Mac 911: December 2002

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Mac OS X 10.2, also called Jaguar, is one cool cat, but even it can use a little grooming. I provide just that sprucing up in this month's Mac 911, in which we examine ways to create custom screen savers, keep desktop pictures fresh, extract attachments from the Mail application, configure your mouse's scroll wheel, move the Trash to the Finder's toolbar, import addresses into Address Book, and juggle tools within the toolbar.

Self-Made Slide Shows

I love OS X's slide-show screen effects. How can I create a slide show of my own?

-- Charles Grace, El Cajon, California

The obvious way is to open the Screen Effects system preference, select the Pictures Folder entry, and click on the Configure button. When you do this, you're offered the opportunity to select a folder full of pictures as a source for your slide show. While this method is obvious, it's not as cool as using a little-known tool included with OS X.

Go to Library: Image Capture: Scripts, and drag a folder full of pictures on top of the Build Slide Show app. Let go of the mouse button, and the pictures within that folder appear on your Mac's monitor as a screen saver. When you next open the Screen Effects system preference, you'll notice that a new Recent Photos entry appears in the list of available effects. This selection will always be the last group of pictures you've dragged to Build Slide Show.

To save the slide shows you've created, go to your user's folder: Library: Screen Savers, and rename the Recent Photos.slideSaver file in the Screen Savers folder (keeping the .slideSaver extension). Once it's renamed, the slide show will appear as a selection in the Screen Effects system preference.

Change of Scene

In OS 9, I could create a randomly displayed series of desktop pictures by dragging a folder full of picture files to the Desktop portion of the Appearance control panel. Does OS X offer this kind of convenience?

- Foster Boyd, Palmer Junction, Oregon

OS X 10.2 does, and then some. Just open the Desktop system preference and drag a folder full of pictures into the portion of the window that displays lines of pictures. Then turn on the Change Picture option and select how often you'd like the desktop picture to change--your choices include every day, hour, 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 5 minutes, minute, and 5 seconds (bring on the Advil); when your Mac is waking from sleep; and when you're logging in.

Those running earlier versions of OS X can bring similar functionality to their Mac's desktop with the help of Brian Bergstrand's free ChangeDesktop ( changedesktop).

Inside mbox

I'm interested in viewing the contents of the Mail application's database outside the program--viewing messages in a single file or extracting attachments, for example. Is there a way to do this?

-- Sharon Fagan, Arlington, Kentucky

When you know how to dig down into the program's mbox database files, it's easy. Here's the trick:

Go to your user's folder: Library: Mail, and you'll spy at least one mailbox folder--named something like, with your e-mail address in place of Jane's. Inside this folder, you'll spy one or more mbox files. To peek inside your in-box, just control-click on the INBOX.mbox folder and select Show Package Contents from the contextual menu. When you release your mouse, up pops the INBOX.mbox window, which contains an mbox file (along with a few other files).

To view the contents of this file (and thus all the messages in it), just double-click on it. In short order, it will open in TextEdit, where you can browse it at your leisure. Any attachments included in your in-box will appear as long strings of nonsense text.

To decode an attachment manually, cut and paste the text (demarcated by entries that start with double hyphens, as in --B_3113207532_410736) into an application capable of saving a plain-text document. (Apple's TextEdit can do this if you select Preferences from the TextEdit menu and select the Plain Text option in the New Document Attributes section of the Preferences window.) Once you've saved the document, drop it onto the StuffIt Expander application found inside the Utilities folder. StuffIt Expander will then translate the gobbledygook into a real file.

Regrettably, that real file will likely give you no clue as to which program created it. But the header information in the mbox file will tell you. For example, if you were to see the entry Content-type: application/x-msexcel; name="my_table.xls" at the beginning of the file, you'd know you were dealing with an Excel file. A Content-type: application/msword; name="This_Cool_Story.doc" entry would indicate a Microsoft Word file.

To extract all attachments from the file, drag it onto StuffIt Expander, which will place all the file's attachments into a single mbox folder. Inside this folder will be the attachments within the original mbox file, with generic "Untitled" names.

Wheel of Misfortune

The scroll wheel of my Microsoft IntelliMouse won't scroll vertically in Acrobat Reader 5.0 on my Power Mac G4 running OS X. The wheel functions as expected with Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word, however. Why is it picky about certain applications, and how can I get it to work in Acrobat?

-- "Macbiker," forums

Although OS X supports two-button scroll-wheel mice, some applications are more wheel savvy than others. Specifically, Cocoa applications (those programs written to run natively--and only--in OS X) do the right thing in regard to scroll wheels. Carbon applications (Classic programs altered to run natively in both OS 9 and OS X) and Classic apps may react positively to a scroll wheel, depending on whether the software that came with your mouse had been updated with Jaguar compatibility. Acrobat Reader is a Carbon application, and although it supports the mouse to the extent that contextual menus appear when you click on the right mouse button, the scroll wheel does nothing more than give your index finger a light workout. But dry those tears; using the IntelliPoint software that comes with the IntelliMouse, you can create customized mouse settings for Acrobat Reader that simulate scrolling.

Open the Microsoft Mouse system preference, and click on the Wheel tab in the resulting window. To create a setup specifically for Acrobat Reader, click on the Add button and navigate to the Acrobat Reader application (most likely in your Applications folder) via the Choose A File dialog box that appears. Click on the Roll Forward button. In the resulting IntelliPoint Assignments dialog box, select Keystroke from the Select A Command pop-up menu. Now press the page-up key on your Mac's keyboard and click on OK. Repeat this procedure with the Roll Back button, assigning the page-down keystroke (see "Roll Your Own").

While you're mucking about with custom settings, you might care to click on the Buttons tab and assign the 1-plus sign (+) and 1-hyphen (-) key combinations to the Right Side and Left Side buttons, respectively. If you're like me, you continually increase and decrease the magnification of PDF files; having these commands literally at your fingertips is convenient.

Toolbar Trash

In earlier versions of OS X, I could put the Trash in the Finder's toolbar. In OS X 10.2, I can't. Is there a work-around for this?

-- Sonja Momberg, Glover, Oklahoma

For those unfamiliar with the old method, here it is in a nutshell: Click on the Trash in the Dock to open the Trash window. Then drag the tiny Trash icon from the Trash window's title bar into the toolbar. As Sonja suggests, this trick won't work in OS X 10.2.

You can accomplish this in Jaguar by selecting Find from the File menu (1-F), clicking on the Add Criteria drop-down menu, selecting Visibility, and selecting Off in the resulting pop-up menu. Type Trash in the File Name Contains field, and click on the Search button. You'll likely see numerous .Trash entries. Select the one that displays a small Trash icon in the bottom half of the Search Results window (it should stand alone, without showing any path to a folder higher up in the hierarchy).

If the toolbar doesn't appear in the Search Results window, click on the Clear button in the upper right corner. Drag the highlighted .Trash entry into the Toolbar. This .Trash folder will now appear in every Finder window, and items you drag to this folder will be placed in the Trash.

You can make this folder a bit friendlier by clicking on it from a Finder window's toolbar, pressing 1-I to bring up the Get Info window, and changing the name and icon. But after you've logged out or restarted, your changes will revert back to .Trash and a folder icon, respectively.

Change of Address

I have my contacts in an application other than Jaguar's Address Book. How can I move them to Address Book?

-- Fred Mead, Bridgewater, Connecticut

Apple offers an avenue via the included Import Addresses AppleScript found in Library: Scripts: Mail Scripts. This script presents a list of applications from which you can import your addresses, including Microsoft Entourage, Netscape, Palm Desktop, and Qualcomm Eudora. Some scripts require that you first import text to a tab-delimited text document.

If, like me, you've had a smidgen of trouble with this script, or if it doesn't support your application, you might try these other methods.

Palm Desktop 4.0 Launch Palm Desktop and choose Export from the File menu. In the resulting Export: Palm Desktop window, select vCard in the Format pop-up menu and click on Export. Open Address Book, select Import from the File menu, and select vCards from the submenu. Navigate to the Palm Desktop file you just exported and click on Open.

Microsoft Entourage for Mac OS X Create an empty folder on your desktop, and give it an intuitive name such as Entourage Contacts. Launch Entourage and click on the Address Book button. Select the addresses you want to export, and drag them into the folder you created. Launch Address Book. Drag the Entourage Contacts folder into the Group or Name field to add the addresses in the folder to Address Book.

Mozilla and Netscape 7 Open Mozilla's or Netscape's Address Book, select the addresses you want to export, and choose Export from the Tools menu. In the resulting Export Address Book dialog box, give the file a name ending with the .ldif extension (hank.ldif, for example), choose LDIF (*.ldi,*.ldif) from the Format pop-up menu, and click on Save. Launch Address Book, select Import from the File menu, and then choose LDIF from the submenu. Navigate to the .ldif file you just created, and click on Open.

Note: Without the .ldif extension, Address Book won't recognize the file.

Power On Software Now Contact 4.2 Now Contact is a bit trickier, in that it exports contacts only as text or Now Contact files--formats Address Book can't import. However, you can export your contacts as tab-delimited text files, import them into Mozilla or Netscape, and then use the previously outlined technique to move them into Address Book.

Qualcomm Eudora 5.1 Andreas Amann has created a wonderful free utility called Eudora vCard Export (, which places all the Eudora address-book entries into a single vCard that you can then drag into Address Book.

Tools Trick

Can I reorder the default tools in OS X 10.2's toolbar?

-- Ross Morrison, Chico, California

Forge ahead by employing the same method you use to move icons in OS X's menu bar. Hold down 1 and drag the icons wherever you like.

Tip of the Month

To copy an item's path name in OS X, open the Terminal application, type cd (change directory), and drag the file whose path name you want to the Terminal window. The full path will appear. Then simply copy the path and paste it wherever you'd like.

Note that items in the path name that contain spaces -- such as iPhoto Library -- appear like this: iPhoto\ Library. A full path name may look like this: /Volumes/OS\ X/Users/Gabriel/Pictures/iPhoto\ Library/2002.

-- Dr. Gabriel Dorado, Cordoba, Spain

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