Doing more with what we’ve got is something everyone tries to do, as optimization seems to be the route to being a clean, mean, efficient and systematic machine. And this applies, without question, for photographers who need to maximize the utility of all their equipment, up to and including screen real estate on our computers.
Many of us do manage to get by without the use of multiple monitors through clever adaptation, a deep well of patience, and a few gadgets and application features that help along the way. Not long ago, Apple introduced the ability within OS X to split the screen to allow for rather seamless division of two applications that fully utilized your screen for multitasking; it works, and I love it. Due to the nature of our work, that often requires a prodigious amount of multitasking, we end up toggling between windows and applications, resizing them, and going back and forth. As much as this is necessary, it clearly isn’t necessary that we do it the way we do, and the Fluid Browser is aiming to illuminate another way.
Narrowed to its core purpose, the Fluid browser is aiming to do one thing: to solve the problem of time and energy wasted toggling between windows and apps by providing a tool/solution that allows you to work alongside your media content without interference. It’s worth mentioning here that the media that can be displayed by Fluid can be anything from video from sites like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and Vevo, or files on your system such as MP4, MOV, MP3, Jpeg, M4V, and the inclusion of PDFs in that means it’s more than just a video overlay.
Essentially, Fluid is its own standalone browser, though not one intended to replace your typical primary stable of browsers like Chrome, Safari. Like a good waiter, it aims to be useful and enjoyable while engaged, and simply blends into the background when it’s not.
So How Does It Work & What Are The Features?
As already hinted, Fluid is a floating web/media browser, but one whose transparency can be controlled, and it is optimized for media playback. If you go to a website such as YouTube, Fluid will display a mobile version of the site, and it will recognize the media as video playback and scale the video you’re watching to fit the entire Fluid window. It tries and does exceedingly well at keeping media playback clean, and perfectly scaled, which is immediately obvious as you manipulate the size of the window.
Once Fluid is opened, it will remain ‘on top’ of all other windows and apps on your screen, and when it’s your currently selected app, the Fluid toolbar will be displayed. This is where you’ll find the URL box, forward and back buttons, refresh, favorites button, load file button, and the manual transparency slider. Once you click away from Fluid and a different app is the current one, Fluid’s toolbar will no longer remain in view, and the Fluid window will not be able to be moved. In order to do anything with Fluid at this point, you’ll need to either use Cmnd+Tab to select it, or use the little droplet in the OS X menu bar, or click the app icon in the dock.
In my experience, there is either a glitch or a design feature whereby the above behavior only occurs when the transparency is set to 70% or less. if it’s above 70%, the Fluid browser doesn’t allow you to work seamlessly behind it, and you can just click on the Fluid window to select it. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, just something to keep in mind. Oh, and another handy feature is the Chrome Extension that opens up your current page in the Fluid Browser. Get it here.
Use For Photographers
Well, that’s the easy part really, as the nature of this sort of application lends itself well to our way of operating. We do multitask, and this allows us to consume more information at once, for better or worse. The most obvious benefit for this, aside from the ability to watch endless movies and loops of Archer from Netflix, it also means we can watch tutorials as we put in practice what they are teaching.
There is so much to learn our there that comes in the form of video content, and our own products from our Natural Light Workshop, our new Lightroom Workflow Collection, and Lightroom Preset Collection tutorials are all video as well. All of that is possibly better consumed in a manner where you can follow along within the application in question. Previously, you would have to toggle back and forth, or have a second monitor or do some strange screen arranging but this makes those options seem archaic – aside from multiple monitors anyway. I’m sorry, but if you go that route, there’s no going back. Actually, if you’re in one of my absolute favorite apps that turns your iPad or iPhone into a second monitor with no lag check this out.
That said it’s a brilliant option and at $2.99, money well spent.
Did I have any troubles with the app? Yes, that’s the short of it. My web pages were not loading in mobile versions so they weren’t scaling properly, though I assume they’ll be sorted in an update. That’s it really. The app is very intuitive, and if you have any video tutorials at all, I think this will help you get the most out of them. And that’s a big deal, actually.