Windows freeware for annotating PDFs without watermark nags #

Windows lacks an equivalent to macOS's Preview app, but these free tools can handle simple PDF markup tasks:

Microsoft Edge

Foxit PDF Reader


/windows | Jul 10, 2024

New keyboard App Shortcuts for Messages not working in Sonoma #

Spent far too long trying to troubleshoot a new App Shortcut for Messages with commands like defaults find NSUserKeyEquivalents and mucking about with files such as and .GlobalPreferences.plist before stumbling onto App Keyboard Shortcuts Don't Work in Sonoma. Newly-added App Shortcuts in Sonoma do not work for; other tested apps (Calendar, Contacts, Dictionary) appear unaffected.

As jamesfromhaymarket points out, one workaround is to set the desired keyboard shortcut for All Applications instead of just Messages; assigning "Delete Conversation…" (press Opt+; for the ellipsis) to Cmd+D this way was successful.

/mac | Jun 23, 2024

Pause & highlight players in sports reels #

  1. Launch ActivePresenter 9 (free for trial and non-commercial use; watermark-free output)

  2. Click Open → select desired video

  3. Click on the time axis to reveal the playhead then drag it to the desired location

  4. Click the "Insert Time" icon on the timeline toolbar → enter desired duration (default is 2000 ms) → OK

  5. Click the Insert tab → Spotlight → use the crosshairs cursor in the video player to highlight the desired athlete

  6. Adjust the spotlight in the timeline by clicking and dragging its box or outer edges

  7. Optionally slow down or speed up frames:

    1. Define a range by clicking and dragging the green start marker and/or orange end marker on either side of the playhead
    2. Click the "Change Playback Speed" icon in the timeline toolbar
    3. Enter desired playback speed percentage (default is 200) → OK
    4. Double click anywhere on the time axis to clear the selection

ActivePresenter video timeline toolbar
Click to enlarge



/misc | Jun 15, 2024

Batch concatenate MP4 videos with fade in/out transitions #

  1. Install MoviePy (pip3 install moviepy) and ffmpeg

  2. Edit Python script below, adjusting fade_duration and input_folder as desired, then save (e.g.,

    import os
    from moviepy.editor import VideoFileClip, concatenate_videoclips
    def add_fade_effects(clips, duration=2):
        faded_clips = []
        for i, clip in enumerate(clips):
            if i != 0:
                clip = clip.set_start(clips[i-1].end)
                clip = clip.crossfadein(duration)
            clip = clip.fadein(duration).fadeout(duration)  # Apply fade-in and fade-out to each clip
        return faded_clips
    def combine_videos_with_fades(input_folder, output_file, fade_duration=0.5):
        video_files = [os.path.join(input_folder, f) for f in sorted(os.listdir(input_folder)) if f.endswith('.mp4')]
        video_clips = [VideoFileClip(video) for video in video_files]
        video_clips = add_fade_effects(video_clips, fade_duration)
        final_clip = concatenate_videoclips(video_clips, method="compose")
        final_clip.write_videofile(output_file, codec="libx264")
    if __name__ == "__main__":
        input_folder = "/path/to/mp4s"  # Replace with the path to your folder containing MP4 files
        output_file = "combined_video_with_fades.mp4"
        combine_videos_with_fades(input_folder, output_file)
  3. Run python3

/nix | Jun 15, 2024

Highlight & auto-track player motion in sports reels #

  1. Launch PLAY by Metrica Sports1 → click "New Workspace" → enter desired name for workspace → Save

  2. Click plus symbol under PLAYLISTS2 → enter desired name for playlist (e.g., "Goals")

  3. Hover over the Goals playlist → click three dots at bottom right of playlist entry → click "Add video file as a clip..." → select desired video clip(s)

  4. Click the dropdown arrow under Goals → click and drag video clips to order as desired

  5. Select a video clip in Goals → open the Annotations Module by clicking the crossed pencil and ruler icon (or using the keyboard shortcut, Cmd+5)

  6. Click the large blue button with the white plus symbol → Player Visualizations → select an effect (Spotlight, Ring, Magnifier, etc.)3 → select desired player → click Player Tracking4 button5

  7. When finished, hover over the Goals playlist → click three dots at bottom right → click "Export Playlist as Video..." → check "Annotations" and optionally "Export all clips as a single video file" → browse to desired destination → click Export

Pause and highlight

If tracking proves too tedious, pause and highlight instead:

  1. In step 6 above, rather than "Player Visualizations", click "Pause & Drawings"

  2. Set desired Pause Duration (default is 5 seconds)

  3. Click desired highlighting option:

Remove clips from playlist

  1. Highlight unwanted clip(s)

  2. Hover over playlist name

  3. Click three dots at lower right of playlist

  4. Click "Delete Clips"



  1. Worth skimming ther tutorial beforehand. 

  2. For importing long videos instead of clips, click the plus symbol under VIDEO MANAGER. 

  3. On very brief segments, the exported annotations/effects can start later and linger longer than expected, despite attempts to adjust their duration beforehand. 

  4. Only available in the paid LITE plan or higher, though a 7-day free trial (sans credit card) is available (exported videos display a smallish "PLAY by METRICA SPORTS" watermark in the bottom right corner) 

  5. Depending on video quality, amount of motion, etc., you may need to backtrack a few frames, manually reposition the visualization, and click "Player Tracking" repeatedly. The keyboard shortcuts come in handy during this process, especially Cmd+Alt+left or right arrow to move 1 frame backwards or forwards, and Shift+Space to start/stop Player Tracking. 

/misc | Jun 14, 2024

Disable Win key in Windows #

Because switching between Windows VMs and their macOS host via Cmd+Tab launches the Start menu every time and PowerToys Keyboard Manager utility only works sporadically.

  1. Open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout

  2. Create a new binary value named Scancode Map and assign value data of 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 03 00 00 00 00 00 5B E0 00 00 5C E0 00 00 00 00

  3. Reboot


/windows | Jun 12, 2024

Access iCloud in macOS guest virtual machines #

starting in macOS 15:



/mac | Jun 10, 2024

Pleasure, happiness, and marriage #

"They say...that the aim of the ignorant is pleasure; the pursuit of the wise, happiness. Pray, under which category would you class marriage? I suppose it comes under one or the other."


"Both," I answered. "Could you see the ideal woman as I would fain paint her to you, you would understand me better. The pleasure you enjoy in the society of a noble and beautiful woman should be but the refreshment by the wayside as you journey through life together. The day will come when she will be beautiful no longer, only noble and good, and true to you as to herself; and then, if pleasure has been to you what it should be, you will find that in the happiness attained it is no longer counted, or needed, or thought of. It will have served its end, as the crib holds the ship in her place while she is building; and when your white-winged vessel has smoothly glided off into the great ocean of happiness, the crib and the stocks and the artificial supports will fall to pieces and be forgotten for ever. Yet have they had a purpose, and have borne a very important part in the life of your ship."

Francis Marion Crawford in Mr. Isaacs: A Tale of Modern India

Calls to mind u/lucky_ducker's 2016 comment and Rufus' reflections on the fruit of action.

/misc | Jun 05, 2024

Add M4R ringtone to iPhone without a PC, Mac, or third-party app #

Repeating an answer here for posterity that I made earlier today on AskDifferent:

The only native method I've found for iOS 17 (that does not require using a Mac or PC) is via GarageBand:

  1. Save M4R to Files
  2. Open GarageBand and tap the + icon
  3. Scroll Audio Recorder and tap Voice
  4. Tap the Tracks view icon (looks kind of like an I Ching hexagram) at top left
  5. Tap the Loops icon (looks like a loop of string) at top right
  6. Tap on the Files tab at top center then tap "Browse items from the Files app"
  7. Tap your M4R file in Recents (tap Browse to locate it if it's not in Recents)
  8. Tap and start dragging the M4R filename, which will bring the Track view back up - drop the M4R at the top left corner
  9. Tap the metronome icon to turn it off
  10. Optional: Tap the + symbol at the top right corner, tap Section A, uncheck Automatic, and set length as desired
  11. Tap the drop-down arrow at top left, then tap My Songs
  12. Tap and hold the project you just created, tap Share, tap Ringtone, enter desired name, then tap Export.
  13. When "Ringtone Export Successful" appears, you'll have the option to tap "Use sound as..." then select "Standard Ringtone", "Standard Text Tone", or "Assign to contact".

If anyone knows of a more elegant native method for importing an M4R ringtone without a Mac or PC, please share. One might be forgiven for imagining that Apple intentionally keeps the process abstruse to encourage ringtone sales through the iTunes Store.

/misc | May 25, 2024

Rare addition to the macOS app page #

A breath of fresh air in this age of IAPs, subscriptions, and multi-gig downloads:

Free Ruler 2.0.8 [608k] {S} Floating horizontal and vertical screen rulers with measurements in pixels, inches, or millimeters. Available on both the Mac App Store and GitHub. 📺

/mac | May 25, 2024

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