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The TrashMan Cometh

When I was growing up, my family took our garbage to the town dump every week. The best part was tossing it over the cliff, and much of the excitement went out of the weekly expedition when the dump was full and the town bought a trash compactor truck (which could be fun on occasion if it actually compacted the trash while you were there). As a result of these town policies, I never experienced the joys of listening to garbage trucks rumbling by early in the morning until I went to college. The noise was bothersome, but the benefit was obvious - I carried the garbage a short way and the garbagemen (excuse me, sanitation engineers) did the rest.

The Mac under System 7 is a lot the same way except you have to do both jobs, take the trash out and empty it. No one can do the first task for you because only you can decide what's trash and what's not, but why should you be bothered by the humdrum task of emptying the trash? Well, now you don't have to with the System 7-specific utility TrashMan 4.0.1, a $10 shareware trash management utility from Dan Walkowski.

TrashMan has three parts, TrashMan Controls, which is a Control Panel for TrashMan's settings, TrashMan Engine, a special application that scans the trash and deletes files, and TrashMan Emptier, on which you drop disks to delete the trashed files from those disks.

TrashMan Controls allows you to set the amount of time that a file will spend in the trash purgatory before being deleted. You can set the days, hours, and minutes a file can last in the trash - I personally have it set to three days. I'll explain why later. There's also a checkbox to set whether or not TrashMan deletes locked files, which can stick around for a long time if you don't set it to delete them. You can increase or decrease the Engine Speed, which controls how often the Engine will scan. I see no reason not to leave it on the lowest setting so TrashMan uses the least possible CPU time. You can also stop (or start) the Engine if you wish. The final checkbox controls whether disks are automatically ejected after you drag them on the TrashMan Emptier. Holding down the option key will produce the opposite result, so you can decide whether you generally want disks ejected or not. I don't. One added bonus to TrashMan Controls is that Dan has added some unobtrusive yet effective sounds to the controls. I approve of that sort of thing when it's done well.

TrashMan Engine is a strange new type of application that appeared with System 7. You drop the TrashMan Engine into the Extensions folder, and it runs automatically on startup, but does not appear in any application lists (such as the MultiFinder menu or About This Macintosh...). There's not much else to say about the TrashMan Engine, except that it is completely unnoticeable when it's scanning. Previous versions would pause the Mac temporarily while scanning, but this version is really smooth.

The final piece of the TrashMan puzzle is the TrashMan Emptier, a tiny application that acts as a front end on which you can drop disks. It's really nice that you don't have all the files in the trash emptied all the time under System 7, but that feature suddenly disappears the first time you throw out some files on a floppy and want to copy more on. The Finder will happily empty the trash for you if you wish, but it will delete all the files in the trash, not just the files that were originally on that floppy. With TrashMan Emptier, you can just drop the floppy on TrashMan Emptier and only the trashed files from that floppy will be deleted, and all others will stay put.

When all is said and done, though, why is TrashMan neat? It allows you turn a mindless task over to an automated program so you don't have to keep deciding if you want to empty the trash or not. In addition, TrashMan allows the trash to live up to its potential as promised by System 7. You not only get a second chance, as you did in System 6, or even a third or fourth chance, as in System 7, but as many chances you want when using TrashMan. An added feature is that TrashMan works well on AppleShare servers to ensure that users don't waste disk space by leaving files in the trash (and Dan says that AppleShare servers have separate Trash folders for each user, so there's no need to worry about it emptying everyone's trash).

I said earlier that I have TrashMan empty the trash after three days. I often will drag one of my partitions to the TrashMan Emptier to clean it off manually, but I prefer to leave files in the trash when I can. That's because there's a neat trick you can do with Nisus have it save its secondary backup files into the trash. That's secondary backup files, and I almost never need them, and I never need them after three days. With the amount I use Nisus and the number of files I use, though, I could easily use up several megabytes of space on my hard disk with just those secondary backups. Now TrashMan makes sure that I have access to the secondary backups I've made in the last three days, and also makes sure that I'm not wasting large portions of my ever-shrinking hard disk on lots of backup files that just aren't necessary.

Now of course you're going to want to know the trick with Nisus (and this may work with WordPerfect or other programs that can save a secondary backup file in addition to the primary file). It's pretty easy, and there are two methods.

Method A -- Boot with System 6 (if possible), run Nisus, and select the Trash folder in the secondary backup Saving Preferences. Then reboot under System 7. Neat, eh?

Method B -- If you feel like a macho hacker and want to use ResEdit, or you can't run System 6 on your machine because it's too new, first run Nisus and set your secondary backup folder to a five-letter folder at the top level of your hard disk. I used "Perseus:Games". Then, after quitting Nisus, open the Nisus Preferences 3.0 file in ResEdit and open the DFLT resource. There should only be one entry (mine was ID 301), so open that. Scroll down until you see the name of your secondary backup folder in the ASCII on the right hand side of the window. Then select the five letters of the folder name and replace them with "Trash". So I changed my setting from "Perseus:Games" to "Perseus:Trash". (You may see some additional letters there if you at one time selected a folder with a longer name, but as long as there is a colon after the "h" in "Trash" you'll be fine.) Then save the file, quit ResEdit, and create and save a new file in Nisus. Then look in the trash to make sure the secondary backup is in there.

Whether or not you use Nisus and find this trick useful, I highly recommend TrashMan 4.0.1. It's a mere $10 shareware and Dan Walkowski has done an excellent job making it safe, stable, and unobtrusive. It should be available at your local purveyor of shareware software. There are a few commercial utilities that offer the same functionality and even more features, but I feel that TrashMan is a clean (and cheap) compromise between ease of use and power. The one additional capability Dan will be adding in a future version of TrashMan is a TrashMan Burner that will immediately delete a file, so if you create a massive temporary file you can get rid of it immediately without having to disturb the other files resting quietly in your trash. Highly recommended.

Information from:
Dan Walkowski --
TrashMan documentation


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