There are already many options available to those of us who’re after simple writing tools. These apps encourage their users to focus in on the evolving text, minimizing distractions by cutting back both on visual clutter (I’m looking at you Microsoft Office) and on informational overload in the form of too many options and tweakable settings. We’ve previously reviewed Byword and Writeroom, as well as running a round-up that added a few alternatives. We also published a discussion piece on whether such apps are necessary, which got some interesting debate going in its comments.
Such apps abound on the iPad too, and on that platform one of the most popular choices has been iA Writer. Now Information Architects, the design firm that developed iA Writer for iPad has turned it into a Mac app, available for purchase on the Mac Appstore.
I’m going to settle down for a while, open up iA Writer for Mac, and walk you through its features.
We all struggle with procrastination from time to time, especially when overwhelmed with the size or scope of a project. There have been a number of studies and books written lately about the benefits of working for shorter periods of time, with regular short breaks in between. In combination with setting specific small goals to accomplish, this technique is supposed to help you stay focused on the task without getting overwhelmed, and makes you less likely to procrastinate.
The developers of Vitamin-R aimed to create an unobtrusive menu-bar app to help you manage your “time slices” and breaks, while encouraging you to stay focused on small tasks. Vitamin-R integrates many of the ideas described by these new productivity techniques into its functionality, but can it really help you stay focused?
In recent years e-books have experienced a notable surge in popularity. Much of this can be attributed to devices such as Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad, which have seen a huge rise in popularity over recent years and seem to always be in those “top 10 gadget lists”. Amazon now sells more Kindle-format books than standard paper copies and the research and advisory firm mediaIDEAS forecasted that e-book readers are set to become a $25 billion market by the year 2020.
So with all these e-books floating around, you’ll need a way to manage them, right? Well, that’s where Calibre comes in. Think of it as iTunes for your e-books. Although e-book readers such as the Kindle provide their own software, it is a bit basic and you can only read books purchased from the Kindle store.
Calibre allows you to categorize all your books, convert them into different formats and upload them to your device. Although it won’t win any awards for its looks, the old adage is true, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” (or should that be e-book? Sorry, bad joke). Calibre is, to use the age-old comparison, iTunes for your e-books. Read on to find out why.
Instagram has become a very popular service and app on the iPhone, by allowing you to create and share vintage-looking pictures with your social networks and check the recent pictures from your friends. Unfortunately, though, there isn’t really a way of interacting with the service on your computer. Instagram’s developers know this and have made their API available to anyone who wants to create an app for their service.
The app that we are reviewing today is a beautifully designed companion for using Instagram on your Mac. It’s called Carousel and it looks very promising. Does it deliver?
In many ways it’s the holy grail of Mac apps. Apple has instilled an appreciation for the beautiful, the polished, and the carefully designed. And if there’s one part of our lives that screams out for an experience like that it’s money management.
I mean it makes sense, right? Computers are good with numbers, and people usually aren’t. Computers can be used to identify patterns and formulate projections, and people like to see patterns and projections. And on the Mac platform we should be able to get all of that lovely functionality wrapped up in an aesthetically pleasing package, right?
Well there’s a new contender that’s entered the fray: Koku. Making the rounds, Koku has attracted the attention of the Mac community. We’re all dying to know if someone new can build the type of financial monitoring app that we’ve all been looking for.
And so here we are. Let’s take a look at the areas that Koku excels in, and the spots where they need to do some work.
Desktop apps that aim to work along with popular web apps are a pretty common niche in the market, as they make it much faster and easier to use certain features of those websites by always remaining open in your desktop and allowing you to use features like drag-and-drop that might not be as easy to find on a web app.
The app that we are reviewing today is made for quickly publishing pictures and videos over popular social networks like Facebook and Flickr, from your desktop. It’s called Poster.
OS X comes with CD and DVD burning capabilities built-in, so you might have managed so far without needing to install a separate app. When I reinstalled Snow Leopard a few months back, I decided to keep my system as lean as possible, since my old Core Duo MacBook has been showing its age. I only installed applications as a real need for them arose.
As it happens, one of the very first apps I added was for burning discs, since I found the native OS X burning seemed to be slower, and certainly gave me less control of how discs are burned.
I had previously had an earlier version of Toast installed, but I decided not to return to that outdated software, and instead went with a free burner app that had good reviews on MacUpdate. Recently, Roxio released the newest version of Toast, and I’m very glad to have updated.
Though there are lightweight apps that can do some of the things Toast does, and there are many cheaper, and even free, programs available, I believe Toast remains best-in-class. And if you go for the Pro version, it’s actually very good value – but more on that later.
A couple weeks back, I reviewed an app called Yep, a scanning and tagging app for managing documents. I love the idea of tags and am just starting to harness their power in other apps like Things and Evernote, and nudge:nudge’s Punakea attempts to offer tagging support for documents and folders of any kind.
I purchased this app in a bundle a couple months ago, and I’m sure there are many other people out there who have this app sitting in their applications folder unused like I did, so perhaps it’s time to take a look at what it can do!
When Time Machine was released with Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) back in October 2007, it was one of the highlights of the new release. Apple was the first company to offer a fully-functioning, built in backup utility into their operating system and in true Mac-style, they pumped it full of eye candy. Well, only Apple could take a simple system utility and transform it into a work of art.
Although Time Machine is good for recovering files if anything does happen to your Mac, it is a bit basic in its functionality. You do not have the option to schedule backups depending on when you want them – when your external hard disk drive is plugged in (or the device you are backing up to), Time Machine will simply sync any changed files and folders hourly.
For the average user, this won’t cause too much of a problem, but for someone who uses their Mac for high-end software or gaming, the backup can slow down the performance of your Mac. Time Machine also isn’t a true backup option per se, as it does not create disk images (unlike other programs), where you can restore your Mac in the case of a drastic failure.
This is where ChronoSync comes in. At $40, it is quite a pricey alternative to Time Machine (which is bundled in with Mac OS X 10.5 and above) and some might question paying this amount for a piece of software which is pretty much identical to something they get for free anyway. I decided though to download the 30-day trial version of ChronoSync to give it a test run and to see whether it is really a viable (or better) alternative to Time Machine.