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Cult of Mac Favorite: Snow Leopard’s New Services



Snow Leopard’s revitalised Services menu is probably my favorite improvement among the many included in the upgrade.

At long last, the user has been given total control over Services. We can choose whether or not they are used, we can assign keyboard shortcuts that suit us, and we can create entirely new Services using Automator.

The crucial difference between Services in Leopard and Services in Snow Leopard is context.

Gallery: How Apple’s Tablet Will Be a Paradigm Shift



Here’s how Apple’s tablet will work and why it’ll be a paradigm shift. Using your fingers as an input device is extremely intuitive, and it’ll make the mouse and keyboard seem as antiquated as punch cards.

On the following pages is a gallery of concept designs created by Jon Doe, an anonymous grad student from Georgia who has done a LOT of thinking about how Apple’s tablet will work.

Doe has done a remarkable job of figuring it out. Over the course of a year, Doe has imagined how the device might work, what gestures it might support, and how Apple could adapt its popular iLife software to work in a multitouch environment. He’s created a blog to showcase his ideas and a series of YouTube videos. There’s so much to see, I’m publishing several posts over the next few days.

“The problem is that the current PC interface (PC as in Macs, Windows, and Linux boxes) is outdated,” says Doe. “We’re reaching the limit of what we can do with a mouse and keyboard.”

Check out the video and gallery after the jump to see why Apple’s tablet will be such an exciting device.

Mailplane Helps Gmail Soar on Your Mac Desktop



Are you a Gmail person? With more than one account? Thought so. How many times have you thought how much you like Gmail but felt frustrated by one aspect or another of the limits (mostly time and productivity-oriented) imposed by working with email in a web browser?

Yup. Well, guess what? There’s an app for that.

Mailplane brings Gmail to your Mac desktop and unleashes power and productivity you’ve only wished for in Google’s excellent mail product.

We’re only just now checking Mailplane out, but with support for:

# Drag and drop attachments
# Multiple Gmail accounts
# New mail notifications
# Easy screenshot sending
# Gmail shortcuts
# Integration with OmniFocus,

our first impressions are that Mailplane is well worth giving a more extensive test drive. It’s got a 30 day free trial and we’ll be giving you our more extensive review in about a month.

If you check Mailplane out, be sure to let us know what you think about it in comments.

How To: Add A Combine Windows Script to Camino



Here’s a quick follow-up to my last Camino screencast. In this short video, I’ll show you how to get a little more control over your windows and tabs while using Camino.

More screencasts are forthcoming. Got a topic you’d like to see covered? If I know something about them, I’ll be happy to explore your suggested topics. Give me a shout in the comments.

Excellent Menu Bar App XMenu Updated



XMenu from the Devonthink people is one of those freeware apps that I recommend to every Mac user I meet. The latest update, version 1.9, is newly released and boasts visual refinements and a helpful new feature.

For the uninitiated, XMenu is a Menu Bar widget for getting to stuff quickly without leaving the app you’re in. What I like most about it is its flexibility. You can have six different shortcuts in your Menu Bar if you like, or just one if you prefer to keep things simple.

That’s what I do. I use the user-defined widget and throw aliases for useful files and folders into ~/Library/Application Support/XMenu – that way, I keep my Menu Bar uncluttered but XMenu still gives me quick click access to stuff like my todo.txt, my income and expenses records, and a handful of use-them-every-day folders.

If your Dock is overcrowded with folders or stacks that you don’t use because, well, because it’s overcrowded, then you should have a look at XMenu. This latest update adds a text snippets manager that works just the same as the user-defined widgets. Put some plain or rich text files in the right place, and XMenu will let you insert them into any app with two clicks.

Cult of Mac favorite: Tweetie (iPhone app and Mac OS X app)



What it is: A multi-account Twitter client, available for iPhone and Mac OS X.

Why it’s good: Both versions of Tweetie succeed in marrying a usable UI with a strong feature set. Although Tweetie for iPhone and Tweetie for Mac share some aspects of design, both play to the strengths of the host platform. On iPhone, Tweetie makes the most of the touch display, and its efficient UI means there’s never any stuttering. On Mac, Tweetie has keyboard shortcuts for practically every action, and its sidebar deals with the thorny issue of multi-account UI without resorting to tabs. In both cases, the app is feature-rich, providing a great experience for most Twitter users. The 1.1 update also brings saved searches, Growl support, and a bunch of other tweaks and fixes.

Where to get it: Tweetie for iPhone is available on the App Store for $2.99. Tweetie for Mac is available from By default, Tweetie for Mac is supported by unobtrusive and surprisingly relevant ads, but you can make them optional by paying $19.95.

Cult of Mac favorite: Spark (Mac OS X utility)



What it is: A hot-key manager, enabling you to define system-wide shortcuts for launching applications, opening folders, and performing other Mac actions.

Why it’s good: For many Mac users, there comes a time when stashing regularly used apps and documents in the Dock no longer cuts it. Spark enables you to define keyboard shortcuts to access these things instead, meaning you don’t have to lift your hands from the keyboard to launch a new app. By defining a personal system (such as Control+Option+letter for apps/Control+Shift+letter for folders), you can set certain modifiers to apply to certain types of item, adding a key letter from an item’s name as a mental trigger. Advanced actions enable you to take things further (turning the trigger into a toggle, launching an app and hiding others, and so on), and shortcuts are also available for iTunes controls (such as rating tracks) and system functions.

In use, Spark is stable, set-up is simple and flexible, and after a week’s use the shortcuts you define become second nature, burned into your muscle memory. In fact, new Macs feel naked without Spark.

Where to get it: Spark requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later, and is free. It’s available from Shadow Lab—and please bung them a few bucks as a donation if you use Spark regularly.

HOWTO: Windows 7 on Unibody MacBook Takes All Afternoon



Having read a few of the tutorials on how to install the new Windows 7 beta on a Mac with Boot Camp, I decided to take the plunge myself today on my still sparkling-new unibody MacBook 2.4 Ghz. (This post is actually being written in Firefox on Windows 7 — eww)

And what I learned is that you had really better be prepared to spend several hours to get it working properly. The link I’ve provided above is pretty handy, but it has some tricks to it that will not be immediately apparent without some trial and error. Read on to make the essential tweaks to the tutorial needed to make it work on MacBooks, not just MacBook Pros, read on!