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Ask TUAW: DVD into iMovie, Dialogs with Keyboard and More

Mat Lu

Last week Ask TUAW took a little unplanned vacation, but it's back this week none the worse for wear. This time we'll be taking up questions from two weeks ago on getting video from a home DVD into iMovie, dismissing dialog boxes using the keyboard rather than the mouse, printing CD case labels, and upgrading older Macs to 802.11n. As always, readers are invited to offer their own comments and suggestion, as well as submit more questions for next week. And now to this week's questions...

Seth & Alex ask:

What is the best (and most cost effective) way to extract video from a non-commercial DVD (burned by a standard DVD player/recorder) to an Intel iMac in a format that can be imported into and manipulated in iMovie?

Okay, the first thing to be clear about is that the following only applies to non-encrypted DVDs. Basically the problem is this: the video on the DVD is encoded in MPEG-2, while iMovie needs something like DV. So you need to rip the data off the disc and convert it to DV. However, there are a lot of potential pitfalls in doing this. People often report losing sync between the audio and video. All things considered, the short answer is: get DVDxDV. In addition to the Pro version for $80, there is a home version for $25 that should do everything you want. If you want to try doing this on the cheap there are some free tools that would make it possible, but it's a longer, more complicated process. There's a good tutorial here on the iMovie FAQ. I would say if you think you might want to do this several times it would be worth the $25 for DVDxDV.

Switcher asks:

is it possible to select dialog boxes buttons with the keyboard. For instance a dialog displays "Do you want to overwrite the file, Yes / No", and "No" is selected. Using the arrow keys or Tab won't let me change the selection. Is there any key combination to do that?

Yes, this is somewhat annoying, especially for a new switcher, but fortunately there is a solution: you just need to turn on Full keyboard access. If you go to your System Preference / Keyboard & Mouse and in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab you will find:

Just click "All controls" and now you should be able to Tab between dialog buttons.

Pepe asks

I have a bunch of "backup" music cds at home but they don't look nice on the shelf like that. I went to Staples to buy labels (probably these, to print out "spines." ... There are a bunch of cd label printing solutions out there for the Mac. They all seem to be about printing nice fancy cd labels with nice fancy templates and backgrounds but I haven't found any yet for printing the actual spine. I realize that it's tricky with the billion different label manufactures out there and all, but still. I also checked within iTunes. There doesn't seem to be a way to export album information for printing.

Well, first of all I'm not entirely sure why you want to use spine label stickers. If you look at your regular full-size commercial CD cases you'll see that the plastic case is in three parts: the cover, an inner case part that the CD itself clips into and and an outer clear part that the inner case snaps into. Now there's a paper insert between the (generally) black CD holder and the outer case. To make professional looking CDs you should print out your own inserts, fold them, and insert those between inner case and the outer case. That way you don't have to deal with spine labels which wouldn't look particularly good in my opinion, and besides I would imagine they are pretty hard to apply straight anyway.

So the best program for making those inserts is probably BeLight Software's Disc Cover. While I haven't used Disc Cover myself, I have used other BeLight products and been very impressed with them. In fact, according to BeLight you can "create custom layouts for unsupported paper stock" with Disc Cover, so you might even be able to use your own labels if you insist.

In addition, the link you provide includes PDF templates that can be modified with something like Adobe Illustrator, so that's a possible solution if you really want to use the labels.

Matt asks:

Is there a way to easily switch between windows of the same program? For instance, if I\'m working on Keynote and Safari, I can hit Apple-Tab to switch between windows. What if I am working with multiple windows of Keynote open? I know there is the F10 route using Expose but it is kind of a pain to constantly shrink my windows and click the one I want.

Fellow reader DJP3221 offers the solution to this one: Command + ~ (i.e. shift + `) will cycle through the windows of your foreground application. If you'd like a visual way of doing this, may I suggest Witch, which we recently covered.

maybenot asks:

with the airport extreme base station now shipping with wireless n technology, is there or will there be a way to upgrade an internal wireless card on CoreDuo MacBook Pros to take advantage of new features such as the AirPort Disk and the Apple TV?

Basically, no, not without some major hacking. Apple traditionally does not allow for this kind of upgrade. In all likelihood, however, somebody like Quickertek will offer an external USB 802.11n adapter at some point, but I realize that is not very satisfying.

All of this information is provided for your entertainment. Neither TUAW nor this author can be held responsible for any problems arising from the use of the information provided here.

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