Ad­vanced com­mands

Get un­der the hood and tweak Yosemite to your heart’s con­tent

Mac Format - - POWER UP YOSEMITE! -

Long-term OS X users will be well aware that Ter­mi­nal hacks can be used to ad­just as­pects of OS X. Over the years of its ex­is­tence, the op­er­at­ing sys­tem has ac­cu­mu­lated a bunch of com­mands that can be used to make it work bet­ter for you. Th­ese com­mands typ­i­cally start with

de­faults write. Most users copy and paste them from a web­site into the Ter­mi­nal app, which pro­vides a com­mand line from which to en­ter Unix com­mands and in­ter­act with OS X. Ter­mi­nal will feel familiar to older users who re­mem­ber what it was like be­fore graph­i­cal user in­ter­faces be­came com­mon­place. Far from be­ing un­der­hand hacks, th­ese hid­den set­tings are cre­ated – but of­ten un­pub­li­cised – by Ap­ple.

Hid­den pref­er­ences

There are more set­tings avail­able than you are given ac­cess to in Sys­tem Pref­er­ences. You can make ad­just­ments to th­ese set­tings us­ing the de­faults com­mand in Ter­mi­nal. It’s also pos­si­ble to set val­ues for set­tings with­out be­ing limited to the range that’s pre­sented in Sys­tem Pref­er­ences. For ex­am­ple, you can make the Dock huge, and you can com­pletely turn off Mission Con­trol.

Most peo­ple copy and paste de­faults com­mands with­out re­ally re­al­is­ing what it’s do­ing. There’s noth­ing wrong with do­ing that, but it’s im­por­tant to know how you can re­verse the process prior to do­ing it.

If you want to know what’s go­ing on when you use the de­faults com­mand, open Ter­mi­nal and en­ter man de­faults. Read through the com­mand’s man­ual by tap­ping any key, and press q to get back to the com­mand line.

Most tweaks are made by typing de­faults fol­lowed by write, which tells the com­mand you want to make a change. Af­ter that comes the name of the sys­tem file con­tain­ing the pref­er­ence to change, such as com.ap­ple.

finder or com.ap­ple.dock, and af­ter that comes the name of the pref­er­ence it­self, such as

mag­ni­fi­ca­tion, fol­lowed by the value type

and the new value you want to set – for ex­am­ple,

-boolean true or -in­te­ger 128. If you want to see what’s go­ing on in­side the .plist files that store pref­er­ences, try sub­sti­tut­ing

read for the com­mand’s write pa­ram­e­ter. For ex­am­ple, en­ter de­faults read com.

ap­ple.finder in Ter­mi­nal to read all the set­tings for the Finder.

For the most part you’ll en­ter the com­mands we present here, or that you find on the in­ter­net to change the set­tings – leave it to OS X ex­perts to dis­cover what com­mands work in each ver­sion.

You should close any app be­fore ad­just­ing its pref­er­ences, and if the thing whose be­hav­iour you’re mod­i­fy­ing is a fun­da­men­tal part of OS X, such as the Dock or Finder, you will need to en­ter a com­mand to re­launch it, such as the no­tas-scary-as-it-sounds kil­lall finder or kil­lall Sys­temUIServer.

Here are some use­ful com­mands to get you started. To show all files, in­clud­ing sys­tem ones that are nor­mally hid­den, in the Finder, en­ter de­faults write com.ap­ple.finder Ap­pleShowAl­lFiles true; kil­lall

Finder fol­lowed by ® . To change the for­mat of screen shots, type this

com­mand: de­faults write com.ap­ple. screen­cap­ture type jpg; kil­lall

Sys­temUIServer fol­lowed by ® . You can sub­sti­tute jpg, gif, png, pdf or tiff as the value.

Make the Dock com­i­cally large by typing de­faults write com.ap­ple.dock lar­ge­size -int 512; kil­lall Dock fol­lowed by ® . Re­set it to a sen­si­ble size by drag­ging the Mag­ni­fi­ca­tion slider in Sys­tem Pref­er­ences > Dock.

Se­lect­ing a file in the Finder and press­ing the space­bar dis­plays a pre­view of it. En­ter this com­mand and you’ll be able to copy and paste from it: de­faults write com.ap­ple. finder QLEn­ableTex­tS­elec­tion

-bool true; kil­lall Finder and then press the ® key.

Turn­ing on sin­gle app mode makes it so that switch­ing to an app will in­stantly hide all oth­ers. While it's not the eas­i­est way to use a Mac, it’s great for con­cen­tra­tion. En­ter this: de­faults write com.ap­ple.dock sin­gle-app

-bool true; kil­lall Dock and press ® . Turn it off us­ing the same com­mand again with false at the end in­stead of true.

There are hun­dreds of other de­faults com­mands avail­able, and keen Ap­ple fans are of­ten find­ing new ones. Keep an eye on web­sites such as de­faults-write.com and se­crets.black­tree. com to dis­cover fresh com­mands when a new ver­sion of OS X is re­leased.

If you’re re­luc­tant to type com­mands that mod­ify your Mac’s be­hav­iour, apps such as TinkerTool give you many of the same re­sults.

The de­faults com­mand can be used to tweak many be­hav­iours that have no graph­i­cal con­trol in Sys­tem Pref­er­ences.

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