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ShortCut 1.5

Like the original Boomerang, ShortCut installs a little button to the left of the drive name for its menu to pop up from. Unlike Boomerang, the ‘hot’ area extends to the entire drive name, which makes it easier to select than Boomerang’s original little boomerang button. ShortCut’s menu drops straight down from the drive name, first listing the mounted volumes so you can go to them directly. Selecting the drive from the menu takes you to the top level of that drive, not to the last folder accessed as does selecting a drive name from Super Boomerang’s Drive menu.

After the drive names, ShortCut’s first four items are similar to Super Boomerang’s. The first item is New Folder…, which lets you name and create a new folder. The only difference between the two here is that Super Boomerang automatically puts you into the folder you create, whereas ShortCut has a checkbox that lets you toggle that option when you name the folder. I’ve never wanted to create a folder and not be in it, but it’s nice of Aladdin to give the user the choice. Next come Go To Folder and Open File, which work exactly as Super Boomerang’s Folder and File menus, keeping track of the most recently accessed files and folders. My only quibble with the way these are implemented is that because I like to keep track of about 25 or 30 recent files, the hierarchical menus attached to Go To Folder and Open File can become quite unwieldy. At the bottom of those menus are options to add or remove a file or folder permanently or purge the recent files. ShortCut also separates the permanent folders and files from the recent ones, unlike Super Boomerang, which sorts them together and underlines the permanent ones. The fourth option is Fast Find…, which works much like Super Boomerang’s but runs slightly slower (in the tests that I ran). For example, I asked both to search for all the files that Nisus could open with the letters ‘sun’ in the title. Super Boomerang found the one file that matched in four seconds, ShortCut in seven, neither of which is bad on a 105 MB hard disk with several thousand files. ShortCut can narrow the search more than Super Boomerang, because it can limit the results to a date range using either or both the created and modified dates. ShortCut can also find files whose names contain the search string, match the search string, or begin or end with the search string, but Super Boomerang uses an asterisk as a wildcard pattern, which accomplishes the same thing. The main advantage ShortCut has over Super Boomerang 2.0 here is that ShortCut can also search inside StuffIt archives, which is extremely useful if you store lots of files in archives. More on this in a bit.

After those items, ShortCut and Super Boomerang diverge somewhat. ShortCut’s next menu item is Get Info…, which displays a Get Info box much like the Finder’s, but with more information and the ability to change the file’s or folder’s name. You can also change file creators and types, as well as flip the locked bit. If you want to get destructive, ShortCut includes a Trash button that will delete the selected file. ShortCut’s next command is Volumes… which is slightly strange. It brings up a list of the mounted volumes and gives some basic information about them. However, in that dialog box are radio buttons for Folders and Files, both of which list your most recent folders and files, as you’d expect. I’m not quite sure of the utility of this, since short of the disk space information ShortCut gives in the volume list, you can get the same thing from the hierarchical menus. My suspicion is that this list is for diehard keyboard users since you can type command-O, command-V, command-O and see the list of your recently-visited files. It also works as a QuicKeys sequence for the lazier people among us.

Aladdin is one of the leading companies in using small software modules whose features are available to multiple programs. This gave ShortCut a significant edge over Super Boomerang 2.0 because ShortCut can deal with StuffIt Deluxe archives transparently. If you want to open a file down several levels in an archive, no problem. In addition if you own StuffIt Deluxe, ShortCut 1.5 has the ability to Stuff files directly from the SFDialog box by merely checking a box at the bottom of the dialog. This is useful if you want to send a copy of a file to someone via email because you just do your final save with that box checked, and poof, you’ve got a standard StuffIt Deluxe archive. The Stuff… item in ShortCut’s menu allows you to stuff the selected item or another item by pulling up another SFDialog box with a list of all files and folders, visible or not. This secondary SFDialog also includes a truncated ShortCut menu with the drive names and the Go To Folder and Open File items. This may seem like overkill, layering one SFDialog inside another, but it works well and isn’t confusing to use. You can pick among the compression types supported by StuffIt Deluxe and choose whether the original item should be left or deleted when you’re done. This is one of the most useful features of ShortCut, and is a strong argument for owning both ShortCut and StuffIt Deluxe.

Super Boomerang 3.0 approaches ShortCut’s abilities in reading files, since it can find files inside compressed files created by StuffIt Deluxe, DiskDoubler, and Compact Pro. Super Boomerang has no ability to compress files, although if you open a file in a compressed DiskDoubler file, DiskDoubler will recompress it later if you have that option set in DiskDoubler itself. Do note that although Super Boomerang can search for files inside compressed StuffIt and DiskDoubler files, if you don’t own StuffIt or DiskDoubler (or have the shareware StuffIt Classic or DDExpand applications), you won’t be able to expand the file (not surprisingly). Super Boomerang does come with an extractor for Compact Pro, so you can always extract files compressed by Compact Pro. Although Super Boomerang has a bit more breadth in dealing with all three compression formats, it can’t look at the files inside compressed files as ShortCut can.

ShortCut’s abilities to transparently work with StuffIt archives and to create them give it the edge here, especially since Super Boomerang’s text searching feature does not work within compressed files.

Sometimes you don’t want to open a file but you do want to quickly see what it looks like. For that purpose, ShortCut includes a View… command that displays (and allows copying) any TEXT or PICT item that is selected. This uses the same viewer technology that’s built into StuffIt Deluxe. When you view a file you get a modal window the size of the screen that has a scroll bar for scrolling through the 32K of text or the picture, and various menus to change how it looks and copy things. You can’t change anything in the View window, but that’s not the point.

Unlike Super Boomerang, which provides the separate Edit… dialog for deleting files, ShortCut provides the Trash… command right in the menu. It can delete the file you currently have selected or will pull up a secondary SFDialog box and allow you to select another file. In addition, Trash… includes options to Erase Disk (Fast), Erase Disk (Reinitialize), and Empty Trash. These options only work with floppies, which is good since being able to whomp on a hard disk like that would make me nervous. In addition, if you aren’t comfortable with just trashing your files, you can use Shred…, which makes sure that the file will be unrecoverable, should some unpleasant industrial spies be after your electronic garbage.

Overall, ShortCut 1.5 emerges as a slightly quirkier program than Super Boomerang, but one which will provide an incredible boost in productivity, especially if you work with a lot of files every day. I can’t recommend that you use both Super Boomerang and ShortCut, as I’ve been doing for testing, because the SFDialog box opens more slowly with both installed. However, in my humble opinion, everyone should have either Super Boomerang or ShortCut. Super Boomerang’s main advantages are the DirectOpen menu, the Super Boomerang item in the Apple menu, and the ability to search for text inside files and to search for file names inside compressed files. ShortCut’s main advantages are transparent access to StuffIt Deluxe archives, the ability to stuff files from the SFDialog box, the ability to view a file before opening it, and the powerful file and floppy erasing options. Both have been fairly stable and incredibly addictive, to judge from reports on the nets.

So which should you buy? Don’t ask me, I don’t know. Just buy one or the other, but keep in mind that although you get the rest of the Now Utilities with Super Boomerang, ShortCut is a bit cheaper. That’s the problem with life, decisions like this aren’t easy to make.

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