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Continued from Part 1

File Mappings

The Internet isn't really a friendly place for Macs to play. You see the Internet was created in a Unix/Dos/PC world and it still works around the same assumptions that were made about how computers work so many years ago. One of the core side effects of this is that Macintosh files can't live unprotected on the Internet. If you send a Macintosh file out onto the Internet without any pre-processing most of them will be destroyed or corrupted.
Macintosh files are embedded with special information that tells the Mac OS what type of file it is and what application created it, files on the Internet can't hold this information. In the Unix/Dos/PC world the only way to tell what kind of file you are looking at is by the three letters that follow the file name. This is why every file you look at from the Internet will have this three-letter extension following ever file. For example Windows applications have the extension of ".exe", Photoshop files have the extension of ".psd", JPEG files have the extension of ".jpg", and Word documents have the extension of ".doc". Normally a Mac won't understand what to do with these files unless it is specifically told what to do with them.
It is the File Mappings section of Internet Config that allows the entry of correlating Macintosh information to these three letter extensions.
You will notice that most Macintosh files you download over the Internet have these three letter extensions. Most Macintosh downloads will have either a ".bin", ".hqx", or ".sit" extensions. These three file formats represent specific file formats that are actually safe transport vehicles that contain Macintosh files inside of them. While we will leave the specifics of each of file format for a later MacTip, generally the BinHex format (".hqx") is the most reliable and safe. If you have the choice and are having trouble with either of the others you may have better luck with the BinHex version.
The File Mappings section of IC will not only allow a user to associate Macintosh information with downloaded files but it will also allow those files to be passed to another program for post-processing. Many Macintosh users are in the habit of downloading files and then dragging them to the application they want to open it with. Post-processing automatically opens the downloaded file with the chosen application. In most cases post-processing usually involves either decoding or decompressing a file that has been downloaded.
Stuffit Expander is the most popular post-processing utility. Stuffit Expander is included with most web browsers and is a part of the Mac OS Internet installer. Stuffit Expander is able to decode and decompress most files downloaded from the Internet, choosing it as the post-processing application for the three types of files mentioned above will allow it to convert most every download into usable Macintosh files.
You can choose a post-process application by choosing the extension from the File Mappings list. If you don't see the one you want you can click "Add" to add it. Checking the "Post-Process:" check box and selecting an application will cause any file downloaded with that three-letter extension to be automatically opened with that extension.


Although the centralization and switching of preferences is a big part of Internet Config, it is much more than just that.
The part of Internet Config that I use on a daily basis is the launching of a particular Internet application for each individual Internet protocol. For those who use the all-in-one Internet access applications like AOL this isn't a significant an issue, when you click an email address in AOL, it assumes you want to use AOL to send the email. But for those like me who use one application for looking at web pages, another for reading email, another for downloading files, and still another for reading Usenet, Internet Config offers a little sanity and cohesion between all these programs. Each of these protocols has a certain type of URL (Uniform Resource Locator) associated with it. IC links these URLs to specific applications you choose. The primary vehicle of this linking is through a Command-Click. Most of the current Internet applications support this Command-Clicking. Adding the "ICeTEe" extension (found in the "Goodies" folder) to your System folder will allow most other applications to support Command-Clicking including SimpleText. The most common types of URLs are those for web pages (http), sending email (mailto), and downloading files (ftp). If you take the time to setup these three with a web browser (i.e. Navigator or Explorer), email client (i.e. Em@iler, Outlook, Eudora, etc.) and a file transfer client (i.e. Anarchie or Fetch) they should meet most of a typical users needs. These helper applications are also used in many applications when you click a button or menu item that contains a URL to a web site or an email address.
Once you have your helper applications setup you should never have to copy and paste an email address or URL ever again. Simply do a Command-Click and the URL is opened with the application of your choice.


Remember IC is a System.
Although IC is great for entering Internet information it is important to keep in mind that it is only as good as the applications that support it. Some applications support IC perfectly, some support it partially and others don't support it at all. Be sure to check the documentation for the application ou are using to see how it works with Internet Config.

I hope this MacTip has been usefull in understanding the basics of how Internet Config work and will allow you to more productive on the Internet.




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