Question Time: Multilingual Spell-Checking, iTunes, Xcode, and iPod shuffle Tips

Sunday, 2005-01-16; 01:44:00

Inaugural article of Question Time, my former column at AppleXnet

(Originally posted on AppleXnet)

So you're an Apple-X reader, and you've got a question about your Mac. Maybe you want to know if Mac OS X has a multilingual spelling checker, you've got a problem with Stuffit Expander or Xcode, you don't want iTunes to be obscured by other windows, you want to change your FTP program used by Safari, or you want to know a few tips about your new iPod shuffle. But you don't know where to get the answers. Well, fret no more.

Today marks the debut of Question Time (you know, like nap time in kindergarten, only better!), the weekly article that will not only offer tips and tricks on getting your Mac and iPod to work that much better, but will also be the venue for Apple-X readers to ask questions and have them answered. If you've got a question, I've got the answer, and if I don't, I'll stop at nothing to research it until I do find the answer. All you have to do is ask.

While you may know me from some of my past articles and reviews, it may sound like I'm more of an opinion writer than someone who can answer your question. However, I've had a Mac in the household since I was two years old, worked at a middle school doing Mac systems administration for 5 years, and have also used Apple's Xcode developer tools for 3 years to develop both AppleScript Studio applications and Cocoa applications. So if you've got a simple Mac question, a networking question, a developer question or (*shudder*) a Mac OS 9 question, I've got you covered. Feel free to shoot.

So where do you ask your questions? You've got two options. The first and best way to ask is via our forums, using a special forum set up for Question Time. Just create a new topic with your question, and if your question is selected for Question Time, the answer will show up the following Tuesday. The best part is, since anyone can post in the forum, you may even get your answer ahead of time, if other Apple-X members know the answer to your problem. If forum posting isn't for you, you can also send your e-mail to ask [at] apple-x [dawt] net, which will be periodically checked for questions. Since I can only answer a certain number of questions in each article (and I have a limited amount of time), I can't guarantee you'll get at answer if you send a question via e-mail; so when in doubt, post your question in the forums rather than sending an e-mail, since you have a greater chance of getting an answer.

So with that introduction out of the way, let's get to this week's tips. Every week at the end of each Question Time article, I'll include a tip or two. But since there are no questions to be answered this week, here are a smattering of tips that I've recently found to be very useful.

First off, Stuffit Expander. You may have noticed that lately it's been taking an extraordinarily long time to open. The problem seems to have rectified itself, but here's how to solve the problem in the future. Just open up Stuffit Expander and wait for it to finally open (it does after a while). Then go to Preferences, click on the "Version Check" button in the toolbar, and uncheck "Allow Version Checking". It seems that Stuffit Expander's version check is a bit flawed, and hangs on startup when it's having difficulty connecting to Allume Systems' website. This fix will stop this from happening again.

Here's a hint for iTunes: have you ever wanted your mini iTunes window to float above all other windows? Well, Apple's included such a feature in iTunes 4.6 and later. Simply go to iTunes preferences, click on the "Advanced" button in the toolbar, and check "Keep Mini Player on top of all other windows". Once you do that, you'll never be bothered by an obscured play button again!

For you multilingual Mac users, here's a hint for you. Ever been frustrated by the lack of a spelling checker that can check in more than one language at a time? Sure, you can switch back and forth between languages in the spelling checker, but that's not even that easy to do on the fly. Here's how you can get multilingual spell checking without using any third-party software. Open up the Spelling panel in any text editor that supports Mac OS X's spelling services. TextEdit is one good example: simply go to the Edit menu, the Spelling submenu, and then choose "Spelling...". In the Dictionary pop-up menu at the bottom of the Spelling panel, simply select "Multilingual". You only need to do this once in one application, but it applies across all applications in Mac OS X. Nifty, but very useful.

Time to throw a bone to developers: are you using Xcode 1.5, but are stumped by the fact that warnings and errors never show up in the build window? It's very annoying to have to peruse through the build log to find the errors and warnings that are impeding your program from functioning. Here's the solution: you probably have a "/" in a folder name leading up to the Xcode file. For example, you may have a folder called "Application/Utility Development" that contains your project folder. If you do, that's probably causing the problem -- all you have to do is rename that folder by removing the slash, and your build warnings and errors will show up in the build window once again.

Here's another quick hint for those who want to change the FTP client that Safari uses when opening ftp:// URLs. Download the RCDefaultApp preference pane designed expressly for this purpose. Not only does it change the application that Safari (or any other web browser for that matter) uses to open up ftp:// URLs, but it can also change which program opens up aim:// URLs, webcal:// URLs, and any other custom protocol. Simply open the disk image and double-click the preference pane once it finishes downloading to install it. Then open the "Default Apps" preference pane that shows up in System Preferences (if it doesn't automatically open it), click the URLs tab, select "ftp" in the list, and then change the default application by selecting it in the popup menu to the right. Now, when you encounter an ftp:// URL on a website, your web browser will open up your preferred application to download the file. This preference pane can also change your default internet preferences for e-mail, web, news, and FTP, and can change default applications for different extensions, different file type codes, and different MIME types. It's a very powerful preference pane, but very, very useful.

And last but not least, for our readers out there who have bought an iPod shuffle, here are two great hints. If you've been frustrated by the lack of a hold button the iPod shuffle, here's how to get it back. It's actually there, just hidden inside the play button. To lock your buttons so they don't mess up while in your pocket, hold down the play button for three seconds. You'll see the LED on the front of the iPod shuffle flash orange three times when you successfully activate hold. Now, whenever you press a button, the LED will flash orange once, but nothing else will happen. This is locked mode, which functions just like when you activate the hold switch on any other iPod. To deactivate locked mode, simply hold down the play button again for three seconds. Ta da! Another hint gleaned from the comments of yesterday's "Shuffle Different" article: if you're in playlist mode, "'press the Play/Pause-button three times quickly (within one second)' to go to the beginning of your playlist". Thanks, Anonymous!

That's the end of the hints for this week's Question Time. Don't forget to post any and all of your questions to Apple-X's "Question Time" forum, or shoot me and e-mail at ask [at] apple-x [dawt] net, and your question just might be answered next Tuesday. Until next time!

-- Simone
simx [at] apple-x [dawt] net

Technological Supernova   Publications   Older   Newer   Post a Comment