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Utilities

Keeping up with an RSS reader has become so boring and monotonous that many people just stopped using their usual Gruml or NetNewsWire apps a while ago. That is, until a small app called Reeder for Mac came along, bringing the beauty and simplicity of mobile apps to the RSS reader market.

The app that we are reviewing today is called Printful, and it aims to be sort of a Reeder on steroids. How well does it work? Let’s find out.

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It seems like there is a sector of Mac software that can bring out the hidden enthusiast in any of us.  There are media player apps, productivity apps, finance apps, and even apps to organize and catalog all of your real-world belongings.  Sometimes, however, the most interesting apps are the ones that take an activity that we often don’t think about, and do something completely different.  Today, the app in question caters to our inner weather junkie.

Swackett touts itself as “a different kind of weather app,” a category into which it fits quite nicely.  Checking the weather before heading out for the day can be quite a time consuming task.  When you live in a place where the weather could change at a moments notice, a “Today’s High” isn’t enough to determine what outfit will be appropriate.  Swackett aims to remedy the tedium of climate calculation by presenting the day’s weather to you in terms of your wardrobe, rather than simply in degrees.
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There is quite a bit of screenshot functionality built right into OS X. Using global shortcuts, you can grab the entire screen, a specific area or even a specific window and place it either on your desktop or into your clipboard. Also, with QuickTime, you now have the ability to record everything on your screen to a simple movie.

Despite all this functionality, there is definitely room for improvement. Apps like LittleSnapper and Screenium give you tons of professional functionality, but will cost you a whopping $30. So where’s the happy medium of an affordable utility that still packs plenty of great features? Screeny attempts to do just that. Read on to see how it fares.

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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.

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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.

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“Fast” and “Mac” are words that get used together pretty frequently. Macs, in comparison to Windows computers, don’t tend to slow down over time – at least not in a noticeable way. But there are things that might prevent your Mac from running quite as fast as it did when it was new, and developers know this.

That’s why there are a lot of apps that can help you “clean” your computer and get rid of logs, files, and caches that you don’t need and that are only using up your memory. The app that we are reviewing today is called MacCleanse, and it claims to let you find and delete these useless files to make your computer fast again. But does it deliver, and how does it compare to similar solutions?

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New subscribers to MobileMe generally know the basics: contacts, email, calendars and notes can sync across computers and devices, you get some storage, and a fancy email address to share with all of your friends. But if you’re anything like me, you opened up your iDisk for the first time, saw the Backup folder and thought, “What’s this for? There’s no way that a Time Machine backup would fit in the 20GB allotted for iDisk.”

Turns out, the Backup folder is for a program called Backup 3, which is made by Apple. What’s this for, and why would I need it if I use Time Machine?

Good question – let’s find out!

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If you’re a web or graphic designer, you know how useful a desktop color picking application can be. There’s nothing more ridiculous than loading up Photoshop just to identify a particular color value. Although OS X does have a native app for this in the form of DigitalColor Meter (in Applications/Utilities), it’s a fairly simple app.

ColorSnapper bills itself as the missing color picker for Mac OS X. Although this is a little bit of an overstatement (OS X does have one, after all), this doesn’t change the fact that it’s a pretty neat app.

I know a color picker is something that I use on a regular basis, so let’s see whether ColorSnapper really can offer an advantage over DigitalColor Meter…

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On my 13-inch MacBook Pro, screen real estate is at a premium, so I often have a hard time seeing all the windows I need to see at once. BetterSnapTool aims to help organize windows on your Mac for more efficient multitasking, or for working with multiple apps at once.

Since Windows 7 introduced Snap, several Mac apps have surfaced to mimic its window-resizing behavior, including Cinch, SizeUp, and Divvy.

BetterSnapTool is the new kid on the block — how does it compare?

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Today we’ll be reviewing quite an unusual app. Unlike most software that we review, this application is made for people who don’t have much contact with Mac apps – or even Macs at all. It’s a simple video tutorial app that can show you how to use a Mac in just a few hours through short informative and interactive videos.

Called Learn The Switch To Mac, it’s available on the App Store for just $1 at the time of writing. Are you a recent Mac switcher? Are you having problems getting around in your new computer? This app will show you the way. Keep on reading to find out more about it.

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