Mac OS X Hints

Clean Up Text Using Summarize Service

Have you ever come across a selection of text you’d like to keep—for example, a how-to on a Web page or an article on your local paper’s site? You may have tried copying it and pasting it into TextEdit or Stickies, only to end up with the text and all its distracting formatting, links, and spacing. Here’s a quick and easy workaround.

If the program you’re using supports OS X’s Services feature (as is the case for most Apple apps, as well as The Omni Group’s products and Bare Bones’ BBEdit), you can use the Summarize service to clean up the text for easy saving. Start by selecting the text within the source application, and then choose application name : Services: Summarize.

A new window will open, and you’ll see a cleaned-up version of your text. Next, move the Summary Size slider to the 100% mark; this will force the service to show every word in your original selection. Then press Command-C to copy the text to the Clipboard (it’s already all selected by default), switch to your final destination (a Stickies note, a Word document, or whatever), and press Command-V to paste.

If the text isn’t in a Services-aware application, drop it into TextEdit as your first step. If you have TextEdit in Plain Text mode (go to TextEdit: Preferences), doing so will get rid of almost all the formatting. Using the Summarize service will then remove any remaining excess line breaks and other oddities.

Enter URLs Quickly in OmniWeb 5

Autocompletion of URLs can be a real time-saver in browsers. If you’ve visited CNN before, for instance, you’ll probably only have to type

cn
before your browser figures out that you’re heading there again, and it will complete the URL for you. Most browsers complete starting from the front of the URL only, but The Omni Group’s OmniWeb 5 ($30) also autocompletes from the end of the URL. So if you often visit a deeply buried page on a large site (
www.example_bank.com/balances/checking/jun05
, for instance), you can type only the end of the URL (
jun05
), and OmniWeb will fill in the entire address for you.

Preview Multiple Fonts with Font Book and Exposé

Do you work with a large number of typefaces and often add new ones to your system? Do you wish you had an easy way to preview a number of them simultaneously without first installing them? You can preview a font without installing it by double-clicking on it in the Finder, or by dragging and dropping the font onto Font Book’s icon (either in the Dock or in the Applications folder). Drag and drop multiple fonts at the same time, and Font Book opens a new preview window for each one. Unfortunately, Font Book cascades these windows, so you can see only one at a time.

Using Exposé, though, you can easily review all the previewed fonts at one time. Just press F10, the Exposé Application Windows keystroke, and the windows will arrange themselves across your screen. As long as you haven’t opened more fonts than your monitor can fit, you’ll be able to see enough detail to determine which fonts you want (See screenshot). To install a font, just click on its window to make it come to the foreground, and then click on the Install button. Press F10 again, select the next font, and repeat.

Add the Latest Java Support to Mozilla Browsers

If you use a browser other than Safari or OmniWeb, you might find that there’s a slew of interesting Java-based Web apps you can’t see. For instance, the applets at Walter Fendt’s Java Applets on Physics won’t work in free Mozilla-based browsers such as Foxfire, Camino, or Mozilla.

Why? The Mozilla-based browsers don’t use the latest version of the Java Virtual Machine. (See macworld.com/0380 for the deeply technical explanation if you’re interested.) Thanks to the open-source nature of the Mozilla browsers, though, this problem has a solution.

Start by visiting the Java plug-in site. Download the latest available package by clicking on the file name below the Latest File Releases header. A new Web page will appear. Click on the first entry ( javaplugin ) in the Latest File Releases list. As of this writing, the file is called JavaEmbeddingPlugin0.9.0.zip.

After the download completes, quit your Mozilla-based browser and open the JavaEmbeddingPlugin folder. Open the Binaries folder inside, and then drag and drop the two files located there (JavaEmbeddingPlugin.bundle and MRJPlugin.plugin) into your Mac’s top-level Library/Internet Plug-Ins folder. You may have to create this folder if you haven’t installed Internet plug-ins before.

Before you can use the plug-in, you need to check one last thing. Its functionality depends on the order in which your plug-ins load: the MJRPlugin.plugin file must load before two Apple-provided files, Java Applet.plugin and Java Applet Plugin Enabler. To ensure that this is the case, view the Plug-Ins folder by date (choose View: As List, then click once on the Date Modified column header to order the files from newest to oldest). If MRJPlugin.plugin is listed above the other two files, you’re home free.

If it’s not, open Terminal, type

touch "/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/MRJPlugin .plugin"
, and press return. You’ve just changed the plug-in’s date stamp to the present date and time; it will now appear at the top of the list in the Finder. Launch your Mozilla-based browser again and load the physics site mentioned earlier. You’ll find that the applets now all work as expected.

Skip Clicking on Samples in the iTunes Music Store

Listening to 30-second song snippets at the iTunes Music Store is a great way to get acquainted with a new band. Just search for an artist’s songs and then click on each song in turn to get a sense for the artist’s sound. But all this clicking just to get an earful can be a pain.

The following AppleScript takes care of that problem. Open Script Editor (in Applications/Utilities), and type in the following code:

	on idle
	tell application "iTunes"
	next track
	end tell
	return 29.5
	end idle
	

Select File: Save, give your new script a name, and select Application from the File Format pop-up menu. Choose the Stay Open option. It doesn’t matter where you save the script; you just want to store it where you can get to it quickly. (Consider dragging it to the Dock, the sidebar, or the toolbar for truly fast access.)

Now visit the iTunes Music Store and search for something. In the results box, double-click on the first sample. Before the clip ends, switch to the Finder and launch your saved script. When you do, iTunes will jump to the next sample, play it for 29.5 seconds, and keep going until all samples have played.

Yes, you’ll miss the last 0.5 seconds of each one, but there’s a good reason this figure is set below 30 seconds. If you set the script at 30 seconds, iTunes will reach the end of the first sample and stop. By using a value just below 30 seconds, iTunes doesn’t quite finish playing, so it jumps to the next sample.Since you selected the Stay Open option, this script will keep working until you quit it.

[ Contributing Editor Rob Griffiths is the author of Mac OS X Power Hound, Panther Edition (O’Reilly, 2004), and runs the Mac OS X Hints Web site. ]

Using Font Book by itself to preview many fonts simultaneously is difficult. So press F10 to access Exposé’s Application Windows mode and clearly preview each font in its own window.
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