Mac 911

Until the Apple Computer of the twenty-second century devises a way to cram our craniums with data via tiny AirPort implants, we must continue to rely on the printed word. Given the importance of text and the devices designed to edit and print it, this month's Mac 911 examines ways to edit PDF files, find usefulness in older printers, create virtual PostScript printers, and print in a cross-platform network. I also offer advice for merging iPhoto libraries and ensuring your domestics' tranquility.

Editing PDF

I'd like to extract text from a PDF file and edit it. Can I?
-- Neil Barker, Altadena, California

You have a number of options. The least-expensive (meaning free) way is to open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader (www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/ readstep.html), choose the Text tool, select the text you want to change, and copy and paste it into a text editor for editing. The disadvantages of this method are that you can copy only text (no graphics) and that you'll lose most of the text's formatting when you paste it into the text editor. Of course, you can't use this method at all on files that have been secured to prevent copying.

If you own the full version of Acrobat and the document hasn't been security protected, you can export text by choosing the Save As command from Acrobat's File menu and selecting Rich Text Format from the Format pop-up menu. The resulting RTF file will retain more of its formatting than a file created with the copy-and-paste method, and it will open in applications such as Mac OS X's TextEdit and Microsoft Word.

Another way to save unsecured PDF files in RTF is Metaobject's $20 TextLightning (www.metaobject.com). As with Acrobat, you can save PDF files as RTF files and retain much of the original document's formatting but not its graphics.

Finally, optical character recognition (OCR) apps such as ScanSoft's $500 OmniPage Pro X (mmmh; June 2002; 800/654-1187, www.scansoft.com) can import PDF files (even if they've been security protected), recognize the text and graphics they contain, and export those files as editable RTF files. OCR requires that you do a fair bit of fiddling before it correctly recognizes text in complex documents, but it has the advantage of allowing you to save graphics and text.

Legacy LaserWriter

Is it possible to connect an Apple Personal LaserWriter 320 to a new iMac or Power Mac G4?
-- G. Brooks Morris, Slidell, Louisiana

It is, with the help of a bridging device such as Asante's $129 AsanteTalk Ethernet to LocalTalk Adapter (800/303-9121, www.asante.com). These devices enable you to link LocalTalk-compatible printers -- which include many older laser printers from Apple and Hewlett-Packard -- to Macs that lack a printer port.

To make the physical connection, string a standard Ethernet cable from your Mac to the adapter, and a LocalTalk (serial) cable from the adapter to your LaserWriter. Now launch Print Center, click on the Add button, and select AppleTalk from the first pop-up menu that appears in the resulting pane. If it's not already selected, choose Local AppleTalk Zone from the second pop-up menu in this pane. Your printer should appear in the list of available printers. Select it, and click on the Add button to make that printer available to you.

Pretend Printer

Is there a way to create a PostScript file printer with Print Center?
-- Jon Taie, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Before I reveal the trick to doing this, let's discuss why you'd want to do such a thing.

Saving a document as a PostScript file lets you print that file on any computer with an attached PostScript printer -- a high-end printer at a printing service bureau, for example. Unless your Mac is connected to a PostScript printer (or, as you'll discover, something very much like a PostScript printer), you can't save a document as a PostScript file. If you don't have such a printer, you must create a virtual one.

To create a virtual PostScript printer, launch Print Center and click on the Add button in the Printer List window. Select IP Printing from the first pop-up menu in the resulting sheet. In the Printer's Address field, type localhost. From the Printer Model pop-up menu, select Generic and click on the Add button.

When you want to save a file as a PostScript document, select Print in the application you're working with -- say, Microsoft Word -- and then select the localhost printer from the Printer pop-up menu. Choose Output Options from the Copies & Pages pop-up menu, enable the Save As File option, and select PostScript from the Format pop-up menu (see "And Here's Your Localhost!"). Click on Save and, in the resulting Save To File dialog box, name the file and click on Save again.

Picture to Picture

I have iPhoto 2 installed on both my iMac G4 and my PowerBook G4. I'd like to move the pictures from iPhoto on my PowerBook to iPhoto on my iMac and maintain the photo album structure I have on both Macs. Is this possible?
-- Ron Madaras, San Leandro, California

Yes, but I've yet to find a terribly intuitive way to go about it. That said, you can try this as-intuitive-as-I-can-make-it method:

Launch iPhoto 2 on the iMac, and click on the Photo Library entry in iPhoto's browser column. If it's not already selected, click on the Organize button at the bottom of the iPhoto window. Click on the Burn button at the bottom of the iPhoto window, and insert a blank CD-R. Click on the Burn button in the resulting Burn Disc dialog box. iPhoto will burn your Photo Library to the disc.

Once you've burned the disc, place it in your PowerBook. Unless you've changed the way OS X handles discs created by iPhoto, your PowerBook's iPhoto will automatically launch. Click on the triangle that appears next to the CD icon in iPhoto's browser column. You'll see the albums of photos from your iMac.

To create a new album, click on the Photo Library entry in the browser column and then on the Plus button below the browser column. Give that album the same name as the first album on the CD you created ("My Vacation," for example). Then select the "My Vacation" album on the CD, click on iPhoto's main window (where the pictures are displayed), and press 1-A to select all the pictures in the album. Drag these pictures to the "My Vacation" album you just created. Your pictures will be copied from the CD to your PowerBook's hard drive.

Repeat this procedure for each album on the CD. Now select Provide iPhoto Feedback from the iPhoto menu and, in your feedback message to Apple, politely request that someone devise an easier way to incorporate the albums in two iPhoto libraries.

RAM-arkable Memory

In OS 9 I kept my Web browser and its cache files in a RAM disk to improve performance. OS X doesn't seem to offer a RAM-disk option. Is there a way to create such a thing in OS X?
-- Carlton Doerner, Du Quoin, Illinois

There is. Point your browser to www.clarkwoodsoftware .com, and download a copy of Clarkwood Software's $25 ramBunctious 2.0 -- a utility that allows you to create a RAM disk in OS X.

Now that you know you can create a RAM disk, let's discuss whether you should.

If your Mac is RAM starved, don't expect it to be much zippier with a RAM disk -- the RAM disk and OS X will squabble over memory allocation, and this will likely negate any performance gains. If, on the other hand, you have RAM to burn, a RAM disk may help. The operating system will have plenty of RAM to work with, and you can devote unused RAM to tasks of your choosing -- running a specific application and its documents, for instance.

But you can realize benefits other than raw performance gains from a RAM disk in OS X. For example, shoving an application and its working files into a RAM disk could cause your PowerBook to access its drive less often -- thus extending the time you can use your laptop under battery power. And those users who run Macs with noisy hard drives will hear less of this incessant mechanical caterwauling because a RAM disk allows the hard drive to spin down more often.

What's in .DS_Store?

Could you explain what the invisible files named .DS_Store are within OS X? It's a nuisance when they show up in a disc made in OS X and used on other platforms or in OS 9.
-- Tom Unger, New York, New York

These files contain view settings -- window size and placement and icon position, for example -- for the folders that contain them. As you hint, Tom, although .DS_Store files are invisible to those running OS X, the hidden is revealed when folders containing these files are viewed under OS 9 or by a computer running a different operating system (such as a Windows PC networked to your Mac via Samba).

You can remove these files without ill effect. Command-line commandos can do this via Terminal, by typing sudo find /pathtodirectory/ -name ".DS_Store"-exec rm {} \;, where pathtodirectory is the full path to the folder from which you'd like to remove the .DS_Store file. So if I wanted to remove the .DS_Store file from the Projects folder on my Desktop, I'd enter sudo find /Users/chris/Desktop/Projects/ -name ".DS_Store" -exec rm {} \;.

If you're uncomfortable with Terminal, you can download a copy of Extraneous Software's free De_DDS (www.extraneous.us/download/De_DDS .tgz). This simple utility will strip .DS_Store files from any folder dropped atop the De_DDS icon.

Networking Nanny

My children's nanny uses her iBook to do her homework when the kids have gone down for their nap. I let her use our AirPort network, but it's configured to use a proxy. The nanny doesn't understand my instructions for turning the proxy off and on in the Network system preference, and she can't connect to other wireless networks because of our proxy settings. How can I make this simple for her?
-- Ande Root, Capitola, California

As any real-estate mogul will tell you, the secret to success is location, location, location. Such is also the case with your conundrum. Use the Location settings available within OS X's Network system preference, and moving from one network setup to another will be a breeze.

Launch the Network system preference and select New Location from the Location pop-up menu. In the resulting pane, give the location an intuitive name, such as The Root's AirPort, and click on OK. Now configure the network settings -- including proxy settings -- for your AirPort network and click on Apply Now.

Create an additional location that includes settings for the nanny's ISP and other wireless networks. Give it a unique name as well.

Now show your nanny that to change settings, she just has to click on the Apple menu within any application, select the Location menu, and then choose The Root's AirPort from the resulting submenu. To return to her original network settings, she can select Automatic from the same submenu.

Tip of the Month

With the release of iMovie 3, we were all introduced to the Ken Burns effect, in which you pan and zoom across a still picture. I enjoy the effect, but I don't want to apply it to every still I insert (as iMovie 3 does by default). If you'd like to stop the automatic imposition of this effect, follow these steps:

Using TextEdit, open the com.apple.iMovie3 .plist file, found by following this path:
~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iMovie3.plist.

Find the autoApplyPanZoomToImported Stills entry.

Two lines below this entry (and one line above Option autoSceneDetect: %d) you'll see true. Change this to false.

Save and close the file.

Open iMovie 3 and discover that Ken now comes to call only when you want him to -- when you click on the Apply button.
-- Karl H. Hehr, Ames, Iowa

Unsolicited Advice

Every so often I'm approached by readers who, with a hint of embarrassment, admit that a Windows PC -- complete with connected printer -- makes up a portion of their home network. In the course of conversation, they invariably ask: "Is there a way for me to print to that printer from one of my Macs running OS X?"

"Why, yes," I respond. "It's like this. . . ."

As a writer for Macworld, I feel that it falls outside my purview to explain how you'd share a printer under Windows. But suffice it to say that such a printer must be shared in order for this scheme to work.

Once you've configured Windows to share the printer, open Print Center and, while holding down the option key, click on the Add button in the Printer List window. In the resulting sheet, select Advanced from the pop-up menu. In the Device pop-up menu, select Windows Printer Via Samba. In the Device Name field, enter any name you please -- My PC Printer, for example. In the Device URL field, enter smb://shortnameonyourMac: Macpassword@workgroup/server/sharename, where shortnameonyourMac is the short name you use to log on to OS X, Macpassword is the administrator's password you use to log on to your Mac, workgroup is the name of the Windows workgroup (Workgroup or MShome, for example), server is the name of your PC (Bag_o'_Bolts, for example), and sharename is the share name for the printer you've chosen under Windows (HPLaserJ, for example). Now select your printer from the Printer Model pop-up menu at the bottom of the sheet.

When this printer is selected as the default in Print Center and your network is up and running, any documents you print from your Mac will be printed on the printer tethered to your PC.

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