Stuffit Deluxe 6.0, by Aladdin Systems
Posted: 05-Feb-2001

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Aladdin Systems Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: UTILITIES

Stuffit Deluxe 6.0 as a complete package is a great and indispensable utility for any Mac user. Stuffit Deluxe 6.0 as an upgrade to version 5.5 may not be for everyone.

What's new in version 6.0 is:

  • a fresh new look
  • return receipt feature
  • archive searching
  • Mac OS X public beta support
  • version update checking
  • updated contextual menus
  • supports a new format, RAR

While these features are nice in some regards, I didn't find that I really needed any of them. Stuffit Deluxe now sports a toolbar across the top of the screen (similar to Eudora's toolbar), with the option to configure it vertically. After years of the Stuffit-unique toolbar which showed up at the bottom of the archive window, I liked this change.

The return receipt feature sounded interesting at first, but I'm not sure it is something I could really utilize. In an experiment, the way this feature works is that you specify the option in your archive, and when someone opens the archive, it prompts them to send a receipt back to you (using the e-mail you hardcoded into the archive). The user can cancel the receipt, however, so the receipt is not a sure thing. In fact, even if the user chooses to send it, all that the Stuffit engine does is activate the user's e-mail client and sets up a receipt e-mail message. The user must still click on send. This is by no means a sure-fire method of getting a receipt (not to mention the fact that your e-mail address is made clearly visible to the user, a situation that many might prefer to avoid).

The archive searching feature is also another nicety which I personally do not find a lot of use with. I tend to use DropStuff for 95% of my Stuffit needs, and when I do use Stuffit Deluxe, I tend to poke around through the archive manually not needing a search ability. However, that said, I do admit that the search utility is well done. It's a separate application called ArchiveSearch, and it's sleek and fast like the old Finder Find utility (to my liking, it wasn't slow, bulky and metallic like Sherlock II). You type in your search text and choose the volume to search, then the program scans for all the Stuffit archives, and displays the results in a clear and concise manner. It works quite well.

The support for Mac OS X public beta may be useful for those using Mac OS X public beta. That wouldn't be me.

Version update checking seems to be the norm these days, so it makes sense to incorporate that feature. Don't get confused between that and the iSupport menu option of "Check for Updates". The former searches for updates compared to your version, all in the background, invisible to the user, and only if the option is selected in the preferences. The latter simply takes you to Aladdin's web site where you can download any new updates.

I didn't really notice anything different about the contextual menus, so whatever was new was not that noticeable. Likewise, I didn't get very excited about the new RAR format support either. Someone who actually uses that format will probably appreciate it, but I don't use it, nor does anyone I know use it.

What I was hoping for in this release was what most of us probably want: condensing archives more efficiently and faster encoding and decoding. Although neither of these features are announced as part of the new release, I ran a comparison just the same. I took a 60 MB folder (about 300 files) and compressed it under version 5.5 and 6.0. They both compressed to the exact same size, down to the byte. However, it seems that the 6.0 engine may actually be a little faster than its predecessor. Using DropStuff 5.5 with the 5.5 Stuffit Engine, the archive compressed in 4 minutes and 28 seconds and expanded in 3 minutes and 5 seconds. Under version 6.0, the same archive compressed in 4 minutes and 5 seconds and expanded in 2 minutes and 50 seconds. I ran the test twice, and the numbers were about the same both times. Not bad for an unexpected benefit. I imagine your mileage may vary depending on your system configuration. This test was run on OS 9.1 on a G3/333.

Lastly, I have a few complaints. First there appears to be a bug in the new preferences dialog. With no archive open, or a small archive open, I had no problems getting the preferences to open. In several cases, however, when I had a larger archive open, several attempts to open the Preferences dialog resulted in a friendly -192 error dialog (looking up the error tells me that a resource was not found). The occurrence of this message is inconsistent, so I'm not certain exactly what generated this. Hopefully it will be fixed in an upcoming patch and become a non-issue.

Another complaint that I have is that when I was in Stuffit Deluxe working with a large archive, I opened one of the folders in the archive and got a peculiar column heading. It opened a new window with the files contained in the folder, as expected, but in the column heading that should have been "Name" it listed "NOT REGISTERED YET", and in the column heading which should have been "Kind" it displayed "Registered:". That was very strange, especially considering that I had already entered the registration key in order to install the software. I chose the option under iSupport to register the software on Aladdin's web site, and after completing that, I came back and the "NOT REGISTERED YET" column heading was still there. I quit the application, and upon coming back in, it appeared to go away. It was brief, and certainly not tragic, but still annoying.

Finally, I have one last beef. Just the other day (version 5.5 days) I was working with an archive and I wanted to add a password after the archive was already created. What I discovered was that once the archive was created without a password, there was no way of adding a password. I had to create a new archive and specify that I wanted a password during the creation process. I was hoping that version 6.0 would have delivered the ability to add a password without having to re-create the archive, but it didn't. In fact, as best as I could see, it appears to have removed the feature to change an existing password (something that was available in version 5.5). That's not quite the direction I wanted things to go.

All in all, Stuffit Deluxe is a solid compression utility package, the best available on the Mac. I'd like to see the utility improve it's compression sizes and speeds more than getting bells and whistles, but I think version 6.0 still delivers a good product. If you don't already have a version of Stuffit Deluxe, this product is a must-have. If you already have version 5.5, it's not a must-upgrade, but I still recommend the upgrade purchase (in the very least, hoping that the ability to add a password to an existing archive will be funded for the next release).

I give Stuffit Deluxe 6.0 four out of five mice.