QuickBooks Online Self-Employed review: Untangle your business and personal expenses

QuickBooks Online Self-Employed is a thinned-down version of QuickBooks Online with a very specific focus: Sole proprietors and small business owners who mix business and personal accounts, who pay quarterly taxes, and who need to do quick triage on business and personal income and expenses. QuickBooks Online Self-Employed performs its magic with the combination of a Web app and an iOS app and makes it easy to quickly separate your business and personal expenses.

QuickBooks Online Self-Employed is small business focused, which is to say that it’s aimed at business owners who are sole proprietors or LLC owners without partners, and who write off business expenses using a Schedule C when filing their personal taxes. The assumption on Intuit’s part is that the people who own these types of businesses often have a commingling of business and personal credit card and bank accounts and that it is often difficult using traditional accounting applications to quickly and easily separate business expenses from personal expenses.

Getting started

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How to simplify overlapping cloud storage services

There’s no shortage of choices for cloud storage, but that leads to another problem: how do you decide which services you truly need, and which files to put where? If you’ve signed up for as many cloud providers as you have files, it’s time for an intervention (or at least a moment of clear-headed contemplation).

I’ll admit it: I’m an online storage junkie. At one time or another I’ve synced files to the cloud using Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon S3, Bitcasa, Box, DollyDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, SpiderOak, SugarSync, Wuala, and probably a few others I’m forgetting—not to mention using online backups from Backblaze, CrashPlan, and Mozy, and storing photos with services such as Flickr and SmugMug. Some of these services are free (at least for a limited amount of data) while others are inexpensive, but inexpensive times a dozen or more starts to hurt. Meanwhile, I had the same folders syncing to three or four services simultaneously, which slowed down my Mac, wasted bandwidth, and tested the limits of my ISP’s monthly data transfer allowance.

The challenge was what to do about it. “Just pick one!” you may say. Fine, but if I pick Dropbox, then Google Docs can’t see my online files. If I pick Google Drive instead, then my iOS apps that support only iCloud won’t have access. And so on. Companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft benefit when you stay within their respective ecosystems, so they tend to make it easier to use their own cloud storage services than those of their competitors. (Microsoft’s recent decision to integrate Dropbox support in its Office apps for iOS—supplementing OneDrive—is a welcome exception.)

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Get to know iOS 8: Why business users (and IT departments) will be happy

It’s an old story now, but still worth remembering: When the iPhone debuted way back in 2007, it wasn’t much thought of as a device for business users. It had email, yes, but not many of the security features favored by IT departments—and besides, the BlackBerry dominated the business market anyway.

These days, there’s an iPhone and an iPad in nearly every boardroom. Why? Because the bosses liked them and brought them to work despite the complaints from those IT departments.

But Apple was not blind to the BYOD. Every new update to iOS brings a host of new features designed to mollify the folks down in IT. The release of iOS 8 is no different. It has a host of new features aimed at making iOS devices more secure, more manageable, and more productive.

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How to spill-proof your laptop (and how to fix it if that fails)

Perhaps one of the worst threats your Mac faces is the chance of being doused with water or other liquid: In a second, a cup of coffee could leave you about $1500 in the hole for a new Mac (plus $5 for another latte).

Unfortunately, warranties for your Mac (and other electronics) do not cover accidental liquid damage. And if you bring your broken computer to an Apple store for repair, techs may check built-in sensors that will indicate whether or not liquids may have contributed to the problem at hand.

Since we all have had instances of liquids coming dangerously close to our Macs, here are some quick tips for avoiding disaster, and plus a few more that could help fix your Mac should you manage to souse it.

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Automate your Mac: 10 ways to speed up iTunes, Safari, and more

Insert passwords

Tool: Keyboard Maestro
Apple has (wisely) made it impossible to auto-expand text in certain secure fields—password fields, for example. That makes it hard to use standard keyboard expansion utilities (including Apple’s own) to fill in password fields. However, Keyboard Maestro is happy to paste templated text into such fields with the press of a keyboard shortcut. So that’s the tool I use when working with convoluted passwords and inflexible fields. I would definitely not implement this on a shared Mac where I wanted to keep my passwords private, however.—Christopher Breen

Lock your Mac when you leave

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Automate your Mac: three hacks for managing apps

Auto-hide apps

Tool: DragThing
I work with a lot of apps throughout the day and I keep them open at all times. This could lead to a lot of window clutter if it weren’t for DragThing. Within its General preference you find the Hide Other Applications When Switching option. Now, when I click on an icon in my DragThing app palette, the selected app comes to the fore and all other running apps disappear in the background.—Christopher Breen

breen hide apps dragthing
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Automate your Mac: three smart hacks for managing files

Managing files and folders is one of the most obvious—and easiest—chores to automate on your Mac, thanks to specialized tools like Hazel, as well as generalists like AppleScript, Automator, and Keyboard Maestro.

Clear the desktop

Tool: Automator
I’m one of those people who litters his desktop with files throughout the day. I’ve created an Automator workflow that moves these files to a Desktop Moved folder I’ve created within my Documents folder. To create, I opened Automator, and selected Calendar Alarm as the type of document. I then added the following actions, in order: Get Specified Finder Items (adding my Desktop folder to its list); Get Folder Contents; Move Finder Items (specifying my Desktop Moved folder as the target). I set up this alarm to go off every Sunday at 5:00 p.m., so I can start my work week the next morning with a clean desktop.—Christopher Breen

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