As a keen Mac user for many years, I’ve often been bugged by the same age-old issue. An that’s the fact that you can’t keep important windows ‘top-most’. This can often be a bind, especially when you spend time in both terminal and GUI applications. Last week this pushed me over the edge, as I was getting tired of flicking between the two. So I finally found what I think is the perfect solution to my problem.

The clever people over at Infitite Labs have produced a handy little utility named Aflot. It’s completely free of charge and offers some pretty impressive features.

Afloat features include:

  • Keep any window ‘afloat’ (aka top-most)
  • Pin windows to the desktop
  • Move windows from anywhere
  • Turn a window into an overlay (transparent<->semi transparent)
  • Show a windows file in Finder
  • Resize windows from anywhere.

Afloat requires OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) or above, and is available to download from here

Once downloaded and installed, the OS X ‘Window’ menu in the menu bar of your favourite apps will include extra options:

This has saved me lots of pain when using terminal. If you know of other methods to ‘pin’ windows let me know.

OS X Lion comes with some pretty handy features, and the System Preferences window can soon become full of things you don’t really need to refer to all the time. Luckily the developers over at Apple have this covered. Somewhat of a hidden feature allows you to hide/show preference panes, with just a few clicks of your mouse/track pad.

To do this launch your System Preference Window, which can you find under Finder > Applications.

Once launched click on the ‘View’ menu in the menu bar at the top of your screen, and select the customise option.

Each preference pane will then get a ‘tick box’ just to the right of it’s icon. Clearing the tick in this box will hide it from view in the preference pane window.

If you change your mind at any point, all you need to do is repeat the process and tick the ones you removed.

It really is as simple as that.

When I very first got my Mac I loaded up the OS X Dashboard with countless widgets, doing all sorts like checking share price levels to little puzzle games. However, I soon started to realise that some of my dock items where hogging precious memory, and stealing CPU cycles.. Not to mention the fact the only time I saw the widgets was when I accidentally ended up in the dashboard view.

Because of this I have been looking at ways to disable the Dashboard all together, sure, it’s a cool place to hand out, and a nice party trick.. However I’d much rather have the free memory and CPU cycles!

So, if you’d like to disable OS X Dashboard, launch a new Terminal session fro the utilities folder and copy/paste in the following commands:

defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean YES

As the Dashboard Process is controlled by the Dock, you will also need to relaunch the dock, to do this simply copy and paste the following code into the terminal window:

Killall Dock

As with all of the terminal tutorials I post they are easy to reverse, to re-enable the OS X Dashboard:

defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean NO

Then you will once again need to relaunch the dock:

Killall Dock

It really is as simple as that..

Traceroute is an important part of any IT experts toolkit who’s worth his salt.. Traceroute enables you to track down potential routing issues between your Mac/PC/Device to your Router/DNS Servers/Web Host.

If, like me you migrated over to Mac from a PC, you will be used to launching a command prompt and firing off the tracert command. However, in OS X the command is slightly different. Some may say it makes more sense..?

To use OS X Traceroute you need to launch a new terminal session, to do this open Applications > Utilities and click terminal.

When the terminal has launched simply type Traceroute followed by the address you want to trace the route to. So for example, if you wanted to check how your devices browser gets to you would type:


Your mac will then resolve to it’s IP address, and then trace each ‘hop’ from your device to the address. This can be very handy when trying to figure out if the routing issue is your equipment, your ISP’s equipment or the web host it’s self.

I think it’s fair to say that iTunes really does split the crowds, some people love it.. Some people hate it with a passion, well I am up there with the ones who love it.. Sure it’s got it’s issues, but I am not sure the iPhone or the mac would be the same without it.

For those of you who do love it, and think it’s here to stay.. Here’s a quick terminal command to enable a hidden feature. The feature gives you a small notification popup each time the iTunes track changes.

In a new terminal window, enter the following command:

defaults write itunes-notifications -bool YES
Killall Dock

Now, the next time iTunes track details changes you will get a popup like the one seen above! Not sure why this isn’t a built in iTunes feature, I personally think it’s pretty cool.

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