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Ask TUAW: Outlook 2011 attachment problems, Apple TV alternatives, deleting apps and more

Welcome back to another edition of Ask TUAW. Each week this column will feature questions from readers and answers by the TUAW team. If you have questions for the following week's column, drop them in the comments, and I will do my best to get to them.

When asking a question, please include which machine you're using and what version of Mac OS X is installed on it (we'll assume you're running Snow Leopard on an Intel Mac if you don't specify). If you're asking an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad question, be sure to note which model and version of iOS you have.

For this week we've got a new batch of questions about Microsoft Outlook attachments, Apple TV alternatives, keeping an iPad, getting an iPod touch, deleting applications and more.

Lee asks:

I'm using Outlook 2011 on my iMac and many times when I receive attachments in emails the attachments are Winmail.dat files and I can't open them. How can I fix this?

Unfortunately, those 'winmail.dat' files are created when the sender's Exchange server or Outlook for Windows client encodes the file attachment; if they've got your contact flagged in Outlook as someone who can receive 'Rich Text' messages, you'll get the Outlook PC-only winmail file.

Fortunately, there is the free TNEF's Enough utility; this tool will quickly and easily decode your inbound attachments. (For those who are using Mail.app, there's also the US$29.95 LetterOpener for Mail.app, which integrates winmail.dat handling and several other Outlook-savvy tools into a Mail plugin. There's a free iPhone/iPad app, too.)

You can also contact those people sending you the attachments and ask them to change the format they use when sending email to you.

The problem is email formatted as Rich Text. Have the senders change to anything else besides RTF, such as Plain Text or HTML, and the problem should go away.

To set Outlook 2010′s default mail format, select Options from the File tab, select the Mail tab and select HTML or Plain Text from the Compose messages drop-down menu.

To set Outlook 2007 and earlier to use a different default mail format, select Options from the Tools menu, select the Mail Format tab and select HTML or Plain Text from the Compose in this message format drop-down menu.

Michael Asks:

Besides Apple TV, there is no way to rent and watch iTunes movies on my TV, right?

If you are confining yourself to iTunes movies, the answer is you are mostly correct. Apple TV is the best and least expensive way to watch iTunes content on your TV. That said, you could also get an iPod and attach that to your TV to watch movies and TV programs. However, they would not be in HD.

Another option is to get a Mac mini or Windows HTPC and attach it to your TV (or, if you have a Mac or Windows laptop, use that). That's a pretty expensive way to go, though, and it's probably overkill for most people; you'll also have to be careful, if you go with the HTPC, that it supports the HDCP standard for content protection (which Apple uses for HD movies in iTunes). However, the mini does have an HDMI connection, and it's capable of doing most everything the Apple TV can do, including playing Netflix movies in the browser -- in fact, it can do some things the ATV can't do, like play Hulu or non-YouTube videos. You can even get a great remote navigation/fullscreen experience if you run something like Boxee on the mini. You can't quite do AirPlay from your iDevice to the Mac... well, you sort of can with Erica's AirPlayer, but it's not quite ready for prime time yet.

In my opinion, though, the Apple TV offers the best combination of features and price. It's a nice piece of hardware with a great set of content options, including iTunes streaming and Netflix, and it supports AirPlay to display pictures or video from your iPhone or iPad. All that for only $99 (plus the cost of content, of course) is not a bad deal at all, and it's very easy to set up and use.

Evan wonders:

I received an iPad for my birthday. I'm really looking forward to the next generation, though. Should I return this iPad and wait, or will I be able to resell this iPad for a significant amount in April?

Given the nature of technology, you can be sure of at least one thing: something better and cheaper will always be coming out. That said, there's really no way of knowing exactly how much an iPad (or any piece of Apple hardware) will be worth once a new generation arrives.

Given that Apple hardware tends to hold its value better than gear from other manufacturers, it stands to reason that a first generation iPad will be worth quite a bit even after a new version comes out. How much, though, will be anyone's guess.

You also can't really compare it to the prices of previous generation iPhones. As those can be unlocked and used in other countries, they tend to fetch good prices even for older models.

The short answer is that you will be able to sell your iPad once a new one comes out. Checking on eBay I see the average price for a 32 GB Wi-Fi used iPad to be around $425.00 -- about $175.00 off of its original retail price. Once a new model arrives, I would expect that to drop below $400.

Again, these are just estimates I'm making based on previous experience with used Apple hardware and checking prices on eBay. Your mileage may vary.

Another option, and the one I recommend, is instead of worrying about the next thing to come out, just get yourself some cool iPad apps and start enjoying your technology today. Let tomorrow take care of itself and stop chasing the "next big thing."

leftwingchristian asks:

I've been coveting an iPhone for some time but am more than a little put off by the costs involved. I'm a middle-aged, scatterbrained, busy, techy-geeky mom; not much of a gamer. Mostly what I'm in search of is access to a calendar that will sync with my iMac and other time-management and organizational apps. Although 3G would be nice, I think I might be able to live with just Wi-Fi. Would an iPod touch suffice? If I'm not going to go the iPhone route, should I wait for the next gen iPad?

Part of my answer depends on what kind of cell phone you have at the moment, whether it's currently on AT&T's network and if you're happy with it. If all you really need is to be able to sync a calendar and you really don't care about using the device as a phone or having 3G internet access, an iPod touch will probably suffice.

That said, if you're not happy with your current cell phone and are already on AT&T, switching to an iPhone will give you the added benefit of using a cell phone that works quite well (within network limitations) and offers you the other features you are looking for.

Regarding gaming, the iPod touch, iPhone 4 and iPad are all gaming platforms, but you don't have to use them as such. You don't pay extra on any of the devices to have that feature. So, if that's a consideration when choosing between an iPod touch or iPhone, it doesn't need to be.

However, the iPod touch doesn't have any requirement for a wireless contract with AT&T, so that's a cost savings over the iPhone 4. Also, depending on your current cell phone provider, if you have to break your contract with another carrier (which can have significant costs) to switch over to AT&T and the iPhone, it might not be worth it to you.

From the information you've given here, it sounds like an iPod touch would probably work best for you. Of course, that means you'll be carrying two devices: a cell phone and the iPod. However, if you don't mind that, it might be the best way to go.

Donna wonders:

I've installed a lot of applications on my iMac to test them out. Now that I don't use them, how do I delete them from the computer?

It depends on how the application was installed in the first place. Most Mac OS X applications are self-contained "packages" that live in the Applications folder -- usually by dragging and dropping them into the folder. For most applications, you can drag the app you want to get rid of to the Trash and then empty it.

Applications may create preference files that are stored in the ~/Library/Preferences/ or /Library/Preferences folder (the ~ is UNIX-vintage shorthand for "my home directory," so the actual path will look more like /Users/chris/Library/Preferences). Although they do nothing once you delete the associated application, they do take up some disk space. If you want you can look for them in the above location and delete them, too. Apps may also have associated content in the /Library/Application Support folders as well.

Other applications often come with an "uninstaller" application, which can often be found inside the folder created when the application itself was installed. To get rid of that application, run the uninstaller and it should remove all traces of the application from your hard drive. If you can't readily find an uninstaller, it is always best to consult the documentation that came with the application or the developer's webiste to find out the best method to remove it.

Some applications have particularly complex uninstall requirements if you really want to get rid of them. Adobe's Creative Suite products have a reputation for leaving key bits behind during the uninstall process, in some cases preventing you from reinstalling or activating future versions; for this, the company has a specialized tool (the CS5 Cleaner) that will scrub all traces of the install from your machine. Microsoft used to provide a 'Remove Office' tool to take care of uninstalling Office 2008 or 2004, but in 2011 that's no longer included. Instead, there's a seven-step removal process that walks you through the manual uninstallation of Office 2011.

If you really want to remove all trace of an application that doesn't include its own uninstall tool, you can use any one of several utilities that will do the trick. Of the ones available, I prefer and use AppZapper. It's simple to use and does the job well.

Simply drag the application you want to get rid of into the AppZapper window, and it will remove the app and its associated files quickly and easily. AppZapper isn't free -- it will set you back $12.95. However, there is a limited free trial that will allow you to remove applications for a short period of time before you have to enter a serial number.

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