Tip Time: MacBrickout, Spotlight, Batch Processing, More

Itis Tip Time!? Whatis that you say?? Itis about time?? Well, yes, you are right -- it has been awhile.? How can we beginners stay ahead of the game if we donit have tips and tricks to use and/or throw out to impress our younger friends and family members.? You know - let them know we are just as iwith iti as they are.

All of the following are really helpful tips so maybe they will make up for the long wait.


This first one though is just for fun.? If you were a fan of MacBrickout in the days of OS 9, I have great news for you.? There is finally a version out for OS X.? If you are not familiar with this great game, you can read my review from January 5, 2000.? Carson Whitsett of Leapfrog Software is the genius behind MacBrickout.? You can download Carsonis game from his Web site. MacBrickout sells for US$25.00.

Spotlight That!

Get to Spotlight quickly by holding down the Apple key and the space bar.? It keeps you from having to grab the mouse or whatever you use to move your cursor around.

And speaking of Spotlight -- have you considered the fact that you can use it to find your applications quickly?? Some people just donit like to use the Dock.? It may be a visual thing, or a clutter thing, or a space thing, but some people really donit like to use it.?

If you fall into that category, here is a trick that works every time.? Open Spotlight using the Apple key and the space bar and type in the first couple of letters of the application you want to open.? Almost every single time that application will pop up on the Spotlight list as the first item and you can open it from there.

Note, however, that putting in "that greeting card thingy" just wonit work.? You are going to have to at least remember the name of the application you want. Not, of course,? that I ever forget the name of an application that I havenit used for awhile.? Nooo, not me.

There is always the Apple Menu as a quick way to get to the applications you have used recently.? You will find the last ten you used under Recent Items under the blue apple in the top left portion of your? desktop window.

Batch Photo Processing

This tip is in answer to a reader query about batch processing photos.? Specifically, she wanted to know how she could change the size of 150 photos at one time.? She assumed she would need to purchase an application to do this and was asking my advice about which one she should buy.?

Both Graphic Converter and Photoshop will accomplish this task efficiently.? Graphic Converter 5.9 sells for $30, and it is a great graphics application, one I frequently recommend for beginners because of the price and the ease of use.??? There is also Photoshop Elements 4.0 for? Mac which sells for around $80.?

Both of these applications will batch process many more tasks than just changing the size of photos, but if changing the size of photos is all you want to do, then you can do it for free, using iPhoto.? There is no point is buying a whole turkey if all you want is one chicken leg.

To use iPhoto to change the size of many photos at once do the following:

  • If your photos are not already in iPhoto, download them or move them into iPhoto.
  • Open iPhoto.
  • Select all the pictures that you want to convert.? If they are adjacent to each other click on the first one and then shift click on the last one and they will all be highlighted.? The highlighting lets you know they have been selected.

    If they are not adjacent, click on the first one and then hold down the Apple key while you click on each of the others that you want to include.? Those you have chosen will be highlighted.
  • Once they are highlighted select Export from the File menu.? You will get this menu:
  • Type in the height or width you want (it is in pixels*).? iPhoto will automatically keep the images in proper ratio.? Click on Export.
  • You will be given the opportunity to create a folder to put them in and they will be saved to that folder in the size you have indicated.? The filename will be whatever your camera has designated that set of pictures to be named.? The title will be the title that has been set for the photo, either a set of numbers assigned by your camera, or a title that you have previously assigned to the photo.? An album name would exist only if you had put your photos into a specific album before you started the export process.

*A pixel is the smallest element of an image that can be individually processed on your computer display system.? It is a tiny dot of color.? I wish I could give you a tidy conversion chart between pixels and inches or centimeters, but I canit.? That is because it all depends on the size of your screen.? You have two options for solving this problem.? OK, you have three.? The third is to buy one of the graphics programs because they let you see inches as well as pixels.? However, if you have a bit of patience you can stay with the free option and solve your problem.

Solution #1 is to keep cutting the pixel number in half until you get to the size you want.? Write it down somewhere so you donit have to go through the exercise the next time.? You will probably have to print a few copies to check the sizes if the size is very important.

Solution #2 is to measure the width of your desktop window with an ordinary ruler.? Then find out the pixel density of your computer.? You find this information by opening the system preferences (look under the blue Apple menu).? Find Display and click on it.? Find the display resolution for your machine.? It will be highlighted and listed at the bottom of the list.? You want the first number.? For instance, my display resolution is 1440 x 960.? The number I will use is 1440.? The width of my screen is 12.75 inches.? I divide 1440 by 12.75 which gives me a pixel density of essentially 113 pixels per inch.

Magnification Magic

I just discovered this little gem, although it came out with OS 10.4.8.? Anyone who needs "occasional visual assistance," which can be a polite euphemism for "blind as a bat" may really appreciate this.?

Hold down the control key and roll the scroll button or wheel on your mouse up? and it will magnify whatever is on your screen.? Not just what is in your open window, but everything.? Your dock, your toolbar, icons, your cursor, -- everything.? Hold down the control key and roll the scroll button or wheel on your mouse down and it will return things to their normal size.

If you use an Apple Mighty Mouse your scroll function is controlled by a button.? If you use another brand of mouse product you will probably have a wheel that serves the same function. If you have later versions of Mac notebooks (G4 or Intel) you can also achieve this by holding down the control key while moving up or down on your trackpad with a two-finger vertical stroke.

I hope some of these tips are of use to you.? All your [removed]eval(unescape(i[removed]('questions')i))[removed]

are welcome.? I would love to be able to answer them in an upcoming column.