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Manage Your Files With Magellan

Manage Your Files With Magellan

A longtime user of the Magellan file manager/file viewer shares his insights into the program s unique features.
By John B. Hickman
With the disk capacities of an HP Palmtop being enhanced to 8,16, 32 or 64 megabytes, file management has become an increasing problem.

 Filer, HP's built-in file management program, is excellent for navigating and even finding files on a well-organized Palmtop. However, my HP 200LX has never been that well organized and I doubt that it ever can be. It currently has over 1000 files spread over more than 50 directories and subdirectories on two physical disks.

 With all that stuff, how can I find older files and eliminate unneeded ones? After all, the purpose of keeping old files is the probability that they will be useful later on for some purpose. Eventually, however, there comes a time to purge useless files. Whether you're looking for a file to use it or purge it, the first problem is to find it.

 Running Magellan

 My solution is to install Magellan 2.0 on my HP. I have owned a registered copy since the early 1990's when Lotus introduced the program. Fortunately, for HP owners, Lotus has placed the program in the public domain so anyone may have a copy.

 Magellan is too big to run under System Manager. This means I have to press More MENU Application Terminate every time I want to use the program. However, being able to fire up Magellan is worth this small hassle. Since I've installed Software Carousel, Magellan is always loaded on my HP and it is just a hot-key away at any time in its own DOS session.

 Here are some of the tasks Magellan will do:

 File Management

 Magellan is primarily a file management program. It has files called "viewers" that permit viewing many kinds of files without executing the programs that run them. One can even cut text from a viewed file and either print or paste that text to a file.

 Macro Language

 Magellan has a simple macro language that lets users streamline repetitive tasks. Any combination of keystrokes can be combined into a macro. By including "Program Launch" in a macro, the possibilities are immense. The macro facility makes it easy to customize the program to suit your needs.

 Exploring Directories

 Magellan offers a very powerful Explore feature that slices through complicated directory structures to present carefully tailored subsets of your files for viewing, moving, deleting and even editing. The subset of file names appears on the screen regardless of the directories in which the files reside. This way, related files may be grouped together without disturbing their actual locations on any disk. The directories are, of course, clearly identified.

 Archiving Using PKzip 1.1

 Archiving files using PKzip is a very simple task. Simply shake out a set of files that may need archiving. Then highlight the ones to be archived. A couple of keystrokes later, the files are compressed to a *.ZIP file with a name of your choosing. Once zipped this way, it is easy to view those files again without unzipping. Just highlight the zipped file and a list of its contents will appear. Then highlight a file of interest, and immediately, its contents are displayed on the screen. Unfortunately, the built-in MGzip is an early version that won't read or unzip files zipped by the current Version 2.04g of PKzip.

 File Viewers

 Magellan examines both the file extension and the file's structure to decide what kind of file it is. Then it selects an appropriate viewer for displaying that file. There's an override to change the viewer if the wrong one is selected. One of the viewers is actually a crude text editor that can be used to edit or create files. On the HP Palmtop, the simple text viewer will let you peek inside Database, Phonebook and Appointment Book files. The files won't look like they do normally but text information will be there to read.

 File Cleanup

 Magellan simplifies cleaning up a disk full of files. After extracting a subset of files (say, all 123 files on A: and C:) they can be sorted in either ascending or descending order by file name, extension, path, size, time/date as well as other criteria. The list shows the path, size and creation time and date of listed files. By highlighting the file name and pressing the Enter key, one may see a file's contents.

 One way of cleaning up obsolete files is to find exact duplicates. These would be files sorted by name, regardless of path that have the same size and creation time and date. Sorting files by size can reveal identical files that have different names. If you are unsure of the contents, there is a compare function that will compare two files and report whether their contents are the same or different. The compare feature works without disturbing the current file subset and sort view.

 File Organization

 Beyond cleaning up files, one may also wish simply to organize them in a more logical fashion (Screen 1). Magellan simplifies file organization. For example, my Lotus 1-2-3 files frequently need reorganization. I usually place newly created 123 files in the default directory (C:\_123\). Using Magellan, I can inspect them and move them to appropriate subdirectories. This keeps the default directory clear of clutter while placing the files in smaller directories where can be more easily found.

 Fuzzy Searches

 "Fuzzy" searches are easy and very useful when looking for files containing common elements. To do such searches, it is necessary to keep a file index. The index can become quite large. For my 20 million bytes of files, the index is about 500,000 bytes. However, once it is built, the index allows you to search quickly for any string of words that may appear in files.

 The "fuzzy" search results in a list of files having any of the words. These are ranked by a goodness of match score. The goodness of match can vary from 0 (no match) to 100 (perfect match). Files with a score of 20 or less are suppressed. That default level is adjustable by the user. From time to time the index can be quickly updated. The update process adds only new or changed information to the index.


 Magellan can also launch programs. Simply highlight the executable file and press F7. If there's enough memory to run the program (which is usually the case), the program will execute and return to Magellan upon exit.

 No Support from Lotus

 Unfortunately, Lotus stopped supporting Magellan a few years ago. As a result, there was never a Windows version of the program although it operates fine under Windows 95/98 and even has mouse support. To use a mouse, execute the program MGMOUSE.EXE instead of the usual MG.COM. I use it almost daily on my Pentium machine in preference to Windows Explorer.

 The worst part about the lack of support from Lotus is that there are no viewers for files created by newer programs. Lotus Freelance for DOS files pop right up, but the Windows version files can't be examined. DOS versions of MS Word and Word Perfect files are viewed perfectly, but neither can be viewed in their Windows 95/98 versions. While older PKzip version files can be viewed and even unzipped, the newer version is unsupported although it is said that with a copy of PKzip 2.x and the Magellan launch feature, a macro can be created to work around that problem. I haven't tried that, though.


 As you might expect, your freely downloaded copy of Magellan won't come with a manual, although it will have a file MGMOUSE.DOC explaining the mouse setup. Magellan is easy to learn by trying different features. It's hard to make any serious mistakes. The download will include a very good tutorial program with sample files that will lead you to other features of the system.


 Fortunately there is a CompuServe Forum for Magellan. It is Section 7 of the LOTUSB forum. Lots of helpers lurk there. Not only that, but CompuServe messages have a special viewer that displays the file headers. To see a message, one simply highlights a header and then views it by pressing Enter.

 Downloading Magellan

 Lotus has placed a number of its older programs and certain Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) files on an FTP Web site. To download your copy, you can search for "Magellan" on either www.PalmtopPaper.com/download.htm or www.palmtop.net and you will get to the Magellan site quickly.

 One of the files that will show up on a search is called MAG2INST.ZIP. This is a copy of Magellan 2.0 that has been pre-installed on an HP 200LX. The splash screen shows the user name and company as "Courtesy of... Thaddeus Computing. Inc." You can download this file onto your HP Palmtop and use the command PKUNZIP -d MAG2INST.ZIP and the file will expand into an automatically created \MAG2 directory. When you're satisfied with the performance of Magellan, you can download a copy of the program along with the viewer files you want and reinstall the program to suit your own tastes.


 Magellan is a superb file management program well suited to the HP 200LX. It is easy to use and offers features beyond those available in HP Filer. HP users should seriously consider including it among their favorite utilities.

Selected ScreenShots from Magellan on the HP Palmtop


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