Internet Switcharoo

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In previous editions of this column, I’ve recommended a number of great utilities—including More Internet (   ; November 2003; ) and RCDefaultApp (   ; November 2004; )—for changing helper applications in OS X. Although these utilities are useful for changing advanced settings, such as which applications open various URLs and file types, they also let you choose simpler preferences, such as your default Web and email clients. (In Mac OS X 10.3, Apple has made it both inconvenient and counterintuitive to change these basic settings: If you want to use a Web browser other than Safari, you have to first launch Safari and change that setting in Safari preferences; likewise, the setting for preferred email client is found in Mail’s preferences.)

The problem with utilities like More Internet and RCDefaultApp when it comes to such basic settings—OK, maybe not a problem so much as an inconvenience—is that you have to launch System Preferences and access a preference pane to change your settings. (And you must repeat the process if you need to go back to the previous settings.) If you just want to set-and-forget these preferences, no big deal; but if you have the need to change these settings frequently, you’ll want to check out Philippe Martin’s free IC-Switch 1.4 (   ; ).

IC-Switch is a simple menu bar utility that lets you quickly and easily change your preferred email, Web, FTP, RSS, and newsgroup clients. Click the IC-Switch menu icon, scroll to the appropriate Internet protocol, and then select your preferred client. The next time you click a link or open a file, bookmark, or Location file for that type of Internet protocol, your chosen application will be used. (The IC-Switch preferences dialog lets you manually add clients that aren’t automatically listed—or remove ones that you never use.)


IC-Switch menu

I use IC-Switch all the time when I’m working on a website: I often want to see how the site’s pages will look in different browsers, and IC-Switch lets me quickly choose which browser will open double-clicked HTML files. And I use both Mail and Entourage for email—for various reasons, all mail from one particular account goes to Mail while the rest goes to Entourage—so when I’m doing work that involves Mail, I use IC-Switch to make Mail my default email client.

For an example that’s likely to be more relevant to the average user, how often have you tried to open a link in an email message that won’t work in Safari but works fine in Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Firefox, Camino, etc.? When a link doesn't work in Safari, you can use IC-Switch to choose another Web browser and then click the link again.

That being said, IC-Switch is definitely a piece of software that will appeal to a limited group of users—but those people will love it.

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