Mac 911

In this nation's institutions of higher learning, it seems you can't throw a brick without hitting a Mac. This month's questions -- the bulk of which were submitted by academics -- underscore how prevalent Macs are in our colleges and universities, and that even the erudite can be perplexed by Mac OS X. So open your blue books and keep your eyes on your own paper as we cover font smoothing, picture cropping, HyperCard stack conversion, clock clicking, enhancing CDs, mail forwarding, and stubborn mailing.

Smooth Operations

The way Mac OS X 10.2 draws fonts on screen drives me crazy. No matter what I do, they appear fuzzy. I would like to turn off the "smoothing" that I believe causes this.
-- Larry Coleman, Davis, California

I'm afraid the magnificence of smoothing is in the eye of the beholder -- your clear may be my jagged, and what appears fuzzy to you may seem gratifyingly curved to me. Thankfully, you have a few options for limiting the amount of smoothing (or antialiasing) your Mac monitor displays.

To make your letters sharper, journey to the General preference pane. The Font Smoothing Style pop-up menu lets you select a font size at which text smoothing is switched off. Your choices are point sizes 8, 9, 10, and 12. When you choose one of these numbers, smoothing won't be applied to text that size and smaller. You can also select a font-smoothing style -- Standard, Light, Medium, or Strong. Sample these settings to see which suits you.

The OS X versions of Microsoft Word and Excel let you opt to switch text smoothing off within these particular applications. (This option is available only after you download the Microsoft Office v. X 10.1.2 update from http://microsoft.com/mac/download/ officex/officex_1012.asp.) In Word, you can find this option by selecting Word: Preferences and clicking on the General entry in the Preferences window. In Excel, go to Excel: Preferences and click on View in the Preferences window.

If these two options don't give you the control you desire, download Marcel Bresink's free TinkerTool 2.32 (www.bresink.de/osx/tinkertool2.html). This utility includes an option that lets you switch off font smoothing in OS X's CoreGraphics -- with this option selected, text smoothing in almost all Aqua user-interface elements (and in all Cocoa applications, such as TextEdit and Mail) will be turned off.

Finally, if nothing seems to help, you might consider getting a new monitor. Antialiased text on older, low-resolution monitors looks decidedly dowdier than it does on newer, high-resolution monitors.

Crop Flop

One of the features that kept me using a Mac in Mac OS 9 was SimpleText's ability to crop a picture that had been captured with 1-shift-3. Because Preview doesn't have this capability, I have to open Graphic Converter to crop a picture. Is there a way around this?
-- Kendric C. Smith, Ph.D., Stanford, California

Try attacking the problem from the other end -- crop your shots as you take them. In OS 9 and OS X, you can do this by pressing 1-shift-4. When you do, the cursor becomes a crosshair that you can use to select only the portion of the screen you want to capture. If your goal is to capture a window, menu, or the menu bar, you'll find it easy to do in OS X by pressing 1-shift-4 and then the spacebar. This key combination causes a camera icon to appear. Place this camera over a window, a menu, or the menu bar, and click the mouse to capture just that object.

For even greater control, I use Ambrosia Software's SnapzPro X 1.0.7 (graphics-only version, $29; graphics and QuickTime-capture version, $49; 585/325-1910, www.ambrosiasw.com). I can not only capture selections and screen objects as I can with 1-shift-4, but also choose the format of the resulting file -- something you can't do in OS X, which automatically saves screen captures as PDF files.

Though not as full-featured, eFritz Software's free Snatcher 1.0 (www.efritz.net/software.html) can also capture screens, windows, and selections, and it lets you save your captures in a variety of formats.

Card Tricked

I've resisted moving to OS X because I have a HyperCard Rolodex, with 1,500 entries, that is absolutely essential to my work. I've been told that this Rolodex cannot be transferred to the OS X environment. Is this true?
-- Paul R. Woudenberg, Via the Internet

Not exactly. Although there is no OS X–native version of HyperCard, you can successfully run many HyperCard stacks in OS X's Classic environment.

Should that prove fruitless, you're not completely out of luck if you're familiar with HyperTalk -- HyperCard's programming language. Using HyperTalk, you can edit the script underlying the stack. Solutions Etcetera's $179 SuperCard 4 (530/644-7382, www.supercard.us) uses a language called SuperTalk, which the company claims is 80 percent compatible with HyperTalk. Even if the language is only 77 percent compatible, the structure of the two languages is similar enough that a modestly competent HyperTalk programmer should be able to tweak a SuperCard stack in the HyperCard stack's image.

On Today's Menu

OS X's Menu Bar Clock displays a shortened day name; the time, divided by a colon; and then AM or PM. I'd also like to see the date, as I could in OS 9 -- and without clicking on theclock to see the date in gray in the menu below. How can I do this?
-- Kathy Kiernan, Los Angeles, California

You have two options: The super-secret ain't-I-just-the-hackingest-thing-on-two-feet method and the not nearly so much fun but far easier replacing-Apple's-menu-bar-clock method. Let's tackle the first, first.

In order to modify the way the Menu Bar Clock displays date and time information, you must hack the invisible .GlobalPreferences.plist file. This is easier to do if you've installed OS X's Developer Tools (included with the retail OS X package or available separately from Apple for $20) and made the invisible files on your Mac visible with a tool such as TinkerTool. To reveal the unseen, launch TinkerTool, click on its Finder tab, enable the Show Hidden And System Files option, and click on the Relaunch Finder button. The invisible files on your Mac are now visible.

Select Go To Folder from the Finder's Go menu, type ~/Library/Preferences, and click on Go to open the Preferences folder inside your user folder's Library folder. Click once on the .GlobalPreferences.plist file and press 1-D to duplicate it so you have a backup copy. Move the backup copy to a safe place so you can restore your hacked file later if you care to. Double-click on the .GlobalPreferences.plist file to open it in Property List Editor (an application that's part of Developers Tools).

Click on the triangle next to the root entry in the resulting .GlobalPreferences.plist window, and scroll down to the NSTimeFormatString entry. In the Value column to the right, you'll see %1I:%M%S -- this is the code that tells the Menu Bar Clock to display the time (see "Make a Date"). Change this entry to %x %1I:%M%S (in other words, precede the current entry with %x followed by a space). Press return to enter the change, and then choose Save from the File menu.

Launch the Date & Time system preference, and in the Menu Bar Clock tab, deselect the Show The Day Of The Week option. Now turn the Show The Date And Time In The Menu Bar option off and then on to reset the Menu Bar Clock. The Menu Bar Clock will display the date and time in this format: abbreviated day, abbreviated month, date, year, hour, minute, and AM or PM ("Thu Oct 19 2003 11:12 AM," for example).

If this sounds like way too much bother, get Christopher Wolf's free wClock (www .wolfware.com) or Script Software's fuller-featured, $20 iClock (www.scriptsoftware.com). Each utility can display both the date and time in the menu bar.

A Disc with Something Extra

My friend and I made a music video with iMovie to accompany my friend's music. We'd like to burn a CD that has both the music and video on it, as is done with CD-Extra discs you find in the store. How do you create such a disc?
-- Alexander Knight, Seattle, Washington

What you're describing is a multisession disc that follows the Blue Book (or Enhanced CD) specification. These discs -- known as CD-Extra or CD-Plus discs -- contain a mix of audio and data, with the audio portion stored in the first session and data stored in the second session. On the Mac, the tool you use to create these sessions is Roxio's Toast 5 Titanium ($100; $90, download; 866/280-7694, www.roxio.com). Here's how:

Click on the Audio button in the Toast window, and add the audio files you want. Insert a blank CD-R disc and click on the Record button. In the resulting Record window, click on Write Session and wait while the audio files burn to the CD.

When the session has been burned, click and hold on the Other button and select ISO-9660 from the menu. Drag the video (and any other data files you want to put on the disc) into the Toast window. Click on the Record button; in the Record window, click on Write Disc. Wait for Toast to burn your disc.

When you insert the finished disc into a standard audio CD player, it will play the audio tracks and ignore the portion of the disc that contains your movie. When you shove the disc into a computer, it will mount as two volumes -- an audio CD with the audio tracks and a data CD with the movie.

Forward March

My son receives a lot of e-mail from his newsgroup, and I forward it to him at work. With Eudora under OS 9, I could forward all the messages easily and individually. OS X's Mail lumps all the messages into a single message, and my son complains that messages formatted this way are hard to read. Is there some way to easily and quickly forward a number of messages individually?
-- Jim Ward, Berkeley, California

Here's how to forward this mail automatically: Select Preferences from the Mail menu and click on the Rules button in the window that appears. Click on the Add Rule button. In the resulting window, select a criterion to identify messages from the newsgroup -- the list's From Address, for example -- and enter that information in the If portion of the window. In the Perform The Following Actions area, select Forward Message from the pop-up menu, and enter your son's e-mail address in the To field.

Mail Flawed

While setting up OS X's Mail, I created several false e-mail account addresses. When I attempt to send messages, Mail invariably picks one of these useless accounts, even though I've deleted them from the Accounts portion of Mail's preferences. How can I permanently remove these accounts?
-- Jascha Kessler, Los Angeles, California

If you have the right tool, it's possible to eliminate these effluvia. Thankfully, Apple includes just the right tool in the Library folder at the root level of your OS X volume.

Select Go To Folder from the Finder's Go menu, and type /Library/Scripts/Mail Scripts. Double-click on the Manage SMTP Servers.scpt file within the Mail Scripts window that appears. When the script opens in Script Editor, click on the Run button.

A window will appear that states, "Choose one or more SMTP servers to delete. None of these servers are being used by your POP or IMAP accounts." Select the accounts you want to vaporize, and click on OK. If all goes as planned, the nuisance accounts will be gone.

Tip of the Month

It's not possible to properly copy text from multicolumned PDF files using Acrobat Reader's Text tool. When you attempt to select more than one line, the tool selects text in all columns.

To select text within a column, choose the Text tool and option-drag over the text you want to copy. This operation selects only the desired column or text and not the full range of columns.

Regrettably, the text you copy will include extra carriage returns. To remove them, use a utility such as Selznick Scientific Software's (www.selznick.com) SmartWrap the Clipboard X (a component of the company's $18 SmartWrap package, which removes carriage returns from text copied to the Clipboard).
-- Gabriel Dorado, Cordoba, Spain

Unsolicited Advice

If your music collection is made up primarily of popular music, iTunes offers you umpteen ways to sort songs by genre. To see what I mean, select a song, press 1-I, click on the Info tab in the resulting window, and click and hold on the Genre pop-up menu. Here you'll find listings for such styles as Alternative, Blues/R&B, Hip Hop/Rap, Pop, Rock, and Country.

Yet if your music library largely includes "art" music, you have a single choice: Classical. If you want to create playlists composed of Italian opera, baroque violin concertos, romantic song cycles, or 20th century serial music, this one Classical entry in the Genre pop-up menu does little good.

It's for this reason that I've added to the Genre entries in my copy of iTunes. You can, too. Just select a piece of music that represents a particular classical style -- an aria from an Italian opera, for example. Then open its information window, and type an appropriate genre in the Genre field. When you click on OK to dismiss the window, you'll notice that the entry for that file in the Genre column changes to reflect the style you just created. Repeat this procedure with any music file that represents a style you wish to add to the Genre menu.

To avoid assigning a new style to each piece of music individually, shift- or 1-click on entries in the iTunes window that you'd like to assign a particular genre to, press 1-I to bring up the Multiple Song Information window, and choose one of your new Genre entries. When you do, that genre will be applied to each selected piece of music.

recommended for you

Mac OS X Hints

Read more »

Subscribe to the Help Desk Newsletter

Comments