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.
While Photos is streamlined and zippy compared to iPhoto, its stripped-down approach can be confusing. PowerPhotos takes some of the shock out of Photos for OS X by helping bridge the gap between old and new. Fat Cat Software’s app offers assistance in migrating iPhoto libraries, managing (and merging) multiple Photos libraries, and offers a different way of viewing images and videos. It’s more flexible, to be sure.
When launched, PowerPhotos shows—under an Operations listing—Migrate iPhoto Libraries, which can also be selected later from the File menu. This lists all iPhoto libraries that it can find via Spotlight; you can add others manually.
The migrate operation lets you manage creating Photos-compatible libraries without babysitting the Photos app, and shows progress and errors. It can also migrate several libraries from the same interface instead of requiring multiple iterations of quitting and launching Photos with the right key held down.
Since the debut of the classic Mac OS System 1.0 in 1984, the Finder has been an indispensable hub of the graphical user interface experience. Despite many improvements over the year—most radically with OS X in 2001—the core functionality of Apple’s Finder remains largely the same, despite efforts to improve upon the experience even today.
Commander One is a Mac application written entirely using Apple’s new Swift programming language that provides an alternative to the Finder. The main window is split into dual panes that can be used to act upon files and folders in multiple locations at once. Similar to popular applications like ForkLift, the free version works with local and network drives for search, preview, and other file operations, including the ability to rename files during copy and move. (Try that with the Finder and let me know how it works out for you.)
It wasn’t all that long ago when the value of software was measured in menus. Rich, versatile apps from Adobe, Quark, and Corel put the tremendous power of their apps on full display, using every inch of available screen real estate to make as many tools, options and pallets accessible in an instant.
But mobile devices have shown us a better way. With a smaller canvas to work with, today’s apps put a premium on space and focus, streamlining bars and menus and eliminating all but the most relevant options. The trend toward minimal workspaces and windows is evident all across the desktop app landscape, but no other category has benefitted more from the mobile movement than text editors.
Desk PM is one of the standouts of the new school of text editors. When it was released late last year it positioned itself as a tool for bloggers rather than casual writers, offering a simple place to both write and publish. One-click integration with many of the popular platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc.) gave Desk a unique edge over its similarly styled competitors; in a crowded clutter-free sea it carved out its own wave and rode it right up the App Store charts.