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
Apple’s Photo Stream aims to make it easier to share pictures between your various Apple devices, but using the feature on your Mac can be annoying: Doing so requires you to fire up iPhoto or Aperture just to see your pictures, and waiting for the hulks that those programs have become, just to see the photos you took on your iPhone, is overkill.
To simplify the process, Raffael Hannemann created the $4 MyPhotostream, a lightweight app that does just one thing: displays the pictures in your Photo Stream. Specifically, each time you launch the app, it checks your Photo Stream and shows a grid of thumbnails for those photos.
Jackie is always looking for creative mischief to get into. So it's fitting that she oversees photography, video, publishing, music, and Web design. More by Jackie Dove
Pixelmator 3.1 Marble (Mac App Store link) is the latest iteration of an image-editing app that’s often viewed as the hobbyist photographer’s alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Much attention has been focused on Pixelmator as enthusiasts seek to escape the confines of Photoshop CC subscriptions. Recently, Apple featured Pixelmator as part of its performance demos of the new Mac Pro, so it’s no accident that the Pixelmator Team has now released a fresh update of the program roughly in tandem with Apple’s new flagship desktop Mac. That said, version 3.1 follows closely on the heels of Pixelmator 3.0 FX, whose new features are included in this review.
Pixelmator shares some basic features in common with Photoshop. As a full-service image editor, it has an extensive, Photoshop-like toolbar that offers a slate of traditional, recognizable controls that most photographers need for editing, compositing, and enhancing images, as well as for drawing and painting. The program also offers a wide range of special effects in categories such as Blur, Distortion, Sharpen, Color Adjustments, Tile, Stylize, Halftone, Generator, and more.
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
When we reviewed Simplenote for iOS nearly four years ago, we found it to be a standout note-taking app. But while the company soon added Android and Kindle versions, for the longest time it didn’t provide an OS X counterpart—Mac users who wanted to access and edit their notes on their Macs had to turn to Simplenote’s Web app. So last fall’s release of the free Mac version of Simplenote (Mac App Store link) was welcome.
Simplenote for Mac is very much like the iOS version, with a streamlined interface that doesn’t fill the screen with lots of icons or buttons. You can apply tags (that you create) to notes, and you can click any tag to display related notes. The app also uses white space well, making your lists of tags and notes easy to browse.
If you deal with lots of files (and who doesn’t?), chances are you’ve occasionally run into problems with their names. Say you’ve got a series of image files with less-than-descriptive titles (such as IMG00001.jpg, IMG00002.jpg, and so on)—you’d like to rename them in a more useful, more descriptive, manner. The trick is to find a way to do so without manually renaming each file, one at a time.
There are a bunch of batch-renaming utilities out there that make such chores simpler: You give the app a selection of files, and then tell it to rename all of them at once, using some kind of pattern (for example, “Add Summer vacation photos 2013 to the beginning of each file’s name”). Many of these utilities are relatively inexpensive apps, such as File Rename Pro ($7), Rename ($4), and Rename It ($3), that provide relatively basic services. But there are also a few more-advanced (and more-expensive) tools designed for those who need power beyond what such basic apps provide.
We’ve reviewed one of those advanced tools, Many Tricks’s Name Mangler. But another, comparable, program deserves some recognition, too: the awkwardly titled but nicely designed A Better Finder Rename ($20; Mac App Store link—note that the Mac App Store version is called Better Rename 9).
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
As much as we love feature-packed applications that perform countless tasks, there’s nothing wrong with an inexpensive utility that does the one thing we need without much fuss and bother. Such is Fiplab’s $5 (currently on sale for $3) Duplicate Detective (Mac App Store link). As its name implies, it exists to locate duplicate files on your Mac and then, if you wish, fling them into the Trash.
Duplicate Detective does its work in a simple way. Just launch the application, and then drag a folder or volume into the utility’s window. Duplicate Detective scans that folder or volume, and then lets you know how many duplicates it finds. What it's specifically looking for are exact duplicates by comparing each file’s hash strings. If the strings match up, you have a duplicate; if they don’t—if one file is a PNG version of an image and the other a JPEG—the files are not included in the duplicate tally.
If you have a lot of files—say, hundreds of thousands, as could easily be the case with a large hard drive—this can take a very long time. If you’d like a faster result, scan a folder rather than an entire volume. (In a nice touch, when performing lengthy scans, the application displays humorous messages along the lines of “So, how’s your day going?” to let you know that it hasn’t locked up.)
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
Since the early days of the .epub and .mobi formats, writers and publishers have been trying to find better ways to make ebooks. Some writing apps included primitive built-in options. A few design apps offered limited-functionality exports. But few apps have thoroughly focused on building ebooks.
180g’s Vellum is one of the few pieces of software dedicated to doing just that. It’s not a word processor, nor is it a design program. Rather, it’s an app for turning your finished manuscript into a beautiful ebook.
Mac IT pro, technical writer, fitness geek. Movie lover, sneaker freak, EDM fan. I make expertly-crafted deli sandwiches and a mean box-mix taco dinner, too. More by Steve Scipioni
Adrian Granados's $3 WiFi Explorer (Mac App Store link) is a nifty Mac utility that allows you to gather an impressive complement of data about all the Wi-Fi networks within range of your Mac. It shows you a plethora of numerical data points, but it also graphs the signal strength of each network, and it shows which networks overlap on common channels. It supports 802.11a/b/g/n networks in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency spectrums, as well as 802.11ac networks on the 5 GHz band.
On launch, WiFi Explorer finds any discoverable wireless networks in range, listing them in the top half of the main window. Below that list are four tabs: Network Details, Signal Strength, 2.4 GHz Channels, and 5 GHz Channels. Select a network and then click a tab to view the corresponding info for that network.