Getting to Know Acorn by Using It

I love Acorn! But I have a few suggestions that might help those who are new to it. I’m a longtime full time author and heavy user of graphic editors since I make all my illustrations and book covers. For the last 10 years I used Photoshop Elements with great success. I recently bought a MacBook Air and love it! But since I still have PSElements on my iMac and old Pro, I decided to go for Acorn this time. First, many kudos to Gus and Kirstin Mueller, who are the nicest people to ask for help you’ll ever want to meet. It turns out all my problems were because after 10 years of everyday use the workings of PSE were incised into the wrinkles of my brain! So when something would work differently in Acorn, I would panic! But I found, after using Acorn awhile, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Acorn. In fact, after becoming familiar with it, I realized it’s a much more elegant and powerful program than PSE. To those who are switching to Acorn from something else, take heed. You have to use it to know it. Don’t expect to jump into this process and that process without encountering a little confusion along the way. With use comes familiarity, and with familiarity comes confidence, which means you won’t have to whine to the Muellers all that often, if ever. :slight_smile:

Here’s where I went waaaay south in the beginning. Every time you invoke an action, Acorn pops up a palette, allowing you to change attributes of the action. PSE handles this differently, hence my confusion. I wasn’t looking for a filters palette, for example, when I was trying to apply styles in Acorn. Once I found it, everything thereafter made total sense. Yes, I know this is clearly demonstrated by Kirstin in her superior tutorials. But PSE had quite a hold on me. Don’t let this happen to you. All the tutorials on Planet Earth won’t help you if you don’t use Acorn to discover these things for yourself.

Something apart from Acorn might be helpful. For 10 years I had been doing all my work on a big iMac screen. I bought a MacBook Air a couple of months ago, and the small screen made me nuts. The font sizes were so small I couldn’t read the Acorn screen. This isn’t a problem with Acorn, (which I thought at first was). It was the fault of a smaller higher resolution screen. It appears Apple sets the font size smaller, probably thinking that the higher resolution on this smaller size would still make things readable. That may be true for very young eyes. But go into System Prefs and try decreasing the screen resolution just one level. It makes a huge difference! I have mine set at 1280 x 800. You can go down two more levels, if you need a still larger image size. The lower the resolution, the larger the font size. Not intuitive, I know. Just try it. I ended my squinting problems instantly when I reset the resolution to just one level down.

Another way to solve the small font problem is to set up the zoom controls. These controls are independent of any app, including Acorn. This makes it possible to zoom in to a specific point on an image. It also hugely increases readability of the Acorn menus and palettes. In Acorn you can do this with Command - plus. But that’s a global zoom. The OS zoom control allows you to easily zoom into a specific spot on the image. First go back to System Prefs > Accessibility > Zoom (left menu window). Now choose Zoom Style as Fullscreen. It will show this already, so don’t change it. Choose the zoom defaults. Get out of System Prefs. To zoom in any app or on the desktop, or in your favorite browser, for that matter, hold down Option and Command, then repeatedly press the plus key to zoom up in increments. To instantly return to normal, press the minus key instead of the plus key. I’ve been spoiled on my big iMac screen and its easy readability, but I love my Air more because I can sit in my easy chair in front of the TV rather than sit on a cranky office chair in my home office.

Hope these suggestions help. In closing I have to say that Acorn is far and away the most powerful and elegant graphic editor I’ve ever used, and I’ve been at this for a good 20 years. Every time I change graphic editors I go through this nonsense with myself. Photoshop on my first Mac with its nine-inch screen, Super Paint, PaintShop Pro for the PC arghhhhh!, Enhance, Photoshop Elements, GIMP arghhh again!, and now Acorn. Acorn is the Mustang in the group while the rest are just Fords. Keep all this in mind when you start using Acorn. All graphic editors work pretty much the same, but it’s what’s under the hood that counts. Hmmm…. I wonder if Gus is thinking about developing a drivable version of Acorn. :slight_smile:

Good luck with Acorn!

Dick Claassen

Thanks for the kind words! We really appreciate hearing it.


Thanks for the post, hopefully it’ll also help other folks understand Acorn in the future.

Wow, Dick… awesome post!! Thanks for the tips. I’m coming from the debunked Fireworks program and totally know what you mean. I want everything to work the exact same way that I’m used to. But I’m forcing myself to use Acorn exclusively and not cheat and go back to Fireworks the days when I’m short on time. That helps.

And as you mentioned the creators are SO patient and helpful, especially with newbies. I find whenever I try and Google the question, the results of Acorn bring back all sorts of investment companies. I really have do dig deep to find “our” Acorn. Maybe I should be googling FlyingMeat instead of Acorn. Don’t know of any other companies that share that name. lol

Thanks again for your post. It gives my inpatient ass some hope!! :slight_smile: I DO love the program though. It’s so clean!

Hello, Esther! I’m glad you took my advice to heart and are trying to use Acorn exclusively rather than running to a familiar graphic editor, (in your case, Fireworks), because you don’t have the time to figure it out on Acorn. This is a problem for all of us whenever we make big switches to a “like” app made by a different developer. In regard to that, I want to tell you how to find an incredible group of tutorials on the FlyingMeat tutorial page. I have a need to modify/stylize text. Glow text, metallic text, outlined text, drop shadows, bevels, cutouts–you name it, I need it. You can get at some nice presets in the program itself. But there is so very much more you can do with Acorn’s tools in this regard. The question is, where are they on the tutorials page? Keep in mind that this page has a very loooong link table on the far left side of the webpage. One would think it would be easy to find stuff with this table. But this tutorial list is gigantic! That’s a good thing until you try to find something specific. To find tools that will help you stylize text, look way down the table until you find the header, Text and Shape Tutorials. To me, this group of tutorials puts this program way, WAY ahead of the pack! It took me awhile to find the mother load, but it was well worth the hunt. Also, if you just type the word, “stylize” (without the quotes, of course), in the search field at the top of the page, you will find even more fantastic tools that help you do things you probably never thought were possible. Before you all shut down your computers for the night, go to the tutorial page and type “stylize” into the search field. You will get a very nice surprise when you see the list! One suggestion to our fearless Acorn duo: it would be helpful if the table was color coded in some way. The links will be just the link color; that color can’t be changed. But the headers, which are just plain text, could be assigned a color. This would more clearly set off the links into groups. Capitalizing the headers, along with giving them a color other than black, would really make them pop. One final suggestion would be to separate categories with line segments. Color coding the tutorial table might seem like a minor point to some, but when I don’t know how to do something, more often than not I can’t find the solution in the table and don’t have the time to look further. At that point I solve the problem by abandoning the effect I was looking for and apply an effect I already know. It’s not idieal, but it works.


Hi Dick… I am loving it so far. And true about the customer service. If it wasn’t for that, I’d probably abandon it, They are wonderful and that save so much time on the learning curve!

The one complaint I had on the tutorials was that I couldn’t put them on autoplay. I have to keep going back to the menu and finding where I left off as it brings me to the top each time. If the vids were 5-10 min long, that would be OK, but they are 1-2 minutes, so I’m going back and forth constantly. I’d just like to sit back and watch them all. :slight_smile:

I feel bad taking up this space to chat, :slight_smile: If you are on Facebook, please friend me at /estherwarda. Would love to connect with you as you know exactly what I’m going thru!! lol…

Thanks, Dick!

We’ve recently uploaded all our videos to YouTube here:

There’s a play all button at the top, if that helps any :slight_smile:

Awesome!!! Thanks for the info!!