Stuffit Deluxe 4.0
Estimated Price: $129.95 SRP; $29.95 upgrade
I knew it was only a matter of time. Sooner or later I’d need a good compression utility. I didn’t really need one when I first got my computer; I had a whole hard drive to fill and nothing to fill it with. Then, I became part of the online world, where sending and receiving files really necessitated having a compression program. While I was online with eWorld and AOL, it still wasn’t a pressing need, since both of those programs had StuffIt technology built in. But then I canceled my AOL account and got an ISP account. Suddenly, I needed a means of compacting the files I was going to send over the ‘net. In addition to that, by now my hard drive was starting to fill up.
My first impulse (being the cheapskate that I am) was to turn to one of the shareware alternatives, such as DropStuff or Compact Pro. But, then I decided to take a look at StuffIt Deluxe. When the opportunity arose to get the newest version of Aladdin System’s flagship product at an unbeatable price, I went for it.
And I was not disappointed.
StuffIt Deluxe 4.0 is an unbeatable program. It is easy to see why the StuffIt method has become the Macintosh standard for compression. It is easy to use, yet extraordinarily powerful and flexible. There is hardly anything to complain about with StuffIt, and plenty of things worth at least a little praise.
MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT
Or, in this case, stuff an archive. I mean there is more than one way — try a dozen! For starters, while you are using the StuffIt Deluxe application, you can stuff a file into an archive using the “stuff” command under the Archive menu. You can also click on the “stuff” button on the floating tool palette.
Outside of the application itself, there are several more ways. Using the Magic Menu (a pull-down menu in the menu bar), you can choose to stuff the file that is currently selected in the Finder. Or, simply take the name of the file and append a “.sit” or “.sea” to it. The file will automatically be stuffed. Another method is to drag-and-drop a file onto a previously existing archive. Alternatively, you can create a new archive by holding down the option key and going to the File menu. The usual “New Folder” command is now “New Archive.” And, of course, you can always use the included DropStuff utility to drag-and-drop a file and change it into an archive. You can also compact a file into segments using the DropSegment utility, or compact a file in SpaceSaver format using the MagicMenu or yet another drag-and-drop application DropCompress.
Is that a dozen yet?
Maybe not, but it’s more than enough for me — and I very well may be forgetting one or two. There’s just as many ways to unstuff an archive, too, but I won’t go into detail. Just rest assured that you’ll never use them all without intentionally doing so.
One of the greatest features of this new version of StuffIt is the ability to open archives in the Finder without unstuffing them. This makes it easy to view the contents of an archive and expand only the files you want to. You can also view how much space each individual file takes up, and how much has been saved. Adding a file to the archive or expanding one is as easy as dragging a file into or out of the open archive’s window. This “True Finder Integration” has worked flawlessly in my dealings with it and is one of the biggest advantages StuffIt Deluxe has over its little sibling, StuffIt Lite, or Bill Goodman’s Compact Pro. Talk about convenience!
StuffIt SpaceSaver is also included in the package. SpaceSaver is a background compression utility that will compress the information on your hard drive transparently. When you want to open one of these compressed files, all you do is double-click, and SpaceSaver will automatically expand it for you. This is a handy way to effectively double your hard drive space. However, if a file is SpaceSaver compressed, it will take a little longer to load after you double-click on it. Also, keep in mind that any information that you have compressed using SpaceSaver can’t be used on another computer that doesn’t have SpaceSaver installed. With these things in mind, I don’t regularly use the SpaceSaver portion of StuffIt Deluxe, but it is still handy to have around, and an added bonus to an already terrific product.
The manual for StuffIt is quite in-depth, almost overly so. Every little detail is thoroughly explained, nearly to the point of being redundant, especially given StuffIt’s ease of use. I would have never referred to the manual had I not decided to do this review, and I wouldn’t have missed much. However, it’s good to have a well-written manual like this one just in case you do ever have a question, or have to teach a technophobe how to compact a file.
StuffIt Deluxe is a powerful program that has the ability to translate a file from nearly every compression format imaginable. It is easy to use and carries a very small learning curve. The five drag-and-drop applications included with the package are handy, too. With the Magic Menu and True Finder Integration implemented almost perfectly, StuffIt Deluxe takes functionality and handling of compressed files to another level.
If you don’t deal with compressed files a whole lot, you can probably get by with the shareware combo of DropStuff and StuffIt Expander. I’ll admit that those two portions of the Deluxe package are still what I use the most. However, if you even think that you may need a little more functionality beyond what those two drag-and-drop applications have to offer, don’t hesitate to buy the commercial package. The extra money you spend will be quickly made up in added options and convenience.
With version 4.0 of StuffIt Deluxe, Aladdin has made a nearly perfect utility. In my opinion it should have a spot on every Mac user’s hard drive, certainly that of any Mac user with Internet access. After fully exploring the depth and range of features that Aladdin has included here, I’m left with only one question —
What in the world could they possibly add to make a version 5.0?