Patterns review: Utility makes quick work of regular expressions

Jason Snell Senior VP, Editorial Director, Macworld Follow me on Google+

Jason is the former editorial director of Macworld, and has reviewed every major Apple product of the last few years, including the original iPhone and iPad as well as every major version of Mac OS X. Check out Sixcolors.com for his latest Apple coverage.
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You know the maxim, “Give a man to fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”? A similar adage applies to anyone who spends a lot of time working with text on their Mac: Learn how to use regular expressions—sequences of characters and variables that you can use to perform powerful searches—and you’ll benefit greatly, for a very long time.

I’ve saved hours or days—maybe even weeks—of time over the past decade or so by using pattern-matching search-and-replace actions on text. Regular expressions (also called regex or grep) form the common language that most programs use for these actions. Specifically, I’ve been using grep in BBEdit, crafting complex patterns and then pressing the Find button and hoping that my pattern is right. But it isn’t always—learning regex takes practice and involves lots of trial and error.

Nikolai Krill’s $3 Patterns (Mac App Store link) simplifies the act of creating regex search patterns, and it provides a live view of the results of those patterns.

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DeskConnect review: Share files, URLs, and more between OS X and iOS

Dan Miller Editor, Macworld

Dan is Editor of Macworld.
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Seven or so years since the introduction of iOS, getting stuff from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac—and vice versa—is still a pain.

Sure, there are plenty of ways to sync or share files. You can sync data using iTunes or (for some apps) Dropbox. You can send files via email. You can sync Safari bookmarks, Reading List URLs, and open tabs over iCloud. You can share photos via PhotoStream. You can even share clipboard contents using utilities such as Command-C. But these are all piecemeal solutions that each work for one particular type of data, but not others. (Alas, Apple’s AirDrop feature handles many kinds of data, but it currently works only for sharing files from Mac to Mac, or from one iOS device to another—it doesn’t work between OS X and iOS.)

That’s the problem that DeskConnect seeks to solve, and by and large, it does a good job. Once you install the free DeskConnect apps for Mac (Mac App Store link) and iOS (App Store link) on your various devices, and set up a free account, you can share photos, webpages, document files, and clipboard contents between the two platforms using DeskConnect clients for OS X and iOS.

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CloudyTabs review: Liberate iCloud Tabs from Safari on your Mac

Dan Moren Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

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.
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Everyone has their favorite (or least favorite, depending on how you look at it) beefs with Apple’s iCloud service. But one of my biggest frustrations is that many of iCloud’s most-convenient features require you to use Apple’s apps—those features simply don’t work with third-party programs.

Take iCloud Tabs, the feature that automatically syncs any open Safari tabs across all your OS X and iOS devices. The key word here is Safari—iCloud Tabs doesn’t support other browsers. But this is where third-party developers step in to help. Like previous Gem MyPhotostream, Josh Parnham’s free CloudyTabs is a simple OS X app that lets you liberate a little bit of iCloud—in this case, that bit is iCloud Tabs.

CloudyTabs, which requires OS X 10.8.2 or later, provides a simple systemwide menu that, at a click, displays all your iCloud Tabs, organized by the device hosting each tab. Each open-tab entry displays the tab’s webpage title and favicon. Choosing any item in the menu opens that tab—and here’s the kicker for non-Safari users—in your default browser, whichever browser that may be. (It’s a little strange that CloudyTabs displays your current Mac’s tabs, though I suppose that’s one easy way to shuttle tabs between, say, Safari and Chrome on the same machine.)

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Unclutter review: Utility provides simple solutions to everyday tasks

Christopher Breen Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

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.
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Pay a visit to Victorinox’s website, and you’ll find that the manufacturer of the legendary Swiss Army Knife offers models with as few as seven implements, as as many as 80. Neither is right for everyone.

Similarly, Mac utilities can range from do-a-couple-handy-things apps to do-everything-under-the-sun software. Software Ambience Corp’s $5 Unclutter (Mac App Store link) falls into the former group. It provides just three tools: a clipboard history, a place to stash files, and a simple notes area—all accessible from your Mac’s menu bar.

Unlike utilities that add a systemwide menu, Unclutter is normally hidden by default. To reveal it, you place your cursor in the menu bar and then swipe downward with two fingers on your Mac’s trackpad (or, if you’re using a mouse, scroll down using the scroll wheel). Three panels, corresponding to the app’s three tools, appear: Clipboard, Files, and Notes. Any of these panels can be “torn off” by dragging its titlebar out of the Unclutter window; to return it to the main Unclutter window, just click on the X button.

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PicFrame review: Easy app makes quick photo collages

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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Over the past year, I’ve seen more and more photo collages pop up on my social media timelines. Some folks use iOS apps such as Frontback for an automatic front camera/back camera collage, while others manually put multiple pictures together with an iOS program such as Diptic.

But you’re not limited to the iPhone or iPad to build collages—nor do you have to spend bank-breaking money on an image editor. For just $1, you can pick up PicFrame (Mac App Store link), a standout app for making quick and easy—and easily shareable—image collages.

The app takes after its iOS sibling in design, offering 73 frame templates with up to nine photos in a template. Each template is adjustable in both positioning and size. You can’t build your own frame from scratch, but there are enough options here that it’s pretty easy to customize anything you might want. For example, you can make photo borders thin or thick, rounded or square, solid or patterned—whatever works for you. The overall dimensions of the collage can be altered, too, depending on what social network you plan to share with: You choose from 1:1, 3:2, 2:3, 4:3, 3:4, or 16:9.

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Blinky review: Real geeks write on curved CRT monitors

Roman Loyola Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

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.
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Way back in the 6th grade, my family couldn’t afford a computer, but my teachers started to assign school papers that, ideally, would be typed on a typewriter—or, if that wasn’t an option, neatly handwritten. Both were painful processes that led to sheet after sheet of paper weighted down with dried correction fluid.

Then my best friend Ed got a word processor. It wasn’t a fully-capable computer—it was just a machine you could use to type documents. And since Ed was my best friend, he let me use that word processor. It had a nine-inch CRT display with green, pixelated text on a black background, and you had to view your text through the (significant) curvature of the screen. It wasn’t much compared to today’s technology, but at the time, that word processor was heaven sent.

Blinky screen preferences
Blinky offers several ways to adjust the way its “CRT” looks on your flat display.
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MyPhotostream review: All your Photo Stream, none of the bloat

Dan Moren Senior Editor, Macworld Follow me on Google+

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.
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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.

myphotostream main
MyPhotostream presents all your images in a grid, but the only view option is a choice between small, medium, or large thumbnails.
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