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Posts tagged with "finder"

A Better Way To Combine iPhone Screenshots with Keyboard Maestro

In May, in my coverage of Keyboard Maestro 5.3 I shared a macro to combine two iPhone screenshots in a single image through a keystroke:

For iPhone apps, I like to take two screenshots, place them side by side, and generate a single image. Until today, I had to manually drag the image out of Photo Stream (or use Scotty), resize them with Preview, create a new image in Acorn, drop the images in there, adjust their position, and save. I came to the point where the process took less than a minute, but still it required a manual and boring effort on my side. Enter Keyboard Maestro 5.3: I rename the images I need to use “1″ and “2″, respectively (“1″ goes on the left side); I tell Keyboard Maestro to run an Automator workflow to scale them; Keyboard Maestro creates a blank image in its clipboard, composites files 1 and 2 onto the image at a specific pixel position, and creates a new .png file on my desktop.

With the release of the iPhone 5, I updated the macro to include a version that would use the bigger resolution of the new device; however, the macro was still requiring two files named "1.png" and "2.png" to be available and selected in the Finder. While the process of manually renaming a file was allowing me to "control" the placement of the screenshots on the final image (1.png would end up on the left), I still received several requests to figure out a way to grab any image -- not just those named "1" and "2"--  from the Finder.

Gabe Weatherhead of Macdrifter came up with a way to allow for such workflow, and he allowed me to share the macro here on MacStories. Read more


Latest Dropbox Beta Brings Redesigned Menu

Announced last night on the public forums, the latest beta of Dropbox 1.5 for Mac brings a completely redesigned popup menu, support for Mountain Lion's Notification Center, a new installer, and better performance.

Sporting a new modern look, the redesigned popup menu is reminiscent of "popovers" that have become extremely popular among iOS developers. The new menu takes a more visual approach at displaying changes in your Dropbox, with icons for added or deleted files (that you can click to quickly go to Dropbox), a play/pause button for sync, and a large "Open Dropbox folder" to launch a Finder window at the "root" of your Dropbox.

This new popup combines all the functionality from the older tray menu with a new view of your Dropbox's event stream, letting you see your (or other people's) latest changes. In addition, you can use the events to easily view, share, or restore files.

Alongside the new appearance of Dropbox in the menubar, the team also says version 1.5 will bring full Notification Center support and a new, simpler installer for Mac users. The new installer works as advertised: you can simply double-click the icon for Dropbox to "update" itself to a new version. Unfortunately, while enabled in Notification Center, I haven't been able to test the new notifications on the desktop, as I assume the functionality isn't quite ready yet in this beta.

Personally, I think what Dropbox is showing in this experimental build is very promising. The popup menu was in need of a serious upgrade, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it will evolve throughout the next betas.

To download the latest Dropbox experimental build (and send feedback to the developers), you can head over the Dropbox forums.


Quickly Share iOS Photos With Your Mac (And iOS Devices)

Quickly Share iOS Photos With Your Mac (And iOS Devices)

Kirk McElhearn at Macworld shares an interesting method to automatically import iOS photos on OS X, originally via The Iconmaster:

I gave up on Image Capture and used Dropbox. But if you’ve used Dropbox for this purpose, you know it involves several steps: launch the app, tap the Uploads tab, tap the add button, tap the photo, etc. etc. It works, but it wasn’t convenient enough.

I wanted something instantaneous. Fortunately, Ryan McCuaig was able to point me in the right direction.

Photo Stream is great, but it's not 100% reliable. While I can typically wait a couple of minutes for iOS screenshots to show up in iPhoto (or Finder, based on the tip above), sometimes I don't have that kind of flexibility, as I need access to those images right away. For those times, I use Scotty.

Developed by Galarina, Scotty (my review) is a $1.99 universal app that can send images to computers (on OS X, it uses File Sharing) and other iOS devices. Scotty is fast, well designed, and remarkably intuitive -- it is even integrated with the Camera+ lightbox. I also use Scotty as Photo Stream doesn't work on 3G, and I couldn't find a better way to send iPhone screenshots to my iPad over Bluetooth.

The screenshots above were imported with Scotty, and processed with Keyboard Maestro.

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Use “Mobile Documents” Folder To Sync Files with iCloud Across Macs

 

Hidden into Lion's ~/Library (which can be displayed in a variety of ways as we detailed in our Lion review) there's a Mobile Documents folder that's capable of syncing files across Macs configured with iCloud, Mac OS X Hints reports. Sure enough, the Mobile Documents folder is the directory iCloud uses for Documents & Data, a feature available both on iOS 5 and Lion. Mobile Documents is the same folder that contains data for apps that already work with iCloud, such as Instacast, iWork, or Galaxy on Fire 2.

What's interesting about this folder when used with two Macs under the same iCloud account is that it provides a basic "drop box" functionality for files that don't necessarily belong to an iCloud-enabled app. As you can see in my screenshot, the Mobile Documents folder contains data and sub-folders for App Store apps that work with iCloud. In order to follow Mac OS X Hints' suggestion, I tried to drop a few images directly in the folder -- as I'd normally do with Dropbox -- using my iMac. In a few seconds, those files were synced back to my MacBook Air. Both my iMac and MacBook Air use the same iCloud account, and have Documents & Data on. Clearly, those images didn't belong to an officially-registered iCloud app (such as Instacast), but the files were synced back and forth between the two machines.

So what we have here is a cool hack to use the Mobile Documents folder as a temporary Dropbox-like solution based on iCloud. This is interesting because Apple could technically prevent files that don't belong to a signed iCloud app from syncing across Macs, but decided not to, at least on 10.7.2. If you think about it, this could imply the company will offer some sort of iDisk replacement sometime in the future, or build a GUI for syncing documents back and forth between Macs manually. Or, it could be the foundation for an upcoming iWork for OS X update. Or then again, it could simply be a cool trick that won't receive any official support from Apple.

If you want to try the Mobile Documents sync (Mac OS X Hints claims the system even supports conflict resolution, which was suggested by John Gruber months ago), I'd recommend you make an alias of the folder, drop it onto your Desktop, and start dropping files into it. Make sure all your Macs are configured with a single iCloud account, and do not delete the documents & data that are already in there, or you'll lose precious app libraries, preferences, or saved states.

Finally, please note that even if files you'll sync won't show up in "official" iCloud apps, they'll still count against your iCloud storage.

Update: here's how you can use Mobile Documents with GoodReader for iOS.


Latest Dropbox Build Gets Nicer on Lion

If there's something Dropbox, the popular online file syncing service with a strong iOS / OS X presence, should get better at in the future, that would be a new way of informing users of available updates. Or, as Shawn Blanc recently put it, you'd think of all the apps that automatically update themselves, "Dropbox would be a chief at it". Unfortunately, in spite of its always-connected nature, Dropbox's internal update mechanism is far from perfect. Too many users downloaded Dropbox months ago, and never updated to faster and more stable builds because of a lack of notifications, sticking with older versions that are likely causing problems.

This problem is especially true on Lion, which required the Dropbox team to rewrite parts of the app to integrate with the new Finder. Whilst TUAW noted last week that another "silent" Dropbox update added Lion support, the latest forum build -- version 1.2.28 released yesterday -- goes even further and brings a new icon for the Finder sidebar, new setup images, and more bug fixes. The changes are minor, but it's nice to see Dropbox finally having a good-looking shortcut in Lion's Finder.

Full changelog:

  • Finder Integration: Make Favorites Dropbox icon pretty
  • New tour images for Lion.
  • Fix DNS lookup problem when using a SOCKS5 proxy.
  • Delay upload of 0 byte files so that users don't get useless transfers.
  • Fix small occurrence of now Resume option after pausing Dropbox in Linux
  • Fix to very rare bug that would prevent directories from being uploaded.
  • Fix bug that would cause auto-update to incorrectly ask for UAC elevation.
  • Fix rare missing sidebar item.

You can download Dropbox 1.2.28 (which, again, is an experimental forum build that, although stable, still isn't an "official" release) over at Dropbox Forums.


Miscellaneous Lion Tips and Tricks

Lion is a solid update to OS X and it comes with several new features as we've outlined in our review, however there are so many little touches and minor features it is possible some of them will go unnoticed, leaving a user wondering whether something he thought would be possible was removed by Apple. In this post, we've collected some of the best tips and tricks we've received from our readers and Twitter followers since Lion came out yesterday, as well as stuff that didn't make it to the review. More will follow throughout the next days, but in the meantime check them after the break.

Note: Part 2 is now online.

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OS X 10.6.7 Changes Finder Sidebar Behavior

OS X 10.6.7 Changes Finder Sidebar Behavior

Adam C. Engst at TidBITS:

With Mac OS X 10.6.7, Apple not only messed up (and then fixed) font handling (see “OpenType PostScript Fonts Troublesome in 10.6.7,” 27 March 2011, and “Apple Releases Snow Leopard Font Update,” 26 April 2011), they also changed the way you remove items from the sidebar. Now, instead of just dragging items out, you must either Command-drag them out or Control-click them and choose Remove from Sidebar.

I've noticed the change too: I was trying to drag a folder out of the "Places" tab, but it wasn't working. At first I thought I had to restart my Finder for some reason, but that didn't work either. So I realized maybe something had changed since the 10.6.7 software update, and tried to CMD-drag like I would for items in the menubar. Items in the Finder's sidebar now share the same behavior of draggable items in the top menubar; Engst believes the change was made after some complaints about accidental removals happening too often, but, frankly, I never removed an item from the Places tab by accident.

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Cloud Connect for iOS Gets 3.0 Update, Brings Finder Integration

When it comes to remotely accessing your computer, AirPort Extreme station, FTP, Dropbox or WebDAV servers, Cloud Connect Pro is a staff favorite here at MacStories. Not only the app provides a full-featured solution to connect to all kinds of machines, servers and online services, it also offers a neat way to browse files and media in a Finder-like view for iPhones, iPod touches and iPads. We have covered the app a few times in the past, and I was impressed when Antacea managed to port the whole tablet experience to the iPhone.

The latest 3.0 update, however, makes things look much better with some UI refinements, a new audio player, a proper PDF viewer and some stability enhancements. The app retains all the functionalities of the previous versions, but introduces some welcome features and little touches throughout the whole package that add a new layer of accessibility, communication with iOS built-in tools, and more. For example, Cloud Connect 3.0 can directly play music stored in the iPod.app library, or visualize photos and videos from the camera roll. Songs can be sent to the new audio player's playlist, which sits at the bottom of the app and displays album artwork, a list of songs waiting in the queue, as well as an AirPlay button to beam music to external speakers. Speaking of which, gone is the hideous Mac-like dock, leaving room for a more minimal bar of icons. Browsing files and folders in Cloud Connect has been improved, too: alongside the (great) column view, the developers have implemented icon-based navigation to tap your way around the filesystem. What's cool is that you can switch between views with a tap in the toolbar, and a new button in the column view allows you to bookmark, copy, download & compress or delete any file or folder. On top of that, this new version allows you to browse songs and media from the camera roll using your Mac's Finder by connecting to the "iPad" device under the Shared tab once Cloud Connect is running. This is by far the easiest way to import photos and music off an iOS device and onto an OS X machine I've tried, with Cloud Connect acting as a bridge between the two. It works great.

The app could still use some UI polish (I personally can't stand those blue and grey tones), but I can see why Antacea decided to focus on adding and refining features for now. The lack of a serious PDF viewer, for example, was a major disappointment in Cloud Connect 1.0: the new PDF viewer introduced in version 3.0 is quite fast and responsive, lets you create bookmarks and search for text within a document.

Other features in Cloud Connect 3.0 include Google Picasa support, possibility to use a Mac or PC as a gateway to connect to other Easy Connect computers, and RDP for HP printers only. At $24.99 in the App Store, Cloud Connect doesn't come cheap but it's powerful, easy to use and works both on the iPhone and iPad. The app keeps getting better on each release, and I'm looking forward to some serious design improvements in the next version. For now though, Cloud Connect surely is one of the best ways to manage your remote and local connections. Read more


Presence Puts Your Mac In The Cloud, Lets You Connect from iOS

Over the past few months, I have tried several iOS apps to access my Mac's filesystem and screen while away from my home office. These apps, either standalone VNC clients like Screens or all-in-one solutions like Cloud Connect Pro, usually relied on a Mac's built-in sharing and remote login capabilities to create a secure connection between the machine and iOS devices trying to access its contents. To work with these apps, I simply had to set up a global DynDns hostname or a VPN server so that I could log into my Mac, view files, and control its screen. The VPN method, for instance, was actually based on the same DynDns hostname I had already configured in Edovia's Screens, Cloud Connect Pro, Plex, FileBrowser and many others. For as much as I loved being able to remotely connect to my OS  X machines with a standard web address (DynDns allows you to create a custom URL), now I can't use it anymore. We have recently upgraded our Internet connection to a new ISP, and whilst the speed bump is noticeable and generally useful when it comes to downloading large files, the new router provided by the ISP doesn't offer a public IP address (without entering all the details, it's based on NAT), thus preventing me from using all those neat Mac and iOS apps that needed DynDns to be working correctly. I can access my Mac's content locally, but as soon as I go out DynDns becomes useless thanks to the new router. This means Here, File File doesn't work anymore in 3G, as well as Screens (through DynDns), Plex and Cloud Connect. I may have a faster Internet connection now, but the lack of DynDns support changed the way I can access my machines from outside my home network.

So I tried to come up with new solutions to work from anywhere in these past weeks. Screens comes with an optional Screens Connect option that lets you set up a hostname that works through Edovia's servers (and it's not blocked by my router) and LogMeIn comes with its own Mac application that handles connections independently. From what I've seen so far, apps that provide their own connections through a "server" Mac app and don't require me to enter a global DynDns hostname are working just fine. But this also means that apps based on OS X sharing features and lacking proprietary remote access capabilities won't work unless I change my ISP again. Presence, a new version of the popular FarFinder tool by FlyingMac, allows me to access my Mac -- all its files, folders, and drives -- through a web service that puts the computer in the cloud and makes it accessible from any web browser, iPhone, or iPad. Read more