Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

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

April 13, 2018

LaunchBar Actions

LaunchBar is a very powerful tool that puts instant access to all sorts of actions at your fingertips. You can open applications faster, get to documents, set reminders and so much more.

There are a lot of very useful LaunchBar built-in actions - 152 of them to be exact. They expand the capabilities of LaunchBar to be way more useful than the standard Spotlight search.

Here are three example actions that are very useful. Granted it takes some time to get used to the new process, but you will see how it can improve your computer productivity time.

Searching using Google

The typical method to search using Google requires opening up a browser, typing a search term and hitting return. That's great if you're already working with the browser open, but if you're doing a paper it's a lot of extra steps.

Using LaunchBar, you can quickly get things moving by passing the search parameters to the browser. After doing this a few times, you'll see how using LaunchBar method is so much easier than a typical method.

Search Google

  • Type: Command Space
  • Type: Google
  • Click Space
  • Enter Your Search Term and then click Enter

Join Lines with a Comma Separator

Whenever I have a list that I need to join, I usually end up opening up BBEdit and then pasting the text and then do a simple search and replace. After the search, I have to remove the last comma in the list. No so fun, and very time-consuming.

Using this trick in LaunchBar, I am able to work much quicker. Now I can quickly sort the list. There are other list tools in LaunchBar, but this is one that I use the most.

Join Lines With Comma

  • Select some text and drag and drop it onto LaunchBar
  • Click Tab
  • Search for 'Join' and click Enter
  • To paste it in the front most window with Shift Enter or using Command C

Copy as Tiny URL

Tiny URL is a great service to make URLs really shore, especially when the URL has a lot of parameters. This is useful when you want to post something in Slack or in a Jira. There's no need to have a huge paper trail link

The nice thing about Tiny URL is that it never expires, so you can keep using it for a long time.

Copy Tiny U R L

  • Command Space
  • Type: Tiny
  • Scroll to where you see 'Copy as Tiny URL'
  • Type in or Paste in a URL
  • Click Enter
  • Now Your Clipboard has the TinyURL version of your URL. Paste it in where ever you need it.

Go Faster

You can make the process go even quicker by using custom abbreviations. The actions will appear quicker with abbreviations that you are more familiar with.

Abbreviation Change

To make Searching Google faster, change the Google Abbreviation to search:

  • Type: Command Space
  • Type: Google
  • Click Command Option A
  • Enter your custom abbreviations, such as 'search' and click

April 6, 2018

File Juicer

File Juicer is a cool program that extracts images from Powerpoint and PDF documents.

Description from the site:

With File Juicer you can

  • Extract images from a PowerPoint slide show or presentation.
  • Extract images and text from PDF files.
  • Recover images and video from erased flash cards
  • Recover text from damaged files
  • Extract the images and HTML files in Safari's cache.
  • Extract attachments from email archives.

and more...

I find this useful when I want to extract images from an old Powerpoint slide and use it in other presentations. I have a lot of old PDF documents that have images in them.

File Juice Documents

Eight Things I learned while Testing File Juicer

  • Not all PDF documents will have images. Some graphics are encoded into the PDF document that File Juicer can't identify it as an image object.
  • When File Juicer extracts data from a document it saves similar types in folders. (example JPG, Gif, TIFF)
  • A index.html file is generated as a quick reference guide to all the images in that folder.
  • In the File Juicer Preference section you can set up what type of objects should be extracted
  • Can't extract Stuff-it archives
  • This helped me identify some old files. I was able to determine some old files were PageMaker documents.
  • You can extra Browser Cache from the File menu. This might be useful to do before deleting out the cache.
  • You can also extract images from Messages (iChat). Very helpful if you want to keep a copy of photos people send you.
  • When using the Message extraction, the extracted object will maintain the original file Modification Date, which makes it easy to sort images by date.

Good Application. But...

It was fun playing around with File Juicer but right now I can't seem to justify paying $17 for it.

I found the ability to extract Browser Cache and Images from Messages is way cool. The extracting messages are nice, was wondering how I could get a copy of images.

File Juicer will be placed on the short list of applications to buy - maybe this summer.

March 30, 2018

PhotoScape Numerical Annotation & Hidden Mickey

PhotoScape is a great all around graphic tool. It's very useful to touch up images and add a bit of touch that sometimes is needed.

Numerical Annotation

There are times when I have a graphic image and I need to point several things out, such as steps to perform a bug. This is where having a numerical annotation graphic can be handy.

There isn't a built-in numerical functionality in PhotoScape X. There are a couple of ways to get it done:

  • Add a Figure Image
  • Use a Text Symbol

I like using the symbol way versus the first way because I can duplicate the graphics and have all the numerical annotations be the same size, color, and effect.

Basic Steps to Add Numerical Annotation

  1. Open up an Image in PhotoScape as Edit Mode.
  2. Click on the Insert icon in the top bar.
  3. Click on Text on the top bar
  4. To the right of the 'Text' box is a Symbol box (lower of the two boxes to the right of the "Text Box")
  5. Select one numerical that you would like to use and click 'Ok'
  6. Change the color so that it stands out.
  7. Now you can move the Symbol around the image and resize it.
  8. For multiple steps, simply duplicate the text field and change the graphic.
  9. If you have more than '20' items, as that is the highest symbol number, simply change the color

Photo Scape X Symbols

Hidden Mickey in PhotoScape!

While playing around with Photoscape, I found a real hidden Mickey!

When you insert an image to another image, you have the ability to define the inserted image shape. If you scroll about 2 thirds a way down, you'll see two Mickey Mouse images.

Hidden Mickey Photo Scape

There's also a Macintosh logo there with Steve Jobs as the outline.

Very Cool.

March 23, 2018

Apple System Services

When was the last time you looked at the System Services you have installed?

Some applications provide helper services so that you can interact with applications. You can access the services from any application menu.

Chrome Services

Some of the service's functionality will only show up when you have something selected - text, image, file or folder.

There are four main categories for Services:

  • Pictures
  • Messaging
  • Development
  • File and Folders
  • Searching
  • Text
  • Internet
  • General

Services is a good way to be more productive with applications you use every day.

Check Out the Installed Services

It's worth checking out what services are available on your computer.

You can check out all the computer services available by looking in the System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Services

Keyboard Services

If there are some Services that look interesting, you can always assign a keyboard shortcut to make it easy to access the shortcut. Items that don't have a checkmark are not enabled. If there are applications that you don't use, you can always disable the Services by unchecking the services. (In my case, I don't use the Bear App, so I'll disable that.)

Service Example - Text to Speech

Did you know that you can easily convert a webpage text to spoken text to play on your iPhone? Yes, there's a built-in service called, "Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track."

There are four good speeches to select from Samantha, Victoria, Alex, Fred. These voices offers you the best realistic speech quality. (Whisper is also a good quality sound.)

For some reason, Chrome doesn't have the reading mode enabled by default, see How To Turn On Secret Reading Mode In Chrome Desktop Browser to get it working.

Sample Task:

  1. Open up a webpage ( Example: Tea Doors )
  2. Click on the Reader Icon in the Chrome or Firefox location bar (From now on I am assuming that your using Chrome)
  3. Select all the Text
  4. Select the Chrome menu and Services
  5. Then Select "Add to iTunes as a Spoken Track."
  6. From the System Voice, pick Samantha, Victoria, Alex or Fred.
  7. Give it a good name, "Tea Doors" is a good choice.
  8. Keep the "Music" as the option, as that will make sure the clip appears in iTunes.
  9. Click Continue
  10. iTunes will open.
  11. Play your Clip!
  12. If you like it, add it to your iPhone.

How Cool is That

Now you can make your own "Books on Tapes" and listen to articles on your commute.

It's also a good way to proofread your blog or important emails.

March 16, 2018

BBEdit Stye Text

There is a popular online utility called GeSHi - Generic Syntax Highlighter which makes it easy to display Code in the same Syntax format in popular editors. You use this when you want to display code on a website.

Ge S Hi Java

If you have BBEdit, you don't need it because there's a built in tool called "Copy as Styled" which will copy the selected text using the BBedit color scheme that you have selected.

BBEdit Styled Text

Sample Output from BBEdit



    public void setHints(int hints) {
    super.setHints(hints & (~ImageConsumer.COMPLETESCANLINES));
    }

Copy as Styled Text

The other "Copy as" functionality is the "Copy as Styled Text" which copies the selected text as rich text. This is handy when you may want to paste the syntax code in a Microsoft Word document or Evernote note.

Cool trick with OmniGraffle

If you have OmniGraffle you can create a cool info-box using your code:

  • Copy your Code in BBEdit as "Copy as Styled Text"
  • Paste the content in your Clipboard into OmniGraffle
  • Change the Fill to be whatever the background is (If Needed)
  • Change the look and feel, and then export the image.

A few simple steps in OmniGraffle and you could make this:

Freehand Stroke Omni Graffle

It appears that this is easily done in OmniGraffle. I tried in Apple Page, Microsoft Word, and Affinity Designer and they all require some additional touch ups. For example, you may want to create a box object first and then paste the content from BBEdit.

March 9, 2018

Macintosh Spring Cleaning

There's an old saying in the de-clutter world, "If you haven't used it in Six Month, throw it away." The same rule should apply to Macintosh Applications. If you haven't use the application in the past six months, you should consider removing it from your computer.

Use Spotlight to Find Applications that Your Really Not Using

Did you know that Apple's Spotlight can tell you when you haven't used an application for a while? Simple use the following search criteria to display icons that your not using anymore:

Unused Applications
Just some of the Apps on my computer that I should remove.

Unused Fonts Cleanup

Did you know that having a lot of fonts install on your computer can actually slow down your computer?

Why not just removed unused and one-time use fonts and only have the fonts that you'll actually use. Not only will it help speed up your computer, even ever-so-slightly, you'll have a much better font list to navigate with.

One way to clean up the folder is to removed duplicated fonts. In Apple's Font Book there's a built-in tool that will look for duplicates.

  • Open up Font Book
  • Type in Command-L
  • Go through with Duplicate Font Wizard.

Note: If you type in Command-L and nothing happens, it means you don't have any duplicate fonts. (Lucky You!)

Font Duplicated

Also in FontBook, you can disable Fonts that you don't need to have. This is a good way to manually manage fonts because you can't disable System Fonts - so there's no way to disable the default system font. You don't risk your computer acting weird.

For this to work you'll need to walk through all your installed fonts and make a judgment call on which ones are important. Don't worry, you can always enable the fonts for later. Unfortunately, you can't create a Smart Group of disabled fonts.

Itunes Cleanup

In iTunes, you can see what songs you're listening to the most. Each time you listen to an entire song, iTunes increments the play count. It's a good way to know what songs you really like, and what songs your not interested in listening to.

If you're not listening to it, why keep it on your computer?

One way to help sort out the non-played music, is to create a smart playlist of zero count plays. Here's an example of one I created:

i Tunes Play Count

To Remove the Song, simply right click on the track and then select, "Remove from this Computer"

Got any Tips?

Please share any other tips on cleaning out unused files on your computer in the comments.

March 2, 2018

iMac 2011

If you have an iMac 2011, this is your final chance to get any repairs done to the computer. Apple has announced that they will be allowing repairs of the 2011 iMac computer through August of this year.

After August 2018, the iMac computer will be considered a vintage system. Apple is doing this extension since they sold a lot of the iMac 2011 computer, as it was available on the market for a long time. Typically they stop supporting a system 5-years after the last sold date.

What this means to iMac 2011 Users

If your encountering an issue with the iMac this is a good time to get it fixed. Some examples:

  • Dead pixel on the screen
  • Crack screen
  • Display hinge issues
  • Stuck disk in the DVD drive
  • Computer just doesn't seem to work well

This is the time to bring it in to get it fixed.

After August your chances of getting it fixed could be very limited and be more costly.

Why Bother Repairs?

The iMac 2011 is still a good computer. If you plan on still using it when you get a new computer, you should get the fix done now.

In addition, if you plan to give the computer to your son/daughter it would be good doing in fine working order.

Five Reason to Upgrade

As good as the iMac 2011 was there are five strong reasons to upgrade to the latest iMac:

  1. The computer has technology inside the box is eight years old. To put it in perspective, Apple iPhone 1.0 was also introduced in the same year. Would you still use the original iPhone today?
  2. The computer has older USB 2.0 and Firewire 800 ports. Most devices are USB 3.0 powered. All external Hard Drives and Thumb drives are optimized to work in USB 3.0
  3. Newer iMac has better Bluetooth technology support. You can't connect your iPhone to the computer using the existing Bluetooth technology on the iMac 2011.
  4. The iMacs today are much faster. They run faster using a faster logic board and now use solid-state memory for storage.
  5. Thunderbolt 3 - At 40 Gb/s, it's the fastest port available on a computer today.

February 23, 2018

Creating Sequential Directories

There?s an easy way to create a number sequence directories. This is useful when your creating directories for days of a month. I did this for a while organizing blog postings.

To create ten directories starting with the number 21:

mkdir {21..31}

If you need to create a directory with a leading zero:

mkdir $(printf "%02i " $(seq 1 20))

To do a directory in this format: MM-DD Simple use this:

mkdir $(date ?%b-%d?)

Hope this gives people ideas on different ways to create directories.

February 16, 2018

Pixel Fonts

Designers use pixel fonts when they need a good font that looks good when the text is really small. Usually this for text on photos or for navigation buttons.

There are two-pixel font families that are in just about every Macintosh font library - Mini7 and Tenacity. These aren't there by default, you'll have to download them.

Pixel fonts work best in bitmap programs such as Photoshop, Pixelmator. Turn off any anti-alias.

Mini7 Tenacity

Mini 7

Mini 7 looks great at 7 points, making it one of the smallest font types available. Mini 7 is only available as an uppercase font style. You can't get any fancy character types too. Sorry names with accents but it won't work with Mini 7.

Despite the limitations, Mini7 is one of the most popular pixel base fonts on the Internet.

Mini 7 is available in Condensed, Condensed-Bold, Extended, Extended-Bold, Tight, Extras and Bold

Tenacity

Tenacity is a more developed font and looks good at 10 or 20 points.

Tenacity also comes with additional styles such as Caps, Condensed, Condensed-Bold, Extended, Extended-Bold, Extras and Bold.

Which is the Better Font?

A few years ago, I did a quick page (before blogs was a thing) on the best caption font. Here's a reprint of my findings.

Using Fonts in Photo Captions

The following are examples of several Macintosh font types being used as captions.

Recomended Fonts

  • Alegreya Sans SC
  • Geneva
  • Tenacity
  • Mini 7
  • Helvetica
  • VT100
  • Verdana

I believe that Verdana 10 Point and Tenacity Condensed 10 Point are the best choices for using as caption fonts.

Download a larger high quality compairson: Full Caption Stack (675k)

Font Row1

Font Row2

Font Row3

Which font do you think is the best Pixel based font?

February 9, 2018

Panoramic Photo Challenge

Taking Panorama photos is a good way to get a landscape view of any environment.

iPhone Camera Panoramic

Apple includes a Pano mode in the camera app, but it takes some skill to hold the camera right. Also, the lighting doesn't mix well.

In my tests, the pictures that I take in Panoramic mode tends to have weird lighting and be very flat. That is, you can't raise the camera up if you want to include a full view of a tree or Building.

Software Stitching

Stitching a bunch of photos post-production is a good way to create a more effective panoramic photo. You can then crop the photo to your needs.

Disney Panorama
Using the stiching method, I was able to create this cool focus effect. Notice how the picture is focus in a couple areas. You can?t do this in Apple?s Pano.

I have been using Affinity Photo for my stitching, and it has been working well. I recently heard about DoubleTtake and thought it would be interesting to see which app gives you more control.

The Challenge

I took seven pictures of the Back Bay T Station in Boston, Massachusetts. I then ran it through DoubleTake, and Affinity Photo's Panoramic functionality. The only modification that was made was to crop out the excess picture.

Here is the result of the Challenge:

PanoramicViewsm.jpg
Click on image for a larger version.

DoubleTake

DoubleTake does a fairly good job of setting up the Panoramic shot. You do have to move pictures around to fix the alignment. There are lots of adjustment capabilities within the software. You can move handles to fix to make the photo transitions smooth.

DoubleTake focuses more on getting the largest possible view. In my test, the final crop image was 6718 x 2549.

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo does a great job of putting the picture together. Basically, I accepted the Panoramic shot, and then crop to opaque. There was no adjustment needed.

Affinity Photo seems to focus more on getting the best picture. In my test, the image was 6187 x 2051.

Granted I have used Affinity Photo for a while, but it was so much easier to use.