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MacStories Unwind: Apple’s Music and MacBook Pro Event, a Great Safari Extension, and Yoink’s Clever Clipboard System

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This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • MacStories Weekly
    • Federico continues his series on his Obsidan setup with a look at how he’s using templates
    • John on favorite moments from Monday’s event
    • A Mac widget tip
    • Lots of new apps

AppStories

Unwind


Yoink Brings Background Clipboard Monitoring to iOS and iPadOS 15 via Picture in Picture Workaround

Yoink's new persistent clipboard monitoring.

Yoink’s new persistent clipboard monitoring.

In the years I’ve spent working on iPad as my primary computer, I’ve learned to appreciate the platform’s advantages over the Mac (a richer app ecosystem and superior modularity, for instance), and I’ve accepted its limitations. Despite the advances in the past 18 months with iPadOS 14, the Magic Keyboard, and iPadOS 15, there are still several areas where iPadOS falls short: I can’t record podcasts on it with the setup I like (unless I deal with some ridiculous cable shenanigans); the Files app still lacks Finder features such as smart folders or the ability to navigate into hidden folders; and, due to Apple’s restrictions, iPad utilities like clipboard managers can’t run persistently in the background like they can on a Mac.

While I continue to believe Apple will have to address these issues in the next iterations of iPadOS, Matthias Gansrigler didn’t want to wait for Apple to let his clipboard manager Yoink run continuously in the background and automatically capture anything the user copies to the system clipboard. So, using a clever workaround made by possible by new APIs introduced in iOS and iPadOS 15, he figured out how to turn Yoink – already a capable and modern clipboard manager and shelf app – into a “true” clipboard manager that, like those you may have seen on macOS, can monitor everything you copy and automatically save it for you. The result is unlike anything else I’ve seen on iOS and iPadOS, and it unlocks the kind of flexibility and peace of mind I’ve long missed from macOS. It’s almost too good to be true, and I hope I won’t cause any trouble by writing about it.

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Review: Yoink Adds Support for Latest Mojave and iOS 12 Features

Yoink is the app I use on my Mac every day as a temporary spot to park files, snippets of text, images, and URLs. By itself, Yoink for Mac has been a fantastic time-saver. The latest updates to Yoink for iOS and the Mac, however, have been transformative. There’s more that can be done to support the cross-platform use of Yoink, but Handoff support, which makes it simple to move data between my Mac and iOS devices, and several other new features have already added a new dimension to the way I use the app and embedded it deeper into my day-to-day workflow than ever before.

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Yoink is the macOS Shelf Utility I Want on iOS Too

At WWDC, I was disappointed that the iOS 11 announcements didn’t include a shelf where content can be temporarily parked. When Federico and Sam Beckett made an iOS 11 concept video earlier this year they included a shelf, which felt like a natural way to make touch-based drag and drop simpler. I found the omission in the iOS 11 beta somewhat surprising. On the Mac, people use the Desktop as a temporary place to stash items all the time, and without a Desktop on iOS, a shelf that slides in from the edge of the screen seemed like a natural solution. In fact, it’s a solution that has an even more direct analog than the Desktop on macOS that makes a solid case for implementing something similar on iOS: Yoink, from Eternal Storms Software.

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Better File Juggling with Yoink

When I put together an article for MacStories on my Mac, Yoink by Eternal Storms Software is what brings order to the messy process of creating screenshots. You see, I like to use Spaces on my MacBook Pro to separate my writing environment from other apps I’m using to produce screenshots. But between Spaces, apps, and the Finder, things get cluttered fast. By being available wherever I am on my Mac, Yoink gives me an easily accessible spot to park images as I create them, so that when I’m finished, I can incorporate them into an article all at once, which saves me time.

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Yoink 2.0 Brings Smarter Drag & Drop To Lion

Back in September I reviewed the first version of Yoink, a utility by Eternal Storms Software that greatly enhanced Lion’s drag & drop support by adding a virtual “shelf” to the side of your screen to store temporary files you needed to move elsewhere. From my review:

Yoink is a drag & drop assistant for Lion, in that it provides you with a virtual “safe zone” to temporarily store files — or rather, links to them — you want to move from one location (say your desktop) to another space or full-screen app. Yoink doesn’t “copy” a file, or multiple ones, to its shelf: it only acts as a bridge between the original file, and the destination of the drop.

In its first version, Yoink was primarily meant to provide a better way to move files from the Finder to full-screen apps – that is the reason the app was built with Lion APIs from the ground up. Yoink 1.0 undoubtedly offered a quick and elegant way to move files around apps and desktops in an intuitive manner; Yoink 2.0, released today, is a huge step forward that now allows the app to accept almost any kind of input from OS X, from text to images and web clippings from any app.

In accessing content from apps, Yoink has become more than a simple tool to temporarily store files that need to be moved around full-screen apps – think of  Yoink 2.0 as a secondary, visual clipboard that can accept almost any kind of file you throw at it. In my tests, besides dropping content from apps into Yoink’s shelf, I’ve copied links, text and images from Safari and Chrome, and successfully watched Yoink create text clippings and full copies of the images ready to be pasted anywhere on my Mac, both in the Finder and other apps. Rich text from a web browser is converted to .textclipping once imported in Yoink, and you can easily re-export everything to the Finder, or into another app that accepts text, such as TextEdit or Twitter’s compose window. Want to tweet a famous quote by The Beatles? Drag text into Yoink’s shelf, open your client of choice, and drop your previously copied text. How about quoting someone else’s words on your blog (and this is something I’ve been looking forward to)? Drag text into Yoink, fire up your blog’s editor window, drop text.

Yoink’s new drag & drop system works with almost any app  and any kind of content – you won’t be able to preserve the exact formatting of a rich text document when copying, but it surely works very well as a lightweight solution to quickly save plain text files.

Yoink 2.0 brings a couple more interesting additions besides improved drag & drop. The interface has been redesigned to have more linen and the app can be assigned a keyboard shortcut; more positions for Yoink’s window have been added and files shouldn’t be lost anymore if they’re moved from their original location. One issue I had (and already reported to the developer) was with an alias I moved from Dropbox to my Desktop, which didn’t resolve correctly in Yoink and displayed a permission error. The error is likely happening because of some restrictions from Apple’s sandboxing technology or the fact that the alias came from Dropbox – Yoink 2.0 is capable of resolving aliases and, in fact, it worked fine with a file that was originally stored on my Desktop.

Last, Yoink now comes with File Stacks, a neat way to drag and drop multiple files into Yoink’s window and have the app combine them into one item in the shelf. This can be very handy if you’re dealing with multiple images and PDFs and you want to get them quickly out of the way.

At $2.99 on the Mac App Store, Yoink remains a fantastic way to enhance Lion’s drag & drop with an app that acts as a temporary scratchpad/visual clipboard for content that you want to copy, move elsewhere, or simple save for later. Highly recommended, you can get Yoink here.


Yoink: Enhanced Drag & Drop for Lion’s Full-Screen Apps

As I noted in my MacBook Air 13-inch review, the smaller the screen, the better full-screen apps get on Lion. For those still unaware of the new feature, OS X Lion comes with the possibility of enlarging applications to fill the entire screen – thus the name “full-screen mode” – so that, similarly to iOS, users can focus on one app at a time. Whereas some full-screen apps can look comically large on bigger displays such as a 21.5-inch iMac or Apple Thunderbolt Display, I found that smaller screens make more sense in regards to full-screen mode in that you don’t feel like you’re wasting available pixel space. Apple’s system applications have already been updated to take advantage of full-screen mode, and we’ve seen third party developers starting to play around with the new API as well, coming up with interesting solutions to modify the user interface accordingly to full-screen mode.

Personally, I have enjoyed using apps like Evernote, Sparrow and Reeder in full-screen mode on my MacBook Air. With a four-finger swipe, I can easily switch between these apps, and go back to my main desktop where all my other application windows reside. However, as full-screen apps live in their own separate graphical environment, I wished on a couple of occasions that Apple would implement an easier method to move files between spaces and full-screen apps in Lion. Rather than delving into the technical details of drag & drop and APIs, here’s a practical example: say I run Sparrow in full-screen mode, and I need to quickly drop an attachment onto a new message window. I could use the app’s “attach file” dialog, but drag & drop would be more intuitive. On Lion, there’s no simple way to drag files from Desktop 1, and drop them into a full-screen app. In fact, the “easiest” trick I’ve discovered to achieve such a functionality is to click & hold a file, hit the Mission Control key on my MacBook Air’s keyboard, select a a full-screen app and wait for it to “spring load” (e.g. the window flashes and after a few seconds comes in the foreground), then drop the file. Clumsy and slow.

A new app by Eternal Storms – makers of Flickery and ScreenFloat, among others – called Yoink, aims at improving Lion’s behavior with drag & drop and full-screen apps. Built from the ground-up with Lion-only APIs, Yoink places an unobtrusive, translucent “shelf” at the side of your Mac’s screen every time you start dragging a file. Drop the file in there, switch to your full-screen app with a gesture, get the file out of the shelf. Done.

Yoink is a drag & drop assistant for Lion, in that it provides you with a virtual “safe zone” to temporarily store files – or rather, links to them – you want to move from one location (say your desktop) to another space or full-screen app.

Yoink doesn’t “copy” a file, or multiple ones, to its shelf: it only acts as a bridge between the original file, and the destination of the drop. So, back to my Sparrow example: I can select a bunch of files from my desktop, drop them into Yoink, switch back to Sparrow with a gesture, and get the files out of Yoink. Very simple. This works with any full-screen app, any space – Yoink works wherever you can drop a file. In fact, nothing stops you from using the app as a drag & drop utility for your Finder windows instead of full-screen apps, although the app is clearly focused on the latter.

In my tests, I’ve found Yoink to be very lightweight in memory footprint, and easy to use. The app only appears when you start dragging a file – you won’t see its window all the time – and you can customize it to sit on the left, or right of the screen. Alternatively, you can tell Yoink to quickly move next to your cursor as you drag a file, then go back to screen’s side. Yoink can store multiple files, Quick Look them, and let you scroll and select multiple items with CMD-click.

Yoink is available at $2.99 on the App Store, and you can head over the developer’s website to check out a demo video and get a better idea of the app in action. If you work with full-screen apps on a daily basis and you’d like to enhance Lion’s drag & drop support, Yoink is a must-have.


MacStories Selects 2021: Recognizing the Best Apps of the Year

John: The MacStories Selects Awards are our annual celebration of the apps we love and the people who make them. Every year, the MacStories team uses hundreds of apps. Some are familiar favorites, but most are new. So, after many months of testing those developers’ apps, we stop to recognize the best.

This year, as we headed into the final stretch of the year, we decided it was time for the MacStories Selects to honor more than just the apps from the past year. MacStories has been covering apps since Federico published his first story in 2009, and having covered thousands of apps spanning more than twelve years, it’s time to look back at all of those apps and honor the standouts that have withstood the test of time with an annual Lifetime Achievement Award, which you can read about more in a special story that includes a bit of history about the winning app and interview with its developer.

Apps have become part of the fabric of our daily lives, which makes it easy to forget that they’re the result of hard work by creative people. The MacStories Selects awards are our chance to pause and appreciate just how fortunate we are to have such a wealth of fantastic tools available from so many talented developers before we start the new year.

2021 has been an exciting year for apps. The resurgence of note-taking apps ignited by apps like Craft, Obsidian, and Roam Research continued unabated. We also saw new apps successfully remix technologies and approaches and apply them to new domains, and of course, automation continued to be a central theme, with a long list of established and new apps testing the waters of Shortcuts for Mac for the first time.

As a result, we had a wealth of apps to choose from as always for the following awards:

  • Best New App
  • Best App Update
  • Best New Feature
  • Best Watch App
  • Best Mac App
  • Best Design
  • App of the Year

Along with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Readers’ Choice Award, which was chosen by Club MacStories members, that makes a total of nine award winners plus seven runners-up for these fourth annual MacStories Selects Awards, which began in 2018. As we did last year, we have also created beautiful physical awards commemorating the winners, which we will be sent to each of the winners this week.

We also recorded a special episode of our podcast AppStories all about the MacStories Selects winners and runners-up. It’s a terrific way to learn more about this year’s apps.

You can listen to the episode below.

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We will hold our Monthly Town Hall live event with additional MacStories Selects coverage in our Discord community for Club MacStories+ and Club Premier members tomorrow, December 14, 2021, at 12:30 PM Eastern US time and release it later as a Town Hall podcast episode for those who can’t join live.

So, with those preliminaries out of the way, it’s my pleasure to introduce the 2021 MacStories Selects Awards to the MacStories community.

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