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WideMail released for Apple Mail Leopard

Posted 16 years, 6 months ago by Tim    2 comments

Dane Harnett has released WideMail 0.1.0 for OS X 10.5 Apple Mail users. WideMail splits the Apple Mail main window horizontally, rather than vertically, which really suits the widescreens most Macs come with these days. It also supports Outlook style dual line for each message, which has not been possible until now. WideMail was also easy to install, and works very reliably so far.

WideMail in action
WideMail in action

In OSX 10.4 Tiger, there was a similar utility called LetterBox, however this has not been updated for Leopard yet. A comment in this MaxOSXHints hint gives a possible way to enable LetterBox in Leopard although I haven't tested this.

The Links:

WideMail http://www.daneharnett.com/widemail/

LetteBox http://arnly.net/software/letterbox/

9 Ways Apple Could Improve the MacBook Pro

Posted 16 years, 6 months ago by Tim    10 comments

The 17" MacBook Pro
The 17" MacBook Pro
Amazingly, the very latest MacBook Pro case design has changed very little in almost 5 years, since Apple introduced the Aluminium PowerBook G4, back in January 2003. Apple will probably produce a new MacBook Pro soon, but how can they improve an already great machine?

Even though the original Aluminium PowerBook G4 looks almost identical to the MacBook Pro of today, there have a been a lot of changes including:

  • Wireless antennae moved from the screen sides, to the hinge
  • FireWire 800 port was added
  • USB ports upgraded from 2 to 3
  • TouchPad changed from ADB to a USB touchpad, allowing multi finger scrolling
  • The keyboard backlight was made a lot brighter
  • The sound inputs and outputs changed from Analog to Analog and digital
  • A Sudden Motion Sensor was added
  • Increased screen resolution
  • Glossy screen option
  • MagSafe adaptor replaces the easily bent power plugs of the past
  • Infrared makes a comeback with the remote control
  • Built in SVideo was replaced by a DVI adaptor
  • DialUp modem port was replaced by a USB modem adaptor
  • A camera was added

So with a likely design refresh approaching, how can Apple improve the MacBook Pro any further? Here's our wish list.

  1. Screen Tilt

    If you've ever tried to use a MacBook pro while lying on the couch with your knees up, you'll quickly discover the MacBook Pro screen simply doesn't tilt very far back. Somehow it manages to tilt back a few degrees less than the PowerBook that preceded it. If you're using the laptop on a steep angle, it's not possible to make the screen stand vertical, and thanks to the way the hinge is weighted, the screen flops down very easily. While on a flat surface the hinge is very good, and is miles easier to open and close than many laptops, especially with one hand. It would however be nice if it was tighter when vertical, or if it could bend back further, preferably completely flat.

  2. Microphone Input

    For some reason the PowerBooks and MacBook Pros have always had a line in port, but not a microphone port. A line in port does not provide power, meaning all the unpowered microphones and headsets you can commonly buy won't work. While the built in microphone is often adequate, being able to plug in a microphone would be very handy. This is especially true now that VOIP applications such as iChat and Skype are so popular. If you want a microphone input, you have to buy a USB or Bluetooth microphone, or invest in an iMic from Griffin.
    Ideally this port would be software switchable, so it can be used as either.
  3. New Keyboard

    With the recent release of the stunning new Apple keyboards, it's obvious Apple will update the MacBook Pro keyboards to match, probably with the next major revision. From all accounts, they are great to use, and it will be good to have consistency with the function key placements. Here's hoping they also bring out a full wireless keyboard with number pad soon.

  4. Second Trackpad Button

    For a long time people have wanted a second trackpad button, and Apple seem adamant not to let it happen. The two finger tap is certainly a step towards the right direction, however it would be nice if the button worked like a mighty mouse, where the trackpad button could be divided into left and right. With many users running Windows and other OS's on their Macs, this would be even more handy.

  5. The Titanium PowerBook
    The Titanium PowerBook

    Improved Visual Design

    While visual design is very subjective, I've always felt the monotonous silver design never looked as 'stunning' as it should. When the Titanium PowerBook was released it blew everyone away with it's super slim design and the dual grey scheme and black keyboard. When the Aluminium PowerBooks were introduced, it was more like a safe, lacklustre step sideways. While not a bad design as such, it just wasn't the boundary pushing works of art like the various iMacs, the UFO style Airport Extreme basestations, or even the new keyboards. On the positive, the fact the MacBook Pro still looks good is a testament to the timeless design, it's just not as amazing as it could be. It's also proved to be pretty durable which is probably more important than looks. Hopefully Apple can produce that wow factor with the next version, and keep it functionally as good.

  6. Dual Hard Drives

    Imagine having 2 hard drives in your MacBook Pro. There could be two great reasons to do this. Firstly you could simply opt for 2 large hard drives. This would be handy for video editing work, storing all your stuff, or for running Windows and MacOS, each with it's own drive. The other idea is to run a Flash drive in conjunction with a normal hard drive. This would be good for boot up and virtual memory, and could be faster, quieter, and use less battery power. The only problem with flash is it's expensive and has smaller storage capacity. A flash drive combined with a typical hard drive would give the best of both worlds.

  7. Better Airport Reception

    One disadvantage to using a metal case is a wireless reception that's not as good as plastic laptops. What would people prefer? An aluminium case, or better WiFi reception?

  8. Bring Back the Built-in Dial-up Modem?

    Not having a built in dial up modem is a bit of a pain, especially for those that travel around. The one time you want a dial up modem is while travelling, now you have to buy and carry around a USB dongle, or an older Airport Extreme base station with built in modem (which are getting harder to find now). I guess Apple thought a modem is a device only a certain percentage of people will use, and thus it doesn't need to be built in. Also you have to carry around a cable anyway, so why not a cable and dongle. Do other people miss the built in modem?

  9. MacBook Pro in Black

    The black iPod nano really looks great, why not make a black MacBook Pro? Even better, being able to choose your colour.

Well that's our wishlist for the next MacBook Pros, if you have any other ideas feel free to leave a comment below.

Quick Leopard Report: Spotlight vs QuickSilver

Posted 16 years, 7 months ago by Tim    8 comments

Searching for "pho" brings up both PhotoShop and PhotoBooth
Searching for "pho" brings up both PhotoShop and PhotoBooth
Spotlight is now very impressive. For people using QuickSilver as a simple Application launcher, there's may not be any reason to keep using it.

Both Spotlight and QuickSilver work as an application launcher in the same way. Hit a key combo, start typing a few letters of the application you want, and press enter. I just updated QuickSilver and it works great in Leopard.

Spotlight will remember what application you last used for a specific combination of letters, for example typing "pho" for the first time brings up "PhotoShop" as the first choice. If you instead select "PhotoBooth", the next time you type "pho" PhotoBooth will appear as the first choice.

QuickSilver isn't quite as automatic, but gives the user a bit more control, with the ability to right click on either application and select 'Set as default for "pho"'

Obviously QuickSilver has far more capabilities than just launching applications, but I imagine many users won't be doing more than that. The only other feature I use is global key commands to skip tracks in iTunes.

Spotlight has also made some other improvements, including removing the very odd "Show All" panel that was in Tiger. It wasn't really a panel, and it wasn't really a window, being a weird hybrid that didn't work with Exposé or the dock. Now that panel doesn't exist anymore, choosing "Show All" simply brings up a finder search window, making the window easier to deal with, although perhaps loosing some of the functionality the old panel had.

The new "Show All" panel
The new "Show All" panel

After installing Leopard it took about 30 minutes for Spotlight to index our MacBook Pro, which has about 100GB of random data.

All in all, the faster SpotLight is, the more useable it is. As it's now working pretty much instantly, QuickSilver may be redundant as an application launcher in Leopard. For older versions of OS X, QuickSilver is well worth using.

More quick reports coming soon. Be sure to subscribe...

Welcome to Pro Mac Blog

Posted 16 years, 7 months ago by Tim    0 comments

The new Leopard Desktop icon
The new Leopard Desktop icon
Welcome to our shiny new blog. We'll be writing primarily about Apple related news and reviews, along with other software and websites that may help Mac using professionals.

To kick things off we're going to be reviewing some of the more detailed aspects of Leopard, the new OS from Apple. We won't be covering the generic mainstream stuff that's already been covered anywhere else, but delving into the nitty gritty of the system.

You can subscribe to this blog via email or RSS, and please feel free to leave comments.

For more Leopard hints and tips, be sure to check out the OSX 10.5 section of MacOSXHints.com

The trusty review machine, 17" Macbook Pro
The trusty review machine, 17" Macbook Pro