App for simple layering of text and graphics?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by old john, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. old john macrumors member

    Nov 18, 2005
    I'm having to keep one computer running Snow Leopard as I still use two apps that won't run on later versions of OS X.

    One is AppleWorks (renamed from ClarisWorks). Although I've used MS Office apps since Word 4 in 1989, I found AppleWorks was better suited to mixed text, graphics and so on.

    I mostly used it for putting arrows and labels on maps when giving directions to events, but also for labelled diagrams such as this:

    Can you recommend an inexpensive, easy-to-use app that treats such photos, text labels and drawn graphics (such as arrows in the diagram above) as layered objects - one that runs on the latest versions of OS X? Please note that I'm not looking for an app with advanced/professional graphics functionality.

    Attached Files:

  2. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    I use Pages for stuff like that. £13 from the App Store. No idea of the $ price, but it won't be much.
  3. Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012
    I would recommend Adobe Photoshop CS6. It does wonders with text and photos. It also does layers that you can hide and unhide. It's really pretty amazing.
  4. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    While Photoshop is a great App, it fails the OP's requirements of:

    1. Inexpensive.
    2. Simple.

    I suggest that the OP takes a look at Pixelmator, while it perhaps gives him more than he needs, there are lots of excellent tutorials on the develpoers website and unlike Photoshop, does not require you to take a 2nd mortgage to buy it. Currently $14.99 in the Mac App Store.

    Also a new App, Napkin looks like it might be a good choice as well, for what the OP wants to do, but I have not tried it myself yet, but I have been thinking of getting it. Does not look like it has layers though.

    As David said, Pages or Keynote can be used to produce simple labeled diagrams.
  5. old john thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks for these useful suggestions. It looks that Pages will be the solution. Thanks Dave. iWork could be useful in other ways, though for mainly text-based documents I've used Word for many years (eg, typesetting documents to be printed for publication). I've created a 'library' of Word styles and macros, so I can do jobs quickly and efficiently. I wonder how my skills in Word and AppleWorks will transfer to Pages, which initially looks very different!

    I'll take a look at Pixelmator too. Thanks James. However, its name makes me think it might be aimed at pixel graphics (like AppleWorks Paint documents) rather than manipulatable objects (like AppleWorks Draw documents). I do have a pixel-based app I occasionally use. It's an old version of GraphicConverter (6.0), I use mostly to shrink JPGs or save in a different format -- I don't understand some of it's more sophisticated functions! (I must investigate upgrading it to the latest version, 8.5.1!)

    If Napkin doesn't have layers, I think it would be less useful.

    Thanks for your suggestion, Luis, but I think James is right that Adobe Photoshop CS6 would be beyond what I need. I do use iPhoto's editing functions, for example, 'Adjust Shadows' to brighten only the darkest areas of the photo and 'Adjust Highlights' to darken only the lightest parts. I'd like to be able to do this selectively to areas of a photo I select. Maybe Photoshop would help with that, but I expect I could find something simpler and less expensive for that too.
  6. rbrian macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2011
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    You can annotate pictures with Preview (View -> Show edit toolbar). It might be a bit too simple for what you want, but after you've drawn arrows and added labels you could then export the picture into your word processor of choice.
  7. James Craner, Jan 26, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013

    James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Sep 13, 2002
    Bristol, UK
    John, I went ahead and bought a copy of Napkin, and it looks like a really useful app. Given what you want to do I think it is a very good fit. iMore did a review video on YouTube. Take a look, it gives you a pretty good idea on what it can do. The call out feature is very handy.
  8. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    Keynote would also be excellent for the job, and better than Pages IMO, for that kind of work.
  9. svenr macrumors regular

    May 6, 2003
    Second for Keynote.

    If you're already looking into Pages, may as well get them both as part of the iWork bundle.
  10. old john, Jan 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013

    old john thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks James. I took a look at that Napkin video and it does seem to be aimed directly at providing the tools for the tasks I described. For anyone doing these sorts of tasks frequently, it looks very good. The user interface looks interesting, making 'intelligent' guesses as to what you are tying to do and completing it for you – the video shows drawing a very rough circle and as soon as it's finished, Napkin makes it into a properly drawn circle.

    Thanks Jack. Acorn looks good too and the user interface looks more similar to what I'm used to, where you choose tools to create objects and can then select objects to change their properties. It too looks very good for anyone doing these sorts of tasks frequently.

    Although I add arrows and labels to maps, aerial photos, diagrams, etc, I only produce them occasionally, just a few a year – I am retired. So it would be better value to get something with additional functionality. Pages may not be quite as efficient or versatile as Napkin and Acorn for producing diagrams with labels, but it is probably sufficient for me and I hope would also give me functionality for different tasks. For example, I guess Pages would give me a page-layout functionality very different from Word, (because Word tends to be rather orientated around a linear flow of text, despite being able to insert graphics and text boxes and manipulate how they relate to the main body of text).

    Thanks T'hain Esh Kelch and svenr. I had assumed that Keynote would be similar to Pages in how you produce the sort of diagrams I have in mind. Can you explain why you think Keynote would be better than Pages?

    Things that were good about AppleWorks for this task were:
    • I could paste in large images and work on them by going to Page Setup and setting reducing the Scale to, say, 10% and then view what I was working on at any magnification from 3.125% to 3200%!
    • Objects could be positioned accurately by turning off the Autogrid and using the keyboard arrows.
    • The Align Objects command allowed objects to be aligned vertically and/or horizontally, and by an edge (top, bottom, left, right) or by their centres.
    • It gave good control over the relative position of layers.
    • It was easy to set up arrows (say thick red ones to show the route on a map and thin black ones for call-outs) and text styles and colours and then copy them to new areas and edit them (eg, the words of a label, and the position, direction and length of an arrow).

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