Friday, September 3, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [September 2nd]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [September 2nd]” plus 9 more

Link to

Cool Websites and Tools [September 2nd]

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 08:31 PM PDT

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE (or come with a decent free account option). No trials or buy-to-use craplets. For more cool websites and web app reviews subscribe to MakeUseOf Directory.

List Your Website Here!


DokDok – Suppose you are collaborating on a document file and sharing it with group members over email. As a result, you might end up having many versions of the document in your inbox and outbox. DokDok is a tool ensuring that you view only the latest version of the file. Read more: DokDok: Easily Find, Share, & Work On The Latest Version Of Any Document In Your Inbox


Frobee – If you have images that you want displayed on your website, a Flash slideshow would serve beautifully. Rather than viewing static images, site visitors will instead view the in-motion slideshow; this will make the images more enjoyable to watch. Through Frobee you can easily create such Flash slideshows from images. Read more: Frobee: Easily Create A Flash Slideshow From Images



CloudCanvas -Look no further if you are looking for a great image editing and drawing application. CloudCanvas is where your search ends. CloudCanvas is a free web app that runs on HTML5 – you will not need Flash or any other browser plugins. Initially you will see a blank canvas with a bunch of tools on its sides. Read more: CloudCanvas: A Great HTML5 Image Editor Online



CopyTrans Manager – If you own an iOS device but don't particularly like iTunes, you could ditch it and go for CopyTrans Manager that lets you easily transfer the music and manage the files. You can drag and drop music files, create playlists, delete tracks and do much more not only on your iPod, but also on your iPad and iPhone. Manage playlists on any iOS4 device without the need to use iTunes. Read more: CopyTrans Manager: iTunes Replacement Now With iPhone 4 & iPad Support.



CRADAR – is one useful emergency app to have come out in the past few months. This free Android motion sensing application gets activated whenever you fall, waits for a predefined amount of time (30 – 120 seconds) and if you don't move at least 8 feet within that time, sends an alert to one of your contacts telling them you may be hurt. Read more: CRADAR: Android Motion Sensing Application That Sends Out An Alert If You Fall


List Your Website Here!

These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Really Painless Web Development Using Microsoft WebMatrix

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 06:30 PM PDT

web developmentMicrosoft has a history of releasing some great free tools for Windows users now and then. Recently they have unveiled WebMatrix, an all-in-one web development suite to cater to the development community. WebMatrix is not just a typical IDE or development framework but has a bouquet of tools –  a web server, a SQL database, and a database-ready framework.

WebMatrix is free to download and is available for all Windows users. The new app is ideal for developers building web apps that require local data storage. But if you have the habit of building your own websites or pursuing web design as a hobby, WebMatrix is handy tool to build simple websites, either from scratch or by modifying popular open source software.

Installation & Set Up

web development

The installer launches to a screen that lists a lot of Microsoft that you might need. Please note that these packages are not necessary for installing and running WebMatrix. You can straightaway select the WebMatrix tab to proceed with the installation. I chose not to include Visual Web Developer 2010 and SQL Server Express 2010 and continued with the installation.

web site development

Since the initial download is very light, all the required packages are downloaded from Microsoft's servers before the installation can begin. It a took a while for the installation to get over and you will have to restart the PC mid-way after the SQL Server installation (the installation will continue automatically after the restart). At the end of the installation, we will have the latest version of IIS, including latest IIS Web extensions like IIS Media Services as the webserver, SQL Server 2008 Express as the database and the .NET Framework to develop websites using ASP.NET.


web site development

Once the installation is complete, we get to see the see the dashboard which offers four design options and I chose the Site from Web gallery. This option allows us to edit and develop web sites derived from 28 of the popular open source platforms.

web site development

I chose WordPress and since it does not support SQL Server, WebMatrix offered to install one locally or to use a remotely hosted one. WebMatrix actually downloads all the corresponding requirements of the open source package and in this case that included PHP 5 too!

web design and development


Microsoft emphasizes that WebMatrix's power lies in its four Workspaces. Each one of these workspaces allow us to develop the website, deploy files, perform routine administrator tasks, optimize content for SEO and to pull analytics reports.

web design and development

Using the Site Workspace, we can monitor the website's real-time web requests and configure server settings as well.

web development

Code editing is part of the file workspace and we can see real time previews of the changes made to the site. If you start designing a static website and later decide to add a database to it to enhance the functionality all you have to do is click on the Database workspace.

web development

WebMatrix supports file transfer protocols like WebDeploy, FTP and FTPS enabling us to get the entire setup including all files, database and code to the server easily.

Final Thoughts

WebMatrix is an awesome app that does a lot of heavy lifting for those who are not web development ninjas. Even though installation of packages takes time, I was impressed with the accuracy with which WebMatrix installed all the dependencies even for rival open source platforms. The simple and clutter-free user interface is worth a mention too and it helps the focus to be on the design & code with its minimal design.

For those who are not exactly fans of Microsoft, we have earlier covered Kompozer, a free web design software and the uber famous Firebug plugin for Firefox.

Have you tried WebMatrix already? Or using a better IDE? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Windows 7 Editions Explained In Simple Terms

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 04:31 PM PDT

windows 7 editionsSince the late 20th century the market for personal computers has been growing and developing rapidly. The sudden diversity among customers and their increasingly differential demands created a need for specialized operating systems. During the late 1990’s, Microsoft developed Windows versions specifically targeted at businesses or home PC users.

With its introduction of Windows 2000, Microsoft started to release its operating systems in multiple editions. On the one hand this united previously diverse products under one hat and simplified marketing. On the other hand different groups of users were accommodated.

Windows 7 comes in six different flavors. In this article I have briefly reviewed the features of each edition. I have also made recommendations as to which version you should get, depending on the user group you belong to.


This is the most basic Windows 7 edition. Since Windows 7 Starter supports less features than any other edition, it requires less system resources. It is typically found pre-installed on netbooks.

  • limit: three concurrent applications, home group join only, Backup and Restore Center manual to local HDD or DVD only
  • not included: Aero theme
  • not changeable: desktop wallpaper and visual style
  • not supported: .NET Framework and 64-bit

If your computer has a weak CPU (minimum 1GHz) and no more than 1GB of RAM, you should go with Windows 7 Starter to avoid a slow system.

windows 7 editions

Home Basic

This edition is not available in ‘first world’ countries. It was designed for emerging markets and forms an intermediate between Starter and Home Premium. Due to a geographical activation restriction, it can only be activated in countries where it is sold.

  • included: Desktop Window Manager, Windows Mobility Center
  • unlimited: concurrent applications
  • supported: 64-bit, multiple monitors, fast user switching, change of desktop wallpaper
  • limit: home group join only, partial Aero theme

You should use this edition as a budget alternative to Home Premium, if it is sold in your country.

Home Premium

This is the standard edition of Windows 7. It was specifically outfitted to satisfy home users.

  • included: Windows Aero theme, Windows Media Center, premium games
  • unlimited: create and join home group
  • supported: multi-touch

Home Premium provides all the functionality required on a daily basis. It puts minor limits on networking and lacks backup and security features, which can however be complemented by additional software.

There is no need to spend extra cash on one of the following editions, unless you must have one of its additional features.

windows 7 editions


The Professional edition was designed to be used in a work environment. Its additional features compared to Home Premium are not typically required in a home environment. The Professional Backup and Restore Center for example supports backup to a home or business network. Features like Location Aware Printing and Remote Desktop Host recognizes the mobility involved in today’s (professional) life.

  • included: Backup and Restore Center, Encrypting File System, Windows Server Domain, Windows XP Mode
  • supported: Location Aware Printing, Remote Desktop Host, Presentation Mode

You should invest in Windows 7 Professional if you frequently work from your laptop in different locations, use your computer to give presentations, must access your home computer via remote desktop, have multiple computers, or need to manage a network.


The Enterprise edition is not available to home users. It is exclusively sold to companies that have a Software Assurance (SA) for Volume Licensing contract with Microsoft. This edition comes with several SA-only benefits, including license rights for network booting of Windows or running up to four additional Windows copies on virtual machines. Microsoft support for this product will continue until 2020.

  • included: AppLocker, BitLocker Drive Encryption, Subsystem for Unix-based applications, Multilingual User Interface Pack
  • supported: BranchCache Distributed Cache, DirectAccess, Virtual Hard Disk Booting

The additional features of Enterprise compared to Professional are relevant for computers running in a corporate environment. They can decrease the freedom each user has, while on the other hand making it easier to work from anywhere in the world.

AppLocker for example is a tool through which an administrator can specify which software is allowed to run on centrally managed user PCs. DirectAccess replaces the need to log into your company network via VPN. A full review of these additional Enterprise and Ultimate features can be found in this Microsoft article: Unique technology for enterprise customers.

compare windows 7 editions


Windows 7 Ultimate has all the features of the Enterprise edition and no benefits or further extras. The difference is that individual licenses are available to home users. Windows Anytime Upgrade from Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional is possible. Microsoft support for this edition is scheduled to expire in 2015.

PC World has created a thorough graphical chart comparing all editions of Windows 7.

You may also want to check out this article by Mahendra: How To Choose Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows 7 Operating Systems

I hope you now have a better idea of what each Windows 7 edition was designed for and which one is right for you. Have you had the chance to work with different Windows 7 editions already? What are your experiences so far with them?

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

How To Create Multiple Columns In Wordpress Pages & Posts

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 02:31 PM PDT

multiple columns wordpressIf you blog using Wordpress as your blogging software, you will know that it offers a lot of flexibility in design. You can run a blog, run a normal website, and even a create a  social networking site. You can also run a newspaper or magazine site using Wordpress.

There are specific elements that make a site more magazine-isque (if that’s a word). Some of which have to do with the layout of the front page. Another characteristic of a magazine that you can now implement on your Wordpress magazine site is that of multiple columns of text in pages and posts.

If you have ever read a magazine, you will know what I mean. A normal Wordpress site will typically have only one column of content text much like any blog. If you read a magazine, you’ll notice how there can be multiple columns like in the screenshot below:

multiple columns wordpress

Now with the proper plugin you can do this with Wordpress in posts and pages. The plugin is called “Magazine Columns” and it can be found in the Wordpress plugin directory (author’s blog post). We know though, that for plugins found on Wordpress, we can just install them via our Wordpress dashboard. If you search for “magazine columns” it should come up as first on the list. Make sure the author is “c.bavota” for this particular plugin.

After installing the plugin, all you have to do to create multiple columns in pages and posts is to insert “<!–column–>” where you want to begin the next column (up to 5 columns):

columns wordpress

You’ll also notice that there are added buttons in the HTML tab for easier implementation.  Using the “start columns” and “stop columns” buttons, you can easily have text before and after columns. The result could look like this:

columns wordpress

Here’s a full screenshot of how my BloggerDoggie theme looks with multiple columns:

multiple columns wordpress

You may be asking, “And that’s all there is to it?” Yes. Really.

Another cool part of this whole topic is that there is actually more than one plugin that does this for you. Similar plugins to try are:

  • WP Post Columns – If you visit the author’s plugin homepage, you’ll see that there are quite a few options via short codes.  This could be a positive or a negative depending on how easy you want the process to be.
  • WP Columnize – This plugin also has buttons in the HTML tab.  With them you can highlight the text and just hit the appropriate button.  Check out the author’s plugin homepage.

Whichever plugin you use, you’ll find you have quite a bit more flexibility. Using Wordpress for other anything other than blogging becomes a bit easier. I know you can mess around with tables in HTML but why would you if a plugin can do it for you?

Do you use columns in Wordpress to make it less like a blog? What method do you use?



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Achieve Encrypted Cross-Platform Password Syncing With KeePass & Dropbox

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 12:31 PM PDT

password syncOh, passwords. Too hard to remember if they’re all different; too insecure if they’re all the same. Is there any relief?

As it turns out, there is. Dave once profiled KeePass for securing your online passwords, and I recently mentioned the Linux/Mac version of that same app, KeePassX.

Between these apps you can store passwords on your Windows, Linux, and Mac machines. Unfortunately, however, your files are stored on only one computer at a time.

Unless you throw in a little Dropbox magic.

I’ve previously discussed unique and interesting ways to use Dropbox, pointing out that Dropbox can be used to make any application work on all your computers. Combine Dropbox and KeePass, for example, and your passwords are securely stored on every computer you own – regardless of the operating systems they use!

I use this method to sync passwords between my Ubuntu netbook, my iMac and my wife’s Windows laptop, for example. This makes it easy for us to remember the various passwords we need to use every day without compromising our security.

Step 1: Install KeePass/KeePassX

password sync

Doesn’t sound very hard, does it? Windows users need simply to head over to the KeyPass download site and run the executable installer (or simply grab the portable app, depending on preference). Note that the classic version is preferable, if you plan to sync between Windows and another operating system.

Mac users need only to download KeePassX for Mac and then do the standard Mac installation dance: drag the icon to Applications, then drag to the dock from there.

Ubuntu users need only to click here to install KeePassX. Users of other Linux distributions need to check their package managers for “keepassx” or check out KeePassX’s download page for instructions.

Get your respective programs installed on your various computers. Done? Good; let’s move on.

Step 2: Set Up Dropbox

password synchronization

You now need to install Dropbox, assuming you don’t already use this great application. Just head over to Dropbox to get started. You’ll need to install a piece of software and create an account, but once you do you’ll be ready to sync files between all your computers, quickly and easily. Be sure to install Dropbox on all your computers, using the same account on each!

Do you prefer an alternative syncing program, such as SugarSync? Go right ahead and use that instead. Any program that can quickly synchronize your computers wherever you are will work perfectly for this.

Step 3: Create A Database In Your Dropbox

password synchronization

Now you can create your new KeyPass/KeyPassX database. Just fire up your KeePass version and create a new database in your Dropbox.

Just keep in mind: KeyPassX cannot open newer KeePass files. This means that if you want to sync your passwords from a Windows machine to a Linux or Mac one, you’ll need to make sure you’re using KeePass Classic on your Windows machine. Read the KeePassX FAQ for more information.

Also be sure to create the database in your Dropbox. Doing this ensures that your KeyPass data will sync between all your computers.

Once that’s done, go ahead and open the file with your other machines and you’ve got easy password syncing set up. Be sure to read Dave’s article about KeePass to learn how to get the most out of this software, and enjoy!

Got any suggestions to improve on this guide, or alternative ways of achieving the same thing? Let us know in the comments below so everyone can gain from your knowledge. Also feel free to ask questions, because I love answering them.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

The 8 Best Sites For Funny Computer Desktop Wallpapers

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 11:31 AM PDT

funny wallpapers for my desktopWhen you work a lot on the computer, you come face to face with the desktop several times a day. The most important is first thing in the morning, when you start up your computer for the day, to check your email and read a few of your favorite blogs.

There are few greater opportunities to get your mood off to a good start every day than the appearance of a really funny image or quote. With your coffee perched up to your lips, you’ll find yourself chuckling, and the entire mood of the morning has changed – you have a smile on your face before the coffee even reached your blood stream.

Here at MUO, we’ve focused a lot on desktop backgrounds, such as Saikat’s article on how to create your own or Tina’s list of impressive resources to pimp out your desktop.

In order to promote those positive vibes that’ll get your days off to a good start, I’d like to offer up eight free wallpaper sites I found that offer the best funny wallpapers for your desktop that you’ll find anywhere. Browse through the listings on these websites, pick and install the wallpaper that suits your personality and sense of humor, and get ready to smile every time you boot up your computer, or otherwise catch a glimpse of your computer desktop.

Top 8 Funny Computer Wallpaper Sites

Of all of the sites that I reviewed, I’m going to start with my favorite, because I actually decided to use one of the funny computer wallpapers that I discovered there. This site is Get A Wallpaper. Unlike most of the other websites I’ll be covering, this site only has five pages of wallpapers, rather than dozens. However, these select wallpapers really are the cream of the crop. They are high quality images that are both original or from movies that you’re sure to recognize.

funny wallpapers for desktop

As you can see in the image above, there’s the crazy squirrel from the movie Ice Age, from the scene just before he falls off a cliff. The site also has a lot of cool 3D artwork wallpapers, such as the one I installed – 3 aliens trying to figure out a human toilet.

funny desktop wallpapers

Be aware that a few of the images on this site (and a few others I’m covering) may figure some risque images, so if you have kids in the household, obviously steer clear of those.

The next awesome funny computer wallpaper website is Desktop Nexus. This site has over a thousand choices in the funny category, and all of them are high quality and very humorous. If both quality and volume of choices are important to you, then this site belongs at the very top of the list.

funny desktop wallpapers

Next up is a site called Tutorial Lounge, which you wouldn’t expect to feature anything like computer graphics, but in fact it easily makes the list of the funniest with a review of the 35 most creative funny cartoon wallpapers on the web. If you want a quick review of the best of the best, rather than sifting through hundreds of options, then this list is a must see.

funny desktop wallpapers

Another site that offers an impressive assortment of some of the highest quality wallpapers around is Zastavki. The “funny wallpapers” section of this site is just chock filled with some of the coolest photography and imagery that would make for some head-turning desktop backgrounds.

free funny desktop wallpapers

If you’ve never heard of the site TrueWhisper, its logo is that it’s a “Resource for Priceless Words.” The site lives up to its name in the funny wallpaper section. While these are a little unique from most other sites, because the humor is built around a certain phrase or quote, the humor certainly isn’t lacking.

free funny desktop wallpapers

Yet another source of high quality, funny computer wallpapers is Wallpaperist. There are only a couple dozen choices at this site, but every one of them is one of the most well-made desktops you’ll find. I highly recommend “A Seriously Armed Chick”, “Angry Squirrel”, and my personal favorite, “404 Desktop Not Found.”

free funny desktop wallpapers

For animal lovers, I highly recommend checking out Wallpapers Library.  The majority of wallpapers in the “funny” section of this site are definitely focused on humorous animal photos. While I’m not usually a fan of animal humor, I had to admit that I laughed pretty hard when I saw a few of these – like this one, for example.

Finally, another good collection that deserves mention is 3Gold. They are more for people who like “cartoonish” images for humor, but there is a decent variety of great backgrounds to choose from if you weren’t able to find something from any of the other sites.

funny wallpapers for my desktop

So, go through these sites and pick out your favorite – I’d love to hear which funny desktop background you like the best. Do you know of any other awesome collections of funny background images? Share your own resources in the comments below.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Say Goodbye to Repetitive Typing on Linux with Autokey

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 10:30 AM PDT

autokey linuxPeople who do a lot of typing generally discover that there are certain strings of text that appear quite often in their day-to-day work.

There are certain phrases like addresses, greetings, custom signatures that repeat themselves quite often — which may be a bother, especially if you’re not into typing. Text expansion utilities are great for such tasks. You can create snippets that expand to your liking, thereby greatly reducing your work. Not only that, if you often misspell some words, you can use these tools to provide system-wide auto-correction tailored to your needs. Autokey is one such utility for your Linux computer.

autokey linux

You can install Autokey via your distro’s package manager. For example, this is how you would install it on Ubuntu. You can search for Autokey in the Synaptic Package Manager and mark it for installation or you can use "sudo apt-get install Autokey" instead.

autokey linux

Once installed, you will find it listed under Application > Accessories on your Gnome desktop. Go ahead and fire it up. You will be greeted by a relatively clean and simple UI to begin with. Click and expand ‘My Phrases’. Now click on ‘First Phrase’ to see what Autokey has to offer.

A ‘phrase’ is basically a snippet of text that would be expanded or triggered whenever the criteria you specify is met. You can start by giving your phrase a name that will be used to identify it. This text will neither be expanded, nor would it be the expansion. Phrase contents is where you should enter the expanded version of the text. This may be something you type often; like an address, your email signature or anything. At this point, you have essentially created a phrase.

autokey tutorial

Now you need to tell Autokey when and how you want to trigger this phrase. There are a couple of options at your disposal here:

  • You can create an abbreviation for your text which when encountered, will be replaced by the text you specified above.
  • You can also create hotkeys that can be used to trigger a phrase.

Let’s look at an example to see Autokey in action. Say, you want to create an email signature phrase for one of your email accounts. Here is how you will go about it:

  • Click on the Autokey icon in the tray and choose configure.
  • Right-click on any folder and choose ‘New Phrase’. You can create additional folders if you want to organise your phrases better.
  • Type in a name for your phrase. Lets call it ‘myMuoSign’
  • Next, in the phrase description box, type in the email signature that you want to use

    autokey tutorial

  • Now, check "Use Abbreviation" in the Abbreviation tab towards the bottom.
  • Type in the Abbreviation that you would like to be expanded (say muosign) for the text you entered.

autokey tutorial

That is it, you are done with a basic phrase that just works. Now whenever you type ‘muosign’ it will be expanded to the email signature that you typed above. While we are here, let’s look at some additional options that Autokey offers.

First off, you can also trigger the phrase with a hotkey. To do so, you simply configure a hotkey in the Hotkey tab. Choose a modifier (or a combination of modifiers) listed in the tab and then click on ’set key’. The next key you press along with the modifiers (Ctrl, Shift, Alt, Windows Key) you selected will form the hotkey that you can use to insert the text phrase at any location.

The third tab, Window Filter allows you to limit the scope of text expansion for this particular phrase. You can tell Autokey to expand just the text if you are working inside Firefox. All you have to to is to specify a pattern that would match the text in the title of the window where you want the expansion to take place. *Firefox* would work nicely.

You can also have Autokey ask for confirmation before expanding the text. You can make certain phrases what Autokey calls, tray phrases. Such phrases are available for insertion via the tray icon. In addition, Autokey lets you temporarily disable expansion from the tray menu as well.

Autokey is a great tool if you do a lot of typing on your computer. With a set of well crafted abbreviations and hotkeys, you can greatly reduce your typing efforts. Have you been using clever hacks to achieve something similar? Why not share with us in the comments?

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

The Windows 7 Guide: From Newbies To Pros [FREE EBOOK]

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 10:14 AM PDT

Windows 7 was released about 10 months ago and it currently has a market share of 20%.

If you are one of the 80% of users who might be afraid to upgrade from Vista or XP because you feel it is completely different to what you are used to, you should read MakeUseOf's new guide, “The Windows 7 Guide: From Newbies To Pros”.

That being said, even those who have been using Windows 7 for some time likely to find a few useful tips here.


Download: The Windows 7 Guide: From Newbies to Pro's Now

In this 8 chapter guide, you will be able to switch from your current operating system to Windows 7 with ease. The guide covers everything you need to know from checking if your computer can run Windows 7 to utilizing all of the new features not found on other Windows versions. Plus a few handy tips.


By the end of the guide, you should know how to:

  • Check if Windows 7 is compatible with your PC.
  • Use the new task bar and desktop interface.
  • Customize your user experience.
  • Mange your documents and files properly.
  • Use and install the missing essential software.
  • Setup a home network and share documents and printers.
  • Install and play games.
  • and more

DOWNLOAD : The Windows 7 Guide: From Newbies to Pro's Now


Read it online on Scribd

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf page on Facebook. Over 24,000 fans already!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

How To Easily Change The Look Of Finder on Mac

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 09:31 AM PDT

mac finderApple is famous for its simple, clean and minimalist look on their products. Not only the hardware, but also the user interface of its operating system and applications. I’m sure most Mac users are fine with that, otherwise they wouldn’t choose Mac, would they?

But some people – especially those who switched from the Windows world – are accustomed to an interface makeover and want to change their Mac appearance every once in a while.

Mac OS X comes with features that will allow you to change its look. Even though these features are not on the extreme level, they are sufficient to give your feline a fresh new look.

Here are several quick things that you can do to change the face of the app that Mac users use the most: Finder.

(Slightly) Alter The Appearance

Logically, when we want to change the System Appearance, the best place to start is the “System Preferences – Appearance“, isn’t it? Surprisingly, there are only two options available here.

mac finder

There’s “Appearance” which consist of two options: Blue and Graphite. This option will only change the Red-Orange-Green button on the top left of every window to shades of Grey.

apple finder

And there’s also “Highlight color” that will change the – um – highlight color of selected item(s) in the Finder.

apple finder

So you can choose another color aside from the default blue.

apple finder

Playing With Icons & Colors

You can change a folder’s or another Finder Item’s icon with another icon just by dragging and dropping. To do that, right-click the item/folder that you want to change and choose “Get Info” (or select the folder and hit “Command + I“).

02a Get Info.jpg

Then after the Info window is open, drag and drop the icon that you want to use to replace the icon located on the top left corner of the window.

We’ve discussed this topic more comprehensively before so be sure to check that article out.

Info window is also the place to change the color code. Choose a color from the “Label” and your Finder item(s) will be coded in color.

02c Color Code.jpg

It’s a nice and colorful way to group similar folders or finder items.

02d Colorful Finder Items.jpg

Go Inside The Folder

If you go inside the folder, you can customize other things such as the font and icon size and the background. Hit Command + J (or Right Click and choose “Show View Options“) to open the “View Options” window.

02e Show View Options.jpg

From this window you can change the icon size (small or large) and the size of the font (from 10 up to 16). There are also checkboxes giving you options on what columns you want to display.

02f View Options 1.jpg

If you want to apply the settings to other folders, click the “Use as Defaults” button.

But something amazing happens when you switch from the list view to icon view.

02g Icon View.jpg

The View Options window will give you other different options, such as sliders to change the icon size and the grid spacing, icons arrangement, and the ability to change the background.

02h In The Icon view.jpg

You can choose to use the default white as the background, or you can change it to one of the available colors from the color picker. Click the “Color” radio button within the “Background” section of View Option window and click the color box to summon the “Color Picker” window.

02i Color Background.jpg

You can also use an image as the background. Click the “Picture” radio button and click the image box to browse for the image file that you want to use. You can also drag and drop any image from the Finder to this image box.

02j Use Picture As Background.jpg

And you will have a unique folder that you can brag about to your friends.

mac finder

This customization is perfect to quickly tell you what kind of content the folder has. For example, if you saved your 2009 Christmas holiday pictures inside a folder, you can use one of the pictures as the background.

But please note that the background image size is static and can only be applied in the icon view. Meaning, it will not be resized automatically when you resize the Finder window and will disappear when you switch the view.

And another thing is, I also found out that you can’t use an image larger than the screen size as the background. So you might need to resize the image a little bit to fit the background.

Have you tried customizing Finder? Do you have your own tips and tricks to customize Finder’s appearance? Share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.

NEW: Download MakeUseOf iPhone App. FREE!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Picasa 3.8 Integrates With Picnik & Introduces Face Movies

Posted: 02 Sep 2010 08:31 AM PDT

face movieGoogle’s online image editor, Picasa, has yet again been updated. The new 3.8 version of Picasa is yet another small stride towards an all-in-one photo organization and editing suite. It includes one major new feature – integration with Picnik, an online photo editing application.

But that isn’t all. Other new features make it easier than ever before to upload photos to Picasa web albums and gather EXIF data from photos.  Then there is the new “face movie” feature which, despite the odd name, is fun to use.

Integration With Picnik

Picnik, an online photo editing site that has been around since 2007, was purchased by Google in March of this year. The folks at Google don’t seem to waste much time, as Picasa 3.8’s biggest addition (at least in my opinion) is the ability to edit pictures with Picnik.

This is integrated seamlessly. If you find a picture in Picasa that you’d like to edit, you simply right-click it and then choose Edit in Picnik from the toolbar on the left side of the Picasa window. This open Picnik in Picasa itself. You don’t need to register a new account to edit or save the photo, and photos saved in Picnik can save directly to your hard drive, a process that only takes a few seconds.

face movie

Picnik in Picasa 3.8 has some overlap with the editing functions that already exist in Picasa. The functions that overlap include Crop and Red Eye. The Exposure, Colors and Sharpen functions overlap somewhat – their basic functionality is already in Picasa, but the Picnik versions seem to produce slightly different results in some photos.

New functions include Rotate, Resize and Picnik’s one-click Auto-fix. Resize was previously possible, but only through a clunky process that involved exporting a picture.

Face Movies

Another cool feature that has been added in Picasa 3.8 is the addition of “face movies.” The name actually explains the concept fairly well – a face movie is a picture slideshow that is centered on someone’s face. All the photos featuring that person are displayed and oriented so that the person’s face is front and center. Google describes this as a good way to make a presentation for a birthday or wedding when you’re in a bind (i.e. you forgot). So, slackers, listen up!

picasa make movie

You first need the Picasa client to identify the person you want to make a movie of. You can do this by having an album of their photos open and then opening the People tab by clicking on the small icon of a person in the lower right hand corner. Name the person whose face Picasa has identified to create the album, which will appear under the people section of the organization tab on the left side of Picasa.

Open the person’s album and then click the Create Face Movie icon beside the thumbnail of the person’s face.  Picasa will create a movie automatically, but you can adjust the transitions, add an audio track, and make other minor changes.

Those Other Additions

Finally we come to the two least interesting additions – although to a few users they may be very, very important.

picasa face movie

The first is the ability to do batch uploads to Picasa web albums from the Picasa client. The batch upload option is found under the Tools menu. You can simply select the albums that you want to upload to web albums by checking them. You can also decide the size at which they should be uploaded, who can view them, and the sync status. Once you’ve picked what you’d like to upload you only need to click the OK button – and off they go into the cloud!

The final new feature is the properties panel. This panel opens on the right side of the Picasa client when you click the properties tab, a small information icon located in the bottom right of the client. The properties panel shows EXIF picture data like photo date, the camera used to take the photo, the focal length and more.


These updates to Picasa simply serve to further refine the client. The addition of Picnik is exciting not only because of what it adds now but also because of what it might add in the future. We’re getting close to Picasa 4.0, and refinements to Picnik for the 4.0 release would certainly make sense. Of course, Google might have some other tricks up its sleeve that we don’t know about yet.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

No comments:

Post a Comment