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System Essentials: Part 1
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Author:dhomas trenn
Published by:Amiga Informer magazine (US)
Date:September 1998

This new column (Caught in the Aminet) will focus on non-commercial (pd, shareware, giftware, etc) software and as the title suggests, generally deals with programs that are available on Aminet. As most people know, Aminet is huge and there is often a plethora of applications that perform very similar functions. It can be very time consuming to test the many different possibilities. Caught in the Ami-Net intends to ease the search by providing you with recommendations.

This issue, we begin a multi-part discussion of essential system enhancements that can increase productivity and efficiency in everyday Amiga use. Others provide valuable new functions or enhancements.

These utilities have all been used with standard developer tools, such as Enforcer, and after many months of continuous use have proven to perform in a reliable and system friendly manner. Where applicable registered versions have been used.

Cut, Copy, and Paste
Clipboard is a term that refers to a temporary storage area where text and graphics can be copied or cut (called clips), to be later pasted in another location. Many applications have direct support for a clipboard, but there are many that do not.

Nico François's PowerSnap (Aminet: util/cdity/PowerSnap22a.lha) adds the ability to copy a region of text, displayed with any non-proportional font on any screen or in any window, and then paste it in other applications.

Stephan Rupprecht's SGrab (Aminet: util/wb/sgrab.lha) will allow you to copy a graphic from an entire screen, a window or a selectable region and save it to the clipboard or to a file.

With these tools, you can clip a website address from a message in your email program and paste it into the URL gadget of your web-browser. Or you could grab a section of your workbench screen and paste it into a word processor or dtp program.

One problem though, is that many applications store "clips" in different kinds of clipboards which other programs do not understand. This means that you can not always cut/copy from one application and paste into another. Also, you are usually limited to only pasting the last performed cut/copy. The solution to this is Magnus Holmgren's ClipHistory (Aminet: util/cdity/ClipHistory.lha). It provides access to clips from most applications and gives you a pop-up history list to choose from previous clips.

Gadgets and Menus
If you do not like the preset Workbench keyboard shortcuts, or wish that more common used functions, such as Window/Icon Snapshot and Icon Delete, were accessible from the keyboard then Michael Barsoom's ReKeyIt (Aminet: util/wb/ReKeyIt2_4a.lha) is the program to use. If an existing shortcut conflicts with another utility or you find yourself accidently accessing a particular function you can even remove bindings for existing shortcuts.

Tired of the way menus look? Do you feel they could use a bit more dimension or magic? Olaf Barthel's MagicMenu (Aminet: util/wb/MagicMenu_II.lha) will give you both... and then some. With it, you can configure 3D-look menus in normal and multi-color modes that can appear at the top of the screen (as usual) or can pop-up under the mouse pointer. For that extra special look MagicMenu can even cast shadows. You can also enable a "sticky" mode that can be very handy if your mouse mechanisms are not quite what they used to be.

Many programs make use of the gadtools.library cycle gadget. Often though, too many options make it cumbersome to quickly set a value. Federico Giannici was bothered enough by it to write CycleToMenu (Aminet: util/cdity/CycleToMenu-21.lha). Now, instead of having to click numerous times to get a wanted value, one click will pop up a menu-like list allowing you to quickly set the gadget.