Download Problems
Updated 9 December 2007

Try these Macintosh only hints:

If you can't get a file to download by clicking on the link, then either hold the mouse button down on the link, Control-click the link, or Right-click the link. You should see a contextual menu pop up. From that menu select the entry that resembles 'Download Linked File...' or 'Download Link Target...' - the entry varies in different browsers but the meaning should be fairly obvious. Save the download to your hard drive.

Sometimes, when a download fails, subsequent attempts will give an incomplete download. This can happen with web pages as well, and any other files handled by your browser. If you see this, then you should try clearing the browser's cache (this is usually in the browser's Preferences). The reason is that if a download is incomplete, your browser may still store it in the cache, then when you try again it might be downloaded from the cache rather than the remote server!

Download formats posted on MacRaider & Problems Extracting ZIP Archives

As of December 2007 I no longer post SIT archives on MacRaider - all downloads are now ZIP format. The reason is that to extract SITs requires StuffIt, but StuffIt is still causing problems so I'm not going to continue requiring users to install it in Mac OS X to handle files downloaded from MacRaider!

There are some significant problems with StuffIt in OS X.

-- If you install any StuffIt product in OS X, the system will reassign many ZIP archives to StuffIt, rather than handle them with the perfectly capable built-in BOMArchiveHelper that is included with OS X. This can't be changed easily - you can't tell StuffIt not to handle ZIP files, nor can you use the contextual menu on a StuffIt-assigned ZIP to change the assignment to BOMArchiveHelper! This also applies to a wide range of other archives, but ZIPs are a particular problem due to the next point. Note that this can happen even when you only have the classic StuffIt installed, if you also have the Classic environment active!

-- StuffIt has a history of poor handling of ZIP archives. Some versions will open them, others won't, or may not do it properly. This goes back many years and appears to still be happening with some people! (and it's not necessarily just with ZIPs...) Combine this with the forced assignment of ZIPs to StuffIt, and there's a real problem when you download ZIP archives and are unable to extract them!

StuffIt blames this on Apple, and suggests that the only solution is to remove StuffIt from your computer, and reinstall it every time you want to extract a StuffIt archive. Yeah, right... Although they post an automated uninstaller for download to use in OS X Tiger, the only way to uninstall StuffIt in Panther and earlier is manually. They provide instructions for doing this but it is awkward and can easily be messed up if you're distracted during the process. And it requires two restarts to complete if you stick to the letter of their instructions!

-- StuffIt in the classic Mac OS installed a couple of files in the Extensions folder as well as the app itself. These were fairly easy to find and remove and didn't cause any problems for most people. However StuffIt in OS X, depending on the version you install, can scatter files more widely, making their removal significantly more complicated. Many of these files are installed into more than one Library, meaning that they must all be removed to do a full uninstall or the system may still be affected!

Short term fix

What they don't mention on the StuffIt support site is that there is a simple short term fix to unassign a file association from StuffIt so it can be opened in OS X using the BOMArchiveHelper. Those familiar with the classic Mac OS may recall file Creator & Type codes - these were codes embedded in the file itself, and they were the classic Mac OS's alternative to file extensions (e.g. '.zip') used in other operating systems (such as Windows and OS X). When StuffIt's installed, OS X adds these tags to ZIPs you download and you can't stop it - this is what causes the problem. But you can remove these tags! For some years now I've been using the oddly named 'iLikeYouMore' to change Creator & Type in other files - it does this single job very well, it's free, and it has a very cool icon that actually fits the app, and that's always a bonus ;-) You can download the Universal version from one of the links below for use on PPC and Intel Macs in OS X. After a very simple install (just drag iLikeYouMore into your Applications folder), all you have to do with a StuffIt-assigned ZIP that you can't extract is to open iLikeYouMore, drag the ZIP onto the window, and delete the entries that appear in the two text fields (ZIP & SITX). Confirm this and your ZIP will now be automatically re-assigned to BOMArchiveHelper!

Permanent fix

The only permanent fix is to completely remove all versions of StuffIt from your Mac using the instructions provided on the StuffIt support site (link below). Unfortunately, even though many websites have now ceased posting SIT archives for OS X downloads, some still do and some users may find it necessary to continue using StuffIt despite any problems that arise. If you do have a real need for StuffIt, it may be possible for PPC Mac users with Tiger or older to get a workaround by using the classic StuffIt (installed by default in the Classic environment). If you find this works for you then you may be able to remove the OS X StuffIt while still having a way to extract those archives for which StuffIt is needed. (How well this works will probably depend on various factors, so be sure to check first that it works for you!)

Opening ZIPs in Mac OS 9

If you're using OS 9 or earlier you can use the classic StuffIt to handle ZIPs (StuffIt is installed by default) so my switch to ZIP downloads shouldn't cause any inconvenience to classic Mac OS users as long as they have a version of StuffIt that handles ZIPs correctly. In the past StuffIt was very useful in the classic Mac OS, and it still is. (Note that when extracting my ZIPs with the classic StuffIt you may see an extra item '__MACOSX' alongside the archived files. I don't know why this appears, it may be a quirk of StuffIt, but it wasn't in my original ZIPs...)

Why use StuffIt at all?

There are still reasons for using StuffIt, such as for extracting encrypted ZIPs in OS X that BOMArchiveHelper can't handle, or in the classic Mac OS 9 and earlier to extract ZIP archives, so some users will have a real need for it. But I'm concerned about users of MacRaider being required to install StuffIt in OS X just to handle my downloads when they may not have any other use for it. It is up to the individual to decide whether they have a real need for StuffIt, and for many of us the answer is likely to be a resounding no! Removing SIT downloads from my site is one less reason to install it...

So no matter what Mac and system you're running you should be able to download and extract my ZIPs using one of the above methods. If I'd stuck with SIT archives some users would find it necessary to install StuffIt just to open them, and risk having problems with ZIPs as a result, and to my mind that isn't acceptable! Hopefully my switch to ZIP downloads shouldn't cause any significant problems. My apologies for any inconvenience!

Many thanks to Ralph for bringing his ZIP problem to my attention so I could troubleshoot it!

Links:

iLikeYouMore (at SourceForge)
iLikeYouMore (at MacUpdate)
StuffIt Mac Home
StuffIt Support
Apple Support site

 

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