Yestereday, David Sparks and Brett Terpstra released a new MacSparky Field Guide called 60 Mac Tips, Volume 2. The new volume picks up where Volume 1 left off with lots of great tips that are accompanied by highly polished screencasts narrated by the two authors. Sparks, who also co-hosts Mac Power Users on Relay FM with Katie Floyd, and Terpstra, an independent developer, author, and podcaster, have packed 60 Mac Tips with a wide range of topics that should appeal to beginners and experts alike including, Mail, Automator, Safari, Siri, Apple Notes, Apple Photos, Terminal, and much more.
60 Mac Tips, Volume 2 is available as an iBook on the iBook Store or from Vimeo as a series of downloadable videos. Both versions include high definition video, but I like the iBook version the best because it creates a convenient organizational structure around the videos.
Just ahead of the macOS High Sierra update, Bjango released iStats Menus 6, an update to its comprehensive suite of tools that sit in your Mac’s menu bar and monitor its systems and now, even the weather. With highly customizable notifications, iStat Menus is an excellent way to know what’s going on with your Mac and to be alerted if a problem is on the horizon. I’ve only been trying iStat Menus 6 for a short time, but like what I’ve seen.
Adding a weather widget to iStat Menus is a departure for Bjango, which has previously stuck to system measurements, but I like it a lot. iStat Menus puts the temperature and an icon of current conditions in your menu bar. Clicking on the temperature reveals a wealth of additional information that will warm any weather geek’s heart and help everyone else plan their week.
Notifications are highly customizable too. If there’s a statistic reported by iStat Menus, you can bet there’s a way to be notified of it. Already this morning it warned me of an air quality advisory issued for the unseasonably warm fall day we’re having in Chicago. I’ve also set it up to alert me if I run low on available storage and RAM.
iStat Menus has added a wide variety of additional features too including,
- Additional theme and color options with light and dark menu options.
- Hotkey support for opening and closing menus from the keyboard.
- A new dual line clock option.
- New ways to customize the menu items and their dropdowns.
- A new Notification Center widget with the most popular statistics in one place.
- Improved accessibility and localization.
People familiar with iStat Menus will be right at home with this new version. There are dozens of refinements and new features, but the mission of the app remains the same: to provide a wealth of information in a compact, cleanly-designed interface that keeps users informed. I’ve enjoyed tweaking iStats Menus' settings today to suit my current setup as I test its new features. I’ve used the app on and off since version 2 or 3, but it’s been at least a couple of years since I last used it. I’m impressed with how far it’s come over the past couple of versions and plan to keep it up and running going forward.
iStat Menus 6 is available from Bjango’s website.
Since Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was released in 2007, Apple has periodically paused to release updates to what is now known as macOS that are more a refinement of their predecessors than major upgrades. Apple signals each refinement release by picking a name that relates to the one immediately before it. In 2009, that meant Leopard was followed by Snow Leopard; in 2012, Mountain Lion followed Lion. It’s been a while, and Apple has moved from big cats to California landmarks and adopted the macOS moniker, but the company is back with another operating system update that predominantly focuses on under-the-hood features by following last year’s macOS 10.12 Sierra with macOS 10.13 High Sierra.
For a foundational release, High Sierra goes about as low as you can go by introducing an entirely new filesystem for the first time in almost twenty years. Apple File System, also known as APFS, is a modern filesystem developed by Apple to accommodate the needs of each of its platforms in ways that HFS+ couldn’t manage. If there’s a theme to each of the core technologies introduced with High Sierra, it’s laying the groundwork for the future across Apple’s product line. New video compression technology, Metal 2, and VR are all part of a new bedrock being laid to prepare for the future.
That’s not to say that there are no goodies in High Sierra though. Photos has received several new features, and although not individually as significant, changes to Mail, Notes, Safari, Siri, Spotlight, and other apps all add up to a solid collection of refinements that make the Mac more efficient than before. Even so, High Sierra won’t be remembered for revolutionary user-facing features. Instead, along with new iMac Pros and Mac Pros on the horizon, it shows that Apple still cares about the Mac, but is also taking a broader view, building the infrastructure for the next chapter in computing across all of its present and future products.
Today, Apple announced on its website that the official release date of macOS High Sierra will be September 25th.
As detailed at WWDC in June, macOS High Sierra features the introduction of several significant new and updated under-the-hood technologies including APFS, macOS’s new file system, Metal 2, which harnesses the power of your Mac’s GPU, and HEVC video compression. High Sierra also adds new features and refinements to existing apps like Mail, Photos, Notes, Safari, Siri, and more.
Apple hasn't announced a Golden Master seed of macOS High Sierra yet, but it should be released to developers soon. The GM seed gives developers a chance to finalize their macOS apps and submit them to the Mac App Store for approval before High Sierra is released publicly.
You can also follow all of our Apple event coverage through our September 12 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated September 12 RSS feed.
Today marks the 4th annual World Emoji Day, which was started by Emojipedia to celebrate emoji. To mark the occasion, Apple has previewed its designs of the emoji approved as part of the Unicode 10 Standard that will be added to iOS, macOS, and watchOS later this year.
In addition, the Apple Podcasts Twitter account is tweeting emojified versions of the names of popular podcasts and iTunes Movies is featuring emojified movie titles.
For more on World Emoji Day and how it's being celebrated, check out its official website.
Over the weekend, the Internet Archive introduced a curated collection of Mac operating systems and software from 1984 through 1989. The Internet Archive already hosts browser-based emulators of early video games and other operating systems, but this is its first foray into Mac software.
The collection includes classic applications like MacPaint, programming tools such as MacBasic, and many games including Dark Castle. Each app can be run in an in-browser emulator and is accompanied by an article that chronicles its history. It’s fun to play with the apps in the collection and realize just how far apps have come since the earliest days of the Mac. It’s also remarkable how many computing conventions used today were introduced during those earliest days.
I’m happy to see the Internet Archive start this collection. These operating systems and historically-significant apps may still run on old hardware maintained by a handful of people, but it’s emulation efforts like these that make those apps accessible to a broader audience.
Today, Apple released updates to watchOS and macOS Sierra. The two updates are predominantly maintenance releases, but there are a handful of user-facing highlights between the two.
watchOS 3.2 adds Theater Mode. According to the beta release notes published on Apple’s developer site, Theater Mode lets users mute their Watch and disable raise-to-wake. Theater Mode is accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the Apple Watch’s screen. While the feature is engaged, notifications are silent, but you still receive haptic feedback when a notification is received and can view a notification by pressing the Digital Crown.
The watchOS update also adds SiriKit support for the following types of activities:
- Ride booking
- Searching photos
SiriKit was originally rolled out as part of iOS 10 last fall.
The primary user-facing change to macOS Sierra 10.12.4 is the addition of Night Shift. As with iOS, Night Shift on the Mac changes the color of your display to reduce blue light, giving your screen a warmer, slightly orange cast.
There are a couple ways to turn on Night Shift on a Mac. One way is to use Siri to toggle the feature on and off. If you want more control over Night Shift though, the feature is available in System Preferences under Displays. Night Shift occupies its own tab in the Displays preference pane, from which you can turn it on and off manually or set a schedule to activate Night Shift automatically. Schedules include the ability to create a custom schedule or turn it on at sunset and off at sunrise. You can also dial in the exact color temperature that Night Shift uses with a slider.
In addition to Night Shift, Siri on the Mac now knows about cricket, including data from the Indian Premier League and International Cricket Council. macOS 10.12.4 also adds supports dictation for Shanghainese, updated PDFKit, which was a source of bugs for third-party PDF apps, and added Touch Bar support to the Mac App Store.
Today Apple introduced new betas for several of its operating systems. Among those is the first beta of macOS 10.12.4, which brings Night Shift to the Mac for the first time.
Night Shift is a feature that first came to iOS in version 9.3 last spring. At the time, Apple published an informational page about the iOS update that included the following description:
Many studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep. Night Shift uses your...device’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset in your location. Then it automatically shifts the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum, making it easier on your eyes. In the morning, it returns the display to its regular settings. Pleasant dreams.
The Sierra beta includes a toggle switch in Notification Center for quickly turning Night Shift on similar to the way you can turn Night Shift on from the Control Center on iOS. If Apple follows past practice, macOS 10.12.4 with Night Shift will likely be released to the public in early spring. For now, the beta is available only to members of Apple's developer program, though it is possible that a public beta may be released in the coming days.
You may remember Pastebot as an early iOS clipboard manager. That app is no longer available, but Tapbots has brought Pastebot back in the form of a macOS app. Pastebot for Mac can store up to 500 of your most recently copied items, including text, URLs, images, and files. The clips are stored chronologically with the most recent ones on top. That makes finding recent clips easy, but even older clips that are buried under recent items aren't hard to find thanks to Pastebot's smart search functionality. In addition, you can save frequently used clips to custom pasteboards and manipulate clips with filters.