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’Tis the season to give presents — so you’re likely spending your weekend running around trying to find the perfect gift for that nice someone. But there’s only so many ties and snowglobes one can use. So why not get the geeks in your life something special this year?

No, you can’t get a new Mac Pro yet, and even if you could it’d have to be a very special someone if you were going to put one of those under the tree for them. That doesn’t mean you can’t get something very nice for them still, all without breaking the bank. So here’s our favorite geeky Mac gifts for this year, ones we’d love to receive and happen to think you’ll be tempted to splurge on for yourself as well.

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There’s screenshot tools, and then there’s screenshot tools. There’s the apps that let anyone quickly grab something off their screen, mark it up to show what they mean, and share it simply. Then there’s the apps that help you capture anything, organize it, sort the shots into detailed libraries, and much more. I’m currently writing a comparison between the best pro screenshot library tools for the Mac, but truth be told, that’s not what most people need. Indeed, even for those of us who do need more advanced screenshot and image tools, it’s still the quick and simple tools that are often the most valuable even if they’re the cheapest.

So, whether you’re on a Mac or PC, or a Chromebook even, here’s the very best tools for simple and quick image annotations — the apps to circle something and add some text, and save without a hassle, whether you’re annotating a screenshot or any other image. These are the best image annotation apps for getting the job done quickly.

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As our lives become more digital, we are always on the lookout for something to enhance the way we organize tasks, wishes, and many other thoughts. Thankfully, there are a lot of apps for this. The problem with having a lot of apps is you have to sort through them to find the one you’re willing to use daily. That’s why we’ve gathered the ten best apps for the job. In this roundup, we’ll detail the pros and cons of each app and give you a chance to decide which is best for your personal needs. (more…)

Ever since Google bought out Sparrow, we’ve been hoping for a new best-in-class email app for the Mac. We listed the elusive .Mail as one of the main apps we hoped to see released in 2013, but alas, nothing has materialized to date.

That’s no reason for doom-and-gloom. Instead, there’s an updated Mail.app in OS X Mavericks, along with the just-released Unibox and Airmail 1.2. Plus, there’s a public beta of Mail Pilot for Mac coming soon. Here’s the latest email choices on the Mac, with enough options that almost everyone should find a mail app they like for now.

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I don’t spend much time in coffee shops when at home, probably because until recently there really wasn’t a good coffee shop near my home. Whenever I’m away from home whether for the day or on a longer trip, however, I find a coffee shop a nice place to catch up on the world and get some work done between more enjoyable activities. I can work in a quiet hotel room for a while, but I often find a little time in the lobby a more productive environment than the traditional quiet hotel room or office.

I’ve always found working in complete silence to be more distracting than having sound in the background. Even just a television or radio turned on in the background can give me enough noise to feel more comfortable. Research also supports a moderate level of background noise prompts more creative thought. The problem with these is the chance of a movie, show, or song pulling you in and distracting you from what you’re working on. Luckily I’m not the only person that prefers something in the background at work and there are plenty of apps and websites built to provide nice background sound. Let’s look at a few.

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If your computer has a multitouch trackpad or you own an external one, you probably use two finger swipes to scroll down a page, show the Notification Center and flip through your photos. But why not put your powerful trackpad to some real use with customizable gestures?

Today we’ll be comparing three apps that build on the functionality of the multitouch trackpad and improve it: JiTouch, BetterTouchTool and MagicPrefs. Want to see which one is the best?
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It’d be hard to be a creative professional and not have heard the drama around Adobe’s move to subscriptions with Creative Cloud‘s release. We’ve covered the good and bad of the move to subscriptions, and even wrote an Open Letter to Adobe about the changes. Creative Cloud has many good things — it’s even cheaper than buying Master Collection and upgrading every time — and the upgraded apps have a lot of nice new features. There’s even the value-add of font and file sync. But, if you want to own your apps, or not have to pay for upgrades and new features you don’t want, though, it’s hard to see the upside to Adobe’s new move to a subscription-only system.

The good thing is, Adobe’s got more competition for its apps than ever before, especially on the Mac. There’s an embarrassment of riches on the App Store and beyond for everything from photo editing to web design to animation. We’ve rounded up the best alternate apps to everything Adobe sells, from Acrobat to Premiere and everything in-between, so if you’re not so excited about shelling out $50/month to Adobe, here’s your chance to jump ship with great new apps.

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I adore my Retina MacBook Pro. It’s powerful and fast, and that display is beautiful. As an early adopter, I’m well aware of some of the compromises I’ve had to make for this laptop. Early adopters are different than the rest of consumers — we don’t care if we need to adopt hacks or special utilities for our new toys. We already own the future.

But those hacks and utilities aren’t always easy to find. That’s why we’ve compiled some insanely useful apps for your shiny machine. It took me months to realize I needed some of these, but especially if you’re a developer, you’ll easily see why you need these tools. Here’s the best little utilities to make your retina display MacBook even better.

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Marketcircle’s Billings was discontinued in June 2013 in favour of their subscription-based Billings Pro, an app which we’ve reviewed and think is awesome. Subscription-based software isn’t for everyone, however, and we’ve been frequently asked to recommend some alternative apps to Billings Pro that doesn’t require any recurring costs.

If you’re looking for an invoicing or time tracking app to replace Billings, or perhaps simply want to know what’s out there, here’s the 10 best simple time tracking and invoicing apps on the Mac today.

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MacBooks might look nice in their original boxes from Apple, but it’s not very practical to carry them around in the original box all the time. And you’d really, really better not carry around your MacBook on its own. That just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

So what should you do? Why, you’ll need to get a nice case for your MacBook. Whether you’re still carrying a thick MacBook Pro, or have switched to the slim MacBook Air, you’ll need at least protection for your Mac, and at most a place to put all of your cables and papers and more. There’s a ton of different bags out there, so we’ve rounded up our team’s favorites.

Here’s the MacBook bags, backpacks, sleeves and more that the AppStorm team uses.

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