As Mac OS X becomes more widely used, more inexpensive software for the platform -- freeware, shareware, and even inexpensive commercial products -- is released on a daily basis. Some programs provide extensive functionality; others do simple things that save you time. Take Pixture Studio's free QuickImage CM (). We all receive pictures via e-mail or download them from the Web, and we end up with mysterious images sitting on our hard drives. But what's the easiest way to quickly view them? QuickImage CM provides a useful addition to the Finder's contextual menus -- control-click on an image or group of images and select View, and your images appear in a convenient window that floats over other applications.
You can resize the viewing window and magnify images, and if you've selected multiple images, you can use the arrow keys (or click anywhere on the current image) to cycle through them. The window's menus give you information (size, format, resolution, bit depth, and so forth) about the current image, and they let you rename it, print it, or move it directly to the Trash.
But QuickImage's editing capabilities really make this utility shine. Via the viewing window, you can flip, rotate, trim, and scale images, and you can even apply one or more of a variety of filters, such as sepia and contrast. When you're done, you can copy the image to the clipboard or convert it to one of 11 graphics formats. The QuickImage contextual menu lets you quickly add or remove thumbnails and convert images on-the-fly. QuickImage saves me quite a bit of time, and it's just plain more convenient (and powerful) than applications such as Preview.
In OS X 10.2.4, Apple added a unique feature to Print dialog boxes: PDF Workflow. When you create a folder called PDF Services inside your user folder's Library folder (or in the primary Library folder if you want all users to have the feature) and add applications, folders, aliases, or even scripts to it, the Save As PDF button in Print dialog boxes turns into a menu. You use this menu to export the current document to PDF and then process it (save to a folder, process with an application or script, and so on) in one step.
Although it's easy to create this folder yourself and add folder aliases or application aliases to it, the free PDF U (), from If Then Software, makes the process even easier. Place PDF U in your Applications folder, launch it, and watch it create the PDF Services folder for you. (It even asks whether you want the folder created for all users or just for your own user account.) OK, not a big deal, right? What makes PDF U so useful is that it also installs a number of scripts for saving PDF files to folders, e-mailing them with various e-mail clients, and opening them with various PDF-compatible applications. If you've already created the PDF Services folder, there's also an option to install only the included scripts. Even if you don't need all these scripts, they demonstrate some of the cool things you can do with PDF Workflow.
In OS 9 and earlier, utilities such as Now Software's Now Menus and Power On Software's Action Menus let you create your own keyboard shortcuts to menu items -- in the Finder, applications, and even the Apple Menu. If you were as big a fan of these utilities as I was, you'll appreciate Unsanity's $10 Menu Master () for OS X, which lets you add or change shortcuts, or remove them altogether. And doing so couldn't be easier -- just highlight the appropriate menu item in the desired application and then press a keyboard shortcut to assign it to that menu item (or press the delete key to remove an existing keyboard shortcut).
Menu Master's preference-pane interface lists all assigned menu shortcuts, and it lets you remove them directly (or restore the original shortcut). You can even exclude specific applications from Menu Master's control (useful if a particular application turns out to be incompatible -- Unsanity lists a few known incompatible programs for you).
Menu Master doesn't work for all menus -- the Application and Menu Extra menus, for example -- but it does work very well in most applications I've tried. If you haven't taken to using commands such as 1-shift-N to create a new folder in OS X, Menu Master may be for you.
One thing OS X's Address Book lacks is the ability to quickly give you a person's contact information -- you have to launch Address Book and then find the contact. The $6 BuddyPop ( Mac Software Bargains," July 2002) for contacts. Press a keyboard combination, and up pops a translucent window. Type in a few letters of a contact's name, and BuddyPop tells you how many contacts in your Address Book match the letters you've typed; if it's more than one, type a few more letters until you've narrowed it down. Then press return to get a floating, translucent window listing the contact's details. If you get more than one match, BuddyPop tells you so, and you can cycle through the results with the left- and right-arrow keys.), from Tynsoe.org, provides a convenient way to access information from within any application -- kind of like a LaunchBar ( ; "
When viewing the information for a contact, you can click on an e-mail address to open a new message to that person; click on a URL to open it in your browser; or select a phone number or address, control-click on it, and select Copy from the contextual menu to copy it to the clipboard. The developer's to-do list includes many more cool features, so BuddyPop will only get better in the future.
Get Your Share
If you turn various sharing services (such as Personal File Sharing, Windows File Sharing, or FTP Access) on and off frequently, you'll like SharingMenu (). It offers a convenient universal menu that lets you quickly enable or disable each service (as long as you have administrative access). What's more, it even lets you toggle Guest Access for Personal File Sharing, an option not normally accessible. It may save you only a few mouse clicks and a few seconds at a time, but those seconds can add up if you use sharing services often.
Quick Communication Queries
Apple's iChat has been very popular since its release, and the beta version of iChat AV has quickly added to that popularity (even among people using it only for text chatting). One of iChat's helpful features is the ability to save text chats for future reference (in the Documents: iChats folder in your user folder). Unfortunately, these logs aren't very useful for finding something typed during a chat. When I tried to review the logs of a recent Chat, I had to dig through a bunch of files called name #2, name #3, name #4, and so on.
Enter Spiny Software's free Logorrhea (). Despite its unpleasant-sounding name, it's actually a useful (and pleasant) product. It lets you access iChat log files in two ways. Via the Browse tab, you can browse chats by user name and the chat's date and time. Once you select a chat, you can read the exchange, with each user's messages color-coded. But the Search tab is the real find. Type in a word or phrase, and Logorrhea finds all chats that contain that phrase. Click on a chat, and it will even highlight the search term for you in the chat.
Go to www.macworld.com/macgems to see an index of all of our Mac Gems reviews.