Federico Viticci

9354 posts on MacStories since April 2009

Federico is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of MacStories, where he writes about Apple with a focus on apps, developers, iPad, and iOS productivity. He founded MacStories in April 2009 and has been writing about Apple since. Federico is also the co-host of AppStories, a weekly podcast exploring the world of apps, and Dialog, a show where creativity meets technology.

He can also be found on his three other podcasts on Relay FM – Connected, Adapt, and Remaster.

| Instagram: @viticci |

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MacStories Shortcuts Icons Receives Second Free Update with 50 New Glyphs, Reaching 400

Some of the new icons included in the latest MacStories Shortcuts Icons update.

Some of the new icons included in the latest MacStories Shortcuts Icons update.

I’m happy to announce that MacStories Shortcuts Icons, our custom icon set for adding shortcuts to the Home screen, has received a free update today that adds 50 new glyphs. With this second free update, the set has reached 400 unique glyphs available in four versions for a total of 1,600 icons included in the complete Bundle edition.

The update is now available, free for existing customers (just download the file again); for new customers, the update is part of the standard purchase for all editions of MacStories Shortcuts Icons: Bundle, Color, and Classic.


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For those who may have missed it last year: MacStories Shortcuts Icons lets you customize the look of your shortcuts added to the Home screen by choosing from hundreds of glyphs designed specifically with Shortcuts users in mind, going beyond what’s provided by Apple in the Shortcuts app. The icons are available in two versions – Classic and Color – and a Bundle edition containing both (and discounted by 40% right now) is available as well.

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MusicSmart Puts the Spotlight on Music Credits

MusicSmart's extension inside Apple Music.

MusicSmart’s extension inside Apple Music.

For as long as I can remember being interested in music as more than a mere source of background audio, but as an art form, I’ve been interested in the people who make music – the artists and their craft. Back when I used to buy CDs at my favorite record store in Viterbo, my hometown, I would peruse each album’s liner notes to not only read official lyrics and check out the artwork and/or exclusive photographs contained inside the booklet, but also to read the credits so I could know more about who arranged or mixed a particular track. Beyond the feeling of owning a tangible piece of music, there was something about reading through an album’s credits that served as a simple, yet effective reminder: that people – engineers, instrumentalists, vocalists, producers – created the art I enjoyed.

In today’s world of endless, a la carte streaming catalogs, we’ve reduced all of this to a cold technological term: metadata. Our music listening behaviors have shifted and evolved with time; when we browse Apple Music or Spotify, we’re inclined to simply search for a song or an album and hit play before we return to another app or game on our phones. A streaming service isn’t necessarily a place where we want to spend time learning more about music: it’s just a convenient, neatly designed delivery mechanism. The intentionality of sitting down to enjoy an artist’s creation has been lost to the allure of content and effortless consumption. Don’t get me wrong: I love the comfort of music streaming services, and I’m a happy Apple Music subscriber; but this is also why, for well over a year now, I’ve been rebuilding a personal music collection I can enjoy with a completely offline high-res music player.

Whether by design or as a byproduct of our new habits, metadata and credits don’t play a big role in modern music streaming services. We’re frustrated when a service gets the title of a song wrong or reports the incorrect track sequence in an album, but we don’t consider the fact that there’s a world of context and additional information hidden behind the songs and albums we listen to every day. That context is entirely invisible to us because it’s not mass-market enough for a music streaming service. There have been small updates on this front lately1, but by and large, credits and additional track information are still very much ignored by the streaming industry. And if you ask me, that’s a shame.

This is why I instantly fell in love with MusicSmart, the latest utility by Marcos Antonio Tanaka, developer of MusicHarbor (another favorite music app of mine). MusicSmart, which is a $1.99 paid upfront utility, revolves around a single feature: showing you credits and additional details for albums and songs available in your local music library or Apple Music’s online catalog.

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iA Writer 5.5

iA Writer, my favorite text editor for all Apple platforms (which I still use as the central piece of my Markdown collaboration workflow via GitHub), has been updated today to version 5.5 both on Mac and iOS/iPadOS. I’ve been testing this version for quite some time (it’s the update I originally mentioned in my Modular Computer story back in April), and there are some fantastic details worth pointing out.

On iPad, the app can now be fully controlled with the trackpad. Besides obvious support for clicking toolbar buttons and other elements in the app’s UI, trackpad support includes the ability to swipe horizontally with two fingers to show/dismiss the Library sidebar (which I do all the time now) and – my favorite touch – support for clicking a document’s name in the title bar to rename it. I’m so used to these two new pointer features in iA Writer 5.5, I wish more iPad apps adopted them.

Version 5.5 also brings support for highlighting text inside a document by surrounding it with two equal signs – e.g. ==like this==. Highlighted text will turn yellow, and it’s impossible to miss. When I used Scrivener to write one of my iOS reviews years ago, the ability to highlight text in the editor was one of my favorite options to mark specific passages for review; with iA Writer 5.5, I can now highlight text and have a clear visual indication without giving up on the Markdown syntax. Even better: there’s a new ⌘⌥= keyboard shortcut to toggle highlighted text.

Among a variety of other updates (you can read more about them on the developers’ blog), iA Writer 5.5 also comes with a powerful PDF preview (which supports custom templates, so I can export my drafts as PDFs that look like the MacStories website) and the ability to show multiple stats in the editor at once. Thanks to the latter option, I can now see my word and open task count at once while I’m editing a story.

I’ve been using iA Writer as my only text editor for two years now, and I’m continuously impressed by the thoughtfulness and attention to modern iOS/iPadOS technologies that goes into the app. You can get iA Writer 5.5 on the App Store and read more about my writing setup based on iA Writer, Markdown, and file bookmarks here.

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A Shortcuts Wishlist

I wish I could quote a single section of Jordan Merrick’s Shortcuts wishlist, but I can’t because I agree with all of it. If you’re a heavy Shortcuts user, you’ve likely come across at least a couple of the limitations Merrick points out (lack of folders and struggling to navigate long shortcuts).

As we look ahead at WWDC 2020, it’s also a good time to link back to my What’s Still Missing from Shortcuts section from the iOS and iPadOS 13 review. Hopefully, a few items will be checked off this list in iOS 14.

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Connected, Episode 291: The Scrooge McDuck of Computers

On this week’s episode of Connected:

Myke and Federico share their impressions of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro and Stephen reveals the number of items in his collection and the group announces The Hackett Number — the computers-per-capita figure for Stephen’s household.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

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01:39:39

Connected, Episode 291

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Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro: A New Breed of Laptop

The Magic Keyboard and my iPad Pro, featuring the iVisor matte screen protector.

The Magic Keyboard and my iPad Pro, featuring the iVisor matte screen protector.

Following the surprise early release of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, I’ve been waiting to get my hands on Apple’s highly anticipated accessory and evaluate it from the perspective of someone who uses the iPad Pro as a tablet, laptop, and desktop workstation.

I received the Magic Keyboard for my 12.9” iPad Pro yesterday afternoon; fortunately, I was able to order one in the US English keyboard layout from the Italian Apple Store last week, and the keyboard arrived three days ahead of its original scheduled delivery date. Obviously, less than a day of usage isn’t enough time to provide you with a comprehensive review; however, given that plenty of iPad users are still waiting for their Magic Keyboards to arrive, I thought it’d be useful to share some first impressions and thoughts based on my initial 24 hours with the keyboard.

Let’s dive in.

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Adapt, Episode 23: Modular Computing and iPad Sizes

On this week’s episode of Adapt:

Federico and Ryan discuss using the iPad Pro as a modular computer, and the pros and cons of the 12.9-inch and 11-inch models in different setups. Afterwards, a Keynote presentation about, to the surprise of no one, the iPad.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here), and don’t forget to send us questions using #AskAdapt and by tagging our Twitter account.

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Adapt, Episode 23

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Connected, Episode 290: You Strike Me as a Wheel Guy

On this week’s episode of Connected:

Federico rejects a new iPhone charging solution, Myke opens a new store and Stephen passes a collection basket to add a set of wheels to his Mac Pro. Then, the three talk about the new iPhone SE.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

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01:21:45

Connected, Episode 290

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Connected, Episode 289: Let Me Remember My Opinion

On this week’s episode of Connected:

This week, Myke talks about a sell on Cinema Displays, then the guys move on discuss Federico’s recent iPad article on modularity, the possibilities of widgets in iOS 14 and Stephen’s Mac Madness winner and picks.

You can listen below (and find the show notes here).

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01:26:18

Connected, Episode 289

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