Quick Tips

AppleScript is great for automating everyday tasks, especially when you're using the speedier PowerPC-native AppleScript in Mac OS 8.5. But some AppleScript commands can be troublesome when they run in the background. For instance, consider the following script, which selects the items in the Recent Applications folder, moves them to the Trash, and empties it:

tell application "Finder" select every item
of folder "Recent Applications" of
apple menu items folderdelete selection
empty trash
end tell

Chris Garaffa of Cos Cob, Connecticut, wrote this script, and while it was running he made the mistake of selecting the folder that contained his Web site. To his surprise, the script didn't delete the items in his Recent Applications folder but instead deleted his Web site. The following script doesn't use a Select command, and would have prevented this calamity:

tell application "Finder"
delete every item of folder
"Recent Applications" of
apple menu items folder
empty trash

end tell

The moral of the story: Be careful about selecting items while running a script in the background, beware the Empty Trash command (which never displays a warning), and always back up your files!

Q. While using the spelling checker in a WordPerfect 3.5 document, I accidentally clicked Add instead of Replace and added a misspelled word to my dictionary. How can I remove the added word? And can I remove words from Microsoft Word's dictionary too?

Douglas Mehr
Gurnee, Illinois

A. Corel WordPerfect stores the words you add to the spelling dictionary in a file named User Dictionary (USA), found in the Language folder inside the WordPerfect folder. To edit this file, double-click it. The file opens in the ST Utility program, which lists the words in the dictionary file and lets you delete and add words.

Word 6 and Word 98 store your words in a file named Custom Dictionary. To edit a dictionary file in Word 98, choose Preferences from the Tools menu, click the Spelling & Grammar tab, and then click the Dictionaries button. In the dialog box that appears, select the dictionary you want to edit by clicking its name–not the check box–and then clicking the Edit button. Word 98 opens the dictionary in a document window and turns off automatic spell-checking.

Find the misspelled word in the document window and delete or correct it. You can also type in new words, but make sure you press return after each new word to put it on a separate line. When you save this document, Word 98 may advise that you could lose formatting if you continue saving; click Yes and don't worry. To reinstate automatic spell-checking, choose Preferences from the Tools menu, click the Spelling & Grammar tab, and turn on the option Check Spelling As You Type.

To edit a dictionary file in Word 6, choose Options from the Tools menu, and click the Spelling tab to see a list of custom dictionaries. Select the dictionary you want to edit and click the Edit button. When Word asks if you want to edit the dictionary as a Word document, click Yes. When asked how you want to convert the dictionary file, select Text Only and click OK. The file opens in a document window behind the Options dialog box; dismiss the dialog box by clicking its Cancel button. Now you can edit the dictionary in the document window.

Q. How can I open e-mail attachments labeled with the suffix .exe, such as tree.exe?

William Hammond
Ocean Springs, Mississippi

A. Files whose names end with .exe (short for executable) are PC programs. Some .exe programs are compressed archives, which you can expand on your Mac using the freeware StuffIt Expander together with the shareware DropStuff With Expander Enhancer, both from Aladdin Systems ( http://www.aladdinsys.com ).To run these programs, you need either a PC or PC-emulation software such as Insignia SoftWindows (510/360-3700, http://www.insignia.com ) or Connectix Virtual PC (650/571-5100, http://www.connectix.com ) for your Mac. If your Mac has PCI or NuBus expansion slots, you can also install a PC-compatibility card from Orange Micro (714/779-9332, http://www.orangemicro.com ) and use it to run .exe programs.

TIP In Mac OS 8.5.X you can scroll through a folder or disk window by grabbing its contents. Just press the 1 key, click anywhere in the window, and drag–the pointer turns into a little white-gloved hand.

Richard Hayes
Chandler, Arizona

TIP A leading hyphen causes Microsoft Excel to interpret the contents of a cell as a formula. If you want to use a leading hyphen but not create a formula, use an en dash (option-hyphen) or an em dash (shift-option-hyphen) in place of the hyphen. Excel treats them like any letter or number.

Jim Henderson
Lancaster, California

You can also force Excel to treat the contents of any cell as text by typing an apostrophe at the beginning of the cell contents. Alternatively, format the cell as text (choose Cells from the Format menu, click the Number tab, and double-click Text in the category list). After changing a cell to text format, you may have to press command-U to make the change take effect.–L.P.

TIP To make an instant picture box in QuarkXPress 4.X that's the same size as the document page, open a new document with the Automatic Text Box option turned on and the four Margin Guides set to 0. Then choose Picture from the Content submenu of the Item menu. Voilá!

Randy Oest II
Washington, Pennsylvania

TIP If you want to read and send e-mail via your regular e-mail account while you're away from your computer, you don't necessarily need a Web e-mail account as described in December 1998's Quick Tips. Ned Smith of Erie, Pennsylvania, reports that you can access a POP e-mail account from any computer with a Web browser by visiting the Panda Mail site (www-.bstar-.net-/panda/). There you supply the e-mail log-in or user ID (typically the first part of your e-mail address), e-mail password, and server name (for example, ISPname.com or pop.ISPname.com).

One caveat: Panda Mail probably won't be able to access your e-mail account if the POP server is behind a firewall–typical with some corporate e-mail servers but usually not so with ISP (Internet service provider) servers. Also, to keep your mail private, don't forget to close the browser window when you're done and clear the browser cache as described in December.

TIP Instead of calling a 3Com BBS long-distance to check your phone-line quality as suggested in January 1999's Quick Tips, get your modem to report the phone-line quality while it's connected to your ISP, says William C. Roemer of Fort Collins, Colorado.

In the communications module of ClarisWorks or a terminal program such as ZTerm, which is $30 shareware (not freeware as stated in January), type AT&F1 and press return. Then type ATDT followed by the phone number you usually dial when you connect to your ISP–for example, ATDT555-1212–and press return. After the modem dials and connects, you'll probably see a message from your ISP asking for your log-in name. Ignore this request and type +++ but don't press return. The terminal program should display OK on the next line. Type AT&V1 and press return. The program displays connection statistics, including an item labeled something like Line Quality followed by a number. A Line Quality value of 25 or less indicates that the modem can connect at high speeds. Values greater than 25 signify slower connections.

Roemer says factors that affect line quality include your modem's distance from the telephone switching facility and the number of devices (telephones, fax machines, answering machines, and the like) connected to the same line. For example, with all telephones unplugged from the phone line, Roemer's connection speed hovered between 48 Kbps and 50Kbps. But when four telephones were connected to the same line, the connection speed dropped to between 28.8 Kbps and 31.2 Kbps. In addition, Roemer notes that a V.90 modem will frequently not connect at 56 Kbps if the ISP's modem supports only the X2 or K56flex standard.

Antonino P. "Nino" Giuliano of Palm Bay, Florida, observes that if your modem is more than 19,000 feet from the phone company's analog-digital switch, you can only expect a connection of between 24 Kbps and 28.8 Kbps with any kind of 56-Kbps modem.


We pay $25 to $100 for tips on how to use Macs, peripherals, or software. Please include your full name and address, so that we can send you your payment. Send questions or tips to quicktips@macworld.com or to Macworld Quick Tips, 301 Howard St., 16th Fl., San Francisco, CA 94105. All published submissions become the sole property of Macworld . Due to the high volume of mail received, we cannot provide personal responses.

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