Welcome to Mac 911, my new home within the pages of Macworld. A lot has changed with this issue, so I’ll take a second to introduce myself and the column. Longtime readers of this magazine and of MacUser may recall that I once penned a portion of Help Folder, a question-and-answer column that provided help to readers occasionally perplexed by their Macs. And those who seek assistance on the Internet may know that I’ve been dishing out daily tips via the Macworld Daily Tips mailing list for a couple of years.
This column is an extension of that work–a place to come for solutions to conundrums both common and arcane. Although I generate plenty of my own problems with my battalion of Macs, I’m far more interested in learning what’s troubling you. I also want to read–and publish–your undocumented tips. Please post your questions at the Macworld.com forum (
) and send your tips to
email@example.com. I can’t promise a personal response, but I will read your posts and e-mail messages.
Queries among the Flowers
Since this is Mac 911 numero uno, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the mailbag is completely empty. Fortunately, when in the course of general conversation I mention what I do for a living, people bombard me with Mac questions. Just last week, while meandering along the Northern California coastline, I happened upon a woman cataloging the local flora. She asked how she might create a mass mailing on her iMac without revealing the list of recipients to everyone who received it.
BCC Is Easiest
I explained that the simplest way to do so is to place her own name in the message’s To field and use the BCC (blind carbon copy) field for the recipients. That way, when the message arrives, recipients will see only her name in the To field and no other recipient’s name–not even their own. If she sends mailings to this herd on a regular basis, she’ll save herself some effort by creating a group containing all the people she’d like to reach and placing this group in the BCC field.
Groups Are Great
Microsoft’s Outlook Express (800/426-9400,
) e-mail application allows you to create just such a group, but the method differs in Outlook Express 4.5 and 5.0. In version 4.5, you open the Contacts window, click on the Mailing List
button to create a new mailing list (that is, a group), and then drag and drop names from your contacts list into your new mailing list. In Outlook Express 5.0, Microsoft changed Mailing List to Group and Contacts to Address Book. The Outlook Express crew also changed the way you add members to a group. To do so in 5.0, open the Address Book (1-2), click on the New Group button, enter a name for the group, click on the Add button, and type the first few letters of a recipient’s name. A menu appears with a list of names from which to choose.
How to Hide
Both versions allow you to hide the names of recipients when sending a message to a group–just look for the Hide Recipient Names check box in the Contacts or New Group window (see “Join the Group”). With this option, my flowery friend needn’t worry about the BCC rigmarole. Although you can create groups with any e-mail client you encounter–even America Online–not all of them let you hide recipients this easily.
A Musical Matter
Later that week, my band had an engagement where we required the services of a trombone player. Said ‘bone guy, Bruce, wondered how members of his own band–who use both Macs and Windows–might electronically swap the scores and sheet music they create.
Although you can use the following methods with just about any variety of file, music notation has its particular limitations. For example, unlike ASCII text, video, and graphics files, music-notation files don’t have any standard format. When you create notation files in one application, you can rarely open them in another notation program. Therefore, your recipients can’t edit as well as read these files unless they have the right program–for example, if you create the file with Coda’s Finale, the recipient must use the PC version of Finale.
Pricey PCs But there are a couple of ways to send read-only files. If Bruce and his band have some bucks, I suggest they look at Adobe Acrobat 4.0 (888/724-4508,
). Using Acrobat, the boys and girls in the band can create PDF files that the free Acrobat Reader application can read on both Macintoshes and Windows systems.
Unfortunately, at 249 simoleons, Acrobat is a bit pricey for this kind of thing. My more parsimonious
readers may yodel, “Use James Walker’s $20 shareware extension PrintToPDF instead!” Normally I’d offer this suggestion an encouraging chuck under the chin, but while it’s a reasonable solution for many text documents, it won’t work for music-notation files–for the simple reason that PrintToPDF (
) doesn’t support notation fonts.
Save As a Graphic
For the real skinflint, I have two suggestions. The first is to save the notation file in a graphics format. Finale lets you save its files as EPS (PostScript) documents, and Sibelius’s eponymous software offers PICT as a Save As option. Graphics applications such as Adobe Photoshop can convert EPS files into formats Windows can read–TIFF, GIF, or BMP files, for example–but if you lack such an application, Art Age Software’s $25 EPStoPICT (206/780-8220,
) will take you halfway there by turning the EPS file into a PICT file. Windows can’t read PICT files, but once you save a file in PICT format, you can use Apple’s $30 QuickTime Pro PictureViewer (408/996-1010,
) to export the file to a PC-compatible format.
Put It on the Web
Another solution is to save the notation file as a graphic, insert it into an AppleWorks or Microsoft Word document (or any program that allows you to save files as HTML), and save it as an HTML file with accompanying GIFs or JPEGs. Any Mac or PC browser and many e-mail programs can read these files, and you can post the images on the Web.
Join the Group
Create a group and hide its members in Microsoft Outlook Express 5.0.
Don’t Forget the MIDI
Additionally, I advise Bruce and his band buddies to include a Standard MIDI File (SMF), which any PC or Mac can play, along with the notation file so other band members can hear how the entire arrangement sounds.
Dancing with Myself
But enough about me. As much as I enjoy hearing the anguished tales of Mac users I meet at random, I’d much prefer to hear what’s on your mind (and Mac). Please drop me a line–I’m here to help. m
For more tips and tricks, subscribe to Contributing Editor Christopher Breen’s Daily Tip and iTips newsletters at
September 2000 www.macworld.com