Our basic mission at Mac360 is to highlight Mac apps we use ourselves, apps we would recommend to others, and to find attractive, useful, undiscovered yet worthy Mac apps.
Some of our reviews are of popular, well known Mac apps. Others are one-trick-pony apps. Still, others are in a class among the best Mac apps on the planet.
Graphic Tool Nirvana
It doesn’t matter whether you have a Phd. in Photoshop, or you’re a struggling Mac web graphic designer, the right tools of the trade can make magic happen.
This is the tale of a single Mac utility (so it’s not a full-fledged graphic tool like Photoshop or Fireworks) that is a must-have for anyone who creates, especially for web graphics and designers.
Xscope is one of those rare utilities where the value of the app is greater than the sum of the tools.
Seven tools combine to sit on a floating pallet or in the Mac’s Menubar to provide designers with functions not always available in even the most feature laden graphic tools.
Crosshair – The floating crosshair displays the screen co-ordinates of the mouse pointer. Likewise, the pointer can be set to any location on the screen.
Frames – Got grids? Frames sets market boxes on top of the screen in preset grids, perfect for frame layouts. Frames are easy to create, move, duplicate and edit, including aspect ratio and dimensions.
Guides – Many graphic apps have guides, but Xscope’s Guides float on top of everything on your Mac’s screen. Set the distance between guide, save guides for later use, and use guides on multiple Mac displays.
Loupe – My favorite. Yes, most graphic apps have some kind of magnify function, but Loupe does the whole screen, and displays color of any pixel in the center, which can be copied and pasted into any Mac app.
Screens – This tool is a good way to display a specific screen size so you can see how a layout will view in specific dimensions. You set the dimensions and Screens displays a floating, visible, screen-like frame.
Rulers – Duh. If you design or layout designs, you need an onscreen ruler. Some standalone rulers are free. Xscope’s ruler covers the whole screen, vertical and horizontal at the same time, including multiple displays.
Dimensions – This tool expands a tape measure line, horizontally and vertically (at the same time) and displays the number of pixels between objects on the screen. The dimensions can be copied. There’s a shrink mode to lasso objects to find their precise height and width.
Any two or three of the tools in Xscope is worth the price of admission, let alone having all of them in one utility. The tools are displayed graphically in the Mac’s Menubar and there’s a floating pallet which displays icons of the tools.
Xscope is offered on the Mac App Store (which makes future upgrades a simple click), but also has a welcome try-before-you-buy option from the IconFactory.
If you don’t use Xscope, but you are into design and layout, try it. Then you’ll understand. If you already use Xscope, then you already understand the value. Name a better, more useful graphic design utility if you can.