Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Unarchiver and Stuffit Expander: Decompressing archived files

The built-in compress and decompress function available in Leopard is good, but sometimes you get files from people in the not-so-popular compressed formats like Tar-GZip, Tar-BZip2, Rar, 7-zip, and so on. How do you deal with those?

There are two very good solutions available: Stuffit Expander and Unarchiver.


Stuffit Expander is a very good solution available from mysmithmicro. It handles a wide variety of formats and is mainly made available for the company to sell their full-featured Stuffit Deluxe program.


The Unarchiver is a freeware open-source solution.

Both programs work the same way. You highlight/choose a compressed file or a bunch of compressed files in the Finder, invoke the contextual menu (right click or ctrl+click the mouse) and a drop down menu shows up. Go to Open With.... and choose any of the two solutions.


Both programs handle the task of decompressing compressed files. They both do it well. Take your pick or since they are both free get both.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MailSteward: email archiving solution

I use IMAP which means that a copy of the email is always stored on the server, but I also like having a copy on my hard drive. Problem is that if you do that for a while, soon your Mail mailboxes become huge and then I am always afraid that there will be some kind of corruption of the files and i will lose all the data. Thus the need for an email archiving solution. MailSteward is one of those solutions. MailSteward archives all your email in a database. That gives you the ability to search, browse and get peace of mind that all your emails are safe and protected. MailSteward comes in three versions: Lite ($24.95), Regular ($49.95) and Pro ($99.95). The Pro version is overkill for the individual user but it is probably appropriate for organizations.

I use MailSteward, the regular version. The figure below shows the main MailSteward window.


The Settings button gives you a choice of which mailboxes you want to archive, what you want to name the file you are archiving, whether you want to include attachments and so on.


The browse button gives you the ability to look at the database, sort by various criteria and read messages and look at attachments.


The search field is very extensive and it lets you define searches in a myriad of ways and has the ability to search by fields or search by tags. If you use MailTags, MailSteward has the ability to search by tags that you have inputted using MailTags.


I am obsessive about keeping all my email. I also belong to a multitude of mailing lists which generate a lot of traffic. MailSteward makes it possible for me to have a record of every email I ever get in a database format which isn't tied to any particular program.

Usage: If you belong to a few mailing lists, or feel the need to keep your emails for whatever reason, be they security, knowledge gathering, nostalgia, or just a proclivity towards being a digital pack-rat, you owe it to yourself to explore an email archiving solution. I use MailSteward: I love it and heartily recommend it. I will also in a few weeks talk about two other programs which help me keep my email organized, archived and searchable, EagleFiler and DEVONthink Pro Office.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mindmapping on the cheap

MindNode Pro and MindNode are really easy use to use and cheap software for mindmapping. I specially like the fact that it can output OPML files which makes it possible for me to enhance and look at the files in OmniOutliner and OmniOutliner Pro my favorite outlining applications.

MindNode Pro costs only $14.95 which I thought was great value. MindNode is free.

LaunchBar: Open Multiple files at once

This is one of the cool tricks you can use for LaunchBar 5.0 Beta.

Step 1: Make a folder in your documents folder (cmd+n). Name it. Choose a small name. In this case "lbb" is the name I chose.

Step 2: Make aliases of the files you want opened (cmd+l). Or, just highlight the files in the folder, hold down the cmd and opt key and drag the files into the folder you created. If you noticed, what you dragged are file aliases and not the actual files. Alias files are distinguished by having the little squiggly arrow in the bottom left corner of the icon.

Step 3: Now go to LaunchBar. Update the index. Type in the name of the folder you want. In this case, "lbb". Hold down the Ctrl key and hit return.

VoilĂ . You have all the files you wanted loading automatically.

Usage: You might have noticed that you work in sets. A set of files/applications when you are online, a different set of files/applications when you are doing web research, a different set of files/applications when you are doing homework. You can set up specific folders for all these tasks and have aliases of the files/applications in them, that way when you need to switch between tasks, you launch the contents of a particular folder instead of each of the items individually. Saves time and makes you feel like a LaunchBar guru.