The software that is included with all new Apple computers can be very handy for managing tasks beyond your personal life. Here are some tips for using Mac applications in your design business.
iPhoto, which is part of iLife, is Apple’s image management software. It is most commonly used to organize and view personal collections of digital photos, but it can be useful in other ways. Graphic designers are constantly working with stock photography and clip art. Use iPhoto to organize your stock and clip art so it is easy to find, especially as your collection grows.
Create a folder in your iPhoto library called “Stock Photography” and albums within that folder to organize your photos by subject matter, such as “Business” or “Music.” You can also assign keywords to your stock photos so they are searchable. It’s a good idea to assign the project name that you used the photo in as a keyword. Set up a similar structure for your clip art collection.
iCal, Address Book and Mail
Apple’s calendar software iCal is a great tool for keeping track of your project deadlines, meetings and important to-dos. iCal lets you create multiple calendars, so you can create one just for design projects and easily see those items by color code. If you have many deadlines or meetings for a specific project, create a calendar just for that project, which you can hide and show with the click of the mouse. Put important project dates on your design calendar, such as “First Round Designs Due.” You can then attach email notifications to any item so you are reminded of them an hour, a week or a month in advance (or anything in between…it’s up to you).
iCal’s simple to-do lists allow you to color-code to-dos to match with specific calendars. Use this to create to-do lists that coincide with particular projects.
Address book is a simple, well-designed application that can help you manage your business contacts. Create “groups” within Address Book to separate illustrators from photographers from clients, making it easy to find who and what you’re looking for. Along with common contact information, use the “Note” section of a contact to remember specific skills, URLs or anything else associated with a person.
“Mail” is Apple’s email software, as Outlook is for Windows. Use Mail to download and organize all of your email, from multiple accounts if necessary. Mail is integrated with Address Book, so you can easily send emails to people or groups in your contact list.
Font Book is a Mac app clearly designed with the designer in mind. When working in a graphics program such as Photoshop or Illustrator, it can be difficult to locate a font style that works for a project. Font book allows you to scroll through your entire font library, easily view each font at any size (with a scrollbar), and search for fonts by name. Organize your fonts by creating custom “collections” such as “Handwritten Fonts” or “Favorites.”
You can take your Apple software a step further with a .Mac account. For a yearly fee of $99.95 (as of September 2007), you can gain access to .Mac services and additional software:
- Use your iDisk (an online hard drive) to share files and automatically back up your bookmarks, contacts and mail settings.
- Host your web site or a web gallery to show a client a slideshow of design options.
- Sync your contacts and calendars from computer to computer.
- Use the included software “Backup” to protect your files.
Using the tools in a .Mac account, along with the bundled Apple software, can keep your design business organized and running smoothly.