Category: Mac & OS X

Find out what font a web page is using

FontFace Ninja extension
I recently came across an awesome browser extension that allows you to hover over text on a webpage and have the name of the font appear in an overlay. It’ll even show you the font size, leading and spacing amount.

FontFace Ninja takes it a step further by allowing you to click the “Mask” button to hide all the images, ads and bothersome clutter to allow you to see only the text on the page. The website has a great intro video to show you exactly how the extension works.

Rounding-off the feature list is a button that allows you to purchase the font you’re interested in with (this feature doesn’t work with all fonts, but they have a pretty good collection of providers for the feature).

FontFace Ninja is free and works with Safari, Chrome and Firefox. It’s perfect for web designers and developers!

Get control of your Time Machine backup schedule

TimeMachineEditorI’ve written about this topic a few times in the past, but I recently had the need to stop Time Machine backups from occurring for a period of time, but I didn’t want to completely shut off Time Machine—for fear that I would forget to turn it back on and it would be weeks before I noticed.

There’s an easy way to manage the schedule of Apple’s Time Machine, which by default backs up everything every hour. That’s a bit too often to back things up if you’re not constantly saving loads of data to your drive. Plus Time Machine can soak-up a lot of power and network bandwidth while working if there’s a lot to back up.

TimeMachineEditor (free, donations welcomed) is a fantastic little tool that offers three distinct ways to edit Time Machine’s backup schedule.

TMEditor - Interval setting

TimeMachineEditor – Interval setting


Interval – Allows you to simply set a time interval to have Time Machine back up your files, such as every 3 hours, etc.
TMEditor - calendar interval

TimeMachineEditor – Calendar Interval setting


Calendar Intervals – Allows for a more complex scheduling of backups. As you can see above, you can schedule specific (down to the minute), multiple daily and weekly backup times.
TMEditor - When Inactive setting

TimeMachineEditor – When Inactive setting


When Inactive – Allows Time Machine to back up your files whenever you’re not using it. This is my preferred setting.

No matter which setting you choose, TimeMachineEditor also offers the option to NOT run backups between user-specified times. I have mine set to the middle of the night to morning, since it’s likely nothing new will have been added for quite a while before and after that.

Because this is simply setting some parameters for Apple’s Time Machine app, you can still use Apple’s Time Machine menubar widget to “Back Up Now” and “Enter Time Machine” whenever you wish.

I love this little utility. It’s been around for years and has always worked flawlessly for me.

Quickly show hidden files in macOS

macOS hidden files

There was a time in the history of macOS (formerly known as Mac OS X) when you had to use a Terminal command or a third-party utility to show the hidden files and folders littered all over your storage drive. I won’t go down the rabbit hole of why you would want to see these hidden files and folders, but know that Apple has finally built-in a simple keyboard shortcut to do just that—and it works in the Finder as well as Open/Save dialog boxes.

Simply hit Command + Shift + . (period key) and macOS will instantly make them visible (as seen on the right in the image above). Hit the shortcut again and they return to their hidden state.

OS replacement for macOS and Windows

Elementary OS
Elementary is an open source OS based on Linux that runs on macOS and Windows, and costs as little or as much as you want. It looks VERY much like a colorful and playful version of macOS.

Elementary ships with all the basic apps, such as: browser, email, photos, calendar, text editor, terminal, music player and more. They also have an open source App Store.

Take a look at some screenshots below (click the image to imbiggify them).
Elementary OS - Browser
Elementary OS - Music
Elementary OS - Calendar
Elementary OS - File Manager

Elementary OS claims to be safe, secure, stable and collects no personal info. Nor does it display any ads. Their income is solely based on what users choose to pay. Interesting. For as little as a $1, I could see buying a copy to run on an older Mac that I’m not using anymore.

Add PiP video to any site in Safari

PiPTool
Apple added a Picture-in-Picture (PiP) to Safari a while back. It’s a fantastic feature that places videos from web pages in a separate window that floats over all other windows. The problem is that Apple’s implementation doesn’t work unless the website has implemented it on their end… which most sites haven’t done.

PiPTool to the rescue! This nifty little Safari extensions adds PiP functionality to ANY video on ANY site. All you have to do is go to a page with a video you want to watch, click the PiPTool button in Safari’s toolbar and click on the video you want to be PiP’d. You can resize the window and move it from the top right corner by holding the Command key down while dragging the window.

I’ve been using PiPTool for several weeks and haven’t come across a single site it doesn’t work with.

The best way to add the ports you need to the new MacBook Pro

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

OWC is accepting pre-orders for their Thunderbolt 3 Dock, due to ship in February, starting at $280 (depends on the length of the Thunderbolt cable you want included). The Dock is obviously in response to Apple’s latest MacBook Pro announcement I wrote about yesterday.

In yesterday’s rant, I mentioned some would have to spend upwards of $200 for dongles to gain the ports they found necessary. The OWC Dock is a bit more than that, but also gives you significantly more options than straight dongles from Apple.
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
As you can see in the image above, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock includes plenty of ports. 5 USB 3 ports, Firewire 800, Ethernet, Display Port, audio-in and SD Card slot are included, along with two Thunderbolt ports capable of driving 4K displays. And the device is powered, so it can charge your iPhone.

OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock comes in Space Gray or Silver, and cable length varies between .5 meter 40Gb/s transfer speed and 2 meter 20Gb/s.

When it comes to the Mac, Apple is making it reeeeeaaally hard to be a fanboy

MacBook Pro 2016

Apple recently released new MacBook Pro models with great hype. As someone who is in the market for a new Mac in the next year, I watched the keynote with a pretty good amount of excitement and anticipation.

At the conclusion of Apple’s keynote presentation, I found myself staring at the screen with a dazed and confused look on my face.

For years I’ve had a MacBook Pro for taking work on the road. I do light design and image retouching on it, as well as email, web browsing and writing. At the home office I use a top of the line iMac with 32GB of RAM, Core i7 processor and upgraded video card for the heavy lifting in Photoshop, InDesign, etc.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my impending upgrade the last year or so, and decided that I could probably live with just one fully upgraded MBPro and buy an Apple Thunderbolt Display to use when I’m at home. This would save a lot of hassle with file syncing and twice the time spent upgrading and maintaining two computers.

But then Apple Event happened last week and I feel like I’m stuck in a place I don’t want to be. I absolutely love the macOS, but I’m left wondering how Apple and the rest of the world ended up so far apart on their definition of a Pro user.

The new MacBook Pro with its Touch Bar looks cool at first glance, and I can totally see how the average consumer might find it too cool to pass up. The problem for me (and by me, I mean most pros) is that anything found in the Touch Bar can be found in the menus—and probably has a keyboard shortcut associated with it. If it does, I probably know it and use it regularly. So I look at that fancy colorful Touch Bar, shrug my shoulder and… pfffft!

But that’s just one feature, right? Then I look under the hood and find more pfffft! than I think I can chew. A limit of 16GB of RAM. How do they call a Mac a “Pro” computer when you limit it to 16GB of RAM? The reason, according to Apple’s Phil Shiller, is that they wanted to keep the power-consumption down to preserve batterly life.

It’s a PRO computer. Most pro users sit at a desk most of the day, with the MBPro plugged in. Don’t even get me started on the comparatively low-end video card Apple chose to include. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s not a pro-level video card. Period.

MacBook Pro 2016 ports
The ports… that’s a big issue. Look, I get that technology moves forward. I never complained when Apple chose to switch to Lightning ports on the iPhone. But that’s mostly because I don’t have to plug anything into my iPhone other than the charger. My Mac is another thing completely. Not only do I plug my USB-A iPhone into it, but my USB-A microphone, USB-A DSLR camera cable, USB-A Bluetooth headphones (for charging) and multiple USB-A storage drives. With the new MBPro, some users will spend up to $200 on dongles to connect existing devices to the new MBPro. That’s just crazy.

LG Ultrafine DisplayApple no longer makes stand-alone displays, opting instead to work with LG to produce a fully compatible 5K display that has an iSight camera, plenty of ports and gorgeous image quality. The price is better than Apple’s former offering, too. So there’s really no problem there, other than the problem of perception.

But the big white elephant in the room is that rumor sites claim that Apple will be updating the MacBook Pro next year with faster processors, RAM upgradeable to 32GB, better video cards, battery-efficient OLED screens and more. Of course, some of those rumors don’t match up with reality. So who knows what to believe.

I’m not sure what to make of the current MacBook Pro, or the rumors that Apple is already working on the device pro users wanted. I get that Intel is to blame for the low-power processors and the effect it has on Apple to provide more RAM and video cards, but then why even release the laptop upgrade? Why not just wait a few more months and release the better device when it’s ready?

It makes me wonder what the next iMac or Mac Pro will be, or even IF they will be. What I know for sure is that my plan to go with a single Mac, the MacBook Pro, are on hold until next year… and even then I may have to alter those plans depending on what Apple does.

I used to be a pure Apple fanboy, but that description is no longer valid—at least not in the year 2016.