Category: Mac & OS X

Add an OS X menubar to your second monitor

SecondBarIf you happen to be lucky enough to have a second monitor hooked-up to your Mac, you’ve no doubt wished you could access your menubar on the second monitor at some point. While Apple doesn’t give you this feature, and likely never will, a simple little app brings most of the functionality you’re looking for, and more.

SecondBar is a small utility that does exactly what you would expect, it adds a Mac OS X menubar to your second monitor; giving you full access to your Apple, File, Edit, View, Go, Window and Help menus, as well as placing a clock in the far right position.

Capture audio and video directly with Quicktime Player

If you regularly use iMovie or some other application to capture audio or video, or were wondering how to do it on the cheap, then you’ll love this handy little tip.

Video Capture with Quicktime Player

Video Capture with Quicktime Player

All you’ll need is a copy of Quicktime Pro 7 or later, or the latest version of Quicktime Player in Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), and a Mac with an iSight camera, or a connected video camera or microphone.

Get more info about your files and folders in Mac OS X’s Finder

Sometimes a little info goes a long, long way. While you can do a Get Info (Command + i) on a selected file, it would be easier if you could see just a little info without the hassle of a keyboard command – such as how many files are contained in a particular folder, or the dimensions of an image file. Once again, Apple thought of the little things.

OS X Finder Item InfoA quick visit to the Finder’s menubar does the trick! Simply go to View>Show View Options (or hit Command + J). In the View Options window about half-way down, click in the checkbox next to Show Item Info as seen in the screenshot at the right.

OS X Finder Item InfoOnce that option is activated in the Finder, you’ll notice information located just below the desktop icon file name colored in light blue. When you’re in icon view mode in a folder, which you can switch to by hitting Command + 1, you’ll see the info there too. As you can see in the screenshot at the left, you’ll get a quick glimpse of the number of items inside a folder, and the pixel dimensions of image files.

Not all document types display information, but these two in particular I find quite useful.

Iconpaper offers full load of customization options for your Mac

There are tons of sites out there you can use to customize your Mac OS X experience. From themes and icons, to desktop wallpapers and app skins, the options are limitless. But spending the time to find them is daunting.


iconpaper offers everything you need to customize your Mac

Iconpaper is a fantastic site that brings the best of the bunch all together in one easy to use site. Iconpaper offers easy viewing and downloading of everything you need, including:

  • Icons
  • Wallpapers
  • Dock Skins
  • App Skins
  • OS X Themes
  • Screensavers

I found so many Dock themes and desktops to try, I ended up wasting away an hour before I finished writing this brief article.

Alien Skin offers 20% storewide discount to benefit Haiti relief efforts

Alien Skin Software sale

Alien Skin Software storewide sale to benefit Haiti

Alien Skin Software today announces the immediate start of a store-wide sale to benefit Haiti. From now through February 28th, 2010, everything in the Web store is 20% off. 10% of Alien Skin Software’s profits for the entire month of February (not just from the sale) will be also be donated to Haiti through the Red Cross and the Community Coalition for Haiti. This is on top of significant donations already made by the company and individual employees.

“I am confident that the sale will generate a significant donation to Haiti relief funds,” said Jeff Butterworth, CEO of Alien Skin Software. “I also encourage everyone to donate blood. There is no substitute for this precious resource. I do it for the free cookies and bright bandage to show off around the office!”

Alien Skin, maker of Eye Candy – perhaps one of the most popular filter sets for Photoshop of all time, has been one of my favorite design-related software makes for many years. In particular, I LOVE Blow Up 2 for enlarging images to huge sizes, and Bokeh for creating awesome focus and depth-of-field effects with your photos.

iPod: It’s faster to talk than it is to type

Dragon DictationIt doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s faster to talk than it is to type. But after decades of tried and failed attempts by several software vendors, Mac OS X is still left without a viable solution in the speech-to-text arena.

If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch though, you’re no longer left out in the cold. And better yet, it won’t cost you a dime!

Nuance has a version of Dragon Dictation for both devices that works superbly. I dictated this article on my iPod Touch using Dragon Dictation with only one minor error.

The only major complaint is that the app has a time limit of 20-seconds on the length of the recording that gets converted into text, making it cumbersome for lengthy speech-to-text conversions.

The app requires a second or third-generation iPod Touch or iPhone with a microphone (Apple’s built-in headphone/mic combo works fine), and an Internet connection (WiFi or 3G works more than adequately, though Edge is a bit slower, obviously). The Internet connection is necessary because the app actually uploads the data to the Nuance servers for the translation.

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation is easy to use, requiring only a tap of a button to do its job

Using Dragon Dictation is easy. You simply hit the Record button and speak. When the recording hits the 20-second mark, or you stop speaking, the app converts the recording to text. If you have a long email or message to dictate, you’ll have to hit the record button again to continue adding to the text. When you’re finished, you can copy the text to the clipboard, send it as a text message or email it.

Dragon Dictation is free, and is available from the iTunes store.

Extended volume control for Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) users

PTHVolumeIf you’re a Mac OS X user who hasn’t upgraded to Snow Leopard yet, but you want more control over the volume and sound output sources, PTH Consulting has a great little app that offers the same functionality as Apple’s built-in volume control menubar widget found in Mac OS x 10.6. PTHVolume 2 is a menubar application that not only allows you to adjust the volume of your Mac, but offers you the ability to switch the sound output sources without making a tiresome trip to the OS X System Preferences. PTHVolume menubar appPTHVolume (free) is particularly useful for Mac OS X users who, like me, have a nice set of external speakers set up on their Mac, but also like to use headphones at night or when anyone around you isn’t particularly interested in listening to your personal taste in music. As you can see in the screenshot at the left, you can adjust the volume for each source individually; something you cannot do with Apple’s built-in widget in Snow Leopard. Up until Snow Leopard, I was using this utility for a long time with no stability issues at all. It works perfectly.

Facebook Desktop Notifications for OS X

Facebook Desktop NotificationsIf you’re a Facebook user and are looking for a simple, unobtrusive way to view updates on your Mac OS X desktop, look no further than Facebook’s own menubar application. Facebook Desktop Notifications lives in your menubar, keeping your Dock and desktop free of icons, but easily accessible. The app displays your news feed in the drop down menu, which when clicked will take you to the appropriate place on your Facebook page. Shortcuts to your Facebook page, and new message creation are available at the top of the menu, as well as direct message shortcuts at the bottom. Facebook message notifications Desktop Notifications also offers you the ability, with a simple keyboard shortcut, to update your Facebook status via a simple input box. Facebook status updates New Facebook notifications make the menubar icon turn blue, or if you have Growl installed, a popup Growl window appears. While there are a ton of applications that do a whole lot more, few offer the simplicity and “get out of my way” nature that Facebook Desktop Notifications does. For that reason, I love it. It’s stable, and does its job without me having to do or launch anything.

Minimize windows into app icon

If you haven’t looked in your Mac OS X Dock preferences since upgrading to Snow Leopard, you may have missed a handy little preference that will save you space in your Dock when you minimize windows. Neat-freaks read on… (more…)