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We all realize that the idea of a paperless office is so much utopian claptrap. What--at your next all-company meeting you're going to pass around a PowerBook displaying that quarter's financial results? Hardly. With reality in mind, this month's Mac 911 looks at the devices that make your paperwork possible--printers. In addition to printer issues, I examine ways to fatten up an inadequate Microsoft spelling-checker dictionary, open a SuperDrive drawer, optimize hard drives on the cheap, and move analog video to DVD.

Setting Settings

I recently purchased an Epson Stylus C80 printer for my Mac running Mac OS X. Because I want the best possible prints the printer can produce, I move the Quality/Speed slider in the Print dialog box to Quality. Yet when I next select Print, the slider has moved back to Speed. Is there some way I can configure this dialog box to select quality over speed?

-- John Stern, forums

Absolutely. I know of a procedure that works for the Stylus C80 and many other Epson printers supported by OS X.

Simply open any application that supports printing and select the Print command. In the resulting dialog box, click on the Copies & Pages pop-up menu and select Print Settings. Muck around with the settings you want to change--in addition to Quality/Speed, you can change media type (the material on which the printer will print) and black ink versus color. Now select Save Custom Setting from the same pop-up menu. At this point you can print or cancel; either way, you've saved your settings.

When you next elect to print a file, select Custom from the Presets pop-up menu that appears in the Print dialog box. Custom contains the settings you previously made. Epson's OS X printer software allows you to save only one custom preset.

You can also create custom printer settings in the Classic environment and in OS 9. To do so, first select the Epson printer in the Chooser. Next, open any application, in the Classic environment or OS 9, that supports printing. Select Print. In the resulting Print dialog box, choose a new media type, move the Quality/Speed slider, or change from color to black ink; then select the Custom option.

When you open a Custom Settings pop-up menu, an Advanced button appears. Click on it to open a dialog box in which you can make further adjustments--color-management settings and changes to brightness and contrast, for example. When you're satisfied with your settings, click on the Save Settings button. Yet another dialog box appears, asking you to name your setting. Provide that name and click on Save. Click on OK in the second dialog box to return to the original Print dialog box; then click on either the Print or Cancel button. Epson's OS 9 printer software allows you to save multiple custom presets.

The next time you want to use this custom setting, select the Print command, click on the Custom option, and select your setting from the Custom Settings pop-up menu.

Oblique Strategies

I'm trying to print a particular font in a bold and italic style. It displays fine on screen and prints in bold italic on an ink-jet printer, but it won't print correctly on my high-end laser printer. Why is this?

-- Chuck White, forums

In all likelihood, it's because there is no italic version of the font you're trying to use. The text looks like italic on screen and in your ink-jet printer's output because both your Mac and the ink-jet printer attempt to simulate italic by slanting the font to the right (they're actually simulating an oblique typeface--a roman typeface that's slanted).

High-end PostScript laser printers may not play this oblique game, often substituting the Courier font instead of producing the elegant italic you desire. If you need to "italicize" just a few words, you could skew them in an application such as Adobe Illustrator, but font fanatics consider such practices an abomination. To maintain the purity of your printing, consider using a similar font family that includes an italic typeface.

Desktop Printers in Mac OS X

When using Mac OS 9, I often print documents by dragging and dropping them onto my printer's Desktop Printer icon. Mac OS X doesn't appear to support Desktop Printers. Is there some way I can bring this functionality to my Mac running Apple's new operating system?

-- Dan Gilbert, Carson City, Nevada

Although OS X doesn't support Desktop Printers either natively or in the Classic environment, you can duplicate this functionality with Nick Zitzmann's $5 DropPrint (click on the Mac OS X tab at; then search for DropPrint). This OS X application allows you to print documents by dropping them onto the DropPrint icon. Much like a

Desktop Printer, DropPrint opens the document in its host application--in Microsoft Word if you've dragged and dropped a Word document, for example--and then displays the application's Print dialog box. In applications such as AppleWorks that allow direct printing, DropPrint will open and print the document without displaying the dialog box.

AppleTalk Won't

When attempting to add a network printer with OS X's Print Center, I get a message saying that no AppleTalk printers can be found because AppleTalk isn't enabled. On my PowerBook G4, I've enabled AppleTalk for both my Ethernet and AirPort connections in the Network system preference, so I know this isn't true. Why won't Print Center allow me to add an AppleTalk printer?

-- Jeff Bates, Grants Pass, Oregon

Sometimes, duplicating your efforts--like doubling your dose of painkillers or driving 130 mph in a 65-mph zone--isn't such a hot idea. Print Center reports this AppleTalk error because you have AppleTalk switched on for both your Ethernet and AirPort connections. Print Center can use an AppleTalk printer only when a single network port has AppleTalk enabled.

You could open the Network system preference, select AirPort from the Show pop-up menu, click on the AppleTalk tab, and deselect the Make AppleTalk Active option. But if you sometimes need to enable AppleTalk over AirPort--when you take your PowerBook on the road, say--select New Location from the Network system preference's Location menu, give it an intuitive name such as AirPort And AppleTalk, click on OK, and configure this system preference so that AppleTalk is enabled for AirPort and disabled for Ethernet. When you need AirPort and AppleTalk to see eye-to-eye, choose AirPort And AppleTalk from the same Location pop-up menu.

Developing Dictionaries

As much as I like Microsoft Office 2001 Entourage's spelling-checker feature, I wish I could add several words at one time. Is there any way to do this? And how can I make Entourage stop autocorrecting the word iMac when it's the first word in a sentence?

-- Merrilee Vaughn, Miami, Florida

It's quite possible to add a slew of words all at once, with the help of a simple text editor in either OS 9 or OS X. But to make this trick work, you must switch off the Suggest From Main Dictionary Only option (under the Spelling tab of Entourage's Preferences window).

To expand Entourage's vocabulary in OS 9 and earlier, locate the Custom Dictionary file (in System Folder: Preferences: Microsoft, at the root level of your hard drive). Open this file with a text editor such as BBEdit Lite 6.1 (www.bare, and enter words to your heart's content. When you finish, save the document. The next time you conduct a spelling check within Entourage (and in other Microsoft applications that use this dictionary, such as Word and PowerPoint), the program won't flag the added words as errors.

In OS X, this procedure is even easier, because you can open and edit Office v. X's Custom Dictionary file with OS X's own TextEdit application (your user folder: Library: Preferences: Microsoft: Custom Dictionary). Just edit and save the file.

As for breaking Entourage of the habit of capitalizing the first letter in a sentence, choose AutoCorrect from Entourage's Tools menu and deselect the Capitalize First Letter Of Sentences option.

Open Sesame, Part 2

I read with interest the April 2002 Mac 911 column that detailed ways to eject a CD from Apple's SuperDrive. I seek a similar solution for opening the SuperDrive's empty drawer on my new iMac--in Mac OS X, my ergonomic keyboard's F12 key won't open the CD drawer. Is there a way to remap OS X's Eject function to a key on my keyboard?

-- Scholle Sawyer McFarland, Portland, Oregon

At the time I wrote that column, there wasn't. Thanks to Michael Kamprath, now there is. Version 1.1 of Kamprath's $10 Keyboard Maestro ( adds the ability to assign a key combination to the eject command, so you can make the SuperDrive stick out its tongue and say "ahhh" (see "Keyboard Capers").

Just launch Keyboard Maestro, click on the Create New Hot Key button, select Perform System Action from the New Action menu in the Edit Hot Key window, select Open/Close The CD-ROM Tray in the sheet that appears, and click on Save. Now click on the Keystroke field. Type a key command--1-F7, for example--and click on Save. From this day forward, your SuperDrive's media tray will pop out whenever you press this command.

Economical Optimizer

I want to defragment my iMac's hard drive but can't find any utilities on my computer or system discs that allow me to do this. Do you know of a good--and extremely cheap--utility for defragmenting my hard drive?

-- Nick Lancaster, forums

Extremely cheap? Sure. Just back up your drive, use OS 9's Drive Setup or OS X's Disk Utility to erase the drive, and restore your data. In less time than it takes to stroll from Baltimore to Baton Rouge, you'll have your data on your drive in an unfragmented state.

But if you find the prospect of such a tediously time-consuming operation as uninviting as I do, root around in the cracks of the couch for enough change to purchase a real disk-optimizing utility such as Symantec's Speed Disk (part of the $100 Norton Utilities 7.0; or Alsoft's $30 PlusOptimizer ( Although only Speed Disk runs natively in OS X, each utility can optimize OS 9 and OS X volumes formatted with the Mac OS Hierarchical File System Extended (HFS+) format.


On a couple of occasions, columnist Andy Ihnatko has mentioned that he's burned his favorite television shows to DVD. I love this idea and would like to do it myself. How do I go about it?

-- John Edward, Irvine, California

Knowing Andy, I suspect his method incorporates tiny robots, voice recognition, and a large beaker of a well-known soft drink. My scheme is pedestrian in comparison. I simply record a program to my VCR, record that recording to my Hi8 camcorder via the camcorder's S-Video and audio-output ports (you could do this with a digital camcorder as well), record the video with iMovie via the camcorder's FireWire port, and then move the resulting QuickTime DV movie into iDVD, where I create and burn the disc.

The dump from VCR (analog) to camcorder results in a generation loss--meaning that you lose quality. You could skirt this issue by recording directly from your VCR to your Mac via an analog-to-digital conversion box such as Formac's $400 Formac Studio (

Tip of the Month

Thanks to the SMB networking protocol, Mac OS X makes it a lot easier to connect to Windows machines. However, it can be a little tedious; once you use Apple's recommended smb:\//workgroup;servername/share naming scheme to log on to the PC, you have to enter a user name and password in the SMB/CIFS Filesystem Authentication window.

To avoid having to enter your user name and password, use this address format in the Address field of the Connect To Server window: smb:\//workgroup;username: password\@servername/share, where workgroup is the name of the workgroup the server belongs to, username is your Windows user name for access to the machine, password is the password for that user name, servername is the name of the computer to which you are connecting in the workgroup, and share is the shared folder or device. Here's an example: smb:\//workgroup;michael:password\@mypc/c.

This shortcut allows others using your Mac to log on to the PC just as easily. If this potential security issue concerns you, use Apple's addressing convention.

-- Michael Hall, Simi Valley, California

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