Here’s some scary food for thought: Did you know one of the most commonly-used communication methods that everyone uses daily is actually one of the least safe?
Email is extremely convenient and ubiquitous across desktop, mobile, and web, but it was never designed with any real security—let alone privacy—in mind. This lack of protection also extends to the files we attach to those communiqués, a thorny predicament the folks at Kiev-based MacPaw have set out to resolve with Encrypto (Mac App Store link), an ingenious little Mac app.
Ever since it was possible to tether a computer to a cell modem, it's also been possible to blow through one's monthly or service-plan limit and either run out of mobile data, be throttled to a trickle, or face expensive overage fees. TripMode is the first easy-to-use OS X utility to help with that problem. It could do more, but for $8 (or $5 in its current sale), it does plenty.
When installed, TripMode appears in your system menu bar and monitors for network changes in Yosemite. Whenever you join a new Wi-Fi network or connect to a Personal Hotspot, TripMode activates and blocks all system-level and application network usage. The utility was built as an access whitelist, so all network usage is blocked until you allow it.
Ever since the earliest days of the Macintosh, the clipboard has been an indispensable part of our workflow. It’s one of the unsung heroes of the modern desktop, but the ephemeral nature of the copy-and-paste model has trained us to immediately utilize the things that land on our clipboards, forcing us to constantly be aware of how we’re use it. Despite its remarkable usefulness, the clipboard hasn’t seen much in the way of innovation at the system level, relying instead on hacks and utilities to unlock its full potential.
I’ve used more clipboard managers than I care to remember, but I’ve yet to find a solution that’s as simple or intuitive as the rudimentary one baked into OS X. But Paste might be the first one that sticks around past the trial period.
Sometimes the simplest techniques are the most effective. If you want to lose weight, exercise. If you want to ace tomorrow's test, study. And if you want to get to Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice.
The same is true of time management. Heavy procrastinators looking to bump their efficiency rating have turned to the Pomodoro Technique as a savior. The concept is simple: Break your workday into manageable chunks that help you accomplish tasks without burning out or getting overwhelmed.
If you work hard to ensure that the music files in your iTunes library are tagged exactly right, you may be frustrated with iTunes’ tools for doing this. The iTunes 12 Info window—the one that displays when you select tracks and press Command-I—is less efficient than that of previous versions, and while there used to be a way to display the old-style window, you can no longer do so.
Metadatics (Mac App Store link) is a powerful tool that’s a bit more efficient to use and offers more features for changing tags than iTunes. You can use it for basic tagging, as you would with iTunes, when you rip tracks from CDs or add downloads to your library. But it goes much further.
Maybe the last thing you want to fuss with when you’re trying to put together a to-do list is the list itself. That’s why Apple’s Reminders app works for so many; you can easily create lists, set notifications, and check off items. That’s about it.
The free version of Any.do 3 has similar features plus a few more, and it offers a different UI treatment that you might find more pleasing, if such things matter to you.
As Apple’s calendar app for iOS and Mac OS X moved across recent releases from inconsistent, inadequate, and irritating to more or less just fine, the market for replacements grew and matured. Fantastical for iOS, now in its second release, filled a gap there by not just presented a clean list and offering strong support for different calendar systems, but also its natural-language processing. Type in a semblance of an event, and Fantastical would parse it and place it for you without fuss.
Fantastical’s makers, Flexibits, brought a kind of snippet of Fantastical to OS X in its first version: a drop-down day view closely reminiscent of the iOS version. With the release today of version 2, Fantastical on the Mac is now a full-fledged replacement for Apple’s Calendar and a strong competitor to similar products. The previous version now appears as the Mini-Window, an optional system menu bar pop-down that gives a capsule view.
The guiding philosophy for the program is that it’s a calendar app that focuses on upcoming events in a list view, keeping that view active no matter whether you’re looking at a graphical layout of day, week, month, or year. I live in the week view, and the combination of the upcoming list and a glance at the current week tends to work well together.