Photo of Tom Geller

* Writings by *

Tom Geller


Home

Professional
 P.R.
 Writing
 Speaking
 Geeking
 Terms

Other areas
 About Tom
 Contact info


Tom's other sites
 bandwidthpr.com
 spamcon.org
 openppc.org
 popcomputers.com


Mailing lists:
 Tgeller-personal
 Tgeller-business
 Suespammers

 
Up one level | To Tom Geller's writings | Home

Shareware reviews for ZD Net/Mac:
System Utilities

Customizing utilities:
File management:
Hardware utilities:
Print utilities:
Screen savers:
System enhancers

A Bazillion Zipples
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Chris and Richard Friberg

Zipples, those little animated replacements for the Apple, Balloon, and Application menus, have taken the online community by storm. Small (and therefore easy to download), these multi-frame icons are the final word in pointillistic art: masterpieces in a 16x16-pixel frame.

And the Fribergs are masters of it, especially in its more violent incarnations. This collection of 43 Zipples run the gamut from gross to witty and back to gross again, with a side trip down gory lane. Check out a few of my favorites: loser and loser 2, in which our hapless hero is rained on, loses a head, and, umm.. gets dissed by birds. They tend to run long: "How Water Formed" lasts a good 20 seconds, plus a 10-second title sequence. The wit displayed in this collection -- and its size -- make it a top choice of Zipples collections.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: ZIPPLE ANIMATION APPLE MENU BALLOON HELP bar icon freeware
Requires: Zipple
Price: Freeware

Back to top


Cal Script Zipple
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Brian Foster

Zipples, those little animated replacements for the Apple, Balloon, and Application menus, have taken the online community by storm. Small (and therefore easy to download), these multi-frame icons are the final word in pointillistic art: masterpieces in a 16x16-pixel frame.

Cal Berkeley partisans should like this one: it spells out the "Cal" logo in blue, and then finishes it off with a touch of gold ("..just like the Cal Band does in football games," according to its creator).

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: UCB Berkeley ZIPPLE ANIMATION APPLE MENU BALLOON HELP bar freeware
Requires: Zipple
Price: Freeware

Back to top


ChangeFind 0.95b
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Joseph Laffey

I side with Joe Laffey, author of ChangeFind: he used the ZiffNet/Mac exclusive "Find Pro III" (in our Ziffware library) long before Apple licensed and adapted it for use in System 7.5, and he prefers our version better. As he says:

"Find Pro III is far superior to the new Find File. It allows you to launch the found item, trash it, get info on it, move it, copy, and much more. These functions were removed from the version shipped with System 7.5."

Well, the point is not to gloat, although it *is* tempting. The question is: how can users of System 7.5 keep Find Pro III as the default application which appears when they press "command-F"? The answer is ChangeFind, a tiny utility which "blesses" any application to be called up when that key combination is struck, whether it's Find Pro III or any other file-finding utility.

It's a one-trick pony, but Mr. Laffey has invested his time in documenting it well: you are instructed at every step, and warnings and notes are clearly written in the "Read Me" file. We're honored that he's put together such a convenient way for us to continue enjoying the special benefits we get from Find Pro III.

NOTE: This application is still in a "beta" (pre-release) phase. The author states that it may be unstable: use with caution.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: change find pro iii 3 bill monk command key
Requires: System 7.5 or later
Price: Shareware $You decide

Back to top


ColorMaster 1.2.1
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Giuseppe Carnevale

ColorMaster is a nifty little control panel which fulfills a few functions: (a) allows you to switch between screens of different color depths with a predefined key combination; (b) provides pre-colorized cursors which can be used in place of Apple's default black-and-white cursors; and (c) lets you implement cursors which you've created in ResEdit (or similar program).

Its first function is its primary one: using the keyboard to temporarily switch between black and white and the many different levels of color and grayscale. This is especially useful when you have a program which doesn't require grays, but you'd like to run a bit more quickly: by switching the monitor to black and white, displays zoom by as the CPU devotes more energy to calculations. The cursor-importation feature is ColorMaster's coolest feature, though: with it and ResEdit, you can create a variety of icons and switch between them with very little effort.

ColorMaster runs on any 68020 or better Mac. (Obviously, you need a monitor with at least four colors or grays or what's the point in using it?) Its slick and conservative programming will let you dress up your desktop without heavily impacting your system, and its clear interface (with Balloon Help!) lets you do so with little fuss.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: COLORMASTER MONITORS COLORS CURSORS
Requires: 68020 or greater
Price: Shareware $25

Back to top


Desk Views 4.0
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Geoffrey Fink

There are literally hundreds of Mac "prettifyers" available: those near-useless bits of code that have no purpose other than turning your screen into a virtual fishbowl. What sets the wheat apart from the chaff is that which separates the works of any art medium: concept and execution. Desk Views 3.0, happily, excels in both.

The 105 "ppat" resources in this collection are colorful, intriguing, and just plain purty. There are quite a few faux textures, including various woods and marbles, along with gradients, spheroids, and crystalline shapes. Unfortunately, the package doesn't include an installer, so those users who are unfamiliar with System file editing in ResEdit have to use a commercial ppat installer to get a commercial installer to make use of it. But once it's installed, it's a gem.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: wallpaper desktop ppat ResEdit resource
Requires: Desktop Texture Installer, Before Dark or ResEdit
Price: Shareware $5

Back to top


Jerry's Cursors
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Jerry P. Nairn

Jerry Nairn, the clever designer who created "eWorld Cursor Replacement" (in the Networking/Telecom library) has put together a collection of his best -- and what a collection it is. Included are 10 animated cursors: Bloody Arrow, Boing II, Radar II, Dove, Flying Fly, Resting Fly, Jack in the Mac, Rat, Tell Tale Heart, and the most extensive of them all: Peace.

CursorAnimator (available in the "System Utilities/Customizing Utilities" library) is the utility of choice to install these. Or you can live dangerously and apply these animated icons to your System or specific applications. NOTE: Editing System resources can damage your system! Even if you're experienced, make sure you work on a copy of your system and leave an unmolested copy elsewhere.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: pointer icons animated acur crsr curs resource graphic fun
Requires: CursorAnimator, ResEdit, Resourcer or other resource editor
Price: Freeware

Back to top


KenIconSys 1.1
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Ken Long

Installing custom system icons is a great way to give your desktop a distinctive look, and KenIconSys will lend just the right flair. Unlike many of the alternate system icon sets available, which differ so much from the ones Apple supplies that you forget what they're supposed to indicate, these are subtle: a little extra shading on the folder here, a clever embossed effect on text there maintains the unified feeling of Apple's designs while diverging from them.

44 icons are included, with the complete set of resources for both color and black and white Macs. Surprisingly, even the black and white versions manage to impart the sense of shading and design that Apple might have given its icons had they spent more time on them. It's not the most complete set--Hisham Icons includes icons for dialog boxes, documents and popular applications as well--nor is it the most flashy, but KenIconSys certainly qualifies as one of the most understated improvements you can make to your Mac's appearance. System 7 or later recommended.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: FOLDERS APPLICATIONS PICTURES GRAPHICS ICONs RESOURCES FREEWARE
Requires: Icon Artist, iContraption, or ResEdit
Price: Freeware

Back to top


Living Desktop Classic
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Mantis Development

If you'd like to dress up your desktop, there's no better way than by installing ppats, the desktop pattern format that's quickly becoming the standard. Living Desktop Classic is an application which acts as an installer and controller of such patterns without changing System resources. The use of an application -- as opposed to an extension -- gives the program extra stability, and allows it to run with a very small RAM footprint.

The main advantage of Living Desktop Classic over many similar programs is that it allows "cycling" of the images loaded, so that one minute you desktop displays dolphins, and the next, horses. The delay between patterns is controlled through the Preferences, with a range from a minute to a day.

The best part of this package isn't the controller, which is nothing special, but rather the 25 included images. They are broken into five sets: Animals, Flora, Textures, Sports, and Fine Art. (There's also a "Why Register?" package, which implores you to send in your fee for the full version.) Registering the package brings your 75 additional, high-quality images: if they're as good as those in this freeware version, they're worth the bucks. Other than that, this freeware version is not disabled in any way.

Be sure to compare this program with the Ziffware utility "Backsplash 2": it's available in the "Ziffware" library.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: living desktop classic ppat custom pattern background tile tiles animals flora art textures cycling cycle change
Requires: System 7 or later, color-capable Mac
Price: Freeware

Back to top


NEXT Kit
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Chuck Krimstock

So who needs to drop $4,000 on a machine that might not make it 'til NeXT year? Simply install the NEXT Kit, spray paint your Macintosh black, and you're in business! Impress your friends! NEXT Kit is a set of icons, instructions, and miscellaneous resources to make your Mac look, feel, and smell like Steve Jobs' second greatest creation, the NeXT computer, circa 1990. (In truth, it doesn't affect the deeper functioning of the Mac at all: only its appearance.) Windows, folders, and cursors all feel different with NEXT Kit -- we'll leave it up to you to decide if this is the way popular computing should have gone.

In-depth instructions (in MacWrite II format) guide you through the ResEdit installation process. Oh -- and be sure to read the "STR#" resource of the animated cursor for a chuckle. NOTE: A more recent, System 7-compatible version of the WDEF resource by Anthony Saxton is available to be downloaded separately under the name "NeXT WDEF III 3.1" (in this library).

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: Steve Jobs RESEDIT CUBE CURSORS WINDOWS STARTUP SCREEN FOLDERS FREEWARE
Requires: ResEdit, MacWrite II-compatible reader
Price: Freeware

Back to top


Reading Glasses 1.0
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: FreeVerse

Remember the original Macintosh promise? "The computer for the rest of us," the advertising read and, for throughout the machine's history, it's been touted as the most accessible machine for people with physical disabilities. To Easy Access, Zoom Lens and a host of other enabling utilities, add Reading Glasses. It's a tiny hack (18K) which does only one thing: allows the user to enlarge or shrink the font that appears in the menu bar and in windows' title bars.

Reading Glasses is actually two programs: one is an application which changes the fonts to any size from 6 to 48 points, while the other is a pre-configured "flash" application which automatically sets the font to 14 points: this second version is intended for placement in the "Startup Items" folder. It's useful, and what makes it even better is that it's by Ian Lynch Smith, recipient of a Ziff-Davis Interactive Shareware Awards Honorable Mention for his card game "Hearts" -- so you know it'll be stable. (Which is always a concern for any program which hacks your System file, as this one does!) NOTE: May conflict with other utilities designed to similarly affect the menu bar.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: vision enlarge reduce big small type text menus menu bar handicap access
Requires: Mac Plus or better
Price: Shareware $15

Back to top


Ton of Zipples
Category: System Utilities/Customizing Utilities
Author: Ryan McDaniell

Zipples, those little animated replacements for the Apple, Balloon, and Application menus, have taken the online community by storm. Small (and therefore easy to download), these multi-frame icons are the final word in pointillistic art: masterpieces in a 16x16-pixel frame.

This collection contains a short ton, with five Zipples: Alien, Mushroom Cloud, Rocket, Shark, and UFO. All are animated except for "Alien," which makes a traditionally-rendered alien face stare out at you (which is surprisingly creepy). Action is high in the others: the UFO takes off, flies around, and then lands; the rocket goes up in a blaze of glory; the shark ominously rides the waves, and the mushroom cloud.. well, does what a mushroom cloud does best. A quick download for a lingering smile.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: ZIPPLE ANIMATION APPLE MENU BALLOON HELP bar freeware
Requires: Zipple
Price: Freeware

Back to top


Alex's Encrypt 1.0 (Fat)
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Alessandro Levi Montalcini

If you have a secret to keep or a file to protect, you'd do well to download Alex's Encrypt, an encryption utility by prolific Mac shareware programmer Alessandro Levi Montalcini. Its workings are similar to the popular encryption package MacPGP in that encrypted files depend on an external "key", randomly generated, to restore the file to its original state. This method of encryption has the security advantage of not being dependent on your memory: there are no passwords to remember. Just don't lose that key file!

The documentation is terrific. It even includes notes on how files are scrambled, with the note that "An encryption schemes safety level should always be measured assuming that the cracker knows everything except the key." Mr. Montalcini has clearly thought about the typical holes in encryption schemes and designed to make them absent from Alex's Encrypt.

I did find one bug: if you try to create a new folder in the open/save dialog box, the program enters an (interruptable) endless loop. This may be a conflict with Now Utilities (which I'm running): still, I've not had this problem with any other program. Don't let this scare you away, though: Alex's Encrypt, simply put, does what it's supposed to do. It keeps your files secure, lets you set how secure you'd like them to be, and does so in a friendly and easy-to-use environment.

NOTE: All documentation is in the "About Alex's Encrypt" selection under the Apple menu.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: Encryption data secret scramble unscramble decrypt fat ppc secure security alex
Requires: Mac Plus or better
Price: Shareware $5

Back to top


Apple Menu Cleaner 1.1
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: John du Bois

We've gone AppleScript crazy! Yes, here at ZiffNet/Mac, we're offering two, two, two scripts for the price of one! YOU said you didn't like applications. YOU said you'd rather do your work through automated scripts. YOU yearned for System 7.5. And we at ZiffNet/Mac heard you!

*Ahem*. Actually, John du Bois heard you, and wrote one of the functions of our own utility, "Clean Sweep" into an AppleScript script. Specifically, his Apple Menu Cleaner removes alias files that no longer have original objects, obviating the annoyance of discovering that your neat system of aliasing useful files was destroyed last time you cleaned up your hard disk. Simply place this script (and its companion "Launcher Item Cleaner", included) in the Automated Tasks folder, and watch the fur fly.

P.S. Clean Sweep is available in the Ziffware library. It's a much larger download, but sports many related, nifty features not found elsewhere.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: apple menu cleaner alias resolve unattached attach remove trash clean sweep
Requires: System 7.5 or AppleScript
Price: Freeware

Back to top


Data Store 1.00
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Mike Nudd, Copperhead Software

Many of us would like to have a simple backup program to give us some security for the inevitable disk crash: the problem with most of them is that they either (a) are large, complex and unwieldy, (b) are overpriced, or (c) force you to backup all the files in a folder or on a disk -- including space-consuming applications. Data Store is a small, simple backup utility which duplicates those files you'd like saved -- your documents -- while leaving applications alone.

Data Store is the only backup utility whose archives are simple text files, readable under TeachText. In addition to the files themselves, a text "catalog" is created, allowing you to better manage your files. The text format is quite efficient, and although it's not a compression utility (like StuffIt or Compact), files duplicated by Data Store enjoy a compression factor of about 10-20%. Most of the process is automated, and the user has very few options besides the source and destination folders. Multi-disk archives are possible, are restoration is a snap: just double-click on the archive icon and follow the program's prompts. While there are other backup utilities which offer more options -- Compact Pro, for example, has some good backup functions -- nothing is as simple, clear, straightforward as Data Pro.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: BACKUP DOCUMENTS COMPRESSION
Requires: Mac Plus or better
Price: Shareware $10

Back to top


Encryption 1.5
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Jeffrey Shabel

Encryption is a very basic text-encryption application. It uses a simple algorithm, in which characters are offset according to a numerical sequence that the encryptor enters. To decode the text, the recipient must use the same numerical sequence. This technique doesn't sound too secure, but you may find it sufficient for casual, low-security purposes.

The Encryption application is very simple; via a standard Open dialog, you choose a text file to encode or decipher. You then apply a "key" number to it -- a seed around which it bases the encryption. To decrypt a file, you must provide the same key: in our tests, it worked just fine, but note: it may be that other "keys" will unlock your text file, as such schemes (usually built around checksums) are notorious for having "back doors."

Version 1.5 adds drag-and-drop capabilities, greatly increasing the application's usefulness. In addition, the bugs which plagued earlier versions seem to have been cleaned up, making this a servicable tool for encrypting your sensitive text files.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: encrypt text cypher SECURITY privacy rotation scheme
Requires: System 7 or later
Price: Freeware

Back to top


Fat Free 1.2
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Hubert Figuiere

When plans for Power Macs were first announced in 1993, word was that developers would have two options in producing applications to work on both the new and old chips: they could package two versions of the same program, or they could create a "fat" application which contained both 680x0 and PPC Native code. Due to the additional costs involved in shipping two versions of a program, most chose the latter: and now, a year later, hard drives on 680x0 Macs throughout the world are choking on the extra space fat code requires -- but which can't be used by those older Macs.

Want to get rid of it? Use Fat Free, a utility which hacks all of the PPC-native code from fat applications. It's quick and clean, and the documentation is clear -- including caveats about hacking applications and details of other uses for the program. Supports drag and drop.

WARNING: As with any utility which hacks code, save an unmolested copy of your target application before running Fat Free. Also note that many fat applications require PPC-native code, even if its not directly used, so removing it may cause devastating results. USE WITH EXTREME CAUTION! (Or, as the author says, "Use at your own RISC."

Version 1.1 adds extended file checking (non-fat applications no longer modified). Version 1.1.1 fixes bugs that prevented proper operation. Version 1.2 allows unfatted applications to run on Power Macs (in emulation, of course), and adds balloon help and menu bar.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: fat free fatfree hack ppc PowerPC strip native code emulation
Requires: System 7 or later
Price: emailware

Back to top


FileLift Demo 1.5 (Fat)
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Donald Perreault, Jr

I have a pet peeve: SimpleText Read-Only documents. I can appreciate that the author wants to ensure that the document remains in its pristine state, but what if I want to copy something out of it?

That's when I use a utility like FileLift. By dragging that pesky document onto FileLift's icon, I can change its attributes inside a clear and attractive interface. Do I want to make it a changeable SimpleText document? I just choose that option from the pop-up menu and whoomp, there it is: the "ttro" file type is changed to "TEXT".

FileLift is useful, but it's somewhat incomplete: far more options are available in the shareware utility "File Buddy" (available in this library). For example, FileLift won't do batch processing. If you drop a bunch of files onto it, it will make you set their new flags one file at a time, and there aren't any useful keyboard shortcuts to speed the process. Still, it's fast and pretty. And if you have trouble remembering the four-letter codes that make up File and Creator types, you'll appreciate the popup "cheat" it provides.

NOTE: Although the author calls this a demo, it is a fully functional shareware product. You are permitted to try FileLift for ten days, and then you are obligated to send the fee to the author. WARNING: Changing file attributes is a tricky business. Let's be careful out there.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: file lift type creator bndl bundle init visible flag drag drop fat ppc
Requires: System 7 or later
Price: Shareware $10

Back to top


Fix Icons 1.0d4
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Lawrence D'Oliveiro

Fix Icons is an experimental utility to fix desktop problems without having to restart your Mac. Typically, when a the desktop database becomes corrupted, errors start to appear in the links between programs and their associated documents and when you click on the document, the application fails to open. Fix Icons promises to reestablish those links, without having to go through the time-consuming process of rebuilding your desktop (by holding down command-option as the machine restarts). To use it, drag and drop the questionable application onto Fix Icons: within a second or two, you have either received a message about potential problems (such as another version of that application on the disk which may confuse matters) or have been returned to the desktop. That's it!

Note that Fix Icons will only work with volumes that support the Desktop Manager, such as network volumes, and disks larger than 2MB. It won't work with 800K and 1.4MB floppy disks: for those, you'll have to copy the files to a hard disk to work with them.

Rating: 2 (out of 5)
Keywords: FILES APPLICATIONS DIRECTORY FINDER SYSTEM DESKTOP DATABASE freeware beta
Requires: System 7 or greater
Price: Freeware

Back to top


Garbage Collector 0.1
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Roy Wood

Garbage Collector is a file-management utility which restores hard disks to a previously-defined state, moving errant files out of the way and notifying the system administrator of files which have disappeared. This is most useful to administrators at computer labs who, besides dividing access within the (inevitably) overwhelming demand, giving users useful tips, and keeping up on the latest developments, always have to face the dreaded moment which comes at the end of the week: checking out the machines to see how users trashed them.

Garbage Collector works by allowing you to set up a master image of the hard disk before users get their hands on it. Then, they are free to copy, move, and delete files: Garbage Collector has no run-time utility to prevent access. To restore the drive back to its original state, you select a function which moves files back to their original places, notes omissions in a log, and places extraneous files into a folder labeled "Student Work."

In practice it seems to work nicely. The author has acknowledged that this is a preliminary version, and lacks many of the niceties a later version will have. But even in its present form, Garbage Collector will be a great help to anyone who runs a publicly-accessible Macintosh lab.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: CLEANING public HARD DISK DRIVE RESTORE MASTER IMAGE server network
Requires: Hard disk
Price: Shareware $10

Back to top


Plug-In Manager 1.0 (Fat)
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Jonas Wallden

If you've ever used Ricardo Batista's Extensions Manager, you know how useful it can be in keeping your system extensions in line. Now from Sweden comes Plug-In Manager, a utility built on the same style of interface which organizes all the "plug-ins" for your applications with modular attachments (such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Quark XPress, Aldus PageMaker, Deneba Canvas, Microsoft Word and so on).

As with Extensions Manager, files can be moved in and out of the specified "Plug-ins" folder by checking and unchecking them in an easy-to-view list. These "sets" of preferred plug-ins are mapped to specific applications, so that launching Photoshop will bring up a different set of filters than launching Fractal Painter will, and so forth.

The benefits of this utility are more subtle than those of Extension Managers: whereas Mr. Batista's organizer is useful in debugging system crashes (and can be used to strip down a system for faster startups), Plug-In Manager is mostly useful in cleaning up menus in the affected programs, so that you'll only see those plug-ins you use. Also, each plug-in takes a little time to load when the program is launched: only a fraction of a second, it's true, but when you have a folder with dozens of such extensions, those fractions add up.

One weakness: when you first launch the program, you must choose folders in which used and disabled filters can be found. This dialog box lacks the "New Folder" button, forcing you to plan your filter placement ahead of time. Also, it would be best if plug-ins could be stored in more than one folder: after all, many people have a handful of plug-ins in their Illustrator folder, some more in their Photoshop folder, and others strewn about their hard disks, and Plug-In Manager won't work properly unless they're all in the same place. But these are minor complaints, and I expect they'll be addressed in future versions (just as Extensions Manager became more robust over time). With proper planning, Plug-In Manager will shorten the launching time of all your plug-in-compatible applications.

NOTE: Conflicts with Symantec's Directory Assistance.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: plugin manager plug in fat powerpc ppc photoshop filter extension illustrator image organize quark word canvas xpress color-it
Requires: System 7 or later
Price: Shareware: $10

Back to top


PrefsCleaner 1.1
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Luc Pauwels

One of the ways to cut down on a System Folder's bloat is to get rid of unused Preference files. But looking through the Preferences folder -- which often contains well over 100 documents -- can be a chore. That's why PrefsCleaner is such a gem. This tiny utility from Belgium looks through your System volume, identifies the Preference files which lack matching applications (as would occur if you used the program briefly and then threw it away) and presents them in a list. From there, you select the ones you want to delete and voila! Instant space. (This is similar to a function found in our own custom utility Clean Sweep, in the ZDware library.)

In practice, the program works well -- to an extent. PrefsCleaner features several well-chosen options, but I found that some of them didn't work perfectly. For example, when scanning all volumes for unattached preferences, PrefsCleaner seemed to hang after a few minutes, probably confused by the presence of PowerTalk. (The PowerTalk mailbox is often interpreted as being a discrete volume by applications unfamiliar with its unusual structure.) It proved its stability, however, by allowing me to regain control after this error with little fuss.

I advise care in selecting the preferences to delete, as it marked a few inappropriate files for deletion (such as QuicKeys files), and *don't* use the "autodelete option. Follow these caveats, though, and you'll find PrefsCleaner a handy timesaver. NOTE: PrefsCleaner only allocates a pitiable 100K of memory to itself when it launches, causing it to frequently demand more. You can avoid these warnings by increasing the memory allocation to at least 500K in the "Get Info" window.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: prefscleaner prefs cleaner preference system folder organize delete trash remove slim
Requires: System 7 or later
Price: Shareware $15

Back to top


VersaTile Pro 1.0 (Fat)
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Rick Christianson

VersaTile Pro (formerly known as OneClick) is a System 7 application that allows you to put all of your favorite and most used software items (applications, control panels, documents, desk accessories, folders, disks, etc.) on user-configured palettes.

Clicking on the palette's tile will open that item automatically. Of course, if the item is already open VersaTile will make the selected item the active application. The program fully supports Drag?, offers up to 48 tiles per window, and the new pop-up Action Menu allows you to perform many major Finder operations such as Open, Find, Make Alias, Duplicate, Print, and Get Info, directly from a palette.

VersaTile's greatest strength is its ability to create as many palettes as possible in available memory. Additionally, the palettes are fully configurable. Different tile textures (background patterns) may be created or imported into the program to make visual identification of different palettes easier, and different palette formats may also be created or imported to better match your work style.

Versatile Pro offers many enhancements over Versatile Classic (also in this library). Some examples are:

- Drag-and-Drop is available for System 7.5 users- Special options to show (and control) currently active applications- Launch of multiple items at once- Built-in Tile Texture and Tile Format editors..and other features. Also note that VersaTile Classic costs $10, whereas Versatile Pro costs $20.

Unfortunately, this new incarnation of the old favorite is not able to save any palettes until the registration fee is paid. It does, however, give you an opportunity to try out all of VersaTile Pro's nifty features. Make sure you also check out the custom tile textures and formats found in the "System Utilities/System Enhancers" library.

Version 1.0 enhances Drag? capabilities, including allowing users to drag tiles among VersaTile pallettes, to the Finder, or into any Drag? aware application. It also adds more complete AppleScript support and corrects a number of AppleEvent bugs.

Rating: Not Rated
Keywords: versatile pro demo ONECLICK APPLICATION LAUNCH PALETTE one click drag drop
Requires: System 7 or later
Price: Shareware $20

Back to top


XCat 1.4.1
Category: System Utilities/File Management
Author: Fritz Wuthrich

Most of us aren't very good organizers, especially when it comes to our computers: multiple versions of TeachText, project-related files in three different folders, and enigmatic compacted archives are typical symptoms of our plight. XCat is a freeware utility which may help us solve some of our problems by creating a catalog of files on a disk.

XCat catalogs look much like a book index does: main sections (disks) are shown flush left, with folders and sub-folders indented by a few spaces. In this way, it's easy to see where exactly files can be found. There are options to regulate the output--inserting tabs instead of spaces, for example, and omitting certain fields--and catalogs can be saved as either XCat documents or text files. Where this program really shines, however, is in its ability to catalog StuffIt and Compact Pro (Compactor) archives, an unusually advanced feature for a freeware program. In addition, XCat will search for duplicate files by name, size, type, or other criteria.

A German-language version is also available. NOTE: May act erratically or crash when attempting to catalog a folder.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: catalog disk utility StuffIt compact pro FREEWARE
Requires: Mac Plus or better
Price: Freeware

Back to top


ADBManager 1.02
Category: System Utilities/Hardware Utilities
Author: Klaus Berkling

ADBManager is a simple, vital tool that takes care of a problem more conveniently than anything else available: connecting and disconnecting ADB devices such as joysticks, keyboards, mice, and graphics tablets. "But why's that such a problem?" you ask. "All you have to do to disconnect those devices is attach their plugs, of pull them out." Well, yes and no: doing so without first turning off your Macintosh increases the risk of system crashes and freezes, as applications search for devices which are no longer there. Also, some ADB devices "crash" with each other as they fight for the same resource.

ADBManager puts an end to all that by allowing your to click on check boxes to select and deselect devices--even while they're active. (The author suggests daisy-chaining all of your devices and then turning off the unneeded ones.) The controls, cunningly, can all be controlled from the keyboard, which cannot be made inactive. In total, ADBManager is a useful utility for artists who own graphics tablets, gameplayers, or anybody using multiple ADB devices.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: MOUSE KEYBOARD DISCONNECT TABLET JOYSTICK HARDWARE
Requires: Mac SE or later
Price: Shareware $10

Back to top


dataByDate 1.06
Category: System Utilities/Hardware Utilities
Author: Michael Buerkle

Backup, backup, backup: we've all heard it a thousand times. Whether from trade magazines like MacUser, a local Mac guru or a friend with horrifying tales of data-loss woe, it's advice everyone should heed. But while many of us have good intentions, the lack of a solid, simple backup program can make us forget our obligation to protect our data. With this freeware HyperCard utility, the task becomes a little easier.

dataByDate is a simple but effective tool which copies all files modified until, from or after a given date to a single folder. You can specify kinds of files (by creator or type) which should not be included, and multiple source folders can be backed up. While lacking some useful features (the ability to maintain hierarchical file structure in backups, for example), fun sounds, a good help text and a straightforward interface strengthen this stack's usefulness. And it's free! NOTE: No warning is given when files are overwritten with those of the same name, so be careful not to have two files of the same name when you backup: only one will be written to the backup folder.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: backup HyperCard date copy files FREEWARE
Requires: HyperCard 2.0 or greater
Price: Freeware

Back to top


Ejector 0.95
Category: System Utilities/Hardware Utilities
Author: Bert Seltzer

Ever since the very first Macs, the floppy drive featured a bonus not found in any other machine: it automatically ejected your disks at shutdown, obviating the need to start up the machine again just to get your disk out. It also helped us forgetful folks, who otherwise would have asked ourselves "where did I put that disk???" many times a day.

Now your Apple 300 CD-ROM drive will behave the same way. Simply install Ejector, a Control Panel with INIT code in it which tells your CD-ROM drive to eject upon shut down. Actually, it's not the only shareware doohickey which does this: John Stewart's CD Ejector AppleScript does the exact same thing, when installed in the "ShutDown Items" folder of System 7.5. But many of us don't have AppleScript, let alone System 7.5 or later: for those of us in the 7.x twilight, Ejector is a time- and sanity- saver.

Version 0.95 corrects a bug and makes minor interface changes.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: cd rom drive disk eject remove shut down shutdown tray
Requires: System 7 or later, Apple CD-ROM drive 300
Price: Shareware $7

Back to top


Restart DA 1.1
Category: System Utilities/Hardware Utilities
Author: Panic Software

Out of manure grow the most beautiful flowers, and out of malicious practical jokes grow some pretty useful pieces of software. So is the case with Restart DA, a tiny applet which is the antithesis of the "Shut Down" utility included in System 7.5.

Originally, it was programmed as a practical joke: just drop this thing in a naive user's "ShutDown Items" folder, and they could never turn off their Mac! But somewhere during the programming process, maturity struck the authors, and they suggest a few *real* uses for the thing in their engagingly witty "Read Me" file (which is almost worth the shareware fee by itself.) Make sure you compliment the pretty, blue icon when you send in your money!

It's certainly a strange bird, and it's the only one if its kind which does what it does.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: startup start up shutdown shut down apple menu system
Requires: System 7 or later
Price: Shareware $5

Back to top


LaserLabels PD 1.0
Category: System Utilities/Print Utilities
Author: Perimeter

Making labels on the computer is such a pain in the Avery that many users keep an old manual typewriter around solely for that purpose. With so many variables to calculate -- margins, gutters, and width, height and number of labels per page -- it's just not worth bothering. LaserLabels PD promises to take out some of the bother by offering all of these controls within an easy-to-understand dialog box.

LaserLabels PD takes all of the above-listed variables into consideration, and then some: from within its main dialog, you can control line screen (for labels with gray-scale effects), orientation and number of records to be printed. Delve a little deeper into its options and there is also control over borders, text import, and printer behavior. This public-domain version is a bit old, and somewhat dodgy -- your printer must be named "LaserWriter" or it won't be recognized, some standard keyboard shortcuts are ignored--but with a little practice, this can be a real time-saver.

Rating: 2 (out of 5)
Keywords: PRINTER AVERY STICKERS PAGE FORMATTING addresses ENVELOPES LASERWRITER
Requires: Laser Printer
Price: Demoware

Back to top


M & D's Easy Envelope Printing 1.5.2
Category: System Utilities/Print Utilities
Author: Stephen MacLean

If all you want to do is keep an address book on your computer, a full-featured database is just too much. For you, there's Stephen MacLean's charming utility, Mom and Dad's Easy Envelope Printing", which has one purpose: to keep a list of addresses and print them onto envelopes on command.

Surprisingly, the best part of this program is not its printing capabilities (which are mediocre), but its database functions. A user sets up "Mailing Lists" -- as many as needed -- and can selectively print envelopes from the list, or print them all. Your return address is stored (say goodbye to all those lick-and-stick labels!), and mailing lists can be exported to tab-delimited text files. But the best "feature" (and I use that term loosely) is the silly set of startup sounds, sure to put a smile on your face as it has on the faces of Mom and Dad (see photo, included!)

NOTE: Although the author claims compatibility with PowerMacs (beginning with version 1.5.2), it crashed on my 7100. Use with caution.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: mom and dad parents database printer address book city state fields records
Requires: Printer and driver which can specify envelope printing
Price: Shareware $5

Back to top


Frank Black 1.0d3
Category: System Utilities/Screen Savers
Author: Pete Gontier

In the early days of personal computers, nobody thought of the need for a screen saver. Since the closest visual analogy, television, displayed constantly moving images, it didn't have the problem of single images becoming dimming sections of the tube from overuse, a condition known as "burn-in." Then around 1973, Atari noticed that the CRTs in its "Pong" games were degrading visibly, having displayed essentially the same image for months.

And the market for screen savers was born. In the Mac world, the best-known is undoubtedly "After Dark," which fills the user's screen with images of fish, fireworks, and flying toasters. But what if you don't need -- or can't afford -- such a baroque solution to such a simple problem?

For you, Frank Black does the trick, and at only 7K it's around 1/100th the size of its more versatile competitor. Unfortunately, it only works on RGB monitors and, as the author points out, RGB monitors aren't at a high risk for burn-in. However, having a glowing screen in the room can be a distraction when you're trying to do something else. So clear your head, clear your screen: take a sip of Frank Black.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: EXTENSION SCREEN SAVER BLANK FADE FREEWARE
Requires: RGB Monitor, System 7 or later
Price: Freeware

Back to top


BootBlocker
Category: System Utilities/System Enhancers
Author: Paul D. Hart

It's one thing to encrypt archives. It's another thing to make files invisible. But if you want to restrict access to your computer, nothing beats a boot blocking system for system-wide protection. BootBlocker is a simple utility which offers this sort of protection, although in a limited fashion.

A boot blocker is installed as system software, so that it can stop the "boot" -- that is, the startup code -- from becoming completely active. On the Mac, all Extensions and Control Panels are part of the boot code. BootBlocker (which is a Control Panel) takes advantage of this fact, forcing you to enter a password upon startup. If you fail three times, it shuts your machine down before it ever reaches the Finder.

In practice, it works pretty well. There are some caveats, though. For one thing, it forces a "shut down" sequence by actually crashing your machine. That means that utilities such as Conflict Catcher and Now Startup Manager will offer to turn it off the next time you start up, defeating its purpose. And anyone can disable it permanently by throwing the control panel in the Trash. (For added security, you can make it invisible with the shareware program File Buddy, also available through ZiffNet/Mac.)

As the author admits, it's not the highest-level security possible -- the computer could still be started by using an external volume with a System Folder on it -- but it will provide reasonable protection against casual invaders.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: boot blocker block startup start security disable shift password secure
Requires: Mac Plus or better
Price: Freeware

Back to top


CallingCard Pro
Category: System Utilities/System Enhancers
Author: Matthew B. Revenaugh

Ah.. back to basics. Calling Card is a tiny, self-contained PICT holder which can be used to pass graphics, icons, or anything that can be converted into a PICT between Macs. The program's name suggests its primary use is to transfer contact information, but Calling Card would work well as a simple viewer for various other purposes: portfolio display, on-screen reference, or whatever you can dream up. A useful button (added with the "Pro" release in April of 1994) allows you to attach text up to 32K in size, formatted as you wish, in a scrollable window. The file can be irreversibly locked from within the program, making it truly a one-way presentation. (Make sure that you've saved a backup before doing this, or you won't be able to make changes or create other calling cards.)

Basically, it works as a one-frame, resizable Scrapbook: graphics are copied onto the clipboard using command-C (or cut using command-X) and pasted into Calling Card's one window. There's nothing more to say: it works without problems, conflicts, or choices. A cute li'l utility. NOTE: Attempting to lock a file while the scrollable text window is open locks the window: should this happen to you, simply close it.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: CALLING CARD BUSINESS PICT CUT PASTE CLIPBOARD SCRAPBOOK GRAPHIC IDENTITY
Requires: Mac Plus or better
Price: Shareware $30

Back to top


FKEY Display 2.0
Category: System Utilities/System Enhancers
Author: Cliff Harris

Mac savants know that Shift-command-3 will take a snapshot of the screen and save it as a PICT file, and some shareware surfers have gone a step further and created other "FKEYs" to automate other useful functions. If you've installed one or more of these, you know how easy it is to forget which keys are mapped to which functions.

But fear not. FKEY Display is designed to display a dialog box showing all the FKEYs installed in your System. This list will remain on the screen for ten seconds or until you click the mouse, giving you just the reminder you need to call up needed functions.

It can only be installed directly into your system through ResEdit -- a dangerous proposition best left to true Mac gurus. Fortunately, Mr. Harris has included step-by-step instructions, minimizing the danger somewhat. Still, a simple installer program would have been nice.

This FKEY was written to replace John Holders FKEY View, and corrects some bugs and incompatibilities of that program. Look in this library for other FKEYs and FKEY utilities.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: FKEY Display dialog catalog system resedit keyboard shortcut
Requires: ResEdit
Price: Freeware

Back to top


Glidel 2.4.4
Category: System Utilities/System Enhancers
Author: Gilles Berkovitch

Note: This is the English language version of Glidel: the French version is also available in this library.

The ability to drag files or folders onto applications and have them work together is one of the most exciting features of System 7. But have you ever tried dragging a file up to, say, the "Open" menu choice? Nothing happens -- unless you've installed Glidel. Glidel is a system extension which gives you access to selected features in your File and Apple Menu.

When in the Finder, you can drag and drop files and folders to open, copy, alias and move them. Using hot keys, you can directly place an alias of an oft used application to a folder in the Apple Menu. Glidel is also compatible with many hierarchical menu utilities, so you can access sub-folders, too.

Glidel is so handy, that you will find a new gesture in your repertoire, as you start dragging files up to the menu bar, to the amazement of friends and onlookers.

NOTE: Glidel is not compatible with Finder 7.1.1 on PowerBooks, or Now Utilities 5.0. Be sure to read the Read Me file for a list of known compatibilities and incompatibilities.

Version 2.4 is compatible with PopupFolder, has better alias making and has better File menu management. Version 2.4.1 adds compatibility with System 7.1.2 (Power Macs) and better error messages management. Version 2.4.2 has better error recovery and better memory management. Version 2.4.3 has better resource management, better memory management and adds compatibility with Macintosh Easy Open. Version 2.4.4 adds compatibility with System 7.5, Macintosh Drag and Drop 1.1, has better alias making, and other miscellaneous enhancements.

Rating: 3 (out of 5)
Keywords: GLIDEL SYSTEM EXTENSION APPLE MENU BAR FILE OPEN DRAG DROP CLOSE PRINT EDIT
Requires: System 7.0 to 7.5
Price: Shareware $25

Back to top


Kapu 2.1
Category: System Utilities/System Enhancers
Author: Coconut Info

One aspect most Mac users ignore is security. And that's too bad, because something as important as keeping your data private is really easy to accomplish -- with Kapu. Kapu (which means "keep out" in Hawaiian) is a small utility program which you can't escape or send to the background unless you know the password. As a result, no other programs can be launched, menus are inaccessible, and your documents are safe. Entering the password quits the program and returns your Mac to normal operation.

There are a few aspects of Kapu which make it superior -- and more reliable -- to most other shareware security programs. For one thing, it's a simple application, and therefore doesn't have the conflicts to which extension-based security programs are prone. (The author suggests putting it in the "Startup Items" folder under System 7, thereby giving it the functionality of an INIT.) Its documentation is extremely thorough, especially for such a small program, and gives you a good idea of its security level and best uses. Best of all, it allows AppleTalk Remote Access users to access your computer, even if the keyboard is locked: as ARA has its own password protection scheme, your machine remains safe.

Altogether, Kapu is one of the most solid and trustworthy simple security programs, and you can trust it to stop all casual intruders. Pay your registration fee, and you'll receive a copy of Kapu with features not found here. NOTE: The default password is Kapu (case sensitive). As with any security program, it's important that you remember your password, or you may find yourself locked out of your own computer. For added security, choose an unusual string of characters as a password, as common words and personal information (such as children's names) are easily guessed.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: KAPU SECURITY UNLOCK LOCK PASSWORD PROTECTION NETWORK ARA KEEP OUT STOP
Requires: Mac Plus or better
Price: Shareware $10

Back to top


Peeping Tom 1.4
Category: System Utilities/System Enhancers
Author: Bret Olmsted

Peeping Tom is an excellent utility which monitors computer usage, creating a log file which indicates (a) when the computer was turned on, (b) program usage, and (c) the program's average CPU drain. System administrators will love it as a debugging tool, helping them to trace applications which cause problems; Mac service bureaus (like copy shops) will find it an superb tool to precisely bill users; and office administrators can use it to catch workers who have been playing Tetris all day (yikes!). In addition, Peeping Tom keeps a log which approximates characters typed, which can prove invaluable when your system crashes, taking your doctoral thesis with it: simply refer to the "character log," and recreate it.

Peeping Tom writes to disk only every five seconds, lowering its impact on your computer's speed. There are some customization features, such as allowing you to temporarily turn off the logging process. More features are available to registered users: paying the low shareware fee gets you the passwords necessary to use ResEdit to access the PREF resource, which contains code for enhanced security.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: INIT BACKGROUND Recovery MONITOR LOG USAGE EXTENSION
Requires: System 7 or greater, ResEdit helpful
Price: Shareware $5

Back to top


TaskMan 1.2
Category: System Utilities/System Enhancers
Author: Paul Cunningham

TaskMan is an extension which adds the ability to switch between running processes (applications) using keyboard shortcuts. PC users will instantly recognize this as a feature of Windows, but this Mac version carries the ball a bit further by presenting the users with additional options, such as a handy process list. No more mousing up to the pull-down application menu: simply press command-tab and cycle through running processes.

You should be aware of possible incompatibilities with applications which have mapped TaskMan's keystrokes for their own purposes, as they'll no longer work as you expect them to. To the author's two listed programs -- F/A-18 and HyperCard -- I add FileMaker Pro, for which Command-Tab is mapped to "Next Record". Still, the author promises that future releases will allow you to define your own keystrokes for application switching.

As is also mentioned in the superb "Read Me" file, TaskMan is similar to many existing shareware packages (such as Applicon and ProSwitch, both of which are available in this library). But TaskMan's interface is elegant, and allows for a variety of ways of switching between programs. Besides, as the author writes: "..if it suits your needs perfectly, then just smile because it's FREE."

Version 1.1 fixes the icon drawing bug at startup, and converts the code into Metrowerks CodeWarrior C++. Version 1.2 adds some key combinations (option-tab hides applications, for example), corrects icons for DAs and generally makes TaskMan more convenient.

Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Keywords: TASKMAN application switching task man invisible command keys escape background keystroke extension freeware
Requires: System 7 or later
Price: Freeware

Back to top


This page was last updated on Friday, January 06, 2012 at 12:17am UTC. All contents copyright 2005 by Tom Geller.