Starting Line
My Mac Magazine #25, May ’97

Dear Readers:

As I write this article, it’s a lovely Saturday afternoon. The sun is shining through the windows, my 12 year old kitty is sleeping soundly, Metallica is blaring on the stereo, James is playing his drums with the tunes, and the 2 month old Siamese kittens have found their favorite hiding place when the noise, I mean music, starts!

Not too much has happened in the last month. I’m still having problems with the color laser printer at work. Now it’s the noise. In the meantime, the tech and I have become pretty good acquaintances. I know he’s getting married, going to Disney for the honeymoon… you get the picture. However, the print quality is still excellent. If I had the cash for one at home, I would get it (after the computer, of course!). Well, I won’t bore you with my ramblings this month (since I don’t really have any!) so we’ll just jump right into it.

Helpful Hints

HH #13: Special Characters – Like command keys (which are the same from program to program), special characters are generally the same from typeface to typeface. But what, you ask, is a special character? Special characters are handy dandy things like a bullet, ·, a registered trademark, ®, a trademark, the copyright symbol, ©, etc., etc. A list is provided below. These characters not only make your documents look more professional but also get the point across. For example, when writing about Pepsi-Cola®, you had better put in that registered trademark. Why? Pepsi-Cola® gets very upset that no one is paying attention to their trademarks. Plus, it reinforces the fact that you know what you’re doing.

Special Characters
Typographer’s Quotes ” and ” Option [ & Option/Shift [ respectively
Typographer’s Quotes ‘ and ‘ Option ] & Option/Shift ] respectively
M dash – Option/Shift hyphen
N dash – Option hyphen
Ellipsis … Option ;
Ligature of f and i Option/Shift 5
Ligature of f and l Option/Shift 6
Ligature of a and e Option ‘
Ligature of A and E Option/Shift ‘
Ligature of o and e æ Option q
Ligature of O and E Æ Option/Shift q
Copyright © Option g
Trademark Option 2
Registered Trademark ® Option r
Degree ° Option/Shift 8
Bullet · Option 8
Cent sign ¢ Option 4

There are many others. To find symbols you use infrequently, go under the Apple symbol in the upper left corner of the screen, follow the menu down until you see Key Caps and open that option. You will see a mini-keyboard. Press option and you will see what special characters you can access. Press option/shift and you will see even more special characters! To change the typeface to find special characters in other fonts, go to Key Caps in the pull down menu that appears when the mini-keyboard appears. Pick any font that interests you.

If, when looking at the mini-keyboard, you find that trying to figure out which keys to push is taking too much time, simply click on the special character you need. It will appear in a “strip” on top of the mini-keyboard. Then, highlight and copy the character. Return to your document, move the cursor to where you want the character to be and paste. Voíla! Note: If the character changes when you paste it, check the typeface to ensure the character you just pasted matches the typeface you used on the mini-keyboard.

I hope the above doesn’t sound too confusing. Once you open the Key Caps function, it should make more sense.

HH #14: Tabs save disk space – That’s right! Not only do they keep the file size down to a minimum, but if you transfer the document to another computer, there is no “shifting” of text that can be so irritating and time consuming to correct. Let me elaborate.

Every key stroke made, even the space bar, takes up precious disk space. Most folks I know use the preset tab function in their word processor or the space bar when making columns. (There is a table function which we will explore at a later time.) They end up with documents which have 5 tabs for each line of text, even when there is actually only one column of text. Or, even worse, they’ll have lots and lots of space bar “space” which will never line up the column accurately. Each and every one of these key strokes add to the file size. And, when moving the document to a different computer, everything shifts and you lose column alignment since the preset preferences for tabs and margins are different from computer to computer.

Using the tabs in the word processor’s ruler reduces the number of keystrokes and thus, file size. Also, since tabs you create override preset preferences, the columns will not change when you transfer documents.

How do you use tabs? My first suggestion is to check out your owner’s manual. There are a lot of word processors out there and they all have their quirks. However, if you hate the manuals, then fool around with your ruler. With the word processing programs I am familiar with, clicking on the ruler will place a tab. Clicking and dragging the tab allows you to change its position. The different tabs available are usually in a toolbar above the ruler. Click on one and click on the ruler. If it is not the type of tab you want, click and drag the tab off the ruler, click a new tab on the toolbar, and click one more time on the ruler. A new tab! The most common options available (and truthfully, I have never seen any others) are left align, right align, center align, and decimal align.

Have fun!

The Open Forum

  • More on rebuilding your desktop (RYD). Eric Stromberg sent me an e-mail regarding another reader’s comment that they should RYD after each install of software. Eric thought the reader actually meant defragment the hard drive. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, defragmenting the hard drive puts all the different parts of files together in one place. It makes it easier and faster for your Mac to find essential components of programs. Eric points out that Symantec sells Norton Utilities that has an excellent defragment component to it called Speed Disk. Having using Speed Disk myself many times, it’s very handy and keeps your Mac running smoothly. Speed Disk also optimizes your hard drive, which is similar to, but not quite the same as, defragmenting. (If you need or want a more technical explanation of defrag and optimize, please e-mail one of our techs. They will be glad to give you the down and dirty details.) Eric also mentions that optimizing a drive is an excellent way to make your Mac start up faster.Thanx, Eric! Great information!
  • Speaking of RYD, the reader who wrote me about RYD after software downloads wrote again and this time I got her name! It’s Sheri Maurer!!! Thanx for writing back, Sheri. She informs me that after you shoot your PRAM in System 7.5 you need to do the following:
  • Reset Chooser
  • Reset color control panel for highlightcolor
  • Reset cache in Memory Control Panel
  • Reset mouse speed
  • Check/reset time zone and daylight savings in Date & Time Panel
  • Check/reset volume and alert sound in Sound PanelThanx, Sheri! Great stuff!
  • Yet a third comment on RYD this month. This is great! This tip came from Ufischer. (That’s an e-mail name. This reader didn’t include his/her name so, unfortunately, I cannot credit him/her properly.) The unknown reader states that he/she RYDs after each crash with extensions off. Then, he/she will restart the system to reactivate the INITs. Also, she/he RYDs after doing a lot of shuffling around or working with various unrelated files. It helps the access speed on her/his Mac II/68030/20mbRAM. When things get too slow, defrag and optimization are applied.Thanx Ufischer! A good reminder for us on RYD.

    Everyone, thanks for the comments. Please, keep them ‘comin’! I enjoy hearing from readers and learning a few tricks myself. Also, if you have ideas for improving the column, let me know. I love criticism!

    I have one more item to share with you. If you are a Trekkie, you will probably get a kick out of it. I was browsing through an Internet magazine (don’t ask me which one!) and found a site that contains excerpts from William Shatner’s 1968 album “A Transformed Man.” Now, I think James T. Kirk is the greatest hero ever invented and have no wish to sully his name, or Bill Shatner’s either, but this site is hysterical! Falling down laughing hysterical. The URL? Go to I’ll tell ya, I may just have to buy the album.

    And so ends another “The Starting Line”.


    Barbara Bell (

    Websites mentioned:

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