At the office, I have a MacBook Pro hooked up to an 1TB LaCie drive. I’ve partitioned that external into two volumes: one for Time Machine, the other for maintaining a bootable clone of the MacBook’s hard drive.
Such a setup is not particularly unusual. Nor is the minor hassle of disconnecting that drive from my MacBook whenever I want to take the laptop to a meeting or home: I switch to the Finder, scroll down to the Devices section of the sidebar, click the Eject icon next to one of those external volumes (or, if I remember, press Command+E), then click the Eject All button in the subsequent dialog box. If I forget to do all that, I’m rewarded with two more dialog boxes chastising me that the volumes were not ejected properly.
As I say, in the grand scheme of things, the process is a minor hassle. But I unmount (or forget to unmount) those two volumes frequently enough that the hassle turns into a headache. I’d like a quicker, easier way to unmount external volumes without giving OS X fits.
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
When I chatted with Adobe a few weeks back about the Adobe Voice app, an Adobe engineer noted that the frustrating thing with presentation software such as Keynote or PowerPoint is the sheer amount of customization you feel like you must do before making your very first slide. Like Voice, Unsigned Integer's $20 Deckset (Mac App Store link) aims to remove this obstacle while making it easy to create clean, attractive presentations. But unlike Adobe’s iPad creation, this Mac app goes about the task in a very different—and delightful—way.
Though it offers eight beautiful themes for your presentations, the majority of your visual work with Deckset is done outside the app, in your favorite plain-text editor. That’s because Deckset uses basic Markdown syntax to style your text to your theme. Deckset’s formatting will be easily familiar to those with Markdown experience, and for those unfamiliar, the app offers a great tutorial—in, of course, slideshow form.
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 my 15-inch 2.3GHz Retina MacBook Pro approaches its second birthday, I’ve become more and more curious about the general health of the built-in battery. Battery Diag (Mac App Store link) is a simple and good-looking utility for quickly checking basic battery stats. Battery Diag is usually $2, but is currently free for a limited time.
Battery Diag displays much of the same battery data that you can find using OS X’s System Information app (in Applications > Utilities). But instead of forcing you to dig through all the screens of System Information, Battery Diag presents the most important battery stats with just a click on the utility’s menubar icon.
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. 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?