Tag Archives: tips

Add Tab-Switch Gestures to Mac OSX

Here’s how to add the tab-switch gesture across the OS and in whatever app you want:

  1. Download and install Better Touch Tool.
  2. In it’s configuration window, choose the Trackpads tab.
  3. In the sidebar, click the + and find the app to which you want to add the gesture (Finder.app, for example).
  4. At the bottom, click on Add New Gesture.
  5. Under Trackpad Gesture, select Two Finger Gestures > rotate right.*
  6. Click in Custom Keyboard Shortcut, hold control and tap tab.**
  7. Repeat steps 4-6 for rotate left and ctrl-shift-tab.

*or whatever gesture you prefer. ** the tab-switch keyboard shortcut might vary from app to app. ctrl-tab is the default for most.

When I first switched to a Mac, I was still very used to the Windows way of doing things. One of those things was to use a mouse instead of the trackpad, because every trackpad I had ever used on a Windows laptop basically sucked. Then came the MacBook trackpad, which is just plain awesome-sauce. It’s large, smooth, responsive, and most of all: the available gestures are both plentiful and plenty useful. So, after some consideration, I decided to switch to primarily using the trackpad instead of the mouse. The clincher was the gestures; they were just too good to give up.

However plentiful they may be, there isn’t a gesture for everything. In particular, there’s one very common task that doesn’t have an associated gesture: switching tabs. Pretty much every app worth its salt has tabs: web browsers, text editors, and now even the Finder (in Mavericks). The default keyboard shortcut for tab-switching (ctrl-tab) is slow to perform. You have to move your whole left hand out of its normal position. So, there’s either that or you have move the cursor to click on the desired tab, which is even slower.

My inspiration for a solution to this problem came from one app that actually does have a tab-switch gesture (although it’s disabled by default): Firefox. Even though Google Chrome is faster, I still prefer Firefox for its excellent customizability. I’ve set a two-fingered clockwise twist to switch to the next tab, and a two-fingered counterclockwise twist to switch to the previous tab. I’ve gotten so used to these gestures that I get annoyed when I can’t use them in other apps (which is essentially every other tabbed app).

But now I can!

Fixing Phantom App Store Updates

The OS X Mac App Store sometimes doesn’t correctly recognize that an app update has succeeded. The update does get correctly applied, but the notification remains in the App Store “Updates” tab (with a greyed-out button saying “Installed”) and the update count badge does not disappear from the App Store icon. Restarting the App Store or even the computer does not cause these phantom updates to go away. In the last week, I have had this happen to me a couple times. So, I went about finding a solution. Here’s what worked for me:

The Non-Geek Way

  1. Open up a Finder window and navigate to the Applications folder.
  2. Find the app with the phantom update and drag it to the Trash.
  3. Open up the App Store, find the app, and reinstall it.

The Semi-Geek Way

  1. Install OnyX.
  2. Open OnyX. Under Maintenance > Rebuild, check LaunchServices.
  3. Click Execute.
  4. Open up the App Store, click on Updates. The phantom updates are still there, but you can now (re)install them. After you do, they should disappear correctly.

The Alpha-Geek Way

  1. Open the Terminal.
  2. Enter the following command (on one line) to rebuild the Launcher library:
    /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user
  3. Open up the App Store, click on Updates. The phantom updates are still there, but you can now (re)install them. After you do, they should disappear correctly.

Six Ways to Get More Free Dropbox Space

I wrote about the virtues of using Dropbox on my Teacher Tech Tips blog.  By default, Dropbox offers users with free accounts 2 GB of online storage space.  This is actually pretty good in itself, as it is perfect for the kind of files that you’d put on a thumbdrive.  As long as you’re not storing large things like videos and music, that’s actually plenty of space for most people.

However, more is better, and more for free (as in free beer) is best.  So, here are a few ways that I know about to get more storage space on Dropbox account for free, aside from the effort of completing them.  I’ve listed these in the order that I think you should do them:

  1. http://db.tt/F89h21f – Do your initial sign-up with a referral from someone else (that’s mine on the left) – this will give you an extra 250 MB right off the bat.  Of course, this doesn’t work if you already have a dropbox account (or don’t want to start a new one).
  2. https://www.dropbox.com/dropquest2011 – Complete DropQuest 2011 – here are some details. This is only available for another week or so, but completing it will net you a whopping 1 GB of extra storage (you earn it incrementally as you complete the steps of the quest). To do it quickly, you can use a walkthrough.
  3. https://www.dropbox.com/gs – Complete the “Getting Started” – log in to your dropbox account on the website and click on the “Getting Started” tab.  Complete all of the tasks listed there to earn 250 MB.
  4. https://www.dropbox.com/free – Complete the social media linking to Twitter and Facebook to get 640 MB.
  5. https://www.dropbox.com/referrals – Refer others.  For every friend that signs up for dropbox using your referral, you both get an extra 250 MB.  This is the big daddy of free space boosters because you can get up to 8 GB extra space from referrals.
  6. https://www.dropbox.com/edu – Be a student.  If you have an EDU email account, you get double the referral bonus (500 MB per referral, up to a max of 16 GB extra space).  The edu bonus is also retroactive to any referral bonuses you’ve already earned.

If you still need more space, you can also pay for it (and I’d encourage you to do so to support this great service).  Also, if you know of any other ways to increase the free dropbox capacity, let me know.