Use Preview instead of Adobe Reader in Texmate

I just installed Adobe Reader on my new computer, only to discover that it hijacked the PDF preview window in TextMate when working on LaTeX documents. This also happened the last time I installed a new system, and I couldn’t remember what I did to change it back to using Preview as the default PDF viewer.

After googling around, I remembered that TextMate is just using the regular browser settings when it comes to displaying PDF files. For some weird reason, you have to go in the Adobe Reader preferences to change this back. Unfortunately, on my system the uncheck box for this functionality is grayed out:

adobe-reader

Finally, I just decided to delete Adobe’s PDF viewer plugin altogether, by deleting this file:

/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/AdobePDFViewer.plugin

This solved the problem, both in Textmate and in my browsers. If anyone wonders, Preview is much, much faster than Adobe Reader and I also think it displays the fonts nicer.

PDF merge in preview

After I began using PDFCompress for minimizing PDF files, the only reason I have had for using the full Adobe Acrobat has been to combine PDFs. Now I realize that since OS 10.5 this functionality has been built into Preview. I guess I should really start reading the release notes of OSes and applications a bit more carefully, since I managed to get to 10.6 before I found out about this feature.

Anyways, it is super easy to combine files: Just open in Preview and drag the icon(s) from one file on top of the icon in another (see demonstration).

Looking around for this solution I also discovered the free iCombiner application, which may be even easier to work with, and especially when having many PDF files that I want to combine (e.g. lots of chapters in a book).

So now I don’t really see any good reasons for upgrading my old Acrobat to a newer version any longer.

The challenge of creating booklets

I have been trying to create a booklet out of a standing A4 paper (the booklet size should be 105 x 297 mm), but this has proven to be much more difficult than I would have originally thought. It is a while since I have been doing things like this, and I still remember how easy it was to do such things back in the days when I used to use MS Publisher 1.0 for everything (that must have been the best MS program ever!). I also recall that creating brochures with PageMaker was a simple thing.

Now, in 2008, things are not so easy anymore… I bought the full Adobe package earlier this year, so I have InDesign installed on my computer. Back in the days when I used PageMaker on a daily basis, I found it easy to get around, but I never really understood (or tried to understand) the logic of InDesign. Also, after working with applications like OmniGraffle and Pages for some time, I don’t really think the Adobe-style user interface is that intuitive anymore. So I set out to create my booklet in Pages.

Unfortunately, it turned out that it is not possible to create a booklet in Pages. Looking around the web, I found this small application called CocoaBooklet which will spit out a booklet file from an input PDF file. However, this only works for correctly A-shaped paper sizes. It promises that you could specify the size of the page yourself, but I think I tried every possible combination without succeeding in outputting a brochure in my desired format. It would always try to stretch it to fit to a regular A4-paper. Same thing with the CreateBooklet automator plugin, and the online utility Bookletcreator. They all assume that you work with a regular A4 page for the input.

The solution: I ended up doing the project in InDesign after all… I am sure it is a very powerful program, but the user interface is some of the most unintuitive I have been working with for several years. The good thing is that the booklet creation is fairly easy, except that it outputs a PS file instead of PDF. Oh, well, I can live with that as long as my brochure comes out in the correct format.

Ah, back to doing something meaningful again…