Charles Moore's Mailbag

PowerPC Flash Limitations, Intel Tex-Edit Plus File Incompatibility, and More

Charles Moore - 2011.09.06 - Tip Jar

PowerPC and Flash

From Michael:


I was curious as to how everyone is managing on their PowerPCs without the latest version of Flash.* My wife's computer is a G5 Power Mac, and she is driven nuts by the notices about applications not running without the latest Flash plugin (mainly video in Facebook and/or YouTube).

I'd really like to be able to get by without having to upgrade to an Intel Mac, as this is the only problem we've had at all, not missing any of the other latest upgrades. It would really be something if Adobe's snub at Apple (abandoning PPC support) would cause us to have to buy more Apple hardware.

What solutions are you aware of or are you implementing?


* Publisher's note: Flash is currently at version 10.3, but PowerPC support only goes through version 10.1, so any Flash content that requires 10.2 or 10.3 is incompatible - but there are some workarounds that bypass Flash, as Charles notes below. Also see Adobe Flash Has Left PowerPC Macs Behind by Dan Bashur. In addition, PPC Flash is a whole lot slower at things like Farmville, and Google Docs spreadsheets, which use Java and JavaScript, can get very slow as well. This can be another argument in favor of an Intel Mac. dk

Hi Mike,

I'm not really any sort of an expert on Flash issues and the Mac. The main manifestation of Flash nonsupport that I encounter is with my iPad.

I'm wondering if you've tried the TenFourFox PowerPC port of Firefox 6. Might be worth a shot, and it's the best PPC Mac browser left standing in my estimation.

However, TenFourFox no longer supports Flash plugins. They explain:

Plugins on PowerPC are of special concern because Mozilla is making updates to their plugin architecture which may require the plugins themselves to be updated, and there are certain difficult-to-correct bugs with them already on Tiger. Most importantly, Adobe Flash for PowerPC is no longer maintained and has known security risks that can crash or leak data, and QuickTime for Leopard will lose its own support with the release of OS X Lion. In addition, Flash 10.1 is rapidly becoming unsupported by many applications.

As of TenFourFox 6.0, for these and other reasons, plugin support ships disabled. Plugins will not operate by default, and bug reports will no longer be accepted. Sites will now act as if no plugins were installed at all.

To replace Flash and QuickTime, the TenFourFox folks say:

There will still be some content you can't view without a Flash plugin in the browser. Some of it can be worked around.

  • For YouTube videos in particular, the free MacTubes application allows you to view YouTube video in multiple resolutions and full-screen. It is also more efficient at playback on older Macs. Please support this excellent application.
  • If you have a fast-enough G4 or G5, you can also view many YouTube videos using TenFourFox's built-in HTML5 WebM video support, which is supported. To do so, visit and "opt in" to the HTML5 trial. This will set a temporary cookie so that available embedded videos and videos on YouTube will be presented to you in native HTML5 video, if available. While you do not need a YouTube account to use HTML5 video, the cookie may periodically expire and require renewal, and not all videos are available in WebM.
  • For other video files, you can use any of the available Firefox YouTube or Flash video download extensions, and view the media files off-line with Perian for QuickTime (or QuickTime itself for codecs QT supports).
  • For other audio files, download the audio file and play it in QuickTime Player.
  • For PDF documents, download and view them in Preview or Adobe Reader. Mozilla support for in-browser PDF is under development.
  • If you absolutely must use a plugin, you can use Camino or OmniWeb at the same time you use TenFourFox; these browsers currently still support PowerPC and will run older plugins. This limits any security exposure to those browsers and will not compromise TenFourFox. (There is also an unsupported mode for 10.4Fx itself.) However, this will not solve the security and compatibility issues the plugins will still have.

I hope this is of some help.



Thanks for taking the time to reply with all of this information; it is tremendously helpful and much appreciated.


Chill Mat for Mac

From John:

Hi, Charles,

Reading your review of the Targus Chill Mat for Mac convinced me to buy one. I found it on eBay for $23.50 delivered, and it arrived yesterday. I'm using it right now under my 17" PowerBook G4. Having not experienced the original, I'm not bothered by the fan noise, and I was delighted to find that the fans run with a single USB connection. I find it to be very comfortable in my lap and a big improvement over the hot aluminum bottom of the PB. I haven't tried to insert it in my Targus backpack, though I want to; I can see what you mean about its thickness.

Thanks for your thorough review. Keep them coming.

John Black
Franklin, Tennessee

Hi John,

Glad to hear you found the review helpful and then trying the Targus Chill Mat. I've been using the (quieter and thinner) original version under my Aluminum MacBook all summer, since it tends to run hot ever since I installed OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard last year. I haven't upgraded to OS X 10.7 Lion and currently have no immediate intention to, perhaps never on this machine. it wouldn't surprise me if it ran even hotter than Snow Leopard.

If I get a newer, faster Mac, I may be obliged to use Lion whether I like it or not. That has me leaning to the current model 13" MacBook Pro as my next system upgrade, since it offers core "i" power combined with the ability to boot Snow Leopard. I digress.

Thanks for reading,

Tex-Edit Plus and Lion

From John:

Hello Charles,

From what you've described, it sounds like Tom Bender could be having trouble with byte-order in his Intel build of Tex-Edit Plus (TE+). PowerPC was a big endian architecture, while Intel (32- and 64-bit) is little endian. Essentially, it's a matter of which way around data is encoded.

The names little and big endian are straight out of Gulliver's Travels, where they referred to the war between those who favoured breaking into a boiled egg from one end or the other. It's an apt comparison.

Ordinarily, such a low-level matter is hidden from software developers by the high-level APIs they use, such as Cocoa. But in Tom's case, it's possible he's dipping beneath these, especially as his app has been around so long. If byte-order were an issue, the symptoms would be incompatible documents between either architecture's build of the app, as the same data is encoded the wrong way around from the other side's point of view. A byte-order issue could also lie behind the executable code warning you're finding from reverse coded documents.

One way to test this is by using a hex editor and comparing files from either build.

Please pass him my suggestion, if you would, and hopefully TE+ will work seamlessly again. Byte-order is one of those things that can be a real head-scratcher unless it's bit you before.

- John

Hi John,

Thanks for this. I've passed it along to Tom Bender as requested. I'm not a programmer, so it's mostly Greek to me, but I'm sure he speaks the programmer's language.


Quark File Incompatibility Between Versions

From Laurence:

I also used Tex-Edit Plus heavily in the past - glad to hear it's back.

Also liked your look at the tools in Preview.

However, there's something I wish somebody would address: the crazy incompatibilities between the various versions of Quark - to the point where if you have three clients running different versions, you might have to have each of those three versions yourself. It's my wife's problem, but then every problem of hers inevitably falls into my lap - it's insane!

Keep up the good work - I can't see myself using an iPad, and I have no use for any kind of smartphone, but I do like Lion.

Latest review:

Hi Laurence,

Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the articles.

I've never been a Quark user, so I can't comment on that issue.

I'm interested to hear that you like Lion. Have you seen OS X Lion: Apple's Vista Moment?

From the general context of his website, it appears that I disagree with the author profoundly on many things, but I'm inclined to concur with his assessment of Lion.


Publisher's note: I used to work in publishing, and I remember the nightmares we encountered when we started to switch from XPress 3.3 to 4.0 due to file incompatibilities. Although Quark 4 could open version 3.x files and even Save As... to version 3.x files, it was infinitely easier for our designers to have both versions of Quark on their Macs so they could open book files in the same version that created the files and avoid the conversion process unless it became absolutely necessary.

I believe Quark XPress has had these kind of file issues with every major release, although I have been out of that industry for over a decade now and had stopped using Quark long before that. dk

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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