Macintosh Blog Posts

October 12, 2018

LaunchBar Reminder Action

Using LaunchBar, you can easily set up all sorts of Location based reminders. Since they don't fire until you're near the location, feel free to add whatever you want!

It's very simple to use the 'Add to Reminders' action in LaunchBar. This is much easier to use than opening up the Reminder Application.

Launch Bar Reminders

Example of Location Reminders to Set

  • Did someone give you a gift from their vacation? Remind yourself now, so when you're on your vacation you get them something. You could use the departing airport as the location point.
  • If your driving down route 1 in Maine, remind yourself on where the best Lobster Roll is.
  • Like Popcorn? Remind yourself about which movie theater has the best popcorn. That way you'll be reminded as you pull into the parking lot.
  • Remind yourself to get things at stores you may not shop at frequently - such as getting a 100-foot outdoor cable at Ocean State Job Lot.
  • Need something at the mall but don't want to go now, set up a reminder so you don't forget the item next time you're there!
  • Set up a reminder when you get home to do certain tasks so you don't forget about them.

Couple Location Reminders to Set

Click on the title to download the .ics file that has the reminder set up for you!

LaunchBar Action is Very Handy

LaunchBar's 'Add to Reminders' action is very powerful. Just spending a few minutes with it now can save a lot of headaches in the future.

October 5, 2018

Itsycal

Itycal is a cool desktop utility that displays the current date in the menu bar. You can customize what actually gets displayed in the menu bar. When you click on the date, you get a view of the current month.

Itycal Menu Bar

Five Things that Make Itsycal A Cool Tool

You can add Exchange and Calendar events to the calendar, the current day events also appear below the monthly calendar.

You can add a custom format, such as EEEE, MMMM d, y for Friday, October 5, 2018. Full details on the Unicode Locale Data Markup Language format support is available. You can hide the icon if you just want the full month to be displayed.

Using the Arrow keys you can navigate between months, making it easy to find dates in the future. For example, if you install this in October, click on the icon, then the arrow key twice, then the down key to see what days Christmas will appear in the future.

If you plan to reference the calendar a lot, you can set up a global shortcut to open up Itycal calendar. This is set in the General section application preferences. I have setup Shift-Command-0 as my shortcut on my computer

Once Itycal is open, type Command-N to quickly add an event on your calendar. This makes it easy to set a reminder when you on the phone and wants to add an entry right away.

Itycal is free, so there's no excuse on why you shouldn't get it.

September 28, 2018

JPEGmini Lite

JPEGmini, by Beamer, is a good image utility to compress images without losing the quality of the image. Simple drag and drop the image, and you don't have to worry about settings or seeing if the image looks good. JPEGmini makes sure that the image looks the best as possible.

jpeg Info Lite Window

Tested Again other Mac Tools

I did a comparison with some other Macintosh tools and found that JPEGmini offered better compression without any loss of photo quality.

Photo comparison using a photo taken with my iPhone Xs:

Original Image 2.8 MB
JPEGmini 2.1 MB24%
Photo Size Optimizer 2.8 MB0%
PhotoBulk 2.6 MB8%

File Size Info JPEG

JPEGmini Website

I was able to compress the same image much better on the JPEGMini website. The same image was compressed to 1.9 MB a savings of 47%

ShortPixel Did Better

ShortPixel compression was much better. ShortPixel was able to reduce the image by 90% to 598 KB.

Overall

JPEGmini is a cool Macintosh tool to compress images, but ShortPixel seems to be the better value when compressing images.

JPEGmini is available in a Lite and Regular version. The lite version lets you compress 20 images a day. The regular version is $28.99 for an unlimited number of image compression. If your looking for a computer specific version this seems to be a better option.

ShortPixel offers 100 images a month for free, or various monthly plans starting at $5.

September 21, 2018

Wondershare Filmora

When Macintosh Users first start out doing videos on a Mac chances are they use iMovie. Two Key reasons:

  1. Already installed on the computer
  2. Made by Apple - so it should be easy to use.

After a while, as more video gets made, users start to see the limits of the application.

  1. Limited number of Transitions
  2. Text functionality is very limited

Soon you start seeing the same iMovie effects all over YouTube. Wouldn't it be great if you had a more powerful application to edit videos.

Final Cut is great and powerful, but it has a high price point and a steep learning curve.

Filmora to the Rescue

Wondershare Filmora is definitely the next step up from iMovie. Its a nice application that makes it super easy to create awesome videos.

Once you start using it, you'll never open up iMovie again.

Two Things That I Like:

Title Inspector

The really cool feature of Filmora is the Title Inspector. You have a lot more flexibility in your titles than you do in iMovie, check out this side by side comparison.

iMovieFilmorea_sm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

Filmora Title Inspector is on the top, while iMovie Text editor is on the bottom.

In Filmora, you have a lot more options to how the text is displayed in the video. There are 23 text style presets, in addition, there are 29 animation options. Giving the producer a lot more control over how the text appears in the video.

Oh, and if you like a particular style you can save it as a favorite to use in a different project - can't do that in iMovie.

Title Design/Style Options

In Filmora there are a lot of title options, lots of good ways to add lower third text to your video clip to introduce the scene. In fact there are 42 different designs to select from. In iMovie, you have only 53 titles in the entire library (including lower thirds and Standard titles)

Transitions

Why settle for the boring Cross Dissolve when you transition between video clips? Filmora offers a lot more. iMovie only has 24 transitions while Filmora offers 37 just in the "Warp" category. Check out this screenshot of just a sample of the transitions in Filmora:

Filmora Transitions

Overall

I have been using iMovie for years, loved it's simplified the interface and how easy it is to create videos. However, every time I make a video I get frustrated with the limitations.

Filmora does have some issues:

  • I have found that it crashes more often than iMovie. Usually because of the length of the video.
  • Exporting to YouTube doesn't always work from within the product, I have been saving the movie and then upload it to YouTube via Chrome.
  • Takes a while to understand the text editor
  • You have to pay to subscribe to download additional effects from the library. The nice thing is that its a flat rate, so your not paying per effect.

Despite these limitations, Filmora is a great product and I certainly recommend trying it out. They have a great team of support reps that show you some cool tips and tricks.

Download the Trial and see why 50,000,000 users love Filmora.

September 14, 2018

TechSmith’s Snagit Editor

TechSmith’s Snagit Editor is a great editor to touch up screenshot images. It’s popular because it has a lot of the tools you need without a steep learning curve on how to use them.

Here’s a couple of feature highlights that make the Editor very cool to use:

Image Effects

One of the cool Snagit Editor effects is the Edges effect. You can quickly transform any image to look like it was torn out of a book:

Apple Twitter

Simple Steps to add a Torn Effect

  • Take a screenshot, or drag drop an image into Snagit
  • Click on the 'Effects' icon, located to the right above the Library bar
  • Click on Edges
  • Check out the quick effects for some examples.
  • You can change the settings by clicking on the icon to the right of effect. Torn, Shark and Wave are the three types of edges that are available. In addition, you can change the size of the edge.

I like adding a drop shadow or a thin border to give the image a pop.

This is cool when you have a screenshot of a social media post, or an email screenshot and just want to dress it up a bit better. This is much easier than using Photoshop or Affinity Photo to touch up the image.

Grab Text

Did you know that you can grab the text in the screenshot? This is useful when you may want to include the text version of what you captured, for example, if a spec was in a PDF and you can’t simply copy the text.

Now Scrapbook Shot
This shows how Snagit was able to grab the text from a screenshot

Simple Steps to Get the Text

  • Take a screenshot, or drag drop an image into Snagit
  • Under the 'Edit' menu select Grab Text, or simply remember the shortcut: Shift-Command-O
  • Copy the text wherever you want!

This is useful if you want to include an ALT text in a blog posting, or if you want a description in Slack posts.

September 7, 2018

Letters

Last week Belight Software released a new MacOS app call Letters. This is a cool free application that allows anyone to be creative.

Letters is an application that transforms any letter or text into a professional looking graphic. You can choose from many styles and change the font/color and the 3D rotation. This application is great if you write blogs or want to add some creative text to your Slack Channel

Letters Display
https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/app/letters/id1233167730?mt=12&app=apps

Description from the Developer

Letters offers a multitude of text design templates easily customizable to your liking. Each text style is the result of long hours of professional design work on creating texture materials and photo objects, and carefully selecting proprietary fonts. Simply enter your text and voila! You get amazing graphics as a flattened image or a set of files with a background, a text object and various effects separated into several images.

Four Things I learned About Letters

  • There are 50 Free Designs, and you can buy more designs that are categories in18 other sets where you buy individual designs or all designs in the set.
  • The most expensive set is the Old School Set - which has 16 designs.
  • The default size is 1100px by 512px - which is similar specs for the best size to post on Twitter (1024 x 576). There are presets for A4, US Letter, Facebook Cover, Facebook Image Post, Twitter Header, YouTube Channel Art, YouTube Thumbnail
  • You can open up multiple designs and copy the text designs so that you can have different styles

Sample Designs

Cryan Dot Com Neon

Now What Mutiple Designs

Download Letters

You can get Letters from the Apple Store.

August 31, 2018

Aladdin StuffIt

Aladdin StuffIt is an application that compresses files. Stuffit became popular in the mid-1990s because of the need to store large data on floppy disks and CDs.

Stuffit has changed hands over the years, and is now owned by Smith Micro.

Stuffit Expander

I purchased the application in the 1990s, but never felt the need to update it. Once I was storing data onto CDs and DVDs I didn't encounter any max storage issues.

Classic description

Here's the description of Stuffit from the Educorp Catalog from 1990:

Stuffit Educorp Catalog

Technology Got the Better of the Application

Over the past few years the application had lost its effectiveness. Thanks to cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive:

  • It's easier to store large documents - no longer do users have to worry about the limited space of disks, CDs or DVDs.
  • Sharing files are super easy, simply upload a file to DropBox right click and get a shareable link to send in an email or in Slack.
  • Cloud services allow users to encrypt files and offer monitoring services, something that Stuffit didn't provide.
  • Storage has gotten cheaper. You can get a good quality 6TB USB drive for about $120. Apple Cloud goes for about $2.99 a month for 200 GB (which is about 3 DVDs)

Still Around

You can still buy Stuffit from SmithMicro for $19.95. The cool feature is the new StuffIt Destinations Toolbar, where you can drag and drop your files to various destinations.

Stuffit still is an important app because of encryption and storage space. For example, you can encrypt project folders that you don't want to end up in file search results from Spotlight or on shared space in Google Drive or Dropbox. Since Spotlight won't index the files,

Long Waiting Time

One of my all-time favorite screenshots:

Long Time UNStuff

That comes to 84,308,617 days or 2,309.82 Centuries. The Mar19_2517.jpg file should definitely be worth the wait.

August 24, 2018

Classic Macintosh: Sherlock

Apple introduces Sherlock with Macintosh OS 8.0 on July 26, 1997. There were several versions of Sherlock and the software was discontinued in Mac OX 10.4 in favor of Spotlight.

Sherlock was never ported as a Universal Binary. So when Apple killed off Rosetta, it meant the end of Sherlock.

What made Sherlock neat was the ability to select the source of your search query so you know where your searching. It was a simple single source to find anything you want in one dialog box.

Sherlock Screen Shots

Apple Sherlock

Sherlock Search Sites
This is a great snapshot of internet search engine history. Notice that Google isn't listed? Know why? They were not a big player in 1999/2000.

Running Sherlock Today

When I tried to search for some of the internet sites, Sherlock crashed. I wasn't able to get any successful internet search.

I wasn't surprised by this, as I am sure most of the sites had removed the legacy code years ago.

August 17, 2018

BBEdit Anchor tag Changes

I have been using BBEdit for many years. The earliest copy that I could find was BBEdit 4.3. Recently, I was looking through my applications on my Macintosh Powerbook G3 and found an old copy of BBEdit 6.0. I thought it would be interesting to see how the Anchor tag has changed over the years.

BBEdit601
BBEdit 6.01 for OS X

BBEdit125
BBEdit 12.1.5 (Latest Release)

Things to Note

  • The dialog box is much cleaner in BBEdit 12.1.5
  • In BBEdit 6.01 the scheme include http,https,ftp,mailto,news,telnet,finger,gopher,wais and whois
  • in BBEdit 10+, doesn't save recent URLs
  • In BBEdit 6.01, The strange symbol next to href field is to enter the document selection in the text field
  • in BBEdit 10+, you can change the anchor items to whatever you want.

August 10, 2018

If this, than That

A classic shareware game on Macintosh OS 9, was "If this, than That" by Mike Anderson. The game was created on July 11, 1993, and distributed via shareware.

If Then That

Object of the game

If this, than that, is a logic game where you try to break the code the computer randomly generates. You have six tries to break the code. After your sixth try, the computer will display the code on the top part of the game.

Playing the Game, again

It was fun playing the game on my Macintosh PowerBook G3 and figuring out the puzzle. The game is pretty hard to use at first since you need to figure out the correct pattern. You were never told which pattern was correct and where it's correct. To be successful at this game takes a lot of logic skills.

This would make a great iOS game. I checked and couldn't find one that worked the same way. If you know of one, let me know in the comments below.

August 3, 2018

Apple at the Smithsonian

There are more than 200 Apple Computer items in the American History section of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Not all items are displayed at once. Along with all the other computer exhibited there are two iconic items are always displayed - the original Apple and the Macintosh.


Homebrew Club Display

Right behind the original Apple Computer is a blackboard that showcases several computers that were sold at the HomeBrew Club. This club is where people would go to learn about the latest computers and buy build-your-own computers.

One of the interesting things is the price of the Apple Computer - $666. At first, I thought this was a joke someone at the Smithsonian was playing. Turns out that it was the original price of the Apple Computer at the Homebrew club. The actual price was $666.66

Wozniak reportedly chose the price for two reasons: it was a markup of a third on the parts' cost and because he "liked repeating digits"

In 2018, that $666.66 computer would be worth $2,994.49. Today, a top of the line iMac computer - Retina 5K Display 3.8GHz Processor 2TB Storage cost $2,299.0

Today anyone having one of the original wood Apple Computers has a $195,433 computer - there were 200 models sold between July 1976 and September 1977.

Finding the Apple Computer at the Smithsonian

The National Museum of American History is located on the National Mall, Constitution Avenue, N.W., between 12th and 14th Streets, Washington, D.C.

The Apple Computers are in the Transportation and Technology section on the 1st Floor, which is one floor down if you enter via the National Mall. The computers are in the "Lightning a Revolution" room.

July 27, 2018

Magnet for MacOS

Magnet is a cool utility that allows you to neatly organized all your application windows on your screen. This works great between multiple applications such as having Mail and Chrome open at the same time.

The application is a huge hit with MacOS users as it has a five-star rating with 12,517 reviews. Probably the highest rated app in the App Store.

Magnet Promo

Six Things I have Learned about Magnet

The application is a bit tricky to work with multiple displays. There were times when I tried to align right and the window appears on the right screen.

You can exclude the functionality from working in any application via settings

The Keyboard shortcuts are tricky to remember, but they can be changed to whatever you want.

The screen activation point for 'Maximize' is a bit too sensitive as I have accidentally triggered it. It would be nice if there was a way to disable that trigger point.

I found the left/right alignment works great with testing websites in Chrome and Firefox.

The icons in the drop-down menu in the menu bar helps me figure out what command I am looking for.

Paid Application

Magnet cost $.99 and well worth the price. If you do any type of multitasking between applications, I think you'll find Magnet useful and worth the investment.

There is no trial for this application. To download the app, visit the Apple App Store. There's additional information on their website.

July 20, 2018

Smart Converter Pro

Earlier this year I blogged about how Smart Converter is a great application for converting media files. I finally decided to upgrade to the Professional version. So this post is all about the differences between the two versions and if it's really worth going for the upgrade.

Key Differences

With the Pro version you can:

  • Batch a bunch of files so they can be converted. Have it run when your not using the computer - "Set it and forget it"
  • Customize the six conversation type buttons to your environment. For example, you can have a Apple TV 4k, and an Apple TV 4.
  • Convert to various music format types including OGG Audio
  • Set the conversion destination to where you want it go. (No more fumbling through the iTunes directory)
  • Trash the original file after the conversion.
  • Maintain the original file creation time - useful when converting old MOV files and don't want to loose the creation dates

Remember the output quality is only going to be as good as the original. Many clips that I was converting were encoded using RealMedia for low bandwidth connections. Remember dial-up?

Here's the results of one of the videos that I got converted - A video of Marshall "Do" Applewhite from Heaven's Gate from 1997 original format was rv10 (RV10 / 0x30315652), yuv420p, 160x112, 33 kb/s, 15 fps, 15 tbr, 1k tbn, 1k tbc:

It's not great, but it works and it was quick. Smart Converter Pro did a great job!

Worth The Upgrade?

I believe it worth the upgrade if you have a lot of media files that you are looking to convert. The free version gives you a taste of what you can do and is a bit limited of the capabilities.

I like how I can customize the button row for things that are important to my typical conversion types.

July 13, 2018

Path Finder 8

Path Finder allows you to have more File Management control. You can better manage your files and get things done quicker with Path Finder. Read the my Blog Post about Path Finder 7 on June 10, 2016.

Path Finder8

On May 20, 2018, Cocoatech officially announced Path Finder 8. It's the first major update in 2 year!

What Makes Path Finder 8 Worth Looking at?

In Path Finder 8, it's all about the Modules. Path Finder was written so that you can customize the Browser window how you want. You can now place various modules in positions that work best for you.

Modules functionality includes: ASL, Attributes, Cover Flow, Drop Stack, Git, Hex, Image Browser, Info, Open With, Permissions, Preview, Processes, Recent Documents, Recent Folders, Selection Path, Sidebar, Size Subversion, Tags and Rating, Terminal and Trash.

Simply drag and drop the modules where you would like to see it. It's great when you're doing certain tasks, such as disk cleaning where the Info Module may come in handy or when your working on a software project and Git and Subversion would be handy.

According to the Path Finder Blog, Modules is just one step of many exciting changes coming to Path Finder. Expect to see more features and enhancements.

What I Like About Path Finder

Path Finder 8 Menu

Menu Bar Functionality

Path Finder has an icon in the menu bar, which gives you quick access to various computer points - such as Active Applications, Open a new Terminal Window and a Quick way to launch any application via the Command - F8.

If you don't like using the Command-Space functionality, using Path Finder menu bar is yet another way to open up applications. The launch application functionality gives you a Browse and Search Application window to make open up your favorite App. This is useful when you may know about the app by its icon but not necessarily by the name.

Ability to Add/View additional Columns to the Grid

You can add an 'Info' column to the browser grid which will give you some information about each object, for images you get the image dimensions. Which is extremely helpful when you're browsing around looking for a particular image. Videos objects will show the length.

Once you find the right image, You can right click, and select the 'Image Size' and now you have the image dimensions in your clipboard.

Personalize it to work for You

There's a lot more configuration in the Path Finder Browser than what's in the Finder. Path Finder gives you the ability to customize the Mac experience to your needs.

Basically if you want more power and configuration with the Mac OS Finder, Path Finder is certainly the way to go.

Remember Path Finder has been around since Mac OSX first came out. So they know a thing or two about what people need in a good file management application.

July 6, 2018

CofeShow Video Slideshow Maker

Video Slideshow Maker CofeShow is the quickest way to create professionally looking slideshows. Simply select the theme, add the photos, add music, and then build the slideshow. The final video can be uploaded to YouTube or added as a clip to iMovie or Filmora.

18 Designs Available

Current available designs: Mint, Bokeh, Summer Holiday, VintageSparks, Chalkboard, Watercolor, Roller, Blurry, Pan and Zoom, Baby, Corporate, Vanilla, Blue Denim, Black, Brown Wood, Birthday Party and Magic Tree.

You can preview the designs on cofeshow's website.

Cofeshow
http://www.cofeshow.com/

Five Things I Learned Using CofeShow

  • You can add Text before each photo. (Useful to describe a scene or event)
  • You don't have the ability to customize the length of the slideshow.
  • Each photo is shown for 3.5 or 4 seconds depending on the theme selected
  • You can add music to the slideshow, however the show will not play to the length of the clip.
  • You have an option between 1280x720 (HD) or 1920x1080 (Full HD)
  • Each theme has to be downloaded the first time you use it.
  • After the video is created, you need to manually upload it to your favorite video network (YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc..)

Example Video

This is a quick video that I put together using Video Slideshow Maker CofeShow. I haven't purchased the license - yet. But I plan too in the near future.

Apple Photos Slideshow

There is a slideshow functionality in Apple Photo. However, there are only seven designs to pick from. The seven slideShow designs in Photos are Ken Burns, Origami, Reflections, Sliding Panels, Vintage Prints, Classic and Magazine.

Vintage Prints is the only design that I really like in Apple Photos. I haven't been able to find anyone else have a similar style.