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I said previously that I would spend the weekend reinstalling Mac OS X on my MacBook Pro after a few days of tinkering with Boot Camp and Windows. I lied. Still plagued by unanswered questions, I spent the weekend doing some more Windows XP tinkering before returning to the Promised Land. Here’s a summary of what I discovered:

How do you right-click?

Users of Microsoft’s Virtual PC know to use the Control-click keyboard and mouse combination to right-click in the Windows environment. However, this combination does not work on the MacBook Pro when you are not using the Mac OS. I found two ways to evoke the right-click command.

The first way may be the simplest, but it’s not that elegant to use. The keyboard combination Command-Shift-F10 will bring up the same menu as the traditional right-click on a mouse. Note that you have to click on the folder or object you want to evoke the right-click for or else you’ll just get the default menu.

The second way to get the right-click is using a little utility, aptly called the Apple Mouse Utility. This small application brings back the Control-click combination that so many Mac users are used to in Virtual PC. Again, the object you want to evoke the menu for has to be highlighted before the menu will work.

The Apple Menu Utility won’t work in Microsoft Office 2003, so you’ll have to use the keyboard command.

Address Book and iChat

I have years’ worth of contacts with all sorts of information stored in my Address Book that I use on a daily basis. Not having that info at my disposal in Windows XP simply isn’t an option. I tried simply syncing my BlackBerry to Windows, and it worked without a hitch; however, that method didn’t bring across the instant messaging names for my 200 iChat buddies. That’s a significant problem.

I turned to Plaxo, an online syncing application for Windows and Mac. On the Mac, Plaxo syncs with Apple’s Address Book; on Windows, it syncs with Outlook. I downloaded and installed Plaxo on both operating systems and uploaded my information from my Mac. I then synced my Windows installation;almost instantly, all of my contact information appeared in Outlook.

Plaxo brought everything over and put it all in the right fields, saving me from messing around with mapping or making corrections. So now, whether I boot into Windows or OS X, my up-to-date contacts will be waiting for me.

Plaxo brought across all my iChat Buddy names—I see “Bob Smith” online instead of “hotrodman001” or some other silly name. Plaxo also immediately syncs me with all of my contacts that are also Plaxo members, so when they make a change to their contact info, it instantly updates my card. Brilliant!

The basic version of Plaxo is free, but you can pay $49 for extra features such as fixing duplicates, which comes in really handy at times. Apple’s Address Book also has this functionality, but I couldn’t find it in Outlook.

Accessing your Mac hard drive

There will be times when grabbing a file from your Mac partition, without having to reboot, would be useful. Mediafour’s MacDrive will let you do just that.

By default, Windows XP cannot read HFS-formatted drives, but MacDrive opens them up for you, allowing you to share information like Word documents that you don’t want to have two copies of hanging around. Having a single copy also solves the problem of what operating system you were using when you wrote that report you were looking for—the document remains in the same place.

MacDrive has many options including allowing you to sync an iPod formatted in HFS when running Windows XP. I tried several external drives with my installation of MacDrive and copied files without a problem.

What about my music?

It doesn’t matter if you share your music or copy it over to the Windows partition—you will have to register your Windows installation as a separate machine to play songs bought through the iTunes Music Store.

I’ve heard reports of several people trying to alias their iTunes folders instead of copying the songs to Windows. This makes a lot of sense for obvious reasons, but the method doesn’t seem to be quite there yet.

I need my e-mail

Living without e-mail access these days, even for a couple of hours, just isn’t feasible. I use my stored e-mail everyday for reference of when I sent or received messages; I wanted that archive on the Windows partition of my MacBook.

I had hoped for an easy way to get my e-mail from the Mac side to Windows, but I just couldn’t find one. I wanted to maintain the dates on my received e-mail when transferring it, so I knew exactly when things were done.

The solution? I imported my Apple mail into Entourage, clicked on a mailbox in Entourage, and dragged it to the desktop making an mbox. Then, I put the mbox on my Windows partition and downloaded an application called IMAPSize. Using IMAPSize, I converted the mbox files into EML (Outlook Express) mail messages; I then imported the messages into Outlook Express and imported from Outlook Express to Outlook.

Does that seem like a lot of steps? It was. But it gave me my e-mail messages while preserving the dates.

I tried to save some steps and drag my e-mail boxes from Apple’s mail. But that created an mbox type that couldn’t be read properly in Windows.

Leave your tips

These were just a few of the questions I had while using Windows XP on my MacBook Pro. If you have any tips or other ways to do the same tasks I did, feel free to leave them in the forum thread below.

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