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To play divx videos or movies in QuickTime / Front Row on Mac OS X, you need to install a divx codec. If you open an .avi file and see only black, you likely don’t have a divx codec installed.

Download a free divx codec for Mac here then following these walkthrough instructions on how to play divx videos on Mac.

Say you have different keyboard layouts cause you’re bilingual and need access to accents or different alphabets. The normal way to switch between these two keyboards would be to show the keyboard icon on the top Menu bar and simply click on the icon and choose the keyboard layout you wish to use.

Although this works, it’s a bit annoying to mess with the mouse in search of a tiny keyboard layout icon when you just want to hop in to a keyboard layout to get an accented character, then return back to the original that you were just using.

To the rescue: Input Menu, hidden deep within System Preferences => Keyboard & Mouse => Keyboard Shortcuts => Input Menu (greyed out)

The reason Input Menu is disabled by default is that its historic keyboard shortcut has been taken over by Spotlights: Apple Key + Spacebar.

Keyboard and Mouse Preferences - Keyboard Shortcuts - Input Menu

For me, I hardly ever use Spotlight, since I’m on the Quicksilver launcher train, which pretty much circumvents my need of Spotlight, so I’m happy to give up Command + Spacebar to be able to toggle back and forth nearly instantaneously between keyboards (French AZERTY and English QWERTY). (See the great things you can do with Quicksilver here).

If you’re hot on Spotlight, simply choose a different keyboard shortcut for either Spotlight or Input Menu => Select the Previous Input Source. You can do this by double clicking on the shortcut in question and pressing the new keyboard combination to replace it with.

Fix for “caution: filename not matched” error when trying to unzip multiple files at once in Terminal.

Solution for unzipping multiple zip files with a single command.

Open up a Terminal window on OS X, go to the directory containing the zip files and enter this command:

unzip \*.zip

The forward slash escapes (prevents) the wildcard character (the “*”) from being expanded by bash shell interpreter. In English: the files in the directory are the filenames “unzip” is trying to extract from the first file it finds when using “*”.


/myzips directory contains zip files:

Trying to run: “unzip *.zip” will cause the unzip program to take “” as the archive to play with, and will look for files “” and “” within “” to expand/extract. Obviously not what you want to do.

Not escaping the * character will result in errors like: “caution: filename not matched”.

First find your current sleep setting by opening Terminal in OS X and entering this at the prompt:

pmset -g | grep hibernatemode

That should return you something like “hibernatemode 3”. Remember this number, send an email to yourself, write it down on a scratch pad, whatever it takes to remember your default mode. Mode 3 keeps your RAM powered during sleep to allow super fast wake-up, but also writes an image file of all memory onto disk in case power is lost.

To change the hibernate safe sleep setting to not create an image file on the disk, i.e. mode 0 (mode zero, not the letter ‘o’), enter the following in a Terminal window:

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

Enter your password when asked to do so. This prevents Safe Sleep from saving your memory contents to disk, in large part the cause of not being able to wake MacBook’s from sleep.

If you’d like to get back about a gigabyte or more of disk space, delete the memory image file with the following Terminal command:

sudo rm /var/vm/sleepimage

Macworld has a great article with more information about safe sleep and hibernation on MacBooks.

Open the lid and nothing? Tap keys, change brightness, close and re-open lid and your MacBook still in sleep mode?

Solution: Turn off Safe Sleep. Or use Smart Sleep.

If you open your MacBook lid and notice that you can’t wake your MacBook from sleep, it’s because of the Safe Sleep system Apple designed. This system puts all your current memory (your RAM) onto the disk, so that it can power down the RAM, save energy, and keep the current working state of your computer, even if you ran out of battery power, changed batteries, etc.

Problem is, it’s slow. And buggy. Often when waking from sleep by opening the lid, the MacBook will remain in sleep.

My solution to this: don’t use Safe Sleep. Unless you’re constantly working on battery power and hate plugging in, you likely won’t ever notice you’re not using Safe Sleep’s hibernate to disk mode.

Here are some instructions on how to turn off Safe Sleep on a MacBook Pro Leopard or Tiger to avoid wake-up problems.

If you still want to use Safe Sleep with disk caching of RAM, use Smart Sleep by Patrick Stein. This software adds a preference pane to your Mac, allowing you to not use disk hibernation until you reach a low battery level, say 20% remaining battery.

Find Terminal in Leopard or Tiger

Open Finder

Go to Applications => Utilities

Double click on Terminal or highlight Terminal and Apple/Command Key + Arrow Down.

To reduce the temperature of my MacBook Pro I use smcFanControl by Hendrik Holtmann.  Normally my MacBook Pro would run somewhere close the 55-60C mark without doing anything intensive, say a 10-15% average CPU utilization.  I found this somewhat hot for my tastes, especially when using the built in keyboard where it would be uncomfortably hot to touch the speaker/heat dissipation grilles on either site of the keyboard.

I generally run the two internal MacBook Pro fans at 2600rpm each to keep the temperature 50C or below, depending on ambient temperature.  The cost is a little fan noise which is noticeable in a dead quiet room.  If you’ve got any music or background noise, you won’t notice it.  Either way, it’ll blend into the background quickly since it’s “white” noise anyways.

I’m unsure which version is the latest for smcFanControl so here’s another link to smc Fan Control version 2.1.2 in case it’s more recent than the above link.

This post was due to a comments discussion on how to turn off the macbook pro display when using an external display for Front Row.

When outputting a movie to an external TV or projector it’s nice to not show the video on your Mac’s main display since it’s distracting. Closing the lid on a MacBook Pro makes it go to sleep and the only way to prevent the MacBook from sleeping with the lid closed is through some serious kernel hacks.

Apple’s Front Row has a feature that makes the secondary screen will go blank and dark when the Front Row is started. The trick to make your main MacBook display go blank when outputting Front Row to the secondary screen is to make your secondary screen the primary display. This is done through System Preferences => Display Preferences.

When you have the DVI to Video Adapter connected to your MacBook Pro and connected to a TV or other type of external display, open up Display Preferences. Within Display Preferences, choose Arrangement. You should see two blue squares that represent each display, main and secondary. On the main display you’ll notice a bar along the top. Simply click and drag this bar from the Main Display (usually on the left and large) to the secondary display, to make it the Primary or Main display. Close Display Preferences. Launch Front Row by hitting Apple key + Esc or by hitting the Menu on your Apple Remote. Front Row will launch and turn off the MacBook main display so that you can enjoy a distraction free viewing experience for your movies and videos on an external display.


This will be painfully obvious to the old school Mac crew, but having been a recent convert from twenty years of PC’ing, I recently discovered how cool it is to play movies and videos from my Macbook Pro.  It’s like having a digital entertainment suite in your computer, complete with remote control that wows the crowd.

Front Row

Pressing Apple key + Escape key will fade out your screen to black and then Front Row will show up with selections such as Movies, which lists all video files in your Movies folder within Finder. If you’ve got your remote handy you can navigate this menu using the + and – buttons to go up and down the list, using Play/Pause to make a menu item selection. To go back or Up a menu selection you can either press the Escape key on the keyboard or the circular small Menu button on the remote.

If you haven’t already, consider install a DivX decoder and Perian so that you get great video format playback capabilities on your Mac.  Otherwise you may run into the situation where videos you’ve saved on your Mac play without sound and possibly without video either.

If you’ve noticed that your Macbook or Macbook Pro purchased in 2006 or 2007 is losing its battery life at an alarming rate, you’re not alone. Apple has had a very large batch of Sony lithium-ion polymer batteries for their laptops that are losing their maximum charge capacity very quickly.

System Profiler - Power

If you’ve noticed that your 4 hour battery life dropping to just over 2 hours recently, check your System Profiler for some information about your laptop battery power system.

System Profile can be found in Finder => Applications => Utilities => System Profiler.

Once you have System Profiler open, find Power underneath Hardware. Click on that item and on the right side of the window, scroll down until you find the Battery Information heading.

The three values we’re interested in are Full charge capacity (mAh), Cycle count, and Battery health.

A normal reading for Full charge capacity is about 5200-5400 mAh (milliamp hours). That translates into just over 4 hours battery life. Cycle count is how many times the battery has been used to capacity and recharged. Battery health is a word describing overall life expectancy and condition of the battery.

Remember that Apple has published on its Apple Support site that their laptop batteries are designed to hold 80% of its original charge capacity after 300 cycles (see the footnotes).

Doing the math, that means the Full charge capacity should be around 4160 to 4320 mAh after 300 cycles. If your Macbook battery is failing, like mine, it should read less than 3250 mAh, with a Health of “Fair” after far less than 300 cycles.

But, don’t despair. With that juicy price paid for the best laptop available on the market comes pretty good customer service. Bring your Macbook into an authorized service center, an Apple flagship store, or call up Apple support hotline and explain the situation. Also note that there are several support forum threads on about users describing the same situation and what Apple has done for them:

For Macbook users experience battery life problems as described above the warranty coverage is being extended to two years, so even if your Macbook is out of warranty, your battery may still be in warranty.

I currently have a battery being sent to me and we’ll see how things turn out.

Good luck.