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Aladdin's StuffIt Deluxe, plagued by bugs and a lack of backward compatibility in version 5.0 (see Reviews , April 1999), is back on track with an update that offers far greater stability and a handful of helpful new options. Version 5.5 of the file-compression utility still won't let you save files in earlier StuffIt formats, but the new features make it worth considering if you have an earlier version.
Among the most-useful new features is the Archive command, which makes it easy to pull a single file out of a StuffIt archive. You simply control-click on the StuffIt archive file, select Archive from the contextual menu, and navigate through the hierarchical directory list to the exact file you wish to extract.
StuffIt Deluxe 5.5 also supports additional compression formats. You can now create Zip files with StuffIt's DropZip application or by appending the .zip suffix to any file; you can use the same suffix-renaming tactic to create UUencode files. StuffIt Deluxe 5.5 can also create self-extracting archives and Bzip files for Windows PCs.
Varied Menu StuffIt Deluxe 5.5's Magic Menu sports new commands and compression options.
Along with the new encoding features, Aladdin's Magic Menu now includes four additional commandsquite useful even though they have little to do with compression. Get More Info provides basic file information, Make Alias To creates an alias and places it in any designated folder, Copy/Move copies or moves files to other locations, and Gather moves selected files into a single folder. Another new component, the Secure Delete utility, trashes files so they're unrecoverable.
StuffIt Deluxe isn't quite as deluxe as it once was. Some users may be disappointed to learn that the update still can't save files in earlier StuffIt formats. Now that Apple bundles StuffIt 5.X-compatible versions of DropStuff and StuffIt Expander with the Mac OS, this isn't the big issue it once was, but some users may still need to create StuffIt 4.0 archives. Aladdin has also removed the SpaceSaver utility, which compressed and expanded files on your Mac. However, considering the capacity of today's hard drives, losing SpaceSaver is hardly devastating.
With a return to stability and the addition of beneficial new features, StuffIt Deluxe is back in our good graces. If you have an older version of the software, consider upgrading (most upgrades cost $20). If the free DropStuff and StuffIt Expander don't address all of your compression needs, buy this more capable version.
RATING: PROS: Comprehensive compression options; useful navigation tools. CONS: Still not backward compatible. COMPANY: Aladdin Systems (831/761-6200, http://www.aladdinsys.com ). LIST PRICE: $80.
April 2000 page: 58