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MacTip #38

Internet Config, You never knew you loved it so much!

Internet Config 2.0 is one of the few software programs that come close to being perfect. When it is doing its job and setup properly you will not even notice it is there. I would bet that there are many people who have used it for a long time and didn't know what was behind the scenes doing the job. And best of all, it is free.

Internet Config bills itself as a single place to enter all your Internet preferences. IC indeed does that but it does even more. Not only will it keep you from entering your preferences in every application but it also acts as a traffic cop, telling your Mac which application to use for each thing you want to do.

Internet Config is included in Mac OS 8 and many applications so you will likely have at least one copy already installed on your machine. (I had five copies when I started this MacTip!)

Internet Config has been around for a long time. Version 1.0 was released in 1994 and version 2.0 was released the end of 1997. Most people have version 1.3 or 1.4 installed so you might want to go and download version 2.0 from here to be sure you have the latest update.

Internet Config isn't just a program; it is a system.

The first thing to understand is that IC does very little by itself. IC was designed as a system for handling the different types of information and protocols that make their way across the Internet. For IC to do its job an application needs to support the standard IC has set in place. Different applications support the Internet Config standard in varying amounts and in different ways.

One thing that you will find interesting about looking at the IC documentation is that there are absolutely no limitations on how it can be used. We can thank Quinn "The Eskimo" and Peter N Lewis for their forethought in making this system as open as possible, that openness has allowed software developers to incorporate its features and include the software in their products. This openness has even (reportedly) allowed Apple to make it a part of Mac OS 8.5 and an integral part of the Mac OS.

Internet Config's features generally fall into three categories shared preferences, file mappings, and helper applications.

Shared Settings
Enter them once; use them all over. The stated purpose of Internet Config is to allow you to enter your Internet preferences in one place and access them from any application that needs them. More applications now support the IC system than ever. Some applications require IC and use it as the interface for entering these preferences. Some other applications provide users the option of using IC or using fields provided by the application for entering these preferences.
Examples of Applications that require IC to function are Anarchie (a file transfer application), MacSoup, and some other applications. If you try to use any of these applications when IC is not installed you will be unable to continue until it is installed and configured with the necessary information.
Many other applications don't require IC but contain a check box in the preferences that will allow you to switch to using the IC system. This will allow you to enter all your internet preferences like email access information, Web browser home page, key download sites, etc. only once and be able to access them from each application that might need them.
IC Setting Sets.
Not only does Internet Config provide a single place to enter users Internet preferences; it is also capable of handling information for multiple people, profiles or locations. Inside the IC application there is a sets menu where you can define different "sets" (Select 'Duplicate' and then 'Rename...' from the 'Sets' menu to create a new one). Once you have multiple "sets" setup you can simply select the one you desire from the menu. This is useful when you have multiple people using the same machine, or when you use the same machine for multiple Internet identities. A good example of this might be using a single machine for both business and personal use. IC allows you to switch all your settings between your business identity and your personal identity faster than Clark Kent can change into Super Man.
Internet Config 2.0 includes a couple new ways to switch between settings other than launching the Internet Config application; you will find the keys to these in the "Goodies" folder that comes with IC 2.0. The first is a control strip module called "Internet Config Switch". This when used in conjunction with Apple's Control Strip allows the user to dynamically choose from the available sets with the click of the mouse.
The other way that you can move between the different settings is through Apple's Location Manager for PowerBooks. Placing the "Internet Config Set" location manager state module into the "Location Manager Modules" folder will allow you to switch IC settings along with all the other settings controlled by the Location Manager.


Now continue on to part 2 and see File Mappings and Helpers can make your life easier.





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