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Tips and Tricks

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Hidden Preferences

BibDesk has a few advanced preferences that are not accessible through the UI. Some of these are intended for debugging, while others may be features that aren't ready for public consumption, or shouldn't need to be changed in general usage. Some are described in the manual. You can set these from the command line in Terminal.app. To change these preferences, make sure you quit BibDesk, open Terminal.app, type the defaults command with the appropriate arguments, and hit Enter. Typically, the command and arguments look like this:

defaults write -app BibDesk <Key> -<type> <value>

If this fails with the message "Couldn't find an application named "BibDesk"; defaults unchanged", you can use

defaults write edu.ucsd.cs.mmccrack.bibdesk <Key> -<type> <value>

To reset a preference to the default, you can use

defaults delete -app BibDesk <Key>

Below is a list of the hidden preferences BibDesk currently recognizes. Be aware that these keys are considered to be private. Default values and keys can change or be removed at any time.

Preference Key: Type: Default Value: Note:
BDSKRemoveExtendedAttributesFromDocuments bool false
BDSKDisableDocumentExtendedAttributes bool false
BDSKDisableExportAttributes bool false
BDSKFieldsToWriteIfEmpty array ()
BDSKShouldUseSpotlightCommentForURL bool false
BDSKDisableRemoteChangeNotifications bool false
BDSKSharingServerMaxConnections integer 0 Ignored if < 20
BDSKDisableTypeAheadSelection bool false
BDSKDisableBackgroundColorForGroupTable bool false
BDSKScriptMenuDisabled bool false
BDSKAnnoteFieldName string -
BDSKDefaultAnimationTimeInterval float 0.15 Set to zero to disable
BDSKTableHeaderImages dict -
BDSKTableHeaderTitles dict -
BDSKGroupFieldSeparatorCharactersKey string ";:,"
BDSKDefaultGroupFieldSeparatorKey string "; " Note trailing space
BDSKShouldShowWebGroup bool true
BDSKEditorFormShouldAutoCompleteKey bool true
BDSKReadExtendedAttributesKey bool false Read BibTeX when dropping files
BDSKShouldUsePDFMetadata bool false Reads standard PDF info when dropping files
BDSKShouldParsePDFToGeneratePubMedSearchTerm bool true Parse PDF for pubmed IDs when dropping files
BDSKAddISIXMLStringToAnnote bool false
BDSKDisableISITitleCasing bool false
BDSKDefaultArrayJoinString string "/" Used by componentsJoinedByDefaultJoinString
BDSKDownloadsDirectory string - By default, uses the default system downloads folder when auto-filing
BDSKDefaultBrowserKey string - This should be a bundle identifier
BDSKISISourceXMLTagPriority array ()
BDSKISIURLFieldName string -
BDSKDisableGoogleScholarListParsing bool false

For dictionaries and arrays you can use -dict-add and -array-add as well, as in

defaults write -app BibDesk BDSKTableHeaderImages -dict-add Citeseerurl "/Users/YourName/Library/Application Support/BibDesk/CiteSeer.png"

To revert a hidden preference to its default, type this in Terminal.app:

 defaults delete -app BibDesk <Key>

Alternate Menu Items

BibDesk has various alternate menu items in its main menu that you may not be aware of. Alternate menu items are menu items that normally are related to a normal menu item, but are hidden behind them. They have the same keyboard shortcut as the normal item except for the modifier keys. Typically it has an extra Option modifier, but this may also be Control or some other modifier or combination of modifiers.

For example, the Edit menu has a normal "Delete" item, with shortcut the Delete key. However this item has an alternate "Delete from Library" menu item, with shortcut Option-Delete. The difference between the two items is that the normal item removes the selected publications from the currently selected group when a custom group is selected, while the alternate menu item will delete the selected items from the database. Similarly, there is an alternate "Cut" menu item that combines copying the items with the alternate "Delete from Library" action, while the normal "Cut" would behave as a combination as "Copy" and the normal "Delete" item. There is also an alternate "Copy" item that uses the alternate copying as set in the preferences.

You can see the alternate menu item, including its shortcut, when you show the menu by clicking its title, and then hold down the appropriate modifier key. Now that you know this, try this with the various menus in BibDesk's main menu. Happy hunting!


BibLateX Types and Fields

Normally BibDesk contains type information for standard BibTeX types. However, these do not suffice of you are using BibLaTeX instead of BibTeX. To support the standard type information for BibLaTeX, you can edit the types and fields in the Default Field preferences. As a shortcut, you can also download the following TypeInfo for BibLaTeX file. To use it, make sure you quit BibDesk, and save the downloaded file as ~/Library/Application Support/BibDesk/TypeInfo.plist. Be aware though that BibLaTeX adds a lot of optional fields, which may overwhelm the detail editor, YMMV.

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