Enlarge OS X Mail and Finder sidebar icons

Sidebar icon sizes

Large, medium and small icon options in OS X’s Mail sidebar

If you’re running OS X Lion on your Mac, you have the ability to enlarge the icons in the sidebar of Mail and the Finder. This is particularly useful for those with less than stellar eyesight, or who simply have large LCD screens and want an easier target to hit when dragging files to or otherwise clicking the icons.

Sidebar icon size preferencesChanging the sidebar icons in Mail is actually not an option if you adjust the size of the Finder’s sidebar icons. Oddly enough, both are controlled in the System Preferences under the General icon. Simply choose the size you wish from the drop-down menu next to the Sidebar Icon Size item and both Mail and the Finder’s sidebar icons will immediately adjust accordingly.

Creating percentage-based paragraph styles in Adobe InDesign

When you’re setting your paragraph styles in Adobe InDesign you must specify a font size. If you want to shrink your entire layout by 20%, you have to go to each style and manually alter it. Such a pain!

Percentage-based paragraph styles

InDesignSecrets has a wonderfully clever solution to this problem which involves creating a paragraph style based on percentages of your already existing paragraph styles. Check out this cool InDesign paragraph style tutorial!

OS X Mountain Lion to fix full screen support on multiple displays

When Apple releases Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) next month, we’ll be treated to hundreds of new features. But one of the most exciting for me is the ability to take advantage of multiple displays when in full screen mode.

Currently, if you have more than one display and you enter full screen mode, your secondary display is rendered completely useless. With Mountain Lion, you’ll be able to have enter full screen mode on one display and still use the secondary display for other tasks.

When Lion shipped, I wasn’t immediately in love with full screen mode, but it wasn’t long before I wished it worked on both my displays independently. This will be a very welcome feature!

[box type=”note”]It has been brought to my attention that this new functionality will NOT allow full use of the second display. Apparently, you’ll ONLY be able to use the second display for windows of the app that is currently in full screen mode. If true, this will truly suck![/box]

Apple didn’t kill RIM with the iPhone, they just shed light on RIM’s ignorance with it

The BlackBerry (insert obscure model name here) was my introduction to the smartphone. Prior to the BlackBerry, I never considered the usefulness of a smartphone. Obviously, I didn’t know what I was missing out on.

After about a year of using the BlackBerry, two things became abundantly clear to me. First, my needs were evolving. Having my calendar, contacts, notes, reminders, email and basic access to the web would make my life a lot easier. Having to wait until I got home to check personal email, and using sticky notes and business cards to remind me of things was a royal pain.

The second thing I learned was that the Blackberry was fairly lousy at all of these things, and they weren’t improving with upgrades.

The screen (both in size and quality) absolutely sucked. The physical keyboard was a horrible experience for me because the keys were so small that I spent more time re-typing text than it was worth. The little trackball was a joke, and the “apps” were truly anemic. I had two BlackBerry phones, and you would be hard-pressed to know which was the latest and greatest. RIM and the BlackBerry never evolved.

It became clear to me that Apple had solved virtually every problem I had with the BlackBerry and most other smartphones — including Apple’s previous generation iPhone — when it released the iPhone 4.

BlackBerryAnd there you have the essence of Apple’s success. They don’t necessarily make the best product out of the gate. They make a really good product out of the gate, and waste little time improving upon it in simple ways that were noticeable to the user. Even with the first iPhone, you could see it was going to be great in no time. This is something RIM just never seemed to understand.

To this day, the BlackBerry remains much the same device it was prior to the rise of the iPhone and Android OS. RIM’s hardware is still a convoluted line of dozens upon dozens of mediocre devices that are mostly the same. The OS suffers from the same problems it had when I used it years ago, and has improved only in superficial ways.

RIM’s management is a case study in “stick your head in the sand and hope the storm passes.”

Well, if you read Dante D’Orazio’s article at the Verge on Sunday, it’s fairly clear that RIM still has its head stuck in the sand, and the storm is about to sweep their asses away.

Steve Jobs used to joke that when he returned to Apple, Gil Amelio (the CEO at the time) told him that “Apple was a ship with a hole in the bottom, and it was his job to get it pointed in the right direction.” RIM is a leaking ship with a captain and crew that seem to be dead-set on steering the ship into shallow, rocky waters.

RIM hasn’t evolved. They haven’t catered to the changing market. They haven’t improved. Simply, they’re just ignorant. And now it appears they’re going to pay the ultimate price for business ignorance.

InDesign CS6 offers text frame auto-size feature

Adobe InDesign CS6 allows you to have text frames auto-size to fit the text you’re typing or placing into them. This can be a real time-saver, and it’s easy to set.

To turn Auto-Size on, right + click on a text frame and select Text Frame Options, or simply hit Command + B. In the dialog window, click the Auto-Size tab at the top right and choose your settings.

InDesign text frame auto-size

In the Auto-Size tab, you can set your text frames to automatically grow in specified directions, and by minimum amounts if you choose.

If you’re placing a long text document, the frame will grow to the bottom of the pasteboard.

Apple’s new MacBook Pro 15″ with Retina Display = Mehhhhhh!

Ok, so maybe that headline is a tad bit misleading. The new MacBook Pro with Retina Display (MBPR) is a great laptop if you love the latest & greatest from Apple. But when I look at a PRO machine, I’m looking at specs. And when I look at the specs of the new MBPR, I see a lot of trade-offs. I also see a big, giant whammy!

You’re giving up ethernet & firewire. You’re losing your CD/DVD burner. You’re giving up a great MagSafe power connector (the new one sucks). You’re losing quite a bit of storage (the SSD drive is half the size of the regular MB Pro. You’re also losing dedicated audio line in and line out ports in exchange for a single audio port. In exchange you’re getting a much faster SSD storage drive, an HDMI port, more video RAM on the low end model, and a lighter weight computer overall.

Since I can live without the losses, and find the additional features enticing, I’ll call all those specs a wash. That means it comes down to the Retina Display.

MB Pro Retina

The MBPR offers a ridiculous 2880 x 1800 Retina resolution that looks absolutely stunning. The color and vibrancy is incredible. But unless I’m watching video or looking at photos, it’s really not something that offers much benefit to me. I was more interested in the increased screen real estate.

The problem is, at the highest resolution setting, the MBPR’s display makes everything on the screen tiny. Really tiny. I fired up Photoshop on the MBPR at my local Apple store and could barely distinguish the icons in the toolbar. I had to move up so close to the display that I felt like I was looking at my iPhone, rather than a 15″ laptop. Apps that aren’t specifically built for Retina Displays show some blurriness (though I didn’t think it was bad as some tech reviews I’ve read).

You can of course change the resolution 1920 x 1200, but I found that to be a bit too small as well. The next step down is what Apple considers the middle of the road, or “best,” setting in the Display Preferences: 1680 x 1050. I agree with Apple, it was the best setting for me. The regular 15″ MB Pro comes with a 1440 x 900 resolution display by default, but for $100 you can upgrade to the HD screen with the same 1680 x 1050 resolution.

So at the end of the day the MBPR costs $400 more, and I must accept the trade-offs mentioned above, and I can’t enjoy or take advantage of the premiere feature – the display. In the end, I can spend the same amount of money to upgrade the regular MB Pro to the same specs as the MBPR, and keep the Ethernet, optical drive, etc.

Observe Photoshop’s scratch disk use with the Efficiency Monitor

If you’re experiencing a slow-down while using Adobe Photoshop, you may be thinking you need more RAM (always a good idea!), but there’s a chance that isn’t the problem. Thankfully, Adobe offers an easy way to help you decide if more RAM is necessary for a better user experience.

At the bottom left of Photoshop CS5 and CS6’s window is an indicator that can display all sorts of information. Among file size, color profile and save progress, is one called Efficiency. You can click the flyout window arrow and choose Efficiency to get the indicator just to the left (see the image below).

Photoshop Efficiency Indicator

If you’re lucky, it will always say 100%. Anything below 100% indicates that Photoshop has used all its allocated RAM and is using your hard drive as a scratch disk, thus slowing it down. You can allocate more RAM to Photoshop in the preferences, but if memory serves me, Photoshop allocates around 60-70% of your RAM by default. Any more than that and you’re likely to start having problems with the rest of the system. If the Efficiency Indicator displays anything below about 85-90%, I would highly recommend investing in more RAM.

Suitcase Fusion 4 gains Adobe Creative Suite 6 compatibility

Suitcase FusionI reviewed Suitcase Fusion 4 just about a month ago and mentioned that Adobe CS6 compatibility was surely on the way. This week, Extensis released an update that does just that.

The update brings auto-font activation to InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop CS6, as well as the new Font Panel plugin for ID and AI (a Photoshop version is in the works).

If you’re a current Suitcase Fusion 4 user, simply visit the Suitcase Fusion menu and select Check for Updates to get the latest update. If you haven’t tried Fusion 4 yet, download the demo and give it a shot.