Make Leopard leap: Time-saving tips for OS X 10.5

More than 20 ways to get things done faster with Leopard

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Use Automator to speed up repeated tasks

Since I've touched on the idea of using Automator workflows in the Finder toolbar, it's worth mentioning this powerful tool. Automator allows you to string together actions from the Finder and other applications to create reusable workflows.

Actions, each of which performs a specific task such as selecting an item, come packaged with Automator and many third-party applications (including Office 2008). Using them, you can string together both simple operations (such as selecting or opening an item) and complex operations (such as locating and extracting text from a PDF file or combining photos into a slide show or movie) to create complex workflows quickly and easily.

The effect can be much like a powerful scripting language, but one that is extremely simple to use. Just select your actions from any applications and drag and drop them together.

Choosing Actions in Automator

Choosing Actions in Automator.

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Check out the following resources for more information on Automator, additional actions and sample workflows:

Use Dashboard to the fullest

Introduced in Tiger, Dashboard allows you to quickly access mini-applications known as widgets with the click of a button. Since widgets are typically very light code (written in the same technologies used to build Web pages and Web applications), they load very quickly and provide access to any number of useful features, such as calendar and to-do items, Web searches, a calculator and much more.

Creating a Web Clip

Creating a Web Clip.

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With Dashcode (the widget development environment Apple released with Leopard), making widgets is much easier than it was in Tiger, and the range of available widgets has ballooned into the thousands, including many devoted to productivity tasks. Apple provides a thorough listing of widgets to browse through.

Leopard also introduced a feature known as Web Clip that allows you to turn any section of a Web page into a custom widget. If you use any Web-based tools on a daily basis, this provides a quick and easy way to access them.

Tips for working with text

Applications built specifically for Leopard offer a couple of useful text-selection and copy-and-paste features that can be helpful for anyone who works with text. First is the option to select text in blocks rather than lines.

When you select text in an application (such as TextEdit) built with Leopard's development tools, try holding down the option key while selecting text: Rather than the standard line-by-line text capture, you'll see a cross-hair (similar to the one used to select sections of a photo for cropping) that you can use to select text in blocks.

Selecting a text block
Selecting a text block in TextEdit.
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