I have been using the Macintosh computer off and on since 1989. On Friday, I'll share some tips and tricks using the computer and various accessories. All reviews and tips are my own.
I have been using the Macintosh computer off and on since 1989. On Friday, I'll share some tips and tricks using the computer and various accessories. All reviews and tips are my own.
A list of all the Blog Posts in this category.
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:
Just some of the Apps on my computer that I should remove.
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.
Note: If you type in Command-L and nothing happens, it means you don't have any duplicate fonts. (Lucky You!)
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.
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:
To Remove the Song, simply right click on the track and then select, "Remove from this Computer"
Please share any other tips on cleaning out unused files on your computer in the comments.
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.
If your encountering an issue with the iMac this is a good time to get it fixed. Some examples:
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.
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.
As good as the iMac 2011 was there are five strong reasons to upgrade to the latest iMac:
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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The following are examples of several Macintosh font types being used as captions.
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)
Which font do you think is the best Pixel based font?
Taking Panorama photos is a good way to get a landscape view of any environment.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
Shedworx's Smart Converter 2 tool is a great way to convert a media file from one format to another. It's a great quick media converter that just works well.
There are two Smart Converter versions, here's the key difference between the free version and the paid version:
In the Smart Converter Pro 2 version:
Smart Converter Pro provides a faster, higher quality conversion than every other converter:
I like Smart Converter because It can easily convert classic media files - such as Real Media files to MP4. It's a quick way to once again access old media files. (Without Smart Converter I would have to wait for Quicktime to convert old Sorxxx codec videos)
I also use Smart Converter to extract audio from MOV files. Useful when I just want the soundtrack and not have to watch the movie.
Haven't upgrade to the Pro version because I don't have the need for all the features of going pro. If you have a lot of files that need converting, then going pro is the way to go.
Some video screen capture files done in Snagit will not convert well. Apparently, there's a lot of masking between shots This means that you'll see some strange views in your final output.. (Not Smart Converter problem as Quicktime will have this same issue.) I have found ElMedia Player as a good converter in these cases.
Keep in mind that the final conversation is only as good as the source. Smart Converter can't make a video compress with Sorenson Codec look better in MP4.
Some mp4 files will not convert to audio-only. Haven't figured out why this is the case. ) I use Fission to extract the audio.
If you're not able to find your audio clip in iTunes it's because iTunes thinks it's a movie file.
Here are all the file formats extensions supported by either version of Smart Converter:
avi, mp4, mkv, mts, m2ts, m4v, mp3, m4a, mov, flv, mpa, wmv, wma, wav, 3gp, 3g2, 3gp, 4xm, IFF, ISS, MTV, RoQ, aac, ac3, adts, aea, aiff, alaw, amr, anm, apc, ape, asf, asf_stream, ass, au, avi, avm2, avs, bethsoftvid, bfi, bink, c93, caf, cavsvideo, cdg, crc, daud, dirac, dnxhd, dsicin, dts, dv, dvd, dxa, ea, ea_cdata, eac3, f32be, f32le, f64be, f64le, ffm, film_cpk, filmstrip, flac, flic, flv, framecrc, gif, gsm, gxf, h261, h263, h264, idcin, image2, image2pipe, ingenient, ipmovie, ipod, iv8, lmlm4, m4v, mkv, matroska, mjpeg, mlp, mm, mmf, mov, mov, mp4, m4a, 3gp, 3g2, mj2, mp2, mp3, mp4, mpc, mpc8, mpeg, mpeg1video, mpeg2video, mpegts, mpegtsraw, mpegvideo, mpjpeg, msnwctcp, mulaw, mvi, mxf, mxf_d10, nc, nsv, null, nut, nuv, ogg, oma, psp, psxstr, pva, qcp, r3d, rawvideo, rcv, rl2, rm, rpl, rtp, rtsp, s16be, s16le, s24be, s24le, s32be, s32le, s8, sdp, shn, siff, smk, sol, sox, spdif, svcd, swf, thp, tiertexseq, tmv, truehd, tta, txd, u16be, u16le, u24be, u24le, u32be, u32le, u8, vc1, vc1test, vcd, vmd, voc, vqf, w64, wav, wc3movie, webm, wsaud, wsvqa, wv, xa, yop,
ParticleShop is a unique brush effect tool, it makes the brush come alive and adds all sorts of special effects. Basically, the brush comes alive as you apply it to the image. Based on the color/size and brush you get all sorts of unique special effects.
This is not your standard brush tool. It's a way to paint effect to your photos, such as fire, smoke and bubbles.
I originally purchased ParticleShop as part of the "Create Your 12 App MEGA Mac Bundle" from Bundle Hunt. I saw the description and thought it would be worth trying out. (It was priced at $49.99) I got the 12-App bundle for $19.99.
Leave the physics to us; no static stamps here! Experience the strokes of grab-and-go living brushes that spring, flow, gravitate and glow based on your unique expression. Artistically enhance photos, designs, and illustrations with the realistic awe-inspiring results.
Craft your visual masterpiece with brushes that are built to perform with a pressure-sensitive tablet, touchscreen or mouse. Free yourself to create, ranter than configure by exploring an array of artistic brushes that require minimal setup and a clean and simple user interface in which to create.
Are you ready to get started? You can access ParticleShop resources online to find exciting new brushes, get help, and learn more about the product.
Not a great artist, but I added a couple of effects to an image.
ParticleShop is a cool tool, it comes with 11 brushes in the Core Pack. However, once you start playing around with it you quickly feel that 11 brushes aren't enough and you could do so much more with more brushes. In order to get new ones you have to purchase them on Painter's online store.
The prices for extra packs range from $29 to $79 - you can get the entire collection for $95. I think it's pretty expensive for my budget, but I guess if you're into brush touch up then it would be a reasonable amount of the creative brush effects that you get.
I don't think I'll be using ParticleShop too much, it's a cool tool for people that spend a lot of time touching up photos and graphics files. Looks like having a pressure sensitive Wacom tablet would be practical to get the most out of the tool.
ParticleShop is a Photoshop Plug-in and does not work with Affinity Photo. Since I don't use Photoshop Elements 13 that much, I don't think that I'll be using ParticleShop.
Quadro Sync is a cool way to control your computer from your Smart Phone. You have the ability to assign specific functions so that when you open up the application your smartphone screen changes to display buttons of tasks to perform.
You can customize the button assignments and button designs. Giving you full control over how Quadro Sync works.
Quadro is an excellent application to help with common tasks that you encounter every day. If you been thinking about getting an external controller pad, consider trying Quadro first.
This is a two-bit application; there's the desktop app that is always listening! and interacting with iOS! and there's an iOS app that has to be running. After a few minutes of inactivity, the iOS app will go to sleep -saving your screen and device power.
If you're just going to charge your phone at your desk, why not put it to great use?
Here's a description from Quadro.me website:
Power up your workstation
Control your applications with a simplified yet enhanced personal interface. Automate any recurring iteration and optimize your workflow. Reduce the gap between ideation and execution. And have fun doing it.
Personal computing, truly
Personalize any function and representation of your actions. Use color, icons and images to convey meaning and smoothen your path to action.
Automate your workflow
Direct activation is cool again, but that's not enough. Sequence any action easily to create your cross-application macros and let Quadro do the dirty work for you.
I spent a lot of time in BBEdit for PHP development and text cleanup. I spent some time thinking about what tools would make sense to make a Quadro action:
Obviously all of these commands can be performed by keyboard shortcuts. Making them as action buttons in Quadro makes it quicker to apply these actions.
For example, I am opting to backup my documents to Evernote more often because the big green button is there to remind me.
If you have any old devices that are just sitting in storage, you may want to dust it off and make it your new Quadro pad.
The Quadro iOS App will work on any devices that can run iOS 8.0 or newer, according to Apple these are the devices that will run on iOS 8:
To get started, visit the Quadro website and download the application.
PhotoBulk is a neat little application where you can apply four different tasks to an unlimited set of images.
This past summer, I got the application as part of the The Next Web software package deal. In September, they came out with an update - my purchase wasn't eligible for the free upgrade. However, they will offer a 50% discount on previous purchases, which is very good.
The screen difference between the old view and the new view.
There are four different watermarks that you can apply to each image:
This is useful if you want to transform a bunch of images to a similar size. You can change By Width, By Height, Percentage, By Max file size, Free Size.
You can reduce the size of images (JPG and PNG) files. The only bad part is that you can't tell if the compression will cause a serious quality problem with the images.
In my test, it actually did a pretty good job optimizing. I used the mid-point, called 'opt' and checked the files and they looked fine, I couldn't tell any visual difference.
Note: There is no preview functionality in the September update
Rename a the drop images. This is useful when you want to rename a bunch of common photos. Such as vacation photos.
When you start the action, the tasks will always create a new folder and put the new images in the folder. You don't have to worry about the original file.
There are some useful functionality however, I think your better off using functiionality in GraphicConverter or PhotoScape X. These applications offer a lot more features. At the end of the day, you get more bang for your buck.
The watermark feature in PhotoBulk is nice, but not something that I would be using frequently.
On December 20th, 2017, Photoscape X was updated with nine new features an unspecified number of bug fixes. The application is shaping up to be a very useful tool, and I certainly would recommend it as a compliment to Affinity Photo or Pixelmator.
Here's a breakdown of the new Features released in the December update:
Menus Options of the new features
There are now 11 new Draw Brushes. These brushes are useful to add additional effects to the images. There's a lot more capabilities in Affinity Photo and Pixelmator, including the ability to create your own brush.
I played around with this and can see this would be a good way to quickly enhance images, especially using the Blend Mode.
Nice to see scatter brushes back! This is a favorite paint feature that I am glad to see back on the Mac! I first encountered scattered brush in SuperPaint. Scatter brush is a way to display some brush strokes randomly. Usually done with a special shape brush such as Heart, Confetti, Snowflakes, Dog Prints and more.
Photoscape X includes 11 brushes in this release. I am sure they will release some new ones in future updates. Very cool feature to use to add effects to images, such as snowflakes or adding Bokeh effects.
The Paint Bucket tool will change a specific pixel to any color that you wish. I can see this would be useful if you have a solid color background and wanted to change it to some other color.
I played around with this feature for a bit and don't see it very useful for photos. I think it will be good to touch up graphics files.
The Magic Color filter is a quick way to brighten up your images. Now you don't have to play around with various Clarity and Brighten settings. Simply click on the "Magic Color" checkbox and instantly see the image improve.
You can adjust the setting to better improve the image.
I tested this feature with several images and it works very well. The images are nice and bright! A quick way to touch up an image if you don't have time to do it! This is a great tool to have and I certainly see this being used all the time.
In the above example, I ran the same photo through each application and selected the Auto Color Adjustment once. I didn't make any special changes to the image. I think Photoscape did a great job with bringing out the blue in the snow.