Category: Mac & OS X

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.

30% discount on Airy 2.0 upgrade

Airy 2

I’ve written about Airy in the past. Eltima Software has upgraded their awesome little YouTube video downloader to 2.0, and brought with it a few handy features.

Airy 2.0 continues to make downloading YouTube videos even easier by adding the ability to download an entire YouTube playlist with a single click. I was able to download several playlists of music videos numbering from 15 to 40 videos with no problem at all. Downloading is the same as previous versions: you paste a YouTube video address into the Airy app URL bar, or use the included browser bookmarklet (my preferred method).

Airy 2 Playlist

The update also adds the ability to pause downloads, so the next time you open Airy, the downloads resume automatically. Given that Airy downloads videos so quickly, this may seem unnecessary, but when you consider downloading a playlist with dozens upon dozens of videos, it can come in handy.

Airy hasn’t added any new formats that I can see. But you can already save videos as MP4, FLV and 3GP formats, as well as save only the audio as an MP3, so I see little room for improvement here anyway.

Airy 2.0 is a little faster, and a little more stable—though I never had problems with the older version to begin with. This is one of those little gems that I’m glad I have around. For years there have been plenty of YouTube video downloaders that were a pain to use, and usually stopped working after a few months. Airy has been around for a while, is not free, and is provided by a stable developer. That means it’s likely to be supported for the foreseeable future.

The latest upgrade runs on Mac OS X 10.7 and later. Previous Airy users can upgrade to the new version for 50% off, and new users can use the coupon code THGM-DSC at checkout time to receive 30% off the regular $19.95 price.

Upgrade your Safari status bar

The very bottom of Safari’s browser window, the Status Bar, by default shows you the web address of the link your mouse is hovering over. Unfortunately this feature doesn’t always work well, and isn’t very informative. Heck, sometimes it doesn’t work at all.

Ultimate Satus Bar is a Safari extension that improves on the built-in status bar in a few ways.

First up is the fact that unlike Safari’s status bar, Ultimate Status Bar only shows up when you hover over a link, saving you around 20 pixels of screen real estate. That’s not a big deal on an iMac, but if you’re surfing on a MacBook Air it can make a big difference.

Ultimate Status Bar for Safari

Ultimate Status Bar places a small Favicon in the corner of the site the link will take you to when possible, as well as an icon for the file type if you happen to be hovering over a downloadable link such as a PDF, TIF, ZIP, etc. And for those downloadable files, it will display the file size if it can be determined – so you can decide if you want to download the file now, or wait until later.

Perhaps the best feature is that short URLs get lengthened and displayed (see the image above). This is not only great for security reasons, but it’ll also help prevent you from getting Rick-Rolled!

Finally, you can customize the appearance of Ultimate Status Bar with the built-in themes.

Ultimate Satus Bar is free, and for the most part works extremely well. I couldn’t get it to display the Favicon for my own site, nor the download size of a ZIP file I hosted (though it was a very large file, so maybe I didn’t wait long enough). But it never failed to show me the link address, expand a short-URL, or hide the bar completely once I moved the mouse.

OS X Yosemite font management advice

Font Book
If you’ve upgraded to Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10), there is one important piece of advice I can give you as it pertains to fonts: Don’t ever, ever, EVER move or delete HelveticaNeueDeskInterface.ttc. You will completely hose your system, requiring a re-install of the system, or some work with a recent backup. Either way, it’s just not worth messing around with.

Unlike Mavericks (10.9), Yosemite does not have a fall-back option when it comes to the main system font. Desktop icons will use Helvetica, but menus, dialog boxes and the rest of the interface will simply be blank and unusable.

The following are the require fonts for Yosemite, and should not be moved or deleted from the System/Library/Fonts folder:

• Apple Color Emoji.ttf
• AppleSDGothicNeo-Bold.otf
• AppleSDGothicNeo-Regular.otf
• Courier.dfont
• Geneva.dfont
• Helvetica.dfont
• HelveticaNeue.dfont
• HelveticaNeueDeskInterface.ttc
• Keyboard.ttf
• LastResort.ttf
• LucidaGrande.ttc
• Menlo.ttc
• Monaco.dfont
• Symbol.ttf
• Times.dfont

All other fonts can be safely moved or deleted if you wish, though some may be required by other app such as Pages, Keynote, etc. But in general, those fonts are found in the main Library folder, not the System folder.

Why you shouldn’t install MacKeeper

MacKeeper

But the real problems with MacKeeper that I can see is that it provides questionable value to most users, can destabilize an otherwise stable Mac, and embeds itself so thoroughly into the operating system that removing it is an uncomfortable and weird process.

iMore’s Peter Cohen wrote a great article about MacKeeper, a highly-suspect disk utility for the Mac that’s been floating around for quite a long time. He makes a great argument for not installing it.

I’ll go one step further than Peter and say that running ANY disk utility is largely placebo, and quite often causes more problems than it solves. I haven’t run a disk utility program since the pre-Mac OS X days and have zero problems.

If you want to feel like you’re doing all you can to keep your Mac running smooth, try this:

  • Let your Mac stay on all night for six days, then shut it down on the seventh before you go to bed. Mac OS X runs maintenance scripts overnight.
  • Run Onyx once a month to empty caches.
  • Limit the amount of apps you install that run in the background. Generally these are apps whos icon lives in your menubar.
  • If something does go wrong or your Mac is running abnormally slow, have an experienced friend take a look at it, or take it to an Apple Authorized repair shop.

The ‘Genius’ inside your computer

EtreCheck

EtreCheck is a simple little app to display the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It was designed by an Apple engineer, and is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to help people help you with your Mac.

It’s a nifty little utility that will list every daemon, launch agent, kernel extension and plugin running on your system, as well as some other insightful information. It’s like having a Apple Genius living inside your Mac. The app really does nothing you can’t do with the Terminal, but it makes it much easier to read and decipher.

Advice: Building the best graphic design toolbox

There is no perfect set of tools for graphic designers. We’re all unique, we all work in different ways, and budgets always come in to play. I’ve put together a breakdown of major factors when building the best graphic design hardware and software toolbox based on my experience. Consider the following as a guide, rather than a set of absolute rules.
Design Toolbox

Keep it simple

I’ve been a graphic designer for 30 years, using the Macintosh the entire time to produce work for some great clients. I’ve worked for ad agencies large and small, a design firm, printing companies, and I’ve freelanced full and part time. Over the years I’ve learned a few short rules as it pertains to building my design toolbox and getting things done—and it has held true everywhere I’ve worked. Those rules are: keep it simple no matter the cost, don’t get caught up in software trends and gimmicks, buy a little more than you think you need, because you will grow into it. The following is more specific advice for building your design toolbox. (more…)

Where are VIP Contacts for Messages and FaceTime?

I’d love to see VIP moved from Mail’s settings to Contacts proper, so that I can make sure the people who are literally “very important” get through more easily, no matter how they choose to communicate with me. And it’d be great if it happened with iOS 9.

As soon as I saw the VIP feature of Mail, I wondered why I was setting it up in Mail instead of Contacts. It makes no sense. If someone is in my VIP list, they’re a VIP in Mail, Messages, and FaceTime, not just Mail.

Rene Ritchie goes into more detail at iMore.