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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....

Make Your Mac Work For You
April 14, 1999

The purpose of this week's column is to give you more tips and skills for using your Mac so that you can suitably impress your children, grandchildren, neighbors, etc. with your level of expertise. I make no apologies for this philosophy. We need all the one-upmanship we can get to stay ahead of the 8 year olds.

First of all, some tips.

To make sure a document opens with the right application, drag it to the application's icon rather than double-clicking it as you usually would to open. For instance if you download a JPEG file or get one as an attachment and you want to open it with Graphics Converter you can just drag the jpeg document to the Graphics Converter icon, assuming you have it somewhere on your desktop. (Note: Graphic Converter is covered in the December 23rd and 30th columns).

If disk space is a problem on your machine you may be able to help it some by removing duplicate programs from your hard drive. You can do this quickly by using Find. Open Find by clicking on it on the File pull down menu. Find won't be visible if you are in any programs, but if you click somewhere on the desktop then you will see it. When the box pops up on the screen type in the name of a program (such as Simple Text or Teach Text, both of which tend to be there more than once). The results of the find will tell you if you have duplicates so that you can delete all but one.

Graphics take up a lot of space so if space is a problem on your system you may want to get graphics off your clipboard as soon as you are finished with them. Try copying a single letter or word and then saving that.

If your Internet browser tends to crash it may be because there is not enough memory allocated for it. You can check and correct this. First single-click on the application's icon while the application is not open. Go to the File pulldown menu and click on get info. You will see a little box that tells you several things about the program including how much memory is recommended, what the minimum is and what the preferred is (Note: with MacOS 8.5, you'll need to choose the "Memory" sub-menu to see these options). To increase the amount of memory, simply change the number listed in the "Preferred" section of the dialogue box. You may also want to bump up the "Minimum" memory listed to at least what is "Recommended" and all the way up to "Preferred" if you have enough RAM. This same technique works with program applications as well. Until I checked and changed the memory on my Claris Works 5.0 program I had problems with the machine freezing up if I tried to open up to many of the Claris Works icon libraries while in the same document.

Have you played games that notify you that you have to change the number of colors available before you can run the game? Sometimes it will say something like "this game requires the main screen set to 256 colors to operate." Some games will change it automatically for you, but many won't, especially older games, and the game won't start until you make the change. To change it go to your Control Panel on your hard drive and choose "Monitors and Sound." A box will open that gives choices of black and white, 4, 16, 256, Thousands or Millions of colors depending on the capabilities of your system. Simply click once on the number you want to use and open your game again.

If you use Microsoft Word on your Mac you can quickly highlight an entire line by triple-clicking somewhere in the line or by clicking beside the line outside the margin when the cursor changes to a pointer from a line.

The next subject for discussion is included in response to reader requests for some very basic instructions for using your Mac.

To copy something you need to highlight it. You highlight by putting the cursor at the beginning of what you want to copy, hold your mouse down and, still holding it down, move the cursor to the end of what you want to copy. The info you are copying should be highlighted at this point. Release the mouse button and either hit the Command (Apple) key and the C key at the same time, or go to the Edit menu and click on Copy. Either one works. Although you can't see any change, your highlighted information is now copied and automatically stored on the clipboard. If you want to verify that you can go to the Edit menu and click on Show Clipboard. It will open, showing the copied text. The information you copied will remain on the clipboard until you copy something else or turn off your machine. Closing programs will not affect anything you have stored on the clipboard. Therefore, you can copy something from a word processing program, close the program, and go to your e-mail and paste the copied information into your e-mail. You can copy almost anything using this method, even graphics. Experiment.

To paste something you must first copy it. Then go to the place you want to paste it, click your mouse button once so the cursor is in that spot and simply hit the Command key and the V key at the same time, or go to the Edit menu and click on paste. Either one works.

To cut something you must first highlight it in the same manner you would use for copying. Instead of telling the machine to copy you tell it to cut by hitting the Command key and the X key at the same time, or going to the Edit menu and clicking on cut. Either one works.

If you do any of these tasks and want to undo it or change it back then you can go to the Edit menu and click on undo. Everything will move back one step (action). You can also undo by hitting the Command key and the Z key.

If you are worried about playing around with this, here is a simple trick. Create your document and save it. If, at any time you decide you have royally screwed it up, you can simply exit the document without saving and reopen it. Just make sure that when the program asks if you want Save, Cancel, or Don't Save, you choose "Don't Save." You will be back to your saved version with no harm done.

May I suggest a simple exercise to experiment with these concepts? Create a new, clean page in your word processing program. Type in your name, address, phone, etc. Copy it using the steps above. Then hit the return key two or three times and hit paste. Your information should be repeated where your cursor is. You can copy over and over without saving the information again so long as you haven't replaced it with new information.

If you really want to experiment open another clean page and create a page with columns. If you are using ClarisWorks you achieve that by going to the Format menu and clicking on Section. When the Section box opens you will see a box on the left with a number that has been grayed. Change that number from a 1 to a 2 and then hit "OK." You will see your two columns outlined on your page. If you are using a Microsoft Word program there should be a icon on your tool menu that shows a column set up. Click on that and make 2 columns. You will know the columns are set up by the indications on the ruler at the top of your screen. Now hit paste so that the saved information appears, hit the enter key two or three times and hit paste again and keep going with the same steps. When you reach the bottom of the first column the data will automatically go to the second column and keep going as long as you keep telling it to do so. If you keep going past the first page, your columns will automatically move to the second page and you can continue to enter data as long as you want to. Once you are comfortable with this task, you can go back to where you started and copy the first two entries together, which will also automatically include the divider spaces. You can then paste that and the whole process will go even faster.

Finally, I found a couple of cool new items for download. They can be found on For directions on using this site successfully you can review my columns from December 16th and 23rd.

The first one is called Email Y2K. It is 1.5 MB and requires System 7.5 or better. As the creators, KittyHawk Software point out, it is totally useless, but extremely fun and funny. It is also free and has clever sound effects. The premise is that when Y2K hits and all the e-mail systems in use fail, we will still need some method for instantly contacting each other, especially in the work place. This program creates p-mail. P-mail is in the form of paper airplanes that you can create and send from cubicle to cubicle. There is the Floater, designed for short trips, and the Dart for long trips. There are several choices of "happy faces" and backgrounds that you can use as you enter the name of the recipient and a very short message. Then the program tells you how to fold the plane for maximum flying power. I took one to work and shared it with all my PC buddies, noting that when the PC's all fail then Mac will come to the rescue.

The second program is also free and is a great asset when you have young children visit. This one is called Al's Coloring Book. It was created by Al Staffieri Jr., is 50.6K in size and requires System 7 or better. There are 4 choices of pages to color (house, bear, wreath, Christmas tree) and a color pallet. There are several "brush" sizes and the option of coloring the background with the tip of a paint can. The finished projects can be saved and/or printed for the requisite refrigerator display.

We will have more of these fun things and additional tips next week. Meanwhile, I hope you will send me simple tips that you like to use with your Mac.

If you have any tips, hints, or thoughts on these topics, make sure you write me so that I can share your thoughts 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.

Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

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.

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