Macintosh Blog Posts
May 3, 2019

Caboodle

Last year I purchased Caboodle as part of Mac App Bundle from TNW Deals. This is one of 15 applications that I purchased for $25. I am a big EverNote fan, I didn't think Caboodle would replace it, but thought it would be nice to add to the collection. (I had to pick 15 apps to get the deal.)

I hadn't installed Caboodle when I purchased, so this week I thought I install it and see how it compares to Evernote and Notion.

Description from their Website

Caboodle allows users to store and organize varied bits of info. Everyone comes across information that they want to refer to later. Maybe gifts you've received or sent, product serial numbers, recipes, directions to someone's house, a photo of your pet, or anything else.

Caboodle Review

Eight Things I Learned About Caboodle

  • Cost $12.99 and available in the Mac App Store, where as on the Before Dawn Solutions site it cost $19.99
  • Last updated 1 year ago - current version is 2.0.4
  • The menus/options seem very basic. There's no "back up to cloud" support, so if your computer crashes - oh well.
  • Under the Help menu it references the #bdsCaboodle twitter handle with no tweets. (Strange for an account that is 2 years old.)
  • Many of the other Help menus reference documents on the Before Dawn Solutions Website, and are broken links. (Frequently Asked Questions is one example)
  • Caboodle is not AppleScript friendly - the application doesn't show up in the Script editor.
  • You can create child entries, which is pretty cool.
  • When you drag and drop an image into a note you can't resize it within the note.
  • You can export notes in HTML, Plain Text, Rich Text and Microsoft Word

Worth Getting?

I would recommend not getting Caboodle. The application appears to be abandoned. There are many good alternative solutions available.

April 26, 2019

WC command

The WC command is a simple command to display the "word count" of anything passed to it. You can even pass in PDF documents to see how many OCR words are in the file.

Look at a PDF document

wc /Users/root/Desktop/HotelHistory.pdf
340 1408 31827 /Users/root/Desktop/HotelHistory.pdf
[340 lines 1,404 words 31,827 characters]

Find the number of Errors in a Log

This will count the number of times an error appears by a certain date. You can loop this in a BASH script to see how many times it appears on some days.

cat /mnt/xd/server/debug.log | grep 27/Apr/2019 | grep "Exception" | wc -l

General Reference

wc -w gives only the word count.
wc -l gives only the line count.
wc -c gives only the byte count.
wc -m gives only the character count.

Why This Post?

As part of the A-Z April challenge, today's letter is 'W.' Oddly enough, there are not that many interesting things on the Macintosh that start with W.

One Option I had was to review Watermark Pro, but I thought it was more interesting to learn more about the 'wc' Unix command. I also wanted to share some of my knowledge.

April 19, 2019

Quick Printing using the Printer Pool

If you work in an office environment with lots of printers, it can confusing to print something now and know what printer is available. Sure printing to the closest printer is the solution, but if everyone else in the office is doing that - it may take a while to get your print.

Luckily you can set up a personal Printing Pool so that you can let the computer figure out the best printer to use - almost like a Waze for printing. Your computer will print to the next available printer - you don't need to spend time figuring it out.

The good news is that this is part of MacOS X you don't need to purchase a printing utility.

Quick Printing Pool

Setting up your Personal Printing Pool

Here are the steps to getting your own printing pool setup. (Tip you can set up multiple pools, based on location or printer types!)

  1. Open up System Preferences
  2. Click on the "Printer & Scanners" icon.
  3. Select multiple printer (Hold down the shift key to select the printers.)
  4. You see the right frame has "Multiple Printers Selected. Click on the "Create Printer Pool" button.
  5. Name the Pool - I suggest something simple such as "6th Floor Printers" or "Color Printers near me" and click "OK""
  6. You'll see the group appear with your other printers.
  7. You can make this the default group by selecting the name in the "Default printer" menu.
April 12, 2019

Keychain Secure Notes

If your looking for a safe place a store sensitive piece of information - your best bet may be Apple's Keychain Secure Notes. The data will be accessible via computer or any iOS device.

This is a good option since third party applications don't have access to this. In addition, it's a bit complex to view a secure note, so you know people won't accidentally find/delete the note if they are playing around with your computer.

Note: Name and Content will not appear in Spotlight Searches. It's a good hiding spot.

Keychain Secure Notes

Adding a New Secure Note

The only way to add a new secure note is via the Keychain Access application. Using LaunchBar simply type KeyChain and return.

Open up the application. In the Window, select a Keychain to store your note. I recommend using iCloud. Then Shift Command N to create a new note.

I wasn't able to find any limit to how big the note can be, so this might be a good place to store the top secret book that your working on.

You can't store image files in the Keychain.

Viewing a Secure Note

To view any note, simply double click on the note and then type in your computer password.

Need More Power?

If you want more than just basic notes, you might want to check out 1Password. (I haven't used them, so I can't attest to how easy it is to use.) One nice thing is that they have 1 GB of encrypted storage for all your documents.

This is a good way to secure and backup all your work documents!

April 5, 2019

Export Photos Notification

When exporting a large number of image files from Apple’s Photo application, it’s pretty scary to see this:

Export Complete
142,311 (of 14,201) files have been exported to: 2015 Photos.

There is no indication of why more files got exported. It made me wonder where the additional files come from. Did I copy some hidden files? Do I have a virus?

It turns out that, in my case, the additional files were ‘burst’ mode files. Apple treat these as special files, as they are a special collection of images.

Create a Smart Album

Here's the Smart Album that I created, so that I know about Burst files in the future. This is good idea so that I can figure out which of the burst mode images are worth keeping:

Smart Burst Album

Simple steps to creating a Smart Album for Burst Mode.

  • Type in Option Command N to create a new Smart Album.
  • Use Burst Mode Photos as the Name (Or anything you want)
  • Then in the condition, use 'Photos' 'is' 'burst'

Pay Attention to the Export

What’s scary is that most people won’t notice this message, as it's a simple banner alert. You may not realized that there are some additional images copied over. I just happen to look at the notification and saw the number difference.

Key lesson here is to check the Notification area after doing an export to see if there were any issues with the export. This is essential if your exporting the photos into a online photo album and may not want the burst mode photos to be exported.

The Notification Center is located in the top left of the menu bar.

March 29, 2019

Anamorphic Pro

Anamorphic Pro is a photo touch up application that can help any image to look professional. There are lots of configurations to help make the photo stand out.

Anamorphic Shot2
Screenshot of Anamorphic Pro interface.

Website Description

Anamorphic Pro is a professional lens blur tool. Now you can edit iPhone Portrait Mode photos on your Mac. Anamorphic Pro turns your ordinary photos into cinematic masterpieces.

Before/After

Anamorphic Before After
Simple touchup to a Portrait photo taken on the iPhone XS Max

Overall Evaluation

One of the downside of Affinity Photo is that you can't edit the Depth information with Portrait photos. That's where Anamorphic Pro comes in. It allows you to change the front most image and really make a cool photo a cinematic masterpiece.

In order to get the most out of this application, it's best to invest in some time. There isn't much documentation to what each functionality does. I found that playing around with various feature was a good way to learn various ways to enhance a photo.

There is no "push button" magic - like you find in Photolemur. You do have to play around with various settings to find the one that works for your photo - and your style.

If you don't have a Portrait photo, you can use the brush tool to create a blur mask - define the area that should be blurred out.

Anamorphic Pro cost $29.99 from the BrainFever website or from the App Store. There is a iOS version which cost $2.99 - it might be a good solution if your focus on just iPhone photos.

This is good solution for Affinity Photo users as it currently doesn't offer any depth editing.

Free Trial Available

You can download and play around with Anamorphic Pro for seven days. It's a good way to see how the application can transform any image.

March 22, 2019

Archey

Did you know that you can set up a cool terminal login with Archey? Simply add it to the .bash_profile, and every time you launch Terminal this is what you see:

Archey Terminal
Archey brightens up the Terminal Session.

Installing Archey

Archey is distributed via Homebrew - a Unix package manager for MacOS. There's a lot of cool utilities in Homebrew, but for now let's install Archey.

  1. Open up a new Terminal Session.
  2. If you haven't installed HomeBrew, follow the instructions on their website.
  3. Once completed, run the following commands: brew install archey
  4. Test the installation: simply type in archey

Adding to the Terminal Login

If you haven't changed the default terminal shell, then your using BASH shell - which is a pretty good terminal shell. There is a small config file that is run every time you launch terminal. In Bash it's call .bash_profile.

Here's how to add it so that it appears on login:

  1. Open up a new Terminal Session. (This makes sure your in your Home directory.)
  2. Edit the .bash_profile file, if your have BBEdit installed type in bbedit .bash_profile
  3. On the last line simply add the following text: archey

Sample .bash_profile

This is my .bash_profile

alias du='du -kh' # Makes a more readable output. 
alias df='df -kTh'

export PS1=" 🏠  d $ "

# Quickly go up 'X' number of directory hierarchy. Example: use: up(3)  instead of cd ../../..
up() { cd $(eval printf '../'%.0s {1..$1}) && pwd; }

export EDITOR="/usr/local/bin/bbedit"   
alias ll='ls -FGlAhp'                   # Get a nice directory listing


archey

Check out the other commands in my .bash_profile which you may find helpful. You can find other helpful Terminal tips from various Bash Blog Posts that I did back in 2017.

March 15, 2019

Remove Background using PhotoScape X

Removing a background color from a graphic file doesn’t have to be complicated. Once you learn how to do it, you can do it quickly.

Why remove a background color?

You might have an image file and want to make the background transparent so you can use it as an icon in Slack or combine it with another image.

PhotoScape Cut Out
I used PhotoScape to clear out the iPod screen.

Using PhotoScape X

I was having a hard time finding the right tool in the edit mode of PhotoScape X to remove a background. Turns out it is a separate tool that you need to use.

Steps to Remove Background

  • In the Viewer Mode select and image that have the background that you want to cut out.
  • Drag that image to the ‘Cut Out' Menu
  • Using the Magic Eraser, click on the areas that you wish to be removed. Increase the Tolerance to get more like colors.
  • Keep clicking on the image until you get the desired results.
  • Save the image, if you want to keep the transparancy using PNG or TIFF format.

Hopefully this helps anyone else that is trying to remove something from an image in PhotoScape.

March 8, 2019

Cable Marker

One of the downsides of an iMac is that there is never enough USB ports. I am constantly switching thumb drives or printer cables to the back of the computer.

i Mac Ports
Ports on the Back of an iMac 2011

One thing that annoyed me is that I never put the cable in right. I am always putting it in wrong and having to flip it over to get it in right.

A quick solution that I came up with is to mark the top of the cable with a white Sharpie China Marker.

Cables Cables Cables
Cables are marked.

So now when I need to put in a new cable, I just look for the white part and know that it will go right in.

White Sharpie

You can use any white marker to label the cables. I just happen to have the white China marker at my desk. It’s nice because it’s not a permanent solution and I can remove it when needed.

March 1, 2019

Dynamic Desktops

One of the cool features of the Mac OS Mojave (10.14.2) is the ability to have dynamic Desktops. These desktop change as the day changes.

Create Your Own Dynamic Desktop

Did you know that you can create your own Dynamic Desktop using Graphic Converter?

Basically a Dynamic Desktop is a collection of 16 images in a heic file.

Apple recommends that each image needs to be 5120 x 2880 which is a 5k resolution. Photos taken with the latest iPhone are 4042x3024 - slightly smaller than Apple's recommendation. You can still create a file, just won't look good on a 5k display.

Simple Steps

Simple steps to make a set of image your very own dynamic desktop:

Open up Graphic Converter

Browse a directory that has images that you would like to make a Dynamic Desktop

Select 16 images

Dynamic Desktop2

Select the Action Cog menu then Export, and then Dynamic Desktops. ( You can find the Action on the Browser Window toolbar, or from the Cog icon in the menu bar.)

Create a unique filename and save it to the Desktop for now.

After the file is created, you'll need to move it to the Wallpaper Desktop folder. Use the Finder "Go" Menu and select "Go to Folder..." and type in "/Library/Desktop"

Desktop Picture Folder

Then open up the "Desktop & Screen Saver" option. The easiest way to do that is to right click on the desktop and select "Check Desktop Background..."

Your Desktop Window

You should see a new "generic" image in the Dynamic Desktop. If you click on it you should see the desktop change to one of your images.

Have Fun With Own Dynamic Desktop

Dynamic Desktop is one of many cool uses of Graphic Converter. Having a dynamic desktop with different photos is a cool way to add a little variation to your day.

February 22, 2019

iResize

iResize is a neat application that lets you quickly batch process a bunch of JPEG and PNG images. It's a basic application that lacks some powerful features that are available in other applications.

Description from the Developer

iResize can resize, compress and save as JPEG or PNG the following image formats GIF, JPEG, PICT, PNG, TIFF and PSD files.

Here are some key features of iResize:

  • New and streamlined interface
  • Easy and fast
  • Check before resizing with the new JPEG compression/quality preview
  • Rename and sequential numbering of the resized images, and/or
  • Add some text (example: -small) at the end of the file name
  • Handles accented characters (à,ü,ç etc.) in the file names

i Resize4 Blog

iResize vs PhotoScape X

As you may know, I am a big fan of PhotoScape X - which has a batch feature functionality. Here are some key differences between the two applications:

  • PhotoScape X is a 64-bit application, whereas iResize has a 32-bit version for those still running old Macintosh Computers. (This makes a good application for legacy computers.)
  • PhotoScape X is a commercial App, where as iResize is freeware.
  • In iResize4, the only option you have it to resize the image by a specific height or width. Which makes sense since that's the name of the application. But the resize is very limited in scope - you don't have a lot of flexibility with how that image gets resized.
  • In PhotoScape X, you can resize the image based on a certain percentage, max long edge or max short edge. You can define crop, Add Frame and various filters.
  • You can only save iResize images in JPG, where was PhotoScape X supports JPG, PNG, Gif, BMP or Tiff. You can also perform filename replacements during the batch process - for example, remove imageName to imgName

Getting iResize

iResize is Freeware. You can download the application from the developer's website: http://www.daniele.ch/.

iResize is a very basic image resize application, if your looking for more powerful functionality, I would highly recommend using PhotoScape X.

February 15, 2019

Apple Contacts App

If you have an iPhone, chances are you have used the Contact iOS app. Apple makes it easy to add and edit contact information on your phone. Did you know that there is a Contact MacOS App? There are some unique feature in the Desktop version that makes it worth using.

Apple Contacts

Six Features Unique to the MacOS Contact App

You can create smart groups, which makes it easy to send emails to teams. Simply add a common "hashtag" in the notes field and the user will be added or removed from a certain smart group.

Removed Duplicate entries - Clean up your address book by removing all those duplicate entries.

Create vCards - Useful to share contact information via email, airdrop, Slack and more.

Manage your personal distribution list - Do your contacts have multiple emails? In Contact, you can designate which email to use. So, for example, you can have a Distribution Group for Work and another Distribution for personal emails to the same group of people. (This feature is located via Edit > Edit Distribution List)

You can print mailing labels, envelopes or a contact sheet from the Contacts App. Great for a way to send out Christmas Cards or to keep a hard copy of your most important contacts. To use, simply select File-> Print and then select the style that you want to use. You can select the Avery Template format or use DYMO to print the labels.

Easily add a face to your Contact. Simple click Edit under the Contact, and then drag/drop an image to the circle next to their name. Why add a photo to a contact? When the person calls you you'll see that picture instead of their name.

Print Labels Envelopes
Print Dialog allows you to print your contacts address on envelopes or labels.

Manage Your Contacts Frequently

It's a good idea to manage your iOS Contacts frequently. Having a well-organized contact database will help to find contacts.

If you're looking for a practical task to do while waiting in line, manage your contact on the phone. If you have some downtime

February 8, 2019

Use PhotoScape to Fix GoPro Images

You can take fairly basic photos using GoPro Hero 7. The only problem with the photos is the FishEye effect. The photos should get touched up so it looks great.

One of the easiest ways to clean up the photos is to use PhotoScape X. There's a couple of tools that will help touch up the image.

Here's an example of before/after of the Boston Public Library from Copley Square:

GoPro PhotoScape X

FishEye Tool

Under the Transformation category is the Fisheye effect tool. While most people think that it's used to add Fisheye, it's also used to remove fisheye, simply by adding a negative amount:

Go Pro Fish Eye1

In my testing '-25' seems to be the perfect amount to remove the fisheye effect, just make sure that the focus of the Fisheye is in the center.

Lens Correction

Also located in the Transformation category is the Lens Correction Tool. This is where you have a lot more power in fixing the fisheye effect. The only downside is that there's a lot of different possible changes that can be made.

Go Pro Lens Correction1

The best settings is using -35 for the Distortion Correction.

GoPro Photos

GoPro Photos capability isn't a replacement for iPhone XS Max. You may get some good wide-area photos, but the iPhone XS Max handle low light and colors much better.

GoPro Photos is good for landscape shots or when you want a cover photo for a YouTube video.

February 1, 2019

Amadine

Amadine is a new graphical application by BeLight Software - the same company that creates Art Text Tool and Swift Publisher. It's their first vector design application.

Overall the application works pretty well. I did run into an issue with one of my EPS files where it didn't render very well.

Amadine Beta

Seven Things I Learned While Beta Testing Amadine

  • Amadine is very basic vector application - there's isn't any special pen or vector tool that are not available in other vector applications.
  • I was successfully able to drag and drop EPS and SVG documents and they opened correctly in Amadine. Each file that I dragged and drop had its own group layer.
  • You can have multiple sheets or ArtBoards. Which allows you to have a single app to handle all different formats for images - for example, different icons designs for iOS and MacOS. Web Developers can have different sheets for different website layouts. You can create Sheet via the Sheet Window or the Sheets tool.
  • Files can be exported to SVG, EPS, PDF, TIFF, PNG and JPG formats.
  • You have the option to import PDF and EPS files as static images via the Import dialog and Drag and Drop.
  • The Path Width tool is pretty neat, it gives you the ability to stretch out any vector pen line.
  • It took a long time to import a 14.6 MB EPS file that I downloaded from DepositPhoto. It didn't really render correctly.

Bad Render Amadine
Amadine didn't render this EPS file correctly. The screenshot on the left is the Preview application.

Overall Thoughts

Amadine looks promising. I don't think I would buy it since I have Affinity Designer and ArtBoard. One of the cool features of ArtBoard is several instructional sheets to teach you how to use the pen tool. I think that really helps me grasp the whole pen tool concept.

I think Amadine is worth looking at if you're new to vector applications. It's certainly worth downloading and trying it out to see what you think. While Amadine is still in Beta, download the application and try it out.

I would be interested to see how BeLight Software integrates this into Swift Publisher. It would certainly make it Swift Publisher a powerful desktop publisher applications.

January 25, 2019

Biff 2.0

Back in November, the Escapers announced a new updated to their graphic application called Biff. Since I reviewed version one of Biff in March of 2017, I thought it would be good to check out the changes

New Features

Three big changes in Biff: Scenes, SVG Import and Code Generation. This is text from an email that announced the new features

Scenes allow you to add perspective to your work, ideal for publicity shots. SVG import allows Biff to take advantage of great resources like The Noun Project, quite simply, you can now use thousands of free SVG resources in Biff. Finally, we've got code generation for both Mac and iOS. This means you can draw out anything you like in Biff, then export the Swift code to draw the elements in your Mac or iPhone app.

Biff2

Scenes

This is a pretty cool feature. One of the neat things is the ability to easily create isometric images. Simply create a design, a couple of clicks later you can have an isometric layout.

There are six different perspectives: Reset, Left Tilt, Right Tilt, Left Angled, Flying and lie Flat.

Anything can be made a Scenes, including text. (Think logo design?)

Biff Scenes

SVG Import

This didn't work at all. Epic failure is one way to describe it.

I dragged and drop several SVG files and they didn't render correctly. One file, a "happy face," rendered upside down and other SVG files didn't render correctly at all.

Looks like there's some work needed with the import. (In fairness, they do say that Biff doesn't rasterize SVGs, it imports and converts them into regular Biff shapes.)

Files I tested were downloaded from the internet, no special compression or features.

Biff SVG Import
Not sure what happened to the image when I dragged/dropped into the workspace.

Code Generation

This is pretty cool, there's support for UIKit and Cocoa. I don't do any coding that requires this functionality but it's neat to see an application that has this feature.

Worth the Upgrade?

Biff 2 cost $24.99 and I still don't think it's worth getting - especially since SVG Import didn't work for me. Many of the features can be found in other products, such as Affinity Designer, for a bit more money but they do offer additional functionality.

Having said that, the repeater/tile functionality is pretty cool. It's really easy to use and I have seen it available any place else.

Getting Biff 2

Try Biff 2 and see if it meets your needs. You can download a 30-day trial from The Escaper's Website.