Going Ten, Part 4: iCab, PowerMail, the Dock, Selecting Files, and More

2002 – I’ve spend a few more days working in and out of Mac OS X 10.1 Puma. I sometimes ask myself why I’m doing this. It is just to be on the cutting edge, just so I can be familiar with OS X, just to attract readers (you seem to love articles about OS X), or for some real benefit?


I’m sure other things come into play, but I’m tired of restarting my computer when Internet Explorer (or some other app, but usually IE) locks up the TiBook under Mac OS 9. When IE quits in OS X, it just disappears – and everything else keeps working.

One feature of OS X that I’m really starting to like is the ability to have a single window within an application in the foreground (or near foreground) without having to move all the windows within the application to the same level.


I’ve managed to get my iCab and IE bookmarks over to the OS X versions using aliases. I’ve also downloaded and used Mozilla and Opera on the Beige G3. Although classic versions Mozilla and Netscape 6.x refuse to work on my TiBook, the X port does work.

I’m still not impressed enough with either to switch. In fact, my tests with Broadband Optimizer showed that Opera, purportedly the fastest browser on earth, is in fact the slowest. On both OS 9 and OS X, I’m using both iCab and Internet Explorer. I’ll be trying Mozilla 0.9.8, Opera, and OmniWeb soon.

Some Alternate iCab Icons

Some Alternate iCab icon sets.

I commented that I didn’t really care for the OS X icons in iCab. M. Rodlogic reminded me that iCab has alternate icons available (right). I haven’t been able to figure out how to install them, but I have switched to another set of icons that I much prefer.

PowerMail 3.1.1

I’m also continuing the transition to PowerMail one email address at a time. I mostly like it, but I’m running into some obstacles. For instance, I manage over 30 email lists, all of which I receive in digest mode. There’s a script for Claris Emailer that extracts individual messages from digests – great for replying to a posting and much easier than hitting reply and having to change the subject. At present, there’s no such script for PowerMail. Darn.

The other frustration is the lack of a spell checker. Rather than invest time in creating a spell checker, PowerMail lets you choose your own – but now I have to pick one. Any suggestions?

It is nice being able to use the same email, account, and other files in both the classic and OS X versions of PowerMail. I couldn’t figure out how to do it for several days. Then I located the file in Documents : PowerMail 3 Files on my hard drive. What an odd place to put things!

Anyhow, I opened that folder inside of OS X and simply dragged the Message Database to the PowerMail icon in the Dock. Voilà – the OS X version is now using the same files as the classic version.

PowerMail has one disconcerting behavior that’s really an improvement over Emailer. The old Claris app would randomly append a signature; PowerMail pops it right into the new email message so you can see it and possibly choose a more appropriate one. Different, disconcerting, but nice.

Thoughts on the Dock

Macintosh Plus

I’ve been using Macs since 1986. At first, you could only open an application by double-clicking the application icon or a document that had been created with that application. With System 7 came four huge improvements: aliases, desktop icons, the hierarchical Apple Menu, and drag-and-drop.

With an alias, you could have your most-used applications on the desktop – no more digging through folders. It created a cluttered desktop, but it was also an efficient way to access your favorite programs.

The same goes for the Apple Menu, especially with utilities like HAM and MenuChoice that let you drill down into folders or even access recently launched files. And to open a program in a different application, you could drag the icon from a Photoshop file to the GraphicConverter icon to open it in another program.

Then came task bars, program menus, launchers, application switchers, keyboard shortcuts, and who knows how many other ways to launch your programs.

Enough! I’m using aliases on the desktop, QuicKeys keystrokes, X-Launch, an application switcher in the control strip, and MenuChoice in the Apple Menu to launch programs – not to mention popup windows at the bottom of the Finder screen.

One design goal of OS X was to simplify things. Instead of having a file launcher and an application switcher, the Dock does both. The multicolumn Finder view sorta replaces hierarchical menus – sorta. And I haven’t yet looked into using the keyboard to launch iCab, MYOB, and the other applications I use constantly. But the Dock eliminates the needs for icons on the desktop as well as separate programs to launch programs and switch between them.

That said, the Dock’s fatal flaw is that things can hide behind it. I’d like to see Apple provide an option for a Dock that takes X pixels on the whole side or across the whole bottom of the screen and prevents applications from using the space behind the dock.

Selecting Files in OS X

Ronald Northrip was one of the first to note that to select noncontiguous files in list view in OS X, you use the Command key, not the Shift key. That’s one old habit that’s going to die hard, especially since the Shift key works in other views.

Popup Window Substitute

Chris Vreeland writes, “To replace a popup folder (sort of), drag the folder to the Dock. When you click and hold, or Control+click, the contents will pop up in a list.” Well, I’ve already got these folders in the Dock….

Yes, it works, although it’s definitely slower than it was under OS 9. On the other hand, it’s faster than going through one or two windows to get where I need to be.

Conflict Catcher

I’ve always known Conflict Catcher was great for finding the cause of startup, shut down, and other software problems. Now Bradley Dichter tells me that it’s useful under OS X, too. Conflict Catcher 9 includes an option for creating a leaner, meaner set of extensions and control panels – and it will automatically use it when booting Classic in OS X.

That feature alone probably isn’t worth US$70-80, but the whole Conflict Catcher package might be.

Recommended OS X Enhancements

Readers have suggested the following wares: LaunchBar (shareware) and Broadband Optimizer (freeware, reviewed yesterday).

More on the migration next week.

Keywords: #macosx #osxpuma

Short link: http://goo.gl/SH6jOq