I think in outlines. I suppose that’s because it's what I was trained to do. You see, when I was in law school, we would make elaborate outlines of the subjects we studied to prepare for exams. So over time, I developed a knack for breaking down topics into their component ideas and imposing a hierarchy on them. Nowadays, I still make outlines, but they are usually simple ones that I create while taking notes or brainstorming ideas. I discovered OutlineEdit from Robin Schnaidt recently, and it immediately stuck with me. The speed with which I can get ideas out of my head, into an outline, and then move them around has made it a go-to tool when I’m working on my Mac.
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Hazel is one of the first utilities that I install when I get a new Mac. Judging from the Noodlesoft forums, there are many people who use Hazel far more heavily than I do, but it is no less important to my Mac setup. By automating what would otherwise be repetitive file management tasks, Hazel helps keep me focused on more important tasks. Today, Hazel 4 was released with new features and refinements that bring new power and convenience to an already exceptional app.
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.
I audibly gasped when I spotted Colordot on Product Hunt, but not because it is a revolutionary app that should be shouted about from the mountain tops. Rather, I had the reaction because I saw an app with a concept I had never seen before and a tool that was unique.
Developer Hailpixel describes Colordot as an app for "anyone who loves color" – which is justified by the fact that the app's only purpose is to fiddle around with color. Essentially, Colordot is a color selection tool for the rest of us; through some simple gestures, you'll create one or more colors, get its hex triplet, and assign it to a palette.
Emoji can be hard to find from the iOS system keyboard. Although they have official names, emoji aren't accessible by those names from Apple's keyboard. Instead, if an emoji isn't in your frequently used, you are left with the task of remembering or guessing which category it falls into to find it. The trouble is, the groupings aren't that intuitive. Here's a test: Which category is sunglasses in? Objects or People?1Emojinn is a useful little utility that makes it easier to find the emoji you want without memorizing where they are.
Gifstory makes capturing your own GIFs easy by imposing constraints. One of the difficulties with GIFs is that there are lots of variables that impact how big they are and how good they look. I like GIF Brewery on the Mac, but it is easy to get caught up in tweaking those variables endlessly, trying to get a GIF that looks perfect. Gifstory, which is iPhone-only, eliminates the fiddling by imposing limits that work. Point your camera at something, press and hold the capture button, and you can capture a 320 × 426 or 320 x 320 GIF up to sixty frames long.
When Apple Music debuted last summer I switched to it from Spotify. I wasn’t on Spotify all that long, but I did have a few playlists I wanted to take with me, including a big one with all the songs I had favorited. At the time, I found a script that logged into both services, tried to match the songs, and replicate the playlists on Apple Music. It worked reasonably well, but not great. SongShift automates that process. In my tests, SongShift did a solid job matching songs between Spotify and Apple Music, but because it is an import utility and not a sync service, it is a little cumbersome to use as a way to keep up with playlists you follow on Spotify that are frequently updated.
There's not a lot of good that can be said of the Apple Watch app experience. Although the platform looked promising after the release of watchOS 2, Watch apps haven't caught on in the way Apple Watch wearers may have liked. While some have tried to attack the problem through unique games or productivity apps, the majority of the offerings have been slow to load and difficult to use.
But, for just a second, throw all of that out and consider Break this Safe – it's only for the Apple Watch, using the Digital Crown and haptic feedback for its gameplay. It offers a unique gameplay experience and, despite the Apple Watch's slow loading times, is engaging enough to keep you playing.
Screens for iOS is a great example of an iOS app that has been at the top of its category for years and stayed there by not standing still. Longtime readers of MacStories will know that Screens has been a favorite from the earliest days of the site when Federico declared that:
Screens by Edovia has become the best VNC app I've ever run on my iPhone and iPad.
That’s as true today as it was in 2010, but with today’s release of Screens 4, connecting remotely to Macs, Windows PCs, and Linux PCs from an iOS device has never been more convenient and fast.