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Posts in mac

Acorn 5: Shape Generators, PDF Import, and More

I've been an Acorn user for years now. I first started using it as my primary photo editing tool because I could open, edit, and export a perfectly-optimized web image before Photoshop had finished bouncing in the Dock. Photoshop has improved its launch time in recent versions, but Acorn has stepped up its game, too.

Acorn 5 came out this week, and it adds some powerful new features. Notably, it adds tools for vector manipulation and generation, as well as additional bezier and vector tools, PDF Import, snapping to grids, guides, other shapes, and more.

If you're a Photoshop user looking for an alternative, Acorn has the tools you're used to: dodge and burn, hue and curve adjustments, custom selection editing, and everything you need to do advanced photo editing. Acorn 5 can even import Photoshop brushes. Given the wide diversity of custom brushes available on the net, this opens up a lot of possibilities.

Version 5 also adds additional non-destructive filters and adjustments for both raster and vector layers, and the new Shape generators and processors are stackable and non-destructive as well. The layer adjustments are stored in the native Acorn file format, so you can always access and update them.

Acorn still has all of the great tools from version 4, including professional photo editing tools, Smart Layer Export for automatic 1x and 2x images, and the best compression on exported PNGs you're likely to find.

Acorn 5 is $24.99 US on the Mac App Store (also available for direct purchase, with a few small differences). Check out the website for more info, and read the release notes for a mind-boggling list of all of the new features.

Photoflow: An Instagram Client for the Mac

I've been using Instagram (shameless plug) almost since day one, and although I don't post to it that frequently, I do look at my feed on a daily basis. For the most part I've always used the official Instagram client, except for a brief period when I also used Flow, an iPad Instagram app. Until this week, I'd never tried an Instagram client for the Mac, which is what Photoflow is.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Photoflow includes virtually every single feature that the official Instagram app has. Of course there is one giant exception; you cannot post images to Instagram from Photoflow. But that's a restriction that Instagram has imposed on all third party apps, it's not a failure of Photoflow. But almost everything else, whether it be liking images (but not commenting), interactive hashtags, featured images, viewing profiles or searching nearby locations is available in Photoflow. It also supports easy account switching and can send you notifications for new images, comments, likes and followers.

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Browser Fairy Overcomes Browser Commitment Phobia

Browser Fairy allows you to set different browsers to open different links, rather than having to use the same browser for everything.

If this sounds familiar, you might be remembering Choosy, which worked as a Preference Pane and did a very similar thing. I have written about Choosy on several occasions, and MacStories covered it back in 2009! However, Choosy has not been updated in a long time, and I have happily moved to Browser Fairy, if for no other reason than its ability to import/export its own settings, so I can move those settings between Macs and back them up.

I generally use Safari as my web browser, but I make two exceptions: I use Google Chrome for any Google-related sites, and I use a Facebook-specific Fluid browser for anything related to Facebook, which I do to prevent Facebook from tracking what I do on other websites. (I started doing this before I started using Ghostery.)

This is especially important if you are trying to maximize battery life on a laptop, where Safari is far superior to Google Chrome (“Using Safari full time is like getting a new battery. Not even kidding.” — @bradleychambers), but need/want to use Chrome for some websites.

Bonus Tip: If you are looking at a website in Safari and need/want to quickly open it in Chrome (for example, if you come across a page that, for some inexplicable reason, still uses Flash), Bradley Chambers has an Alfred workflow to open the current Safari URL in Chrome. Browser Fairy also has browser extensions to send the current URL to another browser easily.

Browser Fairy ($5, Mac App Store) requires OS X 10.7 or later.

Thanks to Abby for first introducing me to Browser Fairy.

Resolutionator Makes It Easy to Switch Your Mac’s Screen Resolution

Resolutionator is a handy new utility from the great team at Many Tricks which is the best and easiest way that I have found to quickly switch between different screen resolutions.

Why would I need to do this? Well, one of the things I have started doing with my my new 12" Retina MacBook is adjusting the resolution between its “native” size (1280x800) and the “more space” (1440x900) options, depending on what I am doing.

I also need to adjust the resolution on my Dell UltraWide U2913WM 29" Monitor when I connect to it via screen-sharing, because 2560x1080 is a lot of pixels, and 1280x960 is a lot easier to manage over VNC.

My favorite feature is a keyboard shortcut which brings up a quick list of the available resolutions:

If I had one feature request it would be the ability to exclude resolutions that I don’t use or somehow easily select between just options that I do use. That Dell UltraWide has a myriad of resolution options, but I only ever use about two.

Download Resolutionator (requires 10.8 or later) and check out the free trial, and then you can buy it for $3.

Suspicious Package Lets You Inspect .pkg Files Before You Install Them

Suspicious Package is a free Quick Look plug-in which allows you to inspect package files (.pkg) on the Mac.

Package files on the Mac are awesome, because they can install all of the various files that you need in the right places, and do all of the right things to make sure that you can use them.

Package files on the Mac are terrifying, because they can install all of these various files all over the place and you probably have no idea what they are doing.

If you download a .pkg file from a reasonably trustworthy source, chances are extremely high that the package is completely safe and won’t do anything nefarious. But .pkg files also have the potential to do a lot of damage, especially because they almost always require that you enter your administrator password. Suspicious Package allows you to see inside .pkg files, including the any scripts which will be run during the installation process. All of this gives you a much better chance of understanding what a particular package will do before you install it.

Plus, it’s free, so there’s no good reason not to install it. You can download it here either as a .pkg file (yes, irony) or manually. If you want to see a good example of why .pkg files can be a very helpful thing, look at the instructions for installing this manually!

I’m not trying to make you paranoid, I just want you to be able to make more informed decisions.

Replacing QuickCursor with Keyboard Maestro

QuickCursor was a great app which allowed you to use your favorite text editor to edit text anywhere on the Mac. For example, rather than writing a blog post in a form field in your browser, you could press a keyboard shortcut and then whatever text you had written would be sent BBEdit (or any other text editor). You could finish writing your post using all of the features of your preferred text editor (and, most importantly, not have to worry about your browser window crashing or anything else that might cause you to lose your work). When you finished writing, your text would automatically be sent from your text editor back to the web browser. (If the awesomeness of this is not immediately obvious, watch this short YouTube video showing how QuickCursor worked.)

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Billings Pro Adds Mobile Estimates and Apple Watch Features

I've used Billings for invoicing and time tracking since shortly after I first started freelancing years ago. I recently (finally) upgraded to Billings Pro, and I've been testing out the most recent update to the apps for Mac and iOS. The latest version brings Apple Watch support, mobile estimates, and seamless integration of all of the Billings Pro features across all my devices.

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Gestimer: Effortlessly Set Timers on a Mac

When I think about what makes a great app, I don't think it needs to be packed full of every imaginable feature. It doesn't need to be as precisely and extensively engineered as Editorial or Tweetbot. A great app can just as easily be an app like Pedometer++ or Blink, apps which enable users to accomplish a specific task in a way that is delightful and useful. Which brings me to Gestimer, a Mac App that launched in late June.

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