OS X tricks: adding a new group on Snow Leopard

sudo dscl . create /Groups/users
sudo dscl . create /Groups/users RealName "Users"
sudo dscl . create /Groups/users gid 400
sudo dscl . create /Groups/users GroupMembership vallis
sudo dscl . read /Groups/users 

May 09, 2010

newgroup (/osxtricks)
2010-05-09, 12:45 [edit]

OS X Tricks

May 09, 2010

home (/osxtricks)
2010-05-09, 12:43 [edit]

vallis.org: Michele's wikiblog

The system python is 2.5.1 (r251:54863, Oct 5 2007, 21:08:09) [GCC 4.0.1 (Apple Inc. build 5465)] on darwin. It sits in /System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5. Note that the MacPython 2.5 install used to sit in /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5

It includes numpy 1.0.1, and other interesting packages, such as setuptools (easy_install is in /usr/bin). The packages are in /System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5/Extras.

SWIG 1.3.31 is also included.

GCC is 4.01.

The original Apple page about compiling for multiple architectures.

Some notes on doubly-fat binaries in Leopard. The PPC 64-bit seems to fail for GSL on Leopard. Also the build referencing the 10.4u Framework seems to fail (but I'm not sure if I replaced it at the time of installing Leopard, or not).

Apple claims that python setup.py will compile for the architectures specified in ARCHFLAGS. (On Leopard only, on Tiger one needs to change CFLAGS and LDFLAGS.) The default is both ppc (actually, ppc7400 on my iMac) and i386. The Leopard Python interpreter itself is ppc7400 and i386.

Problem with ipython 0.8.2 history recall. Need to get this egg and copy the files inside it to lib/python2.5/site-packages, or just do easy_install readline.

Aug 02, 2009

python-leopard (/osxtricks)
2009-08-02, 10:19 [edit]

OS X tricks: installing matplotlib

Always tricky… as of version 0.98.1 on Tiger, installation fails because the wxWindows linking flags are somehow screwed up (admitted, my wx installation might not be perfect). Running that step with corrected options from the command line will fix this.

Also, "pytz" is not installed by default, even on a system that does not have it… this is fixed in setupext.py.

Jul 16, 2008

matplotlib (/osxtricks)
2008-07-16, 10:22 [edit]

OS X: how to disable xattr hidden files with tar

On Tiger, to keep tar from including "xattr" hidden files, just define


but on Leopard, use


Jul 07, 2008

tarnoxattr (/osxtricks)
2008-07-07, 09:52 [edit]

OS X installation checklist

→ Run Cocktail to remove caches, fix permissions, etc.

→ Back up user directory

→ Run installer: choose Archive and Install, customize to avoid installing strange languages and too many printer drivers

→ Install development tools

→ Software update

→ Examine /Applications for undesirable applications left from prior system

→ Examine ~/Library for caches and preferences of removed applications

→ Open Mail to migrate messages

→ Examine /Previous System to see what can be trashed

→ Tried this hack to remap "enter" key. Seems to work. Perhaps useful in combination with Ukulele. Could try also DoubleCommand.

→ Removed some Mail 1.0 caches following this hint; freed 1.8G!

→ Before connecting Firewire disks, prevent Spotlight from indexing them (add /Volumes) to the privacy tab.

→ Install Microsoft Office (installer might quit if it finds previous Microsoft User Data folders or symbolic links to folders), and accept its updates (hoping they'll do good!)

→ Update versions of some utilities (BitTorrent, emacs, Senuti, TextWrangler, VLC, Skype)

→ Install Mathematica

→ Install Texshop and i-Installer with basic LaTeX packages (forget the i386 versions!), CM-super, ghostscript 8, imagemagick (which required libwmf and freetype 2)

→ Install emacs (AquaMacs, but Emacs On Aqua is better, although it may be broken on 10.4.4?)

→ Install Python Imaging

→ Update iMovie

→ Had to trash the System keychain (was asking for pwd at login) and reinput wireless pwd

→ Clean up previous system directory. Saved lots of space.

For later…

→ Remember to update SilverKeeper (with care) before backing up

→ Install DarwinPorts?

→ Install Python 2.4

PDF for Firefox

Jun 20, 2008

tigerinstall (/osxtricks)
2008-06-20, 04:11 [edit]

vallis.org: Michele's wikiblog

Spotlight importers (such as the Python source code importer from Toxic Software) can be installed for single users by browsing the package to the Archive.pax.gz, and copying the .mdimporter file to ~/Library/Spotlight.

It is then necessary to tell Spotlight to index files corresponding to the new importer, with something like

/usr/bin/mdimport -r ~/Library/Spotlight/Python\ Metadata\ Importer.mdimporter

Apr 25, 2007

mdimport (/osxtricks)
2007-04-25, 09:54 [edit]

Useful OS X software

Back to OS X tricks

Dashboard widgets:

iStat (previously sysStat)

Merriam-Webster dictionary widget

Capture widget


SoundFlower virtual audio channels


Video download extension for Firefox

BitTorrent, of course. Not much good without DivX and AC3 for audio.

→ Don't want to buy QuickTime Pro? Try QuickTime Amateur

Older, to sort:

Bwana is a cool manpage renderer for web browsers. The trick is remembering to use it.

→ The PDF Browser Plugin by Schubert IT will beautifully display PDF documents within Safari, so you can avoid cluttering up the desktop with downloads. Acrobat 7 now does the same, but I still prefer the PDF Browser Plugin. But now Tiger also does it by default!

Links is a text-based www browser that will do miracles with complex layouts. Hmm, deliciously low bandwidth!

CocoAspell is a nice spellchecking service for OS X, which will interact with TeXshop and allow LaTeX keywords. See /osxtricks/installcocoaspell about its installation.

CronniX will edit the crontab.

→ Preparing for Tiger (maybe): Carbon Copy Cloner.


DarwinPorts, in my opinion, is superior to Fink.

→ The best version of gnuplot for OS X (X11 and AquaTerm) is at www.lee-phillips.org. Also from DarwinPorts.


Cyberduck, a cute FTP and SFTP browser. Or Fugu.


XeTeX can use the OS X fonts: mindboggling, especially in conjunction with fontspec.

→ A nice free editor is TextWrangler; or SubEthaEdit. Textpander for easy abbreviations.

TeXpoint for the Mac! Equation Service can also be useful when doing PowerPoint presentations.

CocoaBooklet will make PDF booklets; PDFLab will do other PDF acrobatics.


HFS rsync: may it be?

Cocktail will clean, repair, and optimize OS X. A more specific tool, DeepSix, will clean font caches (especially Microsoft Office's).

→ Making the best of PowerBook keyboards: uControl or better DoubleCommand.

→ Backup tools: Duover, Impression (to CD), iMsafe, and my favorite, SilverKeeper.


BitCartel RadioLover and iRecordMusic, Roxio Roast. Commercial!

→ Got an iPod? Get Senuti! (and maybe Blue Coconut…)

→ Split iPhoto libraries with iPhotoBuddy.

→ Talk free with Skype

To evaluate:

Devon technologies has lots of useful freeware, including WordService ("34 functions to convert, format or speak the currently selected text, to insert data or to show statistics of the selection within all Cocoa applications"), CalcService ("calculates the result of a selected formula within all Cocoa applications"), and ThumbsUp ("a simple, drag-and-drop based utility to create thumbnails for a bunch of pictures").

Cocoalicious, Inkscape, Gizmo, CVSFinder, ScPlugin

Jun 07, 2006

software (/osxtricks)
2006-06-07, 08:56 [edit]

OS X Trick: enhancing Python on OS X

From MacPython you can get a Panther distribution containing an IDE and a Package Manager, which will allow you to install TkInter, and readline, fixing the obnoxious editing problems in line-mode Python.

Get also Tk. Of possible interest are Pmw (including Blt), and Tile. To install Pmw on Panther (or Tiger!), move the untarred Pmw directory to /System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.3/lib/python2.3/site-packages/

It seems in Tiger (and perhaps Panther) one can enable readline support by means of the pimp package:

python `python -c "import pimp; print pimp.__file__"` -i readline

Very nice.

Jan 05, 2006

macpython (/osxtricks)
2006-01-05, 12:26 [edit]

What a new Mac needs...

→ When installing OS X (Tiger), include XDarwin.

→ After the install, install the Development Tools from the OS X DVD.

→ Then set firewall and printers.

→ Scientific applications: Wolfram Mathematica, MathWorks Matlab.

Adobe Acrobat, Illustrator, Photoshop Elements (if you have bought them).

Stuffit Expander

→ Other commercial software: Microsoft Office (little trick here: Office needs to be able to write to Documents/Microsoft User Data), Cisco VPN3000.


→ Editing: TeXshop

MindLube (points to OpenDarwin), Carbon Emacs (good), Emacs On Aqua (currently my choice, needs Python mode and ansi-color), AquaMacs (ambitious but confusing).

Dec 09, 2005

newmac (/osxtricks)
2005-12-09, 09:29 [edit]

OS X Trick: getting Mail to trust certificates

I cannot get Mac Mail to trust permanently a self-signed IMAP certificate; but if you can generate the certificate with your own authority, get the authority's public certificate ("pem") file, and do the following:

- Start the Keychain Access utility, select "Add Keychain…" from the File menu, and choose /System/Library/Keychains/X509Anchors.

- Press the "Show Keychains" icon near the upper right-hand corner of the window, and select X509Anchors from the list.

- Now select "Import…" from the File menu and choose the certificate file; in the attributes pane near the bottom of the window, next to "When using this certificate", select "Always trust" from the pop-up menu.

By the way, here's the required certificate file for the Caltech Alice mailserver.

Aug 26, 2005

mailcertificate (/osxtricks)
2005-08-26, 00:19 [edit]

QuickTime tricks

→ Holding the Option key down while dragging to resize a QuickTime window will give you the "non-interpolated sizes" available for that resolution, much in the same way the Dock behaves when you Option-drag its divider. (From macosxhints.)

Aug 03, 2005

quicktime (/osxtricks)
2005-08-03, 11:28 [edit]

PDF viewers in OS X

→ In Tiger, one can disable the built-in support for PDF in Safari by doing

defaults write com.apple.Safari WebKitOmitPDFSupport -bool YES

→ The Acrobat Safari plug-in can be disabled in Acrobat Preferences

→ Acrobat's own plug-ins (many of them!) can be disabled from the Get Info dialog for the Acrobat application

Aug 03, 2005

pdf (/osxtricks)
2005-08-03, 11:25 [edit]

Installing CocoaSpell

Installing CocoAspell involves dropping Spelling.prefPane into the “PreferencePanes” subfolder of the “Library” folder. If that subfolder does not exist, create it first.

On previous installations, the OS Preference Pane for spelling services got stuck on the “filter” option for Aspell. The fix is to remove ~/Library/Preferences/aspell.Spelling.plist while changing the preference.

Apr 29, 2005

installcocoaspell (/osxtricks)
2005-04-29, 13:01 [edit]

OS X Trick: exporting .mbox files from Mac Mail

It seems you can do it just by dragging Mac Mail folders to the desktop. Impressive, but you'll need to do it folder by folder.

Sep 10, 2004

macmail-mbox (/osxtricks)
2004-09-10, 13:43 [edit]

OS X Trick: a bug in the Python makefile in Jaguar

This is present at least in Python < 2.2.3; in /usr/lib/python2.2/config/Makefile, the architecture flag

LDFLAGS= -arch i386 -arch ppc

should be replaced with

LDFLAGS= -arch ppc

or compilation of some libraries (matplotlib comes to mind) will fail.

May 20, 2004

python-compile-bug (/osxtricks)
2004-05-20, 14:16 [edit]

OS X Trick: using Mathematica over X

You need to copy the Mathematica X fonts (both Type1 and BDF, I think) from a Unix host into /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/mathematica; then, once the X server is started, issue the commands

xset +fp /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/mathematica/Type1/
xset +fp /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/mathematica/BDF/
xset fp rehash

As long as I can tell, the Type1 fonts bundled with the OS X version of Mathematica won't work, probably because they have different encodings. Have fun!

Mar 12, 2004

mathfonts (/osxtricks)
2004-03-12, 16:25 [edit]

OS X Trick: getting some C++ software to compile

There is a bug in /usr/include/gcc/darwin/3.1/g++-v3/cmath that will undo the definition of isnan. To fix it, comment out the line #undef isnan. Update: in Panther, the file to change is /usr/include/gcc/darwin/3.3/c++/cmath.

Also, malloc.h does not exist in OS X. Just touch it in your compilation directory to create a dummy, empty version. Update: Panther seems to have the file.

Jan 24, 2004

compile (/osxtricks)
2004-01-24, 10:43 [edit]

OS X Trick: fixing Finder issues (wrong icons, etc.)

To refresh the OS X Finder cache, remove ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist, then force-quit the Finder. (This trick from The X Lab.)

Oct 30, 2003

finderissues (/osxtricks)
2003-10-30, 07:56 [edit]

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© M. Vallisneri 2012 — last modified on 2010/01/29

Tantum in modicis, quantum in maximis