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This week has been an extremely busy one in terms of the going-ons in the Mac app newssphere (and I think we all know why…!) so without further ado, let’s get cracking.

Happy reading!

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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 July, from how to create a foolproof backup system for your Mac, to getting to know Safari 6 — dive in and become a pro!

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Last Thursday was a sad day for Sparrow users ’round the world. The company announced, in quite a surprise turn, that it had been acquired by Google and that any new features for their Mac and iOS apps will no longer be developed – presumably because the team are now busy overhauling the default Gmail client with some of Sparrow’s fancy features.

Sparrow was one of the leading examples of the innovative apps on the App Store that helps make OS X a better platform for everyone. Plus, it was one of the few email apps that actually worked better than the alternatives. So what does all this mean for the future of email on OS X?

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Macs aren’t known for being easily customizable, but if you put a little work into it and have the right tools, you can make some great changes to really make you Mac your own. This is especially true with your application icons. With the exception of your wallpaper, switching out the icons that represent each of your applications is perhaps the easiest change you can make to your interface. Sometimes, though, the image or icon you want to use isn’t in a format that’s going to work as a Mac application icon.

iConvert Icons wants to fix all that. I’ve been using their webapp for years to convert images and Windows icons to something I could use in OS X, and I’ve never found a Mac app I’ve liked near as much. They’ve finally released an app that can live on my Mac, though, and save me the trip online every time I need a change of scenery in OS X. But will the new Mac app be as good as (or perhaps even better than) their webapp? (more…)

I love arcade-style games. They offer such simple pleasure, with quick thrills, a mantra of easy to learn but hard to master, and you can drop in and out of them at any time. The Mac has seen its share of great arcade space shooters over the years, thanks to shareware classics from the likes of Ambrosia Software (Maelstrom, SketchFighter, Mars Rising) and Pangea Software (Pangea Arcade), among others.

While Sad Cat Software’s Violet Storm is a decent and mostly-fun game, it doesn’t hold a candle to these or other popular recent games owing to the legacy of 1979 arcade hit Asteroids (such as Geometry Wars, to which Violet Storm is highly indebted). But at $1.99, it might just be worth a look anyway. Allow me to explain why.

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Whenever Apple releases a new version of OS X, the blogosphere goes wild, typing tens of thousands of words about the latest features and changes in the operating system we all love. There’s always new core features that are hidden to most of our eyes, as well as the more subtile changes you might not notice in the UI without a reviewer pointing them out.

It’s only been one short year since Lion was released, but even with the quick release window for Mountain Lion, reviewers still went through the OS and found plenty to write about. Our own Alex Arena wrote a thorough overview of the new features and apps you’ll use most in his Mountain Lion Review. In our opinion, it’s a great place to find out what to expect from Mountain Lion if you don’t want to spend too much time reading about the deepest changes in the OS. We even included a giveaway of 3 copies of Mountain Lion, so be sure to check it out and enter in our drawing if you haven’t upgraded already!

But, if you’re looking for more detailed info about Mountain Lion, here’s some of the best Mountain Lion coverage from around the ‘net, as well as some extra Mountain Lion info you should keep in mind.

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The summer is drawing to a close for many and the summer vacation season is also near the end. The need to share all of your great vacation photos with your family and friends is becoming more apparent and now is the time to do it. You could of course just email all of your photos to family, but that would be cumbersome and boring. While there are many online photo sharing websites, you might like something with a little more flare. Hoping to bring that little something extra is Photo Album by FlippingBook.

Photo Album allows you to transform your photos into sharable photo albums. The goal of Photo Album is simplicity and ease of use, but does it live up to that expectation? That’s what we’re here to see.

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It’s time for a friendly reminder because Apple’s online storage service for iWork documents, the iWork.com Public Beta, is closing up this Tuesday, July 31st. As of July 31st, you will not be able to access any of the documents you might have hosted on the site as part of Apple’s universal transition to iCloud.

For now, there isn’t an Apple-powered alternative to iWork.com as Apple is yet to integrate iCloud even into it’s own, Mac App Store-distributed office suite. There’s a potential that’s going to change in a rumoured-to-be-very-soon update to the iWork suite that will see such integration (Update: as expected, iWork has been updated to work with iCloud and Retina Displays, but it’s still not a full new version of iWork), but, for now, it’s time to backup anything you may have saved and start looking at alternatives.

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Finding images on the Internet tends to be difficult and time-consuming. You have to switch from one search engine to another, clicking through to a separate page for advanced settings if you need specific types of images. Then, looking at a larger version takes you to another page, from which you can check out the full-size image or the website it was found on (with yet another click and page load). I hate it.

Skyscraper (formerly Pandora; renamed to avoid confusion with the popular music service) tries to solve that problem, giving you an app to search for images online from the comfort of your Mac. It has a raft of handy features that stand it as a major player in the image-search apps arena, and does a decent job of fulfilling its tagline: “Find and download images of anything.” (more…)

This past weekend, the Sparrow team shook the Mac app world by announcing they had been bought out by Google and wouldn’t be adding any new features to their popular email app. Sparrow was a great example of the amazing Mac-only apps you can get from the App Store, an app that was lovingly created by a team that really knew what they were doing. Now, the team’s moving to work on Gmail, and odds are Google will totally forget about the Mac app the team had built in the first place.

For those of use that use email all the time, many of us exclusively use Gmail or Google Apps on our own domains. However, we usually don’t use Gmail online, preferring instead to use Mail.app, Sparrow, or other 3rd party email apps to manage our email workflow. Sparrow was an especially good choice for Gmail users, as it supported Gmail’s features in a brilliant Mac interface, and just worked so good.

It’s not like Sparrow quit working overnight, but most of us are seriously considering alternate email apps now that Sparrow won’t be in active development going forward. That’s why we’re wondering if you’re going to keep using Sparrow, or if you’ve switched to another email app. We’d love to hear what email app you’re using, and why, in the comments below!

Special thanks to @CoolD78 for the poll idea!

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