TripMode 2 ($8) solves the macOS user’s dilemma when tethered to a mobile data connection or using a limited-data VPN or a conference center, hotel, or coffeeshop data-restricted pass: how to keep Internet bandwidth-hungry apps from eating your data allotment, leading you to run out of high-speed data for the month or having to purchase additional units. It also helps keep those apps at bay when you’re on a slow connection.
With TripMode installed, no app or background process can communicate with the Internet unless you flip a switch next to the app’s name. In this new version, you can create profiles, either automatically when you switch among Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and tethered connections, or manually, for particular purposes, like “at a coffeeshop” or “on cellular.” There’s also a master on/off switch in its menu, and TripMode remembers by network or connection type (like USB for tethering) if you turned it off entirely the last time that connection was used.
If you need to track your time, there are plenty of apps that can help you. Many of them are designed for freelancers who need to track billable time so they can invoice clients, but others track activity on your Mac, so you can know where your day has gone. Timing ($29, $49, or $79) combines both of these features, allowing you to easily start and stop projects, to know how much to bill, and also see which apps you use, and which websites you visit.
For many people, this latter feature is a novelty; you can see exactly how much time you spend on Facebook or Twitter, for example. But some professionals may bill time spent in a specific app or on a specific website for their clients. If this is the case, Timing can automatically add up all that time, so you don’t even need to tell the app when you’ve started working on a project and when you’ve finished.
Timing displays lots of information; in some cases, a bit too much. It takes a while to get used to this app, and fortunately the developer has a good deal of help on his website, as well as a five-day email course you can sign up for.
To judge by email, Macworld readers have a lot of digital cruft. Many of you are like me, migrating from computer to computer, sometimes after system or disk drive disasters. This can leave you with a lot of duplicates of files of all kind, but images tend to be the most problematic.
Between migration and multiple imports and copying for particular purposes, you could have several copies of the same image or scene, and sometimes they aren’t identical: one may be lower resolution, one may have been edited, and some might taken in quick succession but only one is good! Burst mode can lead to a lot of extra pictures, depending on your settings.
Photosweeper 3 ($10 on the App Store is a well-updated version of software designed to solve this problem with a high degree of customization and specificity. Some other software, especially disk uncluttering packages, include image-duplication scanning. But with Photosweeper’s modest cost and laser focus, it’s worth the price. Depending on how many systems you have and photos you take, you might wind up using it every few months. The developers promise eternal free upgrades to new releases, which is a bonus.
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.