Mac secrets, tips, tricks and shortcuts

Mac secrets, tips, tricks and shortcuts

Caramba! You've just a few pages to print when the jets on your Apple StyleWriter's ink cartridge begin to plug up, causing white streaks in the printer's output. The StyleWriter Print dialogue's "Clean ink cartridge before printing" option doesn't help, and there's not a replacement cartridge in sight.

What to do? One reader has rescued several cartridges with this trick: remove the cartridge, then wet a cotton swab with pure isopropyl alcohol (from the chemist shop) and very gently swab the surface of the print head. You may have to repeat this a couple of times to get the cartridge to print like new. While you're at it, why not take the time for further printer maintenance?

Use a dry swab to soak up some of the ink in the sponge that caps off the print head when it's parked at the right side of the printer.

Since going over the print head with a cotton swab could conceivably damage the print head, you may want to first check for lint around the sponge or the clear plastic wiper near it, and wipe off any accumulated lint with your finger. The lint may absorb ink and cause white streaks in the output just like an ink-clogged cartridge. If removing lint doesn't eliminate the streaks, you have little to lose by swabbing the already malfunctioning print head.

TrackPad insanity

Q Please help me - I have been driven insane. Every time I touch the TrackPad of my PowerBook 190cs, the cursor jumps like a horse. My friends have no problem using my PowerBook's TrackPad. I think the problem is that I sweat too much. At the moment, I am using my lab glove to operate my PowerBook. Help!

A According to Apple, sweaty hands or moisture on the pad can cause the pointer to move erratically. Oil or lotion can cause the same problem. Wipe off the pad with a soft cloth or tissue, and try using the pad with a piece of paper between your finger and the pad. If the problem persists, try removing the TrackPad preferences file (a new one will be created automatically). Also, try removing rings and bracelets; jewellery can interfere with TrackPad performance.

Cursor stuck

QFor years I have struggled with an intermittent cursor problem. In any number of writing programs, including Teach-Text, if I go back to a line previously completed in order to indent it, neither the spacebar nor the tab key will push the text ahead. I can delete the first letter, but then the text realigns itself as before with the first letter now erased. I try going to the line above and pressing return, but this does not work, either.

A Sounds like you are trying to indent a line in the middle of a paragraph. The symptoms you describe are normal in that context. When the program wraps a paragraph to fit the margins, it puts all blank spaces and tabs occurring after the last word of a line at the end of that line, never before the word that begins the next line.

So if you set the blinking insertion point (the cursor) before the first word on a line in the middle of a paragraph and then type spaces or tabs, that "white space" all gets added at the end of the line above the insertion point. You must press return to start a new paragraph - or in many word processors, type shift-return to start a new line in the same paragraph - and then press tab or type spaces to indent the beginning of the line.

Incidentally, it's much better practice to use the tab key or the paragraph's indentation settings, not the spacebar, to indent a line.

You get more accurate alignment that's not dependent on the font, font size, or font style of the blank spaces.

Quick bits

The Control Strip, which provides quick access to various control-panel settings, is not installed automatically on all desktop Macs using the Easy Install option of the installers for System 7.5.3 and System 7.5 Update 2.0. You can use the installers' Custom Install option to install Control Strip, or instead of Control Strip, you can use Desktop Strip ($US20 shareware), Extensions Strip ($US15 shareware), or OneClick ($US129; WestCode Software at Those alternatives can be moved anywhere on screen, and have other advantages over Apple's control panel, which must stick to the left or right edge of the screen. Systma has a Web site ( asytsm89/) dedicated to Control Strip, alternatives to it, and supplemental Control Strip modules.

One reader fixes crooked scans in Adobe Photoshop using the cropping tool. He selects the tool and draws a box roughly around the image to be straightened, making sure the box isn't too close to the document's edge. Next, he rotates the cropping box by holding down the option key and dragging one corner of the box until it lines up with the crooked image. Then he adjusts the box to crop the image as desired. Finally, he clicks inside the box to have Photoshop straighten and crop the image in one step.

If you're having paper-feed problems with a Hewlett-Packard DeskWriter 520, 550C, or 560C printer, get HP's free roller-cleaning kit. The kit includes a cleaning plate with Scotch-Brite abrasive patches and special software to spin the printer's rollers.

Do you need to download a Mac file from the Internet that won't fit on a floppy, using a Windows or DOS PC? Use PKWare's DOS program PKZip 2.04g ( to compress the downloaded file about 25 per cent and, if necessary, split it across multiple DOS floppies. Then use the ZipIt 1.3.5 utility on the Mac to decompress and join the segments from the DOS floppies into an .hqx file. Finally, drag the .hqx file to StuffIt Expander 4.0.1 or ShrinkWrap 2.0.1 to convert it to a useable Mac file.

The Macintosh shareware and freeware mentioned here is available from MacWorld Online at

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