The resource to people switching to the Mac (and to MacLife altogether): Mac OS X integration, Mac-Windows interoperability, iPod and most Macintosh-related topics!

Social Media

RSS Feeds

Posted on December 5, 2013 at 11:28 am

Mac OS X Mavericks: new problems with old printers? (and some solutions too)

Mavericks Printer Filter ErrorI recently updated a couple of client*s iMacs with Mac OS X Mavericks (better late than never) and found myself stuck with an unknown error from the printer spooler: “Filter failed”.

I checked all printer software, namely a Kyocera PDL and a Samsung laser printers, and still got the same problem.
A short check with Error Console didn’t helped that much.
I deleted the printers and re/installed them, I checked for more recent drivers on the web but… no way, no solution.

Time to Google out some help.
It turns out that Mac OS X Mavericks doesn’t support (or likes) many older printers and many users are complaining about it so here’s my pick along with a couple of solutions and a few lessons learned.

Mavericks Mac Printer ProblemFirst attempt, just as I did, try to delete, remove and reinstall the printer, eventually rebooting in between.
Then, from the Printer & Scanners panel, right-click to Reset printing system status and try again if the dreaded filter error gets away.

If not, here’s B-Plan.
Mac OS X printing service, CUPS, may be part of the problem so you may turn to GutenDriver, which overrides CUPS’s settings and brings high quality printer drivers for Canon, Epson, Lexmark, and PCL printers.

Download them from GutenDriver web site, as of writing latest version is 5.2.9, and reinstall printer drivers as usual: GutenDriver should have taken place.
Now you’re printing (happily as I did) back with your old printer but through GutenDriver filter.

GutenDriver works from Mac OS X 10.2 up to 10.8 and, as I tested, with 10.9 AKA Mavericks.


Posted on December 4, 2013 at 8:26 pm

ScreenShade: an old (free) utility that will make brighter (or dimmer) your Mac

ScreenShade Utility MavericksMost of the time, I love a dim-lit working environment (I guess it’s not only me…).

My iMac 24″ display sports a good estate when it comes to screen size but it’s damn too bright, especially when you’re using it for hours and hours writing text and/or coding.

ScreenShade Mac OS XThe latest Mavericks update urged my to find a substitute for the now-defunct utility Shades (that is: no more supported by 10.9.x).
Meet ScreenShade which, incidentally, looks like it’s some sort of abandonware: its home website is no longer available…

You can still find it on Softonic library, download it and get up and (dim) running very fast!

ScreenShade resides in the upper-right bar, can be configured for Startup-Launch and, quite interesting, can be set up for external displays too.

Simple, free, useful: recommended!


Posted on November 29, 2013 at 7:58 pm

PDFpen: a Mac PDF editing tool (and PDF to DOC converter!)

PDFpen Mac PDF editorPDF files are so great (and widely used) and Mac supports them natively (that is: you can print to PDF without any additional software).

Preview app allows for some page deletion, insertion, appending but… what about some editing?

Ok, you can get the full-featured Acrobat Professional package or just turn to PDFPen.

Not only you’re able to correct and edit PDF files (easily) but you’re allowed to do something quite unusual: bring them back to MS Word!
That’s right: PDF to DOC and DOCX conversion, quite handy provided you don’t have the original file available.

It downloaded the trial version, tested it under on both Mountain Lion (10.8) and Mavericks (10.9) and moved to the full version (it’s $59.95): recommended and available both on Smilesoftware web site and iTunes Store.


Posted on October 23, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Mac OS X Mavericks: lots of features and… free!

mac os x mavericksYou may or you may have not followed yesterday’s Apple Keynote.

Among several new products (namely iPad Air AKA iPad 5) and a bunch of new MacBook Pros, Apple released (not just announced) Mac OS X 10.9, dubbed Mavericks.

It’s a major release: it introduces dozens of new features most users (me too) are exploring and getting used to.

First of all, it’s free!

Yes, it’s completely free provided your Mac is entitled to run it (check here for older Mac compatibility http://www.apple.com/osx/how-to-upgrade/) and you’ve got some spare time (a few hours depending on your Internet connection and Mac) and some 10 GB of spare disk space.

First thoughts are about energy management: I’m installing Mavericks on both an iMac and a MacBook Pro (mid-2010 i5-based).

Battery status now shows which processes/programs are using more energy and from Activity Monitor, now redesigned, you can check how much energy is draining each process.
This will for sure affect MacBook owners: battery management has been surely enhanced.

Overall performance seems adequate but only everyday usage under ‘worst’ conditions will tell…

Second monitor fans will be happy to learn that now each display has it’s own dock and menu bar (a feature previously available only by means of some utility).

More details upcoming…


Posted on September 2, 2011 at 6:02 am

SecondBar: get your external monitor a second menubar! – for free

secondbar mac appWritten by MacSwitcher Andreas Hegenberg, SecondBar, still in early development, is the first successful attempt I’ve seen at replicating the menu bar across displays. Just launch this program and your menu bar magically appears on your second screen.
You can thus access menu commands from either menu bar.

Via SecondBar’s preferences, you can set the transparency of the second menu bar, and you can make the second menu bar movable (although I’m not sure why you’d want to move it lower on the screen). SecondBar also provides some useful keyboard and mouse-button shortcuts for quickly moving windows between displays and resizing windows to the left or right half of a display.

Just a few cons: SecondBar puts a second menubar up on a second monitor. Unfortunately, the name reflects reality–it only provides 1 more menubar, and not one per additional screen; moreover Secondbar it’s still an unfinished project so may hang up with some apps: be warned.

However, it works well for what it does. I tried some other menu utilities, but they all miss the boat for my needs.

Screen real estate is never enough, so is the menubar!

Download SecondBar by clicking here and check Andreas other apps as well!


Posted on August 25, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Heavy PNG (or JPG/GIF, by the way) files? Get a free and simple Mac tool: ImageOptim!

I use/love/hate/hack WordPress for some websites I run/admin/work for.

Media uploading though – image, namely, has become an issue since every time you upload an image (PNG to be accurate) huge files are being stored along with their smaller thumbnails.

The catch is that WP ( > 3.x) generates thumbnails from uploaded PNGs that are far from optimized and so take a lot of (precious) storage space – and result in being slower when downloaded with mobile devices.
I know that we live in the gigabytes-hosting-giveaway era, but it’s still an issue to me!

At first, I tried with Photoshop, getting PNGs as small as I could but then moved on to a simpler solution.

free image resize optimization mac toolMeet ImageOptim!

ImageOptim is a free and really simple to use image optimizer that works well to quickly reduce the file size of PNG, JPEG, and GIF image files.
The interface couldn’t get any easier: you just drag and drop images into the app and they’ll be optimized, whether it’s one picture or some hundreds (just in my case) it works the same.

The app works by finding the most suitable compression parameters for the image file type, and then it further reduces file size by removing unnecessary color profiles, EXIF data, and comments from the image itself.

Check it out! Optimization works well and it’s a lot faster than opening something like Photoshop.

You can even optimize ImageOptim itself by adjusting the amount of CPU gear it can use (so that CPU usage is correctly shared along with all other applications running): this is great on my i5 MBP – all 4 cores are devoted to get the job done really quickly.

Try now and find out how much you can optimize/reduce/save your image file – i found PNGs are on average 25% smaller when ImageOptim-treated!

ImageOptim requires Tiger and up, and is available in English, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Polish.

Download ImageOptim here!


Posted on May 21, 2010 at 10:15 am

Never miss your MacBook mirror or card holder again – if you’re a true Mac fan!

mocbookAptly named MocBook, this is the ultimate gadget for die-hard MacBook fans worldwide!
More than a business card holder, more than a portable mirror: this tiny object replicates (as big as an iPhone, so you got the picture) the iconic MacBook notebooks – and the same aluminum stylish case!

Hard to find item, hard to order – and hard to understand if you can’t read Japanese.

Should be available for some US $ 30 each, but check all different models – Powerbook G4 and MacBook Air too!

Check more on the MocBook creator’s web site


Posted on February 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm

OmmWriter: a no-frills, no-distraction free text editor. Zen-styled too!

I love text editors, it’s a long-time habit: most of the time I code in PHP and write articles on Smultron and WriteRoom much better than I do with Word (or OpenOffice, so to speak).

So when I came across OmmWriter I was curious: “Another one to add to my text-ed collection?”.

Ommwriter from Herraiz Soto on Vimeo.

OmmWriter (beta) from Herraiz Soto & Co draws a lot from Zen concept: simple yet effective.
You just download it and … there you are: a relaxing interface with nothing but your text.
ommwriter macThe right-side menus & buttons and the windows-enlarging points appear only if you move the mouse.

OmmWriter is not just a text editor since it allows you to insert font style and size, but it saves to plain txt files; native and default file format .omm is still there, if rich text format is needed.

According to a Zen garden you can choose the background image and music, but besides this you can really type with no distraction whatsoever: just concentration on your ideas.

Nice & clean design, nice features – I really appreciate their web site too.


Posted on February 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm

As Facebook chat becomes accessible by Jabber, you can use it with iChat, Adium or any other chat client – for free!

Ok, we’re all wasting our time on Facebook – and someone trying to build some biz on it too (by the way, check & become a fan of MacSwitching’s Facebook Page)!
One thing I really hate about it, is that FB chats just go nowhere, there’s simply no history, no way to call back just that important URL that you need the most right now.
Not anymore!

Facebook itself announced Jabber chat grand opening, so now you can use your iChat (or Adium, so to speak) to chat – even if you’re not using Facebook in a browser!

Let’s see how this is done.

facebook ichat

  • Open the iChat menu “Preferences”,
  • click on Account and then on the “+” button below,
  • select “Jabber” from the chat list,
  • insert the account name as follows: [your account name on facebook]@chat.facebook.com ,
  • your Facebook password,
  • click on “Server options” and type: Server: chat.facebook.com , Port: 5222, uncheck Use SSL.

    That’s all! Now all your friends will appear just as usual iChat contacts!

    Note #1: I love iChat but I’m still in love with Adium, since it works with a wider spectrum of IM services, and has lots of plug-ins.

    Note #2: By the way, this means to me that I can use Facebook chat even on my trusted ol’ Nokia E61, thanks to Talkonaut! Just waiting for the right iPhone app as well!

  • Share

    Posted on January 28, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    iPad test drive video!


    Posted on January 27, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Apple iPad: first impressions – great and starting from $ 499!

    apple ipadApple kicks off 2010 tablet frenzy with the iPad: one of the most awaited and rumors-prone device in history!

    A 9.7″ inches screen that’s essentially a bigger brother to iPhone more than a little one to a MacBook, but that’s what it was intended for.

    Big news: meet A4 processor, Apple’s own processor, running at 1 GHz.
    Available with 16 -32 and -64 GB of memory, with 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR.

    Sports accelerometer, compass, mic and speaker and the usual iPod dock connector!

    More facts: 10 hr batter, over a month of standby.

    Runs the same Apps as the iPhone, so the iPad starts with a massive software library as well as developers support.

    Introducing iBooks: the Apple alternative to Amazon Kindle service, books to be chosen and bought just like songs or apps on iTunes – er – iBooks Store, that is!
    It uses the ePub book format, already available and popular, by the way.

    It’s going to be available in two version, with or without 3G connectivity, along with AT&T data plan.

    WiFi versions 16 GB: $ 499 – 32 GB: $599 – 64 GB: $ 699
    3G versions 16 GB: $ 629 – 32 GB: $729 – 64 GB: $ 829

    WiFi version available in 60 days, 3G in 90 days.

    [updating in progress]


    Posted on January 27, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    The wait is over: it’s Apple iPad time!

    Right now, Steve Jobs is uncovering the new iPad (the much awaited Apple tablet!)
    Stay tuned!