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.
OSX compatibility, iPhone screen replacements and more
This week in the MacNN Forums, Moderator "andi*pandi&" recently scored a white MacBook and discovered they are able to upgrade the OS for free, but wonders if 10.10 would "run like a dead horse" on that machine, or if it would be all right. Yesterday, one Dedicated MacNNer announced the breaking of his wife's iPhone 4 screen, and has a few questions about buying a replacement.
It has a very particular set of skills and it will find you
You've got to really need to find something before you'll bother going away from Google, and you've really, really got to need to find it before you'll spend money on a search utility. Yet don't see this as a reason why DevonAgent Pro must be a niche product, or see it as telling that this app satisfies those most demanding searches and searchers. It's a $50 utility for your Mac that does just do searches, but it does them through an intelligent and supremely customizable set of tools.
Apple's Backup just gets on with it, until it doesn't
Apple's Time Machine and the Time Capsule I bought to use it on are the best things I've ever purchased that I've immediately forgotten, and didn't even realize I was using. I'm not sure what I did to backup anything before that came along, but I do have a big, big box of neatly-labelled floppy discs in my office, and no way to use them. Well, that's not quite true: I have used a couple as coasters for my tea mug. It's startling to think that I have several years of data on those discs that are effectively lost to me -- I could get them back with a concerted effort, and spending some money -- whereas in theory I now have multiple years of data available to me in an instant.
How and where to download software safely
Look, we're not on Windows PCs here. Yet, even though we don't have the same overwhelming problems with viruses, that doesn't mean we should invite trouble. You can download apps that don't do what they claim, and instead do all sorts of things they shouldn't. Consequently, it is a very good thing that Apple has safeguards in place – yet those same safeguards are a problem for some of the very finest Mac software around.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The password app does so much more
We're not here to lecture. You know you need a password manager, and you know that 1Password gets praised a lot for how it stores your passwords, and how it generates stronger ones than mere mortals could. We could just point out that 1Password is now free for basic use on iOS, but instead, we're going to enthuse. Specifically, we are here to enthuse about what else 1Password does that makes it such a useful tool on our Macs.
New mechanical switch device brings USB 3.0, oversized volume control wheel
Mechanical keyboard manufacturer Metadot today announced the new Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac, its most significant keyboard update for Mac users since the Model S. Das Keyboard 4 Professional for Mac is engineered with a refined vibration-less enclosure, held together with hex screws, and boasts an oversized HiFi-inspired volume knob to enhance the desktop experience by helping to control multimedia through the Mac-specific keyboard.
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.
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.
Simple, useful radio streaming app for Macs
It used to be so much fun, tuning in to radio stations from around the world. Shortwave radios -- who has those any more? Sitting in central Paris, just about able to pick up BBC Radio 4 from the UK -- it's just no thrill now that you can listen to any station, anywhere in the world, on a whim. Snowflake, a new app born from the ashes of radio recorder Snowtape, makes it even less of a thrill: it is an extremely easy-to-use radio app that streams music from around the world right to your Mac.
Switching keys, attitudes, and getting the input of the masters of the house
Recently, staff writer and long-time Windows user Malcolm Owen returned to the Mac following a five-year absence. Back to the Mac is a series of posts where he charts his progress in introducing Apple to his computing environment again. In this installment, Malcolm recounts his first full working week with on the Mac mini.
Switching between two different ways of using an item or working can be tough to do. Long-established patterns are difficult to break, and altering the way you navigate a computer in the short term could, for people resistant to change, be akin to giving up an addiction. I hate change.
First-class drawing tool for people who aren't first-class artists
Admit it: whether you're in the market for a drawing application or not, you're reading this in part because you hope to find out what a graffle is, and why you might one to be omni. We can't help you with the word, but we can say that OmniGraffle 6 for Mac is a superb tool for creating presentation graphics, design wireframes, and really just anything that you can draw more easily than you can write.
Small file utility makes big difference to OS X
Back in the day, the first thing we learnt on Macs was to point and click. Then it was how to drag and drop. We've never gone back: even the most keyboard-obsessed of us still end up clicking on a file and clicking or dragging to do something with it. FilePane is a clever app that just watches for the click and drag before stepping in with options.
Download and keep YouTube videos with this simple app
The newly-updated Airy - YouTube Downloader for Mac does what almost every word in its title says. It downloads YouTube videos, it runs on a Mac. Run this, grab a YouTube video, and save it to your Mac to watch later. It's so simple, you'll be surprised YouTube itself doesn't come with this functionality.
trouble pasting text into mail, cleaning App cookies and more
Recently one Fresh-Faced Recruit turned to the MacNN forums looking for help figuring out why they were having trouble pasting text into Mail. A solution has yet to be found. A discussion about how to clear out cookies that are generated by iPhone Apps is under way in the thread titled "cleaning iPhone App cookies" that was started last week.
Use TextExpander to speed up every job you ever do in OS X
Previously on Pointers, we talked about how OS X comes with text shortcuts, a way for you to write a couple of characters and then have your Mac expand those out into words and whole sentences. This is true, and if it weren't fantastically useful, we wouldn't have told you about it. However, all the way through that Pointers column, we frequently pointed out that TextExpander is better.
How to use the automatic text expansion in OS X and iOS to save typing
It's a funny world where most Mac users have heard of TextExpander by Smile Software, but so many of us don't even know that OS X has much of the same functionality built in for free. Strictly speaking, it is identical: your Mac can let you type a few characters, and it will expand that out into whole sentences, phone numbers you keep repeating, words you always find difficult to spell, and more -- assuming you've done some pre-configuration.
Powerful file-finding app for searching your documents
We wrote something ages ago about finding documents on your Mac. Fortunately, the whole point of HoudahSpot 4.0 is to help us dig that one scribble out from the untold thousands of files that clog up our Macs. Unfortunately, the problem is that OS X's own Spotlight is meant to do that, too.
Simple, easy tips to keep your Mac humming along for years on end
This week's Pointers column concerns itself with a question we get asked a lot: "I've invested a lot into my Mac, how can I get the most out of it?" There are a lot of answers to this depending on what one means by "the most out if it," but apart from taking advantages of the many great programs and services Apple includes in every Mac, most people want to make their purchase last for as long as feasible. Here's a few tips on how to do that.
Databasing made simple
There are many reasons to create a personal database, and even more tools that can help you do just this. The problem, however, is that most of these apps have been built with big business in mind, and therefore can be overwhelming to the average user. Enter Records for Mac, a brand-new $50 Mac App Store offering looking to solve this exact problem. Sporting a WYSIWYG design philosophy, a range of configurable form fields, and full text searching, Records looks like a great solution on paper, but how does it hold up in real world usage?
Making the fiddly easy
Look, we're writing this as much for ourselves as for you. Every time we hanker to add a new sound effect to our text messages or a whole new ringtone to our iPhones, we sweat through the steps and end up seriously wondering if Apple deliberately makes this hard. So that you and we have one place we can look up when we want to do this, here's this Friday's Pointers tutorial on making yourself wish you'd never bothered -- we mean on getting through this as quickly as you can.
Stream any video, from nearly any original source, to your Apple TV
One of the very handiest things about Apple TV is that with it, you can use your television to watch any video on your Macs -- except you really can't, if you operate outside Apple's garden at all. If that video is in iTunes by hook or by crook, you're all set. If it isn't -- and we know you have some that isn't -- then you need to buy Silver Screen: it will stream any video, of just about any format, to your TV.
Get more from Apple's own Calendar
The Calendar app in OS X doesn't get the respect it deserves. Weirdly, in the years that it wasn't the most reliable thing, and it didn't have many features, it effectively stopped all rivals just through how it was included with every Mac. Now that it is much stronger and is the backbone for syncing calendars across our Macs and iOS devices, suddenly it is getting a lot of competition. You might benefit from trying the others, but you don't have to: you just need to see how powerful Calendar is.
large e-mails, Macs freezing and more
Today in the MacNN forums, one confused Forum Regular was trying to figure out why they were unable to send large emails, stating that they thought the latest OS "did away with e-mail size restrictions." Yesterday, one long-time member of the forums had their 2012 Mac mini completely freeze twice, and is hoping fellow forum-goers will have some advice on figuring out why.
Asian version of US ad plays to Chinese market, gift-giving season
Apple has created a new version of its holiday ad "The Song" for the Chinese market in time for the Lunar New Year celebrations, which commence later this month. The wholly-reimagined ad is prominently featured on the company's China website, and is the first such ad made directly for China. Senior VP of Retail Dame Angela Ahrendts has made China a priority over the next two years as it emerges as Apple's third-largest market.
Claims company knowingly infringed on two 3D UI patents from 1996
Apple has been named in a new lawsuit filed in San Francisco on Wednesday by patent non-practicing entity (NPE, often nicknamed "patent troll") TriDim Innovations. The NPE accuses the iPhone maker of knowingly infringing on a pair of patents from 1996 that covers a 3D workspace user interface, and claims that the company's Cover Flow technology, bought from Steel Skies in 2006, violates the two patents. Time Machine and Mobile Safari in iOS 7 and 8 also use the technology.
Sims slips, but will arrive for OS X in February, EA says
Fans of the Sims series of games who were disappointed that the latest entry didn't make a promised 2014 ship date can look forward to next month, when the game The Sims 4 will finally debut on OS X. While developer Electronic Arts doesn't yet have a specific date, the company says it will definitely land as a download only sometime in the month, and be priced similarly to the Windows version (around $50). Current Windows version owners will receive the Mac copy for free, and PC players can transfer their progress to the Mac version (and vice versa).
Sales up in India, Mac sales higher, suppliers announce record earnings
While the idea that Apple probably had another record-breaking holiday quarter (what the company calls fiscal 2015 Q1) is unsurprising to all but selected pundits, a spate of reports released on Monday may be painting a general portrait of not just significant improvement, but more importantly growth in key areas of importance both to investors and analysis as well as to the health of the company. Sales of Macs look to be way up, iOS devices are selling much better in a key foreign market, and Apple's suppliers are flourishing -- all signs that point to better-than-expected quarter.
Satechi announces its Premium Aluminum Monitor Stand product at CES
Accessories producer Satechi has announced the upcoming release of its new Premium Aluminum Monitor Stand product. Introduced this week at CES, the stand is designed to compliment the Mac Pro, iMac and Macbook's aesthetic, raising monitors to prevent eye and neck strain. Aside from providing height, the stand also features four USB 3.0 ports for connecting applicable devices, offering transfer rates of up to 5GB per second. Its aluminum alloy composition supports a range of devices weighing up to 200 pounds. Priced at $70, Satechi's new monitor stand will be available by the end of the month.
Make transferring files from Mac to iPhone as easy as you thought it was
Editor's note: welcome to the first installment of Pointers, a new weekly column that offers tips and tricks for getting more out of your Mac or iOS device -- or, in this case, both. Check back each Thursday for a new useful technique designed to demystify, declutter or de-stress you -- and hopefully add some delight as well.
When you know what's happening, AirDrop is as convenient and simple as Apple made you think it would be. You can transfer anything from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac (or vice versa), without emailing or messaging, without any concern for how many items you can send, without any concern about the size of those files. The first time you try flinging a document from iOS to OS X, though, it is Cotton-Eyed Joe: where did you come from, where did you go? We'll fix that with this handy tip.
battery swapping, problems with Notes and more
Today in the MacNN Forums, Fresh-Faced Recruit "Ryan700" was asking if it was possible to move a battery from one 13-inch MBP to another 13-inch MBP, after the battery in his wife's computer needed to be replaced. A frustrated "jeff k" has turned to the forums hoping someone will be able to help him figure out why it is that the Notes app on his new iPhone keeps deleting notes at the end of the day.
Diminutive scanner purports to allow computer-free scanning
Sometimes, people need to scan things, but having a computer at hand to do so isn't exactly feasible. Maybe it's the home of a relative that lives on the outskirts of civilization with no Internet, looking to organize family photos. Maybe it's an office filing room that's too small to set up shop. Maybe it's the cabin of an airplane, and a traveler just wants to scan a page from Skymall. In this situation, the solution is generally to move items that need to be scanned to a location that has a scanner. With DoxieGo by Apparent, users don't have to worry about transportation; they can just throw the scanner in their bag and go. But can this ultra-portable scanner really make life that much easier? Read our review and find out.
Quick movie editor makes it easy to send video to social media
Try as you might, you're not going to revolutionize how video is edited: whatever application you're using, the process has been roughly the same since we ditched celluloid and razor blades. Equally, you're not likely to easily replace Apple's iMovie for ease of use, nor Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X for high-end professionals. Movavi Video Editor, an editor for Windows that has just made the jump to OS X, definitely aims at being very simple to use -- but it's also intended for the ever-growing number of us who just want to quickly get video out to people.
Both most recent OS releases caught on at double the pace of previous paid upgrades
Users are getting used to the idea of upgrading to the latest OS X versions very quickly after release, a new study from ad agency and trend analyst Chitika shows. The latest major OS X upgrade, 10.10 Yosemite, has already achieved a 12.8 percent share of all Internet-connected Macs -- slightly ahead of where last year's release, Mavericks, was at the same point, six days after release. However, both Mavericks and Yosemite have enjoyed adoption rates more than twice as high as the last paid upgrade, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in 2012.
Major update to RapidWeaver requires Mavericks, Yosemite
Realmac Software today announced the immediate availability of RapidWeaver 6, a major new upgrade to the company's long-running website creation app. RapidWeaver 6 has over a dozen major new features, hundreds of enhancements and refinements, and is now built exclusively for OS X Mavericks and OS X Yosemite.
Cook announces new trip to Beijing for worker meeting that will be posted online
As is his habit, Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday released a company-wide memo to employees recapping much of the sales and growth data from the analyst conference call given earlier that afternoon. He referred to the expectation-beating results as "Apple's highest September quarter revenue ever, and our strongest growth rate in seven quarters," adding that this was made possible "by your hard work and dedication." He also noted the big jump in Mac sales, beating industry averages significantly.
Emerging markets, price cuts, back to school seen as key factors
In what CEO Tim Cook called the "best ever" quarter for the Mac, Apple's Mac lineup overall jumped a remarkable 25 percent in a single quarter to 5.52 million units. Making the event more noteworthy is the fact that the growth was achieved prior to any notable refreshes. Instead, what appears to be driving the increase in Mac sales is volume in emerging markets, such as China - where Macs were up 54 percent year-over-year. Price cuts and great back-to-school sales also contributed to the jump.
Dual-core Haswell processors may limit refreshed Mac mini usefulness
The refreshed Mac mini may offer a significant dip in performance compared to earlier iterations, a report claims. A blog post from the Geekbench benchmark suite suggests that, though the new Haswell-based systems may have slightly higher single-core performance scores than the Ivy Bridge-based counterparts from late 2012, their multi-core performance will apparently suffer considerably.
Pearl Mountain PicGIF and VideoGIF for everyone!
It's back to school time, and that means long hours slaving over books and filling heads with heaps of knowledge that will, for the most part, end up being lost by springtime. So why not have a little fun and make something that you can share with friends and never forget -- animated GIFs? Pearl Mountain Software has teamed up with MacNN to give away copies of PicGIF and VideoGIF software for Mac. For the next week, everyone and anyone who wants to download a copy can get them as our treat.
Free subscriptions for basic users, paid Pro level for photographers
After years of good reviews as a series of iOS apps, Autodesk has now brought its image-editing app Pixlr to the Mac. While it bears great resemblance to the myriad other filter-and-effect photo editors from the iOS world, the app does offer some features rarely seen in competitors, such as a "double exposure" collaging feature. As with the company's Sketchbook, Autodesk offers several "tiers" of use, the most "pro" level of which is available on an annual or monthly paid subscription.