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Sound Check Redux

I’d like to apply the Sound Check process to my iTunes library again. Is there a way to do it without removing and re-adding all my songs?Tom Starling

There is. But it’s not quite as easy as visiting iTunes’ Audio preference pane and toggling the Sound Check option (which adjusts each song’s volume level to be nearly the same) on and off. The trick is to rebuild the iTunes library.

To do so, quit iTunes and navigate to the iTunes music folder (/ your user folder /Music/iTunes). Move the iTunes Music Library.xml file to the desktop—you’ll need it later. Then move the iTunes 4 Music Library file to the desktop. For the moment, hang on to it in case things go awry. When you launch iTunes, you’ll see that there isn’t a single song listed in its library. iTunes simply doesn’t know where they are.

Select File: Import and, in the resulting Import window, find the iTunes Music Library.xml file you moved to the desktop. Click on Choose. iTunes will populate its library listing with your track titles and restore your playlists. If the Sound Check option is selected, iTunes will once again apply the Sound Check adjustment to your library. If it’s not selected, then enable the Sound Check option to apply the effect.

Once you’re sure your songs are safely listed, trash the iTunes 4 Music Library file that’s on your desktop. If something did go wrong, replace the new iTunes 4 Music Library file with the original one.

Spreadsheet Acrobatics

I have a number of spreadsheets in PDF that I want to work with in Excel. Is there any practical way to do this?Richard Troxel

It depends on your definition of practical. I can suggest a method that will work—but it can be time-consuming, and it isn’t free. That method is to use Adobe Acrobat 6 or 7’s Select Table tool (Standard edition, $299; Professional edition, $449). (Earlier versions of Acrobat for the Mac lack this feature.) Choose Tools: Basic: Selection: Select Table and drag the selection area over the table. Once it’s highlighted, control-click on the table and choose the Open Table In Spreadsheet command from the contextual menu. With luck, the selected text will sort itself into the proper cells and you’ll be well on your way.

I say “ with luck” because this may not occur. If the text in one cell butts up against text in an adjoining cell, the text from both will be placed in a single Excel cell. If this happens, go back to Acrobat, control-click on the selected table again, and choose Save Selected Table As from the contextual menu. In the dialog box, choose Text (Tab Delimited) from the Format pop-up menu, name the file, and click on Save.

Now launch Excel, choose File: Open, find the file you just created, select it, and then click on Open. The Text Import wizard will appear. If cell consolidation is the problem, the second step of the wizard may be your salvation. In the Delimiters area of this window (called Text Import Wizard - Step 2 Of 3), enable the Space option (see top screenshot). This should separate conjoined cells. (You can find out by looking at the Data Preview panel at the bottom of the window.) Click on Next to determine how the data in each column will be formatted (General, Text, or Date), and then click on Finish. The formatting should be better, but it will probably still need tweaking.

Upgrade Options

I would like to upgrade the memory and hard disk on two iMacs—a 400MHz iMac DV and a 600MHz iMac. Can I use PC133 memory chips instead of PC100? And is it true that you can increase the memory limit on the 400MHz iMac from 512MB to 1GB? What options do I have for the hard drives?Larry Kidd

This is one of those “Teach a man to fish” questions I like so much. I can tell you that, yes, you can use PC133 RAM in your iMac and that, yes, your iMac supports as much as a gigabyte of RAM. But my answer will be more helpful to others if I point you to a couple of good sources for finding all you need to know about Mac RAM upgrades.

When seeking RAM specifications, I visit TechWorks. This site allows you to look up RAM configurations for nearly every Mac ever made. Search results will tell you how much memory a particular one can hold, how many RAM slots the computer offers, and the kind of RAM the Mac can use. Oh, and TechWorks will sell that RAM to you, too. Although I’m a satisfied customer, TechWorks is hardly the only memory merchant on earth, and many others offer similar guides ( Kingston and Ramjet, for example).

You can put a hard drive as expansive as 120GB into your iMac ( we even tell you how ). If this isn’t enough storage, consider using a higher-capacity external FireWire drive. And if you’re running OS 9 on this iMac, make sure you’re running version 9.2 or later. Earlier versions of OS 9 require third-party drivers before they’ll recognize FireWire drives. To read testimonials of other users who have performed these upgrades, I heartily suggest that you visit the Accelerate Your Mac’s Drive Compatibility Database page.

Words and Pictures

I own three Apple computers—an eMac, an iBook, and a Mac mini. I’ve been trying to put text on a picture for my Web site. If iPhoto offers this possibility, I haven’t yet discovered it. Will I need another program, such as Photoshop, to be able to add text to a picture?Lane Loman

There are a multitude of tools that do this less expensively than Adobe Photoshop ($650), though it and its $90 sibling, Photoshop Elements, can certainly do the job. Luckily, you already have a tool that can— AppleWorks ($79), an application that ships with all consumer Macs—that is, all but PowerBooks and Power Macs.

To add text to a picture, export one from iPhoto, drag it into an AppleWorks drawing document, and use the program’s text tool to add the text you want. Save the file as a JPEG. That’s it. People who don’t already have AppleWorks can choose from two other inexpensive options: Lemke Software’s GraphicConverter ($30) and Crescendo Software’s Picture Play ($15).

Missing Packet

At work, I have a Windows PC and a Power Mac. When working with recordable CDs on the PC, I can create folders, drag files, delete files, and eject the CD as if I’m working with a floppy disk. When I take the CD to my Mac, all the files are accessible, but that’s it. Is there software available for the Mac that will make the CD act the way it does on the PC?Mickey Godwin

What you’re describing is something called packet writing, a process by which you write to a CD-R multiple times. Roxio used to offer a program called DirectCD that added packet-writing capabilities to pre-OS X versions of the Mac operating system. Regrettably, the program has gone the way of the dodo. But you can use Tiger’s (and Panther’s) Disk Utility (and Jaguar’s Disk Copy) to create CD-Rs that you can burn multiple times. Here’s how it works in Tiger:

Grab the files you want to put on the disc and place them in a single folder. Launch Disk Utility (in the /Applications/Utilities folder) and choose File: New: Disk Image From Folder (in Panther, select Images: New: Image From Folder). In the resulting dialog box, navigate to the folder you created and click on Image. In the New Image From Folder dialog box that appears, name the image, choose Read-Only from the Image Format pop-up menu, and click on Save.

Select the image in the left column of the Disk Utility dialog box and click on Burn. Insert a blank CD as requested. If you don’t see any options at this point, click on the triangle to the right of the Burn Disc In pop-up menu to reveal them. Select the Leave Disc Appendable option to burn the material you chose as a single session. You’ll be able to add additional sessions at another time.

Now for the caveats: this method is convenient and free, but discs burned this way don’t work on Windows PCs because their format is incompatible with Microsoft’s operating system. In order to use your discs on Macs and PCs, you’ll need to buy one of the utilities that can burn cross-platform multisession CDs. One of the least expensive is toolsonTEN’s burnItAgainSam ($15). It features a simple interface and burns discs in the ISO 9660 Joliet format, which is compatible with both Macs and PCs. I’m also very keen on Roxio’s Toast 6 Titanium (   ; December 2003 ). At $80 it’s not the cheapest utility around, but it’s reliable, does far more than simply create multisession CDs, and is less cumbersome than Disk Utility.

Clip Conveyance

I’ve been trying to copy a movie clip from one iMovie project into another. The problem is that when I try to move just the small clip that I’ve designated, the whole original moves. What’s the proper way to do this?Martin Goldstein

In all likelihood, when you attempt to move that one small clip, you’re actually moving the entire iMovie project. An iMovie project file is a directory that holds the raw material for the movie, including the movie’s audio and video clips. To grab the clip you’re after, you must dig into that directory and find just the clip you need. Follow these steps:

Open the iMovie project that contains the clip you want. Select that clip in the timeline or the Clips pane and press Command-I to bring up the Clip Info dialog box. Find the file’s name by looking at the entry next to Media File. It will be something like Clip 06.dv (see bottom screenshot).

Now quit iMovie and control-click on the iMovie project you just opened. Choose Show Package Contents from the contextual menu. In the resulting window, open the Media folder and look for the clip with the right name (Clip 06.dv in my example). Option-drag this clip to the desktop to make a copy of it. Now launch iMovie and drag the clip into the iMovie window of your new project to import it.

Readdressing Address Book

My iBook was recently stolen. When I replaced it with another a few weeks later, I naturally wanted to restore my address and iCal information. I backed up my Library folder from my Home folder. Can I recover my addresses from that folder?Samuel T. Ocean

To find your addresses, open up that Library folder you backed up and peer into the Application Support folder. Locate the AddressBook folder inside, and copy it to the same location on your new iBook. Doing so will replace the AddressBook folder on your iBook that contains no useful information (unless, of course, you’ve added contacts on the new iBook) with the AddressBook folder that contains all your contacts.

Accessorizing iCal

Is there an automatic way to put holidays and moon phases into iCal?Jason Kamps

With the help of iCal subscriptions, yes. Choose Calendar: Subscribe and enter the calendar’s URL in the sheet that appears. I use the site iCalShare to find calendars. The site offers more than 2,000, from the schedules of pro sports teams to important dates in the history of anarchy. The last time I looked, iCalShare listed 228 holiday calendars and enough moon-phase calendars to bring out the werewolf in anyone.

To subscribe to an iCalShare calendar, find one you like and click on the Subscribe link associated with it; iCal will launch and add the calendar. If you get tired of a particular calendar, just click on it in iCal’s Calendar pane and delete it.

[ Contributing Editor Christopher Breen is the editor in chief of and the author of Secrets of the iPod and iTunes , fifth edition (Peachpit Press, 2005). ]

Getting a table out of PDF and into Excel is no easy task. But after you do, specifying a space delimiter may help separate conjoined cells.Trying to grab a specific part of your iMovie project? Press 1-I to learn the name of the clip.
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