Archive for the ‘MacOS Graphics’ Category

Easily create CS3 style icons

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Icon Generator Pro

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Nothing too spicy about the plain old icons that come with most applications. But if you could make your own, then your machine could be just as cool as you always wanted it to be. That's where you need a high-powered icon generator.

Icon Generator Pro helps you build those fancy CS3 or Web 2.0 style icons. Just pick a background color, a text color, and then type your text into the app. Or if you prefer, you can insert an image into your icon instead. Or if you want something more adventurous than a plain old square icon, you can also choose a star design instead. Once you've perfected your design, you can save it off in four different sizes, making it perfect for all kinds of different uses.

You can grab Icon Generator Pro for Windows, Mac, or Linux systems. This app runs on the Adobe AIR platform, so your system will need to support that.

Download Icon Generator Pro

Combine PDFs and image files

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of iCombiner

One of the better ways of coping with our complicated world is to try to simplify things. If you can take the complex, the complicated, and make it all more simple, you at least stand a fighting chance of getting through the day in one piece. And what is more complicated that a pile of odds and ends of files on your computer?

iCombiner is a tool that lets you make sense out of your PDFs and image files. It allows you to combine PDFs, images, or PDFs and images. This is going to be handy when you need to merge a couple of PDF documents, or if you want to add some more images to that PDF you've been working on, or if you want to combine a bunch of images into one great big PDF, maybe so you can send your vacation pictures off to a friend. It's easy to pick the files you want to work on, since you can just drag and drop them into the application. Or if you really want to streamline things, you can install the Context Menu plugin so that you can right-click items directly in Finder to get the job done.

iCombiner is a free download. It's a Mac application and is right at home on OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and later.

Download iCombiner

Screenshots with annotations

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Owely

It can be handy to capture what you see on your screen. You might want to document something interesting you found on a web site, or some funny message you see on a desktop app. Most operating systems let you grab a piece of your display's real estate, but it's not always the easiest—or most intuitive—thing that you'll do today. It can involve a couple of arcane commands and a few not-so-often used apps. Or you can check out Owely.

With Owely, you can grab a piece of your screen, which is convenient enough, but then you can add to it. Crop your image to keep only the important stuff; annotate your screenshot to show people what it is you're trying to point out to them with text, shapes, or even hand-drawn lines, arrows, and such. And when you're all done, it's easy to upload your masterpiece, so that everybody else can see what you've done.

Owely is available for Linux, Mac (10.5, Intel only), and Windows (2000 and later).

Download Owely

A new way of designing websites

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of The Square Grid

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) give you great control over how your web pages are going to look. Back in the day, if you had some real preferences over what went where on a page, you had to enter the world of tables nested inside of tables, and that wasn't pretty for anybody. With the advent of CSS, there was a real break between content and presentation, and everybody's code was dramatically cleaner. Nice. But frankly it can still be rather complicated to make sure that the right bits hit the page in the right place.

The Square Grid is a framework that greatly simplifies the process of creating CSS-driven websites. It consists of a set of templates and worksheets to use in laying out your pages. Sketch sheets let you design on paper with pencil. Template files for Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, let you set up your pages with your favorite graphics tool, and a style file has all the parameters you need to implement your design on your actual pages.

You can grab your copy of The Square Grid for free.

Download The Square Grid

Save space by optimizing your images

Friday, November 12th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of ImageOptim

How much space do digital images take up on your system? All those multi-megapixel photos and all your other pictures probably grab more of your hard drive than you'd prefer them to have. Maybe it's time to put those graphics files on a diet.

ImageOptim is an image optimization tool for your Mac. Basically it's a nice GUI front-end to a bunch of tried and true terminal apps that help you squish your image files into something more compact. This tool will compress your pictures by getting rid of unneeded color profiles, extra meta information, and just generally tidy things up. Its drag and drop interface makes it easy to optimize a file or a folder, and it also can be used in a terminal window, letting you add its functionality into shell scripts. It works with GIF, JPG, and PNG files.

ImageOptim is a Mac application. It runs under OS X version 10.5.8 and later. They've also got an older version that will run on your Tiger (10.4) system.

Download ImageOptim

Mac image browser

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of Lyn

If you're trying to organize a stack of digital images, you've got your work cut out for you. If you're trying to do it all with the version of Preview that came with your Mac, you might as well just give up. You're going to need a tool with more horsepower if you ever want to get through this job. You want a tool like Lyn.

Lyn is an image viewer and browser for Mac. Along with your being able to look at your pictures—individually or in groups—you can also organize your collection. You've got access to tons of meta data at the same time: file name and size, image resolution, camera make and model, and more. Pick a field and sort your images. See what you've got, or add your own notes. It supports most digital picture formats, so your photos can coexist with your Photoshop images as well.

Lyn is a free Mac application. It runs under OS X 10.4 and later, and is compatible with systems running on PowerPC (G4 or better) or Intel-powered machines.

Download Lyn

Tool enlarges bitmap images

Friday, October 1st, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of SmillaEnlarger

They say good things come in small packages. While that may be true, sometimes those good things are too small to really work with. Take a small image file, for example. That may be the finest photo, drawing, or icon around, but if it's too small to really see, it's not going to do anybody any good. We all get spam email about helping to enlarge, umm, certain things all the time, but what about a tool to enlarge images?

SmillaEnlarger is an app that helps you make small pictures big. While there are lots of tools you can use to accomplish this task, generally the quality of your images takes such a hit that you'd be better served to just squint and try to do with best you can with the original. This app employs some technical sleight-of-hand to render your enlargements much clearer than you might expect.

You can grab SmillaEnlarger for Linux, Mac, or Windows systems.

Download SmillaEnlarger

Turn icons into images

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of IconGrabber

Nice icon. I wish I had that as a real image. Probably not something you blurt out every day, but from time to time it might be nice to grab that little picture and use it for something else. IconGrabber can help you do just that.

There's nothing fancy about this tool—in fact, it doesn't even really have a GUI. Fire it up, and is just gives you a Finder window to use to browse to the file whose icon you want to grab. Pick your file, and then save the icon wherever you want, even choosing a size and format you want, including all web-supported formats, as well as TIFF and BMP. Or if you prefer, just drag your file onto this app's icon and go from there.

IconGrabber is a free download. It's a Mac application, and should run on systems with OS X 10.3 and later.

Download IconGrabber

Build your own color palettes with Colorate

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

runs on Mac
screenshot of Colorate

Some folks have a talent (or a gift) for being able to pick out colors that go well together. You can see how well dressed they are, and be dazzled by their fine looking websites. Then there are those (your author included) who have no clue. But whether you're an expert or a disaster, it's always good to have help. And that's exactly what Colorate provides.

With this free tool, it's easy to put together palettes of colors that make sense and work well together. If you're looking for a new set of colors, it will generate one for you automatically. If you have an image or some other sample you'd like to match, give it to the tool and it will generate a palette based on your input. For most purposes, that's probably going to be the best you can do, but if you want to play with it more from there, you can further tweak the suggestions to get even better colors to work with. Once you find a set you like, you can save them to re-use in the future.

Colorate is a free download. It's a Mac application and will run under OS X 10.4 and later. It's a Universal Binary, so it's equally at home on PowerPC and Intel-powered Macs.

Download Colorate

Free CAD tool helps you design circuit boards

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of EAGLE

Some tools are designed for general use. A car will take you to work, or to the store, or over the river and through the woods to visit Grandma. A word processor can draft a letter, write a report, or any of a zillion other uses. Other tools are designed for a specific purpose—not too many things you can do with a fire extinguisher other than the obvious. Some software applications are designed for specific purposes as well.

EAGLE (Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor) is a CAD (computer aided design) program. Like the drafting table and T-square of yesteryear, these types of apps help you in putting together mechanical drawings. While that in itself may seem fairly specialized, EAGLE is even more tightly focused than that: it's designed specifically to draw electrical and electronic schematics and design circuit boards. Instead of having to break out a pad of graph paper, shape templates, and a well-sharpened pencil, you can put your circuits together on your computer. It's a lot easier to make revisions when there's not danger of rubbing a hole through your paper with an eraser. EAGLE combines the ability to lay out physical components as well as show how they fit together logically and electrically using just the one tool. It's got built-in libraries of components so you don't have to waste your time drawing transistors and all, and can focus your attention on the "big picture" instead.

EAGLE is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows systems. You can use the reduced-functionalilty free version if you don't plan to use it for profit. Otherwise, they want you to license it.

Download EAGLE