The Desktop Multiplex

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OK, it's official: I now watch more movie trailers on the screen of my PowerBook than I do at my local multiplex. I blame this phenomenon not on a lack of self-control but on the irresistible lure of the Internet and QuickTime 4, which together allow those movie trailers to come streaming right to me over the phone line.

Most Mac movie watching these days happens in QuickTime Player, the movie-playing app that comes with every new Mac (those of you with older systems can download QuickTime 4 from http://www.apple.com/quicktime/ ). Unlike its predecessor, MoviePlayer 3.0, QuickTime Player doesn't just play movies; it also lets you bookmark favorites (both locally and online) for quick access and perform other movie-watching tricks.

QuickTime Player has a quirky, nonstandard Mac interface, but it's replete with timesaving shortcuts and hidden features. Read on to find the best of them. After all, if you're going to waste company time watching movie previews, you might as well do it with a pro's prowess.


One of QuickTime Player's most convenient features is the Favorites Drawer, where you can create links to QuickTime content on the Internet as well as to movies stored on your own computer or network. The drawer, which slides down from the bottom of the QuickTime Player window, comes with 15 preset URLs that link to sites such as HBO, NPR, and Apple's QuickTime Showcase (offering a link to popular movie trailers). Some presets open streaming video or audio directly in QuickTime Player. Others launch your browser and open Web pages from which you can access a variety of audio and video clips. Here are a few tips for managing your drawerful of movies:

•  To open or close the Favorites Drawer, press command-right bracket (]) or double-click on the grooved handle at the bottom center of the drawer. You can open the drawer as wide as you want by dragging its bottom edge.

•  To add any movie currently open in QuickTime Player to the Favorites Drawer, press command-D. (You can add only movies actually open in the player, not Web pages that contain movies. To save those pages, bookmark them in your browser.) To add movie files you've stored locally, drag and drop them onto an open slot in the drawer.

•  To rearrange items in the drawer, drag their icons to different slots. It's best to drop the icons onto open slots, since dragging a new favorite to an occupied slot removes the old one. Changing the order of icons in the drawer also changes the order of items in the Favorites menu. Likewise, switching the order of links in the Favorites menu (via the Organize Favorites command) rearranges the items in the drawer.

•  To remove a link, drag its icon from the drawer to the Trash.

•  You can create a Favorite Shortcut file–a stand-alone link to a movie–by dragging an icon from the Favorites Drawer to the desktop. The shortcut works like an alias; double-clicking on it opens the linked movie and creates an Internet connection if necessary.


The QuickTime Player application may seem like a one-trick pony. Its intended function, after all, is simply to play QuickTime movies. But lurking beneath that high-tech exterior are weird and wild functions–the automated TelePrompTer, for example.

Here's how this feature works: Drag a plain text file (one whose file type is TEXT) into the Favorites Drawer. Click on the file's icon in the drawer to open it in QuickTime Player. (This is the only way to open a text file in the player; the Open command won't work.) The first line of text from the file appears within the movie screen in white Geneva text on a black background (see "Easy Reader").

Easy Reader Crack open a text file with QuickTime Player and it flashes the contents back to you in stark white on black, one line at a time.


Now it gets bizarre. Click on the play button and the player displays the contents of the file one line at a time, like a TelePrompTer, spending two seconds on each line. You can't control scrolling speed (unless you click on the fast-forward button on the control panel), but you can start and stop the flow of text using standard playback commands. To make the text bigger, enlarge the QuickTime Player window by dragging its lower right corner; the text scales proportionally with the movie screen and remains readable. Granted, this oddball feature won't make you more productive at the office–but let's face it, neither will the latest streaming video from MTV. You want productivity? Launch Excel.

Macworld Mac Secrets

April 2000 page: 93

With its futuristic, sculpted 3-D looks, QuickTime Player is slick–but at times all those buttons, indicators, and gizmos can be more hindrance than help. If you want to zip through movie trailers, MTV clips, and CNN news items at peak efficiency, there are keyboard equivalents for most QuickTime Player functions. (Many of these shortcuts also work with version 4.X of QuickTime Plugin, which can play QuickTime movies in Web pages from Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.)

(A)   To start playing a movie, click on the big round play button or simply double-click in the middle of the movie screen. From the keyboard, press the return key, the spacebar, or command-right arrow. Press command-left arrow to play a movie backward at normal speed.

(B) To stop a movie, click on the pause button; press the spacebar, the return key, or command-period; or press the right- or left-arrow key once.

(C) To step through a movie one frame at a time without sound, click on the forward or back button or press the right- or left-arrow key repeatedly.

(D) To adjust the sound level, drag the volume-control dial or press the up arrow to increase volume or the down arrow to decrease it.

(E) To turn the sound off completely, click once on the white speaker icon near the volume-control dial or press option-down arrow. For maximum sound volume, press option-up arrow.

(F) To skip to the beginning or end of a movie, click on these buttons or press option-left arrow or option-right arrow.

(G) To open or close the Favorites Drawer, double-click on the drawer's grooved handle or press command-right bracket (]).

(H) To expand or shrink the movie window proportionally, drag the resize handle at the bottom right. Shift-drag to scale the window nonproportionally.

(I) These fast-forward and rewind buttons have no keyboard equivalents, but they are useful for skipping through a movie at high speed with sound.

(J) To skip part of a movie, drag the diamond along the time bar. The counter at the left indicates the currently displayed minute, second, and frame.

(K) To get information about a movie's file size, length, and so on, click on the button with the lowercase i or press command-I.

(L) To display or hide the dark-gray panel containing the navigation and sound controls, click on the button with four dots.

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