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A better look

On the Mac, image is everything.

If you’re trying to get the most out of your film or flatbed scanner, Hamrick Software has a couple of shareware programs that will help you enhance the quality of your digital images. The company has just released another version of VueScan, a program that will help you improve image quality and allow you to do batch scanning while producing color-balanced and cropped images. The new version (7.3.2) has added support for RGB (Red Green Blue) exposure on some Epson scanners and has fixed several compatibility problems with Canon and Mac OS X. Hamrick Software also offers VuePrint, a program that will let you view and print images. Demos of both programs are free, and the full versions cost $40–but if you register for one, you’ll get a free license to use the other.

Pedagoguery Software’s A Smaller GIF will help you reduce the size of animated GIFs without affecting image quality or appearance. The program tries several different compression techniques, then chooses the one that will best minimize the size of the resulting GIF. As long as your animations have fewer than 256 colors, A Smaller GIF will recompress animations into a pixel-for-pixel equivalent to the original image. The program also functions as an animated GIF viewer. You can download a free demo; the full version requires a $28 registration fee.

Lemke Software has released a new version of Graphics Converter, a shareware program that lets you edit graphics images and save them in just about any format. The program imports about 145 graphic-file formats and has a user-friendly graphics browser, as well as batch conversion and slideshow capabilities and AppleScript support. It also allows for easy creation of images for the Internet. Registration costs $35.

Box Top Software’s Image Vice is an Adobe Photoshop plug-in filter that makes it easy to create decent-quality, compressed images that load quickly on Web pages. The program is compatible with Adobe Photoshop 3 or better and most other image-editing applications that support Photoshop. If you download a free demo of the program you can use it as long as you like, but eventually a splash screen and time delays will kick in. The full version requires a $49.95 registration fee.

MacStudio’s Greeting Card Creator will make sending out your own Valentine’s Day cards quick and easy. Greeting Card Creator comes with a whole slew of templates and clip art, including borders, backgrounds, and text libraries. Just choose a template and load it into Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, Freehand, or another application that will let you import EPS files, then copy and paste art and text. Download the free demo or register and pay $15 for the full version.

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