The open thread closes at midnight PDT (UTC -0700). Be sure to get your questions in before then! Although we at The Apple Blog like to hand down our knowledge and opinions on all things AAPL (sometimes a little too self-righteously, sure, but aren’t bloggers supposed […]

The open thread closes at midnight PDT (UTC -0700). Be sure to get your questions in before then!

Although we at The Apple Blog like to hand down our knowledge and opinions on all things AAPL (sometimes a little too self-righteously, sure, but aren’t bloggers supposed to be snarky and provocative?), the real reason we’re here is to serve cool readers like you. Yep, you! Whether through the articles we write, or by answering the questions you post in open threads, our purpose as TAB bloggers is to offer you assistance and insight into the Apple world and the Cult of Mac.

Is there some technical topic about OS X that has been bugging you for a while? Prof. MacLovin is here to help! Whether it’s configuring launchd(8) services or getting that issue resolved with your blinking AirPort Extreme status light, run it by me. Having problems getting your favorite GNU software to compile? I’ve been there and done that: I feel your pain, and I will ease it. If you accidentally break down your software RAID-1 device in Disk Utility, though, you’re out of luck. I’ve been there and felt that pain, too, and there’s nothing that can be done.

So have it: What’s on your mind? Anything that you’ve been trying to accomplish with your Mac that you can’t quite figure out? We’ll work through it together. Answers to your questions are just a comment away.

  1. Is there a way to automatically switch the keyboard settings when you plug in an external USB keyboard. I’m stuck using a windows kbd at work and I have to manually switch the command and option keys every time I plug/unplug the external kbd.

  2. Maciej Nejmantowicz Friday, September 14, 2007

    I would like to be able have my mac authenticate (login using the windows username and password) against a Windows 2003 Active Directory account.

  3. I would love to tweak behavior of my laptop so that I can make it look like what I want.

    For instance, how do I get rid of the HD icon on my desktop? I don’t need it.

    How can I scroll down the message that is highlighted in Mail, in order to read without jumping to the next one. No matter how much I select the body, somehow it does what it wants.

    How can I make the switch back to the laptop screen when unplugging the Mini-DVI plug and losing my cursor, having to replug and unplug to make the cursor come back?

    Is there a way to drag an email into iCal, or an iCal event into Address Book and vice versa? Meaning can I take one of the bundled Apple program’s event and make into an entry in another bundled program?

    Anyway, just little things like that. Thanks,


  4. you know what would be really nice? if you could explain what programs like cocktail and mainmenu and tiger cache cleaner are doing to your system (and why one should or should not do it) when it comes to ds_store files, kernel cache, user vs system cache and so on…a lot of folks download these apps, dump their caches, do a slow reboot and then wonder why they’re seeing permissions and other things change…

    OR a whole thing on “things you can delete if just you are using your machine and never make it remotely accessible” (all that crap in system/library for networking that means nada…)

  5. @ jon — I’ve been working for an hour or so on an AppleScript to automate that for you, but UI scripting is ugly and a big hack that is just vicious.

    When I’ve used my external Microsoft keyboard with my old PowerBook in the past, the Microsoft Desktop software did a very good job switching between the two automatically. I’m not normally a fan of Microsoft products, but when something works well, I praise it. In theory, there’s nothing technically preventing you from installing it on your system, even if you’re using a Logitech or other brand of keyboard. You may not have the same results I’ve had, though.

    You might also check into the (brilliant and venerable) free preference pane called DoubleCommand; with it, you can at least get the same keyboard functionality, even if it’s not what the keys on the keyboard you’re using at the time happen to say they are. I’ve used it for quite a while to turn my Enter key into a second Option key.

    Other than installing the third-party driver (either Microsoft or Logitech or some other keyboard software), the only other way I can think of to automate the process is through UI scripting.

    What type of keyboard are you using?

  6. @Maciej — I’m not a user of Active Directory, so the information I’m giving you should be checked with someone who is.

    Setting it up in OS X isn’t difficult, though. Apple’s online help gives quite a bit of assistance in accomplishing this.

    In the Utilities folder of your Applications folder, you’ll find an application called Directory Access. When you launch that, if the lock appears locked, you’ll need to unlock it to make changes. Then, in the Services tab, highlight Active Directory and click “Configure…” From there, you’ll need to consult with your Active Directory expert for the appropriate settings. But this is where you can make the changes needed to get OS X talking to Active Directory.

    Make sure the checkbox next to Active Directory is checked, then click Apply. For more assistance on that, this article may provide some assistance, or you may need to consult with someone more experienced such as an OS X server administrator.

  7. @bill

    Hey, thanks!

    My external keyboard is some kind of generic windows kbd (I’m not at work now, so I can’t check). I tried DoubleCommand but a kernel extension seemed overkill for this simple task, and I also experienced some system instability after installing it (quite possibly unrelated, but I removed it just to be on the safe side). Perhaps DoubleCommand doesn’t play nice with Parallels which I also use heavily.

  8. @ Nick —

    Getting rid of the hard drive icon on your desktop is easy. Click once on your desktop, then click ⌘-, (Command-Comma) to open the preferences. In the General tab, under the section “Show these items on the Desktop”, uncheck the box for “Hard disks”. Note that external drives, however, usually don’t disappear until you uncheck “CDs, DVDs, and iPods”.

    Scrolling in Mail: Try the Space Bar. Or, if you’re on a MacBook/MacBook Pro, you can enable two-finger scrolling in the System Preferences Keyboard & Mouse pane. Go to the Trackpad tab, then select “Use two fingers to scroll”.

    I’m not quite sure I understand your dual-monitor issue, but it sounds like when you disconnect your external monitor, you lose your cursor? Is it on your laptop display before you disconnect? It could be that when it disconnects, it’s off in Lala Land and doesn’t know how to find its way home. Try bringing it back onto your laptop screen before disconnecting. Apple’s official policy, though, is that you always disconnect with the laptop and external monitor powered off or in sleep state. Also, are you using video mirroring or are you extending your desktop?

    iCal, Address Book, and Mail: Generally they work well together with a little bit of nudging. It’s easy enough to drag an address card or calendar appointment into Mail, for instance, to create an attachment to send to another person. Provided that person is using compatible software (iCal and Address Book use idustry standards such as vCard and ICS), they will be able to open the attachments. Using contacts in Mail is also tightly integrated: Just start typing the name in the To or Cc field, and it’s there. The same is true with iCal: If you enter a new appointment and it’s a meeting with another person in your Address Book, you can type that name(s) into the Attendees field when you create the appointment — iCal will automatically generate the calendar appointment and attach it to an email, then trigger Mail to send it for you.

    Going in other directions is a bit more difficult sometimes, and a bit more beyond the scope of this comment. Take a look at the excellent blog Hawk Wings, which provides many tips on working with just these apps.

  9. @ Dave — For the most part these apps are safe if they’re done properly and only when needed. I’ve used Cocktail in the past, but my personal preference is OnyX, which I use regularly for cache cleaning and tweaking some of my personal preferences. You’ve definitely hit on something here, and instead of answering your question in the Open Thread Weekend, I’d like to turn it into a full article.

  10. @ Jon — I’ve used DoubleCommand with Parallels, but not extensively, and definitely not with an external keyboard in the mix. There could be an issue, I suppose. To fix your issue is going to require one of four things: a kernel extension (kext), an input manager (which, I’ve heard rumor of, are going to die in Leopard), an AppleScript, or manual intervention.

    Unfortunately I can’t think of anything else, but if someone else can, please feel free to offer Jon some assistance.


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