macOS


ON: BY: Chris Hannah

I’ve been wanting (not exactly looking for) a better way to quickly deal with screenshots on macOS for a while, and while looking over Product Hunt today, there was an app called ShotBox climbing the ranks.

It was free, and it looked interesting, so I gave it a shot. I was very pleased with what I found, and it’s such a simple utility, but it’s exactly what I need.

Screen-Shot-2017-09-11-at-22.36.15

It’s similar to the new screenshot feature in iOS, in that when it detects a new screenshot, it opens up a small window in the bottom-left corner, so you can quickly edit and share.

Screen-Shot-2017-09-11-at-22.40.13

There are actually only two things you can do in that window, and they are preview and edit. And of course when you close the window, you get the option to quickly delete the screenshot, or to save it.

I initially didn’t think it would work properly on my Mac, as I have Hazel move my screenshots into a separate folder, which I then have rules on archiving. So therefore they don’t just sit on my desktop. However, ShotBox lets you select a folder to watch, so this wasn’t an issue!

You can find out more information on ShotBox, and also download it for free using these links:

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

Michael Rockwell, over at Initial Charge write a piece about a really interesting way to give web apps a more native feel on iOS.

Firstly, he mentions Fluid, which is an application for macOS which lets you “convert” web apps into containers that run as normal apps:

On macOS, there’s an application available called Fluid, which lets you create site-specific web browsers. Many of us use web apps everyday and Fluid allows you to run them side-by-side with your native applications without being sequestered inside of a web browser. Fluid is a handy little tool that every Mac user should have in their arsenal.

I hadn’t heard of Fluid before, so I’m going to try this myself, but it’s not as good as his next suggestion for iOS:

To build these site-specific browsers, it just takes two simple actions — a URL action with the web app’s address and the Show Web Page action. When run, Workflow will open up the URL in a Safari View Controller, which gives you access to your action extensions alongside forward, back, and refresh buttons. From there you can give the workflow a name, set an icon color, and a glyph to fit the website or web application’s functionality.

So, he uses Workflow! It’s something I haven’t thought at all about before, but it makes sense. You can use the standard Safari View Controller inside Workflow, or you make partner it with apps like Sidefari, or maybe even add another layer to it with Opener.

I’ve actually just set one up myself to handle my the interface for this blog, which runs on Ghost.

Whether you use macOS or iOS, there’s a solution for you in this post!

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

David Sparks on the need to use tags to manage files:

Lately I’ve been thinking about making another run at file tagging. It’s kind of funny how these tech issues percolate up. It all started with some receipts that I wanted to save to both client folders and tax folders. I found myself creating duplicates to have them in two places at once, which rubs me, someone who used to save computer data onto a cassette tape, as fundamentally wrong.

And:

So I’m looking at a hybrid tagging system that will still work with folders at some level but also rely on tags to help sort, store, and find files. There still are a lot of downsides to tagging. It takes extra time and it has very shaky support on iOS. I’m making a list of problems as I go.

I have moments like this where I think using file tagging would make my life so much easier, especially when I first found the feature to be quite interesting when first announced. However, when I decided to try out the feature, it never seems to stick with me. It was always a bigger task to set up, then to just deal with the problems one by one.

Nevertheless, I am very interested to see what results David has, and it may spark myself again to try them out.

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

A few days ago Setapp was released to the public, but I was fortunate enough to be in the beta, so I've had a lot of experience with it. If you don't know about Setapp already, it's a subscription-based service that gives users access to a huge bunch of great macOS apps.

If I calculate correctly, this is my second month using Setapp, and it's been great. I've had access to so many great applications, that before I wouldn't of even thought about, or even heard of.

But after all of this time, there's only a few applications that I have actually launched:

  • CleanMyMac
  • CodeRunner
  • iStat Menus
  • MoneyWiz
  • Ulysses

CleanMyMac is something I've ran a few times, just so I could get an idea on the state of my new MacBook.

CodeRunner is actually quite a nifty application, it's basically a text editor for programmers, that can actually compile and execute code itself. I played around with this a few times when doing Java at university, but it wasn't something I stuck with.

iStat Menus is probably the only consistent app I use from Setapp, and that's really just providing me with a few useful stats, that I could realistically live without. Because my Mac isn't at any stage where I need to worry about resources.

I think I've opened MoneyWiz about three times, once to set it up, and then twice to check out my transactions. It's a nice idea, but not something I need.

Ulysses, maybe my favourite application out of the lot. But I've been doing a bit less writing recently, so I haven't used it as much. I do have iA Writer, and then there's Bear, so it's not a necessity, although Ulysses is a well made app.

From a usability point of view, Setapp has worked perfectly. And it does provide a great deal of applications for a little amount of money a month.

However, my problem is that I simply don't need these applications. And although a few of them are nice to have, it doesn't warrant any kind of subscription fee.

Check out Setapp for yourself and see if it's right for you.

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

I've seen a few people have issues regarding opening applications that they have downloaded from the internet, that they get the error below, about it being from an unidentified developer.

Unidentified Developer Warning

This is due to the latest security settings in macOS, and these are accessible in the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences.

Security & Privacy Pane

There are two options to choose from:

  • App Store
  • App Store and identified developers

Of course the top option means you can only open applications distributed from the Mac App Store. But the other one means it allows all apps from the Mac App Store, and also any developers that have signed their application with Apple's "Developer ID" certificate. This allows developers to distribute their apps outside of the store, but also maintain the same security features, and trust level as the former option.

You can read more about Developer ID on the Apple Developer website.

There is also a temporary solution, which lets you override the security settings on a case by case basis. Just press "Open Anyway" at the bottom of the preferences pane, and it will then open like normal!

Edit (14th January 2017):

My friend Cesare let me know that you can also unlock a third option, this let's you choose "Anywhere" in the preferences, and will let you download and open any application without restriction.

To unlock it, just open Terminal (Applications/Utilities/Terminal) and enter the following line exactly:

sudo spctl --master-disable

If you want to return it back to normal, just enter the following:

sudo spctl --master-enable
ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

I've just found IINA on Product Hunt, which in my opinion shows great potential to be the video player for macOS.

Of course as I'm currently writing this, it is only v0.0.1 build 1, so there's going to be some bugs, and maybe a few missing features. But this is one hell of a first build.

Here are the features from the GitHub page:

  • Based on mpv, a powerful media player
  • Designed for modern macOS (10.10+)
  • User-friendly interface
  • All the features you need for videos, audios and subtitles
  • Supported basic playlist and chapters
  • MPV config files and script system are available for advanced users
  • Written in Swift, followed up on new technologies like Touch Bar
  • Still in active development

The best bit in my opinion, is the video, audio, and subtitle controls you get. It's such a simple aesthetic, but it certainly packs in some power!

Here are some screenshots:

IINO #1

IINO #2

IINO #3

You can check out IINO on the website, or on GitHub!

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

So I made another video!

It shows a few of the many Touch Bar apps that have been released, but these ones are clearly the best 😉.

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

I just set up a nice little automation on my Mac that I just had to share with everyone, it's quite small, but it's a big help to me when writing my project report for university.

I'm writing it in iA Writer at the minute, and I'm certainly making full use of the content blocks for things like images, and referencing separate bits of text. But I wanted a way to take a screenshot, and then have it available to me to embed into the document. It meant I had to google a few things about AppleScript, but that seemed pretty simple.

To keep my project folder nice and tidy, I created a new folder inside it called "Resources". At the minute it's just for images, but who knows!

Then I created a new rule in Hazel, to detect any file in my Inbox folder[1] that has the tag "KeepTrack"[2], which then moves it into the appropriate Resources folder that I just created. It then runs a small bit of AppleScript to copy the correct text to my clipboard, that I can then paste into iA Writer.

set the clipboard to "/Resources/" & item 1 of inputAttributes

The inputAttributes is the variable Hazel provides, and I have only set one item to pass through, the full name of the file that was matched, so "Image.png" could be one.

Then I'll get something like /Resources/Image.png in my clipboard, that iA Writer will accept as a content block and show the image!

Hazel Rule

Hazel Rule

So it's not a grand automation workflow, but it's something that I worked out due to the fantastic capabilities of Hazel!

I'm starting to really love the app, and it's allowing me to automate my work on my Mac even more.

If you want to get Hazel yourself, you can find it on the Noodlesoft Store.


  1. This is a folder on my desktop, that I use to quickly throw files into. I pretty much have all of my rules in this folder. ↩︎

  2. The name of my project. ↩︎

ON: BY: Christopher Hannah

The developers of RapidWeaver, Realmac, have just launched Squash 2 for Mac! As they put it, it is "The Easiest Way to Compress and Optimise Images for the Web.", I completely agree with that statement.

It has a really simplistic and clean UI, which I'm a big fan of. And also it has a few very smart features.

How To Use Squash

You can either drag and drop images (or even whole folders), onto the application window or icon to compress the files. Or you can of course navigate to File, Open.

Then you get to see the animation, which has a nice sound effect to it, while it's compressing the images. And after that it tells you how much space it saved, and then completes the specific output option you have set in your preferences. It's as simple as that.

What Can It Do?

Squash can compress JPG, PNG, and GIF images without losing any image quality. So there's really no drawbacks!

It can also convert PSD, RAW, and TIFF files into compressed JPG files as well. Which can be a huge lifesaver if you don't fancy opening up Photoshop or Lightroom for example to simply export an image.

Then with the output of images, you can choose to either have it replace the original images with the compressed versions, or you can save separate copies. This is managed in the Preferences window, and it also let's you choose a specific folder to save them into.

Another little extra is the ability to add a custom suffix to the image name, so for example you could be compressing a bunch of images, and you want to clearly know which ones have compressed versions. Just add something like "-compressed", and then "Photo_0123.png" would get compressed, and saved as "Photo_0123-compressed.png".

Finer Adjustments

If you want to refine the compression even more, you can select the JPEG quality you want to compress to. And there is also an option to have a slightly more compressed PNG format, but this will take a longer time to complete.

Why Should I Compress?

There are a bunch of reasons why you should compress your images, but here are a few:

  • It saves space on your drive, or even cloud storage where space may not be hugely available.
  • You can upload your files to places like Facebook and Twitter much faster.
  • If your app uses a lot of images, then having all of these compressed, it will be faster to download, which means less bandwidth is being used.
  • Your email attachments will be smaller, so they will load and send faster, and who wants huge emails anyway?
  • Websites will load much faster with smaller images!

Examples

I had to do a few benchmarks on some images, to see what sort of compression I could get. So here is what I got:

Download

Now that I'm sure you want to check out Squash 2 for yourself, you can find more information on the RapidWeaver website, and buy Squash 2 from the Mac App Store!

And if you get there before the 28th November, you'll benefit from their whopping 60% Off Launch deal.