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.
Note-taking iOS app Notability jumps to OS X, offers iCloud syncing
Notability, an iOS app well-regarded for its ability to handle multiple ways of taking notes -- audio recordings, handwriting, drag-and-drop and typing -- has arrived on the Mac. The OS X version ($10) matches the iPad and iPhone version feature-for-feature, but is optimized for the Mac environment. Users can drag in various file types to add to the note, scale and transform handwriting and sketches, and -- new to the program -- work with smart keyboard shortcuts. The iOS version is also available as a separate $3 purchase.
new Mac Pro now $3,199
Currently, Adorama.com has the new Mac Pro on sale for $3,199. That's $200 off the list price of $3,399, and about $150 less than the lowest price seen anywhere else. This Mac Pro features a 3.7GHz Intel Xeon E5 quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of PCIe-based flash storage. Included is a one-year warranty on parts and labor from Apple.
Brings styles, filters, fine controls to RAW, JPEG monochrome pictures
Photo software maker Macphun has unveiled a fourth tool in its suite of image-editing apps, this time creating one aimed at the art of black and white photography, whether the image was originally shot in color or not. Called Tonality, the program works with up to 16-bit RAW images or JPEG files and offers a range of tools that go far beyond simply removing color. In addition to serious tools like adaptive exposure, smart contrast and structure detailing, the program brings various styles and filters into the mix.
Menubar app supports 80 languages, voice translation, currently 50 percent off
The popular translation app iTranslate, previously for iOS devices only, arrived on the Mac on Thursday with the release of iTranslate for the Mac on the Mac App Store. The program, which is accessed from the menubar when running, offers instant translation with support for over 80 languages. Users simply input or paste text and the program provides a translation into the desired language. It also feature voice output so that users can hear the correct pronunciation of a word or phrase.
Mavericks Applescript Problem
This week, MacNN Forum members assist others with troubleshooting Applescript problems, updating Flash issues with Safari, and more. One Fresh-Faced Recruit has been having problems with an Applescript after upgrading to Mavericks from Mountain Lion, and he hopes that others might be able to assist in figuring out why. Today, "jeff k" was asking fellow forum-goers if they could figure out why Safari would keep asking him to do a Flash update after he has already updated Flash.
Project management for big and little task organization
For many people, the ability to formalize a project -- write it down, include all the physical actions that will need to be accomplished and/or the people who will be involved -- makes doing a thing actionable and real. Likewise, setting deadlines can help motivate users to actually accomplish a goal by invoking their competitive spirit, challenging themselves or others to complete tasks on time. The Omni Group have put out a new version of their project-management software, Omnifocus 2, so we made a note to take a look at it.
RAW file types and Mavericks support also expanded
Image editing software maker MacPhun has updated Intensify and Intensify Pro, its photo-enhancing software. The latest version 1.0.2 adds integration with cloud photo storage service SmugMug, adds the MacPhun Print Lab previously rolled out in a recent upgrade to Focus 2, and enhances its support for both OS X Mavericks and the various RAW format files created by current cameras.
Follows internal release to AppleCare workers earlier in the day
In an unusual move, Apple has released a tenth version of the forthcoming OS X 10.9.3 beta to developers, in a slightly different build than one distributed internally to AppleCare representatives earlier on Wednesday. Testers are also being offered a new beta of the Safari web browser, version 7.0.4.
audio problems, Logic X questions and more
This week in the MacNN forums, members help other long-time users and Fresh-Faced Recruits resolve problems. Forum members are assisting one Fresh-Faced Recruit with an iMac that is unable to recognize audio inputs or outputs after a power failure, but so far have been unsuccessful in their attempts. Yesterday, Junior Member "phkc070408" was trying to determine if there was a way to assign a specific key or series of keys to type a pre-programmed set of text.
file sharing, backlit keyboards and more
This week on the MacNN forum, members have been assisting Mac Enthusiast "jszrules" with determining why File Sharing is automatically enabled on multiple occasions after having to restart their computer due to it freezing. Yesterday, Grizzled Veteran "jmiddel" shared their joy with the forums after finding a Logitech backlit keyboard to use with their Mac desktop after years of blindly plucking away at the standard Apple keyboard for years.
Can encrypt and hide files and folders with 256-bit AES protection
While at the Macworld Expo last weekend in San Francisco, MacNN got a chance to talk with members of the MacPaw software team, best known for their duplicates finder Gemini II and their utility app Clean My Mac. The company released its latest upgrade, file-and-folder encryption tool Hider 2 (formerly MacHider), for OS X 10.8 and higher on Wednesday. The program is designed to allow users to hide, encrypt and password-protect sensitive files, whether they are confidential business documents or those pictures of an ex.