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Open Files with Finder's App Switcher

Say you're in the Finder looking at a file and you want to open it with an application that's already running but which doesn't own that particular document. How? Switch to that app and choose File > Open? Too many steps. Choose Open With from the file's contextual menu? Takes too long, and the app might not be listed. Drag the file to the Dock and drop it onto the app's icon? The icon might be hard to find; worse, you might miss.

In Leopard there's a new solution: use the Command-Tab switcher. Yes, the Command-Tab switcher accepts drag-and-drop! The gesture required is a bit tricky. Start dragging the file in the Finder: move the file, but don't let up on the mouse button. With your other hand, press Command-Tab to summon the switcher, and don't let up on the Command key. Drag the file onto the application's icon in the switcher and let go of the mouse. (Now you can let go of the Command key too.) Extra tip: If you switch to the app beforehand, its icon in the Command-Tab switcher will be easy to find; it will be first (or second).

Visit Take Control of Customizing Leopard


Precision Web Pages with Style Master

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In the early days of the Web, a common complaint was HTML's insufficient control over how a browser would display the layout and appearance of a document. Tricks with tables and font tags helped, but the real solution, which has been emerging gradually for several years, is Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Style sheets let you specify such things as the size of text, the spacing and margins of paragraphs, and the positioning of graphics. Unfortunately, style sheets are complicated to use: the options for different elements can be hard to remember, and worse, different Web browsers support different standards and sometimes support them incorrectly. You can consult a book, code by hand, and test painstakingly; or you can let Style Master make your life easy. Style Master 1.5.1 comes from Western Civilisation; like their Palimpsest (which I reviewed in TidBITS-364) demonstrates clean, original interface design.


Each main window represents a style sheet; you can have multiple style sheets open. You edit style information through dialogs and floating windows where your options are obvious; the results are translated into style sheet syntax and displayed in the main window. The real magic starts when you ask to preview your styles: Style Master displays, in all your open browsers simultaneously, a particular style component (using sample text), or, even better, an entire HTML document of your own, to which it has applied the entire style sheet! Your original HTML is untouched, and Style Master makes a new temporary copy on every preview, so it's easy to tweak and test both your styles and your HTML document. When you're done, Style Master can either add the style sheet link to your original document, ready to serve along with the style sheet itself, or it can embed the style sheet into the document.

There's so much help you could plotz. There's balloon help. There are Help windows explaining each particular aspect of style sheets. There are warnings if you do something that a browser might not support. There is dialog text describing the meaning of selectors as you create them. There is superb documentation (using HTML which itself demonstrates style sheets): a Quickstart that really does get you started quickly, a complete manual, a hands-on tutorial, and a handbook on style sheets. Western Civilisation has also made its Web site a major reference on style sheets, well worth visiting.

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Although I have some quibbles with inconvenient interface elements, and the misspellings in the manuals pain me, I still like everything about this program, right down to the clever purchase policy. You download a 2.4 MB time-limited demo (15 days of use, not necessarily consecutive) that you can test and ultimately register either as Style Master or as Style Master Pro. Style Master costs $29; Style Master Pro, unlike any browser known to me, supports the next-generation style sheet standard, CSS2, and costs $39 until 20-Oct-99, $49 thereafter. Style Master requires a Power PC-based Macintosh, System 7.1.2 or later. A full installation is about 7 MB, and it uses 8.5 MB of RAM.

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