- monthly subscription or
- one time payment
- cancelable any time
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
When it comes to the web, smaller is always better. If an image-heavy site takes too long to load, visitors will just click over to something else. While there are plenty of software tools for optimizing image files on the Mac, few do it with the simplicity and speed of Squash.
Over a year ago, I reviewed a useful Mac utility called JPEGmini, which reduces image files with no discernable loss in image quality. Although limited to JPEG, the software was easy to use and produced impressive results, but at $99, it’s clearly not aimed at casual users.
A year ago, I reviewed the third version of a Mac application called Grids, one of those rare native solutions for viewing Instagram posts on the desktop without a web browser. With support for multiple accounts, developer ThinkTime Creations had an early leg up on the mobile app at the time, but the inability to upload new content meant this third-party software was strictly a view-only experience.
Grids 4.0 can finally post photos and videos to Instagram, even if they aren’t in the service’s traditional square format.
I still miss the Scrapbook that was part of the pre-OS X chain of Macintosh system releases. It was like a super clipboard that let you hold several items; you could scroll through, pick a "scrap" to copy, and then paste it into a program. Since the inception of OS X, many utilities have sought to replicate and expand Scrapbook. But for my money, I’m not sure any has brought the concept fully forward and updated it for modern needs until Pastebot 2 ($20 on the App Store). (Pastebot was in a long beta, and its maker opted to number it “2.0” as a result.)
Although macOS looks deceptively simple to end users, anyone who’s launched Activity Monitor may be shocked to discover just how many helpers, daemons, services, and other processes actually run behind-the-scenes, helping power your favorite software. Such background tasks often feed off available internet bandwidth, consuming precious memory at the same time.
With a fresh coat of macOS Sierra-inspired paint, Radio Silence 2 makes it one-click easy to silence outgoing network connections from any application.
Earlier this year I reviewed Disk Drill 2, a highly recommended utility for recovering data from any storage volume attached to your Mac, regardless of which file system it was created with. While the software exceeded expectations in terms of functionality, it was sorely lacking in visual flourish, with a user interface that seemed out of step with the current operating system.
I’m happy to announce this grievance has been addressed with the new Disk Drill 3, which not only sports a much-needed fresh coat of digital paint but also nicely spices up the existing buffet of tools.
Every Mac user knows how to delete a file. But did you know this method doesn’t technically remove anything from your drive? Instead, that space is simply marked as available to the system, making it a trivial matter to recover provided other files haven’t been saved in the same spot.
Shredo securely wipes files from your storage in three different ways: One-pass, seven-pass, or 35-pass.
Think you don’t need extra software for managing internet downloads? If your web browser gets only an occasional workout transferring files one at a time, you’re probably right. But if you frequently pull down multiple things at once, you could certainly benefit from a management utility.
In years past, the choice was simple: Yazsoft’s excellent Speed Download tackled everything you could throw at it with a familiar, iTunes-style user interface. But in early 2014, the developer suddenly called it quits. The application continued working until OS X El Capitan 10.11, at which point I finally had to say goodbye.
Yazsoft did recommend an alternative to Speed Download, but it wasn’t quite the same. This supposed heir apparent wasn’t as user-friendly, and worse yet, the user interface was downright ugly.
There was a time not so long ago when Adobe Illustrator was one of the only ways to create and manipulate graphic-rich text on the Mac. But even then, its relatively high retail price and the steep learning curve required to use it kept the software out of reach for many consumers.
Fortunately, there are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives now available. Most are intended for a specific purpose, such as creating business logos or web-based content on the cheap, but this software tends to be underpowered for the task at hand or worse yet, plagued with bugs and published by companies that offer little or no technical support.
BeLight Software aims to fill this void with an alternative feature-rich enough to empower users to create spectacular results with very little effort, yet offered at a deceptively low price that sounds almost too good to be true.
Born from the ashes of the former Voila, Capto ($30 single user; $20 student/educator; $80 family pack) was built from the ground up as a completely new Mac application to handle not only screen capture, recording, and annotation, but also basic video editing in up to 4K resolution.
Voila users will feel right at home—aside from the darker appearance and a few user interface nips and tucks, Capto could be mistaken for Voila 4 at first glance. You organize a library of images and videos from the left-hand pane, with buttons across the top for accessing the key tools.
The star of Capto is the new video editing tools, which deliver a wider variety of creative possibilities on top of the existing capture, recording, and annotation features.
As you start moving beyond the basics of editing images—past general exposure and color adjustments—you’ll discover a semi-secret truth: a lot of your time is spent selecting specific areas for editing. Making a foreground object brighter, for instance, can reveal a telltale halo if the selection doesn’t match well with the object.
Selections have traditionally been a strength of Adobe Photoshop, but the granddaddy editor is overkill for many people who don’t need its extensive feature set, or don’t want to pay a Creative Cloud subscription fee (which starts at $10 a month with an annual plan, and can cost up to $80 a month for the full CC suite).
Twitter is great for sharing short bursts of information with followers, but the official Mac app is restrictive when it comes to videos—files must be progressive, no larger than 15MB in size, and on it goes. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just open a video, select the best part, and tweet without having to worry about all those specifications?
VideoTweet makes it easy to share up to 30 seconds from any QuickTime-compatible video directly to Twitter in as little as three steps.
Critics are quick to dismiss Apple’s built-in Mail app on OS X, but I prefer Mail over the new kids on the block, simply because it works and doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some features in those rival apps I’d like to see make their way into Mail; the ability to schedule outgoing emails for a later date or save messages to Evernote, for example. As it turns out, I don’t have to abandon an old favorite for greener pastures to get these cool features.
Billed as “your personal assistant for Apple Mail,” MailButler is a bundle of plugins that extend the capabilities of Apple’s email client. I’m talking about new features like uploading attachments to cloud services other than iCloud Drive, following up on sent emails that have gone unanswered, and both of my wish list features noted above.
While many Mac shutterbugs cling desperately to Aperture in the wake of Apple’s abandonment, I’ve been quite content since moving to OS X Photos. The only feature I do miss is editing library images from external applications without extension support, like Adobe Photoshop CC. But now there’s a clever workaround to enable this feature.
External Editors for Photos (EEFP; $1 on the Mac App Store) allows OS X Photos users to seamlessly edit images using any Mac image editor, no export/import required. EEFP works like other Photos extensions, but hands the actual editing duties off to standalone applications already installed on your system.
It’s not hard to spice up photographs in just a few clicks of the mouse these days. The more difficult part of the process is finding an app with quality filters worth using—and one of the better mobile solutions around has finally made the leap to the desktop.
Priime Styles ($30 on the Mac App Store) is a Mac version of the popular Priime photo editor for iPhone. The two apps share the same impressive catalog of “styles,” what we typically refer to as one-click image filters or presets. Created by dozens of the world’s top photographers, there are over a hundred styles to choose from—101 to be exact, although the apps offer them up in different ways.
If you’ve bought a new Mac in recent years, chances are it arrived with flash storage in place of a traditional hard drive. In terms of reliability and rapid-fire boot times, flash storage is awesome, but it’s expensive. So to make it more affordable, you don’t get the capacity you see with hard drives.
There are a lot of ways to work around the built-in limited flash storage, but there’s another method for eking out a little more space: Purging duplicate files. Few of us bother doing it, because weeding out extra copies of photos, documents, and other media simply takes too much time and energy.
Gemini 2 offers a minimalist user interface for adding or dropping files and folders you want to examine for duplicates.
Vivaldi (free), the new browser from some of the creators of Opera, blends appealing looks with clever innovations. But while Vivaldi deserves applause for trying new things and getting many of them right, it still strikes a few sour notes.
Many browsers trade off between ease of use and customization, sacrificing one for the other’s sake. Vivaldi doesn’t. You can move and change nearly every element in the interface, but upon first opening, Vivaldi walks you through that process with easy, elegant setup screens. Want tabs on the bottom of the window, and the URL bar up top? No problem. (If you change your mind, you can adjust all these elements, with only slightly more difficulty, in Vivaldi’s clean and well-organized Preferences.)
Our productivity is measured in megabits. No matter how fast the processors are or how much RAM we have installed, our Macs are only as efficient as the Internet connections they receive; in this age of always-on apps and streaming everything, downloads speeds are king, and even a slight dip in bandwidth can make or break your day.
Whether you rely on the Internet for work or play, you want to make sure your connection is always running at its optimal speed (or just something close to what you pay for). There are numerous ways to do so right in your browser, with Ookla’s speedtest.net setting the bar with a reliable tool that doesn’t use Flash. But like most browser tests, it’s not exactly elegant, with several banner ads surrounding the testing screen, and some may have concerns over the potential for viruses or malware.
Believe it or not, QuickTime turns 25 years old this year. The multimedia software that debuted with System Software 6 (?!) soon became the de facto method for playing video on the Mac, eventually introducing an optional Pro upgrade that allowed users to perform basic edits, merge files, and export to supported video codecs.
With the release of Mac OS X Snow Leopard and QuickTime X in 2009, Apple went back to basics, stripping QuickTime Player X of most pro-centric functionality. Over time, some features like trim would return, but in the eyes of power users, the damage was done.
There’s been no shortage of powerful media players ever since, many capable of playing just about any file you can throw at it, even without proper codes installed. But these alternatives are often designed for power users, rather than content creators who require a fast, lightweight player for reviewing files.
Airfoil offers separate volume controls for every device available as an output source.
Airfoil 5 is a digital ventriloquist that lets you throw your computer’s “voice.” The latest version builds on the foundation of letting you take a single app’s audio output and route it to one or more places to play it back. It's something like iTunes multi-“speaker” support but with much more control and it works with any application, all while not relying entirely on AirPlay.
On the Mac, Copied lives in the menubar, where it can be accessed from any application you happen to be using at the time.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
"Basically the price of a night on the town!"
"I'd love to help kickstart continued development! And 0 EUR/month really does make fiscal sense too... maybe I'll even get a shirt?" (there will be limited edition shirts for two and other goodies for each supporter as soon as we sold the 200)