Mac Daniel's Advice

Getting Started With ResEdit

Evan Kleiman - 2000.100.5

Q. I've seen a lot of sites that talk about a program called ResEdit. What is it and where can I get it?

A. ResEdit is short for Resource Editor. Resources are all of the little things inside a program that makes it what it is. For all intents and purposes, a program is divided into two parts, called forks. One part is the Data Fork, which is the inner guts of a program. The other part is the Resource Fork. The resource fork is the place where all of the pictures, icons, sounds, and other multimedia goodies are stored. With ResEdit, you can change those resources to customize a program.

To use ResEdit, you first need to get it. Most Macs already have it somewhere on their hard drive. But, if you can't find it, you can download it for free from Apple. This is a fast download, and once you get it, you can get started at customizing your software.

First, decide which program you're going to edit. Today we'll be changing the screen your Mac displays while it is booting up, right after the Happy Mac screen. Since ResEdit is a program that can potentially damage your computer (and believe me, it can!), you'll need to make a copy of whatever file or program you'll be editing. The file we'll edit today is the System file, so make a copy of it (by pressing Apple-D on your keyboard) and then open the copy in ResEdit.

Once you've opened the file, you'll see a screen full of many different icons. The icons that say cicn and icl under them are where the icons to a program are stored, the ones with snd under them are where the sounds are stored, clut is where the color pallets are stored, and CURS are where the cursors for a program are found. For the edit we'll be doing, you need to double-click the icon that says PICT under it.

Now that you've clicked on this icon, you'll see a window full of pictures you might recognize. One picture you'll definitely recognize is the start up screen. It should say "-16506" under it. This is the picture you'll be replacing. But, before you can replace the picture, you need to find one to replace it!

ResExcellence has a nice selection of Mac OS Startup Screens (MOSS). You're sure to find the one you're looking for, since this site has an archive of over 100.

Once you've downloaded the MOSS you want, open it by double-clicking it. This should open it up in ResEdit along with your copy of the System file. Now, double-click the PICT resource for your MOSS and copy it to the clipboard. Next, paste it into the copy of your System file and click "yes" to the warning box that pops up. Now you've added a new Startup Screen! All you need to do now is save the file and use it to replace the original System file.

Now you can restart your computer and see the new startup screen. Be sure you have a way to boot from something else (CD-ROM, Zip disk, another hard drive, etc.) just in case something goes terribly wrong.

Is this all ResEdit can do? Of course not! It can do a ton of things! Playing around is the best way to figure out what else you can do, but remember, always work on a copy, because if not you could definitely regret it.

Evan Kleiman has been writing for Low End Mac since January 1999. He also runs his own site, Evansite. Evan uses an iMac, along with some vintage hardware. You can read more about his computing experience in The Many Macs of Evan Kleiman.

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