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Launching applications is a functional, necessary action that you take every day. Rather than being an exciting process, when it comes to opening an app, the less friction and interaction required the better.

For a long time, Mac users have favoured a dedicated application launcher for doing just this. Although you can store plenty of handy application shortcuts in your Dock, it soon becomes cluttered and difficult to navigate (and it requires the use of your mouse).

For speedy application launching, few options are better than a piece of software such as Quicksilver, LaunchBar or Alfred. For the purists among you, OS X’s built-in search tool – Spotlight – is perfectly adept at this. Just invoke it using Cmd-Space and type the name of the application you’d like to start!

But which do you prefer to use on a daily basis? Or are you perfectly happy with the OS X Dock? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

We’d like to say a big thank you to this month’s Mac.AppStorm sponsors, and the great software they create! If you’re interested in advertising, you can purchase a banner advertisement through BuySellAds, or sign up for a Weekly Sponsorship slot.

Thank you to the fantastic applications we had sponsoring each week during the month, all of which we personally recommend you download and try out!

  • Jumsoft – This is a fantastic selection of fifteen beautifully hand crafted themes for Apple’s Keynote, designed to make your presentations stand out from the crowd.
  • Ensoul – With this nifty Mac app, you can create beautiful iPhone backgrounds and contact images with just a few clicks, work in a gorgeous interface, and transfer everything to your iPhone easily.
  • Twitterrific – I absolutely love every application that the Iconfactory produce, and this Twitter client is no exception. It’s thoughtfully designed, beautiful to look at, and a pleasure to use.
  • Pixelmator – One of my all-time favourite apps, this is a fantastic alternative to the increasingly-bloated Photoshop for all manner of graphic editing work.

Finally, thanks to you for reading AppStorm this month, and for checking out the software that our sponsors create. I really appreciate it – you make the site what it is!

I’d like to say a big thank you to this week’s sponsor, Flux. Billed as an advanced HTML5 Web design application, Flux is capable of creating stunning sites from scratch. Far from being a simple template based solution, it’s a creative design environment.

Flux can edit existing sites, or create brand new ones using HTML and CSS. You can even drag and drop in pre-designed objects like photo galleries and navigations menus.

Whether you’re wanting to create your first website, or you’re a seasoned pro, Flux is definitely worth giving a try! It’s always good to try out a range of design and development tools, and I’d certainly recommend experimenting with Flux today.

It’s priced at $119.99 on the Mac App Store, and you can download a fully-functional trial from The Escapers website to decide whether its for you.

It’s time for another “Ask the Editor” post today. A big thank you to everyone who sent in their questions – it’s great to have the chance to help you out with your Mac-related queries and quibbles.

Today I’ll be offering some advice about ripping dual-layer DVDs, whether it’s worth upgrading to Snow Leopard with the imminent release of Lion around the corner, and suggesting a few utilities for “window snapping” tools.

Read on for plenty of handy Mac knowledge, and I hope you’ll find most of it useful for your own situation as well!

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Winners Announced

Thanks to everyone who took part in the giveaway this week! I’m excited to let you know that the winners have been chosen, and congratulations are in order to:

  1. Lissa O
  2. Adam Cloninger
  3. Miklos
  4. Brad Bolman
  5. Touchfreak

Well done to the lucky winners, and we’ll be in touch soon with your license code!

Old Competition Post

To celebrate the release of Watts on the Mac App Store, I’m excited to let you know that we have five promo codes to give away today!

Watts is a simple menubar utility that regularly walks you through the process of calibrating your MacBook battery. This is something you should do from time to time, to ensure that you gain the maximum life from the notebook battery. We’ve reviewed Watts in the past, and found it to be a really helpful utility for assisting with keeping your battery in tip-top shape.

Entering the competition is really simple – all you need to do is leave a comment on the post. That’s it! Let us know why you’d like to win, tell us a funny story, or just have a short rant about your terrible laptop battery life.

The competition will run for one week, and I’ll pick five winning comments at random on Wednesday 6th April. Best of luck, and be sure to check out Watts in the meantime and download a trial copy!

Over the last twelve months the iPad has literally taken the technology world by storm. Apple has carved out a brand new niche in the industry, establishing the iPad as the best tablet computer available on the market. And the momentum behind this gadget shows no sign of slowing down…

Since the launch of the iPad, we’ve received countless requests from readers for a new site that’s completely dedicated to the device. I’m incredibly excited to let you know that today marks the launch of a new member in the ever-growing AppStorm family – iPad.AppStorm!

iPad.AppStorm is Alive and Kicking...

iPad.AppStorm is Alive and Kicking...

Don’t Miss Out: Subscribe Now!

We have some absolutely fantastic posts lined up over the coming week, and we’d hate for you to miss out… There are a few different ways to subscribe to iPad.AppStorm – hopefully one of the following options will work for you!

Win an iPad 2!

To celebrate the launch of iPad.AppStorm, we’re going to be giving one lucky reader a brand new iPad 2!

This is the latest and greatest piece of hardware to emerge from Apple HQ, and today you have the chance to get your hands on one completely free of charge!

It’s a marvel of technology, and would be the perfect way to browse the new iPad.AppStorm site! Find out how to enter.

Everyone needs a text editor – whether it’s for in-depth coding, or jotting down a quick note. There are plenty of scenarios throughout the day that don’t require a full-blown word processor, and there’s no shortage of different options available for the Mac.

Much of your decision will likely come down to specific requirements. Do you need a simple syncing solution? Maybe Notational Velocity would fit the bill. Is full-screen, distraction free writing important? Take a look at WriteRoom.

We’ve written about this extensively before, looking at 10 Versatile Text Editors for OS X.

Personally, I flutter between TextMate for coding, and Notational Velocity for everything else – I love knowing that everything I’ve written will be easily accessible through Simplenote.

I’d love to know what your preference is – feel free to leave a vote above, or share your thoughts in the comments!

This week, I’m once again incredibly proud to have Pixelmator as our Mac.AppStorm sponsor. One of my all-time favourite apps, this is a fantastic alternative to the increasingly-bloated Photoshop for all manner of graphic editing work.

Labelled as an “image editor for the rest of us”, Pixelmator’s interface is enjoyable to use while maintaining a simple learning curve for new adopters. If you’re already a seasoned Photoshop pro, you’ll feel right at home with the familiar palette interface and similar tools.

Pixelmator is based on Core Image technology that uses your Mac’s video card for image processing. This means that it’s fast. It supports a huge range of graphics formats, and the price of $59 is a welcome change to the inflated charge for many competing apps.

Although I still use Photoshop from time to time, Pixelmator has become by go-to tool for 80% of tasks that require working with graphics. If you yearn for a faster, sleeker alternative to Photoshop, give Pixelmator a try today.

So often, we marvel at the quality of interface design on OS X – the clean, simple layouts, and how you know exactly how to use an app when you first use it. But do you ever stop and think about why this is?

It doesn’t just happen by accident. There are UI designers working tirelessly to make an app look and feel absolutely perfect.

Chris Downer is the UI designer for Realmac Software, the company behind such OS X greats as LittleSnapper, Courier and Rapidweaver. Today, we’ll be talking to Chris about his methods, inspiration and much more.

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Winners Announced

I’m pleased to announce that the winners of our ColorSchemer Studio competition are:

  • iBenn
  • Sonal
  • Thor Adam
  • Greg Pipkin
  • Tyago Neres

Thanks for taking part, and we’ll be in touch with your license code shortly!

Old Competition Post

We have another great competition for you this week, offering the chance to win one of five licenses for the excellent ColorSchemer Studio!

ColorSchemer Studio makes it fun, fast and easy to find the perfect palette for your next creative project. Whether you’re designing a web site, magazine layout, picking wedding colors, or painting your living room, get your colors right the first time with ColorSchemer Studio.

It’s a really versatile piece of software, and one that we reviewed last year. ColorSchemer is well designed, fun to use, and it takes the anxiety out of coming up with effective and professional color combinations.

Entering the competition is really easy. All you need to do is leave a comment below, letting us know what you’d like to design a colour scheme for!

The competition will run for one week, and I’ll pick five winning comments at random on Thursday, 31st March. Best of luck, and why not take a look at ColorSchemer Studio on the Mac App Store while you wait for the results?

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