Inserting Pics and Marking Them Up Is Now Easier in iOS 9 Mail

A couple of neat updates in the iOS 9 Mail app makes inserting photos and then marking them up a lot easier and intuitive.

At an Apple seminar in Jenison today I learned that in iOS 9 the Mail app now has a camera icon above the keyboard when you type in the body of the message.


Once you have inserted your picture, tap it to bring up a toolbar with the new “Markup” choice.


Mark up your picture with a set of drawing, text, and signature tools.


This is a great addition that allows us to communicate more clearly and then saves a bundle of time without having to mark up pictures in additional apps.

Chrome Extension Pic2Pixlr Cuts the Workflow

I use Pixlr a lot for photo editing and design. I have always appreciated the ability to open images to edit by pasting in their URLs. That process is a lot quicker once you install the Chrome extension Pic2Pixlr.

Now instead of having to open Pixlr editor in a separate tab and then pasting in an address of an online image, all I have to do now is right-click that image and get the “Open with pic2pixlr” option. From there I can left click on the general editor or designer apps Pixlr-O-matic or Pixlr Express.

Find Pic2Pixlr in the Chrome Web Store.

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Canva: 23-second Intro – YouTube

Check out, a free graphic design site that offers premium features in a pay as you go format.

Below is their “23 Second Into” that effectively shows you the site’s main features. New users can also complete a quick tutorial to get the feel of navigating and accessing features.

Personally I like that you can upload your own images and if you connect your Facebook account, you can access all of those images as well.


Canva: 23 Second Intro – YouTube.

Crop and Export Google Drawing as Transparent Graphics

I got inspired by Eric Griffith at the Michigan Google Conference to start using Google Drawing more but I found it limited in that everything was on a rectangle and I didn’t know an easy way to export.

Today I discovered you could not only export as a .png graphic with full transparency but that you can also grab the bottom right corner and crop the size of your canvas. This is great for creating banners for websites or letter heads.

The only thing that continues to be missing is a quicker way to save that .png file into Google Drive without having to download it first and then upload it into your Drive account.

The quick and easy way to crop and export Google Drawings as .png
The quick and easy way to crop and export Google Drawings as .png

Photo Friday: No hating on the tablet shooters

Last year at ISTE a trio of us headed down to the San Antonio River Walk for a media safari.

I was “that guy” that some of you make fun of who takes vacation photos with his iPad or other tablet. What you see below are some pretty good twilight shots made with the Sony Xperia Z Android tablet. As much as I love my 3rd generation iPad, the Z made me a believer in the “other side” and I don’t think I would produce nearly the same results with my Apple device. Before you go hatin’ on “that guy” again, realize they might be on to something. Besides, there are a bundle of post-production apps that can then either enhance of take the photos to a new level of creativity.

Although my tablet has some varied photo settings, the key to these shots was stability.  For each one I found a solid surface to lean the device against. For the “Esquire” shot I employed the self timer so there wouldn’t be any wiggle in my image. Camera shake more than anything will derail your low light shooting.  The Xperia Z received a major upgrade in optics over its predecessor the Xperia S and features other fabulous Sony quality components.

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The Untapped Power of Apple’s Preview

Preview_iconHands down my favorite feature of Keynote is the Instant Alpha tool. It takes out background color and really makes a huge difference when creating presentations with icons and logos. I also do a ton of creative layout and design work in Keynote. With Instant Alpha it functions just like Photoshop.

My only complaint was that although I could export slides as images, I couldn’t export images with transparent backgrounds.

I shared this with my buddy Jon Corippo the other night and he mentioned using Preview to do it. I had really only ever used Preview to view .pdf files on my Mac. Jon explained that he builds in Keynote, saves as an image, and then opens it in Preview. The same Instant Alpha in Keynote exists on the “Edit Toolbar” in Preview (VIEW – Show Edit Toolbar). Once you alpha out your background you can export (under FILE) as a .png.

I had no idea.

The Edit Toolbar also allows you to add text and shapes, as well as crop and adjust your image…all for free.

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The Connected Educator Un/Conference: April 26th Preview

I am looking forward to April for so many reasons and one of them is the  Connected Educator Un/Conference in Jackson on April 26th.

I will be delivering the opening address (Wow, what an honor!) and then doing a session entitled “If you can’t build it in Keynote, you don’t need it.”

I sat down Wednesday with un/conference coordinator Dan Spencer to talk about the conference and what attendees can expect from the “learn by doing” session.


Keynote beyond Presentations

Apple’s Keynote is great for presentations but the tool can be used for so much more. In this screencast I explain diagramming, employing advanced photo editing techniques, and creating high-end looking video production. Created with Camtasia 2 for Mac.