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Apple Menu Utils
Volume Number:8
Issue Number:3
Column Tag:Tools of the Trade

3 Ways to Make Launching Easier

Access files through hierarchical choices under the Apple Menu

By Dave Kelly, MacTutor Regular Contributing Author

System 7.0 provides new capabilities that are being tapped more and more as developers become familiar with them. Now Utilities was the first to take advantage of System 7.0’s ability to support hierarchical menus for Apple Menu Items. Since then at least two other products have made their way to market. The Finder should have had this feature, but it was left to third party vendors to implement it.

To be able to access files multiple levels deep from the Apple Menu saves time and is a great convenience. Just place an alias of a folder in your Apple Menu items folder and the contents of the menu will appear hierarchically in the Apple Menu. If you’re using System 7.0 you should not be without this feature.

Now Utilities, HandOff II, and HAM all will support this and other features. You will want to compare all the features before deciding which one you get. I’ve prepared a brief chart showing some of the differences in each product. It may not be complete, especially in the case of Now Utilities which includes other utilities in its package.

HAM has a unique method of supporting Hierarchical Apple Menu items. In particular, you can change the order of Apple Menu items by dragging items in the menu list. Items with check marks will be displayed in the Apple Menu. Recent items are remembered by HAM. HAM creates and alias for recently used items and places the alias in a Recent Items folder in the Apple Menu items folder. Another feature that I like is the ability to create “HAMlets”. HAMlets are like aliases except they remember documents or applications. HAM will automatically create a HAMlet named “Resume HAMlet” that is placed in your Startup folder so that if you have an inadvertent crash, everything will open back to where you left off when you restart. You can save HAMlet so you can open multiple documents and/or applications at any time. Only one minor annoyance with HAM’s hierarchical apple menu items it that items in the control panel that are disabled with Now Utilities Startup Manager (or similar INIT controller) can still be accessed. An error message occurs if a disabled control panel is selected, but it is an annoyance.

HandOff II strength is in the application launching department. It is very convenient to be able to create “briefcases” that can launch multiple applications or documents from HandOff II’s launch menu. Both HandOff II and Now Utilities let you configure specific color bit depth and sound configuration for each application. What is conspicuously missing is the ability to switch on/off 32 bit addressing (off for applications that crash when 32 bit mode is used). In addition, HandOff II can force substitutions of file types so that you can use your favorite application to automatically open documents created with another application. Although the custom launch menu looks similar to the one available in Now Utilities, briefcases make HandOff II’s menu much more attractive. Control panel items that are disabled by INIT manager programs are shown in as disabled items. Disabled items are not shown at all in Now Menu’s control panel folder menu.

Theres a certain amount of tradeoff when selecting from these utilities. Now Utilities for $129 contains many more utilities than just menu handling. HandOff II for $99 has more application launching features than the others. HAM for $99 has the ability to create “HAMlets” and has more control over which items are shown in the hierarchical Apple Menu. Besides one of the developers of HAM is Chris Derossi, one of MacTutor’s founding editorial board members. Way to go, Chris, HAM is a great product. Then again, so are the other two products. Since you can disable parts of each you might be able to use them together, but it might be risky. You definitely should not use hierarchical menu capabilities from more than one of them at a time.

HandOff IINow UtilitiesHAM
Hierarchical Apple Menu (7.0)444
Set number of levels2-5 levelsNO (5 levels)NO (5 levels)
Sort Apple MenuNONO4
Turn On/Off444
Exclude specific foldersNO44
Small Fonts option4NONO
Expand Network Volumes444
Other Features:
Auto Hide Background Windows44NO
(system 7.0 only)
Auto drop menus44NO
Drop menus at mouse click44N/A
Pop Up Launch Menu44NO
Group Files4documentsN/A
Launch multiple frequently used files4NON/A
Remember open itemsNO44
Auto Reopen items at startupNONO4
Reopen recent itemsNO44
Specify items to appear as
Hierarchical menusNOApple Menu only4
Auto add apps to launch menu44N/A
Allow apps to open all file types4NON/A
Add folders to Launch menu (7.0)4NON/A
Automatic Application Substitution4NON/A
Switch applications44NO
Color Depth Switching44NO
Processor cache switchingNONONO
Sound Level switching44NO
System 7.0 savvy444
Balloon Help44NO
Apple Events4NONO

For more information:

HandOff II is published by:

Connectix Corporation

125 Constitution Drive, Menlo Park, California 94025

Phone: 800-950-5880, 415-324-0727

FAX: 415-571-5195 • AppleLink: CONNECTIX

CompuServe: “MACAVEN”

Price: $99 • Not copy protected.

Now Utilities is published by:

Now Software, Inc

520 SW Harrison, Suite 435, Portland, Oregon 97201

Phone: 503-274-2800 • FAX: 503-274-0670


Price: $129 • Not copy protected.

HAM is published by:

Microseeds Publishing, Inc.

5801 Benjamin Center Drive, Suite 103

Tampa, Florida 33634

Phone: 813-882-8635

FAX: 813-884-5941


America OnLine: MICROSEEDS

CompuServe: 76004, 2100 (GO MACBVEN)

Microseeds BBS: 813-885-2686

Price: $99

Not copy protected.


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