Hiding Time Machine Drives on the Desktop

Time Machine icon

New to Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is an integrated backup solution called Time Machine. To use Time Machine, simply plug an external hard drive into your Mac and configure it as the Time Machine back-up volume. Time Machine will now automatically perform hourly back-ups of your files.

Mounted drive on Desktop

While the periodic back-ups run more-or-less transparently in the background, one slight annoyance I’ve had is with the icon of the Time Machine Volume  appearing on the Desktop, as shown in the figure to the left. The genius of Time Machine is its “out of sight, out of mind” approach, and the persistent Desktop icon (for a drive you should not care to have access to anyway) runs counter to the original intent. Apparently I am not alone, as this complaint has also been brought up on macosxhints.com. Here I’ll discuss two solutions for removing the Time Machine Volume  from the Desktop.

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Copy CDs or DVDs in Mac OS X

Disk Utility icon

Here is a simple method more duplicating CDs or DVDs using Disk Utility in Mac OS X.

  1. Insert the CD or DVD you want to copy into your Mac.
  2. Launch Disk Utility (in the Applications > Utilities folder).
  3. In the Finder, drag and drop the icon of the CD or DVD onto the Disc Utility icon in the Dock.
  4. A window will open asking you to name the new disk image, and where to save it. Give it a name and save the image to the Desktop. In the Image Format drop-down menu, choose DVD/CD master (no encryption is necessary). Click Save, and a new disk image (with the extension “.cdr”) will be created on your Desktop.
  5. Eject the original CD (the one you just copied), and insert a blank CD into your Mac.
  6. In Disk Utility, look for the disk image of your CD or DVD (the “.cdr” file you just created). This is on the left-hand side of the window, at the bottom of the list of mounted drives. Select the image (the “.cdr” file) and click Burn.
  7. When you are done, eject the burned disk and delete the “.cdr” file from the Desktop.

Extracting Icons from Mac OS X Applications

Finder icon

Occasionally you may want an image of an application icon in Mac OS X (perhaps you are writing a tutorial, and wish to include an image like the one to the right). Within each Mac OS X application is a package that contains an “.icns” file, which is the icon image used by the application.

Using the Finder

You may access this file through the Finder, using the following steps:

  1. In the Applications folder, choose the application whose icon you wish to extract.
  2. Ctrl-click (right-click) on the application icon and choose Show Package Contents.
  3. A new Finder window will open. Browse to the Resources folder and look for the icon. This file usually has an “icns” extension.
  4. Open Preview, and drag the “.icns” file to the Preview icon in the Dock. The image will open in Preview and from there you may save it as a “.png” or “.jpg” file. The former is the preferable format for the web; select the “Alpha” check box to preserve transparency.

Using Get Info and Preview

More on apple.

  1. Select the volume, application, folder, or file whose icon you want to stamp onto another, just click the icon to select it.
  2. From the File menu, choose Get Info or press Command-I to open the Info window.
  3. Click the icon in the upper-left corner of the Info window to select it.
  4. From the Edit menu, choose Copy or press Command-C.
  5. In the Applications folder, choose the application whose icon you wish to extract.
  6. Press Cmd-I to open a Get Info dialog. In the upper left of the dialog windo is a small icon. Select it and then select copy (under Edit > Copy)
  7. Go to Preview and paste. Four sizes of the icon will open: 512×512, 128×128, 32×32, and 16×16 px

Using Terminal

If you prefer the command-line, see these articles on Mac OS X Hints and MacWorld about using the unix sips command to convert “.icns” files to various image file formats.

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