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Matthew Guay

Writer. Former Mac and Web AppStorm Editor, now Tuts+ Software Training Editor. Brainstormer-in-chief. @maguay | Techinch.com

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It’s the time of the year for gifts, and yet if you spend enough time around AppStorm and other app-focused sites, you’ll find a number of gifts throughout the year. We’re always excited to feature a giveaway of an app we love, and I’m certain many of you have filled your launchpads with apps you’ve picked up on deals and free giveaways we’ve featured. And yet, there’s one thing that always seems to stump almost everyone once in a while: redeeming gift codes.

So here, in a nutshell, is how to redeem an App Store gift code for any Mac or iOS app — or just to add App Store credit to your account if you’re lucky enough to find an iTunes Gift Card in your stocking this year.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, croons Andry Williams, and if free stuff makes your day, that’s never more true than online during the Holidays. There’s giveaways galore — and for the next 30 hours or so, there’s a giveaway that’s come all the way from 1997 to wish you a happy 2013 holiday season.

The GOG team — the people behind the DRM free game store that re-releases classic games for the Mac and PC — have just launched their 2013 DRM-Free Winter Sale with over 600 games discounted by at least 50%. There’s different deals available every day, with everything from sets of classic games to discounts on newer games like Papers, Please and Faster Than Light. There’s apps for every genre and taste — relive classic sims with SimCity 2000 and Rollercoaster Tycoon, or take on Duke Nukem 3D, all with steep discounts. Each deal’s for a limited time, so you’ll need to hurry and grab the games you want when you see they’re discounted.

But the very best deal is just for today, so you’d better hurry and grab it. From now until 1:59PM GMT on Saturday, you can get Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics for free from GOG. These classic post-apocryphal RPG games would normally sale for $29 on GOG, and you can now download the whole set for nothing. Each game is dated — original Fallout is now 16 years old — but hey: how can you pass up an opportunity to get what Gamespot called “one of the best role-playing games to be released in several years” back when they reviewed it?

Be sure to tell all of your gaming friends — here’s your chance to almost give them a Christmas gift for free! And hey, even if you miss out on this giveaway, you might as well add some holiday cheer and pick up a few discounted games from the still ongoing sale through the end of the holiday season. You’ll even be able to vote on the deals you’d like to see, and could check some special people off your holiday gift list by gifting them a game or three while saving money yourself.

For a brief moment on June 10th, it seemed like Apple was going to support notification syncing between your iPhone and your Mac. It seemed like they said if you got, say, a New York Times push notification on your phone, you could get it on your Mac as well. That feature turned out to be just Safari Push Notifications — an option to let websites push notifications to your Mac the same way mobile apps push notifications on your iPhone. A nice feature still, perhaps, but nothing that’d bring the iOS and OS X synergy we thought was coming.

And yes, Safari Push Notifications are a good idea and a nice new feature, to a degree. But at the same time, they can be one of the most infuriating, in-your-face new features on the Mac. Here’s why.

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Simple file sharing services are great for sharing all types of files — from code snippets to short notes to ready-to-publish PDFs — but most of the time, they’re only used for sharing images. That’s a shame, though. Most of us often need to share text that’s longer than a tweet but that’d make no sense to put into a blog post, and simple file sharing apps are great for that.

Except, they still make it rather difficult to share text. You have to write it in an app, save it to a file, the drag it to your sharing tool of choice. Plus, there’s no way to edit your text once it’s shared, without deleting the original share, editing your original text on your Mac, then re-uploading and re-sharing the text.

Sharing text should be far simpler, which is why Levi Nunnink from the Droplr team just built the brand-new MarkDrop app. It makes sharing text via Droplr — and editing text you’ve already shared — as simple as saving a document in iCloud. It’s brilliant.

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There’s hidden beauty in your pictures, even those that look too dark to see any details. You just need a tool that makes it incredibly simple to bring out the best in your photos, and that’s exactly what Macphun’s new Intensify is for. It’s the app that’ll help you discover the beauty in details.

Intensify is designed to help you bring out every detail in your photos with precise control that lets you tweak your photos exactly like you want. You can use the dozens of settings to intensify any part of your photos, while Intensify is smart enough to keep out artifacting and noise in your edited images. You’ll be able to reveal hidden details, make your colors richer and more vibrant, tweak the sharpness of micro details in your images without adding extra noise, and so much more. All of your edits are done in layers as well, so your original photo is still intact. It’s everything you need to make your photos beautiful, enough that pro photographers are already adopting it in their workflows.

There’s two versions of Intensify, so everyone can use it to get the most out of their photos. There’s the cheaper Intensify from the App Store that’s a standalone app with all the power you need to tweak your photos, and then Intensify Pro from the Macphun Store that integrates directly in your professional photography workflow. With Intensify Pro, you can run Intensify inside Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, and Photoshop Elements directly as a plugin, open layered PSD files in Intensify for editing, and speed up your workflow with advanced shortcuts and extra tools to make tweaking your photos even easier.

“…it’s one of the best photo editing apps for professionals.”
Nathan Snelgrove in our AppStorm review of Intensify Pro

Intensify Pro impressed us when we tried it out for our review, where we found it far more powerful and useful than its price tag would indicate. It’s the tool that award-winning photographers like Urs Buhlman and Lucas Gilman choose for their work, and we’re certain you’ll love it as well. It’s the one tool you need to make every detail pop in your photos.

Get Your Copy of Intensify!

You can get your own copy of Intensify from the Mac App Store for just $29.99. Or, if you want the most power and want to use Intensify inside Photoshop, Lightroom, and more, get Intensify Pro from the Macphun Store for $59.99 — a steal for all the tools it includes. And, if you purchase Intensify from the App Store and then decide later you’d like to upgrade to Intensify Pro, you can purchase an upgrade from the Macphun store for just $24.99.

Think you’ve got a great app? Sign up for a Weekly Sponsorship slot just like this one.

We just closed our giveaway — congrats to our winners: Devin, Neal, and Bilal!

In the search for the best new email app, one comment we frequently get is that many people still love using Gmail’s web app, and find it far more intuitive than any of the competing full-featured email apps for the Mac. And for good reason: Gmail has great keyboard shortcuts, is fast and responsive, and all of your emails don’t have to take up any local storage space on your Mac. What’s not to love?

Well, Gmail.com will only get you so far. It lives in a browser tab, acts like a web app, and doesn’t use all of your Mac native keyboard shortcuts like CMD+N for a new message. Managing multiple accounts is annoying at best, and using your native Mac Contacts.app email addresses will require copy/paste. It’s not perfect. That’s what Mailplane seeks to solve. It’s a native Mac app that turns the Gmail you love into something much more like a standalone app, complete with Mac keyboard shortcuts and Contacts integration, simple multiple account support, and more. The latest version even makes it simple to keep up with your Google Calendar in the same semi-native interface that gives you the best of the Mac and the web at once.

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Mailplane 3 usually costs $24.95, but we’ve got 3 copies of Mailplane to giveaway to our AppStorm readers this week as an early holiday gift. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below and let us know why you’d love a copy of Mailplane — then share the giveaway and leave a second comment with a link to your post for an extra entry.

Hurry and get your entries in — our giveaway closes on Friday, December 13th.

Envato staff or those who have written more than two articles or tutorials for AppStorm are ineligible to enter.

Apple’s brought a number of iOS features back to the Mac, and some of them are really great. I happen to love the new iBooks for Mac (even though, oddly enough, I preferred the old version of iBooks for iOS), and both Reminders and Notes are a nice little addition even if they’re not the apps I use for their respective functions. But some of the new features just aren’t as useful on the Mac — Game Center, for instance, is likely an app you never open on the Mac.

But there’s another OS X addition that’s both useful and not at the same time: Notifications and their home, Notification Center. I like the native notifications for OS X and rely on them throughout the day, and the new interactive notifications are a rather nice addition even if they’re not something I use that much. But Notification Center is simply something I have to clear out every so often since I’m a neat freak. I never go there to check for things I missed, and the few times I accidentally open it I notice dozens of long-past notifications that just need cleared out. Usually, I’ll see a Mac notification and it gives me the info I need, so there’s no reason I’d need to click on it for it to do its job. And yet, that unclicked notification will end up in Notification Center waiting for me to clean it up.

So I wonder: do the rest of you use Notification Center? Do you check it regularly, or would you be just fine with only plain notifications and no Notification Center to keep track of missed ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

From an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign early last year to its initial release as a web app with a dark, bubbly plastic design last year to a streamlined, lighter and brighter iOS app earlier this year, Mail Pilot has had quite the journey so far in its short life. And now, that journey has finally brought it to the Mac in a native app that brings another hint of what an iOS 7 redesigned OS X could look like.

At every step, the core idea was still at play: your inbox is filled with things you need to do, so why not treat it like a to-do list? You could then check off emails you’ve completed (say, just read the message and noted the info, or replied if that’s needed), schedule emails to clear off later, and keep a list of messages you’ll need to come back to. It’s designed to simplify your email, and is now ready for you to try on your Mac.

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We’re apt to think that just another app will solve all of our problems. Apple’s “There’s an App for That” campaign sounds all too perfect: we’ve got problems in life, and there’s an app out there that can solve it.

That’s quite the tantalizing solution, but there’s one problem: it won’t work.

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It was common knowledge until earlier this year that Apple was going to kill the Mac Pro — and then, they stunned us all with the reinvented new Mac Pro at WWDC ’13. We were equally prepared to accept that Apple wasn’t really focusing on its iWork apps, since they hadn’t received a major upgrade since ’09, and were delighted to catch a one-sentence promise of a new iWork during the same keynote. Combine that with OS X Mavericks’ new power user features, like tabs in Finder and better multiple display support, and it’d be easy to say that Apple finally was focusing on power users again.

And then, we got the new iWork apps, and they each had features cut out. Mavericks, even, crippled Mail.app’s Gmail integration. And so the pendulum swung back again: see, Apple doesn’t care about power users at all.

Leave it to Cupertino to push the pendulum back yet again by announcing that they’re bringing features back to iWork over the next few months, and they’ve already fixed Gmail integration in Mail.app. And yet, that shouldn’t be surprising all: it’s how Apple works.

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