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Tag: adium

Quicklook Magic

Looking through a large set of files has become increasingly easy since Apple released Leopard, and although this feature does not get a great deal of promotional praise from the Apple community it is in my opinion one of the unsung heroes features of the OS.

With the update to Snow Leopard you can now use quicklook just about everywhere, from the finder and spotlight as you might expect, but also from places as diverse as your printer list (to check which document might be causing your printer to play-up or move a file up the queue) to your open dialog box (say to check you are attaching the right file to an email. And I am sure many more places I’m yet to discover.

Apple has enabled Quicklook to work with essential files such as word documents, excel spreadsheets and of course pdfs, as well as just about any image you’d ever be likely to encounter in a normal business environment. It is however possible to extend the usefulness of this system by installing plugins to enable you to look at many other types of files that Apple has not added native support for.

Quicklook plugins are indicated by the file ending: .qlgenerator. To install them you copy them to your /Library/QuickLook/ or ~/Library/QuickLook/ folder.

Install your Quicklook Plugins here
Install your Quicklook Plugins here

The folder should already exist, but if it doesn’t feel free to create it. Out of preference I normally install these files into my root library rather than the user library as they are then available to any user of the computer. I have encountered no additional increase in load on the system of running these plugins.

Once installed you have to run the following command in terminal if you want them to be loaded straight away without needing to logout. This is as easy as cutting and pasting this command into the terminal app (hiding away in utilities):

qlmanage -r

which forces the OS to look in these folders and thereby load the new plugins you have added.

I also take a very broad sweep when installing this type of plugin as it is not possible to encounter every file type that a business or yourself will encounter and I have therefore installed pretty much every plugin that I have been able to lay my hands on, occasionally checking back at great sites like www.quicklookplugins.com or www.qlplugins.com when I need to find another plugin.

I currently have installed on my system the following plugins:

Adium Chat Log

– yes easy peaking in my favourite IM’s chat logs

Photoshop Brush Viewer

– does what it says on the tin, kindly developed by Laura Dickey.

Source Code Highlight

– view source code files with syntax highlighting courtesy of Samuel Toulouse.

EPS Files

– look at EPS files courtesy of Eternal Storm Software it’s donationware so if you use it lots donate!

Folder Contents

– if you still us 10.5, seems to have stopped working in 10.6, :-(

GIS Data

– view vector data and raster grids, helpful to those in the property development game courtesy of Bernhard Jenny.

Text and Picture Clippings

– have a look at annoying clippings files!

Adobe Illustrator

– this one is a bit more complicated but it is definitely worth the effort for detailed instructions see: here. Thanks Hrmpf!

Web Page Archives from IE

– helpful for legacy files and archives that your client might have and not realise that they later need.

CHM Archives

– again that legacy file support that can be so useful at times, thanks go to Qian Qian.

Applescript Viewer

– take a peek at any applescripts you might have, thanks go to Kainjow.

Suspicious Package

– for the cautious amongst you who want to checkout what that installer package contains, thanks to Mothers Ruin Software.

Textmate

– essential for all you textmate fans, thanks go to Ciarán Walsh.

Zips etc.

– Look inside those zip files without having to unzip them.

And that’s the end of my list, but I’d love to hear any recommendations anyone might have. Many thanks to all the cool developers who have spent time creating these incredibly useful plugins.

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk

Essential Communication Tools

When setting up a new system as well as setting up a standard email program such as Apple Mail or Thunderbird I also setup a couple of other essential communication tools, mostly to help me keep in touch with the user, in this case Glyn, but also to maximise the number of methods by which that user can communicate with the world.

Which Email program?

To be honest since 10.3 I’ve used Apple’s Mail as my principal email client, prior to this I used Eudora and I have, to be honest, occasionally dabbled with other programs such as Microsoft Entourage; but the email client I generally recommend to switchers is Thunderbird.

The reason for this is because when I am brought into consult at a small firm I generally find them running un-patched versions of Outlook Express, which is in my experience is the easiest and quickest root to viral infection in the Windows world, in these situations I replace it with Thunderbird, which being free adds no additional cost burden. So when we come to switching it seems best to go with Thunderbird to minimise the amount of adjustment the user requires.

However, as Apple has improved Mail, or more importantly improved it’s integration with the Address Book and iCal adding great usability functions like data detectors, (essential time savers once a user becomes more savvy) it has become an increasingly attractive client. Thunderbird 2 still uses its own address book rather than the system wide one offered by Apple, and although version 3 now offers integration it feels like it has been in beta forever.

The ability to sync Apple’s integrated address book with google mail accounts (including google apps accounts) in Snow Leopard has proved to be a great additional benefit for small businesses, especially as you can hack this to provide a locally available address book to all users in a company by using a single master default email such as info@foo.com to sync addresses to, which is great for small businesses. (if you’re running 10.5 this tutorial will show you how to hack this feature to make it available for you).

Google Sync from Apple Address Book
Just tick the box to activate Google Sync

So after a quick discussion with Glyn as to these pros and cons we decided to setup his email with the Apple Mail program, which ran smoothly, although I think it is a shame that you can’t select the type of mail service you are connecting to when you enter the initial details as this would cut down the setup time significantly whilst you wait for it to determine if there is a mail server present at the address you have given. It would also be great if you could tell Mail that it was a google apps account so it would pre-fill the imap and smtp details for you (come on Apple should be easy enough to do!).

Other tools communication tools…

It is really important for a small business to be reachable by as many methods as possible, as we have moved into an era of increased connectivity it is important that they adapt to this so that they can reach the broadest possible audience.

The first tool I always start with is Skype. Although I tend to use this less and less since the advent of Google Talk, I still find that many of my clients use the program on a daily basis. As Slingsby Interiors didn’t already have a skype account, Glyn and I downloaded the latest client and within minutes had managed to bag slingsbyinteriors as a name, surprisingly easy to do for most small businesses.

Then we moved on to setting up Google Talk, for which I always use a great little open source program called Adium, which is compatible with just about every protocol you can imagine from: AIM, MSN, Jabber to Yahoo to name just a few, meaning you only have to install the one program. As well as integrating with the built-in Address Book it offers tabbed browsing of conversations and all important growl notifications.

After a quick series guide around each of these programs, Glyn is up and running and ready to communicate with the world and more importantly after I installed skype on the PC in the 1st floor office he no longer has to run upstairs or use the intercom when he wants to ask Kay in accounts a quick question!

UPDATE –

Apparently you can bypass the automatic mail setup by holding down the option key after you’ve entered your email address and password, changing the button to continue and allowing you to continue as you normally would. For more see macosxhints.com

I’m a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk