When to use a hyphen, En dash and Em dash

Hyphens & dashes
Hyphens, en and em dashes appear with great frequency in typeset copy. Unlike the days of typewriters where the only character available to represent these three punctuation marks was a hyphen, all three are available in almost all of today’s fonts. They all have different usages, most of which are a mystery to us designer types. Extensis Blogger, Ilene Strizver, has a great article that explains what Hyphens, En and Em Dashes are and when you should use them.

We all know the Hyphen is made by simply hitting the dash key in the number row on your keyboard. An En Dash is made by hitting Option + dash key. The Em Dash is made via Shift + Option + dash key.

Free font utopia

Free font license
There are plenty of sites to find free fonts. The problem with most of them is that the so-called “free” fonts aren’t actually free to use for anything beyond the little flyer you made for your kid’s little-league team.

If you look at the license for many of these free fonts you’ll find that they’re only free for personal use, not commercial use—which is what most designers are looking to use them for. I’m not saying that paying for fonts when you need to use them for commercial work is bad, but sometimes you just don’t have the time or budget for them.

If you’re willing to spend a lot of time scrolling through long lists of fonts to find the very few that you can actually use, have at it. But if you value your time, try checking Font Squirrel.
Font Squirrel
Font Squirrel has a ton of fonts. All of them free. All of them free for commercial-use. There are tons of fonts available at Font Squirrel, so they’ve categorized them to make it easier to browse. Because the laws of the universe dictate that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, you can use the fonts for free in your print projects and web graphics, but you’ll have to read the license for each font to see if you can use the font for things like embedding in a website.

How to use InDesign’s Span and Split Columns feature

Nothing drives me crazy like working on a file that another designer created that doesn’t know about InDesign’s Span or Split Columns feature. There’s just no need to create a separate Text Box just to have the headline go across the top of two columns of text. It’s a pain in the behind. Span Columns to the rescue!
InDesign's Span Columns
Following close behind is when a designer wants to have two, three or more columns of bullet points in the middle of their text flow and doesn’t realize that you don’t have to create a separate multi-column text box in the middle of the text flow and then use multiple carriage returns to leave space for it. Edit the text above that separate text box and you have to move the text box with the bullets every time. Such a pain. Simply use the Split Column feature.
InDesign's Split Columns
If you don’t know how to use them, Erica Gamet has a great how-to article at CreativePro on how to use Span and Split Columns feature.

Easily switch between Photoshop’s Layer Blend Modes

When you have a multi-layer Photoshop file and you want to set one of the layers to Multiply, Overlay or one of the numerous other Blend Modes, you can click the drop-down menu in the Layers panel, but that can be tedious.

An easier way is to use the keyboard shortcut. Simply have the layer you want to switch Blend Modes on selected and have the Move, Lasso or other tool that doesn’t use Blend Modes (such as the Brush tool) active, and hit Shift + (plus) or Shift – (minus) to cycle through the different Blend Modes.

The shortcut works with tools that DO offer Blend Modes (such as the previously mentioned Brush tool or the Gradient tool) as well.

Incidentally, if you use the Multiply Blend Mode as often as I do, you’ll be happy to know you can simply hit Shift + Option + M to quickly apply it without cycling through it or bothering with the drop-down menu. Other often-used Blend Mode Shortcuts include Shift + Option + S applies Screen, Shift + Option + C applies Color.

Getting more from InDesign’s Eyedropper tool

InDesign Eyedropper Options
Most designers new to InDesign think the Eyedropper tool exists solely to choose a color from an image or other object on the page. More experienced users know just how powerful it can be, and much easier it can make things.

Not only can you choose colors, but you can apply fonts, styles, colors, transparency and more to other objects with simple clicks.

Take a look at InDesign Eyedropper Tool Tips over at CreativePro for a look at this highly useful tool.

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

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.