26th Annual Editors’ Choice Awards: the complete list
Products mentioned in this article
2010 was a big year for the Mac. The beginning of the year was all about the iPad—followed by the iPhone. But the buzz and success of those two products trickled down to the Mac. Later in the year, we saw upgrades to the Mac lineup, as well as solid signs from Apple that the Mac hasn’t been forgotten. With record sales of Macs posted by Apple, it’s a very good time to make products for the Mac.
With hundreds and hundreds of products that are released every year, we look for the ones that truly stand out, the products that offer the best quality, innovation, and value. After a year (we restricted ourselves to products released between November 1, 2009 and November 1, 2010), we put together a list of the top products, and we spend several weeks discussing the merits of each and every product.
Eventually, we came up with the list you see here, the best 24 products of 2010. The winners help prove that the Mac market is very much alive and well. (For more visual versions of this list, see Macworld Editors' Choice Awards 2010: Hardware and 2010 Macworld Editors' Choice Awards: Software.)
I recently heard someone say, “There are two kinds of Mac users: those who won’t use a Mac without 1Password, and those who’ve never tried 1Password." 1Password 3 ( ) by Agile Web Solutions is a systemwide password manager that lets you save to its encrypted database login information for any Web site (even those that try to prevent it) and retrieve that information at any time, even from within a different browser. To make your login passwords more secure, 1Password includes a powerful password generator.
But 1Password also saves secure notes, software licenses and registrations, personal identities (addresses, phone numbers, and the like), and credit-card information. It can even paste the data from any identity or credit card, making it easier to complete Web forms or to shop at online stores. Doing so is also safer, because you won’t be tempted to let those stores save your personal info for the sake of convenience.
Perhaps best of all, 1Password can sync its secure database using Dropbox, making your info accessible from within any browser, on any computer (Mac or Windows), and, thanks to excellent iOS apps, on your iPhone and iPad. For a long time, I resisted using 1Password, despite many recommendations from colleagues. Since I finally gave in, count me in the group that won’t use a Mac without it. ($40; five-user license, $70)—DAN FRAKES
This small, fun, and powerful camera from Sony is a standout in a burgeoning class of interchangeable-lens cameras. Straddling the line between a point-and-shoot a DSLR, the Alpha NEX-5 ( ) has done an impressive job of packing advanced features into a slim and light body. It has a 14.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, HD video recording, a 25-point auto focus system, and a great 7 fps burst mode. Even though the body of the camera is small, it has a solid grip and an adjustable 3-inch LCD screen.
Beyond being powerful, petite, and smartly designed, what really makes the NEX-5 so impressive is its excellent image quality. It captures sharp, colorful, well-exposed images and performs well even in low light. There are other great features, including the Sweep Panorama mode, which instantly compiles multiple images into a full panorama in-camera. The NEX-5 is an impressive step forward for compact cameras with interchangeable lenses and DSLR-size sensors. ($700)—HEATHER KELLY
Amazon Kindle (Third Generation)
Although many of us use our iPads to read books and magazines, if you’re looking for a pure e-reader, it’s hard to beat the third generation Amazon Kindle ( ).
The Kindle now has a 6-inch E-Ink Pearl display, one of whose benefits is 50 percent better contrast. Plus you can read it clearly even in bright light, something the iPad can’t do (and it’s about one-third the weight of the iPad to boot). It has almost double the battery life of the previous generation of Kindle, is faster when turning pages than before, and its redesigned case, buttons, and keys make it even more enjoyable to use than in the past.
Amazon has also increased your options when buying the Kindle. In addition to a new graphite color that joins the standard white, you can now choose between a Wi-Fi/3G version and a Wi-Fi-only version that brings the cost of entry down even further. Plus, Kindle apps for the Mac, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad mean that you can read your Kindle material (even picking up where you left off) on a number of different devices. (Wi-Fi only, $139; Wi-Fi and 3G, $189)—JONATHAN SEFF
Apple added a handful of great features to Aperture 3 ( ) that made it an appealing option for photographers who had outgrown iPhoto as a photo manager. Though typically aimed at more professional shooters, Aperture 3 added consumer-level features such as book design, Faces, and Places. These features, combined with the program’s intuitive layout and easy to understand tools, make it a great crossover application for all levels of photographer.
Serious users got great additions in the new version as well, including new quick brushes and curves adjustment tools. iPhoto is great for beginner photographers, and Adobe’s Lightroom is a powerful management tool for professional photographers. Aperture 3 is a beautiful application that appeals to both groups, and it understands that beginners want to play around with cool retouching tools too, and sometimes even a pro wants to make a printed book or look at a map of their travels. ($199)—HEATHER KELLY
Despite the flock of cases that appeared in the wake of the iPad’s release back in April, the handmade Dodocase ( ) has managed to alight on our list of best products for the year. Quite a feat for a flightless bird.
Most could assume (and perhaps rightfully so) that Dodocase’s tagline, “Protects from Extinction” is a nod to the bird from which the company takes its name. And yet, it also calls to light the endangered craft by which these cases are made. Created and constructed by a team of bookbinders in San Francisco, the Dodocase combines old-world charm and modern technology without ever feeling gimmicky or cheap.
The case, which mimics the outer appearance of a hardcover moleskine notebook, holds the iPad in place with a simple bamboo frame and a set of small foam cushions, adding a mere 8 ounces to the total weight. But don’t mistake the relative simplicity of the case’s construction for delicacy: while we wouldn’t suggest letting it fly off a roof at 70 miles per hour, the fact remains that the Dodocase is expertly crafted.
Will the Dodocase be perfect for every iPad owner? No. But of the many, many, many cases we’ve seen this year, it stands out far and away as our favorite. ($60)—SERENITY CALDWELL
In the last couple of years, Evernote has gone from a cool, cloud-based note taking utility to a must-have productivity powerhouse. Whether at your Mac or Windows computer, on your iPhone or Android device, or on your iPad or other tablet, you can save a Webpage, audio clip, text, and more to Evernote and it’s available everywhere that you are. You can use scanners from Canon, Doxie, and Fujitsu to scan items directly to Evernote. You can take pictures with your iSight camera from within the Evernote application (and you can do the same with the Evernote iPhone app), save audio notes, and capture your entire desktop screen (or portion thereof) into a sortable, searchable entry in Evernote. Oh, and did I mention that its free! There is a paid, premium ad-free account available for $5 a month or $45 a year with larger file size and but the free version will suffice for most.
And with this year’s introduction of Evernote’s Trunk (the company’s catalog of third-party apps and extensions) you can find dozens and dozen of widgets that can enhance the application’s mobile and desktop prowess. At Trunk’s launch in July, the company claimed over 2000 developers were creating hardware and software that work with the Evernote Memory Platform. With that sort of momentum and cross platform and multiple device compatibility, we can’t wait to see what Evernote comes up with next.—JAMES GALBRAITH
Excel for Mac 2011
When Microsoft released Excel 2008, it was a step back in the development of the popular spreadsheet program—it didn’t have new must-have features, and it was missing support for macros. Fortunately, Excel for Mac 2011 ( ) has hundreds of improvements and new features, making it a must-have upgrade for Excel users.
With the new version of Excel, the interface was completely redesigned to promote efficiency, and the new Ribbon is the key interface module that displays easy access to frequently used functions. Spreadsheet users will love features like sparklines, which displays charts within a single cell, and the new PivotTable Builder that eases building and modification of pivot tables. Excel’s sharing and protection features were enhanced to include the ability to protect a cell’s contents while allowing changes to formatting, and full information rights management that allows users to specify users and groups of users with rights to a workbook. Macros also made a triumphant return in Excel 2011.
Excel 2011 has some performance issues related to scrolling—it’s actually slower than previous version. But more importantly, the new Excel is faster than ever at number crunching.
If you’re still using Excel 2004 (or you actually were daring enough to upgrade to Excel 2008), it’s time to step up to Excel 2011. The new features strengthen Excel’s place as the best spreadsheet program for the Mac. ($119)—ROMAN LOYOLA
Apple’s iMovie has always made it easy to make simple edits to your videos. With iMovie ’11 ( ), Apple included tools that let you make more-complicated edits, but in that easy, accessible way that iMovie is know for. A major new feature is the Single-Row View that changes the way video clips are displayed; instead of running clips over multiple rows, Single Row View looks more like the traditional timeline view that professional video editors and iMovie HD users are familiar with. With the new One-Step Effects feature, adding an effect like fading a clip to black and white can be done in a few seconds. The new Rolling Shutter fix option can correct the “jelly” effect of moving objects recorded using CMOS-based camcorders. And Apple’s fun new Movie Trailers feature helps you create quick videos in the style of the movie previews you see at the theater.
Most importantly, Apple improved the audio editing features in iMovie ‘11. You can have audio waveforms appear underneath your clips, a much-needed aid when editing. Adjusting audio levels is simple: select a range of audio, and then drag the volume bar up or down to change the level. Apple also includes a new set of audio effects.
iMovie isn’t perfect. It still doesn’t edit AVCHD video natively, and interlaced video is displayed with artifacts. But the new features and improvements are much welcomed, and make iMovie ‘11 a very compelling video editor.(Part of iLife ’11, $49)—ROMAN LOYOLA
Imagine if, when coming across an interesting—or too-long-to-read-now—Web article, you could just click a button to save that article to a personal repository of Stuff To Read. And imagine if, when you sit down to read your archive of articles, each is automatically reformatted for easier reading. And wouldn’t it be really great if you could read those articles on any computer, iPhone, or iPad in an interface designed specifically for that particular device?
As it turns out, the Instapaper Web service ( ) by Marco Arment does all that and more. Just click a bookmarklet in your browser and the current Web article is archived to your Instapaper account. You can read a device-optimized copy of any archived article, stripped of ads and other distractions, using any Web browser or the outstanding Instapaper iPhone and iPad apps.
Other standout features include customizable formatting; a service for reformatting Web pages and sites on the fly; a service for sending reformatted articles to your Kindle; and a feature for sharing favorite articles with other Instapaper users. It’s a testament to Instapaper’s popularity that you’ll find a Send To Instapaper feature in many of your favorite Mac and iOS Twitter clients and RSS readers. It’s become indispensable to many a Macworld editor. (Free; iOS reader apps, free or $5)—DAN FRAKES
If you’re familiar with other iOS devices, using an iPad ( ) feels right at home. That’s by design, and also why people were more than willing to plunk down their credit cards to order an iPad without ever having touched one. But anyone who calls the iPad “a big iPod touch” is missing the point. Because of its size and the fact that it’s based on an OS designed solely for touchscreen devices, the iPad could be called the first truly usable tablet device.
It’s a great way to read books, magazines, comic books, and RSS feeds; solve crossword puzzles; watch TV shows and movies from the iTunes Store or using a variety of other apps; surf the Web with a full browser (sans Flash, yes); take notes and even write longer-form items (with or without an add-on keyboard); and a hundred other things. Businesses are using them to display wine lists, show off sketches to clients, and present balance sheets to board members.
With every new tablet released (or even those announced and still untouched) pundits proclaim an “iPad Killer” is now in out midst. As with so many false predictions regarding the fate of the iPhone compared to its competitors, the fact is that the iPad has a big head start, and Apple and the huge community of developers will continue to make it better and able to do things we haven’t even thought of yet. There’s no such thing as an iPad killer—get used to it. (Wi-Fi–only: 16GB, $499; 32GB, $599; 64GB, $699. Wi-Fi and 3G: 16GB, $629; 32GB, $729; 64GB, $829)—JONATHAN SEFF
iPod touch (Fourth Generation, Late 2010)
If you judge an iPod touch by how close its feature-set comes to that of the latest iPhone, the fourth-generation (4G) iPod touch ( ) has to meet with your approval. Like the iPhone 4, the 4G iPod touch includes an A4 processor, front- and rear-facing camera, retina display, built-in microphone, FaceTime video-calling support, and iMovie for iPhone compatibility. And, of course, there are its existing features that resonate with those who can’t have or don’t need an iPhone—the App Store, iTunes Store, iBookstore, and the many helpful apps bundled with the device.
Though the 4G iPod touch’s rear-facing camera is of far lower resolution than the camera found on the iPhone 4 and its retina display not as crisp when viewed off-angle, we bestow this award not for the fine details but rather the “Big Picture.” And that Big Picture is that the 4G iPod touch, as a pint-sized media player/gaming device/Internet communicator/pocket-computer, has no peer except among those devices that require a two-year AT&T contract or, in the case of the iPad, the kind of jumbo pocket found only on safari couture. (8GB, $229; 32GB, $299; 64GB, $399)—CHRISTOPHER BREEN
The purpose of scrapbooking is to take a basic photograph or group of photos and transform them into a full-fledged, highly nuanced, contextual narrative. One scrapbook design package that stands out in the small crowd of dedicated Mac apps for its quality, originality, and shear abundance of design goodness is Chronos’s iScrapbook 3 ( ).
This release offers its artistic, conceptual audience depth and variety from the free smart templates and searchable iScrapKits that pull a book’s look together to the new font preview feature that lets you see how your text, headlines, and captions will look in different fonts, styles, and sizes. These elements are visually stunning, professionally designed, and implemented to hold together a presentation, whether it be a family album or a business proposal. Enhance even simple scrapbools with smart shapes, special effects, and complete integration with iPhoto. Whether you’re just getting started in the scrapbook realm, or you are an old hand in the genre, the smart, sophisticated iScrapbook 3 lets you infuse any memory with the emotion you feel. ($50; $90 family pack)—JACKIE DOVE
MacBook Air, 11-inch
Ever since the discontinuation of the 12-inch PowerBook years ago, Mac users have been yearning for an ultraportable laptop. The 13-inch MacBook Air, released in 2008, was light enough, but it was still too big. But with the new 11-inch MacBook Air ( ) the prayers of those tired of lugging around a standard-sized laptop were answered.
The 11-inch Air is only 11.8 inches wide, 7.56 inches deep, and a mere 2.3 pounds. Yet, this laptop makes very few compromises. It has a full sized keyboard, not a cramped modified keyboard your find on PC netbooks. The high-resolution (1366 by 768 pixels) display actually packs more pixels into its 11.6-inch diagonal screen than the screen of the13-inch white MacBook (1280 by 800). And in Macworld Lab’s battery tests (which involve video playback), the 11-inch Air lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes—you’ll get much longer results if all you’re doing is working in productivity programs or accessing the Internet.
The one major compromise is with processing power. The 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor in the 11-inch Air isn’t the latest and greatest Intel has to offer (nor is the 1.6GHz built-to-order option), but it’s powerful enough for general-purpose tasks. And the new Air handles heat much better than previous generations—which, along with the flash storage, contributes to the new Airs ability to perform much better than its predecessors.
In a year where the iPad got all the attention (and rightfully so), the 11-inch MacBook Air proved that, without a doubt, Apple is still dedicated to the Mac. ($999 and $1199)—ROMAN LOYOLA
While NEC’s latest professional display, the MultiSync PA271W ( ), might share the same resolution and diagonal screen size as Apple’s 27-inch LED Cinema Display, the two monitors are entirely different beasts. One is perfect companion to Apple’s consumer Macs and one is a serious tool for color pros that demand superior performance and require granular adjustment capabilities. Don’t believe us? Read on.
Whereas Apple’s display is glossy, the PA271W features a matte screen. Where Apple’s monitor offers little in terms of ergonomic adjustment, the PA271W offers height adjustment, tilt, rotation and even pivots into portrait orientation. Where Apple offers a single Mini DisplayPort connector (which may not be proprietary, but Apple is the only company using it) the PA271W has two DVI-D connectors as well as a standard DisplayPort connection. The Apple display can show up to millions of colors, the PA271W can display up to billions. And where Apple’s display has a one-year warranty, NEC offers four years.
In addition, the PA217W offers Picture-in-Picture and Picture-by-Picture modes, as well as support for virtual profiles. NEC includes some nifty new technologies to that help its CCFL backlighting get up to a stable operating state in seconds rather than minutes and to maintain consistent backlight performance over time.
For those who depend on accurate color, the MultiSync PA271W is a professional-grade display with the tools necessary to make your vision a reality. ($1399)—JAMES GALBRAITH
P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphones
An Eddy to a set of headphones? If you’re talking about Bowers & Wilkins’s P5 ( ), yes indeed. The P5 redefined portable headphones by offering full-size-headphone sound quality and comfort (the latter thanks a headband and earpads covered with supple leather) in a package that easily fits in your bag, throwing in outstanding passive noise isolation and beautiful design for kicks.
But you aren’t just paying for shiny metal surfaces. The P5’s construction is superb, and clever features such as swappable, no strain cables and magnetically attached, replaceable earpads add long-term value. Tipping the Eddy scales is the Apple-style, three-button inline remote/microphone module that works with iPhones, the iPad, and recent iPods, iMacs, and MacBooks to let you chat and control media playback. When it comes to outside-your-ear-canal headphones, the P5 is as well-rounded a portable audio product as we’ve seen, and it’s a symbol of the popularity of Apple’s products among fans of high-end audio. ($300)—DAN FRAKES
There are so many improvements in Adobe Photoshop CS5 ( ) that it’s hard to pinpoint where to begin. From its new 64-bit capability on the Mac to details like drag-and-drop file integration, the CS5 upgrade is the most significant and impressive since the Creative Suite started shipping in 2003.
This version of Photoshop focused a concerted effort on boosting technical advancement, usability, and performance. Despite the myriad improvements made to selection tools over the years, selecting challenging objects like hair is still enough to turn hair gray. Photoshop CS5’s Smart Radius technology enhances an already capable Refine Edge feature, making selections even less of a pain. There is something magical about the ability of the Content Aware Fill feature, which lets you easily remove unwanted parts of an image and replace it with whatever would have been there if the object or person or other eyesore were not. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it works amazingly well amazingly often, and the idea that a software program can “see” underneath an object is remarkable.
While Photoshop is not a painting program, the CS5 version does have many new painterly features, including a completely rebuilt brush engine that lets you mix and blend colors on the screen in much the same way you’d do it on a painter’s palette. The Bristle Tips feature lets you define brush properties to define exactly the brush you need. The easy to use Puppet Warp feature lets you move objects, including human and animal limbs, in a natural way. Last but not least, HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Lens Correction features provide a host of professional tools to enhance photo exposure, focus, and special effects. ($699)—JACKIE DOVE
Increasingly, people want to share the stuff on their computers with others across the globe. You can accomplish this with Mac OS X’s sharing services or via online storage and sharing services such as MobileMe’s iDisk, Dropbox (an Eddy winner last year), or SugarSync. But setting up a sharing server is beyond the ken of many Mac users. And convenient though online sharing services are, you have to pay a premium for significant amounts of storage space.
The Pogoplug Pro from Cloud Engines is an alternative that lets you easily share the contents of attached USB storage devices (hard drives and USB key drives) over the Internet. This means that the amount of storage you can share is limited only by the size of the drives attached to the Pogoplug. Sharing the contents of those drives is as easy as creating an account on pogoplug.com, choosing folders to share, and sending invitations to those who you’d like to share those folders with. If you have a lot to share, Pogoplug is a simple and affordable way to do it. ($99)—CHRISTOPHER BREEN
A deceptively simple looking camera, the PowerShot S95 from Canon is a quality point-and-shoot with full advanced controls. The S95 is a slightly upgraded version of Canon’s popular S90 camera. The S95 keeps all the good parts of the S90, including impressive image quality and full manual settings. What it adds are few key features that were missing from the original: 728p HD video capabilities, improved image stabilization, and an HDR mode. Even without these improvements, the S90 was the best advanced point-and-shoot in its class. The S95 is all that and a little more. This is the camera that pro photographers will have on-hand as an alternative to their large DSLR rigs. ($400)—HEATHER KELLY
At its most basic, writing is about putting down one word after another. Scrivener 2.0 from Literature & Latte certainly lets you do that (and gets out of your way while you’re at it) but additionally, it takes care of all the other concerns present when constructing a longer project: organization; where to keep information about plot, characters, and setting; and the final export. As a writer, Scrivener is my weapon of choice because it handles all the business of writing from research to producing your finished manuscript.
Scrivener took home an Eddy award back in 2007, but its developers have hardly been resting on their laurels. The major 2.0 update brings not only a handful of new features (such as the ability to export projects as both iBooks-compatible ePub files and Kindle-compatible .MOBI files) but interface enhancements such as a freeform corkboard and the ability to create ad hoc collections of project elements. And best of all, writers who want to take their projects on the go can take advantage of the new support for syncing with DropBox or Web service Simplenote, because you never know when the creative spark might strike. ($45)—DAN MOREN
It used to be that keeping your Mac software up to date meant periodically (and manually) checking the Web for a new version, downloading it, quitting the current version, and then installing the update. And you had to do this for each program. Then Andy Matuschak introduce Sparkle, a bit of software-update code that developers can easily add to their own applications to get a built-in update-checking and -installing feature. And he provided that code to developers for free.
If you’ve used third-party Mac software over the past few years, chances are you’ve benefitted from Sparkle without even knowing it. It’s Sparkle that’s responsible for the window in your favorite program telling you, “A new version of applicationname is available,” displaying detailed release notes about the new version, and providing you with a convenient Install Update button that makes the software magically current.
Although Sparkle has been around for a few years, the past year has seen it go from a convenient feature present in a few of my favorite programs to being so pervasive that I’m disappointed when a program doesn’t use Sparkle. It’s now a part of hundreds of Mac programs, with more and more integrating it every week. The Mac App Store may bring easy app updating, but Sparkle has streamlined updates for millions of Mac users, and will continue to do so. Thanks, Andy. (Free)—DAN FRAKES
Spector Pro Mac 2010
It's a little creepy: Spector Pro Mac 2010 ( ) from SpectorSoft is a program made to monitor and record all of the activity you perform on a Mac. But it's necessary for many folks, and it’s full-featured and well designed. Spector Pro can take pictures of your computer screen at regular intervals, provide transcripts of iChat and other IM programs, detail sent and received e-mails, list visited Web sites (even with Safari’s private browsing turned on), and a lot more. And it can do all of this without the user even knowing that the activity is being recorded—a little creepy, sure. But if you own a business and suspect improper use of your computers, Spector Pro can help track down the malefactor. ($100)—ROMAN LOYOLA
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty ( ) is an opus of violence, fire, and flawed humanity. After years of development, Blizzard has delivered one of the best real time strategy games of all time and one of the most powerful single player campaigns in recent memory—a story with surprising narrative weight and varied, compelling gameplay. Thanks to an equally strong multiplayer, StarCraft II has once again raised the bar for all others to meet. And this is only chapter one of the trilogy.
StarCraft II picks up four years after the events of Brood War, the expansion to 1998’s StarCraft. Jim Raynor, the embittered Terran hero from the first game, has now been reduced to mercenary work for a company seeking mysterious alien artifacts. The game’s story follows the exploits of the cowboy-like Raynor’s Raiders as they try to find their place in a galaxy torn apart by Zerg invasions, cruel emperors, and fragile alliances.
After playing ten years of games trying to be StarCraft, it’s nice for Blizzard to come back with StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and once again raise the bar on sci-fi real-time strategy. The multiplayer is similar enough to the original to keep the puritans happy, while the single player campaign is a beautiful, complex, replayable, and epic journey into a world that gets more interesting every time I enter it. Oh yeah, it was worth the wait. ($60)—CHRIS HOLT
The Steam online gaming service is more than just an iTunes Store–like place for games; the free service from Valve offers exemplary social functions and demos of many of the games. Steam has become the go-to place for gamers to shop for and try out everything from blockbuster releases to indie hits, find new friends to frag with, and stay up to date with the latest patches. A Steam buddy list lets you see which of your friends are online, what games they’re playing, as well as invite friends into your game or quickly join them on a campaign already in progress—all with a click or two.
Fortunately, Valve spared no expense in bringing Steam to the Mac. This isn’t some duct-taped Java port that limps along with a fraction of its Windows counterpart’s features. Valve used native Cocoa tools, even going so far as to re-engineer the Steam client and store on Windows to use Apple’s WebKit rendering engine.
We were tempted to award eddies to all five of Valve’s marquee franchises (Portal, Half-Life 2, Left4Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Counterstrike: Source) as they only arrived on the Mac this year, but felt more comfortable giving the nod to the service that brought them all here to the Mac platform. It’s an exciting time to be a Mac gamer thanks to not only Steam’s impressive list of games now available on the platform, but also because the promise of future titles making their way to a MacBook, iMac, or Mac Pro near you. (Free)—CHRIS HOLT
In 2010, a great app—Smile’s TextExpander—just kept getting better. Of course, the text-expansion utility (which inserts saved “snippets” of text wherever you want with a quick keystroke) has been around forever. But in March 2010, Smile (formerly known as Smile on My Mac) released TextExpander 3.0 ( ). That rev added a bunch of nice new features, including keyboard shortcuts for creating snippets; “fill-in” snippets, which could incorporate user input; and the ability to sync snippets between Macs via Dropbox or MobileMe.
But Smile didn’t stop there. In June 2010, it released 3.1, which brought more hotkeys, search improvements, and interface tweaks; that same month, the company also released an iPad version of TextExpander touch, the Mac utility’s iOS companion. In October 2010, version 3.2 added improved backup and restore functions and yet more keyboard shortcuts. By the time you read this, I’d bet Smile will have released another version or two.
What makes TextExpander a great app isn’t just that it’s so handy and so capable, but also the fact that it’s constantly evolving—refining its core tools, adding new ones, and adapting to an ever-changing technology landscape. That’s how a venerable utility like TextExpander remains fresh and vital, and why it’s one of our favorite apps of the year. ($35)—DAN MILLER