Mac Gems

Although I try every new browser, I keep coming back to Safari. But that doesn't mean I'm completely satisfied with it -- I wish it had a few more features. With the help of Ricardo Batista's $10 Safari Extender v1.19 (   ; http://batista.org/extender.html), Safari is now a few steps closer to becoming my ideal browser.

When Safari Extender is installed, Safari's contextual menus include new submenus that provide a slew of additional features. My favorite ones are related to tabbed browsing: You can -- finally! -- rearrange tab order, and you can save sets of tabs. But Safari Extender also gives you basic commands that Safari should already have. For example, it lets you temporarily disable images to speed up page loading.

Safari Extender delivers other frequently requested features, such as the ability to include the URL, time, and date when you print a Web page. It also has useful e-mail commands that let you send someone selected text, the current URL, or all the URLs currently open in tabs.

Safari Extender has more features than I have room to cover here, and the developer has promised to add even more in the future.

Fax Fixes

OS X 10.3 can automatically forward faxes received by your Mac to an e-mail address, so you can get your faxes no matter where you are. But this feature doesn't work for a lot of users.

If this problem sounds frustratingly familiar, Real World Technology Solution's free (donations accepted) FaxEmailHelper 1.2 (   ; www.rwts.com.au/FaxEmailHelper) may be the solution. It fixes OS X configuration issues that prevent many Macs from e-mailing received faxes. It also lets you specify a valid From e-mail address -- required by many ISPs for delivery -- and to specify an outgoing (SMTP) mail server through which the e-mail should be sent. (It even supports authenticated SMTP.) This is useful because many ISPs will accept e-mail only from a traditional mail server -- which, chances are, your Mac isn't.

As a bonus, FaxEmailHelper lets you simulate the arrival of a fax -- and the e-mailing of that fax, assuming you've set your Fax & Print preferences to forward them -- so you can make sure everything is working.

iPDA

Apple's iPod and iPod mini include basic PDA features: You can use iSync to copy contacts, calendars, and notes from Address Book and iCal to your iPod, and then use your iPod's menus to access that information. But if you want advanced PDA functionality on your iPod, check out ZappTek's $15 iPod It 2.3.2 (   ; www.zapptek.com).

iPod It adds the ability to transfer Entourage data (events, contacts, e-mail messages, notes, and tasks), iCal calendars, remote .ics calendars (such as those at www.iCalShare.com), Address Book contacts, Mail messages, Stickies notes, and news headlines and weather forecasts from the Web. For each type of data, you choose the specific information to be transferred: For most types, you can sync all data, selected data (specific calendars, contacts, and so on), or only certain types of data (contacts in your Friends category, for instance). With e-mail, you can also choose to sync all mail, selected folders, unread and/or flagged mail, or only mail received in the past few days. For weather forecasts and news headlines, you choose the city and news types (business, world, sports, entertainment, and so on), respectively. For calendar data, you can restrict syncing to a range of dates (such as the past week or the next three weeks). iPod It also transfers calendar and task alarms to your iPod.

You can set iPod It to sync automatically when launched. To completely automate the process, add a utility such as ZappTek's $5 iPod Launcher, which launches iPod It when your iPod is connected.

Of course, iPod It doesn't let you use your iPod to edit or input data -- but if you use a PDA primarily to store and retrieve information, iPod It makes the iPod a viable alternative.

What to Do?

I've always kept to-do lists, but I've never found a to-do list utility I could actually use -- I've always reverted to good ol' pen and paper. Omicron's $15 ToDo X 1.5 (   ; www.nomicro.com) may have finally relegated my trusty notepad to the desk drawer.

ToDo X lets you create as many task lists -- which the program calls categories -- as you need, and each list can have an unlimited number of tasks. You rank these tasks in importance (from 1 to 9) and mark them as completed. Each task has a note field.

That's all pretty standard fare for to-do software, but ToDo X excels by allowing you to easily work with your lists. You can drag and drop items between lists to move, copy, or alias them. You can quickly search for text within a list. You can view creation and modification dates for each item, and even time-stamp tasks. ToDo X can also import .ics files, so you can move your to-do lists from iCal or Palm Desktop without having to retype them. (You can also import other users' ToDo X lists.)

ToDo X's Dock menu is another nice feature. The icon shows how many items you have of a certain priority or higher (you choose the priority threshold), and control-clicking on the icon opens a Dock menu showing tasks of a specific priority or higher -- using one of several selectable views -- so you can quickly see pending tasks from within any application. Select a task from the menu to open its note and priority window in ToDo X.

Finally, if you miss the tactile experience of a paper list, there are myriad ways to print ToDo X lists: particular categories, items, and/or priorities; with or without notes or check boxes; grouped or ungrouped; and more. ToDo X has finally given me an electronic to-do–list utility that I want to use.

Enhanced Mail

Although Apple's Mail is a good e-mail client, it's missing a number of features that other clients have long had. The free MailEnhancer v1.11 (   ; find.macworld.com/0003 ) provides four of these options and makes them accessible via Mail's Preferences window.

If you have multiple e-mail accounts, a handy feature is MailEnhancer's ability to automatically append a different signature to messages from each address. (Simply name your signatures using your various e-mail addresses.) You can also change Mail's Dock icon so that it shows the number of unread messages in all folders, not just in your in-box. MailEnhancer can automatically show and hide Mail's Activity Viewer window when you check for new mail, and you can set it to display a status message (No New Mail or You Have Number New Messages) after checking mail.

Panther and Jaguar versions are available; be sure to install the correct one. And read the ReadMe file for important installation instructions.

Systemwide Preferences

I like the fact that, in OS X, Apple has placed most user settings in System Preferences. But I don't like that you can't go directly to a particular preference pane unless System Preferences is already running. A few menu utilities can provide you with direct access, but iThink Software's $5 MenuPrefs 2.5 (   ; www.ithinksw.com/products/menuprefs) has become my favorite.

Accessible via a systemwide menu, MenuPrefs lets you open your favorite preference panes quickly and easily. And you can choose how the menu is organized: alphabetically, by category (Personal, Hardware, System, and so on), by location (System, Library, or User), or in a customized order (you decide not only the order in which preference panes appear, but also whether particular panes appear at all). I use this feature to show only the 10 or 15 panes I access regularly. Perhaps MenuPrefs provides only a minor bit of convenience. But if I weren't concerned with minor conveniences, I wouldn't use a Mac.

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Go to www.macworld.com/macgems to see an index of all of our Mac Gems reviews.

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