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Mac OS X Hints

Open Terminal in selected Finder folder

Today's tip is just a re-implementation of a really old Mac OS X Hints AppleScript that lets you open a Terminal window with the working directory set to (i.e. cd'd into) the selected Finder folder.

This makes it really easy to jump into Terminal to do something from Finder, without having to do any mousing and minimal typing. What's new is that I've used Keyboard Maestro to turn the AppleScript into a macro that runs only in Finder, where it's available via hot key or menu bar trigger.

Here's the complete macro; download it now to look at and/or use as you wish. [Note: If you use iTerm2 instead of Terminal, you'll want to download this version instead. My good friend James, who runs Out of Control, did so. He tells me it works great.]

The name of the macro may look a bit odd—the 03) controls the sort order in the Keyboard Maestro menu bar item, and does not display when the menu is activated:

Keyboard Maestro also helpfully displays the assigned keyboard shortcut in the menu bar item, in case I've forgotten it.

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How to search the archived Mac OS X Hints site

Late last year, just after its 14th birthday, Mac OS X Hints was officially put into a coma. The site exists online, but it's no longer accepting hints, and exists in a static state.

While it's great that this information is still online—as there are tons of still-useful tidbits there—it's apparently not searchable. When you enter something in the search box and press Enter, nothing happens…well, not nothing: The page reloads with an empty search box. Without search, the huge database isn't quite so useful.

The good news is that Google and Bing have indexed the static site, so you can use their search engines instead of the site's search engine. Even better is that you can build complex queries that aren't possible when searching directly on the site.

To search the hints site from Bing or Google, just include site:hints.macworld.com in the search string. A few quick examples:

While this isn't quite as handy as searching directly on the Hints site, it works well. (To make it easier, I've created a Butler search engine entry that searches hints via Bing.)

RIP Mac OS X Hints, Nov 4 2000 – Nov 4 2014

Note: The following is my unofficial eulogy for Mac OS X Hints; IDG has not announced any plans regarding the site, though I would hope they'll leave it online, even if no new hints appear in the future. The site is now officially in read-only mode; there will be no new hints. So it's officially comatose, at least.

Dearly beloved…

On this, the occasion of its 14th birthday, we're gathered here to mark the passing of Mac OS X Hints.

While it can be hard to tell exactly when a web site has died, the signs are fairly obvious. It's been over 45 days since the last new hint appeared on the site. There is no way for new users to sign up for an account. There's been one new comment posted in the last two days. A sidebar box proudly proclaims Latest Mountain Lion Hints. The site design, logo, and icons were last updated when I worked for Macworld, over four years ago. To paraphrase a Star Trek character, "it's dead, Jim."

To be fair, it's a bit more Monty Python "I'm not dead!" than officially dead, but really, the site is a dead man walking. Now that I'm done with movie analogies, let me explain why the passing of Mac OS X Hints isn't a bad thing. (Note that Mac OS X Hints' passing is in no way a reflection of its management by Macworld. In fact, the opposite is true: I believe the site would have ceased to exist years ago without their involvement.)

The simple truth is that the need for OS X hints has tapered off to near zero over the last 14 years. And that's a good thing.

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Mac OS X Hints turns 14

Fourteen years ago today, I launched Mac OS X Hints, with this simple post. The Mac OS X 10.0 Public Beta was only a couple months old, and many Mac users (myself included) were feeling lost in the land of Unix and Terminal. (Despite anything Apple said at the time, Terminal was very much a required aspect of using Mac OS X in those early days!)

Related post: RIP Mac OS X Hints, Nov 4 2000 - Nov 4 2014

At the time of launch, I knew nothing about content management systems or PHP; I knew enough HTML to be dangerous, and very little about anything else—including design, as you can see from the image at right.

That image, courtesy of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, was taken one month after launch. Could it be any brighter and uglier? Probably not. While I did many things wrong during that launch, I did get a few things right…

  • The site was all about the community; it was my intent from day one that it would be a users helping users site, not a "me telling the world what to do" site.
  • The content management system I chose, Geeklog, has proven to be very long lived—fourteen years on, and it's still what powers the site. In all that time, we had (I believe) exactly one hacking incident. Not bad.
  • The site had a laser focus on hints; I'd do a pick of the week, but outside of that, it was all about the hints.

So despite my poor design and lack of PHP skills, the site flourished. So much so that Macworld purchased the site and hired me in June of 2005. I spent nearly five years with Macworld, before leaving in 2010 to join Many Tricks.

In looking back, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the site would flourish to the point where it would actually change my career. But it did, and for that, I'm eternally thankful to everyone who helped make macosxhints.com what it was. So happy birthday, Mac OS X Hints!

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