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Posts tagged with "mac"

Mimestream: The Perfect Email App for Gmail Users on the Mac

I’m going to straight-up spoil this review for you at the top. If you primarily use Gmail and work on a Mac, you should try Mimestream now. It offers the core Gmail experience wrapped in a thoughtfully designed native Mac app. If you spend a lot of time on other devices or have non-Gmail accounts, the call is tougher, but that’s exactly my situation, and I think Mimestream is still the best Mac email choice for most people. Here’s why.

I have four primary email accounts. Two are work-related, and two are personal. All but my iCloud email are connected to Gmail, which makes me a pretty strong candidate for Mimestream, which launched this week after a couple years in beta.

I’ve been using Mimestream on and off for over a year, returning to it in late January after briefly trying Missive. What drew me back to Mimestream was the app’s native design, tight integration with Gmail, and open roadmap. The app doesn’t have everything I want from an email client. However, because I handle most of my email on the Mac and most of what I’d like to see Mimestream incorporate is planned or under consideration for future updates, it’s become how I manage most of my email.

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Raycast Introduces a Pro Subscription with New AI, Sync, Theming, and Clipboard Functionality

Raycast, the keyboard-driven launcher for the Mac, introduced a new subscription service today called Raycast Pro that adds AI, syncing, templating, and extended clipboard functionality to the app.

Raycast Pro, which is $8 per month when billed annually and is also included in Team plans, includes three artificial intelligence features:

  • Quick AI, which is meant to provide one-off answers that can be copied and pasted into whatever you’re working on
  • AI Chat, a chatbot window that floats onscreen, allowing for back-and-forth interaction
  • AI Commands, which include built-in commands for things like spelling and grammar checking, along with customizable commands

According to Raycast’s FAQs, the app uses OpenAI’s GPT 3 and GPT 3.5-Turbo large language models “as well as some other models” for their AI features and does not offer an option to use your own OpenAI API key.

If you use Raycast on multiple Macs, a Pro subscription will allow you to flip a toggle to sync items like Extensions, Quicklinks, Snippets, and Hotkeys. Subscribers can customize Raycast with themes and build their own sharable themes in the app’s Theme Studio too. Finally, a subscription adds an unlimited clipboard history that is stored locally on your Mac and not synced as part of the app’s new sync features for security reasons. Free users are limited to a maximum of three months of clipboard history.

For anyone who relies heavily on AI for their work or has complex Raycast setups that they find hard to maintain across multiple Macs, a Raycast Pro subscription should be attractive. For everyone else, you can still take advantage of the free features, which haven’t changed. I’ve relied on Raycast for more than a year now and don’t need the Pro features myself, but I’m glad to see Raycast expanding its offerings and ways users can support the app’s continued development.

Automation April: Mac Outliner Bike Adds Shortcuts Support

Last spring, I reviewed Bike, Jesse Grosjean of Hog Bay Software’s excellent outlining app for the Mac. The app’s simple, elegant design keeps the focus on the outline you’re creating, while its rich, keyboard-driven set of features enable ideas to be organized quickly and efficiently. Advanced features, like versioning, linking and grouping rows, and a long list of ways to view, navigate and edit your outlines, make Bike one of the best ways to create outlines on the Mac.

Bike has 14 Shortcuts actions.

Bike has 14 Shortcuts actions.

Bike’s focus on efficiency and extensive support for keyboard shortcuts and AppleScript make it the perfect candidate for Shortcuts support, which was added to the app today. Version 1.11 of Bike adds 14 Shortcuts actions to the app:

  • Create Outline
  • Open Outline
  • Open Row
  • Get Rows
  • Fold Rows
  • Focus Row
  • Edit Rows
  • Import Rows
  • Export Rows
  • Find Rows
  • Create Row
  • Delete Rows
  • Move Rows
  • Get Selection

The actions cover a lot of the functionality of Bike with a focus on outlines, text and row selections, and rows. Outlines can be created from scratch or existing ones opened, and Get Selection returns any selected text and its outline row.

Exporting all rows as plain text.

Exporting all rows as plain text.

The remainder of Bike’s Shortcuts actions apply to rows, the building blocks of outlines. Rows can be opened in-app or retrieved in a variety of ways, such as by their root, row ID, focus, selection, ancestor rows, child rows, and descendant rows by using the Get Rows action. There’s also a Find Rows action that uses predicate filtering to allow rows matching multiple criteria to be located and sorted. Rows can be imported and exported in Bike, OPML, and plain text formats too.

Rows can also be created, edited, deleted, and moved within an outline with precision, thanks to a detailed set of action parameters. Actions for focusing on particular rows and folding and unfolding rows round out the available actions by allowing users to use Shortcuts to prepare their outline work environment automatically.

I’ve only just begun experimenting with Bike’s new Shortcuts integration, but it’s clear that thanks to extensive parameter and predicate filtering, the automation opportunities are extensive. Especially if you work with big outlines that require frequent, repetitive edits, Bike’s new Shortcuts integration could save you a lot of time.

Bike 1.11 is available on the App Store and directly from Hog Bay Software as a free download. Some features, including Shortcuts support, require a $2.99/month or $19.99/year subscription from the App Store or a one-time license purchase directly from Hog Bay Software, which comes with one year of updates.

You can also follow MacStories’ Automation April coverage through our dedicated hub, or subscribe to its RSS feed.

S-GPT 1.0.2 Brings Date and Time Awareness, Integration with macOS Services Menu, Passthrough Mode, Better HomePod Support, and More

S-GPT 1.0.2.

S-GPT 1.0.2.

I just published version 1.0.2 of S-GPT, the shortcut I released last week to have conversations with OpenAI’s ChatGPT and integrate it directly with native features of Apple’s OSes. You can find the updated download link at the end of this post, in the original article, and in the MacStories Shortcuts Archive; before you replace version 1.0.1 of S-GPT, save your existing OpenAI API key somewhere as you’ll have to paste it again in the shortcut later.

I’m going to include the full changelog for S-GPT 1.0.2 below, but long story short: S-GPT is now aware of the current date and time, and I’ve heard all the requests about improving interactions with the HomePod and Siri, so I made that part much better. S-GPT can now perform a variety of date/time calculations with natural language, and you can end a conversation by saying “no” or “stop”.

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Automation April: The Loupedeck Live S Is a More Portable and Affordable Automation Control Panel for the Mac

In 2021, I reviewed the Loupedeck Live, a programmable control panel for the Mac and Windows PCs for Club MacStories members as part of my Macintosh Desktop Experience column. It’s an excellent device, but its price put it at a disadvantage to a similarly-sized Elgato Stream Deck despite several other advantages that I explained in the review.

Last year, Loupedeck released the Loupedeck Live S, a smaller, more affordable Loupedeck that retains the core experience of the Loupedeck Live, but dispenses with a handful of physical buttons and dials. The new device retails for $189 compared to the Loupedeck Live, which is $269. That’s still $40 more than the 15-button Stream Deck MK.2, but a significantly narrower difference for a device that offers a wider range of functionality, making it worth another look if you were put off by the Loupedeck Live’s price.

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The Mac and iPad Pro Are on a Collision Course

Jason Snell, in an excellent column for Macworld:

Sometimes I look back at all the effort Apple has made with the iPad Pro and wonder if it was worth it. All the additions of Mac-ish features have added complexity that’s probably lost on most users of iPadOS, and the power users for whom they were intended are probably well aware of all the ways they don’t really match up the Mac features they’re duplicating.

I want to see what happens when the walls come down. Today’s iPad Pro is powered by the same chip that’s in the MacBook Air. Would it be such a cataclysm if I could simply reboot that iPad into macOS or run macOS inside a virtual machine?

Likewise, what if the Mac had a touchscreen and Apple Pencil support and came in shapes that weren’t the traditional laptop? What if the Mac began to offer the ergonomic flexibility that iPadOS is so good at? What if I ripped the keyboard off a MacBook and had the option to switch to a touch-based mode that was essentially iPadOS?

I love this story, which I recommend reading in its entirety, because it feels as if Jason stared directly into my soul and wrote about something I’ve been feeling for the past several months.

From my perspective, Stage Manager’s failure to reinvent multitasking and iPadOS’ perennial lack of pro features (Jason mentions a proper audio subsystem in his story, and I agree; I wrote this four years ago, and nothing has improved) were the final straw that convinced me to start looking elsewhere for a convertible computer in my life. I could buy a MacBook Air, but I don’t want to be stuck with a laptop that doesn’t have a touchscreen and whose keyboard you can’t detach.

I fear that I’m going to have to wait a couple of years for the Apple computer I want to exist, and I’m not sure anymore that iPadOS can evolve in meaningful ways in the meantime.


Microsoft Outlook for Mac Is Now Free to Use

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that Outlook, its email and calendar app, is now free on the Mac App Store and doesn’t require a Microsoft 365 subscription, which has been the case for a long time on iOS and iPadOS.

That’s great news for Mac users. Outlook has been optimized for Apple silicon Macs and supports iCloud, Gmail, Outlook, IMAP, and other email systems. And, because it’s native, Outlook supports features like widgets, Handoff between devices logged into the same Apple ID, and rich notifications, plus it includes a menu bar app for quickly checking your calendar. In its announcement, Microsoft also said it is working on support for Focus modes through an Outlook feature called Profiles.

Source: Microsoft.

Source: Microsoft.

Microsoft’s move came as something of a surprise and in the midst of rebuilding the Windows version of Outlook. The company is also experimenting with a progressive web app version of the app but told The Verge that it is committed to native apps on Apple’s platforms.

Microsoft Outlook is available to download free on the Mac App Store.


The Best Mac Gaming Experience Is a PC Sitting in a Dallas Data Center

I’ve seen the future of Mac gaming, and it’s not Metal 3 or Apple silicon. It’s a PC sitting in a Dallas data center with an NVIDIA 4080 GPU. That’s the data center my Mac connects to when I log into GeForce NOW Ultimate, the top tier of NVIDIA’s videogame streaming service. NVIDIA has data centers like it across the US and in Europe, streaming the latest, most demanding titles to a wide range of devices, including the Mac.

GeForce NOW is a technological marvel that turns traditional computing expectations on their head, offering Mac users a world where your Internet connection and display are more important than the computing power of the device on which a game is played. For Mac users, GeForce NOW is an opportunity to finally play the most advanced games available on the computer they love, which is exciting. However, for Apple, which has begun to market Macs as capable of playing modern games, GeForce NOW and services like it may end its AAA gaming ambitions before they leave the gate.

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Primate Labs Updates Geekbench on All Platforms

Yesterday, Primate Labs released Geekbench 6, the suite of benchmarking tools for Apple and other vendors’ hardware. According to the company:

Geekbench tests have always been grounded in real-world use cases and use modern. With Geekbench 6, we’ve taken this to the next level by updating existing workloads and designing several new workloads, including workloads that:

  • Blur backgrounds in video conferencing streams
  • Filter and adjust images for social media sites
  • Automatically remove unwanted objects from photos
  • Detect and tag objects in photos using machine learning models
  • Analyse, process, and convert text using scripting languages

In addition to updating benchmark workflows, Primate Labs says Geekbench includes modern file types and file sizes that reflect current computing tasks on Macs, iPhones, iPads, and other devices. The company also changed its multi-core benchmark to include tasks that span multiple cores to align the tests with how modern devices typically tackle a job.

My time with the new benchmark apps has been limited, but running them on my Mac and iPhone went smoothly. It’s worth noting that the apps are significantly larger, and it take longer than before due to the changes made to the underlying benchmark tests. However, it’s great to see Primate Labs working to make its tests reflect modern usage patterns and hardware.

Geekbench 6 for Mac is available as a direct download from Primate Labs. The iOS and iPadOS versions of the app are available on the App Store.