Category: Mac & OS X

Mac OSX topics

Create a quick video montage with Glimpses

I don’t do a whole lot of video work, but I do throw together quick videos for friends and family. Sometimes editing in iMovie, as simple as it is, is overkill for my needs. That’s why I appreciate simple little apps like Glimpses (formerly known as Briefly) from Eternal Storms Software.

Glimpses’ sole purpose is to quickly and easily create high-quality video montages—dozens, or even hundreds of photos flashing by for fractions of a second, set to music—like the one you see above. Now keep in mind that I paid no attention to the size, shape or resolution of the photos I chose—so don’t judge Glimpses by what you see in the video.

Working with Glimpses

Glimpses couldn’t be easier to use. You simply add a whole bunch of photos to the main window by selecting them from your Photos app collection, dragging from the Finder, or importing them from Flickr or Instagram. Once the photos are in the editing window, you can re-order them any way you wish, including: manually, by date, title or color (a very slick feature).

Glimpses main window

Once your photos are in order, you choose a soundtrack and set the duration you wish your photos to appear. You can choose anywhere from 0.1 to 4 seconds, or you can let Glimpses figure it out based on the length of your soundtrack. If you set the duration yourself, the soundtrack will fade out when all the photos have been displayed (like the video above). If your soundtrack is too short for the number of photos you have, you can add additional soundtracks, or loop it.

When you’re done, you simply export the video at the resolution you want, ranging from 240p all the way up to 4K. You can also have Glimpses remove any pillars and letter-boxing. But the coolest thing is that Glimpses recognizes faces, and moves the photos to keep them in the frame.

Shortcomings

I almost hesitate to call it shortcoming, but the one thing that bothered me was the inability to set any particular photo duration independently of the rest of them. For instance, it would be cool to have the first photo stay up for a second or two while leaving the rest of them set to half a second (or whatever).

You can get around this by placing duplicate photos in the editing window. So if you have your photo duration set to half a second, but you want the first one to stay on screen for five seconds, you simply have to have 10 copies of the photo set to appear in a row. It’s a bit of a pain, but not too difficult to work with. I’ve been in touch with Matthias Gansrigler at Eternal Storms and he tells me that he’s well aware of this limitation, and hopes to address it in a future release if possible.

In conclusion

I really love this little app, it works as advertised and doesn’t try to do too much. I’ve already used Glimpses to create a video greeting card for family, and a product intro video for a client. They were extremely pleased with the quality and speed with which I was able to put it together.

Glimpses requires Mac OS X Yosemite and costs just $24.99 (Mac App Store link). A 15-day demo version is available on the Glimpses product page. If you find iMovie to be overkill for producing montage videos, I highly recommend you give Glimpses a try.

Evernote vs. OneNote

OneNoteWhen comparing Evernote and Microsoft OneNote, I must admit that OneNote is infinitely more feature-rich and usable. The only advantage I can find for Evernote is the integration with so many other apps and services.

In fact, I prefer writing in OneNote to MS Word (2011). I hope the newer version of Word is closer in design to OneNote. The interface is so clean and easy to use in OneNote. It just makes sense. It’s the complete opposite of MS Office apps.

Do you use any note-taking apps like Evernote, OneNote, SimpleNote, etc.?

Make Spotlight infinitely more useful with this free app

Flashlight for Spotlight

Search the web, save a note, add a reminder, or do over 200 other things just by typing in the Spotlight box (Command + Space). There are dedicated apps that do a lot of this, but they can be complicated.

Flashlight is simple to use and offers plenty of pre-built plugins to download, including: setting reminders, sending emails (including adding attachments), check the weather, add a calendar event, place Lorem Ipsum text, show hidden system files, and much more. You can also write your own plugins if you wish.

Flashlight is free, and requires Mac OS X Yosemite.

How to use the Apple Watch font in Mac OS X Yosemite right now

Rumor has it that Apple will be switching the default system fault from Helvetica Neue to their own proprietary SanFrancisco font, currently used on the Apple Watch, with the next Mac OS X Yosemite update.

SanFrancisco font for Yosemite

If you love tinkering with your Mac, you can download the SanFrancisco font (direct link) and place the font files in your /Library/Fonts (that’s the Library folder at the top level of your Mac’s storage drive, not the one in your Users or System folder). Now log out and log back in to your Mac to activate the new font system-wide.

I recently installed SanFrancisco font as the default and I love it. I’ve also used other Yosemite font replacements like Fira, Source Sans, Input Sans, and even the old OS X Mavericks default, Lucida Grande.

You can patch any font you wish to be a system replacement font yourself. Unfortunately, it requires some geeky wet-work with the Terminal.

Solve the age-old question of “What’s filling up my storage drive?”

“What the hell is filling up my hard drive?” It’s a question we all have after a year or so of downloading files and storing work documents on our Macs. A cluttered storage disk can lead to all sorts of problems, not the least of which is making your Mac run slow.

CleverFiles has a fairly new app for Mac OS X that can help you analyze your storage drive and remove large files and folders easily. Disk Cartography maps your drive data and lists the space-hogging files in an easy-to-read list, and allows you to delete the unwanted files/folders with the click of a button.

Upon launching Disk Cartography, it scans your chosen disk and displays a tree-like folder-structure which you can use to evaluate what’s taking up space, as well as where it is on your drive.

Disk Cartography window

You can manually or automatically filter what is shown by setting parameters such as minimum file size, or whether or not to show System files, etc. The minimum file size feature is particularly useful because it allows you to view your file folder list without the thousands of files taking up so little space that it’s not worth seeing. You can see an example in the image above. Those “Filtered Objects” folders contain all the files on my drive that don’t meet my minimum filter requirements of a minimum of 128MB in size.

Scanning my drive took only a few minutes, and the app displays the data in a clear and simple interface. I also liked that I can right-click on a file or folder to ‘show it in the Finder.’

Disk Cartography isn’t the only app out there that does this, and it certainly doesn’t have the most luscious user interface of them. But I like the simplicity of the app.

There is no dedicated web page for Disk Cartography as of this writing, but you can buy it directly from the Mac App Store here.

You can grab your copy for $1.99 until May 18th when the promo ends.

Safari Search preference

Safari offers default search engine options. Try dropping the Google habit. Just sayin’…

Where to find email Drafts on your iPhone

iOS email drafts

When you don’t have time to finish typing an email on your iPhone, you can hit the Cancel button and save the email as a Draft to finish it later. What’s not obvious is where to actually find the email Draft once the window closes.

Your email Drafts are hidden under the Compose icon at the bottom right of the iPhone screen. Simply tap and hold the Compose icon to bring up a list of your email drafts, then tap on the one you want to continue typing.

Free Automator scripts for Apple’s new Photos app

Photos + Automator

This Automator Action collection for Apple’s new Photos app in Mac OS X Yosemite makes your photography workflow a much more efficient and smoother process. In particular, I love the Import image into a specific Album action file. This allows me to quickly add desktop wallpapers and other images I’ve acquired online to a specific Photos album without actually going through the process manually.

There are a ton of other fantastic Automator Actions available at MacOSXAutomation. Be sure to check them all out to see if there’s something else you can use.

30% discount on Elmedia Player 5

Elmedia Player (EP) is an all-in-one media player and manager for Mac OS X. Unlike Quicktime and iTunes, EP allows you to discover, download, organize, play, and manage movies and music in a ton of formats, including: FLV, SWF, XAP, AVI, MOV, MP4, WMV, DIVX, DAT, and more.

I’ve reviewed Elmedia Player in the past, and while not a whole lot has changed over the years, some of the improvements are welcomed.

Elmedia Player app

The latest version adds support for the Apple Remote, the built-in media keys on an Apple keyboard, playlist search, a 10-band equalizer, video tuner, and a host of other video playback controls.

As I wrote in my previous review, the free version of EP does an awful lot. But users who wish to add the ability to download regular and streaming RTMP videos and Flash animations, as well as download external resources used by SWF animations will need the Pro version. You’ll also need to upgrade to Pro if you want to download YouTube videos, extract audio from those videos, make screenshots of videos, or convert entire movies into images.

What I love about EP Pro is that it pretty much rids you of the need for any other apps for managing and playing videos. Because EP plays so many formats, there’s little need for converting videos. Also gone is the need to have a browser window open along with your media player, since EP has a browser built-in—which allows you to discover and watch videos without dealing with ad-infested pages. This means downloading videos from Metacafe, Vimeo, Facebook and Yahoo is just easier.

Elmedia Player Pro is available for $19.95. Use the coupon code THGM-DSC at checkout to receive 30% off. If you already own a previous version, you can upgrade for 50% off the purchase price.