I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

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view_options.jpgAt work, I have the luxury of having a large LCD display to do design work on. But at home, I have a cute 12-inch Powerbook. The size is great for fitting into my backpack, but the 1024 x 768 resolution can become a little tight. Here are the 5 things I do to give me a little more room.

I know some of them may be obvious to the power user, but since most people aren’t power users, I’m going to assume that some will find these helpful:

  1. Make your icons smaller on the desktop
    Many Mac users like to keep a lot files and folders on the desktop. Because the default icon size is ginourmous, it’s not a great habit, and one I’m trying to be better about. Until then, the quick way to tame that desktop is to make the icons smaller. To do this go to the Finder, choose “View” in the menubar and select “Show View Options.” In the window that pops up, slide the icon size slider to 16 x 16. Next, set your “Label position” to “Right.” Finally, go to “View” and select the “Arrange By” option that suits you. When you return to your desktop, you’ll have a much neater desktop.
  2. Exposé yourself When Apple came out with the Exposé feature, I almost wet my pants. The ability to see all opened windows at once was a Godsend for those with tiny displays. I like to active Exposé by mousing over to hot corners instead of the hitting the function keys. You can do this to your liking by going to the “System Preferences” and changing your “Dashboard & Exposé” settings.
  3. Hide your Dock or position it to the side Ideally, you should set the Dock to Hide automatically until you mouse over the edge of the screen. If you must have it visible, set the Dock position to the left or right of the screen. Since I view a lot of web sites and work with files that are generally longer than wide, I’d rather not have the Dock eat away at my screen’s vertical space.
  4. Use applications that support tabbed windows Adium Safari and Firefox both support tabbed windows for browsing websites. This concept is making it’s way into other applications. iChat, sadly, is not one of them. To add tabbed windows to iChat you can download the free add-on, Chax. The alternative is to use Adium instead of iChat. It’s free, supports multiple instant messaging services, and you can customize the interface to take up less screen space as well.
  5. Quicksilver for a better tomorrow Quicksilver When you have a lot of windows open, it’s often a pain to go back to the Finder to look for files or launch applications and other tasks. Enter Blacktree’s Quicksilver, a free utility that can be called from anywhere within the operating system to launch applications find files, search websites, scale images, and much much much more. It’s like a Swiss army knife for doing almost any Finder related task. I could go and on and on with the joys of Quicksilver, but here are some better written, more in-depth overviews and tutorials written by productivity guru, Merlin Mann of 43 folders:
I’m sure there are lots of tips I don’t know about or are overlooking. If you have some, please post them in the comments.

1 Comment

  • Taylor Wright

    gravatarJun 28, 2006
    8:49 pm

    I’m writing this from my 12″ iBook… which is pretty cramped next to a dual monitor system (23″ cinema display and 19″ CRT).

    Anyways, another handy solution is virtual desktops. The two solutions I know for the mac are Virtue (it’s free, open source and universal binary), there’s also YouControl: Desktops ($30 not universal yet). I’d say they’re both pretty rough around the corners, but show promise, each in their own way. Both are worth checking out.