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Now Utilities Palinode

A while back (November ’92, in TidBITS #152, to be exact) I said some positive things and some negative things about Now Utilities 4.0.1. Now I’d like to take back a substantial portion of the negative things. I have three reasons why:

  • I complained that despite the purported fixes between 4.0 and 4.0.1, Super Boomerang and NowMenus together still caused some crashes on my machine when the Standard File Dialog tried to come up. (Since this usually happened when I tried to save a document for the first time, I wasn’t too pleased.) However, it has been a long time since my Macintosh has had one of these crashes. I think rebuilding my desktop may have helped; also, turning off Keep Show Info and Remove Unmounted in Super Boomerang’s Control Panel may have had something to do with the change. Whatever the reason, I now regard the pair as more stable than I used to.
  • I said that "the lists [in the pull-down menus] are not hierarchical. Documents can be attached as submenus to programs; but programs themselves cannot be made submenus to anything. So if you want a really extensive list of your programs, you get a huge scrolling menu." A reader wrote in immediately to inform me that this was false. You can include a folder in a pull-down menu, and this folder can contain aliases of programs. If you make a bunch of folders representing categories (Font, Word Process, etc.) and put aliases of appropriate programs inside them, you can get a hierarchical arrangement of your programs by category in a menu. Furthermore, by some miracle I don’t understand, recently used documents appropriate to those programs automatically attach themselves to the names of their aliases in the menu. So much for accuracy in my reviews; anyhow, that objection is transmuted to delight.
  • I lamented that DroppleMenu, one of my favorite extensions, didn’t work under NowMenus 4.0.1. That has changed, thanks to David Winterburn, whose latest version of Menu Dropper (7.1b6 is the one I saw) does work with NowMenus. This means you can drag an icon onto the Apple menu and right down through its hierarchical menus, and have the thing the icon represents be moved, copied, or aliased to a folder, or opened by an application. This puts Menu Dropper up where DroppleMenu was when I was able to use it, in my Top Ten category of extensions, namely, "Things so valuable and obvious you can’t believe Apple didn’t build them into the System (or Finder) in the first place."

Since I already said in the earlier review that no one should be without Super Boomerang, and that the whole price of Now Utilities was worth it for just this one application, it remains only to say that those of you who still haven’t bought it should (a) download and read the review, mentally correcting it to take account of these retractions; (b) try out the demo version available at most FTP sites right now; and then (c) run, don’t walk, to your phone or software store and purchase Now Utilities 4.0.1 immediately. Better still, skip (a) and (b).

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