Category: Mac & OS X

Apps & Utilities for Mac OS X I can’t live without: Part 1

Mac apps I can't live without

“When it comes to utilities and applications for my Mac, I must admit I’m a bit of a whore.”

I’ll date lots of them, and toss them aside just as quickly as I come across them. But there are some that just seem to stick around. I absolutely love them, and can’t imagine my Mac-using life without them. Here is part one of my list of OS X apps I love: (more…)

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New color picker for web designers and developers

Skala Color plug-in
If you’re a web designer, you’re no doubt a bit frustrated with OS X’s built-in color picker. Skala Color aims to improve it with a plug-in that enhances the standard color picker by adding a few handy features.

Skala Color works by adding a tab to the color picker. It works in much the same way – you adjust the brightness and saturation by dragging the color sample circle around. You can also adjust the hue, on the fly, by dragging the outer edge of the circle around. As you adjust the color, a larger sample bar appears allowing you to really target the exact hue you’re looking for.
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Turn your photos into cool vector-pattern art with Vectoraster

Vectoraster 6
Vectoraster 6 is a fantastic little app for Mac OS X that creates vector-based artwork and patterns based on raster images. Simply put, it turns your photos into patterned vector art that you can then edit further in Adobe Illustrator.

The cool thing about this app is the “discoverability” of the app. Import an image and start playing with sliders and buttons, and you’ll soon find yourself spending a considerable amount of time coming up with ways you can use the app in your design work. That’s because Vectoraster shows you the results of your adjustments in real-time, in a single-window interface that’s quite easy to figure out.

Vectoraster 6 - sample

Vectoraster not only allows you to turn your images into vector halftone and line patterns, but it allows you to adjust the colors, hue, saturation, and density of the patterns as well. A host of other tools are also available that allow you to customize the results in almost any way you could need.

Once you’re done, you can export to vector format as an EPS or PDF, or a JPG, PNG or TIFF file if you prefer. And if you have a group of images you wish to apply the same effects to, there’s batch processing available.

The use case for this app is endless. For instance, I had a rather small 5×7 image of my son that I wanted to enlarge to hang on the wall – but I didn’t want a simple photo enlargement. So I ran it through Vectoraster and used the Character/Text point shape option to have the letters of his name create the entire photo. Not only was it a cool piece of art, but because it was vector, I could size it to whatever I wished.

Here are some more screenshots to give you an idea of how the app can help you:

Vectoraster6_color_gradient

Vectoraster 6 text raster

Vectoraster6 wavy line raster

Vectoraster is a bit difficult to explain, but the video below should give you some idea of what you can do with Vectoraster.

Vectoraster is one of those apps that you won’t use daily, but one that you’re glad you have when you want to spice-up an image in a design piece.

Vectoraster 6 requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.7.5 or later, and supports Full Screen mode. The full version costs $32, and upgrades are available for $12. A free demo is available so you can check it out for yourself.

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How to show a list of all the files you’ve ever downloaded on your Mac

TerminalHave you ever wanted to show a list of the entire download history of your Mac?

Whether it’s for troubleshooting, personal interest, or forensics, MacOSXDaily has a nifty Terminal tip that will show you a list of all the files you’ve downloaded.

It’s an old tip, dating back to 2012, but it still works perfectly.

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How to adjust the standby time in your MacBook

MacBook Pro lid

Later model MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pros offer a feature called Standby mode. Standby essentially takes the contents of your RAM and stores it on the hard drive after your MacBook has been sleeping for an hour. This saves plenty of battery life. Unfortunately, it significantly adds to the amount of time your MacBook takes to wake from sleep when already in Standby mode.

By default, Standby is set to one hour (3600 seconds) by Apple. But you can adjust the settings using the Terminal app to whatever you wish. I’ve set mine to two hours (7200 seconds), instead of one, using the following command in Terminal application:

sudo pmset -a standbydelay 7200

I caution you though, setting the amount (in seconds) too high can kill the battery savings that Standby was meant to give you. And in the end, it only saves you a few seconds when you wake your MacBook from sleep.

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Suitcase Fusion updates adds experimentation and inspiration

Suitcase Fusion 5 update

Extensis released a new update for Suitcase Fusion 5, the best font manager for the Mac on the market (in my opinion). This latest update is free to existing Fusion 5 users, and advances features which foster design inspiration, including a new Fontspiration panel which showcases the latest and most cutting edge typography via a Pinterest feed. Clicking on an image in the panel loads the Pinterest page containing the image, where you can also view the rest of the Extensis Fontspiration Pinterest Board.

The update also doubles the collection of QuickComp templates, a new feature introduced in Suitcase Fusion 5 that allows you to quickly view font combinations in various pre-built layouts for magazines, newspapers, and mobile formats.

I’ve reviewed Suitcase Fusion’s features in the past, and this update adds even more for designers who use a wide variety of fonts in their day-to-day work. There are certainly other font managers out there, but I’ve not come across one that offers more useful tools beyond simple font organization the way Fusion does.

The update to Suitcase Fusion 5 update is free. New users can purchase it for $99.95 or try the free demo to see if it fits into your creative workflow.

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