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ATPM 3.04
April 1997




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Review: PopupFolder

by Robert Madill,


Product Information
Distributed By: ASD Software Inc.
4640 Arrow Highway
Suite E, Montclair, CA 91763
Phone: (909) 624-2594
List Price: $30

Macintosh® Plus or above
System 7 or higher.

My computer technician, at work, is an absolute purist. He insists that I am not being a true computer environmentalist. He watches with some degree of disgust as the icons of various non-Macintosh extensions load across the bottom of my computer screen. "Conflicts and Crashes!" he warns. For years now, we have played out this game of "computer roulette." Sometimes he is right and sometimes...well, my refusal to stick to his dictate of maintaining a "clean" machine proves to me that third-party developers can often improve my Macintosh® operating system.

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ASD Software Inc. is not far off when it advertises PopupFolder[TM] as "The ultimate Finder navigator." In actual fact, it is that and even more. PopupFolder has the main goal of giving you quick access to all folders, applications, and documents on your hard drive, any other active removable storage devices, or a CD-ROM you might have sitting in your CD-ROM drive. Initially, the product appears to offer the services of the "Extension Manager" native to the standard Macintosh operating system. Users of the shareware products such as "BeHierarchic" might suspect this utility might be just another variation on a theme. The most controversial remark that I might make is to compare PopupFolder to the similar module in Now Utilities[TM] 6.5, by Now Software, Inc. As a registered purchaser of the latter product, I feel that I do have a right to make observations concerning the merits of its module comparable to PopupFolder. Although I had been a regular purchaser of the Now Utilities package since version 4, I became increasingly bothered by a package that included more options and modules than I really needed. Not only did I not need the "Quickfiler" or "AutoType" modules in that system, but I began to run into system conflicts. Furthermore, I did not appreciate having to periodically check the Now Software Web site to update the package. I guess that having stepped into the realm of personal opinion this far, I must admit that I do prefer to use Conflict Catcher (Casady & Greene) as opposed to the Now Startup Manager offered in the Now Software Package. There goes another reason not to load the larger package.

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I might as well really get my feet wet and say that from an aesthetic point of view, I appreciate the fact that PopupFolder does not place its "flag" triangle on top of customized folder icons the way that the Now Utilities module does. The customized folder is left with a clean image, and generic folders are "flagged" with the marker in the lower right hand side of the folder, as opposed to "smack-dab" in the middle of a folder; customized or not. Having come this far, I feel obliged to mention that the electronic manual for Now Utilities did cost me over two hundred and thirty pages of printing credit at work. The tiny twenty-four page print-out for PopupFolder was well worth the printing credits and probably unnecessary in the final analysis.

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This utility has the kind of easy and intuitive interface that Macintosh users have come to expect! Clicking on a volume or folder displays a pop-up menu. Another click (or drag if you don't have click-drop menus turned on) on a folder displayed in the first menu gives you access to any further menu branch and so on down to the extent of 16 levels deep. The desired document or application, within this "tree," can then be directly opened from that on-screen display by releasing the mouse button. You can also "file" a file or folder by dragging it on to a folder or disk, waiting until the menu pops up, and selecting the desired destination folder. The 255K this control panel occupies on your hard drive is justified by the variety of features it offers. Its operations can be customized in a variety of ways.

Opening the control panel reveals the options available to the user. For example, the manner with which one can open a document can change depending upon whether or not you have chosen "Auto-Drop" from the menu bar option. In that case a simple mouse click is necessary to launch the desired item. I personally use "Auto-Drop" in my setup in order to develop the "Folder Tree" without having to hold down the mouse button. This does have a draw back. No matter where you go on your computer screen, if you inadvertently touch on any item in the menu bar, the contents of that item scroll down quicker than greased lightning! It's excellent proof of the speed of this utility, but sometimes this can be a minor annoyance when that was not where you intended to go!

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While you are still experimenting with selections for the menu bar options, you will discover that you can place the PopupFolder menu on the right hand side of the menu bar. This folder can be used to display and activate frequently used folders, applications, and documents. In that location, it takes up absolutely no screen "real estate," as is the case with products such as PowerBar© (Dubl-Click Software Inc.) and OneClick[TM] (WestCode Software).

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Admittedly, the PopupFolder menu does not offer all of the potential of the two previous applications, yet the basic operations are still there and are supplemented in the "Shortcuts" section. This utility allows the user to create keyboard shortcuts to frequently used applications and folders. Now if only I can remember all the keyboard combinations I selected for my favourite applications!

The fine tuning potential for this utility allows for a variety of functional and cosmetic changes. The user may choose whether or not to allow for custom icons, font sizes and types in the pop-up menus, and can choose the sizes of the "Open and Save" dialog boxes, among many other utility "tweaks." Moving through items across your hard disk, and system navigation, in general, have never been easier.

As a final touch, the utility offers you the option as to whether or not to show the utility icon at startup. In keeping with my "computer pollution" battle with my purist technician, I keep the icon "off", but I don't think I'm fooling him!

[apple graphic] Copyright ©1997 Robert Madill, Mr. Madill is a   Professor of Art and Architectural History on the faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Reader Comments (1)

Marcia Bradwick · December 12, 2002 - 14:18 EST #1
I used to have PopupFolder on my old Power Mac. Later, I switched to the iMac and I was told it would not work with the iMac. Is that true? I have been using the iMac for about four years now and I still miss Popup so much. I am a teacher and have developed very deep folders. Can you tell me if there is a version that works with the iMac? Thanks.

Marcia Bradwick

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