Archive for January, 2008

Spotlight in Tiger: More trouble than it’s worth?

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I really want to like Spotlight in 10.4. In theory it should be great: instant access to any file or app by typing a few words. In practice it’s sluggish as hell, making it almost unusable for me. Here’s how I tend to use Spotlight:

  1. Click the Spotlight icon.
  2. Start typing the name of the file I’m looking for.
  3. After typing about 5 letters, Spotlight locks up with a spinning beach ball for 30 seconds, then slowly starts to produce results.
  4. Meanwhile, I switch to the Finder and end up manually finding the file I was after before Spotlight has even finished telling me where it is.

To make matters worse, I recently bought a backup hard drive. Spotlight has decided this would be great fun to index, even though I don’t want it to. Here’s what I see practically every day:

Spotlight indexing my backup drive

Not only is this indexing unwanted, but it slows down my Mac for those 19 hours, and slows down Spotlight itself even further (if such a thing is possible). (more…)

How to quit Front Row if it locks up

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Front Row screenshot (detail)Happy New Year to you!

Front Row. Where would we be without it? We use it all the time to watch DVDs and movies, and listen to music, on our living room iMac. Without Front Row and the Apple Remote, it would be a painful experience.

Still, it has its painful moments, such as the times when Front Row completely freezes. I’ve had this when playing DVDs, and occasionally when browsing the Movies folder (though often in the latter case it was simply being slow).

It’s not obvious what you can do in this situation. The Mac doesn’t respond to the keyboard, mouse, or remote. My previous solution was either to ssh from our other iMac and kill off the Front Row process (not an option if you only have one computer), or simply to power cycle the iMac (not ideal, obviously).

However, the other day I remembered that there was a keyboard shortcut for the Apple > Force Quit menu option when working in “normal” (non-Front-Row) mode: Command-Option-Esc. This brings up a “Force Quit Applications” dialog, allowing you to choose an application to kill. So when Front Row next locked up, I thought I’d try pressing Command-Option-Esc. Amazingly, it worked! I was immediately returned to the Desktop. It didn’t bring up the “Force Quit Applications” dialog, but it did kill off Front Row, which was the main thing. A handy trick to remember.

On a related note: Tired of having to press MENU on your Apple Remote five or six times to back out all the submenus and return to the Desktop? There’s a quicker way: simply press any key on the keyboard apart from the Front Row control keys (Return, Enter, Spacebar, Esc or the arrow keys). Front Row quickly exits, returning you to the Desktop with a single keypress. (Amazingly I only discovered this because our pesky 11-month-old loves to hammer on the keyboard while we’re watching movies!) Naturally this tip requires you to walk over to the iMac – unless you have a Bluetooth keyboard – but hey, we could all use the exercise, right? :)

Happy Front Rowing. (Note: these tips work on Tiger. Not sure about Leopard, as I’m too scared to upgrade right now!)