Mac 911

Lethargic Launching

My iMac has become extremely sluggish. Opening applications, especially iTunes and iPhoto, seems to take forever. Any suggestions?Uwe Blecker

You can speed up the launch of iTunes by reducing the number of smart playlists that have the Live Updating option enabled. To test this fix, I created a dozen smart playlists on a 933MHz Power Mac G4 with the Live Updating option enabled, and then I quit iTunes. On relaunch it took the program about eight seconds to display the main iTunes window. When I disabled the Live Updating option in all the smart playlists and relaunched the program, the main window appeared in five seconds.

iPhoto’s smart albums don’t appear to impede that program’s launch—in my tests, iPhoto launched in a relatively slow fashion regardless of the existence of smart albums. In this case, it’s simply a matter of distinguishing a sluggish application from one that acts sluggishly. It is just in iPhoto’s nature to launch slowly. You can lessen the impact of this slow launching by scaling thumbnails to their smallest size before quitting the program. When you quit iPhoto with thumbnails scaled all the way up (so one image takes up the entire iPhoto window), you have to wait a few extra seconds on relaunch for iPhoto to shift from the blurry overview image to the high-resolution image.

Seeking Mass Extension

To show the file extension for a particular file’s name, one needs only to choose Get Info from the File menu and deselect the Hide Extension option. Is there a way to do the same thing for a selected group of files all at once?Greg Geitzenauer

Indeed there is. The trick is that you must put all the files in the same folder. Once they’re there, simply Command-click on the files you’d like to alter and press Command-I. When you perform this action, up pops the Multiple Item Info box. Here you’ll find the Hide Extension option under the Name & Extension triangle. Just deselect this option, and the file extensions will appear in each selected file’s name.

Note that the Hide Extension option will be disabled (in other words, it won’t work) if you’ve included a folder among your selections.

Unreliable Views

Every time I restart my Mac or log in, my folders’ view settings have shifted. Despite configuring the Finder to display my Applications folder in List view and my Home directory in Icon view, the Applications folder shows small icons scattered all over and on top of each other, and my Home directory is in List view. How do I make my icons behave?Steve Crandall

This is one of those problems for which no single solution exists. To start, let’s be sure that you’re doing views properly. To create a view that sticks, you must open a Finder window, apply the view you prefer, and then close the window. The invisible .DS_Store file that contains view information won’t update until the window is closed.

Let’s say you’ve done this but the views still won’t stick. First try tossing out the com.apple.finder.plist file, which is found at your user folder /Library/Preferences. The Mac will create a new Finder preferences file, which may solve your problem. If not, it’s time to take sterner measures: log in as root and arrange views the way you’d like them to appear when you’re logged in to your usual account.

Fire up NetInfo Manager, click on the lock icon at the bottom of the window, enter your administrator password, click on OK, and choose Enable Root User from the Security menu. You’ll be prompted to enter a password to gain access to root. Create such a password, quit NetInfo Manager, and log out.

If your login screen is configured to show blank Name and Password fields, enter

root
in the Name field and the root password you created (in NetInfo Manager) in the Password field. If the login screen displays a list of names, press option-return and click on any name. A window with blank Name and Password fields will appear. Arrange windows with the views you like, close them, log out of root, and log in to your normal account. For the sake of security, return to NetInfo Manager and disable the root account (follow the steps for enabling root, but select Disable Root User from the Security menu).

A Word about iChat

Whenever I try to copy a bit of text from Microsoft Word into iChat, an attachment appears in the iChat window instead of the text. What’s going on?Bill Dunn

Word text is formatted in such a way that iChat thinks it’s a graphics file instead of text. When you send one of these attachments, recipients see a black bar rather than words. The secret to resolving the issue is to strip out that formatting before you bring the copied text into iChat.

Although you can do this by pasting the text into a text editor, copying it again, and pasting it into iChat, who needs the aggravation? I prefer Carsten Blüm’s free Plain Clip, an application that strips formatting from text stored in the Clipboard, combined with Jean-Daniel Dupas’s free Spark 2.0, which lets you create hot keys for launching applications and documents, executing AppleScripts, and controlling iTunes. I’ve used Spark to create a key combination that invokes Plain Clip, so when I want to copy text from Word into iChat, I copy the text, press Command-shift-C (the hot key I created to launch Plain Clip), and paste the text into iChat.

Family Album

My son and I share an iMac at home. Is there a way for us to use the same iPhoto library?Kiki Mulliner

With the proper privileges, this can be done with aliases. It works this way:

Choose the most up-to-date iPhoto Library folder (located at your user folder /Pictures) and move it to the Shared folder inside the Users folder at the root level of the hard drive. Click on the iPhoto Library folder, press Command-I to call up the iPhoto Library Info window, click on the Ownership & Permissions triangle, and then click on the Details triangle below. Select Read & Write from the Access pop-up menu directly beneath the Group pop-up menu, select Read & Write from the Others pop-up menu, and then close the Info window. Hold down the Command and option keys and drag the iPhoto Library folder back to the Pictures folder to create an alias.

Switch to your son’s user account, change the name of his iPhoto Library to something like iPhoto Library Old (in case you want to use this library again), open the Shared folder within the Users folder, and Command-option-drag that folder’s iPhoto Library folder to your son’s Pictures folder to create an alias.

[ Contributing Editor Christopher Breen is also the editor in chief of Playlistmag.com and the author of Secrets of the iPod , fifth edition (Peachpit Press, 2005). ]

Unsolicited Advice

Given the mission of Mac 911, you’d think my mailbox would spill over with letters demanding to know the meaning of arcane error messages or the reason that a Mac has suddenly caught fire.

Hardly. No, what readers want to know most is how to manage the media they own—specifically, how to use programs bundled with a new Mac on an old Mac, how to back up DVDs, and how to restore a corrupted music library from an iPod. Allow me to offer the shorthand versions of solutions for these problems:

Using Bundled Programs on Another Computer CharlesSoft’s $20 Pacifist is designed to extract folders and files from OS X .pkg files. It’s the tool to use for installing a single application from an Apple installation disc.

Backing Up a DVD Opus Computer Consultancy’s free DVDBackup can back up a DVD to your Mac’s hard drive. It will not, however, allow you to create a disc-based copy of the DVD’s contents. To create a disc-based backup, get DVD2one (€50 (about $66 at press time), a tool that compresses the Video_TS folders created by DVDBackup so they fit on a 4.7GB disc.

Restoring Your Music Library from an iPod The Little App Factory’s $10 iPodRip can transfer to your Mac not only an iPod’s music library but also its playlists.

Tip of the Month

In the December 2004 Mac 911, you addressed the issue of flipping the image from an iSight camera with mechanics. This is no longer necessary, thanks to iGlasses, an $8 shareware application from Ecamm Network. iGlasses can not only flip and mirror an iSight image (thus allowing you to mount it upside down); it also allows you to enhance the picture that the iSight broadcasts, by brightening the image and fine-tuning color settings. [ Click here for a full review of iGlasses.—Ed.] Steve Kellener

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