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Printing, Previewing, Annotating (Vol #2)

Inside: Printing three different ways and annotating your printouts (and PDFs)

I got a little carried away this week.

It all started with my plan to make a simple video on how best to print web pages that behave badly. You know, those pages that look great on your screen but when you print them it looks like a second-grader cut the page into small pieces and scattered them across numerous pieces of paper. (No, I take that back–a second-grader would do a much better job than how some web browsers mangle some web pages.) It’s so frustrating sometimes, and I’m a pretty laid-back guy!

Anyway, after making that video, I couldn’t help but think that there must be a better way. I explored a bit and made two exciting discoveries that had been hiding right under my nose. One lets you make gorgeous text printouts and the other lets you pick and choose which parts (both text and images) of a page you want printed. Then I started annotating my example printout and that one video turned into four. I highly encourage you read all four articles and watch the four videos (in the order below) because they all tie together and you’ll likely find that one method works best for some situations while another method works better for others. It’s always good to have more than one tool in your toolbox.

Peek under the hood before clicking the Print button

When you print a web page, rarely do you need all the pages that your web browser wants to spew out of your printer. Even a page that prints out just as it looks on the screen will often have comments, ads, footers, and more that you don’t need. Print one of those poorly designed pages that comes out of your printer all mangled and you’ll likely throw out more paper than you keep.

So save your time, your paper and your printer toner and watch “How to preview a printout and print selected pages.”

Gorgeous text printouts

About a year ago Safari 5 added a feature called Reader. It was touted as a neat way to read the main content of a web page without being distracted by all that other stuff on the page. You know things like menus to take you to other parts of the website and those pesky ads that help website owner provide the information for free. But I digress.

I tried the Reader feature when it came out but quickly forgot about it until the other day when I was looking for better ways to print misbehaving web pages. I clicked on the Reader button and then the printer icon and WOW, was I impressed. If you sometimes want to print just a web page’s text but you want it to look great, then watch “How to make nice text printouts using Safari Reader.”

Print exactly what you want

The Safari Reader printing solution is great for text but sometimes you want to also print some of the images on a web page.

I discovered a Safari Extension that lets you pick the parts of a web page you want printed. It’s easy to install (I’ve never seen an easier installation) and easy to use. I show you everything you need to know in “How to print selected parts of web pages with PrintPlus.”

That video will also introduce you to the Safari Extension Gallery, where you should explore to see if any of the other many extensions sound like something you could use.

Add your personal touch

Now that you know a few different ways to print a web page just how you want, how about spicing things up by taking a crayon or highlighter to it? You don’t need to take your hands off the keyboard and mouse because your Mac lets you do this right inside the Preview application.

You’ll be adding your own text, arrows, ovals, and highlighting after you watch “How to annotate a printout or PDF in Preview.”

Word of the Week

The word is “address”.

Sure, you know what an address is. My purpose here is to make sure you instantly know an “email address” from a “website address” (also known as a URL). I took my mom out to The T Room for tea on Mother’s Day and she asked me a question that made me realize she sometimes mixes up email addresses and website addresses.

She had been to this place before but said she couldn’t find their website. She entered the address from their business card into Safari but it didn’t work. I grabbed one of their business cards and discovered the source of her problems. She had entered their email address into Safari. In her defense, both the website address and email address were in the same font and the visual flow of the card leads you right to the email address.

So I told her a quick rule to always be able to tell the difference:

“If it has an @ sign in it, it’s an email address. If it doesn’t, it’s a website address. Use email addresses when you want to send them an email. Use a website address to surf their website.”

I just now realized that my @ rule has one now popular exception. If it has an @ sign at the beginning, it’s probably a Twitter handle. If you don’t use Twitter, don’t worry about that. If you do, you already knew that.

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