BitPerfect review: Improve your iTunes music sound quality

Chris Barylick , Macworld

Chris Barylick is an Apple-Certified Macintosh Technician living in the San Francisco Bay Area. In his 25 years of tinkering with Macs, he has accidentally lit two (and counting) hard drives on fire. He also wouldn't mind being Gonzo the Muppet when he finally grows up.
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In spite of the criticism levied against it, I tend to give iTunes the benefit of the doubt. It’s there, it does a serviceable job of managing and playing my music, it functions as a device hub and it does a good job of it. Tim Murrison’s BitPerfect 2.0.1 (Mac App Store link) shows what iTunes music is capable of and is an audiophile’s dream. BitPerfect opens a world of clearer, more present sound that you never thought was possible from your Mac’s speakers.

BitPerfect is sleek, minimal, unobtrusive, and powerful. The program, which resides in your OS X menu bar, can be quickly enabled or disabled with a click of the mouse. Launch BitPerfect for the first time, designate which audio library you want it to use and it’ll quickly scan your iTunes library, inform you that it’s made changes to the library and is ready to begin working. Enable BitPerfect, run iTunes as you normally would and the sound difference is like night and day—BitPerfect upscales the audio sent to the output device. Add in a slew of preference and customization options and there’s enough to keep happy any audiophile within the vicinity .

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Snapheal review: Make those background objects in your photos go away

Marco Tabini , Macworld

Marco Tabini is based in Toronto, Canada, where he focuses on software development for mobile devices and for the Web.
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The art of retouching photos has come a long way since the Soviet used crude cut-and-paste techniques to remove unwanted people from black and white shots in the Fifties. These days, even the most basic photo editing software is capable of performing sophisticated alterations on all kinds of images.

Snapheal 1.2 (Mac App Store link) is one such tool, but with a twist: it’s designed to allow users to selectively alter parts of an image by tweaking its technical parameters, adjusting exposure settings, and removing unwanted features.

Let’s start with the latter, which is a modern equivalent of the old Soviet edit jobs. Once you load an image in Snapheal, the app gives you three different tools for selecting a specific area, which can then be excised using several algorithms that replace it with content cloned from elsewhere in the photo. As you can imagine, this tends to work well when you try to remove subjects against a uniform or abstract background like the sky or a sandy beach. The app fares particularly well when it comes to removing overhead wires against the sky—a quick and easy way to greatly enhance the look of many photos.

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Marked 2 review: Preview and improve your online writing on the fly

Dan Frakes Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

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. You can find him on the web at danfrakes.com.
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Many of us here at Macworld are fans of Markdown, a nifty markup language that lets you write for the Web using plain text and a simple formatting syntax. We also frequently write in HTML. But one of the challenges in writing in these “languages,” if you will, is that it’s tough to see exactly how what you’re writing will look once it’s published on the Web.

A couple years back, I reviewed Marked, a fantastic utility that shows you a live preview of Markdown-, HTML-, and XML-formatted files. Even better, Marked can use custom CSS templates, so you can make those previews look almost exactly like your text will appear on your website or blog. Marked can even convert your code’s equivalent HTML for pasting into that blog or CMS, and it can export your preview to a number of document types, including PDF, RTF, and .doc.

I subsequently covered a big update to Marked that added additional preview styles, auto-scrolling your preview to the location of your latest edits, multi-file previews, custom file processors, and support for tables of contents, among other changes.

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AudioSwitcher 2.16 review: Mac app is an audio source quick-change artist

Serenity Caldwell Associate Editor, Macworld

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.
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Do you have a lot of audio inputs and outputs on your Mac and quickly need to switch back and forth between them? Paul O’Neill’s AudioSwitcher (Mac App Store link is a great little menubar utility for doing just that. Although it doesn’t sport the same UI pizazz and polish as other apps you may own, AudioSwitcher is fantastically functional, especially if you’re switching between multiple microphones and speakers on a daily basis.

audio switcher

In addition, AudioSwitcher allows to set custom volume settings for each external speaker without altering the max volume on your computer—so if you switch to your TV’s speakers, you won’t accidentally blast your eardrums. You can even fiddle with sample rates for each speaker and microphone if so fills your fancy.

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Parcel 1.2.2 review: Where in the world is your package? Use this Mac app to find out

Andrew Hayward Contributor, Macworld

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based games, apps, and gadgets writer whose work has been featured in more than 50 publications. He's also a work-at-home dad to a wild toddler.
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We rely on sequences of characters to tell us where our packages are and when they’re slated to arrive, but what do you do when you need to track the tracking numbers? Digging them up in email and frequently hitting the carriers’ websites is a pain—and that’s exactly the inconvenience that Parcel (Mac App Store link) attempts to solve. It provides a centralized location to keep tabs on your various tracking numbers with automatic updating, push notifications, and the ability to sync to the iOS version of the app.

parcel screen1

Focused on doing one thing and doing it well, Parcel makes it very easy to input a tracking code from one of more than 230 carriers, including mainstays like USPS, FedEx, and UPS, along with numerous international options. In fact, copying a number to the clipboard from an email or website automatically fills it into the input field when adding a package within the app, and you can custom-name each listing (like “New iPhone”) so you know what’s what at a glance.

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RegExRX 1.8.1 review: A way for developers to cope with regular expressions

Marco Tabini , Macworld

Marco Tabini is based in Toronto, Canada, where he focuses on software development for mobile devices and for the Web.
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Ask any developer, and regular expressions are likely to appear near the top of the list of programming concepts he or she loves to hate. Used to describe complex queries that can be used to find and replace text, regular expressions can be extremely powerful, but also hard to grasp due to an obscure syntax and sometimes counterintuitive functionality.

RegExRX 1.8.1 (Mac App Store link) attempts to cut through some of the complexity by providing users with an environment in which they can build regular expressions and execute them against arbitrary blocks of text.

regexrx
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SnapNDrag Pro 3.5.6 review: A superb Mac app for organizing and annotating your screenshots

Jeffery Battersby , Macworld

Jeffery Battersby is an Apple Certified Trainer, (very) smalltime actor, and regular contributor to Macworld. He writes about Macs and more at his blog, jeffbattersby.com.
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Grabbing and organizing pictures of computer screens is a huge part of my daily workflow. SnapNDrag Pro (Mac App Store link) simplifies both the screenshot and organization processes and as a bonus, tracks annotations you make to your images.

You have several options for capturing objects on your screen. First, SnapNDrag’s main window offers five buttons for the type of capture you want to create: Selection, Window, Screen, and Timed, all of which lets you select the interval at which you want the shot taken; and a More button that takes shots of your last selection, window, or the Dock. As is the case with most screen capture applications, you can assign a keyboard shortcut for any one of these buttons to invoke the app when you want to capture something on the screen.

snapndragpro
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