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Imagine you’re walking out of the Apple Store with a brand new MacBook under your arm, or perhaps you’re carting out one of the brand-new wall mounted iMacs (yes, we’re wishing we had one of those — say, the top-speced 27″ one — too). You plug in your Mac, savor the familiar-yet-new startup ding, then connect to the internet. You’re ready to start loading up your Mac with the best apps, and you can’t wait to get it feeling like a productive machine.

Only this time, there’s a twist: you can only install 5 apps. That’s right: you can install anything you want from the net or the App Store, but you’re limited to using the built-in apps and up to 5 more apps you install. What apps would make the cut?

The past few weeks, we’ve been featuring roundups of our team’s favorite apps in the Apps We Use series, and we’ve got a ton more workflows to feature over the upcoming weeks. Some of us have extremely streamlined workflows consisting of only a few apps, while others have a ton of apps they use to get their work done.

If I could only install 5 apps on my Mac, I’d install:

  • Dropbox, since all my files live in it
  • 1Password, since I wouldn’t be able to login to almost any site without it
  • OmniFocus, which holds almost everything I need to do
  • Sublime Text for writing, since it’s great for plain-text writing as well as coding
  • Transmit for FTP, to publish articles to my site (which uses the flat-file CMS Kirby)

There’s a ton more apps I use daily and that I’d want to use, but these would be the minimum I’d need to keep working. Now, how about you? What 5 apps would you install if you could only have 5 apps on your Mac? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanks to Our Sponsor: Magic Mind

Do you find yourself looking for calming music or background sounds to make your day at work less stressful? Magic Mind, our sponsor this week, is an app that can help you out. It’s designed to help anyone who undergoes stressful situations at work, has trouble falling asleep, or wants to meditate.

No matter if you are looking for a lunch brake relax or a deep stress relief, this application has you covered. You can choose from 28 background sounds, including thunder, crickets, birds and more, to help you relax while tuning out other background noises. You can custom mix sounds and adjust the volume of each individual sound to get it sounding just like you want. Then, there’s 40 unique sessions with a predefined music track, which can be changed to any of 48 available different melodies.

Magic Mind includes:

  • 48 Music Tracks, all of which work as endless loops
  • 28 Background Sounds that you can custom mix
  • Custom Timer settings to control fade-out time and more
  • SoundScapes to save your favorite sound combinations

Go Get It!

If you’ve been wanting a way to get some calming background noise to help your workday be a bit more peaceful, Magic Mind might be just what you’ve been looking for. You can get your own copy of Magic Mind for $4.99 from the App Store. At half the price of a music album, it’s a cheap way to get your own calming soundtrack for your work life.

Think you’ve got a great app? Sign up for a Weekly Sponsorship slot just like this one.
Colorful Adventures in Draw a Stickman: EPIC

Video games are becoming much more about art, and while gameplay will always remain an important aspect, the look of the game can weigh as heavily. That’s why I was excited to find Draw a Stickman: EPIC, because the artstyle and the gameplay seemed equally inventive, both relying on your own drawings to work.

That’s putting a lot of pressure on the player, though. Can my little stickman shoulders bear the weight of all that responsibility? We’ll get drawing and see how I — and the game — hold up.


The end of another week at the office is in sight!

We got some really nice picks to make your weekend feel closer. Here we’ll talk about the new Dropbox menubar functionality, a sneak peak of upcoming version of Pixelmator and, best of all, the long waited release of Alfred v2!


If you’re subscribing to Mac.AppStorm or any other sites via RSS, chances are you’re using Google Reader. Even if you’re using a Mac app like NetNewsWire, Reeder, or any of the newer news apps that have popped up in recent years, you’re likely using Google Reader to do the heavy lifting of syncing your RSS feeds. That’s all going to come to an end this July, as Google just announced that they’re shutting down Google Reader.

There’s a few options you’ve got. First, NetNewsWire can sync RSS feeds standalone already, so it can work without Google Reader integration, only you’ll lose the syncing options. Then, the Reeder team has announced on Twitter that Reeder won’t die, though it’s yet to be seen how it will continue syncing RSS feeds. On the Mac, Reeder only works with Google Reader, though on the iPhone it already works with Fever, a self-hosted online feed reader.

Then, if you used Google Reader online, you’ll just need to find a new app to subscribe to RSS feeds. Plus, you’ll need to export your Google Reader data, no matter what app you’re switching to. Over on Web.AppStorm, we’ve put together the tips and apps you need to make the leap from Google Reader. I personally switched to Fever, but there’s a number of options that’ll work no matter what your needs.

Now, would anyone like to predict what app Google will shutdown next?

Continue Reading on Web.AppStorm…

If you love reading online articles, but don’t usually have time to read them in full when you’re using your browser, then you’re like a heavy user of a reading later service. There’s three popular web apps to help you save articles to read anytime: Pocket, Readability, and Instapaper. While all these services have native apps for your iPhone and more, only Pocket has a native Mac app (one that used to be the best Instapaper app for the Mac).

So what’s an Instapaper or Readability user to do, if they want to read their articles on the Mac? There’s two new apps that are great options: ReadKit and Words App. We’d looked at Words before, but found its interface rather lacking for a full reading app. Their dev team went back to the drawing board, though, and their newly released Words 2 is easily one of the nicest ways to read longform articles on your Mac. If you didn’t try it out the first time around, you should definitely take a look at Words 2.

Here’s why.


You know you shouldn’t use the same simple password on every site online, but password managers can be so complex to setup, not to mention expensive. Perhaps you should try out PassLocker, our sponsor this week, which is a new take on a password management app.

PassLocker is a nicely designed menubar app that makes it dead-simple to generate random passwords for your online accounts and save your account info in one place. You won’t have to install any browser plugins to use it, and there’s no extra features or settings to make it complex. It’s just a simple way to manage your passwords. We called PassLocker “the simplest password app” in our recent review, and found it to live up to its claims as an easy-to-use password app.

Best of all, PassLocker works great on the iPhone as well, so your passwords will be with you wherever you go. And you won’t have to worry about staying in sync, either, since PassLocker will automatically sync all of your info over iCloud. PassLocker is a promising alternative for those who are tired of complexity of other apps, or who don’t want to pay a fortune for managing passwords.

Go Get It!

Ready to get your passwords organized in a simple way on your Mac and iPhone? Then go download PassLocker today from the App Store. At just $4.99 on the Mac and $1.99 on the iPhone, it won’t break the bank, and it’s so quick and easy to use that you’ll have your accounts more secure without much trouble at all.

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

As a podcaster, having an audio editing tool that is simple, quick, and easy to use is priceless. So when Rouge Amoeba, the Mac developers known for popular audio tools like Audio Hijack Pro and NiceCast announced version 2 of their Fission audio editor – I took note.

Although it distinguishes itself from the crowd with the promise of “fast & lossless audio editing”, Fission still faces fierce competition from both ends of the spectrum. To carve out a meaningful niche for itself, Fission 2 needs to be a worthwhile option against the likes of professional tools like Logic Pro, and free options like Garageband or Audacity. So does it succeed? Read on to find out!

If there’s one enduring set of apps that’s practically a requirement to use in most business and education settings, it’s Microsoft Office. Love it or hate it, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are the de facto standards for their categories.

On a Mac, you’ve got a ton of options these days. You could obviously use Office for Mac, though it’s often a bit behind its Windows counterparts despite coming out for the Mac before Windows was even around (though sometimes it does seem ahead of the Windows versions — see the Publishing layout options in Word for Mac). Then, there’s Apple’s iWork apps, though you might end up with some compatibility issues if you have to regularly share heavily formatted documents (but, for most purposes, iWork really is fine, while being nicer to use than Office. Really). There’s also OpenOffice and its new counterpart LibreOffice, though they come with their own slew of issues. You could also use web apps for free these days instead, from Google, Zoho, or even Microsoft itself.

Or, you could use Office for Windows on your Mac, either in Bootcamp or in a virtual machine. That way, you could use Office 2013 today on your Mac, or stick to an older-and-trusted version of Office in an old XP virtual machine. I personally have Office 2010 in a Windows 7 virtual machine, as well as an Office 2013 trial in a Windows 8 virtual machine for testing and more. We’d love to know if you use Office for Windows on your Mac. If so, we’d love to hear how you use it, and what version you’re using in the comments below!

Best of Mactuts+ in February

MacTuts+ is the superb new site dedicated to teaching people how to use their Mac, and OS X, more effectively. We’ve got you covered for apps, but combine that with an in-depth knowledge of OS X and you’ll be unstoppable, limitless!

This is a quick roundup of the best tutorials from MacTuts+ in February, from Use Your Phone to Automatically Lock Your Mac When You Walk Away to How to Move Your iTunes, iPhoto or Aperture Library to an External Drive.


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