Written and published January 26, 2000
This week I write to you on a newly (temporarily) acquired PowerBook and from Santa Fe, New Mexico nearly half a country away from my LA home. While I had a few days to set this Mac up, it wasn't nearly enough time to get it all tweaked for maximum efficiency. My application aliases are safely tucked into the Apple menu, as are those of my diagnostic utilities and my Internet applications. But, I still need to set some of the Finder's settings. I figure this week you can come along with me as I set up the little things that make life so much nicer.
When you select a menu command, do you notice that the command flashes a few times? Apple provides that "menu blinking" by default. It's supposed to help you know which command you've chosen. If it helps you, keep it. But, if it bothers you (or makes you dizzy as it does me) you may want to turn the blinking off. To do this, choose the General Controls Control Panel and under Menu Blinking, select Off. Several years ago turning off the blinking was a common speed tip. I'm not sure if the blinking will actually slow your system down these days, but who knows.
When you select text can you clearly see the text through the selection color -- or is the highlight color so dark that you can't read the text? Can you easily see that the text is selected -- or is the color so light that you can't see the selection? Neither is very efficient. You're best off with a color that can clearly be noticed but doesn't obscure the words beneath it. Sometimes people are very surprised at the results when I change their Highlight color. To change your color, choose the Appearance Control Panel and then the Appearance tab. Click the pop-up menu for Highlight color and choose "Other." This opens the Color Picker. You have many options for picking a color there. The Crayon Picker interface is fun and has many more choices within it than meets the eye. Notice that each crayon color is comprised of several shades? Press Option as you click on the specific shades of the color you desire and you can select that exact color's variation. The hand cursor becomes an eye-dropper tool and it's very tip is what you need to point at the exact color you want.
Do you often find yourself wondering what day it is? If so, add the day of the week to your Mac's clock. To do so, choose the Date & Time Control Panel, then click Clock Options and check "Show the day of the week." This puts the day in front of the time, where time appears in your menu bar. Personally, I also uncheck the AM/PM option, as I tend to know what time of the day it is. While there, consider checking "Flash the time separators." Although I used to think this made me dizzy, it may sometimes have the benefit of helping you to know when your system is frozen.
By the way, if you haven't taken advantage of the Network Time Server, you might try it --it's efficient.
Control Strip Settings
The Control Strip provides some great feedback. For example, if you use a dial-up account to access the Internet, it's nice to have the Remote Access part of the strip showing while you're online or when you're ready to go online. Did you know that you can make the strip as long or short as you'd like just by dragging the end of it? The next part of the secret is to move the items around on the strip. Put the items you use frequently at the end with the handle. Just press Option as you move the cursor over the item you want to moved and drag the item when the arrow becomes a hand. Last, use the gray arrows at each end to sort of scroll through the strip items so only the ones you want will show.
If you don't use some of the Control Strip pieces you can disable them. In Conflict Catcher you uncheck them, when you have Control Strip items showing.
By the way, if having the Control Strip at the bottom left of your screen is bothersome, you can try moving it to the top right. To do this, press Option as you move your mouse over the strip's sizing handle so the mouse becomes a hand icon. Then drag it up to the top right corner. You may have to re-organize the items on the strip. Yet another option is to set a hot key that will toggle the Control Strip on and off. You'll find this under the Control Strip Control Panel.
Well, that's my Finder settings for the most part. I'm set. Now all I have to do is set up the Prefs for each application I use on this PowerBook. Were any of these Finder settings news to you? Did any help you a bit? I hope so.
By the way, there are also some utilities I'm missing due to lack of setup time. I miss Action Menus, once known and loved as Now Menus but now redeveloped by PowerOn Software and much better for it. I waited so long for it to come out and since then have been so busy with our Internet series that I've not gotten to tell you about it. Perhaps next week will be the right time. Until next week, then.