MacStories Team

104 posts on MacStories since July 2011

Articles by the MacStories team.

Founded by Federico Viticci in April 2009, MacStories attracts millions of readers every month thanks to in-depth, personal, and informed coverage that offers a balanced mix of Apple news, app reviews, and opinion.


This week's sponsor


The Future of Email

Spark: The Future of Email [Sponsor]

Email doesn't have to be difficult. Instead of letting it rob you of your precious time use Spark on iOS and the Mac to recover those lost moments automatically.

Spark is loaded with smarts starting with its Smart Inbox that categorizes messages as Personal, Notifications, and Newsletters, which makes it easy to focus on what’s important and return to what’s not later.

Intelligent search makes it simple to find messages no matter where they are too. Spark features a natural language algorithm that thinks just like you. Spark also uses Smart Notifications, so you only get notified what you need to know now.

Spark features beautifully designed card-style calendar invitations that can be accepted with just one tap, the ability to send later and set up reminders for messages that don’t receive a reply, message snoozing, and Quick Replies that let you acknowledge a message with a single tap. Spark also has customizable gesture actions and works with Dropbox, Box, iCloud Drive, and more.

As if that weren’t enough, Spark for Teams completely changes the way colleagues collaborate giving them the ability to do things like comment on and discuss messages and even write messages together. Messages can be delegated to team members for follow up too. Once you’ve tried Spark for Teams, you won’t know how you worked without it.

The future of email is now. Download Spark today for free on iOS and the Mac to take control of your inbox.

Thanks to Spark for supporting MacStories this week.

Agenda: First Your Calendar, Now Your Reminders [Sponsor]

Agenda is a strong new entrant in the arena of note taking apps for Mac, iPad, and iPhone. It’s elegant and powerful — Agenda was the only Mac app to win an Apple Design Award in 2018 — and includes a few twists on what you have come to expect from a note taking app.

To begin with, Agenda focuses on dates. You organize your notes chronologically in projects, with each project flowing from future, through present, and into the past. Use Agenda to plan for a future meeting or vacation, and have your notes ready when it is time to begin. When it’s all over, the very same notes are preserved for posterity in Agenda’s unique timeline.

You can even link notes to events in your calendar app, and edit the events without leaving Agenda. Rather than competing with your calendar, Agenda complements it, working perfectly in tandem.

Even more exciting, the Agenda team is putting the finishing touches on an update which will bring that same level of integration for Apple’s Reminders app. Reminders is great tool for scheduling tasks that are due at a particular time or place; in just a few weeks time, Agenda will allow you to create and edit reminders without leaving the app.

Similar to calendar support, the Agenda team have opted to integrate with the existing Reminders app, rather than reinvent the wheel. You will be able to link reminders to list items in Agenda, so that you get a notification when they become due. Agenda will autofill as much information as possible, making it ridiculously easy to create new reminders for your tasks. There is even support for a markdown-like syntax, so you don’t even have to stop typing.

Agenda is free to download and use forever. It is a great time to give it a try, because there is now support for importing from Evernote and Apple Notes, and free sync via iCloud.

A premium feature upgrade is available via In-App Purchase. It includes all current premium features, as well as new ones added in the next 12 months. Best of all, the features you unlock are yours to use forever — strictly no subscription.

Our thanks to Agenda for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Arq: Trustworthy Backup [Sponsor]

Backups of your computer’s files have to be trustworthy. If you can’t trust your backups, they’re not really backups.

The reason Stefan created Arq Backup for the Mac back in 2009 was because he couldn’t find an online solution that felt like real backup. Most online backup providers were and continue to be vague about where the data are stored, how durable the storage is, and how sustainable the business model is.

Arq does everything it can to provide a completely trustworthy backup solution.

Why should you trust Arq?

  • Arq is open. It stores versioned, de-duplicated backup records in a format that’s documented.
  • Arq is private. Backup records are encrypted with a password that only you know. The password never leaves your computer, and your data is encrypted before ever leaving your computer.
  • Arq gives you control. Your backup data is stored in your own cloud account, SFTP server, or NAS.
  • Arq verifies. Arq periodically makes sure the contents of the objects at the destination match the contents of your files on disk.
  • Arq notifies. You’ll get a notification when there’s an error.

Do you like having total control over your data? Do you want to maintain your privacy? Then Arq is for you!

Download a free 30-day trial of Arq today and rest easy knowing that your files are backed up and secure.

Our thanks to Arq for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Toggl: The Simplest Time Tracker to Help You Get Things Done [Sponsor]

Your time is your most valuable resource, but it’s also one of the easiest to squander. Time tracking is a great way to get a handle on how you’re spending your time whether you need to bill it to a client or simply want to work on what matters to you the most.

The key to successful time tracking though is consistency, which is where Toggl comes in. Toggl combines powerful tools, sync, and an ease of use that makes it simple to track and analyze your time so you can get things done.

Toggl works on the iPhone, the Mac, and the web making it easy to start and stop timers whenever and wherever you're working. With a single click or tap you can start a timer, then add a description, projects, and tags if you want. Toggl integrates seamlessly with your existing workflows including services like Basecamp, Asana, Evernote, Github, Trello, Google Drive, Zapier, and many, many more.

On iOS, the Toggl app is free. There are no ads and sync between platforms is included as part of its generous free plan. Toggl works with your calendar and features Siri shortcut integration for hands-free operation too.

On the Mac, Toggl can automatically record every website and app you use for longer than 10 seconds. Toggl can also notify you when you’ve been away from your keyboard so you can decide whether to log the time, discard it, or make it a new entry. The app can even set Pomodoro timers to remind you to take breaks and can send you tracking notifications.

Tracking only gets you so far though. That’s why Toggl generates colorful, detailed reports too that provide valuable insights into how you spend your time.

Time tracking doesn’t need to be difficult. Download Toggl today for the Mac and iOS to get a handle on where your time goes, so you can focus on getting things done.

Our thanks to Toggl for sponsoring MacStories this week.

CleanMyMac X: Your Mac, as Good as New [Sponsor]

CleanMyMac X by MacPaw is your complete Mac maintenance solution. Redesigned with a beautiful, intuitive interface that makes it a pleasure to use, CleanMyMac X frees up wasted storage space, protects against malware, optimizes your Mac’s performance, and more.

It all starts with Smart Scan, the all-in-one center for analyzing, optimizing, and protecting your Mac. Here you’ll find sections to clean up unwanted and unnecessary files that are cluttering up your Mac’s drive. CleanMyMac also scans for malware, protecting your Mac against malicious third-party code and vulnerabilities like cryptocurrency miners, browser hijackers, and adware. There’s an optimization section that can free up RAM and manage login items, launch agents, and memory-hungry apps too.

At each step of the process, you’ll have CleanMyMac Assistant at your side. It’s an intelligent advisor providing explanations of everything CleanMyMac does and recommending courses of action.

CleanMyMac X has an app update module that scans your installed apps for available updates too. It's a fantastic, centralized way to see all the apps on your Mac that have updates whether or not you bought them on the Mac App Store. When you want to uninstall an app, CleanMyMac X is there to help, deleting hidden files and any other cruft that an app would otherwise leave behind when you delete it.

You owe it to yourself to make sure your Mac is running smoothly and safely with enough storage to get your work done, so don’t wait. Go check out CleanMyMac X today. There’s a free trial waiting to help you get make your Mac as good as new.

Our thanks to CleanMyMac X for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Setapp: The Best Mac Apps in One Suite [Sponsor]

Setapp is the Mac app suite that should have been and now is. It’s not an app store; it’s more an app buffet. You pay just one fee and gain immediate access to an ever-growing collection of over 130 of the best Mac apps, curated to make your day more productive.

Setapp is elegantly-designed to look just as beautiful as the Mac it runs on. The app is designed to make finding just the right app easy. The collection is carefully vetted and curated, so you know that only the highest quality apps from the best developers are included.

Setapp includes a wide array of apps, and the list keeps growing as members recommend new ones. There are productivity apps like task managers, text and photo editors, graphic design and developer tools, personal finance and travel apps, email clients, and much more. With Setapp, you can use fantastic apps like Ulysses, Flume, and iStat Menus without buying a separate license or subscription because they’re all part of Setapp.

When you sign up, Setapp installs a handy catalog on your Mac that lets you quickly browse its offerings. Nothing is downloaded until you decide to install it.

The business model couldn’t be simpler either. There are no hidden costs or gimmicks. You pay just $9.99 per month for access to the entire catalog of apps including any updates. There are no fees for upgrades, no In-App Purchases, or other hidden costs. Every app is a fully functional version that updates automatically.

There’s even a 7-day free trial, so there’s nothing to lose by signing up today to unlock this fantastic collection of over 130 Mac apps. So visit now to learn more, download the free trial and make your day more productive.

Our thanks to Setapp for sponsoring MacStories this week.

Strike: An Elegant, Collaborative Place to Write on the Mac and iOS [Sponsor]

Strike is a beautifully-designed, modern writing app for the Mac and iOS that brings together all the tools you need whether you’re working by yourself or with colleagues.

Strike streamlines the process of writing allowing you to get ideas down quickly with its Smart Markdown system. You can type Markdown directly into a Strike document, which is automatically previewed in the editor. You can also format text with a single click or tap on the app's formatting bar that includes bold, italics, underlining, strikethrough, ordered and unordered lists, checklists, links, headings, and more.

Strike didn’t stop there though. You can drop charts, tables, and MathJax formulas into your documents too. Strike also supports file attachments as well as:

  • Password protected documents
  • Document locking to avoid inadvertent changes
  • Themes and handsome color schemes
  • Document statistics
  • Text transformation tools
  • Line sorting
  • Autocorrect and spellcheck
  • Attachment and PDF export

On the Mac, Strike supports recent powerful additions to macOS like Dark Mode and document versioning so you can roll back changes. On iOS, Strike supports the Apple Pencil.

Navigating longer documents is simple. The side panel is an outline of the major headings and list items in your document. Selecting any entry jumps straight to that part of the document. The side panel is where you’ll find a list of the tags in your document too, which you can use to go to where the tags appear in your text.

As fantastic as Strike is for writing solo, it’s just as reliable for writing with colleagues. Invite up to 10 people to join you in editing a document simultaneously in real-time. For example, it’s a great way to work with an editor, on a joint project with others, or to collect notes from fellow students.

Strike is a simple and elegant writing tool that distinguishes it from other writing apps through the power of collaboration. Download Strike on the Mac and iOS today to supercharge your writing.

StopTheMadness: Take Back Your Web Browser [Sponsor]

When you visit a website, few things are more frustrating than when your browser doesn’t work as expected because the site has disabled common interface features. StopTheMadness is a Safari and Firefox extension that prevents sites from modifying how your browser works when you visit them.

Available on the Mac App Store for macOS 10.12 Sierra and later, StopTheMadness puts you back in control of your browsing experience. Users often assume their browser isn’t working correctly when in fact, the trouble lies with the sites they visit. To see just how bad it can be, visit StopTheMadness’ test page for a demonstration. With StopTheMadness enabled, everything on the test page is returned to working the way you expect.

Whether you’re on Safari or Firefox, StopTheMadness ensures you can:

  • ⌘-click to open links in a new tab
  • Use keyboard shortcuts that rely on the ⌘ modifier
  • Open Safari’s standard contextual menu when you right click
  • Drag images and links
  • Select text
  • Paste text into any text field
  • Copy text from anywhere on a webpage
  • Auto-fill and complete passwords

StopTheMadness can even prevent clicked links in Google search results from being redirected to a different site. The extension can also be customized to work on a per-site basis allowing users to dial in the exact experience they want.

Get StopTheMadness today on the Mac App Store and take back your web browser. StopTheMadness is available as a separate purchase for Google Chrome on the Chrome Web Store.

Home: A Powerful, Flexible Alternative to Apple’s Home App [Sponsor]

Apple's Home app is great when it comes to controlling your smart home accessories. But once you start adding automations to your home, you quickly encounter the limits of the Home app. HomeKit is much more capable and flexible than what Apple has to offer.

There is another Home app in the App Store developed by Matthias Hochgatterer. This app has been around for over 3 years and was released long before Apple introduced its Home app with iOS 10. The app is a full-featured HomeKit app that lets you configure, control and automate your HomeKit accessories.

You can configure your home, create rooms and zones, and arrange accessories as you like. You can create accessory groups to group multiple devices together. The app even creates smart groups for you, so you can turn off all lights in your home with a single tap.

The app offers multiple Today widgets and a watchOS app to view your most important accessories at a glance too. There is even dedicated camera widget, where all your favorite cameras are listed.

One of the most beloved features of the Home app is that you can create automations
that are not possible with any other HomeKit app. For example, you can turn on your heater when the current temperature drops below a certain threshold. There are endless possibilities to create your own smart home with HomeKit and the alternative Home app.

Now is the best time to get a copy of Matthias Hochgatterer's Home app because it's 30% off until March 4, 2019. To learn more about the app and HomeKit in general, visit the Home website.