© Damian Carter 14 Oct 1999
E-Mail: Damian Carter <email@example.com>
This contextual menu plugin is used to open a file using an application other than the files creator, by taking advantage of MacOS 8's contextual menu. The plugin can also convert creator codes and file types to suit the chosen application.
OpenUsing is compatible with Sherlock (and probably more)!
New in 1.5.1
Small extension to the type sensitive configuration feature introduced in 1.5: OpenUsing is now also sensitive to DOS style file name suffixes (eg. "readme.txt"). Please consult the Advanced Options section to see how to use this new feature.
This feature was suggested by a user, however I somehow lost their email! If that user would like credit for this feature, please email me again!
*MacOS 8 or better
*A PowerPC Macintosh
* Drop the "OpenUsing CMPlugin" onto the System Folder.
* Create a new folder called "OpenUsing Folder" in the Application Support folder, which is found in the System Folder.
* Restart your Mac.
* Alternately, you can use the provided "OpenUsing
Installer". This is an AppleScript that will copy
the OpenUsing CMPlugin to the right place in the system
folder, and create the "OpenUsing Folder"
The script optionally installs aliases to the OpenUsing Scripts (see below).
* Applications: Place aliases of applications in the OpenUsing Folder. Only these applications will appear in the OpenUsing contextual menu.
* Ordering: Items are loaded in alphabetical order. Use the prefix "xx)" to order things as you want them to appear in the menus (where x is any character). The "xx)" prefix will not appear in the menus.
* Separator Lines: You can add separator lines to the menu by placing empty folders with names that end with a hyphen (-) in the OpenUsing Folder. Empty folders are otherwise ignored by the plugin.
* Submenus: Folders and their contents appear as submenus. However if the name of the folder ends with an ampersand (&), the contents of the folder are loaded without creating a submenu.
* Running Apps Submenu: to load a list of running applications into the OpenUsing submenu, place an empty folder named "Running Apps" in the OpenUsing Folder. Of course you can use the ordering prefix and/or ampersand suffix as part of the name.
* The OpenUsing Folder is checked every time you use the contextual menu. So if you make changes to the contents of the OpenUsing Folder it is not necessary to restart.
* Folder nesting in the OpenUsing Folder is limited to a depth of 16. This ought to be more than enough. Remember, the more items you place in the OpenUsing Folder, the longer it takes to load.
* Folder aliases may be used in place of a folder anywhere in the OpenUsing Folder. You can even make the "OpenUsing Folder" itself a folder alias. Everything mentioned above regarding folders also applies to folder aliases.
* Folder aliases which live inside the folder they refer to are detected and ignored (to thwart the circular alias problem).
* Select any number of files/folders/disks.
* Control-click on the selection to open the contextual menu.
* Choose an application from the "Open Using" submenu. The selected file(s) will be opened using the chosen application.
* Files in the selection are assumed to be of the same type as the first file.
* If the application selected does not recognise the file's type you will be warned. You can instruct the plugin to try anyway (expect some odd results), or advanced users can change the file type to one that the application recognises (see below).
* The Open Using submenu is not loaded if:
- if you control-click on something that is not an icon
- no files are selected (eg. desktop)
- an error occurs
* Some applications cannot open files. For such applications setting the creator code or file type or opening files using the application is not possible, so an error message is displayed if you try to do so (except for AppleScript applets which are automatically launched). Such applications can only be launched.
* Many applications cannot open folders or disks. An error message will be displayed if you try to open a folder/disk with such an application.
* If an error occurs while loading the OpenUsing submenu, the plugin will abandon the process, and the Open Using submenu will not appear in the contextual menu. The error will be reported after the contextual menu closes, but not if the error is the same as the last error reported.
* Errors that arise from selecting an item from the OpenUsing submenu are always reported.
* Open & Change Creator Code: To also convert the selected file(s) creator code to match that of the chosen application, hold down command key when you choose the application from the menu.
Some applications register no file types, but can attempt to open any file. For such applications converting the creator code or file type is not possible, so an error message is displayed if you try to do so (except for AppleScript droplets which are automatically launched and asked to open the file(s)). It is only possible to open the selected file(s) using such an application.
* Advanced User Dialog Box: To open a dialog box which
allows the file type to be changed, hold down the option
key when you choose the application from the menu.
- The dialog box also allows the following actions to be specified:
- file type to convert to
- open file(s) using the application
- convert creator code and file type
- The following keyboard shortcuts are available when using the dialog box:
O: check "Open using" only
C: check "Convert Creator & Type" only
B: check both of above
up/down arrows: scroll file type menu
* If you are using the advanced user dialog, then you are assumed to know what you are doing: none of the usual warning messages are displayed when you use this dialog.
* The original creator code and file type of the first file in the Finder selection are displayed inside parenthesis on the right hand side of the dialog.
* The dialog box is automatically placed close to the mouse cursor to minimise mouse travel and speed use of the dialog. The dialog box will cancel itself after around 30 seconds if no actions occur in the dialog box. The cancel button will flash occasionally as a warning. This is to minimise how long Finder is held up by the modal dialog box.
* If you hold down both the command and option keys, then the dialog box is opened with the open using checkbox not checked (it is checked by default).
* Type Sensitive Configuration: it is possible to configure
the OpenUsing Folder so that different items are load
into the OpenUsing submenu depending upon the file
type of the first selected file.
This is done by naming folders with comma separated lists of file types, enclosed within square brackets. The contents of such folders are loaded only if the file type of the first selected file exactly matches one of the types in the folder's name. The contents of these folders are loaded without creating a submenu. You can still use an ordering prefix as part of the name.
Each file type can be either a 4 character Macintosh file type (eg. "PICT"), or a 3 character DOS style file name suffix (eg "readme.txt"). Note that Macintosh file types are case sensitive, while DOS style suffixes are not.
Two special types are defined:
"fold" - matches any folder
"disk" - matches any disk
Some valid type sensitive folder names are shown below:
Finally, you can have a special folder that is loaded only if no type sensitive folders have yet been loaded. This is done by naming the folder "[****]". For best effect you should use an ordering prefix to ensure that this folder is loaded last.
This folder contains two useful AppleScripts to help you configure the OpenUsing Folder. They can be used as regular scripts, or (to be really cool) place aliases of them in the OpenUsing Folder.
The script "OpenUsing Folder" is an AppleScript applet that simply opens that folder so you can deal with it directly. Saves hunting around in the System Folder.
The "Add Application Alias" is an AppleScript droplet. Drop an application onto the script and it will insert an alias of that application into the OpenUsing Folder.
* Have you got an "OpenUsing Folder" installed?
* Make sure you places aliases of applications in the OpenUsing Folder.
* Read the Installation and Configuration sections carefully (really).
* Make sure you have the following extensions enabled:
- SOMobjects(TM) for Mac OS
- Contextual Menu Extension
Please email me your suggestions!
*1.5 (9 Sep 1999)
- Added type sensitive configuration feature. Thanks to Joshua Justice for this suggestion
*1.4 (25 August 1999)
- Added the ability to open files using a running application, by providing a list of running applications in the OpenUsing submenu. Thanks to Stefan Witzgall for suggesting this feature. Please read the Configuration section to see how to activate this new feature.
- Fixed a bug where separator lines were sometimes not displayed. Thanks to Martin Muntenbruch for his detailed bug reports.
*1.3 (1 July 1999)
- Added ability to use folder aliases anywhere in the "OpenUsing Folder". You can even make the "OpenUsing Folder" itself a folder alias. Thanks to Otto Wyss for this suggestion.
- If the name of a folder in the "OpenUsing Folder" ends with an ampersand (&), then the contents of that folder are loaded into the current menu without creating a submenu. Try it out, you'll soon see what this means. Thanks to Vincent Jalby for this suggestion.
- Rewrote some of the menu loading code. Simplified code and reduced memory usage. This hopefully also addresses a mysterious error reported by J. Wehking.
- Recompiled with Interfaces & Headers 3.2.
- Only report 'load' error if different to last error. This only affects errors that are detected when the contextual menu is populated. Errors resulting from choosing a menu item that belongs to OpenUsing are always reported. This is to prevent the same error being reported every time you try to use the contextual menu. But since the error message appears only once - read it carefully!
- Put a relevant description in the code fragment resource.
- Easier to read font for this read me file (Geneva).
- Reinstate version number in advanced user dialog.
- Fixed a bug which caused OpenUsing to fail when the icon selected was that of a server or removable media. Thanks to Alan Eshelman and Alarik Skarstrom for bug reports.
- No longer displays folders that contain only ignored items.
- Fixed keyboard scrolling problem in advanced user dialog.
- Fixed problem of advanced user dialog not automatically cancelling itself.
*1.2 (26 May 1999)
- Added ability to use the plugin with folders and disks.
- Display original file type & creator code in advanced dialog.
- No longer attempts to change creator code / file type of folders / disks.
- Carbon compatibility (unproven...).
*1.1.1 Final (15 March 1999)
- Finally got a copy of MSIE to formally test the plugin.
*1.1.1 Beta 1 (30 January 1999)
- Bug fix: a problem found causing contextual menus to fail completely in MSIE (and potentially other applications) was fixed (hopefully).
- Bug Fix: keyboard shortcuts (O, C & B) now work even when caps lock is active!
*1.1 (29 November 1998)
- Simplified operation.
- Dialog box no longer appears by default.
- Vastly improved handling of situations where application chosen does not recognise the file(s).
- Vastly improved handling and reporting of errors.
- When a bad alias is encountered, offer to select it in Finder.
*1.0.0 (15 November 1998)
- First public release
OpenUsing CMPlugin is free for personal use. Send me an email if you use it and I'll notify you of any updates.
Commercial users, please contact me to arrange terms (I live in hope!).
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