Category Archives: software

Do you Use the Chrome Browser on Your Mac?

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Do you use the Chrome Browser? I made Safari my default browser on OS X a couple of years ago because of the integration it has with other Apps. I came across the article “10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Chrome on a MacBook” yesterday and it brings out some interesting points about using Chrome on a Mac.

I still use Chrome, but just when I am wanting to access Google+ or Google Docs. I have not experienced the problems mentioned in this article, but then I do not use Chrome often, let it run on my Mac Mini for extended periods of time, nor do I have many extensions installed.

The fact that enough people have apparently experienced problems to warrant this article tells me that Mac users should at least be aware of potential issues with using Chrome.


See my other Mac OS X articles


Nine Companies Come Together for Winterfest 2015

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Nine companies (DEVONtechnologies, Bare Bones Software, Eastgate Systems, Literature & Latte, Nisus Software, Scribblecode, Smile Software, Sonny Software, and Take Control Books) have come together with WinterFest 2015 to offer significant discounts on their software and eBooks. These producers are targeted at ‘writers, designers and thinkers’. The software that is available in this promotion:

  • Aeon Timeline – timeline tool for creative thinking
  • BBEdit – text editor
  • Bookends – reference manager
  • DEVONthink Pro – for the paperless office
  • Nisus Writer Pro – word processor
  •  Scrivener – writing studio
  • Take Control Back – books about Mac and iOS
  • TextExpander – type more with less effort
  • Tinderbox – visualize and organize notes, plans and ideas
  • Storyspace – develop hypertext connected interactive stories
  • Snapple – capture and connect ideas

More information can be found at artisanalsoftwarefestival.com as well as on the web sites of the participating companies. There is not a bundle, but each package is offered at a separate discount (20%-25%). These software packages are not inexpensive, so the discounts being offered are significant.

If you are in the market for any of these great software packages, now is the time to buy!


See my other iOS and Mac OS X articles


System Benchmarking with Geekbench

System Benchmarking with Geekbench

Have you ever wanted to see how well your system performed? Or compare two systems?

One way to do that is an way is with the application Geekbench 3 from Primate Labs. This program is cross platform with version for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS. A free version is available, with expanded versions ($9.99, $14.99 and $99.99) for purchase.

The software can be downloaded from the web site and run on your system. When I ran Geekbench 3 on my 2011 Mac Mini, it took just over 2 minutes to complete the test. Tests are performed with a single and with multiple cores if they are available. Tests simulate real-world use including encryption, compression/decompression, floating point and memory performance. There is a detailed description of each test Geekbench 3 performs on the web site.

Primate Labs provides a reference chart for both Macs and PCs for comparison.

This App is not something I will use every day, but is nice to have in my digital tool box.


See my other Mac OS X and iOS articles


Mac OS X App – Patina

Mac OS X App - Patina

Mac Paint was a great little program back in the day, though it was limited to black and while. Patina by Mountain View, California company Atek Inc. is very similar. This is a very simple drawing program that is currently available through the Mac App store for free (through December 9, 2015). Patina has very simple controls that will be easy for novices to master. In addition to simple drawing capability, Patina includes:

  • allowing objects to be rotated at any angle
  • transparent image saving
  • a slider to control App functions and tool width
  • an independently moveable crop frame
  • alpha blending of colors
  • anti-aliasing control

A demo as well as a tutorial videos are available. I found that I could open an image (File ==> Open) and then draw onto that image. I can see that this will come in handy when taking screen shots and then highlighting something in the image.

Pros

  • Free (for now)
  • Easy to use
  • Images can be opened for markup

Cons

  • Only simple drawing actions allowed
  • While you can zoom in, it does not do well drawing pixel by pixel

See my other Mac OS X articles


Mac OS X App – Commander One

OS X App - Commander One

Commander One, Eltima Software‘s dual-pane file manager for the Mac, has just been upgraded to version 1.2. Commander One proves to be a viable alternative to the native Finder we are all used to under OS X. This new version brings a few enhancements for El Capitan compatibility and improved stability. Improvements include:

  • Queuing file operations
  • Performing operations in the background
  • Displaying hidden files translucent to identify them easier
  • Displaying time remaining for modal operations

The dual pane interface offers three different view modes and unlimited tab browsing. A user can use one Commander One dual pane window to do what he would have needed two Finder windows to complete, such as copying a file between folders or drives.
OS X App - Commander One2

Commander One comes in two versions – Free and PRO ($29.95). Among the PRO features are the ability to access and manage data stored on Amazon S3, Google Drive and Dropbox. It also includes a FTP client.

Pro

  • Free version
  • Assigning hotkeys to various actions
  • Accessing and managing local and network drives
  • Advanced search with the help of regular expressions, Spotlight search support
  • Support for various archive formats (ZIP, RAR, TarGz, 7zip) – compressing, extracting and accessing archived files
  • Detecting computers that use NetBIOS protocol, displaying them as network computers
  • Previewing various files, a large number of formats is supported, including binary and hex
  • Mounting iOS and MTP devices for easier data access
  • Mounting Dropbox account as an additional drive on Mac
  • Choosing a program to be used to open files
  • FTP, SFTP and FTPS Client that allows changing file permissions
  • Sharing Dropbox Links
  • Themes to change the looks

Con

  • Access to S3, Google Drive and Dropbox require paid version

See my other Mac OS X Articles


OS X – Free Christmas Fonts 3.0

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128bit Technologies has updated it’s Free Christmas Fonts package to 3.0, adding 10 new fonts to the package. I wrote briefly of Free Christmas Fonts 2.0 last year, but wanted to mention it again since new fonts have been added.

Christmas_Fonts_Main_v3

The package now contains 50 OpenType fonts designed for use in Holiday designs. All of these fonts are royalty free. The 2.9 MB App through which you can install the fonts is available through the Mac App Store. Using the App, you can select which fonts you want to install.


See my other Mac OS X articles


Upgrading to OS X 10.11 El Capitan

The latest version of OS X, 10.11 El Capitan, has been out for a while now. Long enough to consider the new version of OS X stable [1, 2]. I decided that this time instead of doing a system upgrade I would take the extra time to do a clean install.

Upon Which Macs Can OS X 10.11 be installed?
In general, if you are running OS X 10.10 Yosemite or OS X 10.9 Mavericks now, you will be able to run OS X 10.11 El Capitan. The hardware requirement for El Capitan is a Mac with a 64-bit CPU (Intel Core 2 Duo or newer). Not sure what you have? Click Apple Menu >> About This Mac to see which system you have. The detailed list:

  • iMac (mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (13-inch aluminum late 2008 or 13-inch early 2009, or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch mid-2009, 15-inch mid/late 2007, 17-inch late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (early 2009)


So why do I want to upgrade?

Most important are new security features and patches that are introduced in OS X 10.11. There are also several new features that I want to take advantage of and core pieces of the operating system have been optimized to provide the user with better performance [1-3]. Most reports I have read, and users I have talked to who have updated to El Capitan, say this release is an improvement [3].

There have been a few who have been very critical of El Capitan [10, 16-18]. Solutions or work arounds for several of these problems have been suggested [22, 23]. Among the criticisms that have been reported:

  • slow operation
  • problems with Microsoft Office
  • printing problems
  • problems with iTunes
  • Wi-Fi issues [12]
  • problems with AirDrop

Clean Install vs. Upgrade?
I bought my Mac Mini back in 2011 and have performed an upgrade each time a new version of OS X has come out. I thought it was about time to do a clean install and get rid of the clutter that has accumulated over the past four years. Of course taking this route will require more time and effort than simply doing an upgrade.

The Process I Went Through to Upgrade
The process I followed when I upgraded to El Capitan is as follows:

  1. Prerequisites
    1. 8GB or larger USB Thumb Drive – NOTE any existing data on this drive will be lost
    2. About 5-6 hours of free time
  2. Preparation
    1. Download and install DiskMakerX- DiskMaker X is a little free utility that allows you to make a bootable USB drive from the OS X Installer downloaded from Apple [20, 21].
    2. Apply all updates – Open the App Store and click on the “Updates” tab. If you have any available updates install them.
    3. Download the El Capitan Installer – I went to the App Store and downloaded the OS X 10.11 El Capitan Installer (You can find it here).This file is over 6GB so it will take a while to download (about an hour when I did it). When the download completes, the Installer automatically loads and presents you with a screen prompting you to click on “Continue” to begin the Upgrade installation. A this point Quit the Installer. This will leave the Installer file in your Applications folder. Open Finder >> Go >> Applications and drag the Installer file to a new location, such as your desktop. Hold down the Option key as you drag the Install OS X El Capitan App from your Applications folder. If you don’t hold down Option, you’ll create an alias, not a copy.el-cap-install-start-screen-100617056-large
    4. Make Bootable USB Drive with Installer – I inserted an 8GB Thumb Drive into one of the systems USB ports. I then ran DiskMaker X and when prompted, I chose the OS X 10.11 El Capitan Installer I had copied to my Desktop as the input. When prompted for the output device, I selected the 8GB Thumb Drive I had just added to the system [13, 24]. The process of making this bootable USB drive took about an hour to complete.
    5. Backup  – I strongly recommend that before you make any changes to your system that you make a backup! In fact, you should be running a Time Machine backup at least weekly. I also suggest cloning your boot drive. This will make recovery much easier if you have to revert to the original system. I use my NewerTech dock to mount a 3TB SATA disk partitioned into a 60GB boot volume (‘System’) and a 2.94TB Time Machine volume. I used Carbon Copy Cloner to ‘clone’ (with SafetyNet off) my 60GB SSD boot drive to ‘System’ volume, then let Time Machine run to bring my backup current. I then rebooted my Mac to insure that the cloned disk was bootable (I chose the new clone as the boot device by going to Apple Menu >> Restart then held Option key down when I heard the tone during the reboot). I selected ‘System’ as the boot disk. Once the Mac had finished booting I made a few tests to verify that I had a good backup.
    6. I rebooted my system again, selecting the internal SSD as the boot drive. This returned my system to its original state.
    7. I wanted to install El Capitan on an external drive so that I could test before making the final commitment to to the new version of OS X. I replaced the 3TB disk in my NewerTech dock with an 80GB SATA drive. I reformatted the 80GB drive (Finder >> Go >> Utilities >> Disk Utilities then selected the 80GB drive and partitioned it as OS X Extended (Journaled), naming ithe volume ‘System2’.
  3. Upgrading my system
    1. I rebooted my system again, this time selecting the USB Installer as the boot device. This allowed me to perform a clean install of OS X 10.11 on the 80GB drive [14].
    2. I chose to Install OS X, then chose the target drive as the 80GB ‘System2’ volume. The clean install began and ran, with a few reboots, for about 75 minutes. At that point I went through the new system setup.
    3. The system was finally ready for use about 30 minutes later. Now this is a virgin OS X installation with no user data and no applications installed other than those that come with OS X. I still had work to do.
  4. Post Upgrade Completion
    1. Now that the system was at OS X 10.11, I wanted to add my user files and the applications I had installed previously. Fortunately, Apple has a built in utility that handles this – Migration Assistant. Using Migration Assistant I pulled the data I wanted from the old boot drive over to System2 [9, 11, 19].
    2. With this done I was operating from the System2 drive under OS X 10.11 with all of my user data and applications in place.
    3. I remained running from the System2 drive for a couple of days, but soon decided I was satisfied enough with the update to commit to OS X 10.11. I used Carbon Copy Cloner to ‘clone’ the System2 drive back to my internal SSD. I rebooted selecting the SSD as the boot device and I am now happily
      running OS X 10.11 from my SSD.

Was the Clean Install Worth the Time and Trouble?
While I would not do this every time a new version of OS X is released, I think the answer is ‘YES’. I compared the old boot drive to the new boot drive and the new drive had  about 2GB more free space (38.26 GB used on original boot drive vs. 36.26 on the System2 drive).

Was Upgrading to El Capitan Worth it?
For me the overwhelming answer is ‘YES’. I have been running under El Capitan now for four days and I have encountered no problems. While that is a relatively short period, I am feeing comfortable with OS X 10.11. I have also found some of the new features in El Capitan very useful.

Acknowledgements
I wanted to recognize Michael Sidoric from CapMac for his many suggestions to the clean install process.

References:
[1] OS X El Capitan is here: Quick instructions on how to update your Mac
[2] OS X El Capitan: Download and Installation Quick Guide
[3] OS X El Capitan is Here! Upgrade For A Smoother Mac Experience
[4] How to install OS X El Capitan
[5] OS X El Capitan Available to Download Now for All Mac Users
[6] How to upgrade to OS X El Capitan
[7] Is Your System Ready for El Capitan? OWC Helps You Make Sure
[8] How to See All the Software Disabled by OS X El Capitan
[9] Setting Up a New Mac: Should You Migrate or Do a Clean Installation?
[10] ‘El Crapitan’: The biggest problems plaguing early OS X upgraders
[11] Mac OS X – How to use Migration Assistant to transfer files from another Mac
[12] Fixing Wi-Fi Issues in OS X El Capitan
[13] How to Create a Bootable El Capitan USB Install Drive with DiskMaker X
[14] How to Clean Install OS X El Capitan on a Mac
[15] The Complete Guide to an OS X Clean Install of El Capitan
[16] OS X El Capitan: Worst OS Release Yet
[17] OS X El Capitan: Image Capture Now Hangs Sometimes
[18] OS X El Capitan Breaks Time Machine
[19] Move your content to a new Mac – Apple Support
[20] How to Create a Bootable El Capitan USB Install Drive with DiskMaker X
[21] How to make your own bootable OS X 10.11 El Capitan USB install drive
[22] The Most Common OS X El Capitan Problems and Solutions
[23] 10 Common OS X El Capitan Problems & How to Fix Them
[24] How to Install Mac OS X Using A Removable USB Drive


See my other OS X articles


OS X App Review – DiskMaker X

DiskMaker X is an OS X utility that allows you to create a bootable drive with an OS X installer. This utility works with the Installer App that you download from the Apple store.

Normally when you are wanting to upgrade your Mac, you go to the Apple store and click on the new version of OS X you wish to upgrade to. The Installer App is then downloaded to the Applications folder on your computer and you are then prompted to
continue with the upgrade. This all works very well, but the Installer App is removed from the Applications folder once it has been used.

What DiskMaker X does is to allow you to  perform a clean install rather than a migration upgrade.

So to create a bootable drive with the El Capitan Installer, you need to have a 8GB or larger USB Thumb drive, USB disk drive, Firewire disk drive or SD-card. NOTE: The content of the selected media will be destroyed during this process!

Connect the selected media to your computer, then download the El Capitan Installer from the Apple Store as normal, but when you are prompted to continue with the upgrade after the download has completed you quit. Then move the Installer App from the Applications folder to another location, such as your Desktop. Now run DiskMaker X. You pick the version of OS X you want to create an installer for, then the Installer App to use, and finally you pick the media that you are creating the bootable drive on. DiskMaker X will then build a bootable drive with the OS X Installer. This takes 30-40 minutes.

Both of the references below give a good description of using DiskMaker X and creating an El Capitan bootable Installation drive. I just completed installing DiskMaker X and then using the bootable 8GB Thumb drive I created to perform a successful clean install of El Capitan on my Mac Mini.

Pros

  • Makes it easy to perform a clean install of a new version of OS X
  • DiskMaker X is donationware
  • Works with Thumb drive, USB drive, Firewire drive or an
    SD-card as the target media

Cons

  • None that I have encountered thus far

References:


See my other OS X articles


OS X App Backup Pro Available Free TODAY ONLY

I came across this offer a short time ago to get the Mac OS X App Backup Pro for free today. This is normally a $19.95 App that can be used to backup your system or make a clone of the boot drive.

We should all be making regular backups of our systems, but as we near upgrading to OS X El Capitan a backup is more important than ever.

I will post a more detailed review of the App in the future.

Product Review of Live Desktop

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I came across the App ‘Live Desktop‘ a couple of weeks ago on sale for free in the App Store. Live Desktop is only one of the Apps produced by Halfbit. I decided to give the App a try since it was being promoted for free. The idea of the App is to create a dynamic wallpaper page that shows the time and weather. I installed the App and it worked . . . sort of. I use a multi-monitor configuration, and Live Desktop does allow for that. After installation I configured it for my location and chose a desktop to be displayed on each of my monitors. It worked . . . for a while.

Then suddenly I would have Live Desktop only on one of my monitors and it would be showing data for the wrong location. After I went through this a couple of times I gave up on the App. It is not one I would recommend. You might have more luck with it though if you are using only a single monitor.

Pros

  • Free
  • Configurable

Cons

  • Intermittently fails

See my other OS X articles