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First Look: Wacom on OS X

OS X 10.1 brings functionality to pressure-sensitive tablets By Dave Nagel
I bought Mac OS X on the first day of its release, used it for a few weeks and then switched back to OS 9.0.4. There were several reasons for this, including slow performance and a lack of the functionality to which I've become accustomed. But the main reason was that I couldn't use my graphics tablet. After all, if you've been using a pressure-sensitive tablet, switching back to a mouse for creating art is like cutting off your drawing arm.

Version 10.1 of Mac OS X, which was released this weekend, has altered the whole situation. Aside from matching my performance and functionality needs, it has also added increased support for third-party input devices, including graphics tablets. To coincide with the 10.1 release, Wacom has made available a beta driver for all of its USB tablets at its Web site (http://www.wacom.com).

Does it live up to my needs?

At first I thought the driver was a dud. I loaded it up, and all I got was inconsistent, jittery input. I thought I was going to have to go back to OS 9 again. However, I love OS X, and I wanted to make it work, so I decided to play around with it a little before giving up.

It was worth it. I found a very simple fix for the tablet's propensity to stutter and jitter, bringing full functionality (including pressure and tilt) to my tablet, and therefore full functionality to OS X. Here's what you need to do.

1. Open up the Wacom Tablet application, which is installed in your startup volume's Applications folder. By default, the tablet is set to support "All Applications." However, this is the problem. What you need to do (just with this beta release) is to select individual applications.

The OS X-native Wacom Tablet application closely resembles the Wacom Control Panel in OS 9.

2. So first create the settings you want in the "All Applications" settings window.

3. Now click the the "Add Application to List" button located in the upper right of the application window. This will call up a list of currently running applications, as well as a button for browsing for applications that are not currently running.

4. Click the "Browse" button, and select all of the applications you want the tablet to function correctly in. You should also include the Finder and the Wacom Tablet application itself. (The Finder is located in Macintosh HD/System/Library/CoreServices.)

All of the applications you choose will inherit the settings you previously defined for "All Applications>" Nothing further is needed, and you should now experience trouble-free operation of your tablet.

Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at [email protected].

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