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Posts in mac

Beamer 3 Launches with New User Interface, Google Chromecast Support

Following a two month public beta period, Beamer 3 was released earlier this month. Beamer, a favorite of the MacStories team, is a Mac app that allows you to easily stream video (in almost any format) to your Apple TV via AirPlay. In Beamer 3, streaming support has expanded beyond AirPlay and it can now stream to Google Chromecast.

The user interface has also been redesigned in Beamer 3, and now fits in better with OS X Yosemite and El Capitan. The new UI isn't just prettier, it's also more useful because it provides easier access to audio track and subtitle controls. Another new feature enables you to skip to the next video in your Beamer queue by double clicking the play button the Apple Remote. All of the new features are listed here.

Beamer 3 is available for $19.99 for new customers, and existing Beamer customers can "pay what you want" to upgrade to Beamer 3. Beamer 3 requires OS X Yosemite or El Capitan.

PDF Expert for Mac: A Better Preview for PDFs

PDF Expert has been an indispensable app for my iPad for almost as long as I can remember (I'm fairly certain it was one of the first apps I bought when I got my iPad). It's a fantastic app on iOS because it enables me to not only read, annotate, and add comments to PDFs, but it also gives me a cloud-based 'Finder' of sorts – enabling me to browse my Dropbox and OneDrive files and sync them to my iPad.

Given my longstanding appreciation for Readdle's PDF Expert on iOS, I was pretty keen to try out the Mac version of PDF Expert, which launched late last week. But it must be said, I was sceptical of the value it would bring to the table, because unlike iOS, OS X has the Finder, and cloud services like Dropbox and OneDrive already sync files locally. But most significantly, Preview on the Mac is a fantastic Swiss Army knife for viewing documents and already does a pretty great job at viewing PDF documents, annotating them, adding comments, and even performing some basic page re-organization functions.

But despite my scepticism I was pleased to discover that for those of you who deal with PDFs regularly (myself included), you'll find value in what Readdle has developed in PDF Expert. Rather than a traditional, wide-ranging, review, I've decided to focus on three key features which make PDF Expert worth the money – features that ultimately convinced me to turn my free trial into a purchase.

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Bartender 2 Arrives with New Features and Full El Capitan Compatibility

Version 2 of Bartender is now available. If you have been running the El Capitan betas, you know that version 1 required you to temporarily disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) in order to install its system file. Version 2 does not need you to perform those steps. It is fully El Capitan-compatible right “out of the box.”

Other version 2 changes include:

  • With Bartender 2 you can now keyboard navigate all menu items both in the menu bar and the Bartender Bar, simply arrow through them and press return to select.
  • You can now search the Bartender Bar for menu items, allowing you quick access to a menu item without looking for it. Simply display the Bartender Bar and start typing, then press enter to select the menu item.
  • A key part of Bartender 2 has been rewriting the internals to enable new features and to allow Bartender to work with System Integrity Protection in OS X El Capitan. As always we continue to improve Bartender’s performance and reduce energy usage.
  • If you want a really clean look and privacy, Bartender’s own icon can also be hidden.

I'm not sure if that last one is new, but it’s new to me. With Bartender’s menu bar item hidden, you can still access the app using a keyboard shortcut. Then, just keep typing the name of the menu bar item you are looking for, or navigate with the arrows. That’s pretty cool.

This is a great update which brings some great new features. Dealing with SIP was a big hurdle, but I’m glad to have a fully armed and operational Bartender back on my Mac.

There's a free, four week trial available from the Bartender website. After that it’s $15 for new customers, or $7.50 to upgrade.

My advice? Just buy it now.

Beamer 3 Public Beta Available Today: Features Chromecast Support and a New User Interface

Beamer, a favorite Mac app of the MacStories team, is today launching a public beta of their third major release. For those unfamiliar with the app, Beamer is a Mac app that enables you to easily stream video (in almost any format) to your Apple TV via AirPlay.

The tentpole new feature of Beamer 3 is that it can now stream videos to Google Chromecast. Beamer 3 also has a redesigned interface that looks better on OS X Yosemite and has improved functionality, making it easier to access key options such as audio tracks and subtitles. You can also skip to the next video in your Beamer queue by double clicking the play button the Apple Remote. Beamer's developer also plans to implement further improvements during the beta period.

Beamer 3 is a free upgrade for existing Beamer 2 customers. During the beta period, new customers can purchase Beamer 3 for $15, discounted from the standard price of $19.99.

Elegant Image Watermarking and Resizing with Watermarker 2

I'm a bit behind in mentioning it, but Watermarker 2 is out. This Mac app from developer (and former MacStories writer) Don Southard lets you quickly resize and add professional watermarks to batches of photos. It's a great-looking app that elegantly accomplishes its goal.

You can use custom text, import your own logo or image, and apply a customizable strike-through "X" over an image (all with adjustable transparency). You can also add pixelation to an image to obscure parts of it, and annotate images with additional shapes.

Watermarker 2 offers powerful batch photo manipulation features such as renaming groups of files based on patterns and resizing using pixel or percentage constraints.

You can save your watermark settings as presets, and apply them to batches in the future with a couple of clicks. There's even an Action Extension for sending images from other apps to Watermarker, and a Share Sheet for sending watermarked images to others.

Watermarker 2 Action Extension

Watermarker 2 Action Extension

Watermarker 2 is available for $14.99, both on the Mac App Store and through direct purchase (with a free trial available).

Instant Hosted Web Pages From Markdown With Loose Leaves

Loose Leaves is a handy (free) utility for OS X that takes selected Markdown text from almost any app and instantly creates a web page on the secure Loose Leaves server that you can link to and share.

Loose Leaves is available anywhere, and just a hotkey away in any app. If you've ever needed to share more than 140 characters, link long text in Trello or Slack, or just effortlessly share an idea from your notes, this is a handy tool to have.


Acorn 5: Shape Generators, PDF Import, and More

I've been an Acorn user for years now. I first started using it as my primary photo editing tool because I could open, edit, and export a perfectly-optimized web image before Photoshop had finished bouncing in the Dock. Photoshop has improved its launch time in recent versions, but Acorn has stepped up its game, too.

Acorn 5 came out this week, and it adds some powerful new features. Notably, it adds tools for vector manipulation and generation, as well as additional bezier and vector tools, PDF Import, snapping to grids, guides, other shapes, and more.

If you're a Photoshop user looking for an alternative, Acorn has the tools you're used to: dodge and burn, hue and curve adjustments, custom selection editing, and everything you need to do advanced photo editing. Acorn 5 can even import Photoshop brushes. Given the wide diversity of custom brushes available on the net, this opens up a lot of possibilities.

Version 5 also adds additional non-destructive filters and adjustments for both raster and vector layers, and the new Shape generators and processors are stackable and non-destructive as well. The layer adjustments are stored in the native Acorn file format, so you can always access and update them.

Acorn still has all of the great tools from version 4, including professional photo editing tools, Smart Layer Export for automatic 1x and 2x images, and the best compression on exported PNGs you're likely to find.

Acorn 5 is $24.99 US on the Mac App Store (also available for direct purchase, with a few small differences). Check out the website for more info, and read the release notes for a mind-boggling list of all of the new features.

Photoflow: An Instagram Client for the Mac

I've been using Instagram (shameless plug) almost since day one, and although I don't post to it that frequently, I do look at my feed on a daily basis. For the most part I've always used the official Instagram client, except for a brief period when I also used Flow, an iPad Instagram app. Until this week, I'd never tried an Instagram client for the Mac, which is what Photoflow is.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Photoflow includes virtually every single feature that the official Instagram app has. Of course there is one giant exception; you cannot post images to Instagram from Photoflow. But that's a restriction that Instagram has imposed on all third party apps, it's not a failure of Photoflow. But almost everything else, whether it be liking images (but not commenting), interactive hashtags, featured images, viewing profiles or searching nearby locations is available in Photoflow. It also supports easy account switching and can send you notifications for new images, comments, likes and followers.

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Browser Fairy Overcomes Browser Commitment Phobia

Browser Fairy allows you to set different browsers to open different links, rather than having to use the same browser for everything.

If this sounds familiar, you might be remembering Choosy, which worked as a Preference Pane and did a very similar thing. I have written about Choosy on several occasions, and MacStories covered it back in 2009! However, Choosy has not been updated in a long time, and I have happily moved to Browser Fairy, if for no other reason than its ability to import/export its own settings, so I can move those settings between Macs and back them up.

I generally use Safari as my web browser, but I make two exceptions: I use Google Chrome for any Google-related sites, and I use a Facebook-specific Fluid browser for anything related to Facebook, which I do to prevent Facebook from tracking what I do on other websites. (I started doing this before I started using Ghostery.)

This is especially important if you are trying to maximize battery life on a laptop, where Safari is far superior to Google Chrome (“Using Safari full time is like getting a new battery. Not even kidding.” — @bradleychambers), but need/want to use Chrome for some websites.

Bonus Tip: If you are looking at a website in Safari and need/want to quickly open it in Chrome (for example, if you come across a page that, for some inexplicable reason, still uses Flash), Bradley Chambers has an Alfred workflow to open the current Safari URL in Chrome. Browser Fairy also has browser extensions to send the current URL to another browser easily.

Browser Fairy ($5, Mac App Store) requires OS X 10.7 or later.

Thanks to Abby for first introducing me to Browser Fairy.