Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

Earliest: June 26, 2003Latest: July 3, 2020Total: 355
May 10, 2019

DragThing

There are very few Macintosh applications that have been around since System 7.5. BBEdit, StuffIt , DragThing are some that I can think of off hand. Many of these applications are still running strong.

Sadly DragThing is being discontinued. This is because Apple has decided to stop supporting 32-bit code. Perhaps you seen this alert when opening up some applications:

Drag Thing32 Bit

Apple has announced that it will no longer support 32-bit applications. This means in the next major release 32-bit applications will no longer work. This is very similar to when Apple started discontinue supporting Classic Apps from pre-OS X days.

DragThing Story Ends

After 24-years, the developers have decided to retire the application. According to the homepage message, this is because the application will have to be completely rewritten and they don't think there's any real value into that.

I haven't used DragThing, as I got use the Apple Dock, and other applications that made navigating the Macintosh easier. I thought it would be good to check out what I missed in DragThing all these years.

Drag Thing Shot
DragThing with the default setup

Five Things I learned Playing Around with DragThing

  • DragThing first shipped on May 1st, 1995. ( Steve Jobs would return to Apple a couple of years later. )
  • DragThing was shareware and cost $29 to register. (It's currently free since it's being discontinued.)
  • You can create docs for different tasks, for example if you in the Photo Mode, you can have a row of all your Photo Apps. This actually makes it really easy to navigate between different apps. Especially if your using certain apps together only when doing tasks.
  • There a ton of configuration options available. It's great to customize the dock anyway you want. The only thing I couldn't figure out is how to keep the dock always on top.
  • The ability to add code snippet was cool, I like how LaunchBar handles Snippets. It's a lot easy to navigate and search for snippets.

Some Alternative Solutions

Along with LaunchBar, Tab Launcher Lite are good alternative solutions.

  • LaunchBar - makes it really easy to switch around applications. You can easily running applications and switch around. I use the snippet feature all the time.
  • Tab Launcher Lite - Allows you to groups applications into folders, much how DragThing works. So you can have folders for Dev, Design and Play.
May 3, 2019

Caboodle

Last year I purchased Caboodle as part of Mac App Bundle from TNW Deals. This is one of 15 applications that I purchased for $25. I am a big EverNote fan, I didn't think Caboodle would replace it, but thought it would be nice to add to the collection. (I had to pick 15 apps to get the deal.)

I hadn't installed Caboodle when I purchased, so this week I thought I install it and see how it compares to Evernote and Notion.

Description from their Website

Caboodle allows users to store and organize varied bits of info. Everyone comes across information that they want to refer to later. Maybe gifts you've received or sent, product serial numbers, recipes, directions to someone's house, a photo of your pet, or anything else.

Caboodle Review

Eight Things I Learned About Caboodle

  • Cost $12.99 and available in the Mac App Store, where as on the Before Dawn Solutions site it cost $19.99
  • Last updated 1 year ago - current version is 2.0.4
  • The menus/options seem very basic. There's no "back up to cloud" support, so if your computer crashes - oh well.
  • Under the Help menu it references the #bdsCaboodle twitter handle with no tweets. (Strange for an account that is 2 years old.)
  • Many of the other Help menus reference documents on the Before Dawn Solutions Website, and are broken links. (Frequently Asked Questions is one example)
  • Caboodle is not AppleScript friendly - the application doesn't show up in the Script editor.
  • You can create child entries, which is pretty cool.
  • When you drag and drop an image into a note you can't resize it within the note.
  • You can export notes in HTML, Plain Text, Rich Text and Microsoft Word

Worth Getting?

I would recommend not getting Caboodle. The application appears to be abandoned. There are many good alternative solutions available.

April 26, 2019

WC command

The WC command is a simple command to display the "word count" of anything passed to it. You can even pass in PDF documents to see how many OCR words are in the file.

Look at a PDF document

wc /Users/root/Desktop/HotelHistory.pdf
340 1408 31827 /Users/root/Desktop/HotelHistory.pdf
[340 lines 1,404 words 31,827 characters]

Find the number of Errors in a Log

This will count the number of times an error appears by a certain date. You can loop this in a BASH script to see how many times it appears on some days.

cat /mnt/xd/server/debug.log | grep 27/Apr/2019 | grep "Exception" | wc -l

General Reference

wc -w gives only the word count.
wc -l gives only the line count.
wc -c gives only the byte count.
wc -m gives only the character count.

Why This Post?

As part of the A-Z April challenge, today's letter is 'W.' Oddly enough, there are not that many interesting things on the Macintosh that start with W.

One Option I had was to review Watermark Pro, but I thought it was more interesting to learn more about the 'wc' Unix command. I also wanted to share some of my knowledge.

April 19, 2019

Quick Printing using the Printer Pool

If you work in an office environment with lots of printers, it can confusing to print something now and know what printer is available. Sure printing to the closest printer is the solution, but if everyone else in the office is doing that - it may take a while to get your print.

Luckily you can set up a personal Printing Pool so that you can let the computer figure out the best printer to use - almost like a Waze for printing. Your computer will print to the next available printer - you don't need to spend time figuring it out.

The good news is that this is part of MacOS X you don't need to purchase a printing utility.

Quick Printing Pool

Setting up your Personal Printing Pool

Here are the steps to getting your own printing pool setup. (Tip you can set up multiple pools, based on location or printer types!)

  1. Open up System Preferences
  2. Click on the "Printer & Scanners" icon.
  3. Select multiple printer (Hold down the shift key to select the printers.)
  4. You see the right frame has "Multiple Printers Selected. Click on the "Create Printer Pool" button.
  5. Name the Pool - I suggest something simple such as "6th Floor Printers" or "Color Printers near me" and click "OK""
  6. You'll see the group appear with your other printers.
  7. You can make this the default group by selecting the name in the "Default printer" menu.
April 12, 2019

Keychain Secure Notes

If your looking for a safe place a store sensitive piece of information - your best bet may be Apple's Keychain Secure Notes. The data will be accessible via computer or any iOS device.

This is a good option since third party applications don't have access to this. In addition, it's a bit complex to view a secure note, so you know people won't accidentally find/delete the note if they are playing around with your computer.

Note: Name and Content will not appear in Spotlight Searches. It's a good hiding spot.

Keychain Secure Notes

Adding a New Secure Note

The only way to add a new secure note is via the Keychain Access application. Using LaunchBar simply type KeyChain and return.

Open up the application. In the Window, select a Keychain to store your note. I recommend using iCloud. Then Shift Command N to create a new note.

I wasn't able to find any limit to how big the note can be, so this might be a good place to store the top secret book that your working on.

You can't store image files in the Keychain.

Viewing a Secure Note

To view any note, simply double click on the note and then type in your computer password.

Need More Power?

If you want more than just basic notes, you might want to check out 1Password. (I haven't used them, so I can't attest to how easy it is to use.) One nice thing is that they have 1 GB of encrypted storage for all your documents.

This is a good way to secure and backup all your work documents!

April 5, 2019

Export Photos Notification

When exporting a large number of image files from Apple?s Photo application, it?s pretty scary to see this:

Export Complete
142,311 (of 14,201) files have been exported to: 2015 Photos.

There is no indication of why more files got exported. It made me wonder where the additional files come from. Did I copy some hidden files? Do I have a virus?

It turns out that, in my case, the additional files were ?burst? mode files. Apple treat these as special files, as they are a special collection of images.

Create a Smart Album

Here's the Smart Album that I created, so that I know about Burst files in the future. This is good idea so that I can figure out which of the burst mode images are worth keeping:

Smart Burst Album

Simple steps to creating a Smart Album for Burst Mode.

  • Type in Option Command N to create a new Smart Album.
  • Use Burst Mode Photos as the Name (Or anything you want)
  • Then in the condition, use 'Photos' 'is' 'burst'

Pay Attention to the Export

What?s scary is that most people won?t notice this message, as it's a simple banner alert. You may not realized that there are some additional images copied over. I just happen to look at the notification and saw the number difference.

Key lesson here is to check the Notification area after doing an export to see if there were any issues with the export. This is essential if your exporting the photos into a online photo album and may not want the burst mode photos to be exported.

The Notification Center is located in the top left of the menu bar.

March 29, 2019

Anamorphic Pro

Anamorphic Pro is a photo touch up application that can help any image to look professional. There are lots of configurations to help make the photo stand out.

Anamorphic Shot2
Screenshot of Anamorphic Pro interface.

Website Description

Anamorphic Pro is a professional lens blur tool. Now you can edit iPhone Portrait Mode photos on your Mac. Anamorphic Pro turns your ordinary photos into cinematic masterpieces.

Before/After

Anamorphic Before After
Simple touchup to a Portrait photo taken on the iPhone XS Max

Overall Evaluation

One of the downside of Affinity Photo is that you can't edit the Depth information with Portrait photos. That's where Anamorphic Pro comes in. It allows you to change the front most image and really make a cool photo a cinematic masterpiece.

In order to get the most out of this application, it's best to invest in some time. There isn't much documentation to what each functionality does. I found that playing around with various feature was a good way to learn various ways to enhance a photo.

There is no "push button" magic - like you find in Photolemur. You do have to play around with various settings to find the one that works for your photo - and your style.

If you don't have a Portrait photo, you can use the brush tool to create a blur mask - define the area that should be blurred out.

Anamorphic Pro cost $29.99 from the BrainFever website or from the App Store. There is a iOS version which cost $2.99 - it might be a good solution if your focus on just iPhone photos.

This is good solution for Affinity Photo users as it currently doesn't offer any depth editing.

Free Trial Available

You can download and play around with Anamorphic Pro for seven days. It's a good way to see how the application can transform any image.

March 22, 2019

Archey

Did you know that you can set up a cool terminal login with Archey? Simply add it to the .bash_profile, and every time you launch Terminal this is what you see:

Archey Terminal
Archey brightens up the Terminal Session.

Installing Archey

Archey is distributed via Homebrew - a Unix package manager for MacOS. There's a lot of cool utilities in Homebrew, but for now let's install Archey.

  1. Open up a new Terminal Session.
  2. If you haven't installed HomeBrew, follow the instructions on their website.
  3. Once completed, run the following commands: brew install archey
  4. Test the installation: simply type in archey

Adding to the Terminal Login

If you haven't changed the default terminal shell, then your using BASH shell - which is a pretty good terminal shell. There is a small config file that is run every time you launch terminal. In Bash it's call .bash_profile.

Here's how to add it so that it appears on login:

  1. Open up a new Terminal Session. (This makes sure your in your Home directory.)
  2. Edit the .bash_profile file, if your have BBEdit installed type in bbedit .bash_profile
  3. On the last line simply add the following text: archey

Sample .bash_profile

This is my .bash_profile

alias du='du -kh' # Makes a more readable output. 
alias df='df -kTh'

export PS1=" ?  d $ "

# Quickly go up 'X' number of directory hierarchy. Example: use: up(3)  instead of cd ../../..
up() { cd $(eval printf '../'%.0s {1..$1}) && pwd; }

export EDITOR="/usr/local/bin/bbedit"   
alias ll='ls -FGlAhp'                   # Get a nice directory listing


archey

Check out the other commands in my .bash_profile which you may find helpful. You can find other helpful Terminal tips from various Bash Blog Posts that I did back in 2017.

March 15, 2019

Remove Background using PhotoScape X

Removing a background color from a graphic file doesn?t have to be complicated. Once you learn how to do it, you can do it quickly.

Why remove a background color?

You might have an image file and want to make the background transparent so you can use it as an icon in Slack or combine it with another image.

PhotoScape Cut Out
I used PhotoScape to clear out the iPod screen.

Using PhotoScape X

I was having a hard time finding the right tool in the edit mode of PhotoScape X to remove a background. Turns out it is a separate tool that you need to use.

Steps to Remove Background

  • In the Viewer Mode select and image that have the background that you want to cut out.
  • Drag that image to the ?Cut Out' Menu
  • Using the Magic Eraser, click on the areas that you wish to be removed. Increase the Tolerance to get more like colors.
  • Keep clicking on the image until you get the desired results.
  • Save the image, if you want to keep the transparancy using PNG or TIFF format.

Hopefully this helps anyone else that is trying to remove something from an image in PhotoScape.

March 8, 2019

Cable Marker

One of the downsides of an iMac is that there is never enough USB ports. I am constantly switching thumb drives or printer cables to the back of the computer.

i Mac Ports
Ports on the Back of an iMac 2011

One thing that annoyed me is that I never put the cable in right. I am always putting it in wrong and having to flip it over to get it in right.

A quick solution that I came up with is to mark the top of the cable with a white Sharpie China Marker.

Cables Cables Cables
Cables are marked.

So now when I need to put in a new cable, I just look for the white part and know that it will go right in.

White Sharpie

You can use any white marker to label the cables. I just happen to have the white China marker at my desk. It?s nice because it?s not a permanent solution and I can remove it when needed.