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Ask TUAW: Rating On-the-Go, multiple Docks, recovering icons and more

Wednesday is Ask TUAW time! This week we'll look at questions about the iPod's on-the-go features, multiple Docks, recovering icons, network disks, and much more. As always, please leave your own comments, and ask more questions for next week either in the comments to this post or using the tip form. Now let's dive right in!

Christian asks

I'm a big fan of the iPod's "On-The-Go" playlists: hold down the select (middle) button on a song's title and it will be added to the dynamic playlist right on your device; this is a great way to keep track of songs for editing back on your computer, and has a huge number of other applications as well. The one drawback I've found, though, is that there doesn't seem to be a way to easily add the currently playing song to "On-The-Go"; hitting the menu button takes you back to the playlist (or song list, artist list, etc.) you started from, but with the first song you played highlighted. Searching for the song you're listening to at that moment can be a real pain. Any ideas for something that might ease it?


Alas, according to the iPod Features Guide (PDF) this does not seem to be a supported function. I do have a suggestion for you, though, if your main concern is keeping "track of songs for editing back on your computer." Why don't you just rate all those songs you want to keep track of with the same rating (e.g. one star). Then, after syncing you can sort by rating in iTunes and find all those songs (or even create a smart playlist based upon a one star is My Rating rule). Not exactly what you wanted, but maybe that will help.



m asks

i have a studio display hooked up to an imac which works great, but have several questions. how do i get quicktime movies to play in full screen on the studio display without making the imac go black? is there anyway i can have the dock show up on both screens? and not all programs remember their position (i.e. firefox on the studio display, final cut pro on the imac) upon rebooting.


The answer to the first question is that you need QuickTime Player Pro. If you look on page 22 of the QuickTime 7 Users Guide (PDF) you'll see that this seems to be possible using the "Present Movie" function, which is only available on QuickTime Pro ($30). However, you can also do this with the free VLC client. If you play a movie full screen, you can still access the other screen (though the menubar will appear over the movie if it's playing on the main screen).


Regarding the second question: multiple-docks are not a built-in feature of OS X. However, you can achieve what you want with a $10 shareware program called Dock-It. It allows you to create multiple docks which can be positioned on any edge (including the top) and, as you can see from the preference screenshot, either display. If you really want multiple Docks on multiple monitors this is probably what you need.


NeilS asks

I have a NAS box on my network (a Thecus N2100), which, like my Mac, connects to my switch via ethernet. Everything works fine; I 'Connect to Server' and get a drive for it on my desktop. However, occasionally when I'm done using the NAS box I turn it off - but forget to eject the drive first. The result is a horribly locked up Mac, with spinning beachballs in most/all of my applications. Eventually, the Mac realises, and brings up a box saying that the connection has been interrupted and gives me a chance to eject the drive, but this takes several minutes - and sometimes the Mac seems so locked up that it doesn't happen at all... do you have any advice to prevent the lockup, and get the Mac to "give up" on the broken connection sooner?


Alas this is a known issue on OS X and there is no easy solution. I see your Thecus N2100 supports both WebDisk (WebDAV) and FTP. If you are connecting to it as a SMB share I would suggest changing instead to WebDAV. I use a WebDAV network mount (over the internet) all the time, and find OS X recovers reasonably graceful when I lose connection to it. If all else fails, you can use an FTP client like Transmit as suggested on macOSXhints.com.


Mitch asks

I've got a bit of a problem. Seems I've made my applications folder window too large for the screen, and now I cannot resize it. Now the only way to see all of my applications is to set the icons to 24x24, which really sucks. Anyway to remedy this problem?



It's not clear how you actually did that, and perhaps I'm missing something here, but can't you just click on the green zoom button in the top left hand corner of the Finder window and have it automatically resize to fit the screen?


Tom asks

I'd been changing my mail icon to a proper British ones when for one reason or another it's become stuck. Normally you do Get Info and then click the small icon on the top left, well Get Info won't let me click that small one anymore and the icon has a horrible black mask around it. I decided to change the icon inside the package but that only shows up when it's running, the rest of the time I have a horrible black blob in my dock. I should have made a backup before changing anything really. How do I reset mail to it's original icons?


It's somewhat hard to say, because I don't really know what you've done. However, you might try using Panic's CandyBar 2, which as you can see, has a restore defaults feature. Again, I'm not entirely sure this will work, because I don't know what you've done, but it's worth a shot and while Candy Bar runs $12 a demo is available.