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Mac hints and tips

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Remove unnecessary Dock items (10.5)

After installing OS X 10.5 Leopard you will immediately notice that the Dock at the bottom of the screen has changed. Most of the changes are improvements, but one slight irritation is that it takes up a lot more screen space because there are far more icons than with OS X 10.4.

If you have a Macbook with a 13in screen then you'll be struggling to fit the Dock on the display, but even if you have 24in desktop model, the length of the Doc and the number of icons it contains makes it difficult finding a particular application. You should remove the unnecessary items that are installed by default.

Mac OS X DockIs anything in the Dock unnecessary? Yes. System Prefences is a good example. Why do you need an icon in the Dock at the bottom of the screen when you can click it on the Apple menu at the top?

Drag the icon off the Dock and drop it on the desktop. It will disappear in an animated puff of smoke.

Spaces is a waste of space - at least on the Dock! When Spaces is enabled you can add an icon to the menu bar at the top of the screen. It provides access to all the spaces (virtual desktops) and preferences. You can also switch spaces by pressing hotkeys (F8), so why have an icon in the Dock? Drag it off and drop it on the desktop where it will disappear.

Similarly, a Time Machine icon is in the Dock at the bottom of the screen and it is a complete waste of space because there's an icon in the menu at the top. Why do you need both? Drag the Time Machine icon off the Dock. What about Dashboard? You don't need the Dock icon when you can simply press F12 to access it.

Shrink the Dock (10.4/5)

Not everyone has a desktop Mac with a screen the size of a football pitch and if you work on a Macbook with a 13in screen then the Dock can be a major irritation. It's just too big. However, it is easily customised and you can make it smaller and hide it when it is not being used. This will free up a lot of screen space for your applications.

Click the Apple menu and select System Preferences. Click Dock in the Personal section and you'll see side and magnification sliders. Drag the Size slider to the Small end of the scale to reduce the size a little.

The most useful option is the one at the bottom that says Automatically hide and show the Dock. Tick it and the Dock disappears when it is not being used. Just drag the mouse pointer down to the bottom of the screen to make it reappear whenever you want to use it.

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