A sidebar to the article “Evaluating the Macintosh Finder,”
published in Byte, issue 12/1984, pp. A99.
Apple has been widely criticized for providing only one disk drive
in the basic Macintosh. While two disk drives are definitely
desirable, it is certainly possible to make productive use of a
single-drive Macintosh. All it takes is attention to these techniques.
Use separate start-up disks for each major application.
Because of the Macintosh’s limited memory size, most
application programs are not able to fit entirely in memory.
Instead, the program must often go to disk, bringing in code
and data. This requires that you keep the “application
disk” (the disk containing the actual application
program) in the disk drive nearly all of the time.
When you’re ready to save the document on which you’re
working, the application program will typically allow you to
eject the application disk and insert another data disk. While
this is handy at times, it enacts a penalty of several disk swaps
every time you save your work, and you should save it often.
You can avoid these swaps simply by saving your work to the
To use this strategy, you need to free as much space as possible
on your application disk to make room for your data files. At
first, you might think that the Finder’s system files
(veritable disk gluttons consuming up to 230K bytes on every
400K-byte disk) would be good candidates for elimination. No
way. Most application programs require frequent access to these files.
A better idea is to create separate application disks, each
having the system files and a single application program. For
example, to create a separate application disk for MacPaint, make
a copy of your original Write/Paint master disk using the Disk Copy
utility (included in version 1.1g of the Finder). Then delete everything
on the copy except the system files and MacPaint. You’ll
end up with a stand-alone MacPaint disk that can be used to
start the computer.
Using this technique (and the techniques that follow) will usually leave
you with 100K to 250K bytes of open space on each application
disk. This should give you plenty of breathing room for
storage. Of course, storing data on application disks is
not very efficient. You can alleviate this problem by using
application disks for temporary storage only; use separate data
disks for permanent storage. When you quit an application,
copy your document files to a separate data disk that doesn’t
have the system files or application program. Then you can delete
your data on the application disk and make room for more files.
If you find that you frequently need to switch back and
forth between two application programs (e.g., when you are cutting
and pasting MacPaint images into MacWrite), you may want to have
a disk with both applications. In this case, you’ll probably
have to keep your data on a separate data disk and endure the
disk swaps every time you save the data. Try to avoid this
if you can.
Use the Font Mover utility. The Finder stores character
fonts (the bit maps that define the shape of each character)
in the System file. Because these images take up quite a bit
of disk space (138K bytes in version 1.1g) and because some users
do not need all of the different fonts, a utility program,
called Font Mover, is provided that allows fonts to be
removed from the System file.
Deciding which fonts to keep is up to you. Keep in mind that the
larger fonts offer the biggest rewards in disk-space savings.
Note: certain fonts, required by the operating system, cannot
be removed by the Font Mover program; they are Chicago-12,
Geneva-9, Geneva-12, and Monaco-9.
Stay in application programs as long as possible. Since
opening and quitting an application program are slow operations, do
as much work as possible each time you run an application. For
example, if you need to paste a number of images into a MacWrite
document, draw all your images in one MacPaint session, storing
them in the Scrapbook. This will reduce the number of times you
need to open and quit an application program.
Practice good desktop housekeeping. The Finder stores
a “hidden” file on each disk that gives the
current status of windows for that disk. Updating this file often
takes a significant amount of time, especially if you are
ejecting and inserting several disks in sequence. Speed up your
operations by keeping the number of open windows to a minimum.
Do all file copying at once. Every time you copy a
file from one disk to another, a few disk swaps are required.
If possible, postpone file copying until you can do it all at
once with one copy operation. In this way, your average number of
swaps per file copied will decrease.
Don’t forget that the Finder has two methods of selecting multiple
files. You can drag a box around the group of files (this works
well when the file icons are near one another), or you can
hold down the Shift key and click each file icon in turn. When you
have selected all the files you want to copy, drag any one to your
copy destination. Like the Blue Angels, the entire group of files
will fly in perfect formation across your desktop to the destination.
Use your Scrapbook and Clipboard effectively. They are
stored as disk files. Typically, they are kept in the System folder.
For the most part, the Finder uses the Scrapbook and Clipboard
files on the start-up disk (the disk you used initially to boot the machine).
Things can get a little tricky when you start a new application
program on another disk that also has Scrapbook and Clipboard files.
This will cause the new application disk to become the start-up
disk. But which files will the Finder use?
Actually, the Scrapbook and Clipboard behave differently. The
Clipboard is copied from the old start-up disk to the new
start-up disk, replacing the Clipboard file on the new disk.
This means that the Clipboard will always stay intact even if
you leapfrog from disk to disk as you run different applications.
The Scrapbook, on the other hand, is not copied. Instead,
the Scrapbook file on the new start-up disk is pressed into
service. Thus, each disk with a Scrapbook file essentially has its
This scheme has a pitfall. A typical scenario: you draw a number
of images in MacPaint that you wish to paste into a MacWrite
document. After carefully storing each image in the Scrapbook, you
exit MacPaint. Because MacWrite is on a different disk, you eject
the MacPaint disk, insert the MacWrite disk, and open up
MacWrite. To your dismay, the images you have just stored have
vanished. Where did they go?
They are still around, but they’re in the Scrapbook file
on the MacPaint disk. How do you get around this problem?
One solution is to avoid using the Scrapbook, use the Clipboard
instead. But this approach can be incredibly time consuming when
you need to transfer several items because of the time it
takes to repeatedly open and quit each application program as
you cut and paste each image.
Another method is to copy the Scrapbook file from the old
start-up disk to the new start-up disk prior to starting
the new application program. You do this by dragging the Scrapbook
file (in the System folder) to the new disk before starting
the new application program.
Use keyboard commands. The Finder includes command key
equivalents for commands that are usually selected with the
mouse from the pop-down menus. Many times executing these
keyboard commands can be quicker than using the mouse.
Use the keyboard/mouse buffer. The Finder buffers
the mouse movement/clicks and keystrokes. Since many operations
are repetitious, you can often anticipate the next step and
place it in the buffer in order to keep the disk drive
from stopping. The computer must wait for a stopped disk
drive to come up to speed before you can begin reading or