creepy creeping Office preferences

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by John Pedro, Feb 5, 2015.

  1. John Pedro, Feb 5, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015

    John Pedro macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2015
    I've been avoiding installing MS Office, because I have had a lot of problems with macro viruses, in the past. Two weeks ago, however, I gave in. I installed Word and Excel.

    Now, when I look inside my User Preferences, I see this s(tuff). Screenshot #1 shows that "Roxio Toast Prefs" are of type "Microsoft Excel Preferences". The same screenshot shows that DivX and OfficeSync Prefs are also of type "Microsoft Excel Preferences".

    More instances will show in a second screenshot, in a second post. Does anybody recognize this behavior?

    I'm not sure if I have composed this post correctly. Let me give it a try... -and thank you!

    My system profile, in brief: G4 Quicksilver 933 MHz, running OS 10.5.8.

    Attached Files:

  2. John Pedro, Feb 5, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015

    John Pedro thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2015
    second screenshot of creeping Excel preferences

    Here is a second screenshot of those invasive "Microsoft Excel preferences".

    This screenshot shows that Excel has made itself the preference for both "AOL Preferences" and "AOL External Prefs".

    The screenshot also shows that AOL Security>Certificates7 is an MPEG-1 Video, as is AOL Security>Key Database3, and several others. However, that observation may be unrelated to my current inquiry, which is about that "Microsoft Excel Preferences".

    And thank you for your patience, while I learn how to post!

    G4 Quicksilver 2002, 933 MHz, running OS 10.5.8

    Attached Files:

  3. John Pedro, Feb 5, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015

    John Pedro thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2015
    one last screenshot, then I give up

    One last screenshot and then I will shut up, for today.

    The screenshot below shows those same Preference files, now viewed as icons.

    The AppleSystemPreferences appears to be an undisturbed .plist file.

    However, that "Roxio Toast Prefs" icon looks more like an Excel template (shudder!)

    Anyway, thanks for reading. (G4 Quicksilver 2002, 933 MHz, running OS 10.5.8)

    Attached Files:

  4. poiihy macrumors 68020


    Aug 22, 2014
    Select one of those files, right click, and Get Info.
    Look in the Name and Extension.
    Whatever the extension is that they use, Microsoft Excel probably uses the same extension for their own preferences making those get the icon and kind aswell.

    Same for the "videos"; they probably use the same extension as MPEG1 videos use.

    I'm not sure though
  5. John Pedro, Feb 6, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015

    John Pedro thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2015
    here is that Get Info information

    Thank you for your response, poiihy. Here is the Get Info information you requested. As the screenshot shows, Get Info can provide no extension for the Roxio Toast Prefs (or any of the other five files with the same problem).

    I do have my preferences set to Show All Extensions. And 99% of my files show their extensions, as requested -but not these troublesome Microsoft Excel Preferences items, whose extension should be .plist, I'm pretty sure.

    With regard to the MPEG-1 Video files, Get Info similarly provides no extension, only my computer's intent to open that file with QuickTime. However, when I ask QuickTime to play one of those MPEG-1 files, it tells me that it cannot: "The file is not a movie file".

    But I'll keep at it... -and thank you!

    Attached Files:

  6. John Pedro thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2015
    here is the genuine Excel preference file

    This is what the genuine Excel preference file looks like.

    It is an ordinary .plist file.

    Thank you!

    (System profile: G4 Quicksilver 2002 933 MHz, running OS 10.5.8)

    Attached Files:

  7. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    You are worrying over nothing.

    A little bit of an explanation…

    There are two ways that Macs identify files and thus which programs to open those files with.

    The first is by extension. If I said to you that a file ended with .jpg you would probably assume that it's a graphic file and it would open in Preview, correct? The system makes that assumption as well. And it makes that assumption based on default rules that Apple has given it.

    Now, what if I did this. Let's say I have this .jpg file. We'll call it 'Example.jpg'. If I Get Info on Example.jpg and I change the Open With popup menu to Adobe Photoshop and THEN I press the button for Change All then I have changed this in the System. Now the system knows that I want all .jpgs to open in Adobe Photoshop. Even the icon of the file will change.

    But what if a file does not have an extension? How does the Mac associate the file with a program then?

    In the early days Apple created what are called file type and creator codes. Macintosh files are saved in two parts. A data fork (which stores the data of the file) and a resource fork (which is these type and creator codes). The codes in the resource fork tell the Mac which program to open the file with.

    This is why for YEARS Mac users never had to add a filename extension to their filenames, yet double-clicking on a file would open the file in the correct program.

    Que OS X and Apple started to deprecate these codes and now newer versions of OS X mainly use filename extensions, just like Windows PCs.

    So, what's happening here is that because of the Office install, your system has been changed to identity those preference files as opening in Microsoft Excel. Since those files do not seem to have an extension this was done on the Type/Creator code level.

    Office is not taking over your Mac. If you don't want to see prefs listed as opening in Excel then do as suggested above. Get Info and change the program that the preferences open with. Then click Change All.

    There is absolutely nothing nefarious happening here.
  8. John Pedro thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2015
    I think you've got this case all wrapped up, Sherlock

    Thank you, eyoungren -that explanation is pretty convincing!

    It will take me a while to mull this over, and then to implement it, but I suspect you've got the answer. (The implementation won't require more than a minute. It's the mulling that slows me down.)

    I think you've got this case all wrapped up, Sherlock. I will report back, after I have thought through the consequences of your assertions, and then put them into practice.

    Thank you for taking the time to explain these things!

    -Don Pedro
  9. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    You're very welcome.

    P.S. Apple has a name for this data fork and resource fork combination. It's called AppleDouble. You can see it most prominently if you ever save a file to a Windows PC or Windows server share.

    PCs do not use resource forks. Hence, for a PC you have to use a filename extension to force the PC to open a file in the correct program. When a Mac saves a file to a PC formatted disk, OS X saves the data fork as the file and the resource fork as a smaller file with a period in front of it.

    For example, using our previous illustration of Example.jpg…

    Data fork ---> example.jpg (this is the part you see)
    Resource fork ---> .example.jpg (this is the part you do NOT see)

    OS X treats any file with a period at the beginning as a hidden file. Thus you never see the resource fork. But if you are a Windows user these are all over the place if you have Mac users saving to PC formatted drives.

    There is an option to prevent OS X from doing this and if that flag is set then OS X reverts to using filename extensions to correctly open files. These small resource fork files are a very big part of the reason Apple started deprecating type and creator codes. PC users were complaining about all these little files littering their hard drives.
  10. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    No need to mull it over, eyoungren is absolutely correct.

    I was about to post something similar, until real life intervened!

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9 February 5, 2015