tech, simplified.

If you're just getting started with the Mac and OS X—and especially if you want to use your new Mac with Adobe Creative Cloud and other creative apps—this new video course from Tuts+ might be just what you need. It started as one of the last projects I'd work on at Tuts+, along with the Spreadsheet video course that was published last year, and is now ready for you to watch.

It'll cover everything you need to pick a Mac and set it up with external hardware, along with tips about how to use a Mac for organizing files, launching apps, keeping things backed up, and more. Then, it'll dive into more creative topics like color calibration, Adobe Creative Cloud apps, alternative creative apps, and ways to configure each of them to work great for you.

It's a great crash course to get started being creative on your Mac.

The Email Marketing Book

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Just two month after launching our last book, this week my coworkers at the Zapier marketing team and I have launched another book about apps—this one, about email marketing apps. And it's huge.

With 12 chapters covering everything from email newsletter apps, transactional email services, and tools to send drip messages to the tips and tricks you need to make your emails the best they can be, there's something for everyone. If you're looking for a new app to help out with your email marketing, there's dozens of great options covered here. Or, if you have an app you love and want better ways to integrate it with your workflow—and make sure your messages don't get marked as spam—there's tips for you, too.

And, best of all, it's free. You can read it online or download it PDF, MOBI, and ePub formats from Zapier, or pick up a copy for free from the Kindle and iBooks stores.

Enjoy, and we hope you find at least a few helpful things in the book!

Ever wondered why you should use Amazon SES, Mandrill or any of the other transactional email services to send emails from your app? This article will take you through the best reasons why you should use a transactional email service to send your messages, show you some of the best options available, and then give you some quick tips on getting your email service integrated into your workflow.

Happy emailing!

Using Kirby CMS? Here's a quick plugin to let you edit any page on your site in the beautiful new panel in Kirby 2 just by adding ?edit to the end any URL on your site. Simple and oh so handy.

Programs are designed to be functional, with—unless it's a game we're talking about—little room for random art, funny quotes, or simple creativity. Except, that is, for splash and about screens. Riccardo Mori, a self-declared Mac conservator, recently rediscovered original copies of some of the most popular Mac programs, including the first versions of Photoshop, and put together a selection of their About screens.

Funny to think that my roundups of CS6 splash screens will eventually look this old.

/via Daring Fireball

For more old screenshot fun, check out my older post on The Screenshots of Yesteryears which includes links to a number of sites that offer incredibly fun looks back where the tech we use today all started.

It's All About the Lenses

When you decide to jump in and buy a better camera, the easiest thing in the world is to obsess over the camera body you're buying and spend your entire budget on it. Bad idea.

The thing that makes DSLR or mirrorless cameras amazing is the multitude of lenses you can use with them. The lens that comes with your camera will likely be mediocre at best; it's the prime and zoom lenses that make your camera a system you're buying into. That's the best reason to choose a specific camera from Canon or Fuji or any other company: there's a whole collection of lenses specifically for those cameras, and it's the ability to use those lenses that should drive your camera purchase.

How much of a difference do lenses make? Go check this article from Josh Ginter, which does quite the good job showing the differences in pictures just from using better lenses.

Surprising, right? And yet, as Ben Brooks reminds in his reply piece, great lenses don't always have to cost a fortune. That's actually one of the main reasons I bought a DSLR instead of a mirrorless camera: there's tons of lenses for Canon DSLR cameras, with many affordable-yet-great options. And, with so many DSLRs out there, there's a wealth of quite good used lenses, like my 10-22mm wide lens that I bought used for less than a third of its standard retail price.

You have to buy a camera to start with (that is, if you're sure you really want to jump into interchangeable lens cameras), but lenses should actually be the first thing you're thinking about. That's where the great pictures come from.

Well, actually even that's not true. As Ben Brooks said, "The most important part of any camera is you." But you'll be looking through the lens, so make sure it's a good one.

Now just try to not get addicted to buying ever nicer lenses…

Looking for a great way to send email newsletters? Here's our just-published roundup of 25 of the best apps to send email newsletters. There's everything from apps with great mobile apps to apps that'll let you send video over email, schedule events, and create surveys to gather contacts.

And, as you'd expect from the Zapier blog, there's a over a dozen ways to automate your email list, too.

Selective Restore a Mac From a Time Machine Backup

There’s something about that new MacBook smell, that clean feeling of having an original OS X install with no clutter or cruft. But you've got to get your old files back on your new (or newly wiped and reinstalled) Mac, and automatically restoring from Time Machine is the easiest and most obvious way to do so.

It's not, however, the only way. You can also easily selectively restore files from just the folders you want.

Just open your Time Machine drive in Finder, browse to your Mac's folder, and select the "Latest" link to open the last backup folder. Or, grab an older version if you're really sure that's what you want.

latest

Now browse through the folders and find what you want to restore. If you want to just get your files and not your settings, you can drag over just your individual user folders, or copy over the applications you want. Personally I restored just main folders (Documents, Dropbox and such), then brought just the apps I knew I wanted to use and left everything else on the Time Machine drive. That way, I’ve got a fresh start, and can still get back any of the old stuff anytime if I want. It’s a bit more trouble, but does get you the cleanest new install possible.

Teach Your American Mac to Use Metric

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Consistency is important. So when you have your Mac set to the American locale but live overseas (or simply prefer Celsius), you’ll likely find the Today Summary widget showing the weather in Fahrenheit annoying. You can change the Weather widget to Celsius by clicking the small icon at the bottom of the widget, but the written description of the weather will still be in Fahrenheit with wind speeds in mph.

Here’s how to change it without having to change the rest of your American settings. Open your Mac preferences, select Language & Region, then click the Advanced… button at the bottom. There, you can switch measurements to Metric, and can tweak further if you’d like—including switching your date formats.

Or you could just switch to the UK region settings, like a jolly good chap. Your choice.

So I Wrote a Book About CRM Apps

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One of my longest running goals has been to write a book and this year, by accident, it happened. It all started with the idea to write a roundup of the best CRM apps on the Zapier blog, which then led to another post breaking down the types of CRM apps and yet another about how to automate your CRM, and then I ended up reviewing each of the apps included in the post.

Before long, I'd written nearly 28k words across 6 blog posts about CRM apps, along with another nearly 17k words in the accompanying review articles. Everything came together and it was time to turn it all into an eBook.

And that's exactly what we've done. Thanks to the rest of the amazing team at Zapier, we've published the CRM articles as their own eBook, "The Ultimate Guide to CRM Apps". It's free to read online, and even includes ePub, MOBI, and PDF editions so you can read the book on any device you want.

You'll learn everything you need to get started with CRM apps, including the different types of CRM apps and the best apps in each category (including a separate roundup of just the best free CRM apps), along with tips from other teams about how they use their CRM and a ton of ways you can automate a CRM with Zapier. It's perhaps more of a booklet than a book, but hey: it's a great place to start if you want to learn more about CRM apps.

And if you'd rather learn more about other types of apps, stay tuned. We'll have more great app learning guides coming from Zapier in 2015 :)

By the way, Happy Holidays!