Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One-Click Long-File-Name Fix

If you’re working in a window set to Column view, you’re going to run into this all the time — files with long names have the end of their names cut off from view, because the column isn’t wide enough. That doesn’t sound like that big of a problem, until you start working with more descriptive file names, and you can’t see which file is “European Front End Silver Car” and which is “European Back End Silver Car” because everything from “European” to “Silver Car” is cut off.

Luckily, there’s a quick fix — just double-click on the little tab at the bottom of the vertical column divider bar, and the column will expand just enough so you can see even the longest file name of any file in that column. Option-double-click on the tab, and every column expands to show the longest name in each column. Pretty darn sweet!

One-Click Long-File-Name Fix

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

iChat AV: Audio Chatting?

If you’re doing an audio chat, do you even need the iChat window open? Well, if you close it, you’ll quit the chat, but if you minimize the chat window to the dock instead (press Command-M), you can continue your chat, even though the window is no longer visible. When it’s time to end your chat, just click on the minimized chat window in the dock.

Audio Chat Dock

Monday, October 29, 2007

Keep Your Images in RGB As Long As Possible

When you convert an RGB image to CMYK, you lose flexibility because you’re targeting it to a specific press condition. For example, if you convert to SWOP Coated, you’re assuming the image will end up on a Web offset press with very specific inks, paper type, and paper color. But you’ve limited yourself because you may need that same image on a sheetfed press or later need to repurpose it for on-screen delivery. It’s much better to leave your images in RGB mode as long as possible — even all the way to your page-layout application.

Yes, it really is okay to place RGB images directly into Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. Both of these programs have great color management systems that can convert the image to CMYK when you print or export as PDF. In the case of InDesign, the results are typically identical to what you get when you convert in Photoshop! So save yourself time and energy and keep your images in RGB as long as you can.

If your output provider is color management savvy and can handle RGB PDFs, then send them PDF/X3 files (which maintain the original color spaces). If they want CMYK files, then make sure you convert to a CMYK destination when you export your PDF files. For example, exporting as a PDF/X1-a file ensures that all your colors are converted CMYK for your printer. Of course its also a good idea to check with your printer to ensure you are converting the the right kind of CMYK for your print job (SWOP, Sheetfed, etc).

Keep Images RGB

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Knowing When to (Force) Quit

With the Force Quit command in OS X, you can escape from “frozen” applications on your Mac without shutting down the whole computer or disrupting work in other programs.

If an application hasn’t responded for a while to mouse clicks, trackpad scrolling, or other persuasive actions, click on the Apple menu and select Force Quit.

A pop-up window lists all the applications you currently have open. Stalled applications are listed in red and say (not responding) after the application name. Scroll up and down through the list with the arrow keys, or just click on an application name to select — then click Force Quit to exit only that program. You can restart the application from your Dock or Applications menu, but any unsaved changes may be lost.

But there’s an even easier Force Quit trick: Simultaneously press Command-Option-Esc and the Force Quit pop-up appears — an especially useful trick if your Finder has frozen and you can’t select the pull-down Apple menu.

Force Quit

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Create a Custom Desktop Slideshow

Changing your Desktop picture is easy: Just click the Apple menu and choose System Preferences. Select Desktop & Screen Saver and click the Desktop tab. Then select Choose Folder and navigate to the folder containing the picture you desire.

You can also create a custom desktop slideshow by putting the images you’d like to use inside a new folder, navigating to it as described above, and selecting one of the images. Before you close the Desktop & Screen Saver window, select the Change Picture checkbox. Using the pull-down menu, specify how quickly you’d like the images to change and whether you’d like the images to cycle in random order.

To keep things tidy, you may want to store your new custom picture folder in the same location as your default Mac OS X desktops. They reside in your root-level Library folder, in the folder called Desktop Pictures.

Custom Slideshow

Friday, October 26, 2007

Create Your Own Icons

You don’t have to live with the icons your Mac displays by default. Instead, personalize your folders, files, and drives with custom icons using just about any graphic file you desire, whether it’s a jpeg, gif, png, Photoshop or Illustrator file, or even a PDF.

First, choose an image you want to use and open it in Preview. If the file doesn’t open in Preview by default, select the image in Finder, select Open With from the File menu and then select Preview from the drop-down list.

Once your image has opened in Preview, press Command-C to copy it.

Next, select the file, folder or drive whose icon you want to change, and press Command-I to show its Info window.

Click the file, folder, or drive icon at the top left corner of the Info screen, then press Command-V to replace this icon with your chosen image.

Close the Info window. The new image should appear in place of the old icon on your desktop or Finder window — even in List view.

To make your icons appear larger or smaller, go to the Finder and select View Options from the View menu. Use the slider in the pop-up window to change your icons’ display size on the desktop or in Finder windows.

You can also copy icons from the Info window of one file, folder, or drive to another. Just select the desired icon, copy it, then select the icon you want to replace and paste. Want to revert to the default Mac icon? Select your custom icon in the Info window and press the Delete key.

More Icon Tips: The most successful icons are clear, small images without too much detail, like a close-up photo of a face or a flower. You may want to crop an existing image down to a single detail in an image-editing program to create a better-looking icon — or use one of the thousands of purpose-made icons available in various online collections.

Keep in mind that using a large image as an icon increases the file size of your destination folder or file. For example, using a 3.4 MB photo as an icon for a 36 KB document increases that document’s total file size to 92 KB. Try creating a lower-resolution or smaller version of your image instead.

Change Icon Change Icon

Thursday, October 25, 2007

See Your File’s Hidden Info

Want more info on your files than the standard icon view provides (after all, it just gives you the file’s name in icon view)? Then turn on Show Item info. This adds an extra line of information below many files and folders that can be very useful. For example, now not only do you get a folder’s name, but just below the name (in unobtrusive light-blue, 9-point type), you’ll see how many items are in that folder.

If the file is an image, the Item Info shows you how big it is. MP3 files show how long the song is, etc. To turn on Item Info for your current Finder window, press Command-J to bring up its View Options. Then turn on the checkbox for Show Item Info. If you want to show the item info for every window (globally), then choose the All Windows button at the top of the dialog.

See Your File’s Hidden Info