Snow Leopard's RTF, Rosetta handling: Beware of changed behaviors

Snow Leopard makes some important changes in the way that Mac OS X handles RTF (rich text format) documents and the application that will launch them. This could come as a surprise in your workflow, but it's easily fixed with a tweak to your file prefs.

Snow Leopard makes some important changes in the way that Mac OS X handles RTF (rich text format) documents and the application that will launch them. This could come as a surprise in your workflow, but it's easily fixed with a tweak to your file prefs.

The latest newsletter from the Nisus Software folks, the makers of the excellent like-named word processing applications, Nisus Writer Pro and Nisus Writer Express, warned of the change.  In addition, a change to the standard install of Snow Leopard may break a number of file translators. So, be prepared to check an option in the install process.

Nisus Writer and many other Mac word-processing and text handling applications make RTF the standard format, such as TextEdit. And as the company points out, this format is supported by almost every text processing application, which should be no surprise, since the format was created by Microsoft for cross-platform file sharing in the late 1980s.

In the past, Mac OS X Leopard (and all other flavors) tracked the originating application of the RTF file and would open it with that app if it was available. But no longer, it seems.

However, Apple has changed this behavior in 10.6. All RTF files, regardless of where they were created, will open in a single application. By default the Finder is configured to use TextEdit. Obviously, this is not good for our users and us. It will be confusing and upsetting, and frankly we aren't very happy about it.

However, this behavior can be changed in a few easy steps.

In the Finder, single click a Nisus Writer RTF file. Choose the menu File > Get Info. Under "Open with" choose Nisus Writer. Click the "Change All" button. All RTF files will now be opened by Nisus Writer.

The other issue that Nisus brings up is about Apple's Rosetta technology that lets PowerPC applications run on Intel Macs. This engine is no longer installed by default.

This is a potential issue because the file translators we use to open .doc documents, for example, are coded for PowerPC. When you try to open a document that needs the file translator you may see an alert that will ask you to install Rosetta. If you click the "Install" button, Rosetta will then install and Nisus Writer (Express or Pro) will work as before.

Or, to avoid that alert, when you are installing Snow Leopard for the first time click on the "Customize" button and choose Rosetta.