Although I strive to be a forward-looking individual, from time to time I must allow the curmudgeon within to vent his cantankerous spleen. Rather than take this tetchy soul to the nearest Apple Store and bore the resident Genius with stories of the Good Old Days, I’ve chosen to devote most of this month’s column to the subject of bringing bygone features to the modern Mac operating system — launching applications with a single keystroke, playing full-screen movies for free, sharing an Internet connection, and printing Finder windows.
I’d like to launch applications in OS X through a keyboard shortcut, as I did in OS 9. Has Apple abandoned this feature?
This feature has disappeared in OS X, but before you don mourning clothes and swear to stick with OS 9 to the bitter end, allow me to offer you a handful of alternatives.
The first and least expensive alternative is Michael Kamprath’s Keyboard Maestro 1.2.3 (www.keyboard maestro.com). The free version lets you create as many as 20 hot-key assignments. The $20 full version offers unlimited assignments. Among Keyboard Maestro’s many talents are inserting boilerplate text, hiding and showing background applications, launching URLs and AppleScripts, and allowing you to control iTunes from the keyboard without iTunes visible — all with single keystrokes or key combinations.
The second alternative is TrufSoft’s $15 HotApp 1.7 (www.trufsoft.com). Like Keyboard Maestro, HotApp lets you launch applications with keystrokes (but unlike Keyboard Maestro, HotApp requires that you use a modifier key such as 1, option, or control in combination with another keystroke). HotApp also lets you insert text; launch AppleScripts and URLs; and perform system actions, such as forcing your Mac to sleep, restart, or shut down, with a combination of keystrokes.
The third alternative is James Thomson’s $25 DragThing 4.5.2 (www.dragthing.com). This incredibly versatile tool has replaced OS X’s Dock as my application launcher of choice. You can assign hot keys to any application, document, folder, or URL you’ve placed in one of DragThing’s palettes.
The fourth alternative is CE Software’s $80 QuicKeys X 1.5 (www.cesoft.com). QuicKeys costs significantly more than the other choices because it allows you to record a series of actions and then trigger it with a single keystroke. Although QuicKeys is a fine utility, using it solely for the purpose of launching applications with a keystroke is a bit like buying a backhoe to build a sand castle.
Missing in Action
I’m searching for the Present Movie option in Apple’s QuickTime Player 6. The option was there in OS 9 but is missing from OS X. Where is it?
— Ivo Noort,
Zoetermeer, the Netherlands
In QuickTime 6 it’s been renamed Full Screen, and it’s lurking behind the scenes, waiting until you pungle up $30 for QuickTime Pro 6 (800/692-7753, www.apple.com). Apple brought Present Movie back to the Pro version of QuickTime Player in the 6.1 update. I regret to report that neither Present Movie nor the Full Screen feature is enabled in the free version of QuickTime Player. (However, the Present Movie feature wasn’t, er, present in the free version of QuickTime Player 5.X, either.)
But a host of QuickTime movie players allow you to play full-screen QuickTime movies. I recommend Martin Hering’s Playlist Player (http://mh1.de/playlistplayer). This free utility lets you create playlists of QuickTime movies and then play movies in succession — similar to the way you’d play a series of songs in iTunes.
In OS 9, I used Vicomsoft’s SurfDoubler ($69; 888/842-2608, www.vicomsoft.com) to share an Internet connection. I understand that Jaguar has a feature that allows you to share an Internet connection between two Macs. How do you set this up?
— William J. Goegebeur,
Let’s use this fairly typical scenario: Your AirPort-equipped Power Mac G4 accesses the Web via an Ethernet connection to a DSL modem. You’d like to share that connection from your AirPort-equipped iBook.
Open the Sharing system preference on the Power Mac, and click on the Internet tab in the resulting window (see “Shared Pane”). You’ll see one option for sharing the connection with other Macs (depending on how your network and Macs are set up, the option will let you share with computers connected via Ethernet, AirPort, or both). Continuing with our example, click on AirPort Options and then the Start button in the Sharing window. The name of your network — JoJo’s Mac, for example — will appear in the Computer Name field at the top of the Sharing window.
On the iBook, click on the AirPort icon in the menu bar and select the network you’ve just established (JoJo’s Mac) from the AirPort menu. You now have access to the Internet via the Power Mac’s DSL connection.
You can use the same process for sharing a dial-up connection. The difference is that you must first establish that connection on the host computer (use Internet Connect to dial in to your ISP), switch on Internet Sharing, and then log in to the network from another computer.
Prints on the Window
In OS 9 I could invoke the File menu’s Print Window command to print the contents of a Finder window. How do you do this in OS X?
— Michael Di Pietro,
Look outside Apple, and download a copy of SearchWare Solutions’ Print Window 2.0 (www.swssoftware.com).
Much like OS 9’s Print Window command, SearchWare’s Print Window allows you to print a list of the contents of any open Finder window. But it does the OS 9 version one better by providing multiple commands for printing those windows. For example, you can open a Finder window and press 1-P to print its contents. Or you can select Services from the Finder’s Finder menu and choose Print File Listing from the submenu. Or you can drag a folder onto the Print Window icon in the Dock to print the contents of that folder.
Print Window is donationware. If you like it, send the author $5 or $10.
I’m looking for an easy way to batch-convert AIFF audio files into WAV files that I can share with Windows folk. I’d like to place these files in a document where I can add text comments. Can you help?
— Glen Corcoran,
It would be my pleasure. To convert those AIFF audio files, you can use a free and flexible tool that in all likelihood you already have on your Mac — iTunes. To do so, follow these steps:
Gather your AIFF files in a folder and place it in an easily accessible location — on the Mac’s desktop, for example. Now launch iTunes and select Preferences (found in OS X’s iTunes menu or OS 9’s Edit menu). Choose the Importing option in the Preferences window, and select WAV Encoder from the Import Using pop-up menu. Click on OK to close the window.
Select Add To Library from the File menu, locate your folder full of AIFF files, and click on Choose in the Add To Library window. Locate those files in iTunes’ Library (you’ll find this easier to do if you sort files by Date Added) and select them all. Choose Convert Selection To WAV from the Advanced menu, and watch in wonder as iTunes converts the AIFF files into WAV files.
Now to the thornier portion of your problem — embedding those files in a document that also contains text. Although this is easy when the eventual destination is another Mac (open OS X’s TextEdit, drag the audio files into the document, add your text, and select Save All from the File menu), such files won’t open properly on a Windows PC. Therefore, I suggest that you look into the most universal format on earth — a Web page. Using any number of Web-page-creation tools (including Microsoft Word if you don’t own a dedicated application), you can concoct an HTML document that contains both text and audio files. You can then post this page on the Web, or e-mail it to your Windows-using compatriots.
My dual-USB iBook running OS 9.2 started up one morning with the flashing question-mark folder. Before I could boot the iBook from my OS 9 disc, I dropped it. Now when I put the OS 9 CD in the drive, it spins a little bit and then pops back out. Is there any way I can start up my iBook when the CD drive isn’t working?
— Allen Warren Jr.,
Jersey City, New Jersey
Ouch! Talk about your Mac-calamity double-whammy. Thankfully, there’s a way to access your iBook’s hard drive without waiting to replace the media drive (which, I’m afraid, you must eventu-ally do). That way is FireWire Target Disk mode.
It works like this:
Find a pal who has a FireWire-equipped Mac that you can spend some quality time with. Shut down your iBook, and string a FireWire cable between your friend’s Mac (which should be running) and your iBook. Boot your iBook while holding down the T key.
With luck, your iBook’s hard drive will show up as a local volume on the other Mac. Once it appears, you can run a troubleshooting utility, such as Apple’s Disk First Aid or Disk Utility, or something with a little more power, such as Alsoft’s $70 Disk Warrior (800/ 257-6381, www.alsoft.com).
Or you could attach a FireWire drive (hard drive or CD-ROM) to your iBook, attempt to boot it from that device, and then repair the iBook with the tools on the FireWire drive. This is my second choice because although FireWire drives should be able to boot your Mac, some of them won’t.
I’d like a printout of the weekly calendar I view in Palm Desktop, but this application doesn’t offer a layout that matches what I see on screen. Is there a way to do this?
— Dave Robbin,
You’ve heard the expression “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s also worth its weight in gold when you want to print something on your Mac’s screen exactly as it appears on your screen.
Although you could press 1-shift-4 to produce a lasso icon and then drag a loop around your weekly calendar, thus easily manufacturing a perfectly fine screen shot, you’d then have to open the resulting picture file and print it. With the help of a screen-capture utility, you can capture and print in one step.
One of those utilities is Ambrosia Software’s Snapz Pro X (www.ambrosiasw.com). The $29 graphics-only version of the program allows you to capture and print selections in one step. (A $49 version also captures on-screen action as QuickTime movies.)
You can also capture and print areas of your Mac’s screen with Code Line Communications’ $20 ScreenShot Pro (www.code-line.com). I prefer Snapz Pro X because it lets you capture and print selections in fewer steps — simply select your printer as the destination for captures, and Snapz takes care of the rest.
TIP OF THE MONTH
If, like me, you’ve collected so much stuff on your desktop that you can’t find anything, try this:
Go to your user’s folder and drag the Desktop file into the Dock. Instead of closing open windows or moving windows around to find what you need, click on the new Desktop icon. When you do, you’ll see a window that contains all the items residing on your desktop.
To launch an item directly without opening the Desktop window, click on and hold the Desktop icon, and then select that item from the resulting contextual menu.
— Randy B. Singer,
The question about embedding sound files in a text document started me thinking about creating instructional documents that contain multiple media. Why must these files be text based? If, for example, your file will feature audio and very little text — just a note telling listeners to pay particular attention to an upcoming passage in a recorded deposition, say — why not use audio as the foundation for the document and append text to it?
It’s possible (and easy) to create such a document with Apple’s QuickTime Pro. Open an audio file in the Pro version of QuickTime Player and scroll to the point where you’d like to add a text annotation. Now launch a text editor — OS X’s TextEdit or OS 9’s SimpleText will do — and create a plain-text document.
Type a line of text and press return. That text will appear in a QuickTime movie frame. To create each additional text frame, enter a line of text and press return.
Save your text document and switch to the Pro version of QuickTime Player. Select Import from the File menu and import the text file you created. It will open as a movie with a single text track in QuickTime Player.
Press 1-A to select the contents of the text movie and then 1-C to copy them. Click on the audio file to activate it, and select Add from QuickTime Player’s Edit menu. A small window for displaying the text will appear in the audio file, and the text will be appended at the location of the Current Position indicator. Each text frame will appear for two seconds before the window displays the next text frame.
Rewind your audio file and click on Play. Your text will appear where you placed it.