X-Wares

You Don't Have to Leave It Behind

Some traditional Mac wares that have been ported to OS X

- 2002.02.11

When I first installed the OS X public beta in the fall of 2000, it felt like watching The Wizard of Oz for the first time and suddenly, like Dorothy, emerging into a new land, where everything glowed in Technicolour - and everything was very different.

With the release version the following spring, it was apparent that Apple had listened to many of the criticisms made about the public beta. The release version, while still different from the classic Mac OS, was much more Mac-like than pre-release versions. The Apple Menu was back in the left-hand corner and actually did things. There were drive icons on the desktop by default. The Finder worked in ways that were more comfortable for long-time Mac users.

Still, there's more that can be done to get the best of OS X's new features without tossing out everything that worked well in previous Mac environments. In last week's article, Alan's Favorite Things, I wrote about several freeware and shareware enhancements for OS X, adding (among other things) WindowShades and the Application Switcher to the new interface. (Reader Tod Abbott wrote to recommend ASM as a free Application Switcher enhancement.)

Besides making OS X a little more (dare I say) Mac-like, it may also be a relief to know that increasing numbers of favourite Mac applications are showing up in OS X-native versions. This is true for many of the big companies' products (Microsoft Office, most of Corel's graphics products, some Adobe and Macromedia products), but it is also the case for many of my favourite shareware and freeware applications.

Some of my long-time favourites that have reappeared as OS X-native:

GraphicConverter. The title is more-modest sounding than this $30 German shareware gem deserves. Far more than a mere file conversion program, this powerhouse does most of what I need when working with graphics. It slices, it dices.... Well, it resizes, changes colour depth, converts between a huge of number of PC and Mac file formats, can be used with scanners, and can be used with filters. It lacks Photoshop-like paint tools, but for prepping graphics for print or the Web, it does everything I need faster (and much cheaper) than Photoshop. This Carbonized version runs under both OS X and OS 9.x. As with other GC updates, the OS X version is free for anyone who has registered an older version.

Eudora Pro. OS X comes with Apple's Mail application, but I would rather stick with Eudora, which I've been using since I first started on the Internet around 1994 or so. Like several recent versions, Eudora Pro 5.1 comes in several flavours, all from a single installation version. Users can choose a full-featured free version with ads (but no spyware), a lite (and still free) version without ads, or register for the paid (US $40) version with all the features and no ads. The Pro versions include support for multiple email accounts and powerful, but easy-to-use, filters, among many other features. Like GraphicConverter, the new Carbonized version runs both as a native OS X application, and under OS 9 as well, but there's a hitch.

By default, Eudora (running under OS 9) wants to store mail (etc) in a Eudora Folder inside a Documents folder. Under OS X, it wants to use the Documents folder that's inside each user's named folder inside OS X's Users folder. As a result, on my system at least, I get different sets of saved mail and settings when I run Eudora under OS 9 and OS X. (Yes, there's probably a work-around for this - and if you know what it is, please let me know!)

Glider Pro demo. Games are also coming out in native OS X versions. A mere 237 KB download updates the cavemen in cars game from Pangea, for example, while the Mac-classic no-frills Klondike Solitaire was an early addition to the OS X download list. I first came across Casady and Greene's addictive Glider in a black and white version for compact Macs. Over time, it gained colour while still keeping its basic premise: Users maneuver a paper airplane through a series of rooms in a house. You can buy the full product for US$20, but the downloadable demo is free and lots of fun in its own right, even without killing anyone.

All of these, and lots of other programs, can be downloaded from Apple's Mac OS X download page. OS X users have an instant link hard-wired into the non-customizable blue Apple Menu: click on "Get Mac OS softwareÖ" and explore. (If you want a little utility to allow you to customize that blue Apple Menu, check out Unsanity's FruitMenu - a bargain at $7.)

You can have OS X and the best shareware of the Mac's past, too. LEM

is a Vancouver (BC, Canada) computer-using elementary school teacher and technology journalist. He publishes two regular columns in Business in Vancouver, a local newsweekly. These and his other writing are available on his website, www.zisman.ca. He also writes Mac2Windows for Low End Mac.

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