A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....
Tips, Short Cuts, And The Occasional Miracle March 1st, 2000
Patrick Ferguson wrote to me after he read the column on labeling files and using icons. I'm always happy to hear from Patrick because he always has suggestions to share. This time he told me about a basic option of the Mac OS system of which I was totally unaware. (Actually there are probably a lot of things that fall into that category.) After all the years that I have been using color to label folders I did not know that I had options other than the same, basic 7 colors. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about just having 7. One of the things that drives me bonkers using Windows on a PC is that all the folders look exactly the same. Here is what Patrick showed me.
Click once on a folder so that it is highlighted but not open. Go to the File Pulldown Menu and choose one of the colors. Your folder will change to that color. Then go to the Edit Pulldown Menu and choose Preferences. Under Preferences choose Label. Here you will see the basic 7 colors including the one you choose. Patrick pointed out that you can change those colors easily. Just double-click on one of the colors and a new window will open. You have four options for choosing new shades from color wheels to crayon colors. With each method there is a box that shows the color currently in use and a second box that shows the new colors you are considering. Patrick added that "using colors associated with titles can help to decrease eyestrain and frustration when searching for files. You can make all Word files blue or all graphics files red or you can arrange a color and title for given projects then create a color order for sub-folders."
Once you have all that in place you can choose Command-F or Fine and find all the files associated with a given Label by selecting that choice in the Find or Sherlock window. You also can use this system to categorize things such as identifying all the folders that contain priority work, or identifying all the folders that are AppleWorks, or Word, or Quicken documents. Simply type your own designation in the box beside each color.
There is a game that I enjoy playing on my computer. It is called MacBrickOut and you can find a review of it in the column from January 5th. One of the things I enjoy most about the game is its unpredictability. I never know what new attributes are going to present themselves and I usually discover them by sheer accident. For instance: there is a portion of the game in which you will loose your ball if you catch a certain kind of red capsule because the next time you try to "paddle" the ball it will simply fall to the ground. The red capsule causes the paddle to loose its substance. One day in the middle of a game I accidentally caught a red capsule, but before the ball bounced down toward the paddle again, I happened to catch a different kind of capsule. Low and behold, when that happened the ball still bounced properly and I suddenly received several thousand extra points. I decided that was cool and since then I have tried to make it happen again. Frequently, while using my Mac the same kind of thing happens. Not, of course, because some clever game developer programmed it that way, but because I simply didn't know the attribute had been there all along.
Such is the case with what I discovered today. I did not know there was a short cut to going from the top of a page to the bottom, or vice versa, of an open document. All these years I have used the scroll bar to move up and down on pages in progress. However, you can quickly do it by pressing the "Command" (Apple) key at the same time you press either the "Home" key, or the "Pg Up" key depending on how your keyboard is set up. On most keyboards you will find those option keys on the right in the area where the number key pad is located. The same thing works in reverse using the "End" or "Pg Dn" key. This trick is not limited to your word processing program either. I tried it in SimpleText, Word for Mac, and Quicken. Most probably, it will work for you on any program of that nature that you may use. Netscape's web browser doesn't need the command key even, so play around with this. It even works beautifully with Adobe PageMill which is an HTML program editor that the Editor of this magazine suddenly insists that I use when writing my columns. No more Mister Nice Guy for him. I get absolutely no pity for being old and decrepit. He expects the same from me that he does from all the kids (oops, I don't mean kids, I mean talented, young gentlemen who worry about turning 20 or 30!) Seriously though, although I am extremely glad I learned how to use HTML from scratch, it is really nice to have a program to use when you have to create HTML code for very large documents or must do so very frequently, or both. If you find your skills and interests developing in that direction you may want to try using Adobe PageMill. The program came as part of the package with my new iMac so check to see if you have it before purchasing it.
The Magic Option Key
The Option key on your Mac is really a tremendous asset. I frequently discover, by accident, ways in which it helps me work faster and smarter. This particular trick is one that I will probably not forget because of something that really irritates me about the Microsoft operating system on my PC at work. It has to do with moving documents or folders into and out of other folders. Without, I hope, belaboring the point, here is what I have to do at work to move a folder. If I just drag a document or a folder into something else it automatically leaves the original where it was and copies the original into the second location, even if I didn't want it to. To move the document to another place without ending up with a copy, I have to hold down the right mouse button while I drag the folder or document to the new location. Then a pop up window opens and I have to indicate, with my mouse, whether I want to move or copy the document. Then the computer goes through this elaborate copy or move process. It puts on a little show while it does this so you won't get bored. I think the process irritates me because I don't understand the logic of always assuming that I want copies of everything. On the Mac I just drag a folder or document to a new location and it automatically moves there in seconds. If, on some rare occasion that I really do want to keep the original and place a copy into another location, all I have to do is hold down the Option key while I drag the document. Instant original and instant copy. No big deal.
Another really interesting thing that you can do with the Option key is prevent lines breaking in such a way as to separate a month and a day included in a sentence. This works in ClarisWorks, AppleWorks, or Word for Mac. Type your month (it doesn't matter if you abbreviate), hold down the Option key while you type in the space and then type the number. If your date ends up at the end of a sentence it will break between the number and the year, but it will not break between the name of the month and the date. There are times when what you are preparing is important enough that you want to adhere to a formal style and this little trick will help you do that.
If you have any tips, suggestions, or other comments about this, or any other Mac topics, send them to me so that I can share them with other readers.
Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping. To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.
Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color,
covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.
Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.