When I last reviewed Numbers for OS X, it was the first release of the “new” Numbers, and it came with a slew of changes—both good and bad—to the interface and feature set.
Now, two years on, Numbers has gained 0.6.1 version numbers, as well as some new features and changes to its interface. It’s also a much stronger collaboration tool now, and you can work on spreadsheets on OS X, iOS, and the web.
Some apps are highly focused; Chapters is clearly one of them. Chapters lets you add division markings—yes, chapters—to MP3 files, useful for podcasters who want to provide a quick way for listeners to jump to a segment or past one. It’s also handy for making a single long MP3 file of a music performance, album, or lecture, and marking points along the way rather than dividing into individual audio file tracks, which have to be managed.
Divisions could be added to AAC files using a format defined by Apple to create so-called enhanced versions for years, but which aren’t universally supported. An AAC chapter break can contain a title, a URL, and an image. A fair amount of OS X audio software, starting with the bare-bones and very useful Fission editor from Rogue Amoeba, supports AAC chapter creation and editing.
But MP3 chapters never seemed to get the respect, despite their definition in the MP3 metadata spec since 2005 and their ostensible broader utility. An MP3 division mark allows a start and end time and optional text labels, which can contain URLs or other information. (There’s even a third chapter format, which uses XML and connects to feed syndication formats.)
Default Folder X has long been among the first pieces of software I install on a Mac, alongside LaunchBar, 1Password, and TextExpander. Alongside the public betas of El Capitan released during the summer of 2015 came a concern: A new security mechanism to protect core system files and directories against malware might prevent many kinds of utilities from functioning at all without disabling that protection.
The fear proved short-lived. With minor tweaks from Apple and hard work by developers, nearly all the software that seemed threatened—including disk-cloning tools—was updated or rewritten. Default Folder took the longest, and required rebooting into Recovery Disk, using a Terminal command, and rebooting again to keep version 4 functioning under El Capitan.
The wait was worth it, as Default Folder 5.0.1 isn’t just a rewrite that restores version 4’s features. Rather, it’s a spiffier expanded version with a somewhat crisper interface design that adds features I’d long hoped for. Overall, it’s easier to use, while also having the advantage of not needing to patch OS X while working more robustly within Apple’s limitations. (If you disabled System Integrity Protection, you can now re-enable it with our instructions.)
For years, I’ve used a small Mac utility called BlueHarvest to keep hidden OS X metadata off my network-attached storage, USB thumb drives, and other removable volumes. These unwanted files normally don’t take up much space, but over time can become bloated or corrupted, especially for volumes that frequently move between Mac and Windows systems.
This so-called “service junk” includes invisible system files with befuddling names like .DS_Store, .Spotlight, and Thumbs.db, as well as unnecessary resource folks and files that have been moved to trash but haven’t been emptied yet. In most cases, your Mac will simply rebuild these files as necessary, so there’s no harm in removing them.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned after years of reviewing apps, it’s to not get too attached to an email client. I’ve always been petty picky when it comes to them anyway, but still, my poor track record has put my guard perpetually up.
My first love was Sparrow, and I fell hard for its Twitter-inspired interface and quick replies. But then Google bought it and it languished before being shut down altogether.
When Dropbox bought Mailbox just a month after it made its the App Store debut, I was already in too deep to realize that our relationship was doomed. Its gesture-based system of swipes and strong-hearted belief in Inbox Zero truly transformed the way I manage and maintain my messages.
Greeting cards are something of a lost art in the era of social networking. After all, it’s far easier to snap a picture with your smartphone, upload it, and share instantly with friends or family than it is to order physical cards, lick and address envelopes, then go broke paying for postage to mail them.
If the social media approach feels too impersonal and you dread standing in line at the post office, there’s an OS X application to help bridge this divide. Whether you want to design and print your own cards at home or create an impressive collage to share online, veteran Mac software maker Chronos makes it not only possible but downright easy to do.
Oh, spam. There is so much of it. Some estimates say that 90 percent of email sent around the world is spam. Sometimes it's hard to sort the wheat from the chaff; or the ham from the spam.
It's been a plague since the earliest days of the Internet. Whether it's spam that contains attachments—which, if opened, could hijack your computer (though most often, these attachments carry Windows malware)—or phishing emails that try to trick you into entering your bank or Apple ID credentials on dodgy websites, spam is both an annoyance and a danger.
There are several ways you can block spam. If you use Gmail or iCloud for your email, there are built-in spam filters. In Gmail you can view your spam to check for any legitimate email that has been filtered as noxious, but you can't do this with iCloud. Much of the spam that iCloud gets is simply deleted, and you don't even know about it.