Tagged: Mac & OS X

Mail Pilot public preview available

Mail Pilot for Mac public preview early sign-ups are now live. On Thursday, December 5, the first batch of public previews will go out. Sign up now to be one of the first to get Mail Pilot for Mac.

Mail Pilot users can quickly manage and productively organize their inboxes with a simple, task-oriented approach, tailored for the desktop. Mail Pilot for iPhone is already available, and quite popular.

Pasting text completely unformatted in OS X

Paste without formatting

It happens a lot in the design business. You’re taking copy from one document and using it in another. The problem is that when you copy your text and paste it in your new document, the formatting comes with it. All the fonts, all the colors, all the special text treatments. You’re stuck “un-formatting” only to have to reformat it in the new style. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Mac OS X offers a simple way to paste text from any document into another document completely unformatted. Simply copy the original formatted text as you normally would using Command + C. Then, instead of pasting the text normally, paste it using Command + Shift + V.

Vecte: OS X application switcher replacement

Vecte

Vecte replaces Mac OS X’s built-in application switcher

Vecte is a simple Mac OS X application switcher replacement. All the standard keyboard shortcuts still work, the only difference is how it looks and feels. Vecte moves the application switcher overlay you get by hitting Command + Tab from the center of the screen to the top left corner of the screen. Vecte also switches apps instantly rather than waiting around until you let go of the command key. Finally, Vecte does not re-order the apps every time you switch to a new app. If you missed the app you were aiming for, it’s still in the same spot.

I used Vecte for a few weeks and found it to work quite well. And it’s a great way to customize OS X to your liking. Ultimately though, I prefer the built-in switcher. Given that Vecte is free, you have nothing to lose by checking it out. You can download Vecte here.

Podcasts: What I’m listening to (part 1)

A few years ago, the TWiT network were about the only people putting out decent tech-related Podcasts. Now though, you have to spend a lot of time going through Podcasts to weed out the bad ones, rather than find the good ones.

I listen to a lot of different types of Podcasts, but for the purpose of this article, I’ll stick with just the tech-related ones. Generally speaking, I prefer shorter podcasts – they feel more relaxing to listen to and less like a chore I must complete.

70 Decibels podcasts

I came across the 70 Decibels network a while ago and have since subscribed to several of their podcasts. They’re very well produced, and cover a decent range of topics.

In particular, I’ve been listening to 11 Minutes, The 512 Podcast, Enough, and CMD+Space.

Many other tech-related podcasts have turned into something you might expect from a political talk show, with two or three people all talking over each other trying to get attention. None of the shows I’ve mentioned above have this problem.

Other shows available on the 70 Decibels network include cooking, freelancing, science fiction and general technology. All the 70 Decibels Podcasts offer an iTunes subscribe feed, as well as an RSS feed to stay up-to-date with newly released shows.

More…

Mac OS Ken is one of my favorite Apple-related podcasts because it’s timely, and typically only 10 to 15 minutes long – perfect for listening to during the work commute or lunch. Ken Ray’s daily podcast includes most stories directly related to Apple, many stories indirectly related to Apple that stand a chance of affecting Apple’s business or its users, and tangentially related stories that are funny. Mac OS Ken has an iTunes and RSS subscription link on the homepage.

Create vector-based halftone and raster patterns with VectorRaster

VectorRaster

Vectoraster is a Mac OS X graphics utility for creating vector-based raster patterns and halftones based on bitmap images, an effect that has been popular in illustration and design the last couple of years, but is quite tricky to achieve without the proper tools.

The raster patterns and point shapes can be freely configured to produce many different styles. The resulting rasters can then either be exported as vectors to EPS or PDF files, as images to JPEG, PNG or TIFF, or simply copied into most graphics software.

VectorRaster is $29 ($12 upgrade from previous versions) and a demo is available for download.

OS X and Mac App Store signals the death of desktop customization

Back in the day of Mac OS 7, 8 and 9, Apple didn’t make it too terribly difficult to customize the OS with themes and custom icons. Theming your desktop was so popular that it was nearly its own sub-culture. Theming websites sprout up almost weekly, offering window themes, icons, and other theming items. There were literally thousands of options. But that all changed when Apple released Mac OS X.

Candybar

Mac OS X was a top-to-bottom change to the system architecture, and theming was infinitely more difficult. It took a long time before creative developers figured out a way to bring customization to OS X. There were themes, if only a few dozen, and of course you could still customize icons. But it was never to the extent that you could in Mac OS 9.

Eventually (I don’t remember if it was OS 10.4 or 10.5), theming became nearly impossible. But when Apple released the Mac App Store, customizing your Mac desktop all but died. Because of the code signing of all apps sold through the Mac App Store, altering files contained in individual apps (such as icons) rendered them either useless, or at the very least prevented you from updating them in the Mac App Store.

Between code signing, recently implemented Sandboxing rules, and the release of OS X Mountain Lion (which prevents theming of the Dock), it’s all but a dead art. If you need any more evidence, Panic Software recently announced they were sunsetting their icon customization tool, CandyBar. For many years, CandyBar was the gold-standard of customizing icons. Thankfully, Panic made CandyBar freely downloadable, and updated it for Mountain Lion. For those like me who used CandyBar for it’s icon collection organizing feature, and the ability to quickly and easily export app icons as PNG images with transparency intact, the fact that it still works is a bit of relief. But it’s future is most decidedly in doubt. It surely won’t be long before it can no longer customize System icons.

It’s sad to see theming and customization fade off into the sunset. But to be honest, Apple has improved the appearance of the OS to the point where even the most avid themed simply preferred the clean look of the standard theme. And right now, you can get an absolutely fantastic icon customizing and organizing app for free.

Recent acquisitions should make you wary of buying new apps

The headline sounds a bit over-the-top, I know. But it sums-up my point best. With Google acquiring Sparrow (the extremely popular email client software for OS X and iOS), and Facebook buying out Acrylic (makers of the popular RSS reader, Pulp), and Instagram, it’s clear that no matter how small or large your favorite app or service is – it’s entirely possible that it will cease to exist at any time.

Software acquisitions

With Instagram, Facebook chose to allow it to live-on for now – but I suspect it will eventually get fully integrated into Facebook’s brand apps. Unfortunately, Google has not been as kind. They’ve made it clear that they have no intention on adding features to it in the future. It’s dead. And while Facebook only hired the developers and not purchased the apps themselves, they’re essentially dead as well.

I’m not suggesting that you should not buy apps from independent developers. They’re what makes the Apple community great. And I absolutely do not blame any developer for selling their company for large sums of money. They worked hard to create a great app or service and they deserve the rewards.

But you should take these recent acquisitions into consideration when you purchase your next app that may be a mission-critical one. Let me give you an example. (more…)