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File types and creators on the Macintosh

When you double-click a file on a Macintosh, the mac uses a fairly subtle method to decide what sort of file it is and which application to open it with. Mac files have two "secret" codes associated with them, one to tell the mac which sort of file it is (e.g. a jpeg, Word Document or Movie) and another to tell the mac which application will open it when it is double-clicked. These codes have four letters each and can be thought of as being a bit like the ".doc" ".txt" etc. extensions that a PC uses.

A common problem relating to this system is that you may have files (say, from a digital camera) that open with one application (say, quicktime player- a common default) but you'd prefer them to open with Photoshop. The solution is to change the hidden codes but it's not easy. An application called "filetyper" is available (to buy) to do this sort of work but an in-house solution is available for free!

The program works via applescript and should be equally at home under "classic" Mac OS and Mac OS X


Contact webmaster@bioch.ox.ac.uk for more details

Further Information

1  Downloading the File Type/ Creator Script

Point your web browser to http://www.bioch.ox.ac.uk/10step/downloads/creator_type_intel.zip, or for older pre-intel systems http://www.bioch.ox.ac.uk/10step/downloads/creator_type.sit and you should end up with a file called "Creator & Type Droplet" on your desktop.


2  Using the Script

To use the script, drag and drop a file or files onto it. You can either type the hidden codes (a tricky option if you aren't familiar with which letters correspond to which application) or browse for afile with the creator/type combination you want to use.

Alternatively if you have, say, a jpeg that currently opens with explorer that you'd prefer to open with graphic converter, just browse your way to the graphic converter application.



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