ResEdit is an extensible, stand-alone resource editor for the Mac OS. You use ResEdit as part of your software development process to create icons, menus, and other resources for applications and files.
Apple used to host its own documentation for ResEdit on the Apple Developer Connection website until it was removed recently. Apple’s ResEdit Reference (from Apple’s Developer Press, 1995) which is 148 pages of heaven for anyone in a nostalgic mood, is still available.
Alternative Versions of ResEdit
ResEdit 2.1.4 was an unofficial, unreleased version that added some extras. (If you know more, tell us!)
ResEdit 3.0 was a development version for the old Copland OS. It provided support for a couple of new resources that were to be a part of that defunct system.
SuperResEdit was a version put together by someone other than Apple, that had some additional templates (which are now outdated) and came with a utility called Forker. Forker is a System extension that lets you edit the data resource with ResEdit.
There is very little information available about unofficial these versions.
From what I know, there were two books available. ResEdit Complete (2nd Edition) by Peter Alley and Carolyn Strange, published in 1993, is a thorough manual spanning 431 pages. This book actually came with ResEdit on a floppy disk (I would think most used copies are missing that though). The book shows you how to protect files/folders by making them invisible, personalise cursors, change icons in alert boxes, personalise Desktop icons, add custom icons for Folders, add shortcuts to menus (including the Finder), modify your keyboard layout, and so on. ResEdit really is a multifunctional tool if you know how to use it (if you don’t, this book will show you how).
The other book available was the official Apple ResEdit Reference (an updated version is available as a PDF), this was originally published in 1991 with Addison-Wesley and was 168 pages.
Always work on a copy
If you do nothing else, at least do this. Working on a copy ensures that no matter how bad you screw up, you have something to fall back on. Of course if you are hacking software you can reinstall it if things go wrong, but who wants to do that.
Never throw away the original
It never fails. You perform a hack. It works beautifully. You figure “why waste the disk space” and throw away the original. Then WHAMMO! Everything goes to crap on you as if it was just lying in wait for you to be so stupid.
I simply keep an “Original” and a “Hacked” folder within my ResEdit folder. As I work on an item it gets to be stored in “Hacked” and when I’m ready to use it I put the original file in the “Original” folder for safe keeping. With a few exceptions most of what you hack will be fairly small files that won’t take up much disk space.
All you can damage are files
Remeber that no matter how badly you may screw up using ResEdit you can’t damage your hardware with it. It won’t “break” your hard drive or screw up your processor, it can only change software and software files. So as long as you take care to back things up there is nothing to worry about.
Never work on something as it’s running
As I said, work on a copy. If you try to make changes to any software while it’s running the results will probably be disasterous. Especially if you’re working on the System software.
Keep a Startup Disk handy
We all make mistakes. But as long as you have a startup disk (at least while your hacking the system), such as DiskTools, you’ll be fine. You can restart from the Startup Disk, swap the hacked file out for the original copy and restart.
Make a log of your changes
If you decide to become a Mission regular and you perform a lot of these hacks, you should keep a record of your efforts. At some point one of them is bound to make your machine act a little strange. Simply trace the occurences back to when they began and see if a hack is to blame.