I think, if we were to do a random poll, we’d probably find that most of us hate keeping our computers running smoothly more than any other task. Looking for old files and keeping the trash cans empty are unenviable jobs, and as the owner of a small business, I’ve contemplated hiring an all-purpose secretary to handle email and computer maintenance — but that’s not really practical.
All joking aside, one of my favourite things about my Mac are the apps that are available that help make boring tasks like cleaning up my hard drive less dull. Oddly, one of my favourite apps of all time, DaisyDisk, made the task fun. Finding joy in mundane things like computer maintenance is one thing that only Macs can offer, and that’s why I was thrilled to give Disk Diag a shot. It’s a simple app on the Mac App Store meant to do one thing well: clean out your old files. Read on to compare it with some of the competition and see if it’s for you.
Google Reader’s death has pushed us all to decide again what we want from RSS. But it’s easy to forget that Google Reader and online synced feeds weren’t the only option all along. The Mac used to include RSS sync in both Safari and Mail, and Firefox still has Live Bookmarks for a simple way to subscribe to sites. Neither option was as shiny as Reeder or as convenient as any online feed sync with companion mobile apps, but they just worked. You got the latest news on your Mac in a lightweight, native app, and got on with your life.
That’s exactly what the new Dayspring app offers. It’s a lightweight, Mac-only RSS reader that brings back the simplicity of checking your feeds in an app like Mail.
Despite being the world’s largest software company, Microsoft has somewhat of a bad reputation when it comes to software for the Mac. Ask anyone who has ever to endure using Microsoft Entourage for any length of time and they’ll likely tell you its the only software package in existence that violates almost every human rights act there is.
Microsoft has had a remote connection app for Mac users to remotely access Windows workstations for some time, though it was so old and infrequently updated that system requirements even stated it was not for use with Mac OS X Lion or later.
Thankfully, Microsoft have been taking the Mac and iOS platforms a little more seriously and their latest remote access tool, Microsoft Remote Desktop, is not only a complete reworking of its ageing predecessor, it’s actually really good.
Two weeks ago at their special fall event, Apple released the much anticipated updates for its iWork suite. It’s been the biggest rework of the apps since the iWork suite was first launched. The apps bear a fresh, brand new UI but leave behind useful features, especially those that were most-loved by at power users. There’s been a lot of controversy about these apps over the past weeks, as is readily apparent from the comments on our Pages and Keynote reviews.
Numbers, Apple’s spreadsheet app that’s now in its 3rd version, is not an exception to the trend seen thus far in the new iWork apps. It’s simplified, looks much like the other new apps in the suite, and gets rid of some features that some of you might consider essential. Here’s my impressions on what I’ve always considered a powerful yet super easy to use combination of a free form spreadsheet processor and data visualizer.
Intelligent recognition software, whether it be voice- or picture-based, is continuing to improve. Google Googles is a great example of this. It recognizes patterns in an image and uses them to search for related data. You can use the service to translate a sign in a foreign country or help you distinguish a piece of art. Google is definitely on top of the image recognition software, but smaller competitors are beginning to develop their own versions of the software.
Picatext is a new Mac app that hopes to bring text recognition to the desktop. It supports over 40 languages, claiming that it can take text from an image and copy it to your clipboard in a matter of seconds. Let’s find out if it works.
There have been a number of tools and services to help make web development more efficient over the years, with CSS extensions such as Compass, LESS and SASS, that turn stylesheets into faux-programming languages, complete with variables. In addition to that, mobile is now the most popular way of accessing the internet, so it’s crucial to make website code and scripts as compact and efficient as possible.
CodeKit, by Incident 57, describes itself as “steroids for web developers” and, after using it for some time, I wholeheartedly agree.
Despite the technological advances of fingerprint scanners and retina displays, iOS devices can still only print to a very limited number of printers that support AirPrint. While more and more printers are adding this feature (and some manufacturers, such as Canon, are even providing updates to certain models to add AirPrint functionality), buying a whole new printer for a feature you’ll likely not often use just cost effective.
Printopia is an app that’s best known for serving as a gateway between your iOS device and your printer, providing a way to print to any Mac-compatible printer directly from your iOS device, free from the restraints of AirPrint. While most may be content with only this functionality, Printopia offers so much more for both Mac and iOS devices alike, especially to those looking for a paperless workflow.
I always want to make working on my Mac easier, and I’m never disappointed when I find an application that does that. Fast Toggles isn’t itself really an application, though, but a collection of small applications that each performs one small function each. These are all things that are often used but can take some digging to reach. Fast Toggles puts them in one place and makes them a lot easier to get at. Is Fast Toggles that much faster, though, or just a waste of time? (more…)
There’s notebook apps to store all your text snippets, ideas, notes, outlines, and anything else you can think of. They’re designed to make it easy to save notes, and easy to search through and find the note you need later. There’s plain writing apps, that strip away all the distractions and help you focus on your writing. And then there’s the export tools page layout apps that help you publish your finished work.
And then, there’s the new Ulysses III 1.1. Ulysses III reinvented what it meant to be a plain-text writing app when it was released this spring, and the new v1.1 update adds advanced search and improves external file and export support enough that it’s a notebook, focused writing, and publishing app rolled into one. It’s the one app modern writers need.