunately, there is a solution to this, which makes your replies contain the standard header:

<Your reply goes here>


From: friend <moc.nosrep|dneirf#moc.nosrep|dneirf>
Date: 17 December 2008 6:53:54 PM
To: James Kanjo <moc.nosrep|semaj#moc.nosrep|semaj>
Subject: Hello there!

How are you today James?
I bought a beautiful dog today!

Mail RSS Interval

It goes without saying, I love e-mail applications, and I love Apple Mail. It's additional capacity to retrieve RSS feeds only compliments its primary purpose to retrieve e-mails.1 Shamefully, however, its RSS update options are limited:

Check for updates:

  • Every 30 minutes
  • Every hour
  • Every day

I want to be notified of news the minute it happens — not 30 minutes later, when it may have already become "old news"! Naturally, there IS a Mac Hack to fix this problem, and it's one I quite like. I found it on Mac OS X Hints:2

  1. Navigate to /Applications/Mail.app/Contents/Resources/English.lproj
  2. Open the RSSPreferences.nib file with "Interface Builder"
  3. Double-click on the drop-down box beside the label "Check for updates:"
  4. Select "Every 30 minutes" and duplicate it (Command+D)
  5. In the Menu Attributes toolbox, change the Title of the duplicated item to "Every 5 minutes"
  6. Then change the Tag of the same item to "5"
  7. Save and quit.

You can, of course, change it to update every minute, but if you have many RSS feeds to update, I would suggest giving your computer a 5-minute break after retrieving a whole bunch of new feeds (this is also good for the network too!).

New Text File

A really nice feature in Microsoft's Windows Operating System is the ability to select "New Text File" from the context menu of Windows Explorer. This is a lacking option in Mac OS X, however it IS possible using the AppleScript with the Automator. I found a nice plug-in on MacScripter which does the trick.

Audacity mp3 Plug-in

If you're not already familiar, Audacity is a very popular open-source audio-manipulation program. It's freely available on the internet and is regarded as an essential program in the industry (it's very powerful). However, encoding your music and audio files into mp3 formats is also regarded as an essential process in the industry. Because the MPEG format is a patented codec, royalties must be paid to do this, and there are complicated reasons for why free software can't include the capacity to translate audio files into mp3s (and I'm NOT going to bother explaining it).

However, for another complicated reason, you CAN download a free mp3 codec for Audacity legally, and freely: see here to do this. This enables you to export your Audacity projects into fully-fledged mp3s.

OGG Playback

During your typical web-browsing, you may encounter the OGG file format. This file format is an open-source video/audio codec, and is used in the WikiMedia3 projects for presenting media such as movies and sound.

There is a really neat site that offers an open-source QuickTime plug-in to view files in the OGG file format: Xiph.Org.


Indeed, this was yet another cleanup of my Notes, but at long-last it's compact and tidy ;D

Have fun!

~ James Kanjo

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