Plenty of people use their Macs with just one web browser and a single email client. But many people use different web browsers to be able to easily access multiple accounts, such as Gmail or other services, for work or for personal use. Designers need to test websites on multiple browsers. And some people use different browsers for specific uses; you may have one browser for everyday web use, and another for secure browsing.
With macOS, you can set a default web browser (you do this in macOS’s system preferences under General) or email client (do this in Mail’s preferences), and these settings determine which apps open when you click links. But when you want to open a link in another app, you generally have to copy that link, switch to the other app, then paste it. This works for URLs, but if you click a link to email someone, it won’t work at all.
Bumpr ($4 through April 15, then $8; App Store link), from Scott Ostler and designer Khoi Vinh, helps you deal with these multiple apps. It offers a quick interface to choose among the apps you use for the web and for email. Click a web link in any app other than a browser, then click the icon for the browser you want to use in Bumpr’s popup to view the page. This works in apps such as Mail, any Twitter client, Evernote, Slack, or any other app that displays hot links (links that are underlined).
iFlicks 2 ($35 on the App Store) is designed to make this step painless and efficient. It looks up your video files in several online databases, and adds metadata and artwork to them. It can also then put the files into iTunes. And if you have videos in a format that iTunes doesn’t handle, iFlicks can covert your files to an Apple-compatible format.
Drag some video files to the left section of the iFlicks window. iFlicks will automatically check for metadata (though you can change this in its Rules settings), and display what it has found. iFlicks doesn’t just look for a movie title or the name of a TV series; it also finds the release dates, actors, description, artwork, and much more. For movies, it adds rectangular artwork in portrait format, and for TV shows, it adds square artwork, as the iTunes Store does.
Shaving off annoyances in macOS is always worth a few bucks, and if you manipulate audio sources and volumes frequently, it should be worth $10. Rogue Amoeba’s SoundSource 3 provides splayed-out, easy access to the settings divvied up in the Sound system preference pane, and only partly available through the system audio menu item.
In the Sound preference pane, options are split among Sound Effects, Output, and Input. These are shown instead as separate sections in a long menu from a system menu bar icon that belongs to SoundSource. From this menu, you can see every audio input and output source available; switch system input, system output, and sound effect output; and change the volume of each of those as well. (Some devices reserve volume controls to hardware settings, and SoundSource doesn’t override them. I have a DisplayPort-connected monitor that requires use of its on-screen display.)
When it comes to the web, smaller is always better. If an image-heavy site takes too long to load, visitors will just click over to something else. While there are plenty of software tools for optimizing image files on the Mac, few do it with the simplicity and speed of Squash.
Over a year ago, I reviewed a useful Mac utility called JPEGmini, which reduces image files with no discernable loss in image quality. Although limited to JPEG, the software was easy to use and produced impressive results, but at $99, it’s clearly not aimed at casual users.
A year ago, I reviewed the third version of a Mac application called Grids, one of those rare native solutions for viewing Instagram posts on the desktop without a web browser. With support for multiple accounts, developer ThinkTime Creations had an early leg up on the mobile app at the time, but the inability to upload new content meant this third-party software was strictly a view-only experience.
I still miss the Scrapbook that was part of the pre-OS X chain of Macintosh system releases. It was like a super clipboard that let you hold several items; you could scroll through, pick a "scrap" to copy, and then paste it into a program. Since the inception of OS X, many utilities have sought to replicate and expand Scrapbook. But for my money, I’m not sure any has brought the concept fully forward and updated it for modern needs until Pastebot 2 ($20 on the App Store). (Pastebot was in a long beta, and its maker opted to number it “2.0” as a result.)
In February 2015, Joe Kissell wrote a thorough round-up of clipboard-managing utilities, some of which have a lot of non-scrapbook functions, too. Pastebot 2 has the best features shared among those, and adds more by offering customizable filters and a clipboard “accumulator” that I’ll explain later in this review.
Although macOS looks deceptively simple to end users, anyone who’s launched Activity Monitor may be shocked to discover just how many helpers, daemons, services, and other processes actually run behind-the-scenes, helping power your favorite software. Such background tasks often feed off available internet bandwidth, consuming precious memory at the same time.
If you’d like to curtail this kind of covert background activity, there’s an inexpensive, well-designed, and easy-to-use Mac utility designed to not only keep tabs on which apps are beaming signals back to the mothership, but also selectively block them from doing so.