When I find a good application or utility to use on my Mac, I become an evangelizer. While I’m not new to web site design, I’ve never had the pleasure of using all the tools needed to build a web site—until PixoBebo. Now I have half a dozen ultra favorite tools that I use on PixoBebo. Near the top is IconFactory’s xScope.
If you’re a Mac user, a graphic designer, a web builder, or do anything that requires pixel perfect knowledge, xScope is a powerful suite of tools you will love to use.
xScope has six components which every one of us will need, at one time or another, in the layout and design process. Can you say onscreen magnifying tool? Can you say dimensions? Can your say onscreen rulers?
xScope does all that and much more. This is a Mac utility obviously designed and built by Mac designers. It shows.
Onscreen rulers have been around for years, but none have had the extra features as xScopes Ruler.
Yes, it floats onscreen. Yes, it’s easily moved, expanded, lengthened, shortened to fit whatever element on your Mac’s screen that needs to be measured.
This Ruler isn’t just left or right, up or down. It also does diagonal at various angles, and comes with calipers at each end for precise positioning. Waaaay cool.
Instead of using the rule to guestimate the number of pixels between various onscreen design elements or objects, use the Dimension tool in xScope.
Click the xScope toolbar Dimension icon and move your mouse across the screen. What you see is the left right, up down dimensions between any object on screen.
Use it find the dimensions between any two objects, within an object, even shrink to lasso an object to find the height and width.
It even does screen shots and copies dimensions to your Mac’s clipboard. How much time can this component save you each day?
One thing I found while building PixoBebo is that all Mac users are not created equal, and neither are their Mac screens. There’s all different sizes.
xScope comes with a Screens feature which lets you view screen sizes so you can see how a site or graphic will look on a certain sized screen.
It comes with a bunch of pre-determined screen sizes, but you can create a size to whatever dimensions you need, including the iPhone or Windows mobile, Mac or Windows PC.
This is my favorite tool. It magnifies a portion of the screen, usually wherever your Mac’s mouse pointer is located.
In and of itself, that’s not remarkable as a number of Mac utilities magnify a portion of the screen. xScope also captures information, including color elements in RGB, HSB, and HEX. It also displays screen coordinates, and, with a couple of keystrokes, captures the information in the clipboard for easy pasting.
That little feature alone is worth the price of admission.
Three other featured tools in xScope are of somewhat less value, but combined, make xScope even more useful.
Just as in high end Mac graphics tools such as Photoshop, xScope lets you clutter your Mac’s screens with Guides.
Vertical, horizontal and pixel by pixel, the Guides will display the distance between themselves. Guides supports multiple Mac displays, and can be saved for use later.
If you design on a Mac you know the importance of guides within an application. xScope’s guides are a delight to use. Warning: screen real estate is never enough when you have the right tools.
These are adjustable boxes which float on top of your Mac’s screen to help you compose layouts. Frames can be linked and moved around.
You can duplicate and edit frames, individually or collectively. Each frame can have a specific aspect ration, width and height, in pixels, and they can be saved.
Crosshair & Toolbar
Finally, xScope has a crosshair tool to give you the coordinates of an position on the screen.
All seven tools are conveniently displayed in a floating translucent charcoal toolbar which you can place anywhere on the screen, horizontally or vertically.
Each tool has an icon which highlights when selected and dims when deselected. I find myself using xScope more and more, sometimes just to check on the color I found somewhere on the web, other times to check my own work.
At $26.95, xScope is a wonderful value. That’s barely $4 per tool. Is there a better bargain even at free?