Secret Applications and Tricks of OS X

I have been doing some work with sledgehammers of do relatively small tasks. I mean to say using some of the powerhouse applications like Photoshop and Dreamweaver and BB-Edit to do relatively mundane and simple tasks. Since this seems to be a huge waste of time and energy I have been looking for (and accidentally found) some easy methods using the tools built into Mac OS X.

Never underestimate TextEdit. It is an amazing application that will edit almost any from of textual document not only “.rtf” and “.txt”. With the release of Panther (aka. 10.3), Mac added the useful feature to this app of the ability to view and edit “.doc” files. This is a very useful feature for those of us that refuse to convert to the sheep-like heard that is all Microsoft followers. Where did that come from?… anyway. This feature is not the best solution, but it is a good one. In previous versions of OS X you had ot use a unix plugin that would allow your to add this feature, now it’s just part of the base feature set.

Built in screen capture tools! These are just great. here is a list of the main shortcuts that I use, there may be more but there are the ones that i know about.

  • command + shift + 3 -> full screen shot
  • command + shift + 4 -> cross hairs that you can drag and select a portion of the screen
  • command + shift + 4 then press the spacebar -> gives you a camera tool that will capture the selected window when the window is green and you then depress the mouse.

Grab also has additional features that are not in this set. Such as the ability to change the cursor and take timed screenshots. Also to note Grab will take the screenshots in “.tiff” where the default screenshot utility will capture them in “.pdf”.

Preview is awesome at converting the screen shots that I take from “,pdf” and “.tiff” to “.jpg”. This saves me several minutes if I don’t already have Photoshop fired up and ready to go.

And now for the really neat app that inspired this post.

digital color meterDigital Color Meter is an awesome application that is buried in the /Applications/Utilities/ folder that will show you in RGB percents or RGB HEX values what color you mouse over. This can be an incredibly useful tool in both graphic design and web design.

For those that do not know how RGB HEX values work most web browsers do not understand RGB percentage values but these are very easy to use if you come from any artistic background because this is how the color wheel works. But until the browsers catch up we will have to use RGB HEX values. Now in this application you will need to select from the drop-down menu “RGB As Hex Value, 8-bit”. This will give you a set of RGB values. What you will need to do is take these values in the order they are listed and enter them into your CSS page in the following format.

property_name { setting: RGB;} 

Where “R” is the value of the red channel, “G” is the Green value and “B” is the blue channel.

Hope that this is useful information for anyone that may use it.