September 2003

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This month we look at two powerful utilities designed to make working with Mac applications much more efficient. Palette Manager 2.0 works with Adobe InDesign and its simplicity and ease of use reminds us of some of the utilities we loved using on our older Macs. QuicKeys X2 is still everyone's favorite automation tool, even after all these years.

Palette Manager 2.0. Teacup Software (, $69.95.

As thousands of QuarkXPress users migrate to Adobe InDesign, they'll find the familiar Illustrator/Photoshop interface, and that includes dozens of palettes splashed across the document window regardless of whether or not you need them. Launch InDesign and/or select a palette from the Window menu and you're stuck with it until you close it. Palette Manager changes all that. This simple, elegant, and unobtrusive plug-in locks palettes to a document window as well as to page items. For example, if you're using the Stroke palette on frames on several pages, you can have the Stroke palette move next to whatever page item you select. It gets better. If you install the Workplace Manager, another nifty plug-in, when you select a text frame, the text-specific palettes (workspace) appear; select a picture frame and the picture-specific palettes come to the front. You don't have to move the Character palette to make room for the Swatches palette.

When you lock a palette to a document window (Ctrl-click on the palette menu to lock/unlock palettes), the palette moves when you move the document. If you lock a palette, such as the Swatches palette to a page item such as a text frame, the palette moves with the page item. When you select a different page item, the palette automatically moves to the new selection.

Download demos from Teacup and enjoy using InDesign much more efficiently. These plug-ins install easily, work seamlessly with the application, and provide much-needed order and control of InDesign's massive palette structure. Teacup provides a great product at a reasonable price as well as excellent customer service.

Reviewed by: Suzanne Thomas

QuicKeys X2, CE Software ( $99.95

QuickKeys is the most powerful and most popular software tool for automating repetitive tasks. This new version, more compatible with Jaguar, simplifies recording: just tell it to watch and record what you do. Then play it back with a user-defined trigger. Its radically redesigned interface makes it much easier to create and manage shortcuts. You can now sort by type, name, scope, or advanced triggers. Create vertical toolbars with custom icons and button sliders, and use the new Clips shortcut to instantly create and organize clips of images and text for quick retrieval in any applications.

With Menu Selection and Menu Clicks you can easily activate menus in OS X applications, and the new Windows shortcut lets you close, collapse or zoom in on any window or even toggle their toolbars. There's even a shortcut to activate the Mac's screensaver.

There isn't any way you can use your Mac like a grownup without this much beloved utility. Whether you're a novice or pro, there's a shortcut that can make your computing life much more productive. Unless you're AppleScript savvy, QuicKeys is the easiest and most intelligent approach to automating even the most complex computing tasks.

Reviewed by: Suzanne Thomas