Make the most of your Mac – disk and file utility programs for the Macintosh computer – Software Review – includes summary and related article on utilities in the Macintosh’s System 7.1 operating system – Evaluation
Kay Yarborough Nelson
WOULD YOU SET OUT ON A LONG ROAD TRIP INTO UNFAmiliar territory in a poorly tuned car with half a gallon of gas, bald tires, and lousy windshield wipers–and not even so much as a set of jumper cables? Of course you wouldn’t. And yet many of us do exactly this, metaphorically speaking, when we settle into the drivers’ seats of our computers. We use our systems with little regard for digital security, safety, and in some instances, simple convenience.
Fortunately, a large segment of the software industry has dedicated itself to keeping people out of harm’s way by providing dozens of lifesaving harddisk and file-recovery utilities, as well as utilities that can do everything from diagnosing hardware conflicts to completely replacing the Macintosh desktop. Adding one or more of these programs to your Mac can increase the speed, efficiency, and in some cases, safety of your computer operations.
In addition, Mac utilities can have all kinds of purposes: icon editors, extension (INIT) pickers, file finders, file and disk compressors, virus checkers, even fun programs that let you customize your desktop. In this roundup, we look at 13 utility collections and single-purpose utilities, plus some handy programs built into System 7.1 (list prices are given).
The Norton Utilities for the Macintosh 2.0
When disaster strikes a computer, it usually takes the form of a hard-drive crash or a mistakenly deleted file. The Norton Utilities for the Macintosh is the most powerful disk utility collection available, allowing you to recover lost or deleted files, speed up your hard disk by defragmenting files that are scattered all over it, and repair damaged disks. The package includes an emergency start-up disk for use when your hard drive refuses to boot and reassuring, easyto-follow instructions for recovering from disaster. The program also includes a backup and restore program that can be scheduled at regular intervals (allowing you to back up specific files, programs, or the entire contents of your hard disk for a complete restoration in case of a total failure).
In the area of file maintenance, Norton has a FastFind utility that speeds up file searches and a Directory Assistance utility that lets you create a work set of the files and folders you use most often. Directory Assistance has another added benefit: It adds a menu bar to your Open, Save, and Save As dialog boxes that lists the files and folders you used most recently, providing easy access to your projects. Norton also adds an Encrypt utility that lets you scramble your private files with a secret code to frustrate prying eyes and a Wipe Info utility that will permanently erase files (even Norton itself cannot recover files removed by Wipe Info). $149, Symantec, (503) 3346054, (800) 441-7234. CIRCLE 117 ON READER SER VICE CARD
Rating: *** 1/2
Central Point Software’s MacTools is an easy-to-use, comprehensive problem solver for just about any hard-drive problem. Like Norton, MacTools can rescue you and your data from the abyss.
At the heart of the program is DiskFix, a diagnostic, repair, and preventive-care program that analyzes and repairs disks. DiskFix recovers lost data, defragments files, and repairs damaged disks. The program also includes a backup-and-restore program, and it even lets you scan for viruses and compress files as you back up. Virus scanning ensures that you do not copy a potentially damaging program to your backups; compression lets you use fewer floppy disks by squeezing your data into what is usually half the space.
MacTools also offers a FastCopy utility that speeds up copying floppy disks and an AutoCheck utility that scans your disk during idle times and reports problems before they can damage the disk. $150, Central Point Software, (503) 690-8088, (800) 964-6896.
Safe & Sound 1.0
If you’re not a Mac expert, you may find programs like MacTools and Norton a little intimidating–the lengthy list of complex operations they perform can seem daunting. Fortunately, there’s a second tier of disk utility programs designed especially for the novice. Safe & Sound is made by Central Point Software, and it’s essentially a mini version of MacTools. By doubleclicking on the Safe & Sound icon, the program provides file and disk information, performs disk repair and maintenance, and checks for viruses. It doesn’t offer diskoptimization features to correct such problems as excessive file fragmentation or multiple system files, but it can warn you of these problems and recommend the use of a full-featured collection like MacTools. Safe & Sound also comes with a floppy disk that you can use as a start-up disk if your Mac isn’t starting. $50, Central Point Software, (503) 690-8088, (800) 964-6896.
Now Utilities 4.0, 2.0
One positively-gotta-have-it utility collection is Now Utilities (our January 1994 Editors’ Pick for General Macintosh Utilities). It’s an eclectic collection of seven utility programs that makes everyday work worthwhile. Now Menus lets you create hot keys for any menu item and create custom launch menus that display the names of the documents, folders, and programs you use the most. Super Boomerang remembers which file you last looked at and presents it again in Open dialog boxes, so you don’t have to go hunting for it. Now Profile analyzes your system and provides detailed reports on how it’s configured, which can be quite handy for solving system problems or providing information to technical support personnel. NowSave automatically saves your work, protecting you against lost data if the lights go out. Startup Manager prevents extension conflicts that can cause system errors on start-up when incompatible extensions try to load in the wrong order. Now Scrapbook and Now Toolbox are also included. Now Utilities is worth its price for Super Boomerang alone, even if you don’t use any of the other programs. $129, Now Software, (503) 2742800, (800) 237-3611. CIRCLE 120 ON READER SER VICE CARD
7th Heaven Utilities 2.5.1
Once you’ve acquired your essential tools for disk maintenance, you’ll want to explore some of the collections that add a little spice to humdrum operations. These generally won’t repair damaged disks or recover trashed files, but they will add functionality to your system and make a lot of everyday chores easier.
7th Heaven Utilities includes Finder Express, which speeds up System 7’s Finder and also increases file copying speeds up to 320MB per minute (that’s fast!). An Informant utility examines your system and provides detailed information about your Macintosh’s internal workings. But where 7th Heaven really shines is with its Chameleon and Red Alert. Red Alert lets you colorize your system’s alert icons (Warning, Information, and Stop), and Chameleon alters the desktop pattern with all kinds of new and interesting colors. $100, Logical Solutions, (612) 659-2495, (800) 645-2495.
Connectix Desktop Utilities 1,0
Rating: ** 1/2
Connectix Desktop Utilities (CDU) provides Extended Keys that gives you Page Up, Page Down, and other function keys that aren’t available on many Mac keyboards. CDU also has keyboard enhancements that let you type your way through dialog boxes instead of reaching for the mouse. The Hot Keys utility lets you assign key combinations for quickly launching applications and opening documents or even typing frequently used names and phrases. An AppManager lets you cycle quickly through all the programs you have up and running by using the keyboard instead of System 7’s Application menu. $99, Connectix, (415) 571-5000, (800) 950-5880.
Square One 2.0
If you like to set up your documents and programs for easy access, put a utility program that simplifies your desktop like Square One on your list.
Square One gives you direct access to files by using icons, not folders. You install your favorite and most-used applications and files in a floating palette, then launch them by clicking on their buttons. You can create different palettes for different tasks and have one for daily work and another for special projects. In addition, when you want to switch from one running program to another, you can use the Active Applications palette instead of System 7’s Application menu that’s often difficult for beginners to handle. If there are others who work in your office and aren’t as familiar with your Macintosh as you are, Square One can help you make files they’ll need to use easily accessible. $74, Binary Software, (310) 451-9044.
At Ease 2.0
At Ease provides even more ease of use and security than Square One. You decide which applications and files people should be able to use. You can prevent access to the rest of your Mac by limiting access to only those for whom you have set up passwords to unlock predefined areas. At Ease lets you set up 10 different user configurations, each with its own file and application privileges. You can even limit the menus that people see and force them to save onto a floppy instead of your hard disk. It’s also a great way to keep inquisitive eyes out of your files. $59, Apple Computer, (408) 9961010, (800) 776-2333. CIRCLE 124 ON READER SERVICE CARD
Compact Pro 1.34
Another necessary item for most Mac users is something that will compress files. If you transfer documents by modem and upload and download files, you should be using a file-compression utility. Compact Pro creates compressed files that are called selfextracting archives. These automatically decompress to their original size when they arrive at their destination–even if the person who receives the file doesn’t have Compact Pro at the other end. $35, Cyclos Software, (415) 821-1448. CIRCLE 125 ON READER SERVICE CARD
StuffIt Deluxe 3.0
Rating: *** 1/2
StuffIt Deluxe is a compression utility that offers StuffIt Space Saver, a hand), feature that automatically compresses inactive files to create more room on your hard drive. When you open one of these compressed files, it immediately expands and then compresses again when you close it. Stuffit Deluxe also includes a neat utility called Drop Stuff, which compresses files and creates archives via drag and drop. This is a great convenience if you find yourself regularly compressing files. Stuffit Deluxe can also decompress files in such PC formats as ZIP or ARC. $120, Aladdin Systems, (408) 761-6200.
CanOpener is a universal file opener. It will let you open files even when you get those pesky messages saying the application that created the file can’t be found. It’s also a great search-and-retrieval utility and will comb your entire hard disk looking for a file whose name you simply can’t recall–provided you can supply a specific phrase or text string. CanOpener supports ASCII text, as well as graphics in such formats as EPS, PICT, and TIFF. $125, Abbott Systems, (914) 747-4171, (800) 552-9157.
Findswell is another find-that-file utility that can save you a lot of time. The program creates a button in your Open and Save dialog boxes that allows you to type in a search word or phrase. Findswell scans your hard disk, and locates all the files that contain the phrase within their titles or names. $40, Working Software, (408) 423-5696.
Public Utilities 2.0
Rating: *** 1/2
Public Utilities does all that Safe & Sound does, plus a little more. Geared toward novices, the program comes with a standard complement of disk utility functions: It scans and, if necessary, repairs disks with directory or other nonhardware-related problems; it provides facilities for extracting text from corrupted files and for undeleting accidentally erased files; and it includes a disk optimizer.
But the best thing about Public Utilities is the software’s Prevention control panel, which automatically performs several important disk-maintenance functions. Besides storing the disk and file information it requires for file recovery, it regularly scans disk directories for problems. When it finds one, it alerts you via a dialog box. By clicking the OK button in the dialog box, you can set the software to the task of repairing your damaged files or programs. $149, Symantec/Fifth Generation Systems, (503) 334-6054. (800) 441-7234.
Inside System 7.1
With every Macintosh you buy, you get a disk of utilities called the Disk Tools (it’s called Utilities when included with Performas and PowerBooks). On this disk is a set of utilities that aren’t preinstalled on your Macintosh. These programs can often solve disk difficulties without your having to purchase additional software. A side benefit of this disk is that it can usually be used to start your system if it isn’t booting from your hard disk.
Disk First Aid is a simple utility that tests the quality of questionable disks. If you get a message that a disk is unreadable, or if it’s behaving strangely, run Disk First Aid on it to see if it can be repaired. If the repair is beyond Disk First Aid, it will tell you so.
Apple HD SC Setup is another free utility that comes from Apple. Setup lets you test and partition your hard-disk drive. It also lets you initialize your hard disk if it becomes too damaged to repair with another full-featured utility program.
This utility only works on Apple’s own hard disks, not third-party hard disks that you may have purchased from another manufacturer.
Apple File Exchange also comes with your system. If you have a SuperDrive (a 1.4MB hard-disk drive standard on all Macintoshes sold in the last few years), Exchange lets you initialize disks for use on DOS-based PCs, as well as convert DOS files to Mac files, and vice versa. You can purchase commercial programs like Macintosh PC Exchange or AccessPC. Mac PC Exchange ($79, Apple Computer,  966-1010,  776-2333) lets 3.5-inch DOS disks appear on your Mac desktop, so that you can easily use files found on them, and AccessPC ($130, Insignia Solutions,  694-7600,  848-7677) lets you use actual DOS files on your Mac as though they were created by Mac programs, enabling disks to be exchanged between PCs and Macs.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Freedom Technology Media Group
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group