Mac 911

This month's Mac 911, while it deals with myriad topics, has one common thread--each question is about something. That's right, from the mailbag I drew questions about something that should work (but doesn't), something that could work, and something of a workaround. Let's rip open the first message, from a reader seeking the kind of sound advice we generally dispense here at 911 HQ.

Apple's QuickTime Pro is so full-featured that you'd think a request made by San Diegan Lawrence Carleton would be reasonable. He wanted to use QuickTime Pro to record a couple of minutes of digital audio with his iMac DV's built-in microphone. Regrettably, the program isn't capable of that.

QuickTime Pro can capture audio from CDs and open and convert WAV, sfil, AIFF, uLaw, and MP3 files, but you can't use it to record sound from a microphone.

Thankfully, Apple provides another way to record sound into your Mac. It's an application called SimpleSound, which you'll find in the Applications folder at the root level of your Mac's hard drive.

Wait, wait--I hear a faint yowling in the distance. "You idiot!" these yowlers yowl, "SimpleSound can only record a few seconds of audio!"

To which I politely retort, "Sez you!"

True, if you open SimpleSound and click on the Add button in the Alerts Sounds window, the program limits you to five seconds of recording time. However, if you instead choose New from SimpleSound's File menu, you can record as much audio as will fit on the volume where SimpleSound resides. To gain the maximum recording time, move SimpleSound to your largest hard drive or partition. You can also gain more time by recording at a lower quality--switching from CD to Music quality, for example, gives you four times as much recording time. If you'd like a more capable sound-recording application--one that more clearly defines recording parameters such as resolution and bit depth, for example--I'd give E.J. Campbell's ( ) $20 shareware application, Ultra Recorder, a try. Ultra Recorder doesn't edit audio--meaning you can't use it to divide the audio file into smaller pieces or lop off pieces you don't care for. But once you've recorded your audio with either SimpleSound or Ultra Recorder, you can use QuickTime Pro as a simple sound editor--using the Cut and Clear commands to remove selected bits of audio and the Cut and Paste commands to assemble a group of sound clips into a single file.

David Das, proud owner of a brand-new iBook, writes that he'd like to take advantage of the Empower AC ports beginning to sprout up in the tonier sections of airplanes. These receptacles let you plug in your PowerBook. However, this Nashville, Tennessee, resident fears that no Empower AC adapter supports his two-toned portable. David, allow me to allay your fears.

Although your iBook ships with a round power adapter apparently manufactured by Duncan Yo-Yo Company, that adapter provides the same connection and au jus as the AC adapters that shipped with the PowerBook 1400 and 3400 and every G3 model. This tidbit saved my bacon at the last Macworld Expo, where I had to bum the power adapter from a friend's iBook to recharge my Wall Street PowerBook.

Now that you know you can use your iBook with any adapter that supports a recent PowerBook (and therefore any car or airline adapter intended for PowerBooks), you must stalk and snare one of the few Empower adapters compatible with your lapster. I've done the stalking for you and found the Port Auto/Air Notebook Adapter-PowerBook, G3 ($80; model number PWCF401), from Port (800/950-5122, ). It's Empower certified.

One of the Windows features worth stealing is the keyboard shortcut that allows you to cycle through running applications (called keyboard cycling). Apple did steal it--and then assigned it the command-tab shortcut and plunked it into Mac OS, beginning with version 8.5. Unfortunately, some folks--Ernie Grafe of Rapid City, South Dakota, for example--mourn the fact that the new command-tab shortcut supplants the same helpful key combination (used for other purposes, of course) in programs such as FileMaker and QuarkXPress. While Ernie enjoys OS 9's many advantages, he would like to dispense with this shortcut.

You can disable keyboard cycling in several ways. If you're a do-it-yourselfer, just open Apple's Script Editor and enter this simple AppleScript:

tell application "Application Switcher"
set keyboard cycling active to false
end tell

Use this one to turn cycling back on:

tell application "Application Switcher"
set keyboard cycling active to true
end tell

You can also disable Command-tab with a shareware or freeware utility. My personal favorite (because it's free and doesn't involve a control panel) is Mitch Crane's SwitcherSetup CM ( ). It lets you use contextual menus to switch off keyboard cycling or assign it a different key combination. Catalunya Disseny Informatic's $5 SwitcherMaster ( ) provides similar services via a control panel. Although Michael F. Kamprath's $10 shareware control panel, Program Switcher ( ), doesn't specifically let you turn off keyboard cycling, it comes with an AppleScript that lets you turn keyboard cycling on and off with a single script.

Contributing Editor CHRISTOPHER BREEN offers Mac tips and tricks each business day via the Macworld Daily Tips and iTips newsletters. Visit to subscribe.

Share tips and discuss Mac problems with other Mac users in the Mac 911 Forum ( ). Also send tips by e-mail to We pay $50 for tips selected for publication in Macworld. All published submissions become the sole property of Macworld.

Shareware and freeware mentioned in Mac 911 is available from the Macworld Online software library ( ).

Desktop Picture Template   Use your Mac's desktop to design Web pages for multiple screen sizes.

If you design Web pages using a large monitor, you can easily check how your page layout will look on smaller screens by customizing Apple's desktop picture. Create a graphic at the exact resolution of your monitor (1,024 by 768, for example), and then draw boxes inside the graphic at other common monitor sizes such as 800 by 600 and 640 by 480. Set this graphic as your desktop picture. You can then resize windows in your authoring software using the desktop picture as a guide.

Matt J. Fuller
Cincinnati, Ohio

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