Great Mac Apps and Taking a Break by Using iOS
I spent two weeks without my Mac a few months back and it got me using my iPad Pro and iPhone for more things. There are great Mac apps to use, but sometimes you just want to choose the great iOS apps instead. If I want to do any dictation my best choice is to use the Mac. Siri dictation is marvellous and I’ve written articles of up to 1000 words using Siri on my iPhone or iPad. It is not in the same league as Dragon for Mac which I have on my iMac. Making art on the iPad is brilliant with apps like iColorama and Procreate or Pixelmator for iPad. As good as they are, sometimes you want to go full throttle with apps like Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. I love those Affinity art apps. They are a much better proposition than using Adobe products in my opinion. Then there was Scrivener as a Mac based app and there was no iOS app – Now we have the iOS version of Scrivener to work with too. Recording video of what you are doing on your iPad and you need to use your Mac with an app like ScreenFlow. That seems a bit ironic but that’s the way it is.
So what’s going on with my Mac?
So the thing is, for the last couple of days my iMac has been switched off and I’ve not used any great Mac Apps. That’s unusual for me, I like to have it running all the time and immediately available at all times. I like to work with my computer devices, mobile and desktop as a complete Apple system. It’s preferable to be able to swap from one device to another and it it not matter which I’m using to complete the task. I have got used to apps like Ulysses which work on all my Apple devices. Start a document on the Mac and continue where I left off on the iPhone or iPad. It’s a perfect way of working for me. In the summer time I work a lot of hours at the beach campsite and I just don’t have a lot of time to sit in front of my Mac. For two days I didn’t use the apps I like on the Mac and I was happy enough to do all on the iPad and iPhone. I carry the iPad around the house and at work the iPhone is always in my top pocket. At times it’s better to be ensconced on the sofa with the mobile devices and computing in comfort. The fast start up time with the mobile devices is compelling and wouldn’t it be great to have a Mac work just like that. I suppose we do have instant access if you let the Mac run all the time. In the summer the iMac does pump out a lot heat into the room and the weather in Spain is sweltering enough already.
Art Text was a super app – Can be again!
I used ArtText a lot for making web graphics and loved the super effects available from the app. Art Text 3 is one of the great Mac Apps. Then with the upgrade to El Capitan or possibly Yosemite the app stopped working. Today I saw there’s an upgrade to version 3 of Art Text and I just had to get the latest version. It now also has 3D text and bump mapping. I’ll be able to make even better artistic text based graphics with Art Text 3. It is a big download of 645mb and I can’t wait for my slow internet to get it all down ready to open and use. I expect I will be diving into the app over the next week or so and publishing some creations to Pinterest as well on my web sites. I can also see the software being useful for the book covers for the books I write.
So the download finished and I couldn’t wait to play with it. The interface is improved and the 3D text effects are loads of fun. It’s possible to rotate some 3D text in space on the screen. Amazing number of effects to choose from for your designs. There are smart shapes to choose from and with these you can make your own buttons. There are many pre-made buttons available to choose from. Designs which you can apply colours, textures, material and geometric specifications. All the same attributes you can add to any text you are working with. There are presets available such as gradients, images and masks as well as patterns you can apply to any objects within your design. It’s easy to convert a 2-D object to 3-D by right clicking and making the choice. One of the things I used to use the previous version for was to create text that had a three-dimensional bump. You can select how lumpy, bumpy and almost 3D you want the text to be.
Share your designs
Use the share button to share out to other applications or you can share out to a file. If you share out to a file you get to choose whether it goes out as a PDF, JPEG or PNG. There are also options to send it out as a high resolution tiff or as an EPS. If it’s an EPS then it should be possible to bring it into an application like Affinity Designer to work with as a vector element. All in all, Art Text 3 is an amazing piece of software for creating unusual and interesting looking logo creations. Colour me impressed!
Caffeine Versus amphetamine
There are times when you want your computer to stay awake. You don’t want screen-savers cutting in or you don’t want the screen to go dark. This could be when you’re recording something and otherwise not touching the keyboard or pointing device. I used an application called Caffeine which put a little coffee cup icon into the menu bar. This application does the job of keeping the computer awake. Recently I heard there was a better application to use called Amphetamine. The app has better controls and preferences and it came with the recommendation of MacBites Podcast. It was also a free application, so worth giving a try. Everything seems to be working well for me so far. I’m going to stick with it.
Time between announcements and delivery of operating system upgrades
There has to be a period when developers of applications use the next version of the operating system before the general users. We need out great Mac Apps to work properly when we upgrade. Users can convert to the new versions of applications that will work right on the latest version of the OS. It wouldn’t work well if the operating system was foisted on us and none of our favourite applications worked anymore. It’s a big job to make significant changes to an operating system. Even though it seams there doesn’t seem to be a huge number of changes in macOS Sierra. There must be a lot of changes happening under the surface of the new operating system. I hope these changes are going to give us an improved experience in using our favourite fruity computers.
Use Apple OS public Beta software or not?
So there are many of us who are wondering if we should give the public beta a try and to upgrade before the software is fully baked. It’s always nice to have the new and shiny, but it’s not so nice to have it undercooked and not quite ready. I have tried beta software in the past on iOS devices and in the end wished I hadn’t. It caused problems when I changed back to the latest full version from the beta software. I vowed I would never do it again, but I still have those moments when I’m considering doing that mad thing again. This is usually when I hear of podcast hosts talking on their show about the new things they are getting to play with early. Most of them have the good sense to use it on a spare device rather than on a production machine. So I’m going to be waiting until the autumn when the full versions arrive. Only the sensible thing to do.
A broken latest update to Mac OS X
I downloaded from the App Store the latest version to the Mac El Capitan which had a couple of security updates contained within. The update didn’t work. Each time I pressed the button to restart the machine and install it – Nothing at all happened. I even downloaded the full combo update from the Apple site and that didn’t work either. It’s completely messes up the shutting down and restarting of the computer. The only way I have to turn the computer off is to use the physical button at the back of the iMac. I went to the support site at Apple and there are other people with the same problem. The suggestion was I should try to boot up into safe mode and try again. Did that and it didn’t work either. I might have another go when I have time on my day off. It’s preferable to have the latest upgrades on my computer especially where security updates are concerned. When the El Capitan operating system became available I went for a normal upgrade. For the next one I think I’m going to go for the Nuke and Pave. This is where you delete everything, after making a backup first of course. The boot drive is wiped completely clean and reformatted. Then you install a completely new instance of the operating system. It takes a long time to do this sort of upgrade because you also have to reinstall all your applications and many of your settings. If your computer is full of lots of applications it does take a lot of planning to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Is it worth the trouble to Nuke and Pave?
There has to be a backup made of the personalisation settings you’ve made over the years to your computer. It can be a huge amount of work and could take a couple of days to finish the upgrade and get all your sorted out. The benefits of doing an operating system upgrade like this is that you get speed improvements. This is due to getting rid of the accumulated crud and rubbish. Not only do you get the new and shiny of the cutting-edge operating system, but you also get the benefits of starting fresh. It’s even more like having a new computer! While you’re having this clear out, make your decisions about unused applications in your applications folder. It’s a good moment to do some weeding out of the apps which are hardly ever used. If you are going to do this, make sure you have the user names and passwords for applications you’re planning to reinstall. Sometimes you need to have the original file to make the upgrade. This is the case with Dragon Dictate or Dragon for Mac version 5. I have the installation file for it downloaded to one of my backup drives to keep it safe. All my application serial numbers I keep safe in 1Password.
Getting it all done in the right order
There are some great Mac Apps which you need to install before others. Applications such as 1Password has to go on first so you have all the serial numbers available. Other applications such as Dropbox and Alfred need to go on soon. You’ll start getting the look and feel that you’re used to as soon as possible. You also need to make sure you’ve got backups of things like the Keychain. So you don’t lose any certificates you have installed for your security. In applications like Text Expander you’ll need to have a backup of the data from the app. Best to check all your apps and see if there are others with data you need to protect.
macOS Sierra coming soon
What’s your plan for upgrading to macOS Sierra and using great Mac Apps? Will you go for a nuke and pave of your old operating system to put a fresh new OS on your hard drive? The last time I did this on my computer was two years ago so it could work out just right for me with this upgrade. All we can do for the moment is to read some of the stories coming from the Mac websites about the new features we can expect to see. It’s just a case of being patient and to not get carried away when these bloggers talk about all the great stuff in the beta versions.