Software Review: Folder Brander

24 10 2006

FadedFinderWindowIn Mac OS X, you can quite easily create shortcuts to applications, files, folders and so on, by dragging them into your Dock, or into the Finder’s Sidebar. What you may notice though is that, without hovering over to see a tooltip, folders all look identical, making telling them apart difficult.

Folder Brander is a piece of software by Yellow Mug that allows you to customise the appearance of any folder without having to get into any graphics editing. You can use it to overlay simple text labels, change the colour of a folder, or even change the folder style itself.

FolderBranderScreenshotYou can also use it to add any other folder icons you may already have, such as those available from the Internet.

A free trial is available from the Yellow Mug Software company website. It is fully featured, though it does place a grey ‘X’ in front of all icons you replace with it, but it is more than enough to get a feel for the program.

At only $9.99 (approx £5.30) it is very cheap should you wish to purchase the full version and I would recommend it, as it makes spotting folders much easier and does give you a sense of personalisation.

Developer: Yellow Mug Software
System Requirements: At least Mac OS X 10.3 (Universal)
Download Link:
(1.28MB disk image)


The Microsoft I-pod

19 10 2006

Tutorial: Index PHP Script Contents

15 10 2006

Note: The modifications described in this document require working with system files, so be careful and make sure you have backups of any files you change, just in case.

Until recently I ran an online strategy game set in space, which was written in PHP. When I switched, the latest version of Mac OS X was 10.3 (Panther). Searching files in Panther was a lot different, namely in that Spotlight wasn’t around back then.

Take for example, a situation which used to happen quite regularly, I would need to do a search for all PHP files in my web development folder, which contained certain text strings, such as ‘FIX THIS’ and so on. Basically text I had put there so I could come back to later.

In Panther, this worked a treat. If I did a search for “all php files in this folder, which contain the phrase ‘FIX THIS'”, the relevant PHP files would be listed.

When I upgraded to Tiger, I realised that the same search was not working – no PHP files were being listed at all, even ones I knew for sure contained that phrase. I had to do some reading to find out why Spotlight was evidently messing up.

In order to provide the almost instantaneous search function, Spotlight maintains a database of index files, along with their meta data and other things. Spotlight indexes most things, such as the file name, creation and modification dates, file size and so on for all files, but it doesn’t index the content of any files it does not know the type of.

To allow developers to add Spotlight support to their applications, Apple use what are known as ‘mdimporters’. These bits of code tell Spotlight how to behave with file types it doesn’t understand by default.

One of the existing Apple mdimporters it turned out was a plain text importer called ‘RichText.mdimporter’. Since PHP scripts are really just plain text files, surely this importer should be covering them?

Mdimporters, like standard applications, are actually special types of folders containing the required resources. Poking about inside the RichText mdimporter I found there was an ‘Info.plist’ file which seemed to contain various pieces of information, but most importantly it was defining which file types the mdimporter would cover!

So I added another entry to this list, to include PHP files, saved the plist and (after making a backup) replaced the original RichText.mdimporter.

Retrying my search nevertheless showed the same problem, despite the changes I had made. I decided the best way to see if my changes were working was to tell Spotlight to completely rebuild it’s index of my computer. A few Terminal commands later and Spotlight was busy at work doing just that.
Note that it can take Spotlight a while to rebuild a complete index, especially if you have lots of files on your computer.

When Spotlight was finished, I retried my search for the second time, and finally I had success!

So the following steps are necessary for Spotlight to begin indexing your PHP files:

  • In the Finder, click the ‘Go’ menu and choose ‘Go to Folder…’.
  • Type ‘/System/Library/Spotlight/’ and click ‘Go’.
  • Copy and paste the file ‘RichText.mdimporter’ to your desktop to edit.
  • Right click on the newly copied file, and choose ‘Show Package Contents’. A folder will appear.
  • Double click on ‘Contents’ within this new folder.
  • Right-click on ‘Info.plist’ and choose ‘Open With’ and then ‘Other…’.
  • Select TextEdit or your text editor of choice.
  • Locate the part of the file that looks like this:

PHP Spotlight Image 1

  • Add the code “public.php-script”, positioned as shown here:

PHP Spotlight Image 2

  • Save the file and close the ‘Contents’ folder.
  • You now need to replace the original ‘RichText.mdimporter’ with your updated version on your desktop. Make sure you backup your original first in case.
  • Finally, open up ‘Terminal’ – you can find ‘Terminal’ in ‘Applications’ under ‘Utilities’.
  • Type the following command and press enter:
    • mdimport -r /System/Library/Spotlight/RichText.mdimporter

After Spotlight completes the operation, you should find that PHP scripts are being indexed properly and can now be searched for by content!

Note: This post was originally created as an article. It has now been recreated as a normal post as part of my rearranging.

Switching: Emails

15 10 2006

Switching from Microsoft Outlook Express to Apple Mail

This is an article written to assist those users who wish to switch, or indeed have already switched from Windows XP to the Mac OS.

When it came to my ‘big switch’ there were several things that I needed: my documents, my music, my pictures and my internet stuff (emails and bookmarks and so on). All of these were easily copied across to the Mac using a crossover cable, no problems there – but shock horror, my emails were another story.

Most Windows users will be familiar with the free email application which comes with Windows XP: Outlook Express. When I was using Windows, I was using Outlook Express to manage my SMTP email account, just because it was there and did everything I needed – why bother downloading a suitable alternative product?

Anyway, it turned out that I couldn’t just do a straight copy and paste, as Outlook Express stores emails in a proprietary Microsoft format, which can’t be read by Apple Mail.

Wondering what to do about the problem, it was then that I remembered once installing Netscape to test compatibility of my web site. Netscape had very nicely offered to import the Internet and email settings from Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.

Checking up on this I found that when it does this it stores the resulting emails in a standard .mbox format – which can then be read by any sensible email client. After performing said conversion, I promptly copied the new .mbox files onto the Mac, fired up Apple Mail and pointed it in their direction.

So the basic steps to import your emails from Outlook Express on Windows to Apple Mail on the Mac:

  • Install Netscape on the Windows box.
  • Allow it to import from your Outlook Express when asked.
  • Copy the newly created .mbox files to your Mac.
  • Launch and show it where it can find them when it asks.
  • That’s it!

Note that I only tested this myself with Outlook Express, I don’t think Netscape can import from the full version of Outlook, so if you use the full version of Outlook this method may not work for you.

Note: This article was previously posted on my personal blog, and was re-written slightly as an article on this blog. It has now been recreated as a normal post as part of my rearranging.

New Trackpad Gesture in 10.4.8

12 10 2006

I don’t know if this was added earlier, but after I installed the 10.4.8 update I was changing some settings in ‘Keyboard and Mouse’ under ‘System Preferences’ when I spotted a new option under the trackpad settings:

Trackpad Zoom

It’s enabled by default, and by holding Ctrl and then using two fingers to scroll the trackpad, you can zoom the display right in. There are also couple of options that effect how the screen follows the mouse when zoomed in.

I would assume that on a multi-button mouse, using the scroll wheel whilst holding down the right button will work in the same way as the trackpad.

Quite funky really!

Return of the Mac

3 10 2006

Well its about time I ‘closed the case’ with regards to my faulty MacBook Pro.

I finally received the replacement unit promised to me on Friday 15th September and was pleasantly suprised to find the processor had been upgraded to the 2.16GHz model, and that the HDD speed had been upgraded! Very nice indeed! It certainly goes a long way to make up for the disappointing delays in shipping this replacement, and I’m pleased to report that so far so good!

I’ve delayed posting this update for so long mainly due to superstituous reasons; I daren’t mention anything about the new one in case it suddenly started exhibiting those all too familiar symptoms…

I’m just glad the problems are finally over and I can move on and actually start using the computer properly, for the reasons I bought it in the first place. Case closed! 😀

Quick Tip #4: Move Menubar Icons

2 10 2006

In Mac OS X the top right hand corner of the menubar holds a number of icons, usually controls for the built in AirPort and Bluetooth, a battery metre if it’s a laptop, a clock and Spotlight search.
Menubar icons
You can change the position of these icons by holding ⌘ (Cmd) and dragging them into their new positions. You can also use this method to remove an icon from the menubar; simply drag the icon off the menubar and let go of the mouse and the icon will disappear in a puff of smoke.

Since the Spotlight search icon is fixed, you can’t move or remove this icon.