Daily Tip: Option-click menu bar items for additional information

The menu bar items Apple puts in OS X are pretty useful, but you can make them even more so by holding down the Option key when clicking on them. Note that this trick doesn’t work with all menu bar items, just Apple’s (as far as I’ve found. I haven’t tested every app, of course!). Here’s a look at the result of several items with and without an Option-click (note that I’m using Snow Leopard in these screenshots).

Battery, right-click
Battery, Option-click
Battery, Option-click
WiFi, right-click
WiFi, right-click
WiFi, Option-click
WiFi, Option-click
Volume, right-click
Volume, Option-click
Volume, Option-click
Bluetooth, right-click
Bluetooth, right-click
Bluetooth, Option-click
Bluetooth, Option-click

The odd thing is there’s a difference in the Time Machine menu, too, but OS X won’t let me take a screenshot of the Option-click version. When you Option-click, Back Up Now turns into Verify Backups, and Enter Time Machine becomes Browse Other Time Machine Discs.

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Daily Tip: iOS-style folders in Mountain Lion

Apple’s iCloud lets you store documents and other files on its servers for sharing across compatible devices. It’s extremely fast and handy, especially if you want to work on one project on several Macs or iOS devices.

On the Mac, compatible applications show a dialog box upon opening that lists documents that are stored in the cloud. There are two views available: list view and icon. While in icon view, you can sort document thumbnails into iOS-style folders. It’s an easy way to keep things organized and quickly find what you’re after. Here’s how.

  1. In the Open window, click icon view in the bottom toolbar.
  2. Your files are presented as thumbnails, along with their titles and modification dates.
  3. To create folder, simply drag and drop on file on top of another.
  4. A new folder appears. By default, it’s named “Folder.” Click the title to customize it.


That’s it! There are a few things to note. First, all documents in the Open window are sorted by modification date, including folders. That means you can’t force folders to always be listed together. You can right-click (or Control-click) on a folder to rename it or duplicate it and its contents. Finally, folders also appear in list view. Double-click the folder itself or single-click the white disclosure triangle to reveal its contents.

This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.

Watermarker for Mac is a handy utility

It’s often necessary to watermark the photos or images you post online. For example, professional photographers and asset sales sites mark demo images so they can’t be used by visitors. Watermarker for Mac ($7.99) makes the process very easy and offers several options. Here’s my look at Watermarker for Mac.

Clean Looks

Watermarker presents a simple window that’s immediately easy to understand. A large content area dominates the center while a toolbar runs along the right-hand side. The top toolbar features two buttons – Open and Save – and is not customizable. It looks nice running full-screen in OS X Lion, though those who dislike the linen may grumble a bit.


Adding an image and marking it up is wonderfully easy. You can either drag-and-drop an image into the well or use the Open command. Your image is nice and large and easy to work with. So, let’s check out the tools.


You can add a bit of watermark text with control over its location, font, position and color. There’s even a button to pop in the “©”, which is great because I always forget where it is on the keyboard.


I dragged my logo into the custom image well and it appeared on my photo instantly. Again, you can change its location and opacity.


Here’s something I would never be able to pull off with an image editor. Click the Strikethrough box to add a strikethrough to your entire image. Its color is customizable.

Finally, you can determine the size of the resulting image upon export and even create presets if you want to do the same thing over and over.

Many of you can probably do this with a tool like Photoshop or Pixelmator. The rest of us are happy to have a simple, low-cost utility that does the dirty work on its own. Watermarker is definitely one of the good ones. Pick it up now and get watermarking.

If Twitter kills its Mac client

There! Are! Four! Lights!

9to5 Mac suggests that Twitter will cease development of its Mac client. I sincerely hope that does not happen, because I depend on these indicator lights. I must monitor several accounts. The Twitter for Mac app lets me see which one has received a new message, mention or DM at a glance, via these handy lights.

Other apps don’t do this as clearly or at all. It’s not a convenience for me, it’s something I depend on. As much as I might not like it, I must monitor all these accounts all day long.

I’ve been wondering why Twitter would kill the Mac app, and my buddy Berserk Hippo make a good point: “[Killing the app makes sense] It does if they want everyone using the web because that gets them the most money.”

I cannot and will not use Twitter in a browser. This change would not only be an inconvenience, it would affect my workflow in a significant and detrimental way.

Minimized – My favorite apps at their smallest

I use Apple’s 11” MacBook Air, so screen real estate is precious to me. When I saw Ged Maheux tweet this image from Gavin Nelson, comparing the relative size of three minimized Twitter clients, I wondered about other apps. With that in mind, I’ve minimized the main window of the apps I use most often. I also took a screenshot to represent how they look on MacBook Air’s small screen. Let’s get started.

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WWDC 2012 keynote: the summary slides

I love watching Apple make major product announcements. They’re just fun. A big part of the fun is finding little tidbits that are mentioned in passing or breezed over entirely. Apple’s presenters typically end their segments with an overview slide. Those slides often contain the very tidbits I’m talking about: fun and compelling. Here’s a look at what was on the slides during today’s keynote presentation at WWDC 2012.

Here’s the slide that wrapped up the Mountain Lion presentation. On it you’ll find:

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“Paste and Retain Style”

I noticed this in iBooks Author tonight. Instead of “Paste and Match Style” like you’d see in Pages among others, iBooks Author offers “Paste and Retain Style.” Be default, it formats the text on your Mac’s clipboard to match the style on the template. That’s exactly the opposite of what Pages does.

"Paste and Match Style" in Pages


"Paste and Retain Style" in iBooks Author

Create Day One entries with Alfred

Here’s a great script by my friend Brett Terpstra, modified by Federico Viticci to allow Alfred to create entries in Day One. Brett’s original script used Day One’s built-in command line interface to create entries from Terminal or LaunchBar. Like Federico at MacStories, I prefer Alfred, [1. Seriously one of my favorite apps. I use it every single day, multiple times per day. See here.] so I was pleased to see that Brett’s script requires almost no modification to work with Alfred.

Well done, guys. You’ve made my night.