THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

BetterTouchTool

Customize Your Input Devices


Posts tagged with "utility"

MacStories Starter Pack: Getting a Handle on Links By Treating Them Like Email

Editor’s Note: Getting a Handle on Links By Treating Them Like Email is part of the MacStories Starter Pack, a collection of ready-to-use shortcuts, apps, workflows, and more that we’ve created to help you get the most out of your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

I’ve had a link problem for a long time. Links accumulate everywhere: in Messages, mail clients, text files, Discord, Trello, research tools, and elsewhere else imaginable. If they weren’t digital, I’m sure I’d be tripping over links on my way to the kitchen for breakfast each morning.

Part of my problem is an occupational hazard. Links to apps, articles I may want to link on MacStories, images on our CDN, podcast episodes uploaded for publication, and materials from advertisers are just a small sampling of the links I deal with every day.

But links are part of everyone’s lives. Friends and family send us links to things to read, videos to watch, itineraries for trips, and a lot more. Companies send us links to things we buy online and deals we want to check out. Most of all, though, there are the many links we collect ourselves throughout our day. The Internet touches every aspect of our lives, which means links permeate every corner of our days, yet links are collected, organized, and processed haphazardly on an ad hoc basis by most of us.

Over the holidays, I sat down to think about links and how I deal with them. It didn’t take long to realize that thinking about links in the abstract is about as useful as thinking about email messages and tasks. The trouble is that links can represent almost anything from a short video that will take two minutes to watch to an expensive purchase that you will need hours to research. They vary widely in importance, the attention required to deal with them, and relevancy. As a result, it doesn’t do you much good to treat links without also considering what they represent.

Leaving links locked inside the app where you found them isn’t much use either. I’d never considered that links could benefit from a more structured processing approach like email or tasks, but having just reorganized my approach to email, I realized that they absolutely can. The trick is to keep the system lightweight and flexible and to be willing to delete most of your links to avoid clutter.

Read more


AirBuddy 2.5: A Refined Experience That Adds Shortcuts Integration and Other New Features

Today, Gui Rambo released version 2.5 of AirBuddy, his Mac menu bar app for connecting and managing wireless headphones and other devices. AirBuddy has come a long way from its origins as an app that simply connected AirPods and some Beats headphones with your Mac. The app still does that well, but as I wrote about AirBuddy 2.0, the app is a fantastic way to monitor the charge status of a wide variety of devices and hand their connections off from one Mac to another. With the latest version, the app’s core features are faster and more reliable, the UI has been refreshed with a Monterey-friendly design, and there are some excellent new features, too, so let’s dig in.

Read more


CARROT Weather 5.4: XL Widgets, Time Sensitive Notifications, Complication Customization, Themes, Icons, and More

Last week, Brian Mueller released CARROT Weather 5.4 alongside the iOS and iPadOS update. The update takes advantage of new iOS and iPadOS 15 features and continues to put more control in the hands of users with new customization options, themes, and icons.

CARROT Weather’s new XL widgets.

CARROT Weather’s new XL widgets.

CARROT Weather 5.4 takes advantage of the new XL widgets in iPadOS 15 and the time sensitive notifications on both platforms. On the iPad, CARROT Weather now offers XL Maps and Forecast widgets. The added space allows the XL Maps widget to show weather maps for a wide geographic area. For me here in the Chicago area, that means I can see weather conditions for a big chunk of Illinois as well as parts of Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, an area covering about 500 miles from east to west and 200 miles north and south.

The XL Forecast widget is big enough to include the:

  • Current conditions
  • High and low temperatures for the day
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Chance of precipitation
  • Sunrise or sunset times
  • Moon phase
  • An hourly forecast for the next 10 hours
  • A 7-day forecast

With just one widget, you’ve got all the information that most people want in one place without even opening CARROT Weather.

Read more


Sofa 3.0 Adds New Ways to Manage Your Media Lists Along With a New Business Model

Sofa 3.0, an app that I last reviewed in March, is out with loads of new ways to track, organize, and browse the media lists you create. The app also has a new subscription business model for its pro features.

Media recommendations come at us all from every angle, whether it’s friends and family or sources like reviews. You can save lists of books, movies, videogames, and other media you want to try in lots of ways. You could use an app like Apple’s Notes or Reminders, but they’re general-purpose apps that don’t address the specific needs related to media consumption. Plus, trying to track media in something like a task manager gets out of control and messy fast.

Another option is to turn to an app designed for a specific type of media, and there are many good options available on the App Store. The advantage Sofa has, is that it makes it just as easy to pick a book as a movie or something else when you’re deciding what media to try next. It’s a subtle but important distinction. With single-purpose apps, you need to decide what kind of media you want to consume and then turn to an app to pick something. Sofa dispenses with the first step allowing you to answer a broader question: “How do I want to spend my free time?” That a one-stop approach is one of Sofa’s greatest strengths and one that the app leans into hard with the latest excellent update.

Read more


CARROT Weather 5.3 Adds Smart Layouts and a Fun Weather Reports Feature

My nighttime Smart Layout.

My nighttime Smart Layout.

Apple Design Award winner CARROT Weather offers an unprecedented amount of user control over its interface, something which Federico and I recently discussed at length on AppStories and interviewed developer Brian Mueller about last month. The customization options that were introduced in January with version 5 of the app allow users to define the look and layout of multiple weather tiles along with the date presented by each. Since that UI overhaul in January, Mueller has continued to extend the customization system, most recently adding a preview system and other refinements to make it easier to experiment with and create different layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

My default, rain, and nighttime layouts.

With version 5.3 that was released today, Mueller has added Smart Layouts, allowing users to create different layouts for nighttime and when it’s going to rain. I like these new options a lot for a couple of reasons. The first is practical: if it’s nighttime, you probably don’t care about the day’s high temperature because it likely happened hours ago. Likewise, if it’s going to rain, a graph of when the rain is going to start and when it will be most intense is far more important to you than on a beautiful, sunny day.

Picking Smart Layouts.

Picking Smart Layouts.

With Smart Layouts, you can adjust your weather layouts for each circumstance. For example, I created a Smart Layout for nighttime based on the Siren template that emphasizes the current conditions followed by the hourly and daily forecasts. When rain is in the forecast, I’ve got a layout that moves a precipitation graph and radar view to the spots just below the current conditions. The changes I made were relatively minor but have made CARROT Weather more relevant as conditions change.

I also enjoy Smart Layouts because they’re another outlet for trying new layout templates and experimenting with setup options. The process is fun and adds an extra touch of personalization and variety that I enjoy. Smart Layouts require a Premium Club subscription to CARROT Weather.

The other headline feature of CARROT Weather’s update is Weather Reports, which lets you create 30-second weather report videos and share them. Whether you’re flexing from the beach on vacation or just want to complain about how hot it is to your friends, Weather Reports are a ton of fun. Videos are recorded with the front-facing camera, and CARROT Weather lends a hand by providing an overlay to help frame yourself. Videos can be scripted randomly by CARROT or unscripted, and you can even pick a funny weatherperson name if you’d like. If you pick a scripted video, the words scroll up the screen as you record yourself teleprompter-style. Here’s one I did from my backyard yesterday afternoon:

Weather Reports are a blast to create and will undoubtedly show up in droves on social media networks before you finish reading this.

Today’s update also adds a variety of smaller updates, including new layout components and multiple formats for taking screenshots of weather conditions for sharing.

CARROT Weather 5.3 is available as a free update on the App Store.


Transloader 3: A Simple, Versatile Way to Remotely Manage Mac File Downloads from an iPhone or iPad

Matthias Gansrigler of Eternal Storms Software recently released Transloader 3, an app for remotely controlling Mac file downloads from an iPhone or iPad. Although the app has been around for a long time, version 3 might as well be a completely new app because it’s packed with new features, making it worth revisiting if you haven’t tried it in a while.

Transloader is one of those utilities that reduces the friction of working on multiple devices by solving a common problem that Apple’s OSes could handle better: cross-device downloads. There are a couple of scenarios where I run into this all the time. The first is with email. With no TestFlight for Mac yet, developers often send me links to a ZIP or DMG file of their apps to try. Going through email messages is one of those tasks that I often leave until late in the day when I’m away from my desk, using my iPad or iPhone. The second scenario is when I’m researching apps and find one or a related press kit I want to download to check out later.

In both cases, I could save the app or other files to iCloud Drive’s Downloads folder and revisit the materials the next time I’m at my Mac. However, with Transloader, I’ve got many more options thanks to its built-in automation tools as well as other features that make managing downloaded files easier.

Read more


Timery Comes to the Mac and Makes Time Tracking With Toggl Easier Than Ever

I don’t track my time because I enjoy starting and stopping timers; I do it because, over the long haul, it provides valuable insight into how I’m spending my time. As useful as it is to have data on how much a project or task takes or how much time a task consumes relative to other things I do, the act of tracking itself can be tedious, which is why it can be so easy to fall out of the habit of doing it.

The reason I’ve used Timery, the time tracking app for Toggl, on my iPhone and iPad since it was released, is because of developer Joe Hribar’s attention to making it as easy as possible to track your time without a lot of fuss. Features like saved timers, widgets, keyboard shortcuts, and Shortcuts actions for automating timers have made the app a delight to use since version 1.0.

In fact, the Timery experience has been so good that I used it even though it had no Mac app, which is something I rarely do with apps I use every day. However, with the release of version 1.2 of Timery today, I no longer need to use a different time tracking app on my Mac because Timery has been released as a Mac Catalyst app, complete with all the features Timery users already know and love from iPhone and iPad versions. Today’s update to Timery isn’t just a treat for Mac users, though. Version 1.2 also packs in a long list of new keyboard shortcuts and settings for all users, making this one of the biggest updates since the app was launched.

Read more


Bartender 4.0 Offers Powerful New Control Over Your Mac’s Menu Bar Apps

Bartender 4.0 was in beta for a long time, and the time and attention to the details paid off. If you were waiting to update until the app was officially released, now’s the time to act because it’s out, and the update is excellent.

I use Bartender on all my Macs, but I appreciate it most on my MacBook Air. The updated app, which manages your menu bar apps, retains its core functionality, allowing you to rearrange your menu bar apps and hide the ones you don’t need regularly. However, with version 4.0, Bartender does a lot more too.

Read more


Reflector 4 Updated with Modern UI and M1 Mac Support

Reflector 4, an app for mirroring iPhones, iPads, and other devices to the Mac, has been updated with a new design, M1 Mac support, and new onscreen device frames. Whether you’re making screencasts, demoing apps for a group, or in a classroom environment, Reflector lets you wirelessly transmit your device’s UI to your Mac and record it too. In addition to mirroring iPhones and iPads, which is what I did in my testing, you can also mirror Android, Windows, and Chromebook devices. Think of it as Apple TV and Chromecast’s mirroring and streaming features all on a Mac, thanks to this one simple menu bar app.

Read more