Category Archives: Safari 6.0
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I have a pretty long Reading List and Spotlight often fails to find things in it. For that reason I came up with this little script which you might find useful.
1. Open up Automator by typing
auto in Spotlight.
4. In the small filter bar to the left, type ‘run app’. You should see an action called ‘Run AppleScript’ in the second column. Drag it to the big pane on the right.
5. Select all the purple text inside the window and delete it. You don’t need any of it.
7. Hit ‘Command-S’ and give it a name like ‘Search Safari Reading List’. Click ‘Save’ (note: you do not specify a location for the save as it will automatically be saved in your ~/Library/Services folder).
10. If you want to assign a universal shortcut key like mine in the screenshot from Step 8, do so by going to > System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard shortcuts. Look in Services for the name you gave it and add the shortcut by clicking in the empty space to the far right of the name.
A note on usage:
The reading list is really just a list of special bookmarks, with one difference: they contain short snippets or previews from each page. This has an impact on the way my script works in the following way: if the search string is in the preview snippet but isn’t in the URL, you’ll get back the line from the snippet but you won’t get the URL. It might be possible to code round that, but I haven’t had time to figure it out yet. If that’s a feature you want, send me a nag mail and I’ll put it on my list of things to do! . Otherwise it appears to function quite well as a workaround for the lack of a proper search facility.
Whenever I’m helping customers with a misbehaving Mac, one of the most common things I hear is ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could do that with Spotlight!’ Whereas the average user will navigate around their computer by trawling through Finder, the savvy user knows how to get to places, launch apps, search the internet and calculate their tax with a few simple Spotlight tricks. In this post we’ll look at how to increase your productivity by using Spotlight for fast access to a variety of common functions. But first, we need to get Spotlight set up for maximum efficiency.
Set up the hotkey
To get the most out of Spotlight, the first thing to do is set up the keyboard hotkey. By default, this is usually ‘command-spacebar’, but if you are using multiple languages you might want to reserve that for the Input Switcher. Instead, I use ‘option-command-spacebar’, not least because this nice 3-finger combination can be executed with the left-hand while the right hand is reaching for the coffee mug…
Whatever your choice of hotkey, keep it close to the bottom of the keyboard, as the other keys that you will want to be able to rapidly access are the cursor arrows and the ‘return’ key. If you haven’t set up your Spotlight hotkey yet, the fastest way to do so is to click on Spotlight on the top right of your screen with the mouse or trackpad and type
After hitting ‘return’, you’ll be presented with the Spotlight preferences panel. At the bottom, you’ll see fields to define both the Spotlight menu keyboard shortcut and the Spotlight window keyboard shortcut. For the purposes of this post, we’re only interested in the menu shortcut (but feel free to set up the window one too, if you wish!). Once your hotkey is set up you can forget about the annoying inconvenience of dragging your cursor up to the top right corner. Just hit your hotkey combination to open the Spotlight search field.
But don't close the Spotlight prefs just yet. The main pane in the window is the Search Results panel which lists the order in which results appear. You can alter the order of results that Spotlight shows by dragging items up and down the list. Altering this to your likes is a big part of getting the most out of Spotlight. If Spotlight is always showing you lots of results from Mail that you don't want to see, for example, drag "Messages & Chats" to the bottom of the list.
For the purposes of this tip, make sure Applications is no.1 in the list and System Prefs no. 2, and Folders at no. 3. Follow that with Documents, Images, PDFs and so on according to the kind of files you access most often on a daily basis. A set up like this will make Spotlight much more efficient at navigating around your mac, and once you get the hang of it you’ll find yourself trawling through Finder much less often.
Incidentally, I don't recommend unchecking any of those boxes. We want more power in our searches, not less; you never know when you might be looking for something that just won’t show up in a search because you’ve forgotten that you excluded those results in Spotlight’s preferences. Besides, there are better ways to restrict your searches in Spotlight like this and this.
When you're done with setting up Spotlight’s preferences, hit 'command' and 'Q' to close System Preferences and read on.
1. Use Spotlight as an App Launcher
Long before the Apple engineers dreamed up Launchpad, many of us were already launching apps in half the time it takes in the Dock, Finder, or (now) even Launchpad itself. You can open any app with Spotlight just by typing three or four characters. Sometimes, just one is enough! All you need to do is hit your hotkey (see above) and type the first three or four letters of the App’s name and hit ‘return’.
tex and hitting ‘return’ to instantly open TextEdit, or
act for ‘Activity Monitor’. iPhoto should be the top hit with
ip. If you use Terminal a lot, there’s no need to go rooting around in the Applications/Utilities menu to open it. Simply hit the Spotlight hotkey and type
and hit ‘return’.
If you have Carbon Copy Cloner, type
CCC, and if you use 1Password, just the number
1 and return should do the trick.
saf will open Safari and
mai will launch Mail in an instant. Experiment with your favourite or most commonly used apps and you’ll find that using Spotlight is twice as fast as any other method.
As a bonus, if you moved Folders up to no.3 in the Preferences list, experiment with the first few letters of your favourite folders. Try some of these and see what comes up as the top hit:
2. Use Spotlight to access System Prefs
We already saw one of Spotlight’s hidden uses – fast access to System Preferences. In fact you can do this with any of them. Want to check your login items in Users & Accounts | Login Items? No need to go clicking all round the desktop, hit your Spotlight hotkey and type
if you want to change your Security preferences quickly.
Don’t hit ‘return’ just yet – check to see what is the ‘top hit’, as you might find that you have to “arrow down” an item or two. Even so, this is a whole lot faster than wading through either Finder or the menu.
and hitting ‘return’ is also a fast way to open the main System Preferences panel.
Hit the Spotlight hotkey and try typing the word
Look right down at the bottom of the Spotlight results window and you’ll see the Dictionary icon. You can jump there in leaps and bounds by holding down the ‘command’ key and pressing the down arrow key (each press of the arrow key conveniently takes you to the top of each section; release the ‘command’ key and use the down arrow alone to move one item at a time within the section). Notice that when the highlight reaches the Dictionary icon, the definition just pops up for you in a side panel. No need to press ‘return’ or actually open the Dictionary,.app. Just hit your hotkey combination again to dismiss Spotlight. You can also use the ‘esc’ key here: one tap of ‘esc’ will clear the Spotlight search bar, two will dismiss it.
4. Website search
But suppose you type in a word that Dictionary.app doesn’t know? Try
Again, use your command and arrow key to jump down to the bottom of the results and this time choose ‘search the web’. That will automatically open Safari and put the term in the search bar and return the results. But you’re not limited to dictionary searches, you can use Spotlight’s search bar just like the Google search bar in Safari. Try typing in
mini ipad versus samsung galaxy review
best small car of 2012
or anything else you might want to search the web for. Yep, Spotlight isn’t just a file finder on your mac – it’s a google search engine, too!
5. Use Spotlight as a Calculator
Want to quickly know what 17.5% of $45,000 is? Hit your Spotlight hotkey and type:
Don’t press ‘return’ – difficult to break that habit, I know! – the result is already listed next to the ‘Calculator’ icon, just look down to see the search results and the answer is already there!
You can of course do all the standard calculator functions like / for divide, * for multiplication and + and – for addition and subtraction. You can even do powers (3 to the power of 5 = 3^5) as well as bracket expansion. Try
(3x5)^2 and compare the result with
So whether its App launching, web searching, opening system prefs or using the dictionary or calculator, hitting your Spotlight hotkey is a habit you want to develop for faster computing. At least for me, it’s probably the most frequent keystroke I use on a daily basis.
If you use coffee shop wifi services or others that require internet login, you’ve probably noticed in both Lion and Mountain Lion that OS X will produce a pop-up Safari window asking you to login. This can be annoying for several reasons:
1. The window floats on top and gets in the way if you’re trying to do something else
2. The window doesn’t keep cookies or allow plug-ins like 1Password, so you have to enter the login details manually every time
3. Sometimes the pop-up window will simply produce an error message that it can’t connect to the network. You either have to dismiss it manually or wait for it to go (it’ll normally auto-close after about 30 seconds)
If you find this behaviour annoying and want to stop it, there’s a very simple solution (and one that’s also easy to undo if you want to reverse it). Here’s what you do.
1. First go to
[Hard Disk] > System > Library > CoreServices > Captive Network Assistant.app
Click on the app once, and hit ‘return’ on your keyboard. This will make the name editable.
2. Hit the ‘left arrow’ key once to move the cursor to the beginning of the name and to unselect the text.
3. Type an ‘X’ (actually any letter will do, but I like ‘X’ so I can easily find the app later at the bottom of the list even if I forgot its exact name).
4. Hit ‘return’ on the keyboard. At this point, OS X will ask you to provide an Admin password as only Admin users are allowed to mess with files in the System directory. Type in your password and hit ‘OK’.
The name should now read ‘XCaptive Network Assistant.app’.
And that’s it! Captive Network Assistant will never run again unless you decide to change its name back to what it was (to do so, just repeat the procedure above and remove the ‘X’). Of course, you can still login to your internet or coffee shop wifi services by opening a normal browser window. The bonus is now your browser can fill the login details from cookies (if enabled) or your password manager.
featured picture: illuminated jellyfish by weaverglenn
If you’ve upgraded to Mountain Lion and traded swift wifi and fast Safari for a flakey internet connection and sluggish browser, you are not alone. Widespread reports of problems with wifi, Safari and Mountain Lion have been mounting ever since July 25th. However, unlike the lengthy debacle with similar wifi problems experienced after the Lion upgrade last year, a lot of users are finding their problems can be solved by using one or more of the tips below.
1. Create a new location and renew the DHCP lease
OS X Daily have a step-by-step procedure here
that is proving hugely successful. Don’t forget to follow their second step about changing the MTU value while you’re at it.
2. Reset default system preferences
If that didn’t do it for you, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and enter Terminal! Open the Terminal.app from
and paste this command
then press ‘return’.
You will need to restart your mac to see if this has had any beneficial effect, so do that now.
3. Do PRAM & SMC resets
If you’re still suffering problems, it’s time for a couple of system resets. To do the SMC reset you will need to see what kind of mac you have, as the procedure is different for some models. Take a look here and follow the instructions for your model.
Before powering up after the SMC reset, also take the trouble to do a PRAM reset. To do that:
i. Ensure the machine is powered off.
ii. Locate the following keys on your keyboard in preparation for Step 4:
‘command’ – ‘option’ – ‘P’ – ‘R’
iii. Press the ‘power on’ button.
iv. Immediately – and before the grey screen appears – hold down ‘command-option-P-R’ all together.
v. Keep them held down until you’ve heard the start-up chime twice. After you release them you should hear it again, and hopefully your Mac will boot up without wifi/Safari issues.
4. Check Wifi connection
And if that doesn’t work? Time to check your wifi connection. See how strong your signal-to-noise ratio is. You need something in the order of 25 or higher. To find out whether you signal is strong enough, hold down the ‘option’ key and click on the wifi icon in the menu bar. Choose Open Wifi Diagnostics from the menu.
When you see the welcome screen, ignore the ‘Continue’ button and instead press ‘command-N’ on your keyboard.
Click wifi scan in the task bar and scroll to the right where you will see two numbers, ‘signal’ and ‘noise’. Ignore the minus ‘-’ signs, and subtract the signal number from the ‘noise’ number. Anything over 25 is a good enough signal, below that and the signal is too weak for a reliable connection. Over 40 is excellent (in the example below, you can see the SNR is 34, a pretty good signal for a home router located on the next floor).
If your SNR is lower than 25 you need to either move the computer closer to the router or find a better connection. If the ‘Noise’ shows a very low figure (equals more noise), you can try changing the channel on your router. Look at the other routers in the list and if they are using the same channel as yours, switch your router to something else between 1 and 11.
5. Reinstall OS X
If all else fails…some users are reporting that simply reinstalling OS X is solving the problem for them. Reinstalling doesn’t touch your Apps or user data, but its always wise to make sure you have a backup before undertaking such an operation.
To reinstall, restart the computer while also holding down ‘command-R’ on the keyboard. From the Utilities window that opens up, choose ‘Reinstall OS X’.
Still having problems? Let us know in the comments below.
featured picture: Internet by ~vagraine