Category Archives: Apple

Adding a Mouse Gradient to Stacks in Mac OS X – Leopard

Here’s how to add a mouse-over gradient to your Stacks in Leopard:

Open Terminal and type the following command:

defaults write com.apple.dock mouse-over-hilte-stack -boolean YES

Hit return and then restart the Dock with this command:

killall Dock

To get back the default behaviour, replace “YES” in the above command with “NO”.

WaterRoof – GUI Frontend for the Mac OS Firewall

Any time I reinstall Windows on my desktop machine, there are 2 programs that go on before anything else: anti-virus and a personal firewall. However, on my MacBook, I have no anti-virus installed, and the firewall comes pre-installed.

Following the initial release of Leopard, there were some concerns regarding the efficiency of the firewall. The configuration utility provided with Leopard, or for that matter, Tiger, is not great for power users. You can use the command line to view and edit the firewall rules, but it’s not the most intuitive way to do it. Enter WaterRoof. Available for both Tiger and Leopard, this handy tool allows you to apply either pre-built rule-sets or to create your own.

As well as allowing editing of rules, WaterRoof also provides access to the firewall logs, either graphically or the raw statistics. If you’re new to Mac OS and want more control over the inbuilt firewall, the WaterRoof is worth having.

Enabling Root in Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

When troubleshooting your Mac, it helps if you can log in as a different user. Instead of creating a new user, you can enable Root. Here’s how:

  1. Open Finder,
  2. Browse to Applications -> Utilities,
  3. Open Directory Utility,
  4. Click the lock to make changes,
  5. Enter your password when prompted,
  6. From the Taskbar go to Edit -> Enable Root User,
  7. Enter a new password for Root,
  8. Confirm the password and click OK,
  9. Close Directory Utility, and log out of your Mac,
  10. At the login screen, click the picture for Other…,
  11. Type the username root, with the password you previously set.

The root account should only be used when absolutely necessary, and when you know what you’re doing.

Adding Recent Item to the Leopard Dock

I came across this handy hint on Mac OS X Hints. It adds a “special folder” to your Dock that allows you to easily browse recent applications, documents, servers, volumes etc.

Open Terminal and type, (or paste), the following command:

defaults write com.apple.dock persistent-others -array-add '{ "tile-data" = { "list-type" = 1; }; "tile-type" = "recents-tile"; }'

After the command has completed, type “killall Dock” (no quotes) to restart the Dock. You’ll now have a new icon beside your Trash. Click the icon to open a stack showing your recent documents. Command-click, or right click to show options to display:

  • Recent Applications
  • Recent Documents
  • Recent Servers
  • Favourite Volumes, and
  • Favourite Items

Forcing Time Machine to Use a Network Drive


Update 18 December 2007:

I’ve discovered a better way to force Finder to browse the contents of a network drive. You can read more here.


By default, Time Machine will not allow you to back up to a network drive – even if you can get Leopard to recognise the drive.

However, there is a command that will allow you to use a network drive with Time Machine. Before running this command, mount your network drive. Open Terminal, and at the prompt type:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Open Time Machine Preferences, and you should now be able to view your network drive mounts.

My Network Drive Now Works with Mac OS X Leopard

Update 18th December 2007


I’ve found an easier way to force Finer to recognise the contents of a network drive. You can read more about it here.


I’ve written at some length about the problems that I’ve been having getting Leopard to connect to my Network Drive via SMB. The problem has been grating on my nerves over the last few days, and I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get it to work.

I’ve tried quite a few things over the last few days to try to get it to work, all without success. Here’s just a sample:

Reinstalled Leopard from scratch

I erased my entire hard-drive and installed Leopard from scratch. I did this just in case there was a problem with the installers method of upgrading from Tiger to Leopard. In the end, I had the same problem: Leopard could see my network drive, but not the contents.

Installed Tiger, updated Tiger, then installed Leopard

Installed Tiger from scratch, once again erasing the hard-drive in the process. Updated Tiger using the Software Upgrade option from the Apple menu. Then upgraded to Leopard. I went through this rigmarole just in case there were parts of Tiger that were being carried over into Leopard and that weren’t being upgraded. Still no joy though.

Manually reverted to the old version of the smb.conf file

I located the smb.conf file in the /etc directory, renamed it smb.conf.new, then proceeded to rename smb.conf.old to smb.conf. Restarted the computer. I did this just in case it was a configuration issue. No luck with this either.

Installed the latest version of Samba

I downloaded and installed the latest version of Samba from the web. In case there was an issue with the version shipping with Leopard, I thouht it might be a good idea to try this, but I still wasn’t able to get it to work. In fact I wasn’t even able to get Samba installed. It may work, but I just didn’t see it going anywhere.

Installed Sharity 3

Sharity is a program that brings the SMBFS file system to Unix. There’s a version available for Mac OS X, but while it looked promising, it just ended up hanging the OS.

Reformatted my network drive with the Mac OS Extended File System

Thinking that it may be a problem with the way that Mac OS views FAT file systems, I tried formatting the drive for use with Mac OS. I had no problem partitioning and formatting the drive when it was directly connected to my MacBook, but when I tried to connect to the drives built-in webserver it reported that there was no free space – the firmware in the drive just didn’t recognise the file system. So I had to reformat it back to FAT32 again.

Now that I’ve been through what didn’t work for me, I can explain what I did to get Leopard to recognise my network hard drive.

  • Connect to my Network Drive using Apple-K
  • Close the lid of my MacBook
  • Leave it sleep for several hours
  • Open the lid of my MacBook and login back in

Voilà! I can now browse my network drive, and add and delete files and folders, etc. I’ve moved my iTunes Music folder to the drive and it works perfectly.

There is one issue. The network drive does not appear under the Shared section of finder, nor under the Desktop folder in my profile, even though I can see the link to the folder on my Desktop.

Problem Connecting to a Network Drive using SMB on Mac OS 10.5 Leopard


Update 18 December 2007:

I’ve discovered a better way to force Finder to browse the contents of a network drive. You can read more here.


Today I bought a new network hard drive. I bought it because I was getting tired of dragging my old USB external drive from room to room when I needed it. Having a network accessible hard drive makes it so much easier to share data between multiple computers using multiple operating systems.

Initially I set it up from my Windows machine, as I was working on that at the time. Setup was easy enough, and within a minute I was backing up my data over the network.

My problems started when I tried to access the hard drive from my Intel MacBook running Mac OS 10.5. I could connect to the drive and the shares with no problem, but when I tried to browse the contents of the share, it appeared to be empty. Now, I know it’s not empty because I just copied data onto the drive from my Windows machine. First of all I though that it may be the Mac OS firewall that was causing the problem, but even after disabling it, I still couldn’t get Finder to see any of the files on the drive.

I tried creating a folder on the drive using Finder. It seemed to create the folder OK, but no sooner had it done so than the folder disappeared. I checked the drive using Windows XP and the folder was there. It just wasn’t visible to Leopard.

The drive that I bought has a built in FTP server, so I tried to browse the drive using my FTP program and it worked. Using Finder to connect via FTP also worked. In both instances I was able to browse OK, but I could only add new files and folders with my FTP program.

I also tried mount the drive from the command line using:

mount_smbfs //user:password@drive_name/share_name /Volumes/NAS

(BTW, I had to manually create the /Volumes/NAS directory first)

No error messages were returned by the command and the hard drive showed as being connected in Finder, but once again, the share contents were “missing”. I also tried connecting using the CIFS protocol, but the same problem occurred. In desperation, I even tried using the Apple AFP protocol, even though I had an inkling that the drive wouldn’t support it. Unfortunately I was right.

I’ve been browsing the web for a bit looking for a solution, and it looks like I’m far from being the only person with this problem. There’s a thread on the Apple forums with some possible solutions, but none have worked for me.

So for the time being it looks like I’m stuck with browsing my new hard drive via FTP from my MacBook, while my Windows machines will have no problem connecting.

Google Earth and Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

I tried running Google Earth today for the first time since I upgraded to Leopard. It quit unexpectedly without an error message. I tried re-installing from the original .dmg image but did not resolve the issue. Apparently I’m not the only one with this problem.

According to Google, version 4.2 of Google Earth is compatible with Leopard. Downloading and installing this version resolved my problem, but there are others for which this solution did not work. According to one poster on the Google forums, the following may help:

  • Delete the entire ~/Library/Application Support/Google Earth/ folder
  • Delete the ~/Library/Preferences/com.Google.GoogleEarthPlus.plist file
  • Restart Google Earth

If you delete these files, be aware that you’ll need to reload your myplaces.kml file from a backup. (The myplaces.kml file is saved in the “Google Earth” folder listed above).

Leopard: Data Loss Bug

With any new OS there’s bound to be a few problems. Now that hype is dying down a bit, and as Leopard users get down to using the new OS, the bugs are beginning to surface. The biggest one reported to date involves data loss when moving files between different file systems.

So until Apple release a fix, if you have to move files, then stick to copy and delete.