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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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There are two kinds of Mac users: those who use apps like Alfred, LaunchBar or Quicksilver, and those who don’t. If you fall under the second category, I greatly encourage you to try one of those apps: you have not unleashed the full potential of OS X until you get your hands on these gems. And while we’re talking about trying one, why not go for the only one that’s completely free: Quicksilver? If you’re not sure, go read our review first.

Already convinced Quicksilver can help you in your everyday tasks? Perfect! We have crafted in-depth tutorials so as you can get the most of it, either for replacing the Finder or browsing your contacts and sending emails. The series keep on rolling today with some basic — and more interestingly, advanced — ways of controlling iTunes with Quicksilver.

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Quicksilver, one of the oldest “launchers” for Mac OS X, has reached one of its biggest milestones — the 1.0 release — a few months ago. We’ve already reviewed v1.1, and now we’re rolling out a series of how-to articles to get the most of this powerful app.

Quicksilver’s flexibility may be daunting at first. You’ve got to get your hands dirty to really see what it’s capable of. But fear not, we’ve got you covered! Last week we taught you some basic concepts. For a few weeks, we’ll have a weekly in-depth coverage of some of the most commonly-used plugins. Read on to get the most of managing your contacts and sending emails.
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Apple has always provided a means to back up your iPhone so that, should anything disastrous happen, you’re safe in the knowledge that you can easily restore your backup to a new one. At first, this was simply through iTunes but along came iCloud and now backups are performed directly to Apple’s servers, saving the burden of iTunes syncing.

While this protects our iPhone’s data from something such as loss, theft or damage, what happens if we inadvertently delete some information such as some notes, a voice recording or document within an app?

PhoneView is an app that provides a level of interaction with an iPhone (and iPad) that goes far beyond anything iTunes lets us do. Even without jailbreaking, we’re able to delve deep into the iPhone’s filesystem and directly access app data, messages, call logs and more so they can be easily archived and backed up – as well as recovered if the worst has happened.

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Last week, we reviewed a serious alternative to launchers like Alfred and LaunchBar: Quicksilver – a program that finally came out of its 10-year long beta period a few months ago.

This software is really powerful and is relatively easy to use, yet you might miss its full potential if you don’t spend enough time with it. Let me make a few things easier for you and guide you through the steps from a complete beginner to becoming a Quicksilver master in just a few articles. This week, we’ll cover the basics that help you understand how the app works and how you can perform basic tasks on files and folders.

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I have long been a strong supporter of cloud storage, highlighting the many different ways to use Dropbox, for example. Combine that with iCloud automatically backing up most of our digital purchases and the documents we create in tons of popular apps now, and cloud syncing suddenly just works. We can just sit back and forget about all the complexity — that is, until we need to restore something.

That’s still usually not too much of a problem, since iCloud has all of our purchased music, apps, and movies ready for redownload. But it’ll come as a shock, however, to realize that iTunes does not fully meet this expectation at the moment. Audiobooks purchased through iTunes allow a one-time download at the point of purchase, but you can’t then download to other devices or even the same device once erased. You can re-synchronize them from your PC or Mac library back to your device, but it is the cloud functionality that is not behaving as expected here.

We thought it best to give you a general advisory about this, and to briefly show you how to prevent the loss of your important digital media purchases with a short backup tutorial.

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While iCloud does a lot of nice things for owners of Apple products, Dropbox works on every platform, making it an always-accessible service for file storage. Most people don’t keep more than a few gigabytes of data in their accounts, but sometimes people decide it might be fun to sync all their music or videos to the cloud. I currently have my entire photography portfolio and all my important documents synced to Dropbox.

Why this instead of iCloud or another competing service? For access to deleted files. If I accidentally remove something from my account, I can go back and get it within 30 days. And if I pay for a Pro account plus the packrat add-on, I can access all my files ever synced to the service. It’s a pretty handy feature, and it’s a good reason to back up some of your information to Dropbox’s secure servers. In this short tutorial, I’ll teach you how to do this without moving everything around using a tool called MacDropAny. (more…)

We’ve all accidentally deleted an important file — or forgotten to save a file after typing up a whole page worth of changes. The latter problem is fixed with Autosave in most modern Mac apps, and the former is usually fixable if you have a Time Machine backup setup or if the deleted file was in Dropbox (where you can undelete files or roll back changes to them for up to 30 days for free, from their site).

But what if you manage to delete a file that wasn’t backed up? Or — even worse — what if you wipe your whole backup disk without meaning to? You’re going to need a disk recovery tool, one that can undelete files. I just had this happen to my personal backup disk, and after recovering from my initial panic, took Disk Drill for a spin to see how much it could get back. This time, I wasn’t just testing an app for a review: I honestly needed the app to work.

The good news: it worked, most of the way. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of disk recovery, and how to get the most of your data back if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

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A few weeks ago, LaunchBar 5.5 update brought — among other interesting things — a new feature called Snippets, which actually is a complete overhaul of its previous “Text Clippings” feature. As the devs advertised Snippets as “a serious text expansion tool”, I was curious to see how this compares to one of the references in text substitution on the Mac: TextExpander.

So, for one week, I did a little experiment: I closed TextExpander and acted as if it was never installed on my Mac, and chose to use only LaunchBar instead. Read on to find out how all of this turned out.

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Typographic artwork is very popular at the moment with all sorts images being created, from maps to movie posters. They look really cool but don’t you just wish that you could do it yourself using any picture you want?

Wordify brings creating these types of graphics to your Mac in a very simple to use app that will convert any image you want into a typographic piece of art. It gives you beautiful results, and actually looks great doing so.

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