Put a Stop to 9 of OS X’s Most Annoying Behaviors

At some point in time, after you’ve been using a Mac for a while, you’re going to discover some of OS X’s annoying tendencies. I’m not talking about the spinning beach ball or the scary kernal panic screen. Too much of those indicates a problem with your system and it needs to be looked at.

These are the normal little things about OS X that just get in the way, bothering you enough to wish they weren’t there. Now I’ll show you how to get rid of them:

1. The Startup Chime:

Out of all the annoying things that a Mac can do, the obnoxious “gonnng” every time you start up really wears out it’s welcome. Now in the past, with the PPC machines (G3, G4 and earlier), you could get around this by sticking a pair of headphones in the headphone jack. I actually had a clipped headphone jack (no wire, just the jack) just for this purpose. With the current Intel models, this trick doesn’t always work. Here’s what you can do:

– Mute the volume or turn it down to nothing before you shut down. OS X will remember this setting and mute the startup chime.

– Use AlphaOmega Software’s Startup Chime Stopper, Arcana Research’s StartupSound.prefPane, or Satsumac’s Psst.

2. Time Machine constantly asking “Do you want to use this disk…?”

Time Machine is a great addition to OS X. I use it all the time. However, if you don’t use it and like to plug in external hard drives, it will constantly ask you if you want to use this drive as a backup disk. Very annoying. To stop it, just open up the Terminal and type the following:

defaults write come.apple.TimeMachine DoNotOfferNewDisksForBackup -bool YES

3. The Downloaded File “Quarantine”

I can see the point of asking whether you want to run a program downloaded from the internet (every single time you download something) if you’ve never seen a computer before. But think about it. If I downloaded a program, file, or whatever else, chances are – Yes, I DO want to run it! After all, didn’t I just Double-Click the application? Welcome to OS X’s version of the UAC. Now, to get rid of it, open up the Terminal and type:

defaults write com.apple.LaunchServices LSQuarantine -bool NO

Then, restart the computer and the annoying prompt will disappear forever.

4. Safari Opening up Every Single Download:

Besides being a security risk, sometimes you don’t want to auto unzip, open or execute every single Safari download the moment it’s finished downloading. Luckily, Apple makes this one easy to fix.

– Open Safari’s Preferences (Menu Bar -> Safari -> Preferences).

– On the “General” tab, uncheck the “Open “Safe” files after downloading”. checkbox.

5. Changing the Default Applications:

Not everyone likes iTunes for music. Not everyone wants their .DOC files opening in Word. And if for some reason you’ve installed Adobe Reader, or have Acrobat Pro installed, whenever you use it, it has an annoying way of tricking you into changing your default .PDF reader from Preview to Acrobat. This is how you regain control of your default applications.

– Select a file of the type you want to change (PDF, .MP3, etc)

– Choose “Get Info” (Menu Bar -> File -> Get Info).

– Click the Triangle next to “Open with:” if the box is closed.

– Click the Application it’s set to open with and choose the Application you want.

– If the Application you want isn’t listed, Choose Other…

– Click “Change All…” to set it for all files of this type.

6. The “Do You Want to Empty The Trash?” Prompt:

Much like the Download Quarantine, this prompt is particularly annoying. If you put something in the trash, chances are you meant to delete it. If you accidentally put it in the trash, you’ll want to open up the trash to pull it out. If you’re not very computer literate, a message like this pretty much will scare you into never emptying your trash and over time, wasting gigabytes of disk space. Here’s how to get rid of it:

– Open Finder’s Preferences (Menu Bar -> Finder -> Preferences).

– Click the Advanced Tab.

– Uncheck the “Show warning before emptying the Trash” checkbox.

7. Fun with File Extensions:

Back in the days before OS X, the Mac OS didn’t use File Extensions to tell if a Word Document was a Word Document or not. With OS X, Apple introduced File Extensions. If you’re coming from a Unix or Windows background, you’re familiar with them as well.

Now, a funny thing started happening with Windows XP and OS X. While they both use File Extensions to determine what type of file a file is, they both began hiding this from people. I guess it was too much for basic users to know that .jpg is a picture file, .mp3 is a music file, .doc is a Word file, etc. These hidden extensions didn’t go anywhere, but they did disappear from view.

Now when you transfer files via email, USB Drive, etc sometimes these extensions get lost in the transfer resulting in either Windows or OS X not knowing what to do with a file. To fix this, you have to manually add the extension to the file, and hope you got it right (.DOC / .DOCX for example).

The way to solve this problem is to force OS X to always show the extensions.

– Open Finder’s Preferences (Menu Bar -> Finder -> Preferences).

– Click the Advanced Tab.

– Check the “Show all file extensions” checkbox.

Another File Extension nightmare is when you create files and need to change the extensions – changing a text file to .html, .php or .css for example. OS X gives you a warning about this. It gets old pretty fast when you have to change extensions on a bunch of files.

– Open Finder’s Preferences (Menu Bar -> Finder -> Preferences).

– Click the Advanced Tab.

– Uncheck the “Show warning before changing an extension” checkbox.

8. Going Back To The “Traditional” Function Keys:

This one is a personal preference and I think that it depends on how long you’ve been using a Mac. About 2 years ago, Apple changed the Function Keys on their laptops, portable keyboards and iMacs. For example, Exposé originally was the F9 key and became what used to be the F3 key. Now, if you learned the new style, you’re used to it and it feels natural to you. If you learned the other way, you’re constantly hitting the wrong keys and it gets to be a pain if you liked it the old way. Here’s how to go back to the old way:

– Open System Preferences (Menu Bar -> Apple -> System Preferences).

– Choose “Keyboard and Mouse”.

– Click the “Keyboard” tab.

– Check the “Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys” checkbox.

9. The DVD Drive Noise.

On startup (before the lovely chime), whenever Disk Utility scans the system bus, on waking from sleep, and when VMWare loads a guest OS, you hear the DVD Drive make its own weird noise. Last week, Apple actually released firmware updates to fix this. If you have the right model Macbook / MacBookPro, run Software Update and install the appropriate EFI Firmware and the SuperDrive Firmware update.

Note: This Firmware update does not work with all MacBooks / MacBook Pros. If you run Software Update and don’t see any Firmware updates, it’s not for your model.

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