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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 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!

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    Posted on November 8, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Get 5 Mac really useful apps ($154 value) for free: 4 days remaining!

    The bundle that came for free

    MacHeist did it again!
    Usually their app bundles typically deliver a dozen Mac applications at a significant discount.
    The latest bundle is even more affordable: it delivers you 6 Mac applications ($154 value) for Free!

  • ShoveBox ($25) – easily capture important bits of information
  • WriteRoom ($25) – a distraction free writing environment
  • Twitterific ($15) – popular Twitter client
  • TinyGrab ($14) – quickly share screenshots
  • Hordes of Orcs ($25) – tower defense game
  • Mariner Write* ($50) – fast, streamlined word processor
  • * Mariner Write requires 500,000 total bundle participants to be “unlocked”.

    My favorites?

    writeroom macI love WriteRoom (in fact I’m writing this very post with WR now) for its simplicity and ingenuity: it’s really “distraction-free” writing – with some pluses.
    You get a Matrix-like editing screen that’s really good if you need to concentrate only on writing – and you ought to!

    twitterrific mac freeSince I’m an avid Twitter user, Twitterrific is a valuable tool!
    Just like WriteRoom, you get a full-featured Twitter window that requires very little system resources, stays quietly in the background, allows you to perform all Twitter operations.
    (regular price for this jewel is $ 14.95 – for free is a steal!)

    I’m intrigued by ShoveBox and still have to fully exploit its features.
    I love the idea of being able to stack up all tiny data (URLs, products, single news, snippets of code) that I get into all day.
    Hope Shovebox does it in a neat way as it promises: more on this will follow!

    Click there to download this free bundle offer from MacHeist but hurry up, offer end November 12th 2009!

    (Each application offered represents full licenses.)

    Remember that free is the perfect number!


    Posted on October 22, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Apple’s sweet October: stock hits all-time high and users are hit by new Macs!

    I’ll leave the boring economic & stock details to those really interested into this [so click here to read more Apple stock news], but Apple’s shares got up to $ 205.04 – super-atmospheric price!

    For us, geeks, Mac-users and -lovers, what’s more important?

    New products, of course!

    On Oct 20th Apple introduced so many new produts and updates I barely can name all of them here, so let’s get a list to begin.

    imac 2009new iMac, it’s that simple: 21.5 and 27 inches display, new CPUs up to Core i7 Quad processors, up to 16 GB Ram (from the 8 Gig previously allowed). Simply gorgeous!
    Several built-to-order options for Graphics cards, CPU, hard disk units available.
    new MacBook: white policarbonate chassis but with unibody construction style, multitouch trackpad, 13.3 Led display.
    new Magic Mouse: almost an iPod touch or a multi-touch trackpad – in a mouse! All the mouse surface is smart enough to keep track of your gestures!
    Mac Mini: despite all rumors (and death bell tolls) it’s still alive – and fine! The 2009 Mac Mini sports a faster processor, twice the RAM, energy-saving features and a lot more!

    A product I’m really interested in is the Mac Mini with Snow Leopard.
    A special edition Mac Mini fully loaded with 4 Gigs of RAM, two 500 GB hard disks and pre-installed Snow Leopard Server with special remote management features.
    Right now it’s the best way (and the most affordable yet) to get a great Mac server for your Home/Office and to fully integrate PCs and Macs!

    Most Apple product should be available by the time you read this or eligible for pre-order; here are some prices:
    Apple iMac 21.5-Inch starts at US $ 1.199
    Apple iMac 27-Inch starts at US $ 1.699
    Apple MacBook available for US $ 999
    Apple Magic Mouse available for US $ 69
    Apple Mac mini goes starts from US $ 599
    Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server (unlimited license) is available for US $ 999.


    Posted on October 4, 2009 at 11:05 am

    One month with Snow Leopard: the first aftermath

    It’s been a month today since I installed Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro 15″ unibody (late 2008) with 4 GB of RAM.
    Final judgement?
    It simply works, and slightly better indeed!

    A few features I loved and checked with ‘real life’ test drive (on a unibody MacBook too, thx Alex!):

    Installation process

    Installation process is truly pain-free and foolproof: no fear, no complex settings, no need to be OS X-skilled! Just put in the Snow Leopard DVD, double click and wait!

    Installation time

    Installation time: it took less than 30 minutes on the MBP and a little more on the MB.
    I guess the worst part of it goes with the slowness of DVD read cycles.

    Don’t touch my settings!

    All settings were preserved, no data loss, no settings loss!
    I found each and every icon, Finder settings, Safari cookies, documents and application history…
    Just as I switched off Leopard and switched it on again: apparently no sign of 10.6 intervention!

    Blazingly-fast boot time

    Boot time: my MBP now takes 45″ (yes, that’s 45 seconds!) from ‘pressing the ON button’ up to ‘full operating computer’ with a desktop that’s (still, my fault) cluttered with icons! With Leopard, as far as I can recall it took at least 1’40″…
    On the MacBook it takes a little more, going near to one minute to get a fully working Mac.
    Try that on a Win-based PC 😉

    (Disk) Space: the final frontier

    Before installing Snow Leopard on my MBP, I managed to get 17 GB of free space (out of the 250 GB size of the internal HD). After installing Snow Leopard, free disk space jumped to 25 GB!
    It’s the first time ever in my (computer) life I ever see an operating system upgrade that frees (that much) space!

    Browser wars

    I confess… I’m a hungry Firefox user with tons of FF windows and tabs always taking up more CPU % than what’s available 😉 and I’m used to Safari just as a second-choice browser (work with a lot of FF plug-ins, BTW).
    Now that Safari is the only (AFAIK) 64-bit browser available on my Mac, I see that the same amount of opened web sites on both browsers gives Safari a clear edge over FF!
    CPU % and memory usage is a lot more efficient!
    I guess here’s where Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) gets nasty and makes the difference.

    Anyway, Xmas wishlist: please, bring me Firefox 64-bit!

    Airport status menu

    At last, the Airport status menu gives the only information a Mac-road-warrior needs: Wi-Fi signal strength before attempting to hook a wireless network, besides the usual “lock” sign stating a closed/password-based wi-fi hotspot.

    Which applications dislike Snow Leopard?

    Until now, only Chromium (a not-so-official Mac porting of the Google Chrome browser) refused to launch and closes immediately.
    I’ve been checking this useful list (http://snowleopard.wikidot.com/) against 10.6-incompatible software and found just a few notable missing titles.

    Hardware support

    All the previously supported hardware still work with Snow Leopard.
    Even my phone carrier HDSPA USB key from an obscure Taiwan company with almost indie drivers (rated for 10.5.x only) and vanishing support has been working from day one.


    Any operating system upgrade should be done with a little planning, even on a Mac.
    I love SuperDuper ease of operation and power: it allows you to almost replicate a fully working system on multiple drives.
    If you need a proof of this, check Ken Rockwell’s blog and his “Free New Computer” post where Ken explains how he managed a disk upgrade on a Mac Quad G5 (not Intel!).


    Go for it!
    For less than US $ 30 you can get yourself not only the very latest operating system, usually a tech-geek desire, but a really useful and powerful way to revive your system, so go and grab a copy of Snow Leopard.
    We’re not expecting miracles from Snow Leopard making older Intel-based Macs fly like an 8-Core Mac Pro, but at least you’ll get someting that fully exploits your existing hardware, makes a better use of available space and… eventually frees you from staring at a boot screen.


    Posted on January 27, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Mac turns 25: the best birthday yet?

    Some of you may still remember the 1984 tv-spot (still available here).

    The Macintosh 25th birthday comes in a moment critical for world economy at large, in a moment when iPods and iPhones are best known Apple products, yet the best moment for Mac OS X (still the best OS around) and MacBooks (Pros as well) are almost everywhere and recovere from single-figure market share of the 90s.

    I’d just like to share Larry Magid best wishes for a 26th Mac anniversary for Steve.

    On the prosaic side, Alan Zeichick post is about money – and Mac.

    Last word for CNN’s story: Apple fans mark 25 years of Mac devotion.


    Posted on January 11, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    A Mac-switching that didn’t worked (but I don’t agree)

    So far I read Rafe Needleman posts on Cnet News with much interest and somewhat agreed with his point of view.

    This time I don’t.

    His recent post Switcher’s lament: The case against Mac has several points that may ignite discussions from die-hard Mac lovers as well as from Mac-switchers.

    An example: iTunes library moving from Windows to Mac OS X.
    I’ve been either too lucky or dumb, but I’ve been moving music libraries back & forth since, say, iTunes 6.
    Didn’t even relied on specific apps, just copy and wait for iTunes to rebuild its library on target PC/Mac.

    The User interface part of the post is simple nonsense: it’s Mac OS X interface. Period. Sometimes Windows interface is not so consistent, isn’t it?

    Skype on Mac auto-starting? Happy about running Vista under Boot Camp?

    I’m thrilled.
    As I wrote, previous posts by Mr. Needlman made sense to me, but this family tragedy tale about a couple of MacBooks mistreating a couple of grown-up professionals doesn’t compute.

    I’d like to know your opinion about this.


    Posted on September 28, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Adobe Creative Suite 4, Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop CS4 Extended unveiled

    Adobe Systems announced the Adobe Creative Suite 4 product family, a milestone release of the industry-leading design and development software for virtually every creative workflow. Delivering radical workflow breakthroughs that bring down the walls between designers and developers and packed with hundreds of feature innovations the new Creative Suite 4 product line advances the creative process across print, Web, mobile, interactive, film and video production.

    Adobe Creative Suite 4 combines virtually all of Adobe’s new design and development applications, technologies and services in a single box the most comprehensive creative environment ever delivered.

    Customers can choose from six suites or full version upgrades of 13 stand-alone applications, including Photoshop CS4, Photoshop CS4 Extended, InDesign CS4, Illustrator CS4, Flash CS4 Professional, Dreamweaver CS4, After Effects CS4, and Adobe Premiere Pro CS4.

    A simplified workflow in Adobe Creative Suite 4 enables users to design across media more efficiently by making it easier to complete common tasks and switch between mediums without leaving a project. InDesign CS4 includes a new Live Preflight tool that allows designers to catch production errors and a newly customizable Links panel to place files more efficiently. The revolutionary new Content-Aware Scaling tool in Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop CS4 Extended automatically recomposes an image as it is resized, preserving vital areas as it adapts to new dimensions. An expanded version of Dynamic Link in CS4 Production Premium enables users to move content between After Effects CS4, Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, Soundbooth CS4, and Encore CS4, so updates can be seen instantly without rendering.

    Designers using the Adobe Creative Suite 4 product family will be able to gain unprecedented creative control using the new expressive features and visual performance improvements in Adobe Flash Player 10 to deliver breakthrough Web experiences across multiple browsers and operating systems.

    Adobe Creative Suite 4 brings 3D center-stage providing the ability to paint, composite, and animate 3D models using familiar tools. Flash CS4 Professional now offers the ability to apply tweens to objects instead of keyframes, providing greater control over animation attributes. Also in Flash, the new Bones tool helps create more realistic animations between linked objects. With a searchable library of more than 450 dynamically updated device profiles from leading manufacturers, Adobe Device Central CS4 (see separate release) enables users to easily test mobile content designed using many of the Creative Suite 4 products.

    Adobe Creative Suite 4 significantly expands access to services available to creative professionals and developers who want to collaborate online.
    Adobe ConnectNow, a service of Acrobat.com, can be accessed from InDesign CS4, Illustrator CS4, Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop Extended CS4, Flash CS4 Professional, Dreamweaver CS4, Fireworks CS4, and Acrobat 9 Pro, allowing real-time collaboration with two colleagues or clients. Designers can also share color harmonies with Adobe Kuler™, which is now accessible from within InDesign CS4, Illustrator CS4, Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop Extended CS4, Flash CS4 and Fireworks CS4.
    Other online resources include: Adobe Community Help for technical questions%3B Resource Central for accessing video and audio product-related news and tutorials, as well as Soundbooth scores, sound effects, and other stock media%3B and Adobe Bridge Home, a customizable resource for tips, tutorials, news and inspirational content.

    Adobe Creative Suite 4 and its associated point products are scheduled to ship in October 2008.

    For a limited time, validly licensed customers of eligible versions of Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe Production Studio and Macromedia Studio will be able to upgrade to Creative Suite 4 for the CS3 upgrade price.


    Posted on September 18, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Chuck Norris hits your Mac!

    chuck norris widget mac os x… and you better not disagree!

    “Chuck talks, you listen!”

    We all know that behind Walker Texas Ranger’s beard only lies another roundhouse kick (almost a copyright on its own)…

    Now you can have all best facts & trivia about Chuck Norris right on your Dashboard with this widget!

    Check here the developer’s website for Chuck Norris widget.

    Developer’s note: “I am not responsible for any injuries related to the usage of the Chuck Norris Facts Dashboard Widget!”

    May we add: no Mac was hurt or injured during development…