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Macintosh Blog Posts

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.

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Macintosh Blog Posts

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.

November 13, 2020

Quickly Change Wallpaper

When on Zoom calls, I like to have the computer desktop set to White. This allows a little bit of brightness so people can clearly see my face.

When I am not on Zoom calls, I like the desktop dark so that it doesn't blind me when I am working.

The traditional way of right-clicking on the desktop to Change the Desktop background is a lot of steps to do every time I start and end a meeting. There has to be a better way.

Thankfully there is a better way with Keyboard Maestro.

Quickly Change Desktop

Keyboard Maestro has an action to change the desktop background. Now, I can select the Keyboard Maestro menu item and quickly switch between dark and light mode.

This makes it super easy to switch desktop patterns whenever I need it.

Keyboard Maestro Macro

Here's the Macro I have set up:

Desktop Change Dark

For the light version, I just created a small white image and used that as what to set the background too.

I used Dropbox as my source so that the Macro would work no matter what computer that I had Keyboard Maestro installed on.

November 6, 2020

PhotosScape November Update

In late October, Mooii Tech add some new features to PhotoScape X, a popular Macintosh Photo editor. This release has a lot of exciting changes.

Photo Scape November Update

Here's a list of changes, and where to find the changes:

New Text Effects: Long Shadow, Overlays & Masks, Background

These are new select items in the Text dialog, they are located below the opacity selector.

New Object Effects: Long Shadow, Overlays & Masks

These can be applied to objects such as Stickers, Shapes, Figures, Lines, and more.

New Filters: Gradient Opacity, Radial Speed Lines, Lines, Concentric, Geometric Collage

In the Adjustments section: Gradient Opacity

In the Effect Section: Radial Speed Lines, Lines, and Concentric

In the Transformations section: Geometric Collage

New Filter Objects: Mosaic #2, #3, #4, Frosted Glass

These are located under the "Filter" menu. Click on Insert, then on the Filter next to Tools.

New Text Warp: Gradient Upper, Gradient Upper 2, Gradient Lower, Gradient Lower 2

These are located in the Text dialog. On the bottom of the text box, click on Transform then click on the transform button. In the Transform dialog, click on the "None"

Other Additions

Added 119 Film Looks - New Looks category in the Film Section ( Click Film in the top toolbar)

Added 104 Film Extras - New Extras category in the Film Section

Added 150 Nature - New Nature category in the Light Section

Added 108 Comic Stickers - New category in the Stickers section.

Added 4 more Draw Brushes (Stipple) - These are the brushes found when drawing/ they are located at the bottom of the brush selection.

Added 1 more Text Outline Type - In the Text dialog, click on the checkbox next to Outline, you'll see that there are now three different outline types.

Added 6 Object Transform Skew Types - These are located in the Transformation dialog. These are below the object. For example, you can transform text to create a logo.

Added 8 Canvas Grid Types - This is the overlay grid that you see. This is located on the bottom bar, it's the dotted grid icon.

October 30, 2020

Art Text 4 Designs

Art Text 4 is a pretty powerful tool. It gives you lots of ways to create some creative text and graphic files. However, if you need a boost on the design side, they have a design gallery where you can download some very cool design.

Art Text 4 Halloween

Some of the designs you have to pay for, but the Holloween designs are free! There are 8 themed Helloween templates with multiple objects to help you create some cool social media or blog posts.

These are great to make cool looking designs - people think that you spent hours putting it together.

There is a "Winter Session" where you can get 10 Christmas designs. This collection isn't free as it cost $6.99 - still a bargain for the cool-looking designs.

Sample Designs

2020 Halloween

Spiderween
I used the Art Text 4 template and changed the center graphic.

October 23, 2020

Runaway Kernel Task process

If you have been experiencing some weird issue with Snagit - like poor system performance. Maybe the kernel_task is more than 100%. There might be a logical problem.

Runaway Kernel Tasks

On my computer, I had multiple versions of Snagit installed. This is because every time that I did a major upgrade the computer kept the old version.

When the computer boots up it still uses the Snagit 2019 version and libraries. When I would do capture it would mix up which version to use and get stuck in an endless loop.

The quick solution was to remove all but the current version of Snagit. In my case, it's Snagit 2020. My computer performance had improved since removing the applications. (I also restarted the computer after deleting the apps)

I notice this was a problem when using Microsoft Teams and Zoom. I am not sure why using video apps would cause an issue. I think it's just the amount of CPU that is being used.

Try This Fix!

So if you are having problems related to kernel_task, you may want to check to see if you have multiple versions of Snagit. (I assume this might be true for other system base apps.)

Note: My problem was with Snagit, your situation might be a different application.

Your best bet is to restart the computer to properly test to see if removing the old applications fixed the issue.

October 16, 2020

Thunderbolt Display Cable

One of the disadvantages of Apple's Thunderbolt display is that the cable is not all stable. This is the main cable from the back of the computer that is used to connect to a MacBook or iMac.

I have seen many Apple Thunderbolt displays encounter a tear in them because of the angle that you have to put it in a MacBook. Over time,

Unlike the power cable, there is no way to take this cable out. The end of the cable is mounted to the mainboard. So if something happens to the connector cable, you can't replace it.

Thunder Bolt Display
You can see the cable starting to have a tear. It's only a matter of time before it breaks.

Broken but Not Dead

However the display isn't technically dead. You can still use it as an external display. Simply connect another Thunderbolt 2 cable to the port on the back of the display and then connect it to your computer.

The Apple Thunderbolt Display uses the old Thunderbolt 2 connector, not the new Thunderbolt 3 connector - also known as USB-C.

You can find a Thunderbolt 2 display cable on Amazon for about $40. That's kind of expensive for a cable but it is far cheaper than getting a brand new monitor.

October 9, 2020

Apple SuperDrive

One of the downsides of the new iMacs is that they don't have a DVD drive. This makes it challenging when you want to access old files or create DVD movies for events.

New External Drive

I thought DVD drives were all the same, so when it came time for me to get one I went cheap and purchased a $30 drive. What's nice is the drive had both USB 2 and USB-C ports. I was excited because I could connect this to the USB-C port and not take up any other standard USB port.

Going cheap was a big mistake.

When I started burning DVDs I got a lot of failures. Only about 1 out of 4 disks were good. This happened using the USB3 port and the ISB-C port.

I also had this problem using different computers. So the issue was with the drive. The thing is that it works fine some of the time.

Apple SuperDrive

I got a SuperDrive for my birthday and what a difference it makes.

I have burned 20 DVDs and they were all successful. I didn't encounter and toasted disks.

I have also access old DVDs without a problem. The drive seems much quieter than other external drives I have had in the past.

The morale of the story is to not be cheap when it comes to storage devices. Stick with brands you know.

Couple of complaints

The cable is too short. Basically, the device sits underneath the iMac monitor. Sure I can get a USB extension but that may impact the quality of data going to the drive. Come On Apple, make longer cords.

There is only one cable type - USB 3. It would be nice to have different cable options.

October 2, 2020

Quick Camera

Have you ever wanted to take a quick picture using your iMac Camera?

You could use Apple PhotoBooth, but it can get tricky switching Cameras.

I like Quick Camera. It's a simple little app that allows you to easily save pictures.

I like it because I can check out the shot before getting on a Zoom or Microsoft Meeting calls.

If you have multiple cameras connected to your computer, You can easily switch the camera using the keyboard shortcuts. (This is also a good way to validate that the camera is properly connected to the computer. )

Quick Camera

Cool Trick

You can take a picture, when no one is in the picture, and use it as a background in a Zoom call.

This way if someone is actually in the background no one will know. In addition, you can turn off background lighting for those late-night zoom calls.

Getting Quick Camera

Quick Camera is available in the App Store and it's currently free.

September 25, 2020

Download Church Bulletin

Churches in Massachusetts have limited attendance because of COVID-19. I decided to create a new Keyboard Maestro Macro to download the latest church bulletin - that way I know what's going on at mu local parish.

My parish uses e-churchbulletins.com, which generates a PDF file every week. When a new bulletin gets created it overites the file on the server.

So I created the following Macro:

Bash Church

What this does:

Every day at 4 am, it runs a Bash script, using curl and downloads the latest bulletin and saves it to my local computer using the current day. (This way it doesn't wright over any previous downloads. )

Copy of the BASH script:

#! /bin/bash
cd ~/Dropbox/Coronavirus/church
curl --output `date +%Y-%m-%d`.pdf https://www.e-churchbulletins.com/bulletins/

I have this running every day because I never know when the latest bulletin will be released.

The nice thing is that I just set it and forget it. Now I have a copy of all the church bulletins whenever I need to refer back to them.

September 18, 2020

iCloud Drive

This week I have been busy cleaning up the storage on my MacBook computer. The "easy" way I have found to backup files is to use iCloud. I create backup folders in my iCloud Drive and move files into that directory. On my iMac, I then move the files to an external drive.

The reason that I am doing this method, instead of just connecting the external drive to the computer, is that I want to make sure that I backup files that are worth keeping. I don't want to just throw everything on an external drive without knowing what it is.

icloud Drive

Things I Learned About iCloud

When you move files to the iCloud drive on your computer it doesn't delete them from the computer. It basically moved it to the cloud services but you don't save space.

In order to "save space" you need to move the files of the iCloud service. This concept is the same as DropBox and other cloud services.

Make sure to check the "Optimize Mac Storage" checkbox in the iCloud settings. This will force iCloud to only download files that it needs.

You can add/remove space as needed. For example, you can upgrade to the 2TB plan for a couple of months for storage backups and then downgrade the service.

This is a great service if you are trying to clean up a couple of external drives. In addition, you can backup all your photos and videos taken on a vacation to the iCloud drive and not worry about losing them.

iCloud Icons

Often you may see strange icons next to the iCloud folder name. Here's what the icons mean:

Cloud Uploading to Cloud
Cloud with Arrow Backed up to Cloud. Not stored locally. Tap on the folder
Circle with Progress Copying locally
September 11, 2020

multcloud.com

Everyone has multiple cloud accounts. Whether is't Amazon, Google or Drive, things are stored everywhere. The problem comes when you want to manage them.

Multcloud.com makes it super easy to view all your files in one simple interface. No worry about switching browsers or windows. You can move from server to server with a simple click.

The nice thing about Multcloud.com is that you can move files between cloud services. This is awesome when you're running low on space on a particular server.

You can even sync data between cloud services, ensuring that your data is always available.

The Free Plan gives you 30GB Data Traffic/Month. The next step up is $9.90 a month which gives you 150GB Data Traffic/Month.

Five Ways to get the most out of MultiCloud.com

  1. Snapshot Of Your Cloud Accounts - At a glance you can see how much space is available in your cloud accounts.-

  2. Move Evernote Files - You can backup your Evernote files to a different cloud service. I was able to move images from Evernote to Google Photos.

  3. Automate Database Backups - Perform full MySQL database backups to a cloud to Amazon, Google, Drop Box. You can even schedule the transfers so you don't have to think about doing it every week.

  4. Clean up an old Cloud Account - I setup my Mega account back in 2015 and didn't do anything with it. I basically had a lot of videos and photos. I used Multcloud.com to move these to Google Photos to free up space on Mega.

  5. Know What You Have and Where - Multcloud.com is a great way to audit your cloud services. You can easily find files and move things around. This helps get the most out of each cloud service.