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Tricks of the Trade

(September 2008) posted on Mon Sep 15, 2008

Mandel offers some tips designed to help Mac users save time and avoid potential problems when preparing art files.

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By Rick Mandel

Zooming in or out is usually performed pressing the Cmd key and + or -. To bypass this process, hold down the control key while spinning the tracking wheel. This method is a much easier way to magnify images.

To view files for traps, add con-trast in order to assess resolution, and perform other tasks, it would be great to be able to reverse the colors on the screen. This can be done quickly by pressing the Cmd + Option + Control + 8 keys at the same time.

The Automator program is not usually on the radar screen for the classic graphics Mac operators, as their focus is imagery and not workflow. Following are instructions to set up the Automator workflow to resize selected photos:

Open Automator (in the Applications folder). In the Library column on the left, select Finder. From the Action column in the middle, select Get Selected Finder Items and drag the action into the large, empty Workflow area on the right. Next, select Preview in the Library column, and drag Scale Images from the Actions column to the Workflow area. Make sure it goes below the Get selected Finder Items action because actions occur in the order they appear in the workflow.

When you use Scale Images, an alert will appear asking if you wish to make a copy of the selected items before you change the image files. After the Scale Images action is added to the Workflow, enter the size in pixels of the desired longer side for your re-sized photos. Finally, click the Run button. Automator resizes all the selected photos and reports the results in the View Results area. Save the workflow with a name that you can easily recall. There are many other actions, and you can use the Explore Automator’s Actions list to find any that may wish to add to your workflow.

The last item I would like to address is a debate by all IT people, which is whether or not to turn off your computer at night. The argument comes down to the stress on the device of keeping it on versus the stress of booting up the computer every morning. Also, there is the question of energy savings, as the computer can be in sleep mode. According to the technical specs provided by Apple, with the Macbook, the power consumption is 11-17 watts when idle, 1.41-1.75 watts when sleeping, and 0.74 watts when it is turned off. Check your computer manufacturer’s Website for the specs on your machine, and if they’re not listed, ask for them.

So it seems that the real energy savings comes from having computers power down from on to sleep. The difference between sleep and off is minimal, but still has impact, especially when we’re talking about large com-panies with hundreds, if not thousands, of machines.

My opinion is turn off the computer each night. Heat kills. The stress of start up versus the heat generated by continuously keeping it on is the better choice, and will lengthen the life of your computer.

Tricks and shortcuts on the Mac are as widespread as the people operating the computers. Talk to enough people, and you will learn great ways to enhance your productivity. The programs and the operating systems have so many capabilities that it is impossible to digest the information all at once, so collaboration and relationships are the keys to knowledge. With the Internet, it is possible to be part of a network of professionals to ask any question about software, with instantaneous results. Join Apple bulletin boards and focus groups or print-related networks. Post a question and see how many replies you get. And please e-mail me with your tricks of the trade, as I enjoy passing on these fantastic tidbits.


Rick Mandel is president/owner of the Mandel Co., a 110-year-old graphics firm. He also serves as CEO of Screentech, a division of the company that specializes in large-format color separations for the screen-printing and P-O-P industries, as well as large-format digital imaging. Mandel is a speaker for SGIA, SPTF, MWSPA, POPAI, and more, and he's a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology.



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