Convenient color coding for visual thinkers
Naturally, you have not filled your Mac's desktop with folders. You've done it with files. But from time to time, when you can't see anything any more, you make some temporary folders and move everything into there. Job done. Until you now have millions of folders and unlike files, folders all look identical. Not any more. Not if you buy Folder Color
Powerful replacement for Apple's Email
It used to be that free trumped everything, especially when that free was something built by Apple or Microsoft. When literally every Mac or Windows user has a particular type of software provided right there with their computer, it used to be that rivals simply died. Now we seem more open to persuasion, or at least to considering alternatives, and for some people Postbox 4 is going to be so ideal they'll wish they bought it two versions ago.
Gain extra utility with lesser-known functionality in the Dock
The Dock is one of the many features of OS X that is taken for granted -- and often underutilized. Sure, a fair number of users eventually figure out that the can take things off the dock -- usually by accident, resulting in some considerable alarm -- but it has come to our attention that shockingly few users really leverage the Dock as Apple intended. In this installment of Pointers, we'll go over some of the "hidden" powers of the Dock that turn it into a real productivity tool.
Stop that toothless grin look in iOS multitasking
Apple's iOS 8 introduced the very handy and surprisingly-controversial feature that when you press the Home button twice to swap between applications, you also see a row of your recent and favorite callers. The controversy is just that some people don't like the idea that anyone can pick up their iPhone and see who they've been talking to. We can help you with that, but we'd much rather sort out the Horrible Gap: the way that if you don't have a photo of a recent caller, iOS 8 displays their initials in a gray circle.
Apple's database of your inventory allows for quick, easy custom views
In the classes I often teach on OS X and iOS devices and how to utilize them, a great deal of confusion comes up about the concept of Smart Folders -- or, as they are known in iPhoto and Photos (and elsewhere) Smart Albums; or as they are known in Mail, Smart Mailboxes; or as they are known in iTunes, Smart Playlists. They certainly sound smart, so what does that say about us that we often can't figure them out? How are they different from regular folders, albums, mailboxes, and playlists? Read this edition of Pointers to find out.
An old friend returns, but you can't always go home again
For veteran Mac users, the mere mention of the name of DiskWarrior often brings stories of multiple bacon-saving incidents or helping in the resurrection of drives and data nearly written off from across the last three decades. There are few Mac programs that have earned genuine "legendary" status, but DiskWarrior, from tiny outfit Alsoft, is one of them. Recently the company released a version 5.0 for modern Macs after a nearly five-year hiatus since version 4.4, but in the meantime much as changed. DW is still awesome at what it does -- but is what it does as relevant now as it once was? Check out our review to find out.
Action rooted in security, but poses issues for jailbroken devices
Continuing with recent custom, Apple has stopped "code-signing" iOS 8.2 for security reasons. The move, intended to protect users, does make downgrading back to earlier versions impossible, and prevents users with jailbroken devices in iOS 8.2 from updating. The code-signing procedure, which applies to both Apple and iOS or OS X developers, is designed to prevent malicious apps from masquerading as legit ones, or for outside parties to inject code into applications.
Free version of Windows development suite heads to other platforms
Microsoft is bringing its Visual Studio suite to more platforms, the company announced at its Build conference keynote today. Visual Studio Code is a lightweight version of the long-standing code editing suite, with the new cross-platform version being made available in preview not only for Windows, but also OS X and Linux systems, and as a free download to developers.
OS X, iOS betas open to registered beta testers, but no focus areas listed
In addition to the company's fiscal second quarter results released on Monday, the second betas of OS X, iOS, and Xcode were all released as well. Although each is the second beta offered to developers, in the case of iOS and OS X the release is the first offered to pre-registered beta testers -- though as with the first beta, no release notes indicating focus areas or known issues were released. The OS X and iOS betas come one and two weeks, respectively, after the most recent release.
Text editor and outliner, all with Markdown
It's not as if you are stuck for applications to write in: whether you go for Microsoft Word or TextEdit, there are just about 40 different word processors for every man, woman and child on the planet. It's just that not many work in Markdown, which is a form of writing, a format, and a syntax that works well for the web. SmartDown is one of those, and it works very well.
Compulsive newsreading app became an obsession
The entire point of the Living With articles on MacNN is to examine what software and hardware are like after that initial first glow. To show how products have borne up under pressure, or have crumbled under the stress. Invariably and unsurprisingly, this long-term testing brings out problems that are just not apparent until you are months into it. Except now. There is one single issue with my use of Reeder that I might change if I could go back in time, and only one single feature of RSS newsreading in general that claws at me. Otherwise, this newsreader app is perfect for me – yet I do keep on looking around.
Superb tool for recording anything on your Mac's screen
Seriously, how often are you ever going to need to record a video of what's on the screen of your Mac? Unless you are the sort who routinely demonstrates things, you know it's not a very big number of times -- but we're going to tell you that it is precisely the same number of times that you should be using ScreenFlow 5.01.
So, anyway, why haven't you bought it yet?
BusyMac, the makers of BusyContacts, have been steadily adding to this address book app with the kind of attention you get when you've gone from a beta to a shipping product and now have customers all over the world stress-testing it every day. There have been many fixes to bugs we hadn't ever encountered ourselves and there have been improvements to features that we did spot and do like. However, regard this as less of a Hands On 2 review, more a nudge that we think you should get this app.
Your Mac and iOS devices come with a great dictionary
Some people collect dictionaries, some have never bought one in their lives -- but we all have them at our fingertips right now. If you have a Mac, an iPhone or an iPad, you've got a dictionary, and it is a good one. It's good enough to replace most concise dictionaries you can buy, and it's easier to look up than a book. We're not saying it's arduous looking things up a in book, but the fact that you have to turn away from what you're reading is reason enough that many of us pile on with a soon-forgotten vow that we'll look it up later. Here's an easy way to look up the definition of a word right there on your Mac -- and then if that isn't enough, we've an even easier way to do it at your fingertips.
Extend Apple's Spotlight features with this free utility
Those of us who have used Apple's built-in local search tool Spotlight through its early years to now often find they've outgrown it, and are now life-support-dependent upon Alfred 2. Yes, there was some notable improvement in Yosemite, but it was too little, too late. Now Flashlight could bring us back. It's a free application that extends Spotlight's searching facilities, and to give you quick access to different corners of your Mac. From the keyboard, you can search the web, start a phone call, email someone a file, or shut down your Mac.
Mid-range project management tool that works cross platform
When To Do apps just aren't powerful enough for you, when OmniPlan is too powerful and when Microsoft Project might be powerful enough but is only on Windows, there is Pagico. It is a mid-range project management app which means it doesn't have superpowers but it does have strength and it does have ease of use.
Scribe adds Penguin Random House Audio; 45,000 audio books available
Subscription reading service Scribd announced that it is expanding its audiobook offering to include more than 9,000 audiobooks from Penguin Random House Audio, increasing Scribd's audiobook selection to more than 45,000 titles. New titles include fiction and non-fiction by internationally renowned authors such as Alice Munro, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Anne Rice, Sue Grafton, Deepak Chopra, Danielle Steele and more. The monthly subscription fee remains at $9 per month, with a free one month trial available.
New beta comes on heels of 10.10.3 release, no change log yet available
Just a week after the official release of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 and days after the first beta of iOS 8.4, Apple has posted the first 10.10.4 beta for developers and testers, though it is has not been (and is not likely to be) made available to public beta testers until future builds are released. The sparse announcement of the new beta says only that the update focuses on "stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac," which suggests it will build on the improvements made in 10.10.3.
Safari troubles, Mighty Mouse programming and more
This week in the MacNN forums, members discuss problems they have been having recently with the copy bounding box in Safari on the iPhone as it seems to be broken at the moment. One Mac Elite who is new to OS X and the Mighty Mouse is wondering how to program the Mighty Mouse to work different.
This little known feature is sometimes better than forwarding
You know all about forwarding emails. If you get an email, and it's better answered by Burt down the hall or Susan in Australia, you forward it to them -- and actually, that's what you should do. For not only are you sending them the original email, you're probably also writing them a note about why you're lumbering them with this extra work. However, there are times when it's better to redirect than to forward: it's much the same, but the small difference is huge, and for some reason most people do not know this feature exists.
Photos app examined by AP, spiritual successor to iPhoto
The Associated Press may have spilled the beans on the release date of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3. In a review of the Photos app coming with the new release, the news agency said that the app would be "available Wednesday as a free software update" in the updated OS.
Extremely powerful and comprehensive backup solution
Roll up your sleeves, get a coffee, and watch ChronoSync backup your hard drives. Or alternatively, roll your sleeves back down and nip out to lunch, because you're not needed here: ChronoSync has it covered -- and you can look in on it remotely, with the companion apps ChronoAgent and InterConneX. This is surely the most comprehensive disk backup and management application we've seen, and possibly that nature ever intended. That does mean it's complex, but you're not going to turn to this if all you've used so far is Apple's Time Machine.
A vitamin pill for the average sluggish Mac
If you have the most powerful Mac Pro that can be made today, if you routinely go through the Apple Store clicking all the upgrade options, laughing like a crazy person, spending someone else's money, then we hate you -- and we want to come round your place to see it. However, invite us soon -- because even that Mac is going to slow down to a crawl, and you wouldn't like us when we giggle. The reason for that is because there are basic elements that determine whether any Mac is going to sing or sink, and these are all things that CleanMyMac 3 is designed to fix. Specifically, it's there to fix them so that you don't have to: it helps stop you running out of space, it helps make sure your RAM isn't used up, and it keeps an eye on the health of key components.
View Microsoft Project plans on Mac
The standard application for project managers is Microsoft Project for Windows, but there are two big reasons why you would buy something else: you're on a Mac, and Microsoft Project is expensive. As we said in our review of OmniPlan, a very good Mac-based project management application, even the price of MS Project is complicated. It ranges from $250-$850, but whatever price you get it at, you can count on it being too costly to buy for everyone who simply needs to view the plans. Seavus Project Viewer 1.8 is a Mac app that opens Microsoft Project files, and lets you examine them for the details you need.
Peg the dyno, keep the interval small, and race to victory
The more a game franchise expands, the harder it is to bring something new to the table. With driving games especially, subsequent sequels are usually considered as graphical improvements on the previous release, tweaking the existing formula without daring to step too far outside the box. Dirt 3: Complete Edition, an off-road racing game developed by Codemasters in 2011 and brought to Mac this year by Feral Interactive, not only manages to improve the basic game, but still manages to find new, unexpected items.
Get things done with this concentration app
Most of the time, the secret to getting things done is getting on with them, and doing things. The Pomodoro technique is a trick to get yourself going, and keep yourself going, which has been around since the 1980s and is perfect for being turned into an app. Consequently there are many such apps, but the newly-updated Pomodoro Time Pro is a solid, capable and versatile one.
Public beta updated also; screen sharing, Wi-Fi, languages need focus
On Monday, Apple issued a sixth beta of OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 to developers, and an identical third beta to registered public testers. The new build, numbered 14D127a, is said to be mostly a security, compatibility, and stability bugfix release, though the company has added a request that testers focus on screen-sharing features as well as Hebrew and Arabic localizations, on top of the ongoing focus on Wi-Fi "captive portal" networks (such as hotels or coffeeshops).
Comprehensive backup and booting solution for Macs
Apple did a great thing in bringing Time Machine to the rest of us: it made backups a more familiar idea, and it made them far easier to understand as well. Something that is easy and familiar is something that you're going to do, and Apple was right that we really, really needed to back up our work. Now Apple is more focused on cloud storage than it is hard drives -- and there are several cloud backup services -- but the humble hard disk has a lot of advantages. It also has SuperDuper 2.7.5, which is a capable, albeit slightly technical, application for copying your data, and for creating a hard drive that you can run your Mac from in emergencies.
Hide ugly URL addresses when emailing
URLs are ugly – and they are also very daunting if you're new to the web. So long as they're up there in the browser and you just got to the site by clicking a heading in Google, nobody cares. Yet when you send them to someone, that's when you can put them off or you can make their life easier. It's also where you can demonstrate that you know your stuff. There is one important caveat to this but otherwise this Pointers will show you how to make emails with links that simply look better than sending someone a five-foot-long string of dots and slashes. The specific steps in this tutorial are all for Mail in OS X Yosemite.
The beloved word processor is still a contender
The very name Nisus may bring you back to the 1990s and if it doesn't, then one look at the software possibly will. That's cruel: it is nothing less than fantastic that Nisus has survived where so many other word processors have died, crushed under the force of Microsoft Word. So this version, Nisus Writer Pro 2.1 should be celebrated. It's just that there is something a tiny bit old about how it looks and feels.
Solid, well-made app backs up and copies your hard drives
Nothing digital really exists unless it exists twice. For all that we have these great interconnected cloud services, there is still a hard drive holding on to our data somewhere and all hard drives fail eventually. They're like politicians in that respect: they go on until they fail. Carbon Copy Cloner is a way to make failures annoying rather than fatal to your work. It backs up any or all of your files and it also optionally creates a separate and bootable hard drive.
The note-taking app comes with little-used outlining features
There is a reason why the outlining features of Evernote are not the most widely-used feature of that software: they're not the best feature. They're also not on a par with the outlining in the best word processors, and they are barely in the same universe as dedicated software like OmniOutliner. However, Evernote is free, and Evernote has uses far beyond outlining, so you're likely to find it indispensable even if you end up not using the outlining.
Powerful and, frankly, beautiful calendar app for Mac
This was worth the wait. The Mac version of calendar app Fantastical has lagged behind its iOS counterparts for quite some time, but now they're the ones that need to catch up. Fantastical 2 for OS X is fast, very easy, very powerful, and hands down the best-looking calendar on the Mac. Other than that, it's fine.
Version is identical to new update for Appleseed testers
On Monday, Apple issued the fifth beta version of OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite to developers. The latest version, which comes on the heels of the previous fourth release that was aimed solely at new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro users, is also being released to registered public beta users as the second such version. The forthcoming Photos app has been updated (though it still has some known issues), as well as Yosemite's recovery tools.
Feral bringing Shadow of Mordor to OS X, Linux 'later this year'
Acclaimed action/strategy title Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is coming to OS X. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is an open-world video game, where the player controls a man who seeks revenge after his entire family is wiped out by Sauron's armies. Pricing and system requirements are not yet known for the title, which will ship "later this year," but on Windows the title requires at least an i5 processor running at 2.66GHz, and a Radeon HD 5850 or greater.
One feature worth buying the whole app for
It remains true that the Preview app you get in OS X is an excellent PDF reader and that you can do a lot with it. However, to do more, you need tools and we keep recommending PDFpen from Smile Software. Maybe this tells you a lot about the things we like doing with PDFs but if there were one feature that sold PDFpen to us, it was this: the ability to change text. If you know you can do this then you know it's useful but if you don't then you may not have quite got this yet: when someone sends you a document in PDF specifically so that you can only read it, you can edit it anyway. Use your new powers only for good.
Early 2015 MacBooks, MacBook Pros get separate version
Apple on Thursday has updated OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 (only) with a new security update. While details are not available, the update could possibly be the first to address an https vulnerability known as FREAK, which can compromise secure web browsing on a variety of systems and applications. In addition, the company has issued an update for iPhoto to further help with the eventual transition to Photos, as well as clear up a few bugs.
Powerful To Do app gets better with age
Software is personal and when an app is right for you, its impact on your working life -- or even just your life -- can be extraordinary. You don't get that impact very often, though, and unfortunately even when you do, it doesn't tend to last. I've had moments of it with Apple Maps, but my enjoyment of that has grown hand in hand with annoyances. I got quite a bit of it with Evernote, and that is now a staple of my every working day, but somehow it's become too familiar, I no longer see what was so special. You know where this is going, though. It's going to the point where I enthuse at you about OmniFocus.
Apple releases new Safari betas for OS X 10.9 and 10.8
On Wednesday, Apple updated the developer versions of Safari with two new betas aimed at users of older OS X versions, specifically 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and 10.9 (Mavericks). The new versions follow a slight update to the current Safari versions for OS X 10.8 and later that contains several WebKit fixes for security issues. Version 7.15 is for Mavericks, while Mountain Lion owners will see only version 6.2.5.
Get more from Apple's underrated Preview app
Preview is one of the reasons that life is better on a Mac than on a PC. There are many reasons but Preview is right up there as is the way that OS X works with PDFs. It does this so smoothly that you don't appreciate it until you go to a PC and cannot believe for the life of you that it can be this tough or that you have to install extra software just to save a PDF. Yet, even as we hurry back to our Macs, we still don't appreciate OS X quite enough. For as well as creating and viewing PDFs, OS X lets you manipulate them – and it does so all in Preview. Here's how to combine two PDFs into one. That's a useful thing all by itself, but along the way you'll see how to add and remove pages, you'll see how to rearrange them too.
Powerful academic search and citation manager
Bookends is a professional research tool for finding information online, and then presenting it to you in a useful way. That means making it easy to find what you want, keep what you want, and then refer to it all correctly in your own writing. This application, designed for academics and students, has a bewildering, overwhelming rage of options, yet also a very clear and simple core search: enter what you're looking for -- from a vague overall topic to a specific page number in a book -- and choose from dozens of places to search.
Easy to use outlining software with interesting features
OutlineEdit consciously slots in to the middle of the pack for outlining software. On the one hand, it is more powerful than the tools built in to word processors like Microsoft Word. On the other, it's more affordable than what is effectively the industry leader in this field, OmniOutliner.
Company unifies different beta programs into single 'Apple Beta Software Program'
On Thursday, Apple released a flood of new betas for various versions of its two main operating systems, including the first semi-public beta of iOS 8.3, and third developer betas for iOS 8.3, OS X 10.10.3, Xcode 6.3 with Swift 1.2, and OS X Server 4.1 Developer Preview. The company has also decided to unify its various beta programs under a single tent now known simply as the "Apple Beta Software Program."
Apple Maps is underrated, except when it isn't
Well, this is awkward: I'm about to enthuse at you about how and why Apple Maps is very good, but the impetus came when my wife Angela offered to pick me up from a meeting in Kings Heath, Birmingham (in England, for those not familiar with the place). I shared my location with her over Messages and was just thinking how handy this was, how straightforward and easy it was -- when she texted back "why are you in Stechford?"
Use your iPhone to start downloads on your Mac
This is a bit like the Flash or no Flash business: either the fact that you can't download files to your iOS device enrages you or you're now trying to remember ever noticing. If you need a file, though, you need it (likely right now and Transloader is a good and clever workaround. It won't make your iPhone download anything, but it will get you that file.
BusyContacts' stablemate is a powerful calendar
It takes a lot to get anyone to switch away from Apple's free apps to paid-for alternatives, yet BusyCal has for years been persuading people to do just that. If you've resisted even looking at it, though, the recent release of its companion address book app BusyContacts makes the move compelling.
Get more from your Mac's built-in dictation tools
This is about getting more from dictation in OS X, but really it's about getting anything from it at all: we're prepared to bet that you've never even switched the feature on. That might be because you're already addicted to Dragon Dictate, and if that is the case, you carry on. If it's that you just haven't looked, or if you don't believe you need it though, OS X Yosemite's dictation is far better and more genuinely useful than you mght expect.
The behemoth of office data processing returns -- and it is very good
We're not going to judge Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 in the detail or the depth that we will when it finally ships as a finished product. However, Microsoft has made it available in preview beta form, and it is irresistible. It's also very good, and if you have even a modicum of interest in Microsoft Office, you should try it now - though there are one or two caveats you'll want to keep in mind.
Toolbar removable by deleting in the browser extension menu
Oracle's Java Update 8 Update 40 for OS X has an unexpected surprise for installers. The update instructions note that the company has "partnered with companies that offer various products" and will install the borderline-malware Ask.com toolbar into unsuspecting OS X users' systems.
Working together is quicker than ever with Dropbox
Dropbox is so handy and so universally-used that it's probably the case that either you already use it to share files, or you haven't yet had a need to. Dropbox has changed over the years, though, and the current ways of sharing large files and whole folders are better. They're easier. They're also faster, in that you can do much more sharing directly from the Finder on your Mac, and only rarely going to Dropbox.com to do anything.