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Ask TUAW: WiFi on an older PowerMac, creating contact sheets, managing iPhone apps in iTunes, and more

We're back with another shot of Ask TUAW! This time we've got questions about getting WiFi in an older G4 PowerMac, creating photo contact sheets, blanking a display, automatically opening downloaded files, managing iPhone apps in iTunes, and more.

As always, your suggestions are welcome. Questions for next week should be left in the comments. When asking a question please include which machine you're running and which version of Mac OS X (we'll assume you're running Leopard on an Intel Mac if you don't specify). And now, on to the questions!

The Echidna asks

I currently have a dual 867 MDD with a 'generic' 802.11g card in it using the OrangeWare driver, which doesn't work with Leopard. I desperately want to upgrade to Leopard, I have done it before and know it works... but I also need the WiFi functionality of G which isn't offered in the supported Airport card.

I'd recommend checking out the nQuicky PCI ($99.95) from QuickerTek. It's a little pricey, but it claims compatibility with G4 PowerMacs with a PCI slot, and indeed offers the much faster 802.11n spec.


iGO asks

Is it possible to make a "contact sheet" on my iMac 10.5.6? I want like an 8x10 sheet with say 30 to 35 little 1x1.5 inch thumbnails. Like a photo proof sheet for allowing users to pick the pictures they would like printed.

Well, this is a built-in function of iPhoto in the print dialog, so that would be the easiest solution if you already have iPhoto. If you don't want to use iPhoto, Automator might be a good way to go. There is a built-in New PDF Contact Sheet action, which will allow you to construct an Automator app to do what you like (check out this tutorial from Apple). If you want a little more control you might also have a look at this third-party Create Contact Sheet Automator action with which you can easily build an Automator application.

If you're willing to spend a little, Graphic Converter ($34.95) has some interesting tools for what they call "catalog creation." Obviously, many more expensive graphics apps also have this kind of functionality as well.


ax sedrin asks

I have my 37" HDTV hooked up to my iMac (24" intel, brand new, OS X 10.5.6) as a second monitor, and I'm using Plex as a media center on my HDTV. The problem is, with the iMac in the same room as the HDTV, the screen is very bright and distracting during movies. Is there any way to turn off the display of just the iMac (and not also kill the video to the HDTV)? Or is there a simple program I can run that will "black" out the iMac screen?

The handy little application Backdrop (donation requested) will allow you to put a solid black screen fill on the display of your choice. It's not exactly the most elegant of solutions, but it will help. I'd also recommend making the HDTV the primary display in the Displays Preference Pane so that the menubar will be located on it rather than the iMac's display.


Eug asks

Back when i used IE in windows xp, and clicked a URL that links to a document (doc/xls/ppt), it would ask me to save or open. in OS X these just download by default. only PDF is opened within Safari. is there any way to have the option to save or open the file, rather than just have it save?

I don't believe there is a way to have Safari ask you want you want to do on a case by case basis. However, there is a setting in the Safari Preferences that will allow you to automatically open "safe" files after downloading. However, I really would not recommend turning this one, because it presents a potential security risk.

There is a Word Browser Plugin available for Safari, which will do basic display of Word files in a window; you can download it here.

If you use Firefox, on the other hand, you can turn on the"Always ask me where to save files" checkbox in the general preferences; at least then you have the option of picking your save location.


Unregistered asks

How do I clean up my iTunes? I currently have a lot of free apps that I grab during their giveaways or heavy discount periods. While I don't use them all there are quite a number that I would like to keep for future use. Can I burn the whole Mobile Installation folder to DVD and then delete those that I don't need for the time being? Will the backed up apps work by simplying dragging back from the DVD?

It seems that iTunes treats iPhone applications more or less the same it treats music tracks. So if you right-click on an app and choose to delete it, iTunes will ask you if you want to move it to the Trash or leave it in your Mobile Applications folder (generally ~/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications). If you tell it to leave it in Mobile Applications you can then re-add it to iTunes simply by dragging and dropping. That way, you could conceivably delete the applications you don't want, but archive them on a DVD which would allow you to re-add them at a later time if you so chose.


Khalid asks

Is there an easy way connect a Mac Mini to my HDTV using HDMI? I am planning to buy one but don't want to spend 800$ and discover that it doesn't work or has poor image quality (I want a quality as the Apple TV).

This should be no problem. HDMI is a superset of DVI, so you all you need is an HDMI to DVI cable like this one from XtremeMac (~$20) as well as a Mini-DVI to DVI adapter ($19) from Apple. This should allow you to plug into your HDTV and run at the full resolution supported by the display. Reader Carlos points out that this HDMI arrangement will not relay the audio from your machine, so you'll need a separate audio patch cable.

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