Dan writes about OS X, iOS, utilities, cool apps, and troubleshooting. He also covers hardware; mobile, audio, and AV gear; input devices; and accessories. He's been writing about tech since 1994, and he's also published software, worked in IT, and worked as a policy analyst. More by Dan Frakes
Early last year, I reviewed Beamer 1.5.3, an app that lets you easily stream any video file from your Mac to an Apple TV. It’s a great app if you want to watch Mac-hosted videos on your TV instead of physically connecting the computer to the TV using cables.
As I explained in that original review, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and OS X 10.9 Mavericks include AirPlay mirroring, but that feature mirrors your Mac’s entire screen to your Apple TV, rather than just your video file, and it’s available only on recent Macs. You can stream video to an Apple TV using iTunes, but only if iTunes supports the format of the video file—and sometimes you don’t want to add a video to your iTunes library just to watch it once on your TV.
Beamer, on the other hand, streams individual video files to your Apple TV, and it supports “all common formats, codecs and resolutions”—a blanket statement that includes AVI, FLV, MKV, MOV, MP4, and WMV files. (It doesn’t, however, work with DRM-protected videos.) The company says Beamer is optimized for high-quality video playback—if you’ve got a Mac that just barely supports AirPlay mirroring, you may find that streaming videos using Beamer looks a lot better, and stutters less, than mirroring your Mac’s display.
Dan has been writing about all things Apple since 2006, when he first started contributing to the MacUser blog. Since then he's covered most of the company's major product releases and reviewed every major revision of iOS. In his "copious" free time, he's usually grinding away on a novel or two. More by Dan Moren
The clipboard has been a staple of the Mac’s operating system since the earliest days. But in that time, it hasn’t changed much: It still holds only one item, for example, so you can’t see things that you previously copied or pasted. Because of this limitation, developers have offered scores of utilities for saving and accessing multiple clipboards. I’ve found myself enamored of a recent entry in the category, Generation Loss Interactive’s $2 Collective (Mac App Store link), thanks to its simple nature, robust feature set, and pleasing interface.
As with most clipboard utilities, you summon Collective with a user-definable keyboard shortcut; you can also click Collective’s systemwide menu. The app’s interface is attractive, but straightforward: The window that appears provides you with previews of all the items in your clipboard history, including images, displaying next to each clipping the icon of the application it came from. Click (or double-click, depending on your settings) any item to transfer it to the main clipboard. (If you’re a keyboard maven, as I am, you can also use the Up and Down arrow keys to select the desired clipping and then press Return to transfer it to the clipboard.)
Highlighting a clipping displays, in Collective’s status bar (at the bottom of the window), information about that item: If it’s text, the info includes the number of lines and characters; for images the info handily includes the image’s dimensions. Pressing Spacebar gives you a Quick Look preview of the item. I also appreciate that Collective applies a little green badge to the item you’ve most recently transferred to the clipboard.
If you deal with lots of files (and who doesn’t?), there are surely times when you have to rename a whole bunch of them at the same time. (A classic example: a bunch of image files with less-than-helpful names such as IMG_0001.jpg, IMG_0002.jpg, IMG_0003.jpg, and so on.) Plenty of Mac utilities exist that’ll help you rename files in batches—for example, we reviewed A Better Finder Rename a little while ago. But we haven’t looked at one of our favorites, Name Mangler from Many Tricks, since version 2 back in 2008. Name Mangler is now up to version 3.3, and it’s changed quite a bit.
What hasn’t changed: Name Mangler still lets you select a batch of files and rename them in a variety of ways. The current roster of renaming modes include Find and Replace (which can take advantage of regular expressions); Sequence (attaching numbers or letters in order); Add Prefix or Add Suffix (which can now take advantage of over 150 types of file metadata); Insert (ditto with the metadata); Remove (take out a certain number of characters, starting at a specified position in the current name); Change Case (to lower case, upper case, and so on); and Advanced. The last one lets you create new filenames using a kind of scripting language that supports constants and functions, including logical connectors such as if, and, not, and or.
Chris has covered technology and media since the latter days of the Reagan Administration. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, he's a professional musician in the San Francisco Bay Area. More by Christopher Breen
You can file doubleTwist’s $10 AirPlay Recorder under Controversial. The tool, originally developed for Android and now available for OS X (10.7.3 and later), was designed for one purpose only: capturing iTunes audio streams for later playback.
You mean like tracks from your iTunes library?
Not really. After all, you already have copies of those tracks, so why make new recordings of them?
Serenity has been writing and talking and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, writes, acts, sings, and wears an assortment of hats. More by Serenity Caldwell
With all the NSA hooplah this past year, and mounting concerns over user security, it’s not surprising that you might want to shield certain of your files from prying eyes. You can use any of a number of overly complicated solutions, including Terminal commands and expensive consultants, but software developer MacPaw wants to make it a bit easier for the average person with Hider 2 (Mac App Store link). Hider 2's normal price is $20, but MacPaw is currently offering the app for an introductory price of $10.
The app is a major update to the company’s older MacHider, which let you hide files from public view by making them invisible. Hider 2 builds on that simple utility by adding a Mavericks-refined interface; a systemwide menu; AES-256 encryption for both files and folders; and support for notes, tags, and external drives.
Roman has covered technology since the early 1990s. His career started at MacUser, and he's worked for MacAddict, Mac|Life, TechTV, PC/Computing, and Windows NT Systems. More by Roman Loyola
As someone who has a regular schedule of weekly meetings and appointments—work meetings, after-school sports for my kids, and so on—it’s always helpful when someone who wants to schedule a meeting with me mentions the day along with the proposed date and time. For example, when I’m asked if I’m available on May 6 at 3 p.m., I have to look at my calendar; but if I know that May 6 is a Tuesday, I can immediately reply that I can’t do meetings after 3 p.m.
Which brings me to my biggest gripe about OS X’s Date & Time menu-bar display (enabled in the Date & Time pane of System Preferences): It shows you only the current date and time. There’s no option to display, say, a monthly calendar when you click in the menu bar. Sometimes I’m on the phone or writing an email to set up a meeting, and I’d like to know what day of the week a proposed date falls on—since I’m no calendar savant, I need to look it up.
Jason Snell Senior VP, Editorial Director, Macworld
Jason oversees all editorial operations for TechHive, PCWorld, and Macworld. He has reviewed every major Apple product of the last few years, including the original iPhone and iPad as well as every major version of Mac OS X. More by Jason Snell
You know the maxim, “Give a man to fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”? A similar adage applies to anyone who spends a lot of time working with text on their Mac: Learn how to use regular expressions—sequences of characters and variables that you can use to perform powerful searches—and you’ll benefit greatly, for a very long time.
I’ve saved hours or days—maybe even weeks—of time over the past decade or so by using pattern-matching search-and-replace actions on text. Regular expressions (also called regex or grep) form the common language that most programs use for these actions. Specifically, I’ve been using grep in BBEdit, crafting complex patterns and then pressing the Find button and hoping that my pattern is right. But it isn’t always—learning regex takes practice and involves lots of trial and error.
Nikolai Krill’s $3 Patterns (Mac App Store link) simplifies the act of creating regex search patterns, and it provides a live view of the results of those patterns.