Recently in Mac OS X Category

Google Chrome supports multiple profiles. The feature is just hidden until it is ready for prime-time. It is really easy to set up on the Linux and Windows version of Chrome. On the Mac it takes some manual work.

I'm sure eventually the Mac version will have a nice GUI to set this up for you. In the meanwhile, I've written a script that does it:



A friend of mine who is an old-time Unix/Linux user asked me for suggestions on how to get used to Mac OS X.

The first mistake that Unix users make when they come to OS X is that they try to use X Windows (X11) because it is what they are used to. My general advice: Don't use X windows. Switching between the two modes is more work for your hands. Stick with the non-X11 programs until you get used to them. Soon you'll find that things just "fit together" and you won't miss X11.

Terminal is really good (continued lines copy and paste correctly! resize and the text reformats perfectly!). I only use X windows when I absolutely have to. Oh, and if you do use X11 and find it to be buggy, install the third-party X replacement called XQuartz (sadly you'll have to re-install it after any security or other updates)

Now that I've convinced you to stick with the native apps, here's why:

  1. pbcopy <file

Stashes the contents of "file" into your paste buffer.

  1. pbpaste >file

Copies the paste buffer to stdout.

  1. pbpaste | sed -e 's/foo/bar/g' | pbcopy

Changes all occurances of "foo" to "bar" in the paste buffer.

  1. "open" emulates double-clicking on an icon.

    open file.txt

If you had double-clicked on file.txt, it would have bought it up in TextEdit, right? That's what happens with "open file.txt". If you want to force another application, use "-a":

open -a /Applications/Microsoft\ Office\ 2008/Microsoft\ file.txt

Wonder how to start an ".app" from Terminal? Double click it:

open /Applications/Microsoft\ Office\ 2008/Microsoft\

Want to find a directory via "cd"ing around on the Terminal, but once you get there you want to use the mouse?

cd /foo/bar/baz
open .

I use this so much I have an alias in my .bash_profile:

alias here="open ."

Now after "find"ing and searching and poking around, once I get to the right place I can type "here" and be productive with the mouse.

  1. Want to use a Unix command on a file you see on the desktop? Drag the icon onto the terminal.

type: od (space) -c (space)

Then drag an icon onto that Terminal. The entire path appears on the command line. If the path has spaces or other funny things the text will be perfectly quoted.

  1. Dislike the File Open dialog? Type "/" and it will prompt you to type the path you are seeking. Name completion works in that prompt. Rock on, File Dialog!

  2. Word processors, spread sheets, video players and other applications that work with a file put an icon of that file in the title bar. That isn't just to be pretty. The icon is useful. CMD-click on it to see the path to the file. Select an item in that path and that directory is opened on the Desktop.

That icon in the title bar is draggable too! Want to move the file to a different directory? You don't have to poke around looking for the source directory so you can drag it to the destination directory. Just drag the icon from the title bar to the destination directory. The app is aware of the change too. Lastly, drag the icon from the title bar into a Terminal window. It pastes the entire path to the file just like in tip 5.

  1. If you want to script the things that Disk Util does, use "hdiutil" and "diskutil". You can script ripping a DVD and burning it onto another one with "hdiutil create" then "diskutil eject" then "hdiutil burn".

  2. rsync for Mac OS has an "-E" option that copies all the weird Mac OS file attributes including resource forks. ("rsync -avPE src host:dest")

  3. "top" has stupid defaults. I always run "top -o cpu". In fact, put this in your profile:

    alias top='top -o cpu'

  4. For more interesting ideas, read the man pages for:

    screencapture mdutil say dscl dot_clean /usr/bin/util pbcopy pbpaste open diskutil hdiutil


P.S. others have recommended this list:

Tom and Strata be teaching and speaking at LISA 2006 in Washington D.C., Dec 3-9, 2006. This is one of our favorite conferences of the year because it is so dam useful. Get your boss to send ya. This year it is in Washington D.C., which makes it easy to get to for all the east-coasters that usually don't get around.

Tom will be speaking/teaching:

Mon9am-5pmWorkshopManaging Sysadmins (co-facilitator)
Wed2pm-3:30Invited TalkSite Reliability at Google/My First Year at Google
ThuAMTutorialTime Management: Getting It All Done and Not Going (More) Crazy!
Thu12:30pm-1:30pmExhibition"Meet the Authors" at Reiter's Conference Bookstore
Thu2pm-3:30Guru TalkHow to Get Your Paper Accepted at LISA
Thu4pm-5:40Guru TalkTime Management for System Administrators
Fri11am-12:30Hit The
Mac OS X

Strata Rose Chalup will be speaking/teaching:

MonPMTutorialProject Troubleshooting
WedPMTutorialProblem-Solving for IT Professionals
ThuAMTutorialPractical Project Management for Sysadmins and IT Professionals
Wed9pm-10pmBOFSysadmin Education

In addition, we will be hanging out in what is known as "the hallway track". In fact, if you haven't attended LISA before, you should know that a lot of the educational value is the people you meet. Tom says, "Early in my career a lot of what I learned was from the conversations in the hallway."

Mac OS X 10.4.3 fixes about a zillion different bugs. None of them interest me except the fact that in


...which was my #1 annoyance about the entire Mac OS X system. Thank you, Apple!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Mac OS X

Two little known Mac OS X commands available from the Unix shell ("Terminal") are pbpaste and pbcopy. They are used for retrieving and sending text to the paste buffer. pbpaste outputs the cut&paste buffer to stdout. phbcopy reads stdin and puts it into the cut&paste buffer.

The more I use these commands the more new ways I find to use them. Read on.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Mac OS X

  • LISA16