Ask TUAW: Printing Finder window contents, CornerClick, a Finder hotkey, editing AVIs and more

This week's Ask TUAW takes us into questions about printing Finder window contents, assigning programs to the corner of your screen, bringing up the Finder with a HotKey, integrating Apple productivity programs, recording TV on your Mac and editing AVIs . Remember new Mac users and Switchers who are enjoying our Mac 101 series should feel very welcome to post questions for Ask TUAW; we're happy to take questions from all levels. As always, please submit your questions by commenting to this post or using our tip form.

Jacob asks

Is there a way to set a hot corner to open up an application? I ideally want to be able to set the bottom left corner of my 23" ACD to activate the Sleep Display app, so that it will just put the display to sleep.

Fortunately, this is a pretty easy one. You just need CornerClick, a slick little PrefPane we mentioned a couple of years ago. It will do exactly what you want, allowing you to "launch an Applescript, hide an application(s), open a URL, or activate different Exposé settings." As you can see below, you can also open a file; just set it to the Application.

Rodney asks

Is there a way to print a graphical representation of a directory's structure? I found a way to print a text file through terminal but would like a visual as well.

Well I'm not entirely sure what you mean by a "graphical representation;" nonetheless I've found (via Mac 360 ) a likely solution: Print Window from SearchWare Solutions. It comes in two versions, a freeware version and a more advanced shareware version for $15. The freeware version, however, was perfectly adequate for generating a PDF of a chosen directory, complete with icons. The shareware version adds Disc cover printing, Manual subfolder expansion, and file information.

If you just want to print out the directory contents in a text file, the free PrintFinder does a fine job. It allows you to specify a directory and then will generate a text listing, including subfolders, and spit out a text file to your Desktop.

Dave asks

I often find it necessary to pull up finder since I often work on servers (local and otherwise) is there a single stroke solution to pulling up the finder, like a hotkey or something?

There's no built-in way to do this, but it's a very easy task using a hotkey manager of some sort. Since I'm a firm believer in the Quicksilver camp, I'll show you how to quickly make a trigger that will do this in Quicksilver.

Just go to Triggers section of the Quicksilver preferences and add a new HotKey trigger. Type "Finder" and select "Open" as the action. Now all you have to do is assign it whatever HotKey you like; I've assigned it F2 in this example. Now just hit F2 and the Finder will come to the front. You might also consider using the CornerClick utility above to do the same kind of thing with the mouse.

Darrell asks

I have used outlook for years at work and misc applications on my mac for all of my contact info etc. I would like to have everything in once place, like in outlook for tasks, mail, contacts, notes, calendar, etc. I currently have a sprint motorola q as my treo died, so I am now using missing sync to get everything from work on my mac. to do that, since we use Goodlink, I have to sync the phone with my desktop outlook, then sync when i get home, which everything is seperate(iCal, Address, Email). I know it all integrates, by visually, it is multiple programs. I suppose I could use Entourage and sync with our exchange server over vpn, but was hoping to find a alternative.

I have never used it, but there is an application out there that does exactly what you describe, integrating iCal,, and the Address Book into a one window interface. It is called Crm4Mac and normally sells for $49.95, though it seems to be on special for half off right now. Since I don't have any personal experience with it, you might like to check out this post at Hawk Wings, where some commenters express frustration with the lack of support.

Paul asks

What's the best way to record tv to a mac? I want to buy a 360 and know you can record tv from it to a pc. Do you need to buy a separate tv tuner if you're using a mac, then stream it using the 360?

I assume you're referring to a Xbox 360 (TUAW Guide); if so you should know that it does not offer any recording capabilities (video content on the 360 is downloaded from the Xbox Live Marketplace). To answer your question: yes, you'll most likely need to buy a separate tuner for your Mac if you want to record TV to it. Right now, several of us at TUAW use the Elgato EyeTV Hybrid USB tuner, which we've reviewed here. It provides over-the-air HDTV tuning as well as standard definition cable and over-the-air tuning, together with the EyeTV PVR software for about $150. Elgato Systems also offers a number of other TV tuners that might be of interest (as does Miglia, though the software status on Miglia is uncertain at this time). (There is a possible exception to this if you happen to have a cablebox with a live FireWire connection. See this hint at Mac OSX Hints for full details).

As of right now, there is no convenient direct streaming solution to the 360 from the because it only recognizes WMV + WMA. However, the Spring update to the Xbox Dashboard will bring H.264 support (see the TUAW Guide) and make things a lot easier. That said, even after the update you'll still have to record with EyeTV then convert H.264 (with a program like VisualHub) to stream it to the Xbox via the shareware application Connect360 ($20).

Michael asks

I have a first-gen Core Duo MacBook and have no problem playing AVIs with VLC. However, what I need is a simple editor that lets me crop parts out of such files. What I really need is a GraphicConverter for videos. I'm amazed no one has written one. I looked at the MPlayer site, but I can't figure out how to use it.

I've never used it myself, but for the same price as Graphic Convertor X ($30) SimpleMovieX will apparently do what you want. In many ways it's similar to QuickTime Pro (also $30), though SimpleMovieX offers native AVI support while QT Pro would require the appropriate QuickTime components installed for the codec your AVI is encoded with.

Okay that'll do it for this week. Keep those questions and comments coming!

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