The Magic Plan app for iPad and iPhone deserves to have “Magic” in it’s name.
I recently helped an Arlington, VA, customer who had a new iPad and had just moved. They wanted to build a floorplan of their place. Using Magic Plan allowed us to create a floorplan quickly by clicking on the corners of the rooms. You align the rooms, add in windows, make a few adjustments to the estimated dimensions if needed, and you’re done. Once you get used to it, you can have a house done in under an hour.
Then you can even add in furniture to your floor plans or see what it looks like if you do a construction project and knock down a wall.
The app is free to use and requires a subscription if you want to export PDF files for use by an architect.
Many people have an iPhone or iPad as well as a Windows computer. While there are ways to sync an iOS device with Outlook or Windows Mail for contacts and calendar, the syncing never displays things the same way as it does on the iPhone or iPad.
iCloud Web Access
The easiest way to give people access to their information is to use iCloud. Use the icloud.com website to give them access to things in the same way it look on their iOS devices.
Create Web Links on the Desktop
Then drag the the weblinks for the specific App to the desktop. (This is usually the icon to the left of the URL and can be dragged to the desktop.) They’re formatted in the following way:
I like to rename the links from “iCloud Contacts” to just just “Contacts”.
Find New Icons
I also like to make the icons look like the Apple icons. You can use any icons you want, but these are my favorite. I download the Multi-Res ICO versions if available. Download them to somewhere that you won’t later delete. I put them in c:\Windows\icons\
Mail (for @icloud.com email) http://www.iconarchive.com/show/iphone-icons-by-judge/mail-icon.html
This set of icons is overall good if you want to make an iPhone user feel at home on Windows:
Change the Web Links to the New Icons
To change the icon:
- Right click on the link icon on your desktop
- Choose the Web Document tab at the top
- Choose Properties
- Click Change Icon…
- Click Browse… and find the .ico file that you downloaded
Then you can have a Windows desktop that looks like this. If you check off “Keep me signed in” when you login to iCloud, then you have a quick and simple setup that will be comfortable for iPhone or iPad users.
I recently upgraded a client’s computer from an old spinning hard drive to an SSD (solid state drive) to make the machine much faster. A simple disk clone did not work for Windows 7 to make the disk bootable. To make Windows 7 boot properly, the SID (Security Identifier) had to be updated. This is done easily using Paragon Partition Manager by just checking off the option to change the SID after performing the disk copy.
If you’re looking to sync files between computers, BitTorrent Sync is a great free solution. Previously, I always recommended Dropbox, which is still a great service, especially because it is simple and it keeps a copy on the Dropbox servers, providing extra redundancy. But if you just want computer-to-computer sharing for a couple or many computers, BitTorrent Sync takes out the middleman. It’s fast, encrypted, private, and secure. It’s a great way to move very large files or to create a backup of your files on another computer. Dropbox is sometimes slow and has had security breaches.
BitTorrent Sync is still listed as experimental, but already is quite usable.
The new Logitech Easy-Switch Keyboard for the Mac is an awesome keyboard. It has a big advantage of 3 keys that quickly connect to 3 different Mac or iOS devices. You can put your Mac on button 1, iPad on button 2 and iPhone on button 3. Just one press and you’re ready to type on the device. Unfortunately, to have these 3 buttons, the iTunes next track and previous track buttons aren’t there like on Apple keyboards. I use those all the time and its just not the same having to take your hands off the keyboard and mouse over to iTunes to click next. Fortunately, the Mac has the ability to define new keyboard shortcuts.
Step 1 – Create a new Service for iTunes Next Track via automator
Launch the Automator app and create a new Service. In that service, Run AppleScript and select no input for what the service receives. The AppleScript tells iTunes to go to the next track. Save the service as iTunes Next Track. You can create a new service and do the same for iTunes Previous Track. It is exactly the same process except change the AppleScript “next track” to “previous track”.
Step 2 – Define the Keyboard Shortcut
Your new Services should appear under Keyboard Shortcuts in System Preferences. They are at the bottom of the Services list. Here you can select the shortcut and then enter the keyboard shortcut you want to use. In my case, I chose to use “option command =” because the = key also has a + on it so + to go next track and – to go previous track. You must choose this shortcut wisely or it may not work. If an app that has focus has the same shortcut, it will overrule this one so you need to choose something that doesn’t seem present in the apps you are using. That’s part of why I had to use “option command” because just one of those with = is already in use in some programs I use.
Fortunately, the play/pause and volume buttons are still there so those don’t need to be re-created on the Logitech Easy-Switch Keyboard. Even though I now have to hit 3 keys at once instead of just the next button, the Logitech Easy-Switch Keyboard is the best wireless keyboard for the Mac.