Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

MacGeekGab: A helpful podcast with a mention of Default Folder X

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022

A mention of Default Folder X on episode 940 of MacGeekGab reminded me (yet again) about this useful podcast, hosted by Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun. Their goal with each episode is for everyone to learn at least 5 new things about working with their Mac, iPhone, or associated bits, and they almost always succeed. I highly recommend their podcast if you’re into Mac tips and tricks!

App Tamer 2.6.5: Refinements and Fixes, plus “hide everything”

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

Version 2.6.5 of App Tamer is available, sporting fixes for a few things that have come to my attention since the last release. Specifically, App Tamer’s Force Quit command, which you can get to by Control-clicking on any app in the process list, now ensures that the app is terminated even if it’s being very uncooperative.

Some UI inconsistencies have also been fixed, including small changes to the text color and font size used in App Tamer’s icon in your menu bar. And there’s a fix to App Tamer’s high-cpu-usage-detection warnings so that if some helper process (like one of Safari’s web content renderers) uses lots of CPU, App Tamer tells you to limit Safari’s CPU usage to fix the problem, rather than complaining about the helper process itself.

This release also includes the “inverting” of an existing feature to fill the niche left by the demise of the app Hocus Focus. App Tamer already offered an option to hide particular apps after they’d been idle for a certain amount of time, but if you wanted that to apply to all applications, you had to turn the feature on for every app individually. Now you can set up all apps to be hidden after 5 minutes (or whatever) in one fell swoop by using these commands in Terminal:

  defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer hideWhenIdle 1

  defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer minutesUntilHide 5

The first command turns on the “hideWhenIdle” feature, while the second sets the “minutesUntilHide” time to 5. You can obviously use any delay you want for minutesUntilHide. To turn the feature off again, just set hideWhenIdle to zero:

  defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer hideWhenIdle 0

Also, if you want a few apps to wait longer to hide, you can override the time using App Tamer’s normal hide-when-idle feature, accessible in the settings popover that you get by clicking on an app in the process list. Or to prevent the app from being hidden regardless of how long it’s been idle, enter zero into the edit box next to the slider.

As usual, concise release notes and download links are available on the App Tamer Release page, or if you’re already running App Tamer, by choosing “Check for Update” from utility menu at the bottom of App Tamer’s window.

Default Folder X: Opening folders in Path Finder vs. Finder

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

With the recent focus on Default Folder X’s integration with Path Finder, I’ve been fielding a number of questions about how to make Default Folder X open folders in Path Finder instead of the Finder.

Using Path Finder instead of the Finder for all apps

The first, simplest answer is that Default Folder X uses your “default file browser” when opening folders. If you set your default file browser to be Path Finder, selecting a folder from Default Folder X’s menus will open it in Path Finder. This will also make all other apps on your Mac use Path Finder for their “Reveal in Finder” commands.

“But how the heck do I set Path Finder as my default file browser?” you say. Well, I’m glad you asked! It’s easy – there’s a setting in your Path Finder preferences:

Turn on this checkbox and you’re done.

Using Path Finder instead of the Finder – but just for Default Folder X

If you’d rather make this apply only to Default Folder X, you can set Default Folder X’s “fileViewer” preference in Terminal with this command:

defaults write com.stclairsoft.DefaultFolderX5 fileViewer com.cocoatech.PathFinder

Note that if you’re using the Setapp version of Path Finder, you should replace ‘com.cocoatech.PathFinder’ with ‘com.cocoatech.PathFinder-setapp’. To tell Default Folder X to go back to using the Finder instead of Path Finder, just replace ‘com.cocoatech.PathFinder’ with ‘com.apple.finder’.

Toggling between Path Finder and Finder on the fly

And finally, if you want to get really fancy and sometimes have Default Folder X open folders in the Finder and sometimes in Path Finder, you can set up an AppleScript to toggle back and forth. Attaching a script like this to a keyboard shortcut using Peter Lewis’ amazing Keyboard Maestro app makes it super-easy:

-- set the 'currentViewer' variable to the current fileViewer setting
set currentViewer to do shell script "defaults read com.stclairsoft.DefaultFolderX5 fileViewer"
-- now switch to whichever fileViewer is currently not in use
if currentViewer is "com.apple.finder" then
do shell script "defaults write com.stclairsoft.DefaultFolderX5 fileViewer com.cocoatech.PathFinder"
else
do shell script "defaults write com.stclairsoft.DefaultFolderX5 fileViewer com.apple.finder"
end if

App Tamer 2.6.2: Quick UI Fixes and an Experimental Assassin for Runaway Processes

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

Version 2.6.2 of App Tamer is available, fixing a couple of user interface bugs that could trip up new users. When newly installed, the size of App Tamer’s window was much smaller than it was supposed to be, making it hard to see the list of tamed processes. Compounding this was a change in version 2.6.1 that resulted in the mouse cursor not turning into a little arrow when you hovered over the edges of the window, so you couldn’t tell it’s resizable.

Another glitch, a result of changes that Apple made in Big Sur, could result in the names of processes being truncated in the process list. That’s been fixed as well.

You can find the full release notes and download links to App Tamer 2.6.2 on the App Tamer Release Page.

An experimental feature for a very specific system problem:

And now for the geeky, experimental feature: It’s come to my attention that some people are living with bugs in macOS that can result in essential background processes (like lsd and pkd) suddenly consuming tons of CPU time and bringing their Mac to a standstill. Despite chasing around to try and find the culprit, they often can’t resolve the problem without completely reinstalling the system. And apparently, App Tamer’s process throttling can’t limit the CPU usage without effectively disabling whatever function those processes are supposed to be performing.

So I’ve added a “runaway process assassin” to App Tamer. You specify which processes to watch, and if the CPU usage of any of them stays above a specified limit for a certain amount of time, App Tamer just kills the process. This certainly isn’t ideal, but works fine for system daemons that macOS will automatically relaunch whenever they’re needed. This feature is probably only useful to a few people, but because it isn’t something that’s easy to code up with an AppleScript or shell script, I figured I’d just add it. App Tamer is already collecting the CPU statistics anyway.

To configure this, you have to use Terminal. Paste in these commands, hitting the Return key after each one:

defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer killRunawayProcesses 1
defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer runawayProcessCPULimit 50
defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer runawayProcessTimeLimit 20
defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer runawayProcessList "lsd pkd"

Here’s what’s going on with the commands:

  • The first command turns on the killRunawayProcesses feature. 
  • The second sets runawayProcessCPULimit to 50. You can set that to whatever CPU percentage you want.
  • The third sets runawayProcessTimeLimit to 20. This is how long (in seconds) the process has to be above its limit before App Tamer kills it.
  • The fourth sets runawayProcessList to watch lsd and pkd. You can add as many processes as you want here, separated by spaces. For full-fledged applications, use the app’s bundle identifier.

When App Tamer kills a process, it will put up a notification to let you know. You’ll probably want to make sure you’ve allowed App Tamer to display notifications in System Preferences > Notifications.

To turn the whole thing back off, just use:

defaults write com.stclairsoft.AppTamer killRunawayProcesses 0

WARNING: Don’t turn this on unless you have a real need for it! You could potentially kill a service that’s necessary for your Mac to operate correctly. However, if you do need and make use of this feature, I’d appreciate hearing from you in the comments or at support@stclairsoft.com.

HistoryHound 2.3.2 adds multiple-item selection, fixes bugs

Friday, March 26th, 2021

HistoryHound 2.3.2 is a small update that delivers bug fixes and introduces multiple-item selection to the search results list.

Multi-selection lets you act on multiple results at a time to:

  • copy their URLs as a list
  • open them all in your browser
  • create a filter to exclude them from future inclusion
  • remove them all from your search index

As a reminder, HistoryHound follows macOS’s standard method for selecting multiple items in a list:

  • Command-click an item to add it to the current selection
  • Shift-click to extend the selection from the currently selected item to the item you’re clicking on

Full release notes and download links are available on the HistoryHound Release Page, or if you’re already running an earlier version of HistoryHound, just choose “Check for Updates…” from its menu.

Jettison 1.8.2 is here!

Friday, March 12th, 2021

Version 1.8.2 of Jettison is now available. It brings a number of improvements, including several fixes for problems remounting disks after they’ve been ejected.

Jettison’s error reporting has also been improved so that it catches edge cases where a disk unmounts after Jettison has been told by the system that the unmount failed. This should prevent those error messages that said a problem had occurred, but then didn’t list any disks in the error details.

For several releases now, Jettison has been quietly quitting Photos, iTunes and Music before it ejects disks, then relaunching them when those disks are remounted. This prevents problems for the many people that keep their photos or music on external drives. In doing this, however, Jettison was a little too aggressive: It quit the apps when you chose “Eject External Disks Now” from its menu as well as when the machine went to sleep. That turned out to be a Bad Idea, so now it’s only done before ejecting disks when the machine is actually going to sleep.

In a similar vein, there are now some preference settings accessible via Terminal to tweak this behavior. You can turn off the auto-quit / relaunch behavior using this command in Terminal:

defaults write com.stclairsoft.Jettison leaveAppsRunning -bool TRUE

If you want to keep the behavior, but need to add other applications to the list of apps to quit, use:

defaults write com.stclairsoft.Jettison appsToQuit -array com.apple.TextEdit

where you substitute the bundle identifiers of the apps to quit where com.apple.TextEdit appears above.

Non-application processes (such as system background daemons) can be terminated before disks are ejected by using:

defaults write com.stclairsoft.Jettison processesToTerminate -array photoanalysisd

where a whitespace-separated list of process names goes in place of photoanalysisd.

And yes, if these options prove popular, they’ll get their own place in the preferences dialog so you no longer have to use Terminal to set them up.

So anyway, this is available in Jettison 1.8.2, with details and download links on the Jettison Release Page. Or if you’re already using Jettison, choose “Check for Updates” from its menu in your menu bar.

Default Folder X 5.5.6: Helping Big Sur work correctly – again

Friday, February 12th, 2021

In Big Sur 11.1, Apple introduced an annoying system bug that made Open and Save dialogs revert to a very small size every time you used them. To see anything in the dialog, you pretty much had to resize them. Every. Single. Time. Default Folder X 5.5.4 brought a fix for this – forcing the dialogs back to your preferred, larger size whenever they came up.

Fast forward to Big Sur 11.2, and Apple has fixed the bug so dialogs now stay larger once you resize them – yay! Well, mostly yay anyway. The sidebar still bounces back to its narrow, “I can’t read the names of my folders” width of about 100 pixels every second time you use an Open or Save dialog. <sigh>

So here’s Default Folder X 5.5.6. If you resize the sidebar in an Open or Save dialog, Default Folder X will make sure it bounces back to that size the next time you use the same file dialog.

In addition, this release expands support for HoudahSpot so that you now get the “Search in HoudahSpot” menu item in Default Folder X’s utility menu if you’re using the version of HoudahSpot included in the Setapp subscription service. It previously only worked with copies of HoudahSpot bought directly from Houdah Software.

And because someone asked for it, holding down the Option key while selecting a Folder Set from Default Folder X’s menu in your menu bar will open all of your Favorite folders in the Finder. So if you’ve got multiple Folder Sets for different projects or workflows, you can now instantly open all of those folders in the Finder when you’re starting work. (A few of you old-timers might remember that this was actually a feature in version 4 that didn’t make the jump to v5 – now it’s back!)

There are also a few bug fixes in version 5.5.6, as I’m still chasing after the elusive problem of the cursor sporadically disappearing on some Macs (but not others). Full release notes and download links are on the Default Folder X Release Page. Or just choose “Check for Updates” from Default Folder X’s menu if you’re already running it.

Tiny Open and Save dialogs in Big Sur

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

Yes, the Open and Save dialogs keep appearing at their smallest possible sizes in Big Sur 11.1. It’s not just you, and it’s not something you’ve done wrong – it’s a bug in Big Sur.

The problem is worst in Save dialogs that offer additional options, like the one below from the “Save as PDF” menu when printing. You’re left with just 2.5 items showing in the list of files!

First, to resize one of these tiny file dialogs, just click on the bottom, right corner and drag the window to a larger size. Note that if you’re running Default Folder X, you need to grab the corner of the file dialog, not the corner of Default Folder X’s bezel around it.

Sadly, resizing the dialog so it’s larger only works on the current one. Every time you’re presented with an Open or Save dialog, it’ll be back to its uselessly small size again because Big Sur doesn’t remember the past size like it’s supposed to.

To work around this problem until Apple fixes it (hopefully in Big Sur 11.2), you can set Default Folder X to force dialogs back to the size you dragged them to. To do that, hold down the Option key and choose Preferences from Default Folder X’s menu in your menu bar. You’ll be presented with an “Additional Settings” window with a whole slew of options. Just turn on the “Remember file dialog sizes” checkbox and then click OK.

With this enabled, Default Folder X will resize every file dialog after it opens. It’s a bit ugly, as the dialog can only be resized after it shows up on screen (so you’ll see an almost comical “here you go… oh wait, let me make that bigger… ok, how’s that?” dance) but it gets the job done. And that ugliness is why the checkbox isn’t part of DFX’s regular preferences – it’s only meant to be used when things have really gone sideways and you have no other choice. Like in Big Sur 11.1 🙄

Note that the current Default Folder X release doesn’t resize the sidebar after it fixes the dialog size (cuz macOS was supposed to take care of that, too). You can grab this pre-release build of Default Folder X 5.5.4, which takes care of the sidebar as well:

https://www.stclairsoft.com/download/DefaultFolderX-5.5.4.dmg

And for folks that care, version 5.5.4 also contains fixes for some other issues, like conflicts with NeoFinder and Notability, and better support for (tiny) Save dialogs in Photoshop.

Default Folder X 5.5.1: A fix for version 5.5’s failure to launch, and how to update if you’re stuck

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

TL;DR: There was a bug in Default Folder X 5.5 that resulted in it failing to launch correctly. Version 5.5.1 delivers a fix. If you’ve been affected and are having trouble updating to version 5.5.1, read on.

What Happened: First, my apologies. Default Folder X 5.5 introduced a new feature that tracks changes to files and folders synced via the cloud. Part of the startup process is to look at your current cloud settings to determine which folders need to be watched. In the case of Google Drive File Stream, Default Folder X didn’t properly read old settings files, resulting in the launch process being disrupted and leaving it running, but with no user interface (no icon in the menu bar, no toolbar in Open and Save dialogs, etc). This also breaks the auto-update mechanism, so you have to update to version 5.5.1 manually.

So yeah, big oops. In retrospect, I should have coded that even more defensively than I did so that the error would have been caught. I’m sorry.

How to Fix It: If you’ve been bitten by this bug, you have to manually download and install Default Folder X 5.5.1. Ostensibly, that’s not hard – just download 5.5.1 5.5.3 from this link:

https://stclairsoft.s3.amazonaws.com/DefaultFolderX-5.5.3.dmg

Once the download completes, double-click on the .dmg file and drag the Default Folder X app to your Applications folder.

Now here’s the rub: If you ran the old, broken version 5.5, you may get an error message saying that you can’t replace it.

It’s still invisibly running, but there’s no clear way to quit it. The regular macOS “Force Quit” procedure – accessed by pressing Command-Option-Esc on your keyboard – won’t show Default Folder X even though it’s running. Here’s what to do instead:

1. Run Activity Monitor. It’s located in /Applications/Utilities.

2. Use the search field in Activity Monitor’s toolbar to locate Default Folder X in the process list.

3. Click on the (x) icon in Activity Monitor’s toolbar.

4. Choose Force Quit when prompted.

Now you’ll be able to drag the new copy of Default Folder X 5.5.3 to your Applications folder. Once it’s there, just open your Applications folder and double-click Default Folder X to launch it.

Again, my apologies for the hassle!

HistoryHound 2.3 for Big Sur and Apple Silicon

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
And it has a new icon too!

HistoryHound 2.3 is now available, bringing support for macOS 11.0 Big Sur. It’s a universal app, running natively on Macs powered by either Intel or Apple Silicon processors, so if you’re lucky enough to have a “Developer Transition Kit” Mac or will be buying whatever Apple’s rumored to be announcing on November 17, HistoryHound is ready!

This release also delivers new inline search filters, similar to what you may already be using in your Google searches if you’re cool like that 😎. Specifying a phrase like “ipad case site:apple.com” will search your browsing history and bookmarks for the terms “ipad” and “case”, but only on pages at apple.com. Similarly, using “carbon wheel url:mtbr” will return only matching pages that you’ve visited that have “mtbr” in their URL.

The filters that HistoryHound currently understands are:

  • site – the website host
  • url – the full URL of the page
  • title – the title of the page, shown in the tab or title bar of your browser
  • source – HistoryHound’s source, such as “Firefox Bookmarks”

Note that these are all simple searches that look for the specified term within the relevant attribute. So “site:apple” will match pages from apple.com or appleinsider.com, since they both contain “apple”.

In addition, HistoryHound 2.3 understands custom URLs that let you save clickable searches for later use. Going to the link historyhound:apple will start a search for “apple” in HistoryHound. This can be handy when you want to repeatedly perform the same searches – just save the links in a document somewhere and click on one when you want to start a search.

As usual, there are some bug fixes and little improvements as well. A full change history and download links are available on the HistoryHound release page.