While we have all of this information and inspiration at our fingertips, it’s often a little difficult to pull quantitative data from what we’re seeing. Mac OS X has some built-in measuring abilities, but they’re fairly limited and stuck inside the screenshot function. Fortunately, there are some third party tools available in the form of browser plugins and stand alone applications that aide in acquiring some actual data that can be useful when working on your own project or just to quench your curiosity.
Many solutions are often a little odd to use or just not there when you need them. PixFit aims to remedy that situation. PixFit is a very quick and simple menubar application that lets you measure anything that is displayed on your screen.
PixFit is a tiny application that runs in your menubar that will help you do some measuring as you’re exploring the Web and other applications. I do a little web development and have had to teach myself the different technologies involved and a big part of that learning is checking out what other developers have done and how they’ve made certain things work. Layout and alignment are very important aspects to any website or application design and I’ve found that finding measurements on the sites or applications I’m exploring to be more difficult that I think it should be.
Let’s Take Some Measurements
PixFit makes measuring anything that is being displayed on your screen incredibly simple. The application runs from the menubar and is very quick to load and just run in general. The application isn’t difficult to use. It’s function is relatively simple and it’s evident that that was taken into consideration when PixFit was designed and built.
When PixFit is active you’ll see the icon in the menubar. Clicking on that icon will present you with a dialog box and just a few options to choose from, find dimensions, preferences, or quick PixFit. We’ll take a quick spin through the preferences here shortly, but for now we’re trying to find the dimensions of something.
One Click Measurement
As I’ve mentioned, PixFit is able to present you with the dimensions of anything that is displayed on your screen. Measurements can be taken a couple different ways. First, just clicking around on the screen will give you some measurements. In this situation you’ll get vertical and horizontal measurements and PixFit will attempt to figure out what you’re trying to measure in between.
This works pretty well. The application does a good job of figuring out what you’re trying to measure. A little clicking around will typically get you to the measurement you’re looking for. I’ve found this works a lot better when working on layouts of web applications or native applications. Website layouts are little less decisive so it is more difficult to take measurements this way. With applications it’s accuracy is fantastic.
Another way to take a measurement is to drag over what you’re looking to measure. This is pretty straightforward, but essentially once you activate the tool you’re presented with some crosshairs. You’re then able to click (like we just talked about) or you can also drag and create areas to measure. A semi-transparent box will show as you’re dragging and as soon as you release the dimensions of the area you just selected will be shown.
Taking measurements is all good and well, but actually being able to put those measurements to good use would be helpful as well. Lucky for you PixFit has a handy way to paste the dimensions measured to your clipboard for use elsewhere.
There are a couple different formats that the measurements can be copied to your clipboard. You’ll have CSS and standard height and width options to choose from. It is also possible to customize how this functionality works exactly in the preferences which we’ll talk about next. Pressing the spacebar after you’ve taken the measurement will initiate the copy to your clipboard. From there you can past into your stylesheets or wherever you’d like. It’s a handy feature, especially for web designers and developers.
There isn’t a ton of customizing and changes that can be made to PixFit, but there are a few that are worth mentioning.
The first thing that you’ll probably want to change is to add in a global hotkey to activate PixFit. This will save you a couple clicks each time you want to use the application. If you haven’t sold out to hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts in general you really should. They’re fantastic.
It is also possible to change the overlay color. This can be helpful depending on the color of what you’re measuring. It is also possible to set up an alternate color here as well. This way you can swap between a couple different colors on the fly without needing to go back into the preferences.
As mentioned earlier you’ll be able to alter what format is copied to the clipboard upon pressing the spacebar. You’ll also be able to set up an alternate copy here as well. Not a ton of customization capability here, but it’s a pretty simple feature so a tweak here or there seems like about all that is really necessary.
PixFit was designed to solve a specific problem and that problem is measuring things on your computer screen. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you needed to do this, I’m sure you quickly realized it can be a bit of a pain. PixFit is an unobtrusive, quick, simple application that is designed to perform one specific function and it does so very well.
This application does have a fairly narrow target user group that would use the application regularly, but it really is a pretty handy little application to have in those random situations when you just need to quickly measure something on your screen. The price point of $5.99 is about in line with applications in this vein give or take a dollar or two. PixFit is a very easy to use, well built, useful application so if you have a need for measuring on your screen it is very much worth checking out.