Macintosh Blog Posts

May 4, 2018

Spotlight in MacOS High Sierra

There have been reported problems with how Spotlight search is working on the latest version of MacOS (High Sierra). For some people it isn't working or that it's slowing down their computer.

Apple Spotlight

Clearing the Spotlight Database

According to Apple, the best way to zero out the Spotlight Database is to put the drive in the Privacy section of Spotlight. When you do this, Spotlight will remove all information relevant to that location.

Steps to "Officially" Clean out Spotlight

  1. Go to 'System Preferences' then select Spotlight icon
  2. Select the Privacy Tab
  3. Click on the '+'
  4. On the left scroll down Devices and click on computer name, then select your hard drive, probably named 'Macintosh HD'

Once that is done, you remove the entry from Privacy and then Spotlight will reindex the data from scratch - like it didn't know it existed. I would recommend waiting a few minutes for the database to get cleared.

Steps to "Officially" ReIndex Spotlight

  1. Go to 'System Preferences' then select Spotlight icon
  2. Select the Privacy Tab
  3. Click on the item in the Privacy menu - probably 'Macintosh HD'
  4. Click the '-' just below the list of Privacy items.
  5. Close out the 'System Preferences' window

Obviously the index is going to take some time to work. The amount of time that it takes will depend on the size of your data and what you have set to Index in the Spotlight Control panel. Your better off letting this run overnight so that indexing process isn't flighting resources with other computer activity.

Using MDUTIL Services

If Apple's official way doesn't work then try the mdutil way...

The mdutil command is at your service. The command manages the database used by Spotlight. If you're doing anything with Spotlight, you have to go through the mdutil command.

Some of these commands you need to be the computer root user. Which for most instances, the primary user that logs into the computer.

Check the Status of Spotlight

The mdutil -s command checks to see if Spotlight Index is on. That is will search inquiries return a search results.

mdutil -s /

Two Responses you can get:

  • Indexing enabled. This meeans that Spotlight Index is on.
  • Indexing disabled. This meeans that Spotlight Index is off.

Alternative Way to Erase and Rebuild the Database

Using the 'E' flag with running mdutil will Erase and Rebuild the Index. The same caveat as before, it will take some time for the index to get rebuild.

mdutil -E /

Stopping Spotlight Services

This is useful Spotlight indexing is taking too much of your computer resources.

mdutil -i off /

This is what you should see if the process was successful.

mdutil[96409:6557235] mdutil disabling Spotlight: / -> kMDConfigSearchLevelFSSearchOnly
Indexing disabled.

Restarting Spotlight Services

If you're not going to use the computer for a while, why not turn on indexing. Remember you can always exclude documents and folders by using the Spotlight Control panel.

sudo mdutil -i on /

This is what you should see if the process was successful.

/:
Indexing enabled.

Things I learned

  • Spotlight handles the Smart Mailboxes in Apple Mail. So when you rebuild, it will take a while for the Smart Mailboxes to show current data.
  • One of the new features of High Sierra is that Spotlight now can show flight status information. You can disable this feature by unchecking 'Spotlight Suggestions' in the Spotlight Control Panel. (So if you're having Spotlight issues after upgrading to High Sierra, certainly turn off the 'Spotlight Suggestions' to see if it helps.)

April 27, 2018

XMenu

XMenu is a neat utility that put allows you to put up to six addition menu items in the menu bar.

xmenu Promo

Six Menu Possibilities with xMenu

There is the type of menus that you can add, each category has their own unique menu icon.

Applications

This menu item displays all the applications that you have in your Application Folder. This is an alternative approach to using the LaunchPad.

The downside is that if you have a lot of applications, it can take a while to find it. There's no searching and the applications are displayed by there name.

Developer

This menu item displays all the applications that you have in the Xcode Applications folder.

If your not a hardcore developer, you get Accessibility Inspector, Application Loader, FileMerger, and Instruments.

Tip: Probably not very useful menu item if your not a Developer.

Home

All your Home Folders at your fingertips!

This is a great way to access common folders you use every day. Files in your Dropbox, Photos, Music, and Desktop can be accessed very easily.

Documents

This is just you user Document folder, which is located at ~/Documents

Most files that you save are kept in the Documents folder.

User-Defined

Create your own set of application/files that you want in the menu bar. This a very cool feature since you can put anything you want and it will be displayed in the drop-down menu.

Personally I think this is the best feature of xMenu.

This is a great way to declutter your System Dock, simply put "rarely" used applications in here. You'll still have quick access via the menu bar instead of the System Dock. You can create folders of like items so they might be easier to find.

Snippets

Access common text snippets from the menu bar. However, with tools like LaunchBar and Keyboard Maestro, this doesn't really seem very useful. There's no scripting capability - you only display raw text.

This is neat to have feature, but for better productivity use Keyboard Maestro or TextExpander.

Description from Devon Technology Website

XMenu adds one or more global menus to the right side of the menu bar. They give you access to your preferred applications, folders, documents, files, and text snippets. Launch any application with a single menu choice or insert text snippets into your documents. XMenu is a real app, no hack, no extension. And it's free.

Getting xMenu

You can download XMenu from the Mac Apple Store. Devon Technologies has provided the software free of charge.

April 20, 2018

Resize-Image vs PhotoScape X

Resize-image is an application that most people might have seen in a Bundle Hunt bundle. On the service it looks to be a good practical application that will help batch process a bunch of images.

Description from the Website

Macsoft's Image Resizer for Mac is specially designed Mac image editor software for Mac users to combine, resize and revolve photos, add watermarks to them freely. And it allows you to change the image format from one to another without any difficulty.

General Overview

The application allows you to do multiple image actions at once, you can resize, add text and add text and image watermarks.

It's a good basic application for the functionality. However, there are a few drawbacks:

  • You can't drag drop images to get added to the collection
  • Your limited to only Scale, Rotate and adding Watermark
  • You can't add any special styles to Text Watermark, such as drop shadow

Should you invest in Resize-Image?

If there's a current Bundle Hunt bundle going on, you can pick it up for a good deal. At least if you ocassionaly need an image batch program.

It does what it says - I think you're limiting yourself to features and functionality. It certainly not worth the $19.99 price.

Otherwise it's $19.99 on their website - not sure if it's really worth the price.

Resize Photo Scape

PhotoScape is Better

The Batch functionality in Photoscape X goes well beyond the capabilities of Resize-image. You can add a lot more effects and have more flexibility with existing tools in Resize-image.

While Photoscape X cost a bit more, it's certainly worth the extra cost because you get more than an app that does batch processing. You get a nice image toolbox.

Which means that you'll be using the application more often and at the end of the day get more value for your money.

Photoscape X Batch Features

Five things that make Photoscape X a much better application:

  1. You can click on the images to see how the batch changes will impact that particular image. For Example, You'll be able to tell if the text is aligned correctly.
  2. Add Frame effect to the batch set of images.
  3. Change the Color Mode. Perhaps the images will look better in black or white or Sepia
  4. Resize the image based on a particular Long/Short Edge size.
  5. Add multiple Text Fields or Image objects with different formating.

April 13, 2018

LaunchBar Actions

LaunchBar is a very powerful tool that puts instant access to all sorts of actions at your fingertips. You can open applications faster, get to documents, set reminders and so much more.

There are a lot of very useful LaunchBar built-in actions - 152 of them to be exact. They expand the capabilities of LaunchBar to be way more useful than the standard Spotlight search.

Here are three example actions that are very useful. Granted it takes some time to get used to the new process, but you will see how it can improve your computer productivity time.

Searching using Google

The typical method to search using Google requires opening up a browser, typing a search term and hitting return. That's great if you're already working with the browser open, but if you're doing a paper it's a lot of extra steps.

Using LaunchBar, you can quickly get things moving by passing the search parameters to the browser. After doing this a few times, you'll see how using LaunchBar method is so much easier than a typical method.

Search Google

  • Type: Command Space
  • Type: Google
  • Click Space
  • Enter Your Search Term and then click Enter

Join Lines with a Comma Separator

Whenever I have a list that I need to join, I usually end up opening up BBEdit and then pasting the text and then do a simple search and replace. After the search, I have to remove the last comma in the list. No so fun, and very time-consuming.

Using this trick in LaunchBar, I am able to work much quicker. Now I can quickly sort the list. There are other list tools in LaunchBar, but this is one that I use the most.

Join Lines With Comma

  • Select some text and drag and drop it onto LaunchBar
  • Click Tab
  • Search for 'Join' and click Enter
  • To paste it in the front most window with Shift Enter or using Command C

Copy as Tiny URL

Tiny URL is a great service to make URLs really shore, especially when the URL has a lot of parameters. This is useful when you want to post something in Slack or in a Jira. There's no need to have a huge paper trail link

The nice thing about Tiny URL is that it never expires, so you can keep using it for a long time.

Copy Tiny U R L

  • Command Space
  • Type: Tiny
  • Scroll to where you see 'Copy as Tiny URL'
  • Type in or Paste in a URL
  • Click Enter
  • Now Your Clipboard has the TinyURL version of your URL. Paste it in where ever you need it.

Go Faster

You can make the process go even quicker by using custom abbreviations. The actions will appear quicker with abbreviations that you are more familiar with.

Abbreviation Change

To make Searching Google faster, change the Google Abbreviation to search:

  • Type: Command Space
  • Type: Google
  • Click Command Option A
  • Enter your custom abbreviations, such as 'search' and click

April 6, 2018

File Juicer

File Juicer is a cool program that extracts images from Powerpoint and PDF documents.

Description from the site:

With File Juicer you can

  • Extract images from a PowerPoint slide show or presentation.
  • Extract images and text from PDF files.
  • Recover images and video from erased flash cards
  • Recover text from damaged files
  • Extract the images and HTML files in Safari's cache.
  • Extract attachments from email archives.

and more...

I find this useful when I want to extract images from an old Powerpoint slide and use it in other presentations. I have a lot of old PDF documents that have images in them.

File Juice Documents

Eight Things I learned while Testing File Juicer

  • Not all PDF documents will have images. Some graphics are encoded into the PDF document that File Juicer can't identify it as an image object.
  • When File Juicer extracts data from a document it saves similar types in folders. (example JPG, Gif, TIFF)
  • A index.html file is generated as a quick reference guide to all the images in that folder.
  • In the File Juicer Preference section you can set up what type of objects should be extracted
  • Can't extract Stuff-it archives
  • This helped me identify some old files. I was able to determine some old files were PageMaker documents.
  • You can extra Browser Cache from the File menu. This might be useful to do before deleting out the cache.
  • You can also extract images from Messages (iChat). Very helpful if you want to keep a copy of photos people send you.
  • When using the Message extraction, the extracted object will maintain the original file Modification Date, which makes it easy to sort images by date.

Good Application. But...

It was fun playing around with File Juicer but right now I can't seem to justify paying $17 for it.

I found the ability to extract Browser Cache and Images from Messages is way cool. The extracting messages are nice, was wondering how I could get a copy of images.

File Juicer will be placed on the short list of applications to buy - maybe this summer.

March 30, 2018

PhotoScape Numerical Annotation & Hidden Mickey

PhotoScape is a great all around graphic tool. It's very useful to touch up images and add a bit of touch that sometimes is needed.

Numerical Annotation

There are times when I have a graphic image and I need to point several things out, such as steps to perform a bug. This is where having a numerical annotation graphic can be handy.

There isn't a built-in numerical functionality in PhotoScape X. There are a couple of ways to get it done:

  • Add a Figure Image
  • Use a Text Symbol

I like using the symbol way versus the first way because I can duplicate the graphics and have all the numerical annotations be the same size, color, and effect.

Basic Steps to Add Numerical Annotation

  1. Open up an Image in PhotoScape as Edit Mode.
  2. Click on the Insert icon in the top bar.
  3. Click on Text on the top bar
  4. To the right of the 'Text' box is a Symbol box (lower of the two boxes to the right of the "Text Box")
  5. Select one numerical that you would like to use and click 'Ok'
  6. Change the color so that it stands out.
  7. Now you can move the Symbol around the image and resize it.
  8. For multiple steps, simply duplicate the text field and change the graphic.
  9. If you have more than '20' items, as that is the highest symbol number, simply change the color

Photo Scape X Symbols

Hidden Mickey in PhotoScape!

While playing around with Photoscape, I found a real hidden Mickey!

When you insert an image to another image, you have the ability to define the inserted image shape. If you scroll about 2 thirds a way down, you'll see two Mickey Mouse images.

Hidden Mickey Photo Scape

There's also a Macintosh logo there with Steve Jobs as the outline.

Very Cool.

March 23, 2018

Apple System Services

When was the last time you looked at the System Services you have installed?

Some applications provide helper services so that you can interact with applications. You can access the services from any application menu.

Chrome Services

Some of the service's functionality will only show up when you have something selected - text, image, file or folder.

There are four main categories for Services:

  • Pictures
  • Messaging
  • Development
  • File and Folders
  • Searching
  • Text
  • Internet
  • General

Services is a good way to be more productive with applications you use every day.

Check Out the Installed Services

It's worth checking out what services are available on your computer.

You can check out all the computer services available by looking in the System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Services

Keyboard Services

If there are some Services that look interesting, you can always assign a keyboard shortcut to make it easy to access the shortcut. Items that don't have a checkmark are not enabled. If there are applications that you don't use, you can always disable the Services by unchecking the services. (In my case, I don't use the Bear App, so I'll disable that.)

Service Example - Text to Speech

Did you know that you can easily convert a webpage text to spoken text to play on your iPhone? Yes, there's a built-in service called, "Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track."

There are four good speeches to select from Samantha, Victoria, Alex, Fred. These voices offers you the best realistic speech quality. (Whisper is also a good quality sound.)

For some reason, Chrome doesn't have the reading mode enabled by default, see How To Turn On Secret Reading Mode In Chrome Desktop Browser to get it working.

Sample Task:

  1. Open up a webpage ( Example: Tea Doors )
  2. Click on the Reader Icon in the Chrome or Firefox location bar (From now on I am assuming that your using Chrome)
  3. Select all the Text
  4. Select the Chrome menu and Services
  5. Then Select "Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track."
  6. From the System Voice, pick Samantha, Victoria, Alex or Fred.
  7. Give it a good name, "Tea Doors" is a good choice.
  8. Keep the "Music" as the option, as that will make sure the clip appears in iTunes.
  9. Click Continue
  10. iTunes will open.
  11. Play your Clip!
  12. If you like it, add it to your iPhone.

How Cool is That

Now you can make your own "Books on Tapes" and listen to articles on your commute.

It's also a good way to proofread your blog or important emails.

March 16, 2018

BBEdit Stye Text

There is a popular online utility called GeSHi - Generic Syntax Highlighter which makes it easy to display Code in the same Syntax format in popular editors. You use this when you want to display code on a website.

Ge S Hi Java

If you have BBEdit, you don't need it because there's a built in tool called "Copy as Styled" which will copy the selected text using the BBedit color scheme that you have selected.

BBEdit Styled Text

Sample Output from BBEdit



    public void setHints(int hints) {
    super.setHints(hints & (~ImageConsumer.COMPLETESCANLINES));
    }

Copy as Styled Text

The other "Copy as" functionality is the "Copy as Styled Text" which copies the selected text as rich text. This is handy when you may want to paste the syntax code in a Microsoft Word document or Evernote note.

Cool trick with OmniGraffle

If you have OmniGraffle you can create a cool info-box using your code:

  • Copy your Code in BBEdit as "Copy as Styled Text"
  • Paste the content in your Clipboard into OmniGraffle
  • Change the Fill to be whatever the background is (If Needed)
  • Change the look and feel, and then export the image.

A few simple steps in OmniGraffle and you could make this:

Freehand Stroke Omni Graffle

It appears that this is easily done in OmniGraffle. I tried in Apple Page, Microsoft Word, and Affinity Designer and they all require some additional touch ups. For example, you may want to create a box object first and then paste the content from BBEdit.

March 9, 2018

Macintosh Spring Cleaning

There's an old saying in the de-clutter world, "If you haven't used it in Six Month, throw it away." The same rule should apply to Macintosh Applications. If you haven't use the application in the past six months, you should consider removing it from your computer.

Use Spotlight to Find Applications that Your Really Not Using

Did you know that Apple's Spotlight can tell you when you haven't used an application for a while? Simple use the following search criteria to display icons that your not using anymore:

Unused Applications
Just some of the Apps on my computer that I should remove.

Unused Fonts Cleanup

Did you know that having a lot of fonts install on your computer can actually slow down your computer?

Why not just removed unused and one-time use fonts and only have the fonts that you'll actually use. Not only will it help speed up your computer, even ever-so-slightly, you'll have a much better font list to navigate with.

One way to clean up the folder is to removed duplicated fonts. In Apple's Font Book there's a built-in tool that will look for duplicates.

  • Open up Font Book
  • Type in Command-L
  • Go through with Duplicate Font Wizard.

Note: If you type in Command-L and nothing happens, it means you don't have any duplicate fonts. (Lucky You!)

Font Duplicated

Also in FontBook, you can disable Fonts that you don't need to have. This is a good way to manually manage fonts because you can't disable System Fonts - so there's no way to disable the default system font. You don't risk your computer acting weird.

For this to work you'll need to walk through all your installed fonts and make a judgment call on which ones are important. Don't worry, you can always enable the fonts for later. Unfortunately, you can't create a Smart Group of disabled fonts.

Itunes Cleanup

In iTunes, you can see what songs you're listening to the most. Each time you listen to an entire song, iTunes increments the play count. It's a good way to know what songs you really like, and what songs your not interested in listening to.

If you're not listening to it, why keep it on your computer?

One way to help sort out the non-played music, is to create a smart playlist of zero count plays. Here's an example of one I created:

i Tunes Play Count

To Remove the Song, simply right click on the track and then select, "Remove from this Computer"

Got any Tips?

Please share any other tips on cleaning out unused files on your computer in the comments.

March 2, 2018

iMac 2011

If you have an iMac 2011, this is your final chance to get any repairs done to the computer. Apple has announced that they will be allowing repairs of the 2011 iMac computer through August of this year.

After August 2018, the iMac computer will be considered a vintage system. Apple is doing this extension since they sold a lot of the iMac 2011 computer, as it was available on the market for a long time. Typically they stop supporting a system 5-years after the last sold date.

What this means to iMac 2011 Users

If your encountering an issue with the iMac this is a good time to get it fixed. Some examples:

  • Dead pixel on the screen
  • Crack screen
  • Display hinge issues
  • Stuck disk in the DVD drive
  • Computer just doesn't seem to work well

This is the time to bring it in to get it fixed.

After August your chances of getting it fixed could be very limited and be more costly.

Why Bother Repairs?

The iMac 2011 is still a good computer. If you plan on still using it when you get a new computer, you should get the fix done now.

In addition, if you plan to give the computer to your son/daughter it would be good doing in fine working order.

Five Reason to Upgrade

As good as the iMac 2011 was there are five strong reasons to upgrade to the latest iMac:

  1. The computer has technology inside the box is eight years old. To put it in perspective, Apple iPhone 1.0 was also introduced in the same year. Would you still use the original iPhone today?
  2. The computer has older USB 2.0 and Firewire 800 ports. Most devices are USB 3.0 powered. All external Hard Drives and Thumb drives are optimized to work in USB 3.0
  3. Newer iMac has better Bluetooth technology support. You can't connect your iPhone to the computer using the existing Bluetooth technology on the iMac 2011.
  4. The iMacs today are much faster. They run faster using a faster logic board and now use solid-state memory for storage.
  5. Thunderbolt 3 - At 40 Gb/s, it's the fastest port available on a computer today.

February 23, 2018

Creating Sequential Directories

There’s an easy way to create a number sequence directories. This is useful when your creating directories for days of a month. I did this for a while organizing blog postings.

To create ten directories starting with the number 21:

mkdir {21..31}

If you need to create a directory with a leading zero:

mkdir $(printf "%02i " $(seq 1 20))

To do a directory in this format: MM-DD Simple use this:

mkdir $(date ‘%b-%d’)

Hope this gives people ideas on different ways to create directories.

February 16, 2018

Pixel Fonts

Designers use pixel fonts when they need a good font that looks good when the text is really small. Usually this for text on photos or for navigation buttons.

There are two-pixel font families that are in just about every Macintosh font library - Mini7 and Tenacity. These aren't there by default, you'll have to download them.

Pixel fonts work best in bitmap programs such as Photoshop, Pixelmator. Turn off any anti-alias.

Mini7 Tenacity

Mini 7

Mini 7 looks great at 7 points, making it one of the smallest font types available. Mini 7 is only available as an uppercase font style. You can't get any fancy character types too. Sorry names with accents but it won't work with Mini 7.

Despite the limitations, Mini7 is one of the most popular pixel base fonts on the Internet.

Mini 7 is available in Condensed, Condensed-Bold, Extended, Extended-Bold, Tight, Extras and Bold

Tenacity

Tenacity is a more developed font and looks good at 10 or 20 points.

Tenacity also comes with additional styles such as Caps, Condensed, Condensed-Bold, Extended, Extended-Bold, Extras and Bold.

Which is the Better Font?

A few years ago, I did a quick page (before blogs was a thing) on the best caption font. Here's a reprint of my findings.

Using Fonts in Photo Captions

The following are examples of several Macintosh font types being used as captions.

Recomended Fonts

  • Alegreya Sans SC
  • Geneva
  • Tenacity
  • Mini 7
  • Helvetica
  • VT100
  • Verdana

I believe that Verdana 10 Point and Tenacity Condensed 10 Point are the best choices for using as caption fonts.

Download a larger high quality compairson: Full Caption Stack (675k)

Font Row1

Font Row2

Font Row3

Which font do you think is the best Pixel based font?

February 9, 2018

Panoramic Photo Challenge

Taking Panorama photos is a good way to get a landscape view of any environment.

iPhone Camera Panoramic

Apple includes a Pano mode in the camera app, but it takes some skill to hold the camera right. Also, the lighting doesn't mix well.

In my tests, the pictures that I take in Panoramic mode tends to have weird lighting and be very flat. That is, you can't raise the camera up if you want to include a full view of a tree or Building.

Software Stitching

Stitching a bunch of photos post-production is a good way to create a more effective panoramic photo. You can then crop the photo to your needs.

Disney Panorama
Using the stiching method, I was able to create this cool focus effect. Notice how the picture is focus in a couple areas. You can’t do this in Apple’s Pano.

I have been using Affinity Photo for my stitching, and it has been working well. I recently heard about DoubleTtake and thought it would be interesting to see which app gives you more control.

The Challenge

I took seven pictures of the Back Bay T Station in Boston, Massachusetts. I then ran it through DoubleTake, and Affinity Photo's Panoramic functionality. The only modification that was made was to crop out the excess picture.

Here is the result of the Challenge:

PanoramicViewsm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

DoubleTake

DoubleTake does a fairly good job of setting up the Panoramic shot. You do have to move pictures around to fix the alignment. There are lots of adjustment capabilities within the software. You can move handles to fix to make the photo transitions smooth.

DoubleTake focuses more on getting the largest possible view. In my test, the final crop image was 6718 x 2549.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo does a great job of putting the picture together. Basically, I accepted the Panoramic shot, and then crop to opaque. There was no adjustment needed.

Affinity Photo seems to focus more on getting the best picture. In my test, the image was 6187 x 2051.

Granted I have used Affinity Photo for a while, but it was so much easier to use.

February 2, 2018

Smart Converter

Shedworx's Smart Converter 2 tool is a great way to convert a media file from one format to another. It's a great quick media converter that just works well.

There are two Smart Converter versions, here's the key difference between the free version and the paid version:

In the Smart Converter Pro 2 version:

  • Search Meta-Data files
  • Automatically adds meta-data for searching
  • Subtitle support
  • Supports Multiple audio tracks
  • Define a different output location (You can avoid iTunes!)
  • Disable the ability to add media files to iTunes
  • Surround Sound support
  • Folder Monitoring (Have Smart Converter run everytime a file is placed in a folder.)

Product Description

Smart Converter Pro provides a faster, higher quality conversion than every other converter:

  • It's so smart - only converts stuff that needs converting, and leaves the rest alone--this means it's very fast and maintains the highest possible quality of video and audio.
  • Simple to use - drag, drop and click convert - Smart Converter Pro looks after the rest.
  • Movie and TV Show info - automatically add key info and artwork for your movies and TV shows.
  • Folder monitoring - automatically convert movies as they are added to nominated folders.
  • Subtitles - include subtitles, add external subtitles and even load subtitles from the web!
  • Supports 100's of media formats and converts to all your favourite devices and file types, including AppleTV, iPad, iPhone, Smart TV, PS3 and more.
  • iTunes Savvy - auto import your converted movies and music to iTunes.

Smart Converter21

Quick and Easy

I like Smart Converter because It can easily convert classic media files - such as Real Media files to MP4. It's a quick way to once again access old media files. (Without Smart Converter I would have to wait for Quicktime to convert old Sorxxx codec videos)

I also use Smart Converter to extract audio from MOV files. Useful when I just want the soundtrack and not have to watch the movie.

Haven't upgrade to the Pro version because I don't have the need for all the features of going pro. If you have a lot of files that need converting, then going pro is the way to go.

My Tips and Tricks

Some video screen capture files done in Snagit will not convert well. Apparently, there's a lot of masking between shots This means that you'll see some strange views in your final output.. (Not Smart Converter problem as Quicktime will have this same issue.) I have found ElMedia Player as a good converter in these cases.

Keep in mind that the final conversation is only as good as the source. Smart Converter can't make a video compress with Sorenson Codec look better in MP4.

Some mp4 files will not convert to audio-only. Haven't figured out why this is the case. ) I use Fission to extract the audio.

If you're not able to find your audio clip in iTunes it's because iTunes thinks it's a movie file.

Supports Converting 177 Media Types!

Here are all the file formats extensions supported by either version of Smart Converter:

avi, mp4, mkv, mts, m2ts, m4v, mp3, m4a, mov, flv, mpa, wmv, wma, wav, 3gp, 3g2, 3gp, 4xm, IFF, ISS, MTV, RoQ, aac, ac3, adts, aea, aiff, alaw, amr, anm, apc, ape, asf, asf_stream, ass, au, avi, avm2, avs, bethsoftvid, bfi, bink, c93, caf, cavsvideo, cdg, crc, daud, dirac, dnxhd, dsicin, dts, dv, dvd, dxa, ea, ea_cdata, eac3, f32be, f32le, f64be, f64le, ffm, film_cpk, filmstrip, flac, flic, flv, framecrc, gif, gsm, gxf, h261, h263, h264, idcin, image2, image2pipe, ingenient, ipmovie, ipod, iv8, lmlm4, m4v, mkv, matroska, mjpeg, mlp, mm, mmf, mov, mov, mp4, m4a, 3gp, 3g2, mj2, mp2, mp3, mp4, mpc, mpc8, mpeg, mpeg1video, mpeg2video, mpegts, mpegtsraw, mpegvideo, mpjpeg, msnwctcp, mulaw, mvi, mxf, mxf_d10, nc, nsv, null, nut, nuv, ogg, oma, psp, psxstr, pva, qcp, r3d, rawvideo, rcv, rl2, rm, rpl, rtp, rtsp, s16be, s16le, s24be, s24le, s32be, s32le, s8, sdp, shn, siff, smk, sol, sox, spdif, svcd, swf, thp, tiertexseq, tmv, truehd, tta, txd, u16be, u16le, u24be, u24le, u32be, u32le, u8, vc1, vc1test, vcd, vmd, voc, vqf, w64, wav, wc3movie, webm, wsaud, wsvqa, wv, xa, yop,

Getting Smart Converter

You can get the free version on the Apple Store or from ShedWorx Website.

January 26, 2018

ParticleShop

ParticleShop is a unique brush effect tool, it makes the brush come alive and adds all sorts of special effects. Basically, the brush comes alive as you apply it to the image. Based on the color/size and brush you get all sorts of unique special effects.

This is not your standard brush tool. It's a way to paint effect to your photos, such as fire, smoke and bubbles.

I originally purchased ParticleShop as part of the "Create Your 12 App MEGA Mac Bundle" from Bundle Hunt. I saw the description and thought it would be worth trying out. (It was priced at $49.99) I got the 12-App bundle for $19.99.

Description from the 'About ParticleShop' menu

Leave the physics to us; no static stamps here! Experience the strokes of grab-and-go living brushes that spring, flow, gravitate and glow based on your unique expression. Artistically enhance photos, designs, and illustrations with the realistic awe-inspiring results.

Craft your visual masterpiece with brushes that are built to perform with a pressure-sensitive tablet, touchscreen or mouse. Free yourself to create, ranter than configure by exploring an array of artistic brushes that require minimal setup and a clean and simple user interface in which to create.

Are you ready to get started? You can access ParticleShop resources online to find exciting new brushes, get help, and learn more about the product.

Demo of ParticleShop

Particle Shop Demo

Not a great artist, but I added a couple of effects to an image.

Cool Tool

ParticleShop is a cool tool, it comes with 11 brushes in the Core Pack. However, once you start playing around with it you quickly feel that 11 brushes aren't enough and you could do so much more with more brushes. In order to get new ones you have to purchase them on Painter's online store.

The prices for extra packs range from $29 to $79 - you can get the entire collection for $95. I think it's pretty expensive for my budget, but I guess if you're into brush touch up then it would be a reasonable amount of the creative brush effects that you get.

Particle Shop Brushes

At the End of the Day

I don't think I'll be using ParticleShop too much, it's a cool tool for people that spend a lot of time touching up photos and graphics files. Looks like having a pressure sensitive Wacom tablet would be practical to get the most out of the tool.

ParticleShop is a Photoshop Plug-in and does not work with Affinity Photo. Since I don't use Photoshop Elements 13 that much, I don't think that I'll be using ParticleShop.