Posts tagged with "os x"

Apple Releases OS X 10.10.4

Also earlier today, Apple released the latest version of OS X. Andrew Cunningham details a welcome change:

The first change in OS X 10.10.4 is to “networking reliability,” which is likely a reference to the replacement of discoveryd, a new-but-flaky DNS service introduced in Yosemite. It has been replaced with what appears to be mDNSresponder, the service that handled discoveryd's tasks in previous versions of OS X.

According to Apple, iCloud Photo Library in the Photos app should be more responsive now, too.

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WWDC 2015: Interesting Tidbits and Links

Every year at WWDC, Apple unveils dozens of new software features and hundreds of developer technologies, and 2015 was no exception. With new versions of iOS, OS X, and a big 2.0 update to watchOS weeks after its public debut, Apple is preparing for a busy Fall across its ecosystems.

Among big additions and redesigns, however, there are always smaller features and hidden changes that the company only briefly mentioned during the keynote or described with a short paragraph on their preview webpages and developer documentation guides. In this article, we've collected some of the most interesting details we didn't cover yesterday, with links to the original articles, documentation, and tweets.

For more in-depth coverage, check out our overviews and first impressions:

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MindNode 2.0 for Mac

Mindnode has been a favorite at MacStories for a while, and I'm happy to see a brand new version for Mac available today. MindNode 2.0 for Mac is an entirely new app, with an introductory price of $19.99 US ($29.99 after the intro sale).

The new version includes a variety of features that expand MindNode's usefulness beyond simple mind mapping to make it a powerful tool for collaboration, polishing ideas, and writing (among the many things mind maps are great for). All this while maintaining the attributes that set it apart from the beginning: simplicity and elegance.

The new features include notes, something I'd always felt was an oversight in MindNode. I like to keep my topic titles as short as possible, and being able to expand on an idea or add extended thoughts via attached notes is vital. MindNode 2.0 does a nice job of indicating which nodes have notes with an unobtrusive icon while concealing the extra cruft. Notes can be included in the various export formats (PDF, Freemind, OPML, Image, Markdown, or text).

When I'm writing, mind maps are the first tool I employ to brainstorm, develop, and begin structuring a piece. The outline view in MindNode (new to the Mac version) means I can see a linear view of my content as I work in the less restrictive format of a mind map. Being able to include notes in the Markdown export means that I can even begin developing paragraphs right in the mind map.

That leads me to mention my favorite new feature: the ability to preview the rendered Markdown from a mind map while I work using Marked 2 (my own Markdown preview and writing tool). Click File -> Advanced -> Open in Marked and a full preview of the Markdown export, including notes, will update every time the mind map saves. (iThoughtsX has Marked integration, as well.)

MindNode had also been missing the ability to add icons and markers to nodes, but not anymore. The "Stickers" feature lets you choose from a custom set of tinted icons to set ideas apart. You can also add labels to connections to help make things more scannable.

MindJet MindManager users will be happy to hear that MindNode can now import your existing maps. I switched away from MindManager a while ago, but used it for years, accumulating a significant pile of brainstorms in mmap format. Being able to access Mindjet's proprietary format in my tools of choice is important to my sanity.

The MindNode update also boasts improvements in smart layout, theme customization, and visual refinements.

Also new to the Mac version, the MyMindNode web service allows you to publish your maps on the web and link or embed them in a blog or web page. Maps can be re-published at the same URL as they're updated.

If you're looking to up your brainstorming game, you can find MindNode 2.0 on the Mac App Store.


How to Configure Gmail with OS X Yosemite Mail

My friend Amy is having her first experience with using Gmail, and, it, um, isn’t going as well as she’d like. The good news is that although Apple's Mail.app and Gmail have had a rocky relationship in the past, Mail.app in Yosemite works pretty well with Gmail, but there are some things that you should understand before you proceed.

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StretchLink Unshortens and Cleans URLs from Your Menu Bar

Brett Terpstra, writing about StretchLink 1.0:

It’s an easy-to-use tool for expanding shortened links, fixing redirects, and cleaning out referrer junk from Google Analytics and others. StretchLink runs in the OS X menu bar. You can click the icon to open the main panel from which it can expand and clean links on demand with a single click. Even better, it can be set to silently watch your clipboard. You can turn this on with a switch from the main panel, or just right click the menu bar icon to toggle it.

StretchLink 1.0 is priced at $1.99, with a free trial available on the website. An introductory sale of $0.99 (50% off) starts now and goes through the end of May. StretchLink didn’t get a beta round, but it’s been tested on a variety of my own machines. If you do run into issues, don’t hesitate to contact me. A Mac App Store release is planned for the near future, if all goes well.

As a shell script nerd who loves automation and clean URLS, I had, of course, written my own shell script to expand and clean URLs. I installed StretchLink last night, and I am sure that I will never use my script again. That’s how much better Brett’s app is.

My biggest criteria (after, of course, that it actually works) is how fast would it work. So I did what any self-respecting geek would do: I wrote a shell script to test how fast it would expand a given URL. The result was that StretchLink expanded it in less than 1 second. 1

You can download StretchLink here.

P.S. If you’re looking for something similar on iOS, checkout Clean Links.


  1. If you want more details about how I tested this, I posted my script as a gist. Because of course I did.  ↩

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Flashlight Adds 160+ Features to Spotlight

First drafts aren’t meant to be good, they’re meant to be a starting point.[1] Sometimes we see “first drafts” released into the wild and we think “Wow, that’s a terrible idea.” Sometimes we see them and think “That could be great.” Flashlight is an example of the latter. Late last year, it was released as a beta[2] which even its developer described as a “terrible hack.” But the idea was great, and I remember thinking: “Imagine if Spotlight could do all of these things.”

Today, Flashlight is being released as a 1.0, with much more polish, and much less of that first-draft smell. It’s also free and open source. It extends Spotlight to do a bunch of different things (there’s a list below) but even more importantly it offers an API for others who want to hook into Flashlight’s power to do new and different things. Its plugin system also means that you can disable features that you don’t want or won’t use.

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Apple Releases OS X 10.10.3 with Photos App, New Emoji

Apple released version 10.10.3 of OS X Yosemite today, bringing a new Photos app that works with iCloud Photo Library from iOS 8, 300 new emoji, and a slew of bug fixes. We're working on our Photos article – in the meantime, iMore has done an excellent job in covering iCloud Photo Library and the new app.

I use OS X twice a week at this point, so I only installed the public beta of 10.10.3 last week and took the Photos app for a quick spin. Since late last year, iCloud Photo Library has become my only photo management solution, where I've transferred about nine years of photos from all my devices. The new Photos app for Mac took a couple of minutes to download my library; after that, it showed the same collections and edits as my iPhone and iPad. The process was painless.

I've upgraded my iCloud account twice to put everything in iCloud Photo Library, and I couldn't be happier. There have been many cautionary tales about Apple's cloud services and photo management apps, but I think they nailed it this time. I'm happy with iCloud Photo Library because it's seamlessly integrated with my iPhone's camera and photos – I don't have to manually upload anything, and I don't have to think about managing photos. This is quite the departure from what I used to do, and I like how I'm not wasting time with scripts anymore.

For this reason, I welcome Photos for OS X. Even if not for me, I like knowing that my photos – the same photos I keep on other devices – will show up on my Mac as well.


BitTorrent Sync 2.0

I used version 1 of BitTorrent Sync for many months, and started using version 2 as soon as it reached beta. Having used BitTorrent Sync regularly, I now find Dropbox to be incredibly slow, especially when syncing large files or even a large number of files. In some ways, BitTorrent Sync version 2 feels like the version they really wanted to make (akin to the iPhone 3GS or the second-generation MacBook Air).

From the official announcement:

We’re now ready to take the beta tag off and deliver a final product. All of the core functionality we introduced in version 1.4 last August still exist in 2.0, letting you securely share folders across all platforms, with visibility into who has access. A bunch of new functionality has been added, from enhanced user interfaces across desktop and mobile platforms to a new certificates-based security model with even greater control and ease-of-use.

Version 1 was good, but version 2 is great. How great? I plan to drop my paid Dropbox account when it expires, not just because BitTorrent Sync is cheaper, but because it’s so much better.

BitTorrent Sync has often attracted critics who complain that it isn’t open source. That’s true, it isn’t. For those who demand such things, other options exist. If you like building things from source, Java, or pre-alpha software, good luck and Godspeed. However, if you prefer to avoid those things, and are more interested in design, features, stability, usability, and an app you can use today (instead of something that seems like it might be good someday), I highly recommend BitTorrent Sync.

All of its new pro features are available for free for 30 days. After that, they will cost $40/year (that’s “per person” not per device). Don’t want to pay? BitTorrent Sync’s free version is still faster option than Dropbox, with no storage limits, and no limits on file sizes or transfer speeds.

Get BitTorrent Sync for Mac, Windows, Linux and FreeBSD. (Mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Amazon Kindle Fire should be available later today.)

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Arq for Mac Adds Support for Dropbox Backups

Arq 4.8 is now available, and it includes support for backing up to your own Dropbox account!

If you already have a Dropbox with 1TB of space, now you can use that space for your Arq backups. The Arq backups go into the folder /Apps/Arq in your Dropbox account.

I've always wanted to try Arq and use the space I have in my Dropbox account. The latest Arq adds support for Dropbox backups and it even lets you combine multiple destinations (such as Dropbox + Google Drive or Dropbox + Amazon S3) to have specific files in locations you choose. Version 4.8 is a free update for existing customers.

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