For every Microsoft Word, there’s a Pages — a lightweight option that dispels with a couple of professional features, but still manages to find users because of what’s often described as a superior user interface and compelling ease-of-use. In the case of Photoshop, those options are Acorn and Pixelmator (with Pixelmator being my weapon of choice).

Apps like these aren’t necessarily matching Photoshop feature-for-feature, but they do capture enough of those tools at bargain-bin prices to make them valuable assets to anybody’s digital arsenal. When compared to Adobe Illustrator, iDraw is the Mac-exclusive beautiful-but-bargain-bin competition — especially compared to the often-despised steep subscription fee for Creative Cloud. Read on to find out if iDraw wows me in the same way Pixelmator and Pages do.

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I’m a big fan of UI customization, and I’m always trying to make my desktop look just so. I’ve spent hours searching out just the right icons to match whatever wallpaper I’m using, and a big part of that is finding the perfect set of folders.

That can be a big pain, though, and it can be just as aggravating to switch out all of those folder icons, too. That’s why I jumped at the chance to try out Folder Factory, which promised to be a simple way to not only switch out my folders, but to create new looks myself. (more…)

YouTube’s started letting you queue videos for offline viewing in their mobile apps, but if you want to watch YouTube videos on your MacBook or a non-smart device when you’re offline, you’re going to need more than what Google offers you. That’s why you should download a free copy of 4K Video Downloader this week.

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4K Video Downloader is the simplest way to save videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and more to your Mac. Just copy the video’s link from your browser, paste it into 4K Video Downloader’s app, pick the quality and format you want to save, and start it downloading. Minutes later, you’ll have a full-quality copy of the video for your offline video viewing pleasure. It’s like Instapaper or Pocket for the videos you want to watch later.

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There’s more, too. If you want to download Instagram pictures to your Mac, extract audio from any video file, or turn your photos into a slideshow, there’s a free 4K app to help you out. Every one of the 4K apps are free, open-source, and run on OS X, Windows, and Ubuntu, so you can use them wherever you work — and if their free tools become an important part of your workflow, you can contribute to their development and make sure there’ll be free tools for you to use whenever you need them.

Think you’ve got a great app? Sign up for a Weekly Sponsorship slot just like this one.

Whether you’re making a flow or org chart for a report, sketching the changes you want done to your front yard landscaping, or drafting an interactive mockup of your next iPhone app, OmniGraffle is the professional tool on the Mac we’ve come to love and trust. It’s powerful — and yet, it was beginning to feel a bit more than dated, along with the Omni Group’s other apps. They’d already promised revamped versions of OmniFocus and OmniOutliner, but before either of those hit the market, we’ve got a new version of OmniGraffle to try out.

OmniGraffle 6 is a sweeping redesign of the app that reimagines how modern Mac apps should work, while making the popular diagramming app work with Photoshop, Retina Displays, and more.

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One of the things that I love about Mac is that there’s no shortage of small tools to make your life better. I have more lightweight apps than I do feature-packed programs. And I’m frequently surprised by the small apps I find that make my life better in ways I’d never thought of.

My most recent discovery on Mac is Intermission, a lightweight app that sits in your menubar and lets you remind, pause, fast forward, and skip back live audio. It’s been described as TiVo for Mac, and I had to give it a shot. Read on to find out how it works.

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Firing up iPhoto just to pull a few pictures off your iPhone is too much trouble. So is emailing a voice recording to yourself. Videos? Well, they’re big enough, you’ll likely have to sync with iPhoto to get them.

There’s a whole market of tools to help people get files off their iOS devices, and Macroplant — the people behind iExplorer — have just made a free Finder for your iPhone: iBrowse. It’s a simple app that lets you get pictures, videos, recordings, and books off any iPhone or iPad just as easily as you could copy a file off a flash drive.

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Minimalist writing apps have taken the App Store by storm, from the extreme of iA Writer’s entire lack of settings to full-featured writing environments like Ulysses III. It’s great to write without worrying on your final formatting, focusing instead on your actual words. Eventually, though, you’ll need to export your work to publish it on the web or in print. Your writing app likely includes a number of basic export tools, but for serious writers that want the best export options, Brett Terpstra’s Marked app is the best tool in town.

Today, it gets even better, with the just-released Marked 2. It’ll preview anything from a draft blog post in MarsEdit to a whole folder of Markdown documents, show you your overused phrases that’d be best cut out of your document, and give you the best exports with MultiMarkdown 4.2 support and the option to save in DOCX, paginated PDF, and much more.

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The demise of internet radio at the hands of podcasting has been greatly exaggerated. While it may no longer have the same level of popularity of podcasting, internet radio is still very much a thriving medium. If you’ve ever listened to a commercial radio station using your Mac or iPhone, you’ve listened to an internet radio stream.

While we may be entering the golden age of podcasts, internet radio is just as popular, if not more so, than ever before. Unlike podcasts, internet radio is better suited to a never-ending selection of songs from a track list or listening to live events, concerts and listening to a random selection of music based upon the station’s speciality.

Nicecast, by Rogue Amoeba, is a nifty solution that turns your Mac into a fully-fledge internet radio station, allowing you to stream audio over the internet directly or through the use of a compatible server.

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There are a few different camps when it comes to iTunes, and while I don’t mind the music-playing monster, I don’t mind finding a simpler way to get my tunes played, either. If it looks good, that’s even better, right?

I decided to try out Muzzy, because rather than acting as a separate music player, it works with iTunes to deliver my music to me. Its clean interface sets it apart as an early winner, and I’ll see if Muzzy has the features to take home the prize or if it falls short at the finish line. (more…)

Flash died in 2007, and everyone’s been catching up since then. It’d long since been the worst part of the web, responsible for buzzing fans and auto-playing audio, but it took the advent of modern touch devices to make it outdated for good. That didn’t mean animated websites were gone along with Flash, though — it only meant we’d need more creative solutions.

Into the void came Hype, the Mac app that made it easy to create web-ready animations with just HTML, CSS, and Javascript — but without any coding. It brought drag-and-drop simplicity back to online animations. And now, just over 2 years after it was introduced, Hype 2 is here and is better than ever. It’s the simplest way to make interactive and animated content for the web — indeed, it’s as simple as making a Keynote presentation.

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