Manage Your Fonts
Adobe Type Manager (ATM), which scales fonts for display and printing, is such an essential part of the Macintosh operating system that Apple even ships a version of it with the system software. In addition to basic font-smoothing functions, the antialiasing feature makes Type 1 PostScript easier to read on your screen. But what the Deluxe version of ATM really brings to the party is the ability to group fonts into sets and disableor “turn off”specific fonts.
When you use it for the first time, ATM Deluxe builds a database of all the fonts on your hard disk, allowing you to activate and deactivate fonts whenever you need to. And an added bonus is the program’s ability to autoactivate fonts only when they’re called for. With fewer fonts loaded into RAM, applications work faster, because they use less memory.
ATM Deluxe also provides another benefit: font substitution. If you open a document that includes a font that’s not on your hard disk, ATM Deluxe simulates the missing typeface, using a special Multiple Master font. Font substitution isn’t quite as good as the real thing, but it’s a reasonable facsimile. If you use only a handful of fonts, you can probably get by with the basic version of ATM that came with your Mac. But if your fonts number in the hundreds, consider a font manager such as ATM Deluxe. And by the time you read this, version 4.5 will be available. (For coverage of Extensis’s more robust, stand-alone font-management application, Suitcase 8, see Reviews, elsewhere in this issue.)
Repair Damaged Directories
What would you do if you suddenly couldn’t access any of your applications or documents, even though they were still intact? That may sound far-fetched, but it can happen if your disk’s directorythe catalog that tells your computer where all of your files and folders are storedbecomes corrupted. Other utilities detect and repair damaged directories, but Alsoft’s DiskWarrior can handle directory damage that most other utilities are unable to touch.
DiskWarrior is more than a data-recovery tool. By running DiskWarrior on a regular basis, you can detect and repair problems before losing data. In addition to keeping your data safe, DiskWarrior can also speed up your drive by optimizing your disk’s directory. So, even if you already have a data-recovery application, DiskWarrior can be a valuable addition to your utility collection.
Doctor Your Mac
To keep your hardware and software in good health, you need to install a general-purpose diagnostic utility, such as MicroMat’s TechTool Pro. In addition to offering comprehensive disk maintenance, repair, and defragmentation, TechTool Pro incorporates a broad variety of diagnostic tests that check everything from your computer’s video memory to the integrity of your system software. If TechTool Pro finds something amiss, it tells you exactly what the problem is and what to do about it.
TechTool Pro lets you select an interface that matches your experience level. The beginner’s level automatically runs a suite of basic tests on your Mac, without any interaction. TechTool Pro’s two advanced levels let you specify exactly what tests to perform, including some that are relatively obscure. Rest assuredeven at the higher levels, TechTool Pro’s interface is admirably intuitive, and the program’s technical advice is lucid and thorough.
As with DiskWarrior, it’s a good idea to run TechTool Pro regularly, even if you are not experiencing any problems. Of course, no software-based utility can help you if you fry your Mac’s power supply or zap your monitor. But even though it cannot repair or even diagnose every problem, TechTool Pro is worthwhile insurance. You can also download MicroMat’s TechTool, a free utility that performs basic functions such as zapping parameter RAM and deleting your Desktop file.
Avoid File Discord
What can you say about a utility that already garnered a five-mouse rating several versions ago? Casady & Greene’s Conflict Catcher was originally developed to ferret out annoying extension conflicts by automating the tedious process of finding which start-up files are at fault. But the latest versions of Conflict Catcher do much more. As in previous updates, Conflict Catcher 8 lets you manage your Mac’s start-up files, including extensions, control panels, fonts, control-strip modules, Apple-menu items, and assorted plug-ins. Apple’s Extensions Manager, which comes with the Mac OS, doesn’t offer nearly the capabilities of Conflict Catcher. In addition, the Conflict Catcher file list can be extensively customized, which you can’t do with Apple’s Extension Manager, and it comes complete with an integrated reference database that displays valuable summary information when you click on any start-up file.
When you install or replace your system software, Conflict Catcher’s Clean Install System Merge feature displays a list of filesnon-Apple extensions, for examplethat need to be transferred to the new System Folder. Simply deselect the files you don’t want to move and click on a button, and Conflict Catcher does the work for you. If you’ve ever struggled with a manual system update, you’ll find that this feature alone is well worth the asking price.