Posts Tagged ‘Mac’

Cheap Alternatives to Expensive Creative Mac Software

January 10th, 2014

OS X offers tons of creative software, but most of the popular options come at a premium price. If you don’t need a crazy amount of features, you can probably get by with a still very powerful, less expensive alternative. Here are some of the best.

When it comes to photo editing, most of us don’t need Photoshop. Sure, it’s great and powerful but it’s not the only thing out there that earns those adjectives. While always a beautiful underdog in the game, the latest version of Pixelmator ($30) just kicks some serious Photoshop butt.

For the cost of one month of renting Photoshop you get seemingly unlimited updates of the app. Pixelmator’s creators have yet to charge for an update. Once you have a license, it seems you’ll have it indefinitely. They just keep adding features, too, like beautiful filters, layer styles, drawing tools, and much more. It’s quite possibly the best software value you’ll find on OS X outside of Apple’s free-ish iLife and iWork suite (and that’s debatable).

Digital Drawing and Painting

Adobe Illustrator isn’t the only option for making digital artwork on your Mac. You could use the aforementioned Pixelmator, but you have a few other awesome options that are dedicated to more illustrative tasks.

On the free side, you can do a reasonable amount of work with AutoDesk’s Sketchbook Express. The pro version only costs $60, which isn’t too high considering you get highly capable software. For a little more, you can pick up Sketch ($70) which is a serious Illustrator replacement for significantly less money.

Novel and Screenwriting

You don’t need to invest in a fancy word processing program like Microsoft Word to write your next novel or Final Draft for your screenplay. You can easily find cheaper alternatives that may even work better for you.

Both Highland ($30) and Slugline ($40) both cost a fraction of Final Draft’s scary price ($200) and get the job done. They can even export into Final Draft format. The downside—or upside, depending on how you look at it—is that they both use the Fountain Screenwriting Syntax. You’ll have to learn how to use it, but it’s not terribly complicated. You can just type in plain text and then export your work as a correctly formatted screenplay when you’re done. It’s kind of like the markup syntax, but for screenwriters.

For novelists, you have lots of great options on the Mac. Ulysses III ($45) is my personal favorite of the bunch, as it provides plenty of organizational tools and a wonderful simple interface. Everyone has their preferences, however, and so the best option for you may be one of the other top choices: Scrivener ($45) and StoryMill ($50). For some, even the free and versatile Evernote will be enough to get the job done.

Video Editing

Final Cut Pro X will run you $300 and nobody really likes it. Adobe Premiere requires a subscription. Avid software comes with a premium price tag as well. Unless you’re a fan of iMovie’s interesting interface, you don’t really have a lot of choices for cutting some quick clips together. For $99, screencasting app Screenflow can do the trick just fine.

While not cheap in its own right or even a video editing app by trade, it’s well worth the still kind of high but much lower price tag. Screenflow allows you to add all kinds of media Quicktime supports and doesn’t require any rendering. This can be a bit of a problem on slower computers, but a reasonably fast Mac laptop or any recent Mac desktop should be able to handle 1080p without much of a problem. This won’t replace complex editing tasks that will require one of the aforementioned pricey programs, but it will quickly become your favorite way to casually edit your shorter videos that don’t require so many features.


Eye-Fi announces software for direct camera-to-Mac transfers

January 8th, 2014

Wifi-equipped cameras have long been one of those things that promise more than they deliver. In theory, you can take a photo on your camera and have it instantly and wirelessly transferred to your Mac. In practice, not so much. You either need to go via an iOS device, or go via a router with ridiculously-convoluted networking configuration required to make it work.

Eye-Fi seems to be getting one step closer to the theory, announcing beta software that allows photos to be sent direct from camera to Mac. The beta version is free, though you have to register for the company’s labs project to get access, but it seems the release version will be chargeable.

The app is only compatible with Mobi cards – earlier versions won’t work. Hopefully the reliability of the cards has improved since I last tried them.


MacSolutions Plus Introduces New Monitoring Software

December 30th, 2013

MacSolutions Plus – the area’s leading independent Apple Specialist store – is excited to announce the release of their new monitoring software, MacSolutions Proactive Client.

“Few things are more frustrating than working on a project and finding out your computer’s hard drive space is full or the battery is failing,” said Garret Cleversley, owner and President of MacSolutions Plus. “This new monitoring software is called MacSolutions Proactive Client and is designed to watch out for these potential issues and let you know when your computer is having a problem before it’s too late.”

MacSolutions Proactive Client checks for hard drive space and errors, RAM issues, Time Machine failures, missing hardware, failing batteries and more. The MacSolutions Proactive Client sends a report to one of the Apple-certified technicians at MacSolutions Plus, who will let the customer know if his/her computer is in jeopardy so it can be fixed before it’s too late. MacSolutions Proactive Client is fast, easy to use, secure and free for one year to anyone who buys a new Mac at MacSolutions Plus. Customers who do not purchase a new Mac can get MacSolutions Proactive Client for just $5 per month.

Since 1990, MacSolutions Plus has offered Apple sales, service and set-up to business, education and residential customers in the greater Buffalo area and beyond. Their store in Eastern Hills Mall (near JC Penney) features a wide selection of Apple products and accessories, including the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, iPad, iPod, cases, headphones and more – as well as one-on-one training and free group classes. The store is open 7 days a week (9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday, and Noon-5pm on Sunday). MacSolutions Plus provides in-store service, on-site service and remote service – including set-up, maintenance, administration, consulting, troubleshooting and emergency response.


Get Adobe Flash player