Macintosh blog postings

Macintosh Postings

Earliest: June 26, 2003Latest: April 21, 2017Total: 185

January 15, 2016

Remove Drop Shadow from Screenshot

Skitch is a really cool screen capture program that I use as part of my QA toolbox. Screen capture helps put a visual in the bug/feature that I am reporting.

Command Shift 4

However, every now and then I'll need to use Apple's built in screen capture utility to capture a window. It's really easy to do just type in Command-Shift-4. Move the cursor over the window or menu that I want to capture and then click on the space bar.

A downsides of using this for a screenshot is Apple adds a drop shadow to the image. This can be a problem if you are combining images together. (Plus the image is slightly bigger.)

Fortunately there is a quick hack to remove the screenshot drop shadow.

Open up Terminal Application and Type in:

defaults write disable-shadow -bool true

Hit return, and then type in:

killall SystemUIServer



Now you can quit out of Terminal and all the window and menu bar screen shots will not have a drop shadow. If you want to re-enable the drop shadow, simply type in:

defaults write disable-shadow -bool false


Hit return, and then type in:

killall SystemUIServer

January 8, 2016

Skitch and Evernote

If your looking for a productive Macintosh screen capture tool, I highly recommend checking at Skitch by Evernote. This is a free tool that works very well with your existing Evernote account. You don't need Evernote to use Skitch, but they work so well together, why wouldn't you?

About Skitch

Use an existing image or capture a new one, then add shapes, write on it, draw on it, annotate it any way you like, and save it to your Evernote account so that it is available everywhere Evernote is.

About Evernote

Evernote is a notes application designed to help you stay organized that goes far beyond what you'd typically think of as a notebook. You can add text, images, audio, scanned documents, files, and more to your notebook, synchronize everything across all of your devices in Evernote's beautiful, free apps, and then quickly find anything with powerful search that can even recognize text inside your files and images.

Your Screen Capture on Steroids

The key thing to remember is you can "quickly find anything with powerful search." This means that when you use Skitch and save the screenshot in your Evernote account, you can search for text that is in your screen shot.

That's the power of Evernote and Skitch.

Skitch has all the image annotation that you come to expect from a screen capture tool. You can add arrows, Text, Shapes, Highlights, predefine stamps, Pixelate, and crop images. You can easily export the image out of Skitch so that you can add it to a Jira issue.

Click on image for a larger version.

The good thing about Skitch is that it will create a notebook to store all the images, so the screenshots won't clutter up your default Evernote notebook. In addition, you can manage the notebook how you want, so if you don't want the files, simply delete them. You can tag the notes so that you can find them even easier.

I have plenty of space in my Upload Allowance.

Feature Requests

I would like to have the ability to record video as I can do with other applications, such as MonoSnap and Snap Z Pro X. Sometimes it's a lot easier to describe a bug when you see it in action.

Image/Shape Library - This would be a personal library of shapes and images that users could add to the screenshot. Knowing the image was issue happen in Firefox or Chrome could add a lot of value to the screen shot.

December 27, 2015

AirDrop with iMac Mid 2011


If you have an iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011) you will be sad to know that you have an older version of Bluetooth. You cant download software to upgrade. The only way to get to Bluetooth 4.0 is to upgrade your hardware - basically get a new iMac. (For those technical reader the LMP Version is 0x4 when it should be 0x6.)

So what are you missing out by not having the latest and greatest version of Bluetooth? You cant use AirDrop functionality between an iMac and an iPhone.

So if your wondering why when you go to the AirDrop section of the Finder on your iMac and you dont see the iPhone, but can see the Phone using other MacBooks, its because your iMac is too old. This is the same reason why you cant see your computer on your iPhone on the screen that says Tap to share with AirDrop.'

The reason Apple with with Bluetooth 4.0 is because it contains high speed technology, a bit about that from the BlueTooth specs:

Bluetooth high speed technology (the Version 3.0 + HS enhancement to the Bluetooth Core Specification) uses a data-substitution method that offers faster throughput via momentary use of a secondary radio that is already present in consumer devices. By enabling the use of new radios without full system integration, Bluetooth high speed technology reduces costs while expanding future build opportunities.

Bluetooth high speed technology is ideal for synchronizing music libraries between devices, downloading photos in bulk, or sending video files from one device to another. Consumers enjoy powerful, wireless connection using the Bluetooth protocols, profiles, security and pairing features theyre already familiar with.- See more at:

December 25, 2015



Thumbscrew is a cute practical image utility that should be part of any Macintosh user application library. The application allows users to quickly create thumbnail size images by simply dragging and dropping the images on a window.

The Thumbscrew 1.0 manual says it best...

Screw it! Making thumbnails for the Web used to be painstakingly slow if you wanted to apply borders, drop shadows, transformations, alpha channels, and so on. Or if it was fast, you ended up with a boring field of rigid columns and rows. Thumbscrew allows you to quickly and easily chew through a bunch of images, applying scaling, random rotation, border, and drop shadow to each - even resizing the original, and processing the batch as a whole afterwards.

The application preferences were pretty easy to understand. I really like how when you do a bunch of images and have a "Max. Angle" set, it will randomly select an angle size.


The problem is that the application is longer maintained and appears to have gone to vaperware. The application was created by Zachery Bir in 2004. Contact him at his website or on Twitter.

You can still download the application at various internet sites, including MacUpdate. The application works perfectly fine in El Capitan (Mac OS 10.11.2) and it's free so it's worth trying out if you need to quickly create thumbnails from a set of images.


A good alternative to this application is Picturesque. It has a few more bells and whistles that Thumbscrew had, but doesn't have the Max Angle effect. I personally liked version 1 of Picturesque since that had the ability to create thumbnail images of PDF documents.

Picturesque has the ability to set Perspective, Reflection, Shadow, Corners, Stroke on each image. You can save your configuration so you can use them again and again. Picturesque cost $14.99 can be download from the App Store. You can download a demo version on Acqualica website.

December 18, 2015

Progression of an Apple User

There is an interesting progression on how people use their Macintosh computers.

When people first start using the computer they will load up the dock with every application they know. Users will load up the Dock with applications just so they can have access to it.


Then they move to the Dashboard and start using that accessing their applications. Recently the Dashboard becomes to look more like the iPhone/iPad application launching point. At this point users are managing the Dashboard and moving more common Apps to the first page and creating all sorts of groups.

Dashboard Screen Shot

At some point in the computer life cycle users realized that it's more productive to use Spotlight Search (Or Alfred, QuickSilver, Launchpad ) to access their applications.


To launch an application, using Spotlight Search you simply click on the Command-Space and then type in the first few letters of the application's name. You don't have to worry about moving the mouse to click on the Doc icon and there's no need to navigate countless icons in the Dashboard. This is highly useful when you want to access some of your favorite applications very quickly.

If your looking to find new applications, you should look outside of the Apple's App store. Apple has some code requirements that some developers can't change. In addition, some companies don't want to pay Apple any royalties to appear in the store, after all software margin is getting small.

Here are three places that I usually use to expand my software horizon:

  • MacLife and MacWord Reviews. They offer some good insights to Apps including their competitors.
  • Twitter - A few Twitter users have good information on product announcements: 9to4Mac and dealmac.
  • AppStorm Round Ups - Good source to find out about new applications. You find the strength each application has.

December 11, 2015


On October 16th, I blogged about how I setup a template in Pixelmator to use as a canvas. I have since discovered that OmniGraffle offers some cool touch up capabilities that I am looking for.

OmniGraffle Dialog

Don't get me wrong, I like the capabilities of Pixelmator, but OmniGraffle seems to have more powerful "basic" post production touch up functionality. Ya, that does sound a bit redundant. But here me out!

After I take a screen of action in a web browser, I usually need to touch up the image a bit. Something of the common tasks that I perform:

  • trim the screenshot
  • Combine images (a before and after screenshot)
  • Add pointers to highlight something significant
  • Add a caption to the image

In OmniGraffle this is very easy to do, you can drag and drop an image to a template, do some manipulation and export the image as an object. For example, I can resize the image, touch it up, add some arrows and drop shadow or glow.

What's really cool is that when I am done I can export the image and only the object gets exported. So I don't have to worry about cropping the canvas. I can have a nice large canvas open to do my work and then just export the final copy. Very cool and a very handy Macintosh tool.

OmniGraffle Export

This allows me to touch up images and size then correctly for emails or to attach to Jira issues. It so easy to combine pictures and highlight certain sections.

I am still using an old version of OmniGraffle Pro (5.4.4) and haven't decided if it's worth paying $49.99 to upgrade to OmniGraffle 6. I just found out that I registered for Omnigraffle Professional 5 on December 12, 2007. I have been using this version for 8 years. I guess I should see what's the Developers have been up to in the past 8 years.

I also have been looking at some other Graphic Design applications such as Autodesk Graphic and Artboard. They may offer more functions and make some screen shots look even better. The other advantage of the other apps is that they have the ability to open EPS files (vector graphics) and that's something I need for files I get from Creative Market.

I know that what I am doing isn't the purpose of OmniGraffle, but for me it seems to be the perfect tool.

December 4, 2015

Unix Yes

Using Term2, I was looking around some files in the /usr/bin folder to see if there's any cool command line graphic utilities that I could use. In Mac OS X El Capitan (10.11.1) there are 1,052 unix applications in the /usr/bin folder. Many of them I'll probably never use. For example, Why would I ever use eMacs when I have BBEdit?

I did encounter a strange program called 'yes' which sounded weird for a application file name. I checked the description in the manual (man yes) it says that:

yes outputs expletive, or, by default, ``y'', forever.

Turns out that's all the application does. So if you type in:

yes testing

You get the word 'testing' on a single line repeated forever. What is the purpose of this application? Why would anyone need to have a phrase repeated endlessly?

A few people have pointed out that it's useful when you encounter a application where you are prompt to fix an error repeatedly. Another user points out that the 'yes' command is useful when you need to test high loads of CPU on a system.

The most useful that I encountered is if you wanted to delete a bunch of files and didn't want to bother saying 'yes' on each state:

yes | rm *.txt

To me it seems to be a weird unix application that encountered.

Largest Files in /usr/bin

While going through all the other applications in the /usr/bin folder, I was thinking what were the largest applications in the directory. So here is the list of the top 20 largest files in the /usr/bin folder:

36M  emacs
10M  php
5.4M  parl5.18
5.2M  parl5.16
3.1M  emacs-undumped
2.1M  db_printlog
2.1M  db_codegen
2.1M  db_load
2.1M  db_hotbackup
2.1M  db_recover
2.1M  db_dump
2.1M  db_checkpoint
2.1M  db_deadlock
2.1M  db_archive
2.1M  db_upgrade
2.1M  db_verify
2.1M  db_stat
1.6M  ssh
1.5M  dig
1.5M  host

You can easily get this information by typing in the following command in Terminal:

ls -lahS

That will get you the listing of all the files in the current directory, sorted by file size. The file size are in blocks which is a bit easier to read for most people. Would you rather see 36M or 37236368?

November 26, 2015

Always view Image dimensions in Finder

Mac Image Dimensions Trick

Do you do a lot of work with images in MacOS? There's a cool trick to enable the image dimensions in the finder. This makes it easier to determine image sizes without having to view the image in Photoshop or Pixelmator.

Here are the simple step to get the image dimensions from appearing below the image.

  • With the Desktop selected, hit Command+J or pull down the View menu and choose "Show View Options"
  • Select the checkbox next to "Show Item Info"
  • Optional: If you want the setting to be applied to all Finder windows and folders, click the "Use as Defaults" button at the bottom, which will allow all folders to show the image information. Otherwise, this setting is just folder specific.
  • You'll notice that images will immediately show their dimensions. As a side effect, other Finder objects will also display information like item count and file size. Here is what the view option looks like toggled, and the image resolution shown under a few sample files in the Finder.

You can get this to work in any Finder window, just make sure the view is set to icons, otherwise you won't have the opportunity to set the "Show Item Info."

I like this trick because I do use PicMonkey to touch up some of my images and I want to make sure of the size before I email it.

November 22, 2015

Magic Mouse Batteries

Fact: The Duracell Batteries in my Apple Mouse last 28 days business days.

I put in new batteries on November 20, 2015, so that means I should plan on the needing to put new batteries in around the 4th of January. This is taking into account various holidays and upcoming PTO time.


A few weeks ago Apple announced the Magic Mouse 2, which is the next generation of their wireless mouse. The really cool thing is that you no longer need to buy batteries as the mouse can now be recharged via the lightning port. The downside is that this new mouse cost $79. I don't know if it's really worth that much to install batteries every once in a while.

Amazon Basic has 16 AA rechargeable batteries for $26.69, and that will last for a couple of years. Seems like a much better investment than getting a new mouse. I am thinking that they might even be cheaper over the next month or so.

October 27, 2015

Finding Lost Files after System Upgrade


I recently upgraded to El Capitan and notice that all of the dictionary files that I put in /usr/shar/dict were removed. In panic mode, I was scrambling around trying to see if I had copies of the files. I could find a few of the dictionary files but not all of them.

Then I remember that using Spotlight search tool only search for some of the files. A better search, especially Unix files is to use the UNIX find command tool. As the search will be more broad.

Using Terminal application, I searched for one of the files:

find / -name Huck.txt -print

Initially I was disappointed because I just saw a lot of directories that I didn?t have access to. Then, while scanning the listing, I saw this item:


Bingo! Apple actually made a backup copy of the files before removing them! Note: they didn?t move any of the installed system files in that directory such as /usr/share/dict/words and /usr/share/dict/words2

I immediately changed the directory to:

cd /Library/SystemMigration/History/Migration-A501F82A-4DC8-4EBB-BB72-9AB0C9490E82/QuarantineRoot/usr/share/

Then I open the directory in Finder:

open .

Then I copied the /dict folder to the desktop.

Crisis averted! So this doesn?t happen again, I am going to keep the contents of the folder in my Dropbox. That way I know I?ll have a copy on any computer that I have and I won?t have to worry about losing the file during the next update.