David Goodger’s Mac OS X Page

Contact: goodger@python.org

Some notes about Mac OS X that may be helpful to others.


Installed 3rd-Party Software

For Unix/Linux geeks adopting the OS X platform, Fink and DarwinPorts are indispensible. There’s also Gentoo for Mac OS X, but I can’t vouch for it as haven’t tried it yet.

Two great utilities for efficient application launching and many other tasks are Butler (for menu-based shortcuts) and QuickSilver (keyboard-based).

2005 PowerBook models include two-finger scrolling. Older PowerBooks and iBooks can get this feature via iScroll2, a free trackpad driver. SideTrack is a shareware trackpad driver with a different implementation.

To monitor your CPU, MenuMeters is great. It also lets you monitor memory, disk, and network activity, but I just use it as a CPU monitor.

A great pop-up mini calendar is CalendarClock, which is no longer available from its author—it has been merged into the shareware MenuCalendarClock. A “donationware” alternative is available: MenuCal.

Several OS X ports of Emacs and XEmacs exist. For example, Carbon Emacs Package and Carbon XEmacs. Or you can build your own from source.

Firefox is a free, cross-platform web browser. Apple’s Safari works fine, but because I work on multiple operating systems, Firefox’s cross-platform nature makes it a winner.

Thunderbird is a free, cross-platform email client. Again, Apple’s Mail works fine, but Thunderbird also works on Linux and other operating systems.

NeoOffice/J is an OS X port of OpenOffice.org, a free integrated office software suite. Includes word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and drawing functionality.

Colloquy is a good IRC client. For more flexibility than iChat offers (such as multiple accounts and services), use Adium or Fire (which also does IRC).

VLC is indispensible for playing DivX/XviD video and obscure codecs.

For backing up DVDs: MacTheRipper, yade X (Yet Another DVD Extractor), DVD Imager, and ImageBurner.

Tips & Tricks


  • [fn] + [delete] makes a forward-delete.
  • Hold down [command] and hit [tab] repeatedly to switch between open applications. With an application icon selected, hit [Q] to quit that app. Hold down [shift] to reverse the order.
  • Hold down [command] and hit [`] repeatedly to cycle between open windows in the current application.
  • Shift-Command-G (same shortcut as in the Finder) in Open/Save dialog boxes brings up a "Go to folder" dialog, enabling keyboard-driven filesystem navigation and access to hidden directories. The dialog supports autocomplete with [tab].


  • [option] + [command] + [i] (or [option] + File -> Get Info) opens an info panel which always reflects the currently selected file(s) and/or folder(s).