Question Time: Reverse iPod File Transfer, Printer Problems, Cascading View Options, and More!

Tuesday, 2005-02-01; 19:50:00

More questions answered, more little tips

(Originally posted on AppleXnet)

Sorry for the lateness again, peeps. I tried my best at getting this article out yesterday, but the world was conspiring against me. So I had to postpone it again to this here Wednesday. Next time I'll actually try getting something done on weekends, instead of putting everything off to the start of the week.

But let's get right into the questions, shall we?

Rob asks through e-mail, "I have a friend who just bought a Mac and wants to transfer the songs on her current iPod mini to her new mac. [...] I know that there is a freeware utility to do this "reverse transfer", but I can't remember the name or find it anywhere. Is there another way? Also, she says that her iTunes playlists that she created on her new Mac don't show up on her iPod (she never created playlists on her old PC)."

There are a number of utilities that do just this "reverse transfer" that you're asking about, Rob. Two of the best are iPodRip and iPod Browser. Both of these allow you to browse the songs on your iPod as well as copy them back over to your Mac. iPod Browser is free, and can list songs both by filename and by ID3 tags. However, iPod Browser cannot show the playlists that are currently stored on your iPod. iPodRip, however, is much more sophisticated and offers an iTunes-like interface to browse the playlists and music on your iPod much like iTunes' song browser. It also offers a simple drag-and-drop interface, where you can drag individual songs or whole playlists to specific playlists in your iTunes library. You can use iPodRip 10 times in trial mode before you must pay the $10 registration fee. (If you're a Windows iPod user, you might want to check out iPod Access for Windows instead.

Incidentally, there's a little hitch you might need to worry about if you're trying to rescue songs from the same computer to which you connect your iPod (this won't apply to you, Rob, since you're connecting the iPod to a new computer). If you lose songs from that computer, the next time you connect your iPod, iTunes will launch and automatically erase all the songs on your iPod (assuming you have auto-sync turned on). This is a problem that you obviously want to avoid.

There's a simple way to solve it. Before connecting your iPod, go into your music folder, and open up the "iTunes" folder inside there. You should see two files, one named "iTunes 4 Music Library" and another named "iTunes Music Library.xml". Since iTunes stores information on which iPods it's connected to in these files, you can prevent iTunes from recognizing your iPod and auto-synching by moving these two files out of the "iTunes" folder -- move them to the desktop, for example. Then, connect your iPod and use the aforementioned utilities to "reverse transfer" your songs to your computer. (I'd recommend transferring them all to one specific folder, because you're going to need to re-add them later.)

Once you finish transferring your music back to your computer, you can move those two files back to where they originally were, and you'll get all your playlists back as they originally were. Now just re-add the songs that you transferred from your iPod into iTunes by drag and drop. This extra step is necessary because when you restore the "iTunes 4 Music Library" and "iTunes Music Library.xml" files back to where they were, iTunes will lose track of the music you just added from your iPod. However, it's a small price to pay to make sure that iTunes doesn't erase the only copy of your music that's stored on your iPod!

(If you're living on the edge, there's a faster way to prevent iTunes from auto-synching. First, quit iTunes. Then connect your iPod, and when you see iTunes launching in the dock, quickly control-click on the iTunes icon and force quit it. You might miss, though, and if you're too late, you'll lose all your music.)

To answer your second question, Rob, make sure that you've done a restore on your iPod. You'll need to do this because iPods use a different storage format when they're connected to a Mac compared to when they're connected to a PC. (For the curious, Mac-formatted iPods use the Mac OS Extended hard disk format, while PC iPods use the FAT32 format. All iPod shuffles use the FAT32 format whether or not they're connected to a Mac or a PC.) To do so, you'll need the iPod Software Updater application. Note that performing a restore on your iPod erases all music and data on it, so make sure that you have a backup somewhere on your computer.

Once you've finished downloading the application, simply launch it, make sure your iPod is connected to your Mac, and press the "Restore" button. Then follow the instructions onscreen.

Luis asks by e-mail, "I have an Apple [LaserWriter Pro 630]. From 10.3 [...] when I send a file to print the total height is reduced. I also checked from 9.2.2 and it happens the same." He wants to know how to fix this problem so that his LaserWriter prints correctly.

I don't have a LaserWriter Pro 630 to test with, Luis, but hopefully I can offer a solution that will help you. First, select "Page Setup" from the File menu of the application from which you're trying to print. Make sure that you've selected your LaserWriter in the "Format For" pop-up menu, that you've selected the correct paper size, and that you have "100" entered into the scale percent field, so that your printer doesn't scale down your document.

If that doesn't help, make sure that when you set up the printer in the Printer Setup Utility, you select "Apple" as the Printer Model, and "Apple LaserWriter Pro 630 v2010.130" as the Model Name. This should make sure that you're using the correct driver for your printer. If you are using the correct driver, however, it's worth a shot to try the generic driver as well. Just create a new printer and choose "Generic" in the Printer Model popup menu instead of "Apple". Hopefully that should solve your problem.

If you've checked all these things and the problem is still occurring, you might want to try an alternative printer driver. One potential option is from Click the "download PPD" button on that page. When it finishes downloading, you'll have a new file on your desktop named "Apple-LaserWriter_Pro_630-Postscript.ppd". Simply drop this file inside the folder located at the following location: your startup drive --> Library --> Printers --> PPDs --> Contents --> Resources --> en.lproj . Now, go back to the Printer Setup Utility, add a new printer, select "Apple" as the Printer Model and "Apple LaserWriter Pro 630 Foomatic/Postscript (recommended)" as the Model Name. For what it's worth, the page shows the driver as working "perfectly", and hopefully that's a sign that it will fix your problem.

Ganteng asks in the Apple-X Question Time forum, "Is there any little app that will let you easily apply View Options to all sub-folders? Or to keep a pop-up list of favorite VO settings to apply to a folder?"

Unfortunately, there's no good way to do this. The Finder view options are horribly crippled, not only because you can't apply view options to all subfolders like you can with permissions, but also because sometimes the Finder simply likes to forget your view options sometimes.

You can achieve some limited success via AppleScript. Open up the application called "Script Editor" that should be located in the folder "AppleScript" inside the Applications folder. Then select Library from the Window menu, select "Finder", and click the "Open Dictionary" icon in the toolbar. Now, in the left column, click on "Type Definitions", and you'll see what view options are available to you when you use AppleScript. Note that the sections labelled "(NOT AVAILABLE YET)" are, obviously, not available yet. So you can't use those options in a script. Unfortunately, that means your options are woefully inadequate.

You may be able to achieve what you want to a limited degree with AppleScript, however. Suppose you want to change the sorting column in list view of the frontmost Finder window. Your AppleScript should look like this:

tell application "Finder"
set sort column of list view options of front Finder window to kind column
end tell

If you wanted to set a property of icon view options instead of list view options, just follow the same syntax, replacing "sort column" with the property you want to change, "list view options" with "icon view options", and "kind column" to the desired value of the property.

To be able to quickly access this script, go into your home folder and then into your "Library" folder. Make sure a folder called "Scripts" appears inside your "Library" folder. If not, create it. Now go back to the "AppleScript" folder inside your Applications folder, and launch the "Install Script Menu" application.

Now, save the AppleScript you just created into that Scripts folder. (Save it as a compiled script, not an application.) Now, when you want to set the view options of a pesky Finder window according to your script, you can just go up to the script menu on the right side of your menu bar (pictured below), and select the script you want to run.

The Script Menu

Note that you can string view options in tandem in a script, like so:

tell application "Finder"
set sort column of list view options of front Finder window to kind column
set icon size of list view options of front Finder window to small icon
set sort direction of column id kind column of list view options of front Finder window to normal
end tell

The above script will set the sort column, the sort direction, and the icon size of a Finder window's list view all at once.

The best solution possible with AppleScript is a recursive extension to the above script, which will apply to all subfolders. This is not an ideal solution, because it will actually open a new Finder window for each folder, set the view options, and then close the Finder window. Then it opens a Finder window for the next enclosing folder, sets the view options, closes it, etc. This means that it may take a long time to apply to all subfolders. But without further ado, here's the recursive AppleScript to apply your (albeit limited) cascading view options:

tell application "Finder"
set the_start to selection
end tell

on pes_opt(a_cool_folder)
tell application "Finder"
open a_cool_folder
set sort column of list view options of front Finder window to kind column
set icon size of list view options of front Finder window to large icon
set sort direction of column id kind column of list view options of front Finder window to normal
set the_folders to get every folder in front Finder window
close front Finder window
end tell
if (count of the_folders) is not 0 then
repeat with a_folder in the_folders
end repeat
end if
end pes_opt

As before, save it as a compiled script, and save it to your home --> "Library" --> "Scripts" folder.

Today's tips of the week:

If you like using TextEdit as your main text editor, but don't like the fact that it uses rich text, don't worry. TextEdit can do plain text as well! For any specific document, you can change from rich text to plain text by selecting "Make Plain Text" from the Format menu. You can also go the reverse direction by selecting "Make Rich Text". If you want new documents to always open in rich or plain text, simply open TextEdit's preferences, and select one of the "Rich text" or "Plain text" radio buttons under the "New Document Attributes" heading.

A little addition to .mac that some might have missed after the upgrade to 250 MB of space: you can actually set the ratio of iDisk space to e-mail space. If you like to have more space on your iDisk than your e-mail, you can certainly do so. On the flip side, if you need lots of space for e-mail and you don't use as much of your iDisk, you can customize your .mac account to your needs. To do this customization, go to the .mac homepage. If you haven't logged in, click "Log In" in the blue bar near the top of the page, enter your e-mail and password, and then press the "Enter" button. Then click your member name next to the "Log Out" button in the same blue bar. Enter your e-mail and password again, and press the "Enter" button again. Then, on the Account Settings page, click the "Storage Settings" button. In the page that comes up, click on the pop-up button under the "Manage Your Storage" heading, and select the desired amount of space for your iDisk and e-mail. You can go from "15 MB Email / 235 MB iDisk" all the way to "123 MB Email / 127 MB iDisk".

That's all for this week! As always, leave a question in the Question Time Q&A forum or shoot me an e-mail. Hopefully I'll be able to respond to your questions in the following week's article. Also, if you've got tips that you think are worthy to give to other Apple-X readers, send them along too! And, hopefully (like I said last week), I'll return to the normally scheduled Tuesday programming of Question Time. If not, well, then... you have an excuse to send me questions for one more day!

-- Simone

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