Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

Earliest: June 26, 2003Latest: June 22, 2018Total: 249

June 22, 2018

Gif Brewery

Gif Brewery is the easiest way to create GIF images from any type of videos, especially those taken with the iPhone. You can open up a video file, import one via URL (including YouTube), Stitch images and video, Record Screen actions or record video from the computer camera.

The nice thing about Gif Brewery is that you get a lot of flexibility to create animated GIFs. If I needed more flexibility I can use Wondershare Filmora and then import it to Gif Brewery.

It took a while to understand how to work the timeline settings - but once you play around with it for a bit it is fairly straightforward.

Gif Brewery is free and definitely worth downloading and adding to your collection.

Gif Brewery

Things I have Learned from using GIF Brewery

  • By default, when you add a video the frame rate is set to 20, which makes the video go quickly.
  • You set the length of the GIF by dragging the start and end point. The bigger the points the larger the video. (Try to keep the Gif less than 10 seconds)
  • Clicking on the 'Create' button is how you can preview the image before saving the image.
  • None of the settings are applied instantly in the main video area.
  • You can preview the loop by typing the Shortcut Option-Command-L, you can add a "Preview Loop" shortcut to the toolbar, simply Control-Click the toolbar, and select 'Customize Toolbar' and then drag and drop the 'Preview Loop' to the toolbar.
  • You can extract the clip as PNG files, by Typing Command-P. (This is useful if you want a preview image.)

Four Key Things about Creating Awesome Gifs

  • Keep the GIfs content simple
  • Keep the file size as small as possible - in Slack, any GIF that is ove 5 MB won't be displayed
  • Faster Frame rates are one way to have a longer GIF with a smaller file size.
  • Check the gfycat collection to see if it was already done or someone created a better gif.

Same GIFs created in Gif Brewery

Gas Prices
Gas Prices in the Bay Area in 1999.

MBTA Train
Train Arriving in Framingham

June 15, 2018

Puzzle Effect in Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements has lots of cool features, one of which is the ability to add various photo effect using a guided wizard. In the Photo Play category you can add Out of Bounds, Picture Stack, Pop Art, Puzzle Effect, Recompose, and Reflection.

If you open up Photoshop Elements and then select Photo Play and then Puzzle Effect. You can have a cool puzzle effect on your image:

Elements Puzzle

Manipulating the Image

You have a choice of puzzle effect: small, medium or large. (The best image appears to be the 16:9 format type.) Photoshop Elements allows a user to change the photo effect choice if you don't think the right type is selected.

After you select the effect type, you can then select the puzzle piece and then extract it from the image. You can then move the piece around wherever you want.

What's neat about Photoshop Elements is that you have a choice of what puzzle size is best for your design;

June 8, 2018

Quickly Turn off Notifications

On the Macintosh, at the top right-hand side of the screen is where notifications are sent. You'll get notified if you have the new email or if someone slacked you a message. You'll also get notifications about upcoming meetings.

Every once and a while, it's nice to turn off the notifications. Especially if you're in a meeting and you're showing your computer to someone. You don't want to be distracted because someone sent you Spam about some financial stock tip .

Disable All Notifications

Did you know that you can disable the notifications?

When you click on the notification icon, the top right icon in the toolbar, you'll see a history of notifications. If you scroll down you can see a lot of notifications.

If you scroll up, you'll see two options - above the "Today" category. Don't stop at 'Today' keep scrolling up. You should see this:

Do Not Disturb

Now you can quickly disable the notifications and not get any alerts.

What is Night Shift?

Night Shift will adjust the monitor colors for better viewing at night. This is ideal when you have the computer on and there are no other lights on in the room.

June 1, 2018

Posterino postmark Effect

Posterino is a Macintosh application that makes very cool looking collages. Check out my previous blog post on creative things to do with the application. Basically it the fastest way to make trendy photo collages on a Macintosh.

Hidden Feature in Posterino

One cool feature of Posterino is the ability to add Frames, Filters, and Decorations to any image. One of the image decorations is the Postmark Effect tool - it adds a cancel postage stamp on your image. It's unique because Posterino gives you the ability to edit the text in the stamp, something I haven't seen in other applications or cloud service.

What's neat is that you can apply the effect to a single image, then export to be used elsewhere.

Posterino Stamps

Tips and Tricks on using the Stamp Effect

  • Start off with a large blank image at 72 DPI.
  • After the file is created, and you see the "Drop your Image here", type in Command-L to make the layout Manual.
  • Drag and drop an image and resize the image in the canvas area.
  • While the image is selected, select the Effect tab and click on the Postmark in the Decorations section.
  • Click on the Adjust Tab and make the PostMark changes (Postmark position, color and text)
  • Then mouse click on the regular canvas (anyplace in the center screen, just not on the image or postmark)
  • The Adjust tab should change, and you should see Grid category.
  • Scroll all the way to the bottom of the Adjust tab and deselect Draw Background and Draw on Export
  • Type in Command-E to export your Image to Disk
  • Select PNG format

Now your image will be on top of a transparent layer to be used in any application!

Whoa! That's a Lot of Work

It's a lot of steps to get a simple effect, but sometimes having a postmark effect makes the image stand out a bit more.

If you know of another way to add a stamp/postmark effect and is configurable, let me know in the comments below!

May 25, 2018

Acorn 6

There are many alternatives to Photoshop: Pixelmator, Affinity Photo, Gimp, PhotoScape and GraphicConverter to name a few. Acorn, by Flying Meat is another popular photo tool.

This week I decided to download it to see what makes it unique among the other Photoshop alternatives.

Acorn 6

Things I learned about Acorn 6

Acorn uses the power of Apple's Metal 2, which means you fully utilize the computer graphic processing unit. You also get a lot of the common filters such as Blur, Color Adjustments, Distortion Effects, Gradient, Stylize and more.

There are 32 Tools that are available and all are easily accessible via the toolbar or using a keyboard hotkey. For example, to use the Paint tool simply type B.

There are three text tools, Text, Text Circle, and Text Path. The text circle is pretty cool, its a fast way to type text on a circular path. You simply define the size of the circle and then type your text. It's a lot easier than other applications.

There is a Shape Processor which creates a shape layer where you can do all sorts of things to shapes, which is useful for a background or object fill. It's a cool feature to play around with and discover different design ideas.

There isn't that many pre-defined shapes. However, you can make your own shape by drawing a selection and convert it to a shape.

Acorn supports Photoshop Brush file format. Simply drag-and-drop any '.abr' file to the Acorn icon in the dock. Then select the Brush tool, and then the imported brush.

The Layers filter dialog makes it really easy to see what filters have been applied to a layer and make adjustments. You can easily change the order of the layer filter - something that isn't available in other image editors. The filters are non-destructive, so you can change it up anytime you want.

Acorn doesn't support importing EPS files, but you can open SVG files.

You can create a new image from your camera - making it easy to touch up an Avatar.

Acorn Help has a lot of great tips and tricks for using Acorn. Many of the tips come from other users to show how to cool things in Acorn. There are Tutorials for Beginner, Intermediate and Advance users.

May 18, 2018

PhotoMill X

PhotoMill, by Overmacs, is a handy photo utility to use anytime you need to make changes to multiple images. The application is easy to navigate and has a great way to manage multiple images.

Description from Website

PhotoMill helps you convert a bulk of images into the most popular image formats, give your files meaningful names, watermark with text and image, adjust photos (brightness/saturation/exposure/grayscale/etc.), fit geometry (scale/crop/trim/etc.), remove private metadata, add your own copyrights etc.

Also, PhotoMill is a great batch metadata editor, image file renamer and photo browser.

Photo Mill

Notes on my Evaluation

Seems to be a good solution if you manage a lot of photos. For example, if you have a lot of old pictures that you want to convert to JPG from BMP or TIFF scans.

PhotoMill might be a good tool when creating an online photo gallery. (Quickly create thumbnails)

You can do multiple actions, such as add a Watermark Rectangle and then add a text above the rectangle. It is a cool effect that I haven't seen used in other applications.

You can get a side-by-side preview of the change you're about to apply, so you know what impact your changes will have on the image.

The Info Panel is a good way to get detailed information about images without actually having to open it.

There is a preset for "Prepare for Facebook" with the long edge being 2048 and the method is resized to fix long edges. Originally I thought that 2048 was too big for Facebook, as I thought 1200 was the standard size. However, Facebook own documents recommend using the 2048 width to have the best quality.

The search and sorting features was pretty impressive. I can easily drop a folder full of images and work on ones that meet certain criteria. For example, I can drop a large folder of pictures but only work on the pictures that had the wrong orientation.

This application would be very handy when viewing old DVD data. You can pick and choose which images are worth keeping and convert to today's format.

Try Before You buy

PhotoMill has a free 7-day trial with no limits. After that, the cost to purchase the application is $12. (There is a discount if you purchase the application after your trial)

You can download the trial application from their website.

May 11, 2018

AutoDesk Sketchbook

On April 30th, Autodesk announced that SketchBook is now free for everybody, previously it was $25/yr. This includes both the Macintosh and Android editions.

The only thing that you will need to do is to signup for an Autodesk account - and that is also free.

Sketchbook

What is Sketchbook?

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro drawing and painting software provide designers, architects, and concept artists the tools to sketch ideas quickly and create beautiful illustrations. Available for most platforms and devices.

Sketchbook 7 Features

  • Natural drawing experience
  • Unlimited brushes
  • Import/Export Photoshop Formats
  • Predictive Stroke
  • Four Symmetry Dimensions
  • Rulers and Guides
  • Custom Perspective Guides

Affinity Photo vs Sketchbook (Unique Features)

Here's a few things that make Sketchbook a great companion to Affinity Designer:

  • Lots of brushes with a lot of different effects - more than 90 customizable brushes that can incorporate both textures and shapes. Make your design in Sketchbook then transfer it to Affinity Designer.
  • Scan Sketch imports your line art with a transparent background, ready for inking and coloring. You can then import that sketch design into Affinity Designer.
  • Works on your Smartphone. Now you can do some Sketching when your waiting in line for your morning coffee ( or wherever inspiration happens) and then touch it up when you get to the office.
  • Copic Library - Lots of great color ideas.
  • Flipbook Automation - Create simple animation videos for Social Media.

Getting AutoDesk Sketchbook

You can download Sketchbook free from the Apple Store.

Even if you don't need a drawing program, it's good to have to use and play around. It does take some time to understand the interface and how to navigate between brushes and colors. However, once you play around with it for a while you'll see that it's a pretty cool application.

If you have a Lynda.com account, you can take Veejay Gahir's Sketchbook Pro 7 Essential Training and learn how to use the software.

Getting additional brushes

After you download Sketchbook, make sure to get the bonus Painting brushes.

  • Open up Autodesk Sketchbook
  • Go to Window -> Sketchbook Extras (Third item from the bottom)
  • Click install on each of the items.
  • After the installation is done, it will be quick, check out the cool brushes.

May 4, 2018

Spotlight in MacOS High Sierra

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

Apple Spotlight

Clearing the Spotlight Database

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

Steps to "Officially" Clean out Spotlight

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

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

Steps to "Officially" ReIndex Spotlight

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

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

Using MDUTIL Services

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

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

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

Check the Status of Spotlight

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

mdutil -s /

Two Responses you can get:

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

Alternative Way to Erase and Rebuild the Database

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

mdutil -E /

Stopping Spotlight Services

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

mdutil -i off /

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

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

Restarting Spotlight Services

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

sudo mdutil -i on /

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

/:
Indexing enabled.

Things I learned

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

April 27, 2018

XMenu

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

xmenu Promo

Six Menu Possibilities with xMenu

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

Applications

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

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

Developer

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

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

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

Home

All your Home Folders at your fingertips!

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

Documents

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

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

User-Defined

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

Personally I think this is the best feature of xMenu.

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

Snippets

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

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

Description from Devon Technology Website

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

Getting xMenu

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

April 20, 2018

Resize-Image vs PhotoScape X

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

Description from the Website

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

General Overview

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

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

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

Should you invest in Resize-Image?

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

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

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

Resize Photo Scape

PhotoScape is Better

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

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

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

Photoscape X Batch Features

Five things that make Photoscape X a much better application:

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