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Run IE on your Mac with free ies4osx

ies4osx logoIt happens so often: a Mac web designer creates a site that looks amazing in Firefox and Safari. It validates flawlessly.

And then one day they happen to be looking at it on a friend's Windows machine running Internet Explorer, and it looks like hell: padding and margin settings blown out, weird little bugs popping up all over the place, and that wonderful design generally shredded.

The usual suggestion is to buy a full copy of Microsoft Windows (cha-ching!) and either use Boot Camp (rebooting every time you want to test a tweak to your design) or pony up the cash for virtualization software. Either way, you're dropping a chunk of change and using up a boatload of disk space.

Perhaps more appealing, you could buy CrossOver Mac, which for $60 lets you install and run lots of Windows software on your Mac.

But if all you want to do is test web sites, there's a much cheaper solution to your problem. As in free.

ies4osx is a Mac-friendly version of IEs 4 Linux, which uses the open-source WINE project to run slimmed-down versions of IE 5, 5.5, 6 and 7. (CrossOver Mac uses WINE as well.)

Installation is drop-dead easy:

  • download a disk image, and drag the folder it contains to your Applications folder,
  • download, unzip and run the ies4osx installer,
  • and run ies4osx itself to download your choice of flavours of IE.

The result? IE icons in your Applications folder, ready for you to launch 'em.

X11 logoOne little thing: when you run IE, it actually opens in X11, which is installed automatically in OS X 10.5, but is optional in earlier editions - Tiger users, dig out that installation disk.

A bigger issue: this only works for Intel-based Macs. G5 and G4 owners, my sympathies.

If my experience so far is typical, ies4osx is a winner. The installation process was flawless (although it would have been nice to have a progress indicator as the app installed various versions of IE -- as it turned out, that was only about 10 minutes or so).

So far so good on running IE... even simple Flash movies (like the ones that make up the headlines on the Social Signal blog) render fine, although more complex ones seem to choke.

So: Windows software without Windows, and without breaking out the Visa. Nice.

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These week's vendetta: OS X 10.5 Leopard's imperfections

Like so much that comes from Apple, OS X 10.5 is a thing of beauty. Really and truly.

Oh, there are glitches like the way transluscent menu bar works... but on the whole, it's very nice.

Vendetta of the Week


After about a month of Leopardy goodness, here are a few of the spots I'm not enjoying so much. In fact, they're so thoroughly on my nerves that they've qualified as my Vendetta of the Week:

  • Spaces. That virtual desktop feature looked so promising at the outset, so wonderfully and thoughtfully implemented. But once you start launching documents and finding them turning up in seemingly arbitrary locations, and switching applications only to be taken to entirely unexpected desktops, the frustration mounts. I don't mind learning how a feature's quirks and foibles, and I'm prepared to put up with arbitrary behaviors... but not capricious, inconsistent ones. Kindly pick a system and stick to it, Apple.
  • My keyboard freezing. I'm not the only one with this problem: the system suddenly stops recognizing the keyboard for about a minute at a time. (Just the laptop keyboard; a USB keyboard still works fine.) Once it starts happening, the only way to stop it is to restart the computer. (Actually, I just noticed a forum post that suggests toggling Num Lock. By god, it worked. It's a pain, but it worked.) ...but only temporarily. I restarted. Update: Apple has released a fix.
  • The firewall. It's a colossal step backward from a place that wasn't that far forward to begin with. Yes, it's certainly simpler and easier to use; stripping out most of the useful features will do that for you.
  • Time Machine. As backup software, it couldn't be simpler, and bravo. But why can't I easily set my own preferred interval for backups... or force a backup right now?

Those are my beefs with Leopard. What are yours?

Added: How could I have forgotten? Clicking the "Save" button for Mail.app attachments used to launch a handy dialog box allowing you to pick a destination folder. Now, it just dumps those files into a single pre-defined location – which I never, ever want to do. (To get around this, hold the button down and choose from the menu that appears.)

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How to add an authenticated RSS feed in Mail for OS X 10.5

We're a little Basecamp-crazy over here at Social Signal, and a lot RSS-crazy. So the fact that Basecamp spits out a handy RSS feed that updates you when your projects to much as twitch is, to us, a Good Thing.

Operating system

Operating system(doctor to patient on operating table)...And while we're in there, we figure we'll upgrade you to Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard'.
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Skitch invites

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Skitch, the Mac-only screen-capture-and-annotation tool from Plasq, the people who brought you Comic Life.

Now I've been given a handful of invitations to their beta... and the first has already been spoken for. (Hello, Alex.) Whoever'd like theirs, just leave a comment below...

Update: And be sure to include your email address, either in the comment or via our contact page.



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Skitch: suddenly, screenshots are simpler

Funny thing – I was just thinking yesterday how unnecessarily complex it is to illustrate one of these posts with a screenshot, especially a cropped and annotated one.

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Work Smarter with Evernote

Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.