Desk review: Writing app has an expanded lineup but the original is the best value

It wasn’t all that long ago when the value of software was measured in menus. Rich, versatile apps from Adobe, Quark, and Corel put the tremendous power of their apps on full display, using every inch of available screen real estate to make as many tools, options and pallets accessible in an instant.

But mobile devices have shown us a better way. With a smaller canvas to work with, today’s apps put a premium on space and focus, streamlining bars and menus and eliminating all but the most relevant options. The trend toward minimal workspaces and windows is evident all across the desktop app landscape, but no other category has benefitted more from the mobile movement than text editors.

Desk PM is one of the standouts of the new school of text editors. When it was released late last year it positioned itself as a tool for bloggers rather than casual writers, offering a simple place to both write and publish. One-click integration with many of the popular platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc.) gave Desk a unique edge over its similarly styled competitors; in a crowded clutter-free sea it carved out its own wave and rode it right up the App Store charts.

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Swift Publisher 4 review: Full-featured desktop publishing for next to nothing

The original Macintosh computer Steve Jobs introduced in 1984 might never have achieved such iconic status without the help of the desktop publishing revolution. Together with the first LaserWriter printer and software like PageMaker, the Mac made it easy for anyone to lay out newsletters, brochures, or even entire magazines.

More than three decades later, the term “desktop publishing” isn’t used all that much now that the focus has turned to web, social media, and mobile—but developers haven’t turned their backs on the original concept, which is easier and less expensive today than it used to be.

swift publisher 4 layout

A quality, full-featured Mac page layout application for cheap? Swift Publisher 4 makes it possible.

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DaisyDisk 4 review: Now faster than ever at cleaning out unwanted files on your Mac

Although solid-state disks (SSD) are lightning fast compared to poky old hard drives, they’re also far more expensive, which is why Mac users have had to with more restrictive internal storage than in years past. It’s a tradeoff: Speedier disk access, but less room for files.

One way to maximize this smaller capacity is to carefully monitor which files—especially big ones—take up that space and then terminate them with extreme prejudice. DaisyDisk 4 is a utility app made expressly for this purpose, and it’s as attractive as it is handy.

A scanner darkly

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Pages 5.6 review: A lot packed into a tiny version increment for Mac

I know that many Pages users have stuck with version 4, also called Pages ’09. The latest release of Pages 5, however, may restore some of the features you were holding on to. Version 5.6 is fundamentally the same program as 5.5, but it’s a bigger jump than the 0.1 increment would indicate.

A host of typographic refinement has returned, providing support for the wealth of OpenType features that allow more sophisticated “typesetting” in Pages that takes a user closer to what InDesign and other layout software can provide. This is a return, as most features were available in the previous Pages release, and were missed by some—apparently enough to resurrect them.

Looking back, looking out

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NetNewsWire 4 review: It's back! Better than ever? Well...

Hey, you kids with your fancy Apple News and Flipboard apps: Get off my damn lawn! Back in my day, we had to manually seek out RSS feeds for each and every web favorite whenever we wanted to collect and organize Internet news into a single convenient location.

Whether you refer to it as “rich site summary” or “really simple syndication,” RSS suffered a setback in 2013 with the demise of its biggest proponent, Google Reader. That news sent the third-party client applications dependent upon it scrambling to come up with other reliable methods for syncing feeds across devices.

Although a number of services like Feedly stepped up to the plate over the last two years in Google’s absence, one of the original Mac news aggregator applications instead got caught with its pants down. After being shuffled to new owners three times over a six-year period before dropping entirely out of sight for two more, NetNewsWire resurfaced in open beta mere days before Google Reader took its final bow.

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Tweetbot 2.1 review: Twitter Mac app steps up with improved features

When a service you use has its own free software, why turn to a third party for an alternative? The folks at Tapbots continue to answer that question with each update to their Tweetbot client for Twitter, available both in iOS and OS X. Tweetbot provides a straightforward timeline view, threaded conversations appear with a double-click, and there’s no need to buy into each of Twitter’s sometimes dubious and sometimes useful innovations.

I recently reviewed Tweetbot 2 for OS X, a major update to the software, but found it lacking: It felt like too much was left undone to give it our highest ratings, although it had a more appealing design and brought several needed features. A recent bump to version 2.1 answered almost every concern in the previous review, so I'm revisiting it.

tweetbot 2 1 timeline view

The main timeline view in Tweetbot 2 provides basic information about each tweet with icons allowing replies, retweets, quoted tweets, and more.

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Carrot Weather review: Rain or shine, forecasts with attitude

Most weather software is pretty straightforward, presenting forecasts in a bland, run-of-the-mill way that makes local TV meteorologists look downright entertaining by comparison. If you prefer weather with a side of snark, it’s time to invest in a pair of apps that bring much-needed personality to this science.

carrot mac hot day

Like your weather forecast with a side of sarcasm? Carrot Weather delivers that and much more for Mac users.

Greetings, meatbags!

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