Mac OS X

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Disable sudden motion sensor

The motion sensor is great to save the hard drive if the machine is ever to fall a fair height or be struck, but it also can make the heads park more often than necessary.

To disable the sensor:

  1. Open the Utilities folder, find Terminal
  2. Enter sudo pmset -g to see the current system settings, sms indicates Sudden Motion Sensor and is normally 1
  3. To disable the sensor use sudo pmset -a sms 0, where 0 is disable and 1 enable
  4. The change is permanent until the pram and maybe the SMC is reset


Turn off lid wake

To protect the hard drive and prevent it from accidently spinning up if the lid is slightly open when it's in a bag, turn off lidwake.

  1. Open the Utilities folder, find Terminal
  2. To disable wake on lid open, use sudo pmset -a lidwake 0, where 0 is disable and 1 enable
  3. The change is permanent and will evidently persist over the pram and SMC reset

Make current folder default search

For some reason the default search source folder is "This Mac" when CMD+F is issued. I would argue that you're more interested in the content of the current folder where you issued the command than the entire hard drive.

  1. Open a Finder window, select "Finder" and "Preferences"
  2. Go to "Advanced" and under "When performing a search", pick "Search the Current folder"

Now it's quicker to search a folder for specific files.

Show file extensions

Default behavior is to not show file extensions, for better file management disable hidden filename extensions in Finder.

  1. Open a Finder window, select "Finder" and "Preferences"
  2. Go to "Advanced" and check "Show all filename extensions"

Require password after sleep or screen saver

To avoid friends messing around with the machine, require the account password when waking-up from sleep or deactivating the screen saver.

  1. Open System Preferences, open Security
  2. Check "Require password [immediately] after sleep or screen saver begins"

Enable 64-bit kernel in Snow Leopard

By default the 32-bit kernel will be loaded when booting Snow Leopard, holding two keys during the boot will switch to the 64-bit kernel (until the next reboot).

  1. (Re-)start the machine
  2. Hold the letter keys "6" and "4", as in 64-bit
  3. On the firt boot, the mouse and keyboard might not respond (at least on my 2008-unibody Macbook Pro)
  4. Open Sytem Profiler, under Software, check if "64-bit kernel and extensions" is enabled


Mac OS X Installation from Hard Drive

If the optical drive is busted or you want to quickly install OS X, put the OS X Installation disc on a external hard drive and boot from that drive.

  1. Create a dmg-image of the Installation disc using Carbon Copy Cloner
  2. Open Disk Utility and pick the external drive from the menu on the left to put the image on
  3. Go to the Restore tab and click Select and find the dmg-image
  4. Eject the external hard drive, it will be greyed out in Disk Utility but still available
  5. Second, drag the external hard drive icon from the list on the left to the Destination field
  6. Check Erase drive and click Restore, after a few moments, 30-40 minutes, the image will be successfully dumped to the drive
  7. Once done, shutdown and replace the old system drive with a new one if necessary and press power to start-up
  8. Hold the Option key (the one between CMD and CTRL) to enable the boot screen where the available boot drives will show up
  9. Select the Installation disc and follow the standard installation process

To use Disk Utility, do the following steps:

  1. Mount the .dmg image
  2. Open Disk Utility and pick the .dmg mounted disk from the left list
  3. Choose Restore and drag the USB drive to Source
  4. Click Restore and enter the admin password
  5. Reboot and hold the Option key to boot from the new drive


USB to SSD Install

By following the steps above, it's possible to install OS X in 18 minute from start to finish (install boot-up to desktop). The install itself, where it copies the files, takes 13 minutes. After the install is finish, the machine boots to desktop in mearly 35 seconds, that's 5 seconds for the screen to power-on, 13 seconds before the grey Apple logo appears. Everything feels snappy, but not intensely so.

This was tested on a Western Digital 250 GB USB harddrive and an Intel XM25-M Gen2 SSD drive. The Mac is a Macbook Pro first rev Unibody 2.53 GHz 4 GB memory.

Applications like Safari, iChat, iTunes, System Preferences, all start in a single bounce after they're set-up. Check the Xbench-mark here.

Update: Another OS X installation on OCZ Vertex 2 E 120GB SSD finished in 8 minutes, from "Install" confirmation screen to "Complete" screen.