Macintosh Blog Posts
|June 28, 2017|
Have you ever worked on a document and then an idea came up for something completely unrelated to what your working on?
Ya, it happens to everyone.
The problem is if you completely stop what you're doing - you'll loose focus on the task at hand.
EverNote Helper (Menu Item) can be a real life saver. When you encounter a distraction thought, such as "I should really check out that Tom Cruise - Tom Gun Music Video" you can just make a quick note without closing the program you're in. This is possible because EverNote Helper is a Macintosh/Windows system-wide utility.
I have found that EverNote helper is good way to remember things when you don't want to interupt your current task.
As an added bonus, you can take a quick screenshot with your quick note. You don't need to take a full-screen shot - you can just take a picture of a selected area of the screen or any window.
Macintosh users can add a voice recording but I don't see any use for that. At my office it's pretty quiet - I don't think I would ever use this.
Some real world examples
Don't think it's something you need to use? Check out some real world tasks that have happen to me:
- Thought of a cool gift idea while browsing Amazon? Take a screen shot and make a note.
- See a cool graphic design on social media that you would like to duplicate? Take a screenshot of it and comment on why you like it.
- Need to bring some supplies to work tomorrow? Take a note.
- Found a bug but don't have time to file a report? Take a screenshot and jot down some notes.
- Wouldn't it be great if.. Take a quick note.
- On a call, need to jot a phone number or address?
- Discovered a cool Alexa saying? Take a note.
At first I thought having another menu item didn't make any sense. However, I discovered that it makes perfect sense for just a quick note.
Once you remember the keyboard commands you'll be using this feature all the time.
Quick Cheat Sheet Guide.
One last Thought
Think about it - when was the last time your desktop sticky note had a screenshot?
|June 23, 2017|
3 Quick Preview App TipsMost people use Preview App as the go-to app to open up PDF files and Images. There are a few hidden features that you make not know about. Here are three cool things that you can do with Preview App.
Sort the Order of Photos in the Sidebar
When you open up a bunch of pictures in Preview, by default the pictures appear in alphabetical order. If you right click on any of the images, you can change the sort order to be by Name, Path, Date, Size or Kind.
After you change the sort order the text under each of the images will show additional information, such as the size of the photo or the date it was taken.
Sort the Order of the Contact Sheet
Did you know you can create a Contact Sheet in Preview. Simply drag a drop photos or folder on the Preview App. Select all the images in the sidebar, using Command - A, then type in Command - Option - 6 to open the images in the Contact Sheet.
Just the tip above, simply right click on any image and you can change the sorting order.
In the Contact Sheet you can change the orientation of multiple images, simply select the image that needs to be rotated Right or Left, then type in Command - R to adjust the image right or Command - L to adjust the image to the left.
Combine PDF Documents
You can easily combine several PDF documents into one document. This is useful when you may create a bunch of documents in Pages, for example, envelopes in a mail merge.
Simply open up the document to be on the first page. Then type in Command - Option - 2 to open up the Thumbnails sidebar. Now you simply Drag and Drop the PDF files you want to add to the PDF document. So from the Finder (or Desktop), drag the file to the sidebar of the open Preview window.
You don't need to worry about the order because after you complete, you can reorder the thumbnail images in the PDF document.
Once your done Save.
I find this useful when I need to print a bunch of documents at FexEx Office or Staples. I simply combine the printable documents into one and send it off. It makes it simple when there's only one document that you have to deal with.
Lots more to Explore
Apple packed a lot of features in Preview, including a simple Annotate tool, Adding Keywords to Images, Magnification, Bookmark and more.
A good place to learn is the Apple support section:
- Highlight, underline, and strike through text in Preview
- Use the Preview app to view and edit images and PDFs - Apple Support
- Resize or rotate an image in Preview
- Add notes and speech bubbles to a PDF in Preview
- Preview (El Capitan): Preview keyboard shortcuts
If there's any cool tips/tricks you like to do in Preview, please share!
|June 16, 2017|
There is a reason why the Swiss Army knife is in the icon of Graphic Converter. Graphic Converter is your go to application when you need to open up a file created in a different format.
Thorsten Lemke created GraphicConverter in 1992 out of a need to open graphic files created on his Atari. He just switched from Atari to Macintosh and found it frustrating that there wasn't a single app that could handle simple image conversions.
Over the years, customers requested support for additional graphic formats. In version 10, the application can open files in over 200 graphic formats. Users have the option to save images in at least 80 different format types.
Thorsten Lemke has looked for new ways to improve the functionality of GraphicConverter to be more than just a basic image converter application. The application can now touch up and enhance files.
Today the application is one of the most popular shareware applications with a very loyal subscriber base.
Yet Another Graphic Application?
You may be wondering if you have Affinity Photo, Pixelmator, Artboard, do you really need another Graphic Application?
Simple Answer: Yes.
Graphic Converter has the ability to open graphic files that were created in other applications. It will be there when you need it.
For example, I recently downloaded a file with a .xps file extension I tried all my usual graphic applications and couldn't open the file. Graphic Converter opened the file without a problem. I was able to save it in a different format so that I could use it later.
Cost just as much as a Swiss Army Knife
Just like that Swiss army knife that people carry around, It will be there when you need it. Incidentally GraphicConverter cost the same as a Victorinox Swiss Army knife.
GraphicConverter might be the better long-term investment, at least you won't have to worry about losing it at the airport.
Here's a look at the toolbars in various applications that I have on my computer:
Opening Apple QuickDraw
If you used a Macintosh before OS X, chances are opening up some graphic files can be challenging. I was disappointed that Quickdraw images are still distorted when I open them in GraphicConverter.
Check out my previous post on how to fix images in Apple QuickDraw format.
New in version 10 is the ability to create collages from images. You don't have as many layout options as you would in TurboCollage. However, it's a nice feature when you have a few images and want to make a quick collage
You can find the collage button in the top of the folder browser window. Simply drag and drop a folder to the GraphicConverter icon and select the images that you want.TurboCollage cost
As noted earlier, GraphicConverter cost $39.99. You can download and purchase GraphicConverter 10 from their website.
There's a lot of cool things that you can do with GraphicConverter, check out their full list of features.
|June 9, 2017|
Data Storage Backup
One of the important lessons that I learned in 2017 is the value of always backing up data. Its critical to have an active backup strategy because a computer crash can happen at any moment.
Recovering a failed Hard Drive could cost $799!
I have a 128 GB thumb drive where I keep a lot of my active files. I use this to move files between my Powerbook G4, iMac and my work MacBook Pro.
I found that SanDisk Cruize Glaze works the best for transportation and reliability. I have several of them and for a while it was hard to figure out which is which.
My quick solution was to use a Nite Ize Gear Tie Clippable Twist Tie Bright Orange. It easily clicks in the back of the Sandisk drive. Now I know what disk is what.
Don't Forget the Fonts!
If you have a lot of designs made in Affinity Designer and Omnigraffle you'll want to make sure to save the fonts you used!
All of my photos are backed up to Google Photos. I have it sync set so that it uses the "High Quality (Free Unlimited)" option. Most of my photos are simply for sharing online. I really don't think that I will ever need print quality versions.
For the 1% of the photos that are phenomenal awesome, I back those up to my Flickr accout. They are backed up in the original quality, so that some day I can print those outs.
Always Be Backing up
Make sure to implement some backup strategy and stick to it. A few dollars today can save a lot of trouble in the future.
|June 7, 2017|
Emoji in Evernote
EverNote is a great tool to organize everyday notes. You can put notes in Notebooks and tag them so you can easily find them later.
Did you know that EverNote Supports Emoji icons? It's a cool way to highlight notes or notebooks. Check out this example of the Done and Food Notebooks.
As you can see it's pretty easy to identify the use of those particular notebooks.
What are Emoji icons?
Emoji are a small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.
Emoji in Evernote
You can use emoji within your documents. But did you know that you can use them in headers and in Notebook names?
This can make it easier for certain notes or notebooks to stand out. As in the above example, my 'Done' notebook is where I store completed Blog notes.
All Emoji are Not the Same
Androd Emoji and Apple Emoji are different, this is important to know if your using EverNote on different devices types.
Also keep in mind that Apple and Android don't have the same Emoji library. When Android encounter an Emoji that is not in their library, you'll get a box to indicate an incomplete emoji, If you keep a single OS platform, then this isn't a problem.
Using Emoji is a good way to make ordinary notes stand out. This is a great idea for those reference notes that you may need to use all the time.
Just remember to not throw an Emoji on synced Notebooks. (i.e. Notebooks that are being used by IFTTT, such as Twitter and IOS Photos.) If you add an Emoji, you're essentially changing the name and that may cause the sync to fail.
|June 2, 2017|
Launchbar Clipboard History
One of the cool features of LaunchBar is the ability to access previous clipboard objects. With a simple keyboard shortcut I can access previously copied contents.
This is very useful when I am copying and pasting text different text. For example, I may copy a Jira Issue number and will reference it in Slack, Email and in another ticket later.
Some of the options that you have with Clipboard History in LaunchBar.
The ClipMerge functionaltiy is pretty cool feature. ClipMerge allows you to combine subsequent Copy operations into one single clipboard object.
This is useful when you want to build a list of things; such as Jira Issues, or use it to create a list of websites people should visit.
LaunchBar Clipboard History
There are a lot of other software options when it comes to Clipboard History, such as Clipboard Center, but LaunchBar is packed with a lot of other powerful features. You do get a lot of bang for your buck - or in this case $29.
Checkout my previous post about Launchbar. It's a very powerful tool, that keeps your fingers productive on the keyboard.
|May 26, 2017|
Swift Publisher 5
This week Belight Software announced an update to Swift Publisher. This is the first major update since September 2015.
Last year I wrote about the cool use of the Calendar feature in Swift Publisher 4. It’s still there, apparently, nothing changed with that functionality in this update.
Exciting New Features in this Release
- Spread Mode is here!
- Deposit Photo Integration
- Art Text Integration
- Add Google Maps to Documents
- New: 2D and 3D Text designs
- Custom Grids
I like the page spread functionality. I need to remember to enable it when I create my documents.
Deposit Photo is a good image library. Over 60 million high-quality royalty-free stock images and high-definition footage at the best prices to fill all your creative needs. Pretty sure you'll find the perfect image.
The new 2D and 3D text designs are very cool. However, I didn't see any way to change the colors of the text. I can see why it's worth getting Art Text 3. They should do a package deal for Art Text 3 and Swift Publisher
You can add rendered EPS files and documents can be exported as EPS.
With all the changes, the price is only $19.99. Certainly worth the investment of making great printed documents.
If your looking for a strong replacement for Apple Pages and don't need a heavy hitter like Indesign, Swift Publisher 5 is the way to go. I was a big fan of InDesign CS2, and think that this is a suitable replacement.
This would be perfect for anyone that needs to put together flyers for PTO Events and Fundraisers.
Visit Belightsoft.com and download a trial version.
|May 19, 2017|
Fluid is a cool application that turns any website into its own Mac Application.
You can make Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and other websites into an App that can be put in the Dock. Now you can quickly get to the sites instead of having to open up a browser and then clicking on a bookmark.
This is also handy if you play Farmville or other web-based games. Now your just a click away from playing your game.
Fluid user interface is pretty simple, just enter the URL and the application name. You then pick where to put the new App and if you have an icon you would like to use. If you don't have one, it will use the same icon that you see when you create bookmarks.
Each "application" uses Safari Webkit. So if your website is optimized for Firefox or Opera it may appear slightly different.
Here's an example user agent log entry. The initial requests show that it's from Fluid:
Fluid/206 CFNetwork/811.4.18 Darwin/16.5.0 (x86_64)
Any Clicks/Navigations shows that it's using Apple Web Kit:
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_12_0) AppleWebKit/602.2.14 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/10.0.1 Safari/602.2.14
If you like Fluid functionality consider paying $4.99 to get some additional features.
- Create Fluid Apps with Separate Cookie Storage - Useful if you have multiple gmail accounts and don't want to log in each time.
- Pin Fluid Apps to the Mac OS X Status Bar - Now you can make Apps even easier to use.
- Use Userscripts or Userstyles in your Fluid Apps.
- Use Full Screen mode in your Fluid Apps.
This is a pretty cool utility. I could think of some websites that I would want to use this application - especially for testing. For example, I have an App that opens an internal server to check a critical path that customers may take.
At first it feels weird to look at some websites without the browser location bar. It's a pretty cool tool to use for some websites.
Getting the Fluid.App
You can get the Fluid App from their website. You can use the basic features for free.
|May 12, 2017|
Daisy Disk gives you a visual breakdown of your disk space in form of an interactive map, reveal the biggest space wasters, and help you remove them with a simple drag and drop.
Discover what's hiding inside the "Other" storage category and clear it up.
Check out the difference between Apple's Storage chart and what Daisy Disk shows:
Very Useful Tool
I found Daisy Disk to be very used to figure out which folders are taking up the most amount of space. Especially useful when looking at external Thumb drives.
You can mouse over various parts of the pie chart to see the largest files in that area.
Daisy Disk also makes it easy to remove files. simply drag and drop files and folder and click the Delete button. Just make sure that you have a backup before clicking on the Delete button!
If your looking to take control of your computer storage, I highly recommend getting DaisyDisk.
Getting Daisy Disk
Daisy Disk is available in the App Store for $9.99 as one of the Essential Apps. There's only 2 Essential Apps in the Utilites category, the other Essential Utility App is Parcel - Delivery Tracking.
You can download a trial versions on the Daisy Disk Website. There are some limited features, and a registration reminder and delay whenever you start the application.
|May 5, 2017|
uBar is a system utility that puts more power in the default System Dock. Boost your productivity with the most advanced and versatile app and window manager for the Mac.
Yes you do have choices when it comes to the System Doc.
Some users have switched from Apple's Dock to uBar because they want more control of their taskbar. Some users find the Dock to be boring and want the ability to customize the dock.
While there are some visual similarities with Windows Start Menu, uBar offers a lot more functionality and power features. However, if you are migrating from a Microsoft system, you may find uBar to help navigate around the computer.
Features of uBar 3
- Hover over the Date Time to see the Month Calendar and a cool looking Clock
- Easy Access to Terminal
- Windows at a Glance - Know how many windows an application has open
- App Title Flashes when it needs your attention
- Activity Mode - See what percent of CPU usage each application is using
- Custom Themes - Make the uBar dark or light or any color you want.
- Application Progress Indicator - See the tack positions of multimedia apps like iTunes and VLC
- Much More
- It does take some time to get use to the difference between uBar and the Apple Doc
- I found that removing the application title helps keeps the uBar
- Having a monthly calendar is very handy.
- uBar’s application favorites is how you can drag and drop files to open in an application.
- You can exclude application from appearing in the uBar
- I couldn’t find an explanation between the Taskbar and Dock.
I actually had an old license copy of uBar from the MacHeist Bundle in 2015. I haven't used it much over the years and decided to check it out again.
It was fun playing around with the toolbar. It does change the look and feel of the computer. Before you would see a bunch of icons on the bottom of the screen, now you see a nice bar at the bottom. It does feel like a new computer system.
I don't think I'll keep using it on regular bases. Over the past year, I have learned to work with the dock hidden. While you can certainly keep the uBar hidden, I just don't think it's something worth upgrading to.
I have also gotten use to opening and navigating applications via LaunchBar.
Don't take my word for it, download the application and play with it yourself. Spend some time playing with the settings and setting favorites.
|April 28, 2017|
Xcode Training Suggestion
If you do any kind of application programming on Mac OS or iOS you need XCode. It's Apple powerful tool for developers.
Xcode includes the Xcode IDS, Swift and Object-C compliers, Instruments analysis tool, simulators, the latest SDKs, and lots of very powerful features that will help get you to build awesome award winning apps.
What is Swift?
Swift is a powerful, modern, and fun programming language. From Apple:
Swift is the result of the latest research on programming languages, combined with decades of experience building Apple platforms. Named parameters brought forward from Objective-C are expressed in a clean syntax that makes APIs in Swift even easier to read and maintain. Inferred types make code cleaner and less prone to mistakes, while modules eliminate headers and provide namespaces. Memory is managed automatically, and you don't even need to type semi-colons. These forward-thinking concepts result in a language that is easy and fun to use.
If your looking for a great place to learn XCode programming, I highly recommend iOS 10 & Swift 3: From Beginner to Paid Professional over on udemy . In the class you'll learn all the fundamentals of making a cool application and submitting to Apple's app store. There are 264 lectures totaling 71+ hours of learning.
The class is normally $200 - Yikes! However, it's currently on sale for $10! That's an awesome deal. Cheaper than any Swift Book you'll find on Amazon or Barnes and Noble! You can run the training at your own pace!
Spend a few hours a night over a couple of weeks and you can easily get a return on your $10 investment - plus you'll have the opportunity to learn how to make cool apps.
This particular course has a "full lifetime access." This means you can start whenever you want. In addition, you can reference the material at a later date.
There are other classes on udemy, but this one constantly get's a really high rating from students who take the class.
Note: Let me know what you think of the class, or if there's one better. This isn't a paid affiliate link or reference. Just letting you know of a cool option to learn Xcode.
You can download Xcode from the App Store. Warning: It's a pretty big download - 4.51 GB. So make sure you have enough space and working on a fast internet. Some users have complained about getting the file.
|April 21, 2017|
Resize Image via LaunchBar
Whenever I email a picture that I have on my desktop I like to resize it. There's no reason to email a 4,032 x 3,024 picture.
In the past, I would open up the photo in a photo utility, such as Picturesque, downsize the image and save it.
Way too time consuming.
LaunchBar the Better way
LaunchBar has several resize options, 33%, 50%, 66%, 75%.
Simple steps to resize images in Launcher
- Drag the image you want to resize to the LaunchBar Dock icon.
- Type in ‘Resize’
- Pick the one that works best for you.
Example, a typical iPhone picture is 4032 x 3024 (1.8 MB). Reduced to 33% will yield it to 1344 x 1008 (229 KB) which is reasonable enough to send in an email.
This is just a quick way to resize an image without having to open up an app.
|April 14, 2017|
Meet the world's first photo editor that adapts to your style & skill level. Luminar is the supercharged photo software that makes complex editing easy & enjoyable. And it is as responsive and beautiful as your Mac.
Luminar is a great application when you want to touch up photos. If you need to touch up and enhance photos, Luminar is certainly the app that will make it easy.
The nice thing about Luminar is that there are a lot of built-in Presets to make it easier to get the photo to look exactly the way that you want it to. Macphun says, "Luminar presets are your secret weapon to instantly fantastic photos. You can get a new look in a single click, or use presets as a starting point for your own creative explorations."
Luminar comes with Presets in six different categories: Basic, Outdoor, Street, Portrait, Travel and Dramatic. In each of the categories, you have a bunch of custom settings to enhance your photos. For example, the Basic set has 13 filters. Luminar website has a few more that your can download or purchase.
Presets Preview functionality is a nice feature that Luminar brings to the table. Before using any of the Presets, you get a "sneak" thumbnail peak of what the effect will have on the image that your working with.
Along with the Presets are various tools to help touch up the images. The Denoise Tool is a really cool way to clean up a photo that may have some noise. When you use this tool, you get a nice before/after slider so you can see what a difference the tool makes.
The Eraser tool seems to do a great job of removing some unwanted object in a couple of pictures that I tested. It works very similar to functionality found in Pixelmator and Affinity Photo.
Luminar has a Batch capability mode, which isn't available during the trial period. This would be perfect when you have a bunch of iPhone photos taken in the same situation, and putting together a collage. This is actually a pretty cool time-saving feature to have.
Luminar vs Affinity Photo
There is some missing functionality that's hard for me to justify buying Luminar. There is no Text or Shape tool and there are not a lot of options on brush sizes for masking.
In addition, I found it hard to apply specific effects that I may want. For example in my test, I wanted to apply a blur effect to a certain part of the image and I couldn't figure a way to do that.
Try it Out Yourself
I think Luminar would be great for someone that doesn't want to play around with post-production filter settings. If you just want to quickly touch up a photo to enhance it more, than Luminar might be the application you need.
You can download a trial from MacPhun's website, and if you like it, it's only $69 which includes a 1 month membership to KelbyOne. It's the best photography education platform. (Monthly membership to KelbyOne is $19.99)
|April 7, 2017|
Firefox Developer Edition
FireFox Developer Edition
If you do any website development, you should consider installing Firefox Developer Edition. It's a very powerful browser that is "Built for those who build the Web."
Key Advantages FireFox Developer Edition
You may be used to other Developer tools in other browsers. However, FireFox Developer Edition is the only browser to help Developers and QA debug code better than anyone.
- Visual Editing Tools - You can visually edit any page animation objects.
- DevTools Challenger - Learn more about how the Visual Animation and CSS Editing works together with a fun game.
- Extra Performance Tools - Check out Frame Rate, memory consumption and JS profile in the performance tools.
- Page Inspector - Modify HTML & CSS structure live
- Awesome Style Editor - Fix CSS issues on the fly.
AppleScript and FireFox
AppleScript was briefly removed from Firefox. You'll be happy to know that it's back! (Ok, It's been back for a while, I just noticed it now.)
Here's an example code to search Google using the contents of your clipboard:
I have this setup as one of my mouse buttons. You can assign AppleScripts to mouse buttons via USB Overdrive. I can now quickly search google with the #5 mouse button.
BASH and Firefox
If you don't like AppleScript, you can always use BASH and perform the some actions. (I wasn't able to figure out the search query)
Some sample command line actions
Opens a new website in Private Mode:
/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -private-window http://www.cryan.com
Opens a URL in a separate tab:
/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox -new-tab http://www.cryan.com
Opens Firefox in safe mode, useful if you having problems with firefox. (Also useful to test a site with no plugins enabled)
This isn't limited to the Developer version of Firefox. If you are using the standard Firefox version, replace FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app with Firefox.app.
You can learn all about the various command line options on Mozilla's developers website.
|March 31, 2017|
Early this year I blog about how easy it is to setup a MacOs Folder icon maker using Affinity Designer.
I decided to check out Image2icon a bit more and find it to be a good piece of software and certainly worth investing.
Why Use Custom Icons?
Custom icons make it visual quicker to find things. You can quickly sort folders and attach an icon for a quick visual of what's in the folder.
What makes Image2icon better?
I didn't do much research into icon making software, I found the app in the App store and thought it would be worth investigating.
It does take a bit to understand how to use the app. Once you get used to some keyboard commands, you can see that it works really well.
In no time at all you'll be replacing boring icons with nice color ones.
You can create twenty different icon types. There are popular types from folders to disk drives.
I mostly use the folder icons, but the disk drives come in handy when I want to customize USB flash drives.
In Image2icon, you can pick from 3 different folder types:
Once you have the design set, simply drag a folder on the Image2icon window and BAM the icon is applied to the folder.
This makes it really easy to apply an icon to any set of folders.
Export to 9 different Icons: Folder, ICNS, iOS, Android, Favicon, Iconset, Windows ICO, PNG, JPG
The tool to manipulate images is a bit weird. I have a hard time getting the image settings correct using the slider to fix the shrinkage or alignment.
There has to be a better way to adjust an image to make it look good.
This isn't a show stopper but if your trying out the app, you should get familiar with how that works.
Red Sox Opening Day Folder Icon Collection
Fenway Park opening day is next week. To celebrate the season, I put together six icons. Use these to highlight photos or trip notes on your next Boston trip.
- Fenway Park
- Red Sox Logo
- Swan Boats
- Citgo Sign
- Entering Boston
- Back Bay Buildings