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January 5, 2024

The Magic Mouse No-Mousepad Experience

You Don't Need a Mouse Pad!

Welcome back, Mac enthusiasts! As someone who has spent over a decade exploring every nook and cranny of the Macintosh universe, I'm always excited to share new insights and tips. This week, I've been diving into a topic that might seem small but is quite significant for everyday use ? the practicality of using a Magic Mouse without a mousepad.

Magic Mouse Mouse Pad

The Magic of the Magic Mouse

First off, let's talk about what makes the Magic Mouse a standout accessory. Apple has always been at the forefront of combining functionality with elegant design, and the Magic Mouse is no exception. Its sleek, minimalist appearance is more than just aesthetically pleasing; it's designed to be highly functional.

Design and Functionality

The Magic Mouse boasts a smooth, touch-sensitive surface, allowing for intuitive gestures and a more organic interaction with your Mac. Its laser tracking engine is incredibly precise, meaning it can handle more surfaces than traditional optical mice.

Mousepad or No Mousepad?

Now, onto the main question: do you really need a mousepad for your Magic Mouse? From my experience over the past few weeks, the answer is a resounding no, provided you have the right surface.

The Ideal Desk Surface

A smooth, non-glossy desk surface is key. I've been using my Magic Mouse on a wooden desk with a matte finish, and it's been nothing short of seamless. The mouse glides effortlessly, maintaining its precision and responsiveness.

Benefits of Ditching the Mousepad

  1. Aesthetics: Without a mousepad, your workspace looks cleaner and more streamlined.
  2. Space Efficiency: Freeing up that extra bit of desk space can make a big difference, especially in smaller work areas.
  3. Cost Savings: While a mousepad isn't a major expense, every little saving counts.

Considerations and Tips

  • Desk Surface: Ensure your desk's surface is smooth and free of debris. Rough or uneven surfaces can hinder the mouse's performance and potentially scratch its underside.
  • Cleaning: Keep your desk and the mouse's surface clean. Dust and particles can affect the mouse's movement.
  • Sensitivity Adjustment: Play around with the tracking speed in your Mac's settings to find the sweet spot for your usage.

Conclusion

The Magic Mouse is designed to excel without the need for additional accessories like a mousepad. It's all about simplicity and efficiency ? core principles of the Macintosh philosophy. So, if you've got the right desk surface, give it a try and enjoy an uncluttered, streamlined workspace.

Stay tuned for more Macintosh tips and tricks. As always, keep exploring the endless possibilities of your Mac!

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December 29, 2023

Top 5 Macintosh Friday Blog Posts of 2023

My Favorite Posts of the Year

Macintosh Best Post2023

2023 has been a stellar year for Macintosh enthusiasts, with a plethora of insightful and innovative blog posts illuminating various aspects of the Mac experience. Macintosh Friday, a dedicated slot for celebrating and discussing all things Mac, has seen an array of intriguing posts. Here, I'm excited to share my top five favorites, each offering unique insights and tips for Mac users.

1. Sennheiser SC60 Headset Review (May 19, 2023)

This post dives into the Sennheiser SC60 Headset, a popular choice among Mac users for its compatibility and audio quality. The review comprehensively covers the headset's features, such as its noise-canceling microphone and USB connectivity, making it a must-read for anyone considering an audio upgrade for their Mac setup.

2. CofeShow Video Slideshow ? A Creative Tool (June 9, 2023)

CofeShow Video Slideshow is highlighted in this intriguing post. It walks readers through the process of creating visually stunning slideshows on their Macs, showcasing the software's ease of use and the impressive results it can produce. This post is particularly useful for those looking to enhance their presentations or personal projects.

3. Exploring the World of Tilt-shift Photography (June 16, 2023)

The art of tilt-shift photography is beautifully explored in this post. It provides valuable tips on how to achieve the unique miniature effect using a Mac, along with software recommendations and editing techniques. This post is a treasure trove for photography enthusiasts looking to experiment with new styles.

4. Colorful Icons on my External Drive (August 4, 2023)

This post is a delightful read about personalizing the Mac experience. It details how to customize the icons on external drives, adding a splash of color and personality to your workspace. The step-by-step guide makes the process accessible, even for those not deeply versed in Mac customization.

5. iMac FaceTime Camera Quality (November 3, 2023)

The final pick is a comprehensive review of the iMac's FaceTime camera quality. This post is particularly relevant in an era of remote work and virtual communication, providing insights into the camera's performance, tips for getting the best video quality, and comparisons with other Mac models.

Each of these posts stands out for its depth of information, practical advice, and contribution to enhancing the Mac user experience. Whether you're a seasoned Mac user or new to the ecosystem, these blog posts offer valuable insights and tips to make the most out of your device.

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December 22, 2023

Navigating the Legacy of Sorenson Video Codec

Covert Videos using macOS 14.1

Welcome to this week's blog post, tailored for Macintosh professionals and enthusiasts! Today, we're delving into the realm of media handling in macOS, focusing on a legacy codec that has been a cornerstone in video encoding for years: Sorenson Video. Let's explore what it means in the modern macOS environment and the best ways to deal with legacy content encoded in this format.

Understanding Sorenson Video: A Legacy Codec

The Rise of Sorenson Video

Sorenson Video codec, once a prominent player in the digital video encoding arena, played a crucial role in the early stages of online video streaming. It gained popularity for its efficiency in compressing video while maintaining quality, making it a go-to choice for many macOS users in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Why It's Considered Legacy Today

With the evolution of technology and the introduction of more advanced and efficient codecs, Sorenson Video has become a legacy codec. Modern macOS versions no longer natively support it, as the focus has shifted to more contemporary codecs like H.264 and H.265, which offer superior compression and quality.

Challenges for MacOS Users

Many macOS users who have been long-time users in the video field may find themselves with a library of content encoded in Sorenson Video. The main challenge is accessing and utilizing these videos on the latest macOS platforms, which no longer support this codec natively.

Side note: I blogged about a way to enable Sorenson cCodec back in 2016: Encoding old Video Files. Tools and techniques mention in that blog post s no longer available in macOS 14.1 (Sonoma).

Navigating the Sorenson Video Legacy: Solutions for MacOS Users

Using Legacy Media Players

One of the simplest ways to watch videos encoded in Sorenson Video is by using legacy media players that still support this codec. VLC Media Player, a versatile and free tool, is one such option. It can play a wide range of video formats, including those encoded with the Sorenson codec.

Test and confirmed that VLC 3.0.20 is able to open up amazon.mov.

V L C- Easter Egg
Good job by VLC to add a Christmas Easter Egg. The dock icon adds a Santa hat once the application is launched.

Converting Videos to Modern Formats

For long-term accessibility and compatibility, consider converting your Sorenson-encoded videos to a more modern format like MP4 (H.264). Tools like HandBrake or FFmpeg offer robust conversion capabilities, ensuring your old videos remain playable on current and future macOS versions.

Tested and confirmed that ffmpeg version 6.0 was able to convert the amazon.mov video. This is the code that I used:

ffmpeg -i amazon.mov -c:v libx264 -crf 23 -preset veryfast output.mp4

'Encode Selected Video Files' Service

Apple's 'built-in' "Encode Selected Video Files" service no longer works for Sorenson video files.

Encode Service Fails

Embracing Change While Preserving the Past

As technology advances, it's essential to adapt to new standards while also preserving access to legacy content. For macOS professionals and users, understanding how to handle Sorenson Video encoded files is a step in balancing the old with the new, ensuring that valuable content from the past remains accessible and usable.

I would recommend converting video now because who knows how long VLC or FFmpeg will support converting these file types.

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December 15, 2023

EXA

Modern Tool for the LS terminal command

Hello, Mac enthusiasts! As someone who's spent a decade diving into the depths of the Macintosh world, I've come across numerous tools that transform our user experience. This week, let's talk about a gem that reinvents a classic Unix/Linux command -- Exa.

Exa is a modern replacement for the well-known ls command. If you've used Terminal, you know ls is like an old friend, listing directory contents and being an integral part of our command-line routines. But, it's time to meet its more colorful and powerful successor.

Exa Tool

Why Exa?

  1. Color-Coded and Easy to Read: Exa uses color coding to distinguish file types and metadata. It makes scanning through directories not only more efficient but also more enjoyable.

  2. Enhanced File Information: Unlike ls, Exa provides detailed information like file size, inode number, and extended attributes, all in a user-friendly format.

  3. Git Integration: This is a game-changer. Exa seamlessly integrates with Git, showing the status of files right in the file list. No more switching back and forth between ls and git status.

  4. Customizability: Tailor Exa to your preferences. With various flags and options, you can control how the output appears, making your terminal experience truly yours.

Getting Started with Exa

  1. Installation: Use Homebrew, a package manager for macOS. Simply type brew install exa in your Terminal, and you're good to go.

  2. Basic Commands: Start with exa -l for a detailed list view. Explore other flags like -a for all files (including hidden), and -T for a tree view of your directory structure.

  3. Git Integration: Use exa -l --git to see the Git status of files alongside the regular output.

  4. Aliases: Supercharge your workflow by creating aliases in your .bashrc or .zshrc file. For instance, alias ls to exa -l for a quick switch.

Practical Use Cases

  • Developers: Quickly navigate through project directories with enhanced visibility into file statuses, especially within Git repositories.
  • System Administrators: Utilize the detailed file information for system maintenance and file management.
  • Automation Scripts: Incorporate Exa into scripts for more readable and informative outputs.

Final Thoughts

Exa isn't just a replacement for ls; it's a modern, feature-rich command that brings joy and efficiency to your Terminal experience. As you integrate Exa into your daily routine, you'll discover more ways it can streamline your tasks and make Terminal work not just a necessity, but a delight. Happy exploring!

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December 8, 2023

Background Removal via Finder

Pixelmator Pro vs Finder

As a Macintosh professional, it's important to stay informed about the best tools available for specific tasks. When it comes to removing backgrounds from images, both Pixelmator Pro and the general Finder background removal tool on MacOS have their strengths, but Pixelmator Pro generally offers superior capabilities, especially for professional use.

Background Removal Test

Pixelmator Pro

  • Better Edge Detection: Pixelmator Pro is known for its advanced image editing capabilities, including superior edge detection. This is particularly useful when dealing with complex images or when the background and the foreground have similar colors or textures.
  • Advanced Editing Options: It provides more control over the editing process, allowing for finer adjustments and more precise editing. This is beneficial for professional-quality work where every detail matters.
  • More Features: Pixelmator Pro includes a wider range of tools for image editing, not just background removal. This makes it a more versatile choice for comprehensive image editing needs.

General Finder Tool

  • Convenience and Accessibility: The background removal tool in Finder is more accessible for casual users, as it is built into the MacOS Finder. It's handy for quick edits where high precision is not critical.
  • Simplicity: It's more straightforward and easier to use for those who are not professional editors or those who need to perform a simple background removal without many additional editing needs.

Conclusion: For professional use, where precision and the quality of edges are paramount, Pixelmator Pro is the better choice. Its advanced features and superior edge detection capabilities make it more suitable for detailed and high-quality image editing. The general Finder tool, while convenient for quick and simple tasks, may not provide the same level of precision and control needed for professional-quality work.

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December 1, 2023

Expanding Polygons Beyond the Default in Keynote

Unlocking More Sides

Hello, Mac enthusiasts! This week, we're diving into a neat trick within MacOS that many users overlook. By default, when you draw a polygon in most MacOS applications, it comes with five sides. However, did you know you can easily expand this number to create more complex shapes? Let's explore how to expand a polygon to have up to 11 sides by simply using a green dot.

Keynote Pentagon

  1. Starting with the Basics:
    • First, open the application where you want to draw your polygon (such as Pages, or Keynote).
    • Select the shape tool and choose the polygon shape.
  2. Understanding the Default Setting:
    • By default, the polygon appears with five sides.
    • Notice the green dot on one of the vertices of the polygon ? this is your key to customization.
  3. Expanding the Polygon:
    • Click and hold the green dot. As you start dragging it, you'll see the number of sides increase.
    • Slowly drag the dot around the center of the polygon, and watch as the sides increase up to 11.
  4. Customization Tips:
    • Remember that as you add more sides, the shape gradually becomes more circular.
    • Experiment with different numbers of sides for various projects ? whether it's for graphic design, presentations, or just for fun.
  5. Applications and Creativity:
    • This feature is particularly useful in design projects where you need polygons that are not commonly available.
    • Combine it with other tools like color fill, border adjustments, and rotation to create unique graphics.

Green Dot Loation

Conclusion

Expanding the sides of a polygon from the default five to up to eleven opens up a new world of design possibilities on your Mac. It's a simple yet powerful way to add flair to your documents and presentations. As always, the key is to experiment and find what works best for your creative needs. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks next week!

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November 24, 2023

FCPeffects Black Friday Mega Bundle

Back again in 2024!

As a seasoned user of the FCPeffects Black Friday Mega Bundle, I'm excited to share my experience with this incredible collection of tools for Final Cut Pro. Last year's purchase has been a game-changer in my video editing projects, offering not just versatility but also remarkable value.

F C O Effects
https://www.fcpeffects.com

What's in the Bundle?

The Mega Bundle is a treasure trove for video editors, featuring over 1900 FCP effects, transitions, and titles. This comprehensive package, typically valued at over $1600, is available for just $59, making it an unmissable deal for both amateur and professional editors.

Key Highlights of the Mega Bundle

  • Ease of Use: The bundle offers drag-and-drop presets with intuitive, customizable settings, suitable for beginners and pros alike.
  • Speed and Efficiency: Designed to streamline the editing workflow, these plugins help save time on repetitive tasks, enhancing productivity.
  • Instant Access: Post-purchase, the bundle is immediately available for download, ensuring you can start using the tools without delay.
  • Wide Compatibility: Fully optimized for Apple's M1, M2, and M3 Silicon chips, the plugins work seamlessly with the latest versions of Final Cut Pro.
  • Customization: The industry-leading customizability of these plugins allows for easy tweaking and adjustments to suit your project's needs.

My Personal Experience

Using the Mega Bundle has significantly improved my editing workflow. The 'Skin Smoother 2' and 'Quick & Easy Ken Burns' effects, in particular, have been instrumental in enhancing the quality of my projects, providing professional-grade results with minimal effort.

Why It's a Must-Have

  • Cost-Effective: The bundle's massive discount offers incredible value, especially considering the individual cost of these plugins.
  • Lifetime Access: It's a one-time purchase that grants you lifetime access to all the plugins, making it a long-term investment in your editing toolkit.

Conclusion

For anyone looking to elevate their video editing game, the FCPeffects Black Friday Mega Bundle is a golden opportunity. It's not just a collection of tools; it's an investment in your creativity and efficiency. As someone who has benefitted immensely from this bundle, I highly recommend it to both aspiring and seasoned video editors.

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November 17, 2023

How to Print Odd/Even Pages in macOS Sonoma

A Step-by-Step Guide

Printermac O S Printer

Welcome back to our weekly series where we delve into tips and tricks for macOS users! This week, we're exploring a handy feature in macOS Sonoma - printing odd or even pages. This can be particularly useful when you want to print on both sides of the paper manually or if you're only interested in specific pages of a document. Let's dive into how you can use the "Sheets to Print" option in the Paper Handling section of the updated print dialog box.

Step 1: Open Your Document

First things first, open the document you want to print. This could be a PDF, a Word document, or any other printable file.

Step 2: Accessing the Print Dialog

With your document open, go to File > Print, or simply use the shortcut Command + P. This will open the print dialog box.

Sonoma Printer Dialog

Step 3: Navigating to Paper Handling

In the print dialog, you might see a simplified version initially. Look for a drop-down menu that usually shows the name of the application you're using (like Preview, Word, etc.). Click on it and select Paper Handling from the list of options. This is where the magic happens!

Step 4: Selecting Sheets to Print

Once in the Paper Handling section, look for the "Sheets to Print" option. You'll typically find two choices here: Odd Only and Even Only.

  • Choose Odd Only if you want to print pages 1, 3, 5, and so on.
  • Select Even Only for pages 2, 4, 6, and so forth.

Step 5: Adjust Other Settings (Optional)

While you're here, you can also adjust other settings like the page order. For instance, if you're planning to manually print on both sides, you might want to print the even pages in reverse order for easier handling.

Step 6: Print and Repeat if Necessary

After selecting your preferred option, click Print. If you're doing a manual duplex (double-sided) print job, remember to re-feed the printed pages into your printer and repeat the process for the other set of pages (odd or even, whichever you didn't print the first time).

Conclusion

Printing odd or even pages in macOS Sonoma is a breeze once you know where to look. This feature is especially useful for those looking to save paper or manually handle duplex printing. As always, macOS is designed to make your workflow more efficient, and this small but mighty feature is a testament to that.

Stay tuned for more macOS tips and tricks next week! Happy printing!

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November 10, 2023

TextEdit for Clipboard Content

The tool to handle complex RTF

I have been copying various text information online into Apple Pages. I have become frustrated with the formatting in Pages and spend a lot of time fixing bullet points and header text.

I recently found that if I use TextEdit the formatted text content from Google Chrome matches what I see in the browser. This is especially true for complex list types.

Note: This also happens with Apple Safari.

So if you're running into difficulty with Pages not handling Clipboard formatting, try using TextEdit.

Chrome Text Edit Pages

Here's why this method is effective:

  1. Different Formatting Standards: Google Chrome and Apple Pages might interpret and handle text formatting differently due to their distinct underlying technologies. This can lead to inconsistencies when you copy-paste directly from Chrome to Pages.
  2. Neutral Ground with TextEdit: TextEdit, a simple and versatile text editor for macOS, acts as a neutral ground. It supports a wide range of text formats and provides a more consistent interpretation of the formatting. When you first paste into TextEdit, it adapts the formatting from Chrome in a way that's more compatible with Pages.
  3. Maintaining Formatting: By copying from TextEdit to Pages, the likelihood of retaining the original formatting from Chrome increases. TextEdit essentially "translates" the formatting into a form that Pages can better understand and reproduce.
  4. Simplicity and Accessibility: TextEdit is a basic tool that comes pre-installed on all Macs, making it an easily accessible solution for this kind of formatting issue.

To use this method, simply copy your formatted text from Google Chrome, paste it into TextEdit, and then copy from TextEdit and paste into Apple Pages. This should maintain most, if not all, of the original formatting.

Remember, though, that very complex formatting or certain specific elements might still not transfer perfectly due to inherent differences in how Chrome and Pages handle them.

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November 3, 2023

iMac FaceTime Camera Quality

Use an old iPhone for better videos

My iMac, which is a Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2019 has a built in camera. The built in camera is an HD camera. My Apple Thunderbolt Display also has a built it camera, and it's also a HD camera.

Today, the terminology "HD" doen't really mean High Definition as HD means 720p. Most smartphones front screens are now using 1080p image resolutions.

iMac FaceTime

Video Resolution Fun Facts

HD 720p image resolution (1,280 x 720 pixels ? approximately 1 million total pixels)
Full HD 1080p image resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels ? approximately 2 million total pixels)
Ultra HD 4K image resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels ? approximately 8 million total pixels)

720p vs 1080p

Do you really need a 1080p video resolution for Zoom or Microsoft Teams calls? Probably not. However it would help with low lighting and clarity. This would be good for job interviews or important job meetings.

Got an Old iPhone?

The camera on your iPhone is designed to capture high-resolution photos and videos. When used as a webcam, it can significantly outperform many standard computer webcams. The iPhone's sensor and lens are engineered to produce sharp, high-definition images, ensuring that you come across clearly and professionally. Furthermore, the iPhone's camera excels in a variety of lighting situations, adjusting to give you the best possible image.

Setting Up Your iPhone as Your iMac's Camera

Transforming your iPhone into a FaceTime camera for your iMac is relatively straightforward. You'll need a few things to get started:

  • Your old iPhone (preferably one with a 1080p camera, such as the iPhone 6 or later).
  • A stable stand or tripod to position your iPhone.
  • A lightning cable to connect your iPhone to your iMac.
  • Software to bridge the connection between your iPhone and iMac (apps like EpocCam or Camo).

Once you have everything you need, follow these steps:

  1. Install the Webcam App: Download and install your chosen webcam app on both your iPhone and iMac. These apps will enable you to use your iPhone as a webcam via a USB or Wi-Fi connection.
  2. Connect Your iPhone: Mount your iPhone on the stand or tripod and position it where you would normally have a webcam. Connect your iPhone to your iMac using the lightning cable.
  3. Configure the Webcam App: Launch the app on your iMac and follow the instructions to connect it to your iPhone. You might need to allow some permissions on both devices.
  4. Select the iPhone as Your Camera Source: In your video conferencing app's settings (like Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams), select the webcam app you've installed as the camera source.
  5. Adjust the Settings: Fine-tune the camera settings to your liking. You can adjust the resolution, zoom, and even add filters if your webcam app supports these features.

Amazon Tripod
Useful iPhone Tripod Stand

The Benefits of 1080p Resolution

With your iPhone now set as your FaceTime camera, you'll notice a considerable improvement in video quality. The 1080p resolution of your iPhone's camera provides a high-definition video feed, making your image on calls much sharper than the standard 720p webcam of older iMacs. You'll appear clearer, with more accurate colors and better detail. This can be particularly beneficial for professional calls where making a good impression is paramount.

Looking Your Best on Conference Calls

The higher resolution combined with your iPhone's superior sensor will mean that your video has less noise and better performance in low light conditions. You can say goodbye to pixelated video and embrace a more polished and flattering image. Remember, good lighting is key to professional video calls, so make sure you're well-lit from the front. Your iPhone will take care of the rest, ensuring that you look your best.

Closing Thoughts

Using your old iPhone as a FaceTime camera is not just a creative hack but a smart way to leverage technology you already own. It's a win-win situation that contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle while improving your professional presence online. So, dust off that old iPhone, set it up as your new iMac webcam, and get ready to show up on your next video call with clarity and confidence.

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About

As someone who has worked on Macs since 1989, I will use my experience to share tips and tricks with you on Fridays. As a Mac user since 1989, I have seen the evolution of Mac software and hardware, and I know how Mac computers work. I also know how to troubleshoot and fix Mac problems that can arise.

Check out all the blog posts.

Schedule

MondayMedia Monday
TuesdayQA
WednesdayNew England
ThursdayGluten Free
FridayMacintosh
SaturdayInternet Tools
SundayOpen Topic