|Earliest: June 26, 2003||Latest: July 19, 2019||Total: 305|
Using Microsoft Shapes and Smart Art in Affinity Designer
Microsoft has some pretty cool looking Shapes and Smart Art. These are available in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Powerpoint. Check out some of the designs that are available:
There are 190 SmartArt practical designs and 181 Shapes to choose from!
These are great when you want to visually display data relationships or list items in a nice graphical form. Microsoft does provide some nice editing capabilities, but applications like Affinity Designer have more power tools.
You can start the basic design in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint and then use Affinity Designer to touch it up. Why limit yourself to the capabilities of what's possible in one application?
Example Touch Up
Top image is the touch up version that was created in Microsoft.
Getting to other Apps
If you are using Affinity Designer or other Apps, it's a bit tricky to get these designs into a document via copy and paste. For some reason when you copy and paste a Microsoft Shape or Smart Art, it copies as a text object.
The best way to get the shapes is to 'Save As' a PDF Document
- With the Microsoft Document open, go to File -> Save As
- Select PDF as the File Format
- Save it any place you want, Desktop is good choice.
- In Affinity Designer Open the PDF document.
- You will see that the shapes will be in Curve format, which will allow additional editing and staying in Affinity Designer.
Alternative Way: Use the Preview.app
- With the Microsoft Document open, select the Shape or Smart Art that you created.
- Copy the Object (Command - C)
- Open up the Preview App
- Create a new document, Use the shortcut (Command - N)
- Copy the Contents of the window. (Command - C)
- In your Affinity Designer document paste the content.
The downside of the alternative way is that it pastes as a single image. You can't edit the object as easily. This is a good solution when you don't need to edit the Shape or Smart Art and just want to put it in some Affinity Designer file.
Getting Microsoft Office for Mac
Office 2016 is available online, or at the Apple Retail Store. The home version cost $99 a year for 5 users and includes 1 TB of OneDrive cloud space. If you only plan on using Office on one machine it cost $69 a year.
DropZone is a very cool utility that makes it easier for Macintosh users to take action on files. For example, you can easily move files to your favorite cloud service.
Description from the Website:
Dropzone is a productivity app for the Mac that makes it faster and easier to move and copy files, launch applications, upload to many different services, and more.
Dropzone comes with several pre-installed actions that will satisfy most users:
As if that's not enough, you can download the following actions from their website:
Installing the additional actions is super easy, Simply click on the Install link on the website and it's done in no time.
I was hoping that there would be one for Smugmug and Evernote. The nice thing about Dropzone is that it's fully expandable. I'll be reading the developer documentation to see if I can add additional actions that can help out my team.
If your using Slack, and haven't upgraded to a paying tier, you may know that there is a file storage limit. You are only allowed 5GM total file storage for the entire team. Once you reach that limit you will need to delete files before you can upload any more images.
This file storage limit can be achieved pretty quickly if your team likes to upload a lot of files.
So how can DropZone help?
Instead of dragging the image to Slack, you drag the file up to DropZone and then to the Imgur icon. The file will get uploaded to Imgur.com. Once completed, your clipboard will have the URL to the image.
You then just paste the URL into Slack. Bam! No more file upload limits.
Other users will see the image that you uploaded within Slack as if you uploaded into Slack.
Here is the difference between an uploaded file and a link file at Imgur:
Basically you loose the ability to have a custom title. You certainly can go wrong with the DropZone way.
There's a great animated GIF on Imgur on how this all works.
DropZone is available in Apple Apps store or from their website. If you're unsure, the version on their website offers a 15-day trial which is plenty of time to test the functionality.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.