Thoughtful, detailed coverage of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, plus the best-selling Take Control ebooks.



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While all the articles in each mailed edition of TidBITS are available as individual articles, we also archive each edition in three forms (substitute an issue number for number):

Next 25 issues

TidBITS #1256 on 2015-01-26

We bring you a double dose of accessibility info this week, as Steven Aquino reviews the iPhone 6 Plus from the accessibility standpoint and Mariva H. Aviram continues her series on computing for the visually impaired — this time focusing on design mistakes that impede usability for those without perfect vision. Microsoft made a number of interesting announcements last week, including new versions of Windows, an 84-inch 4K display, and holographic goggles. Julio Ojeda-Zapata offers a breakdown of what’s new from Redmond. Macworld Expo may be gone, but Adam Engst suggests 22 other Apple-related conferences around the world that fill the void. Finally, in the latest installment of FunBITS, Chris Armstrong returns to review the relaxation app Sunny. Notable software releases this week include ClamXav 2.7.2 and Logic Pro X 10.1.

TidBITS #1255 on 2015-01-19

At the beginning of the year, we shared our wishlist of things we’d like to see from Apple in the coming year, and you responded in kind. To that end, this week’s issue includes a selection of reader wishes for Apple in 2015. Smile has updated PDFpen and PDFpenPro to version 7, and “Take Control of PDFpen 6” author Michael Cohen details what’s new. Do you like iCloud’s My Photo Stream for syncing photos among your various Apple devices? Unfortunately, it relies on the lame duck iPhoto and Aperture on the Mac, so Jeff Carlson reviews MyPhotostream, an independent solution for viewing your photos from My Photo Stream. Finally, in the second part of her series on computing for the visually impaired, Mariva H. Aviram explains the most common visual ailments that afflict computer users. Notable software releases this week include Coda 2.5.2, CrashPlan 3.7, Moneydance 2015, and Typinator 6.4.

TidBITS #1254 on 2015-01-12

At the top of the news this week is the Thunderstrike proof-of-concept attack, which shows how Macs can be exploited at the hardware level. Security Editor Rich Mogull explains why it’s a serious threat, but probably not to you. AT&T is now offering rollover data, which is great, but Glenn Fleishman explains why some of the company’s other recent moves aren’t so positive. Workflow is a powerful new iOS automation app, and Managing Editor Josh Centers details what it can do. Contributor Mariva H. Aviram joins us this week for the first in her series on computing for the visually impaired. Mariva shares the challenges of her own temporary visual impairment, as well as those faced by people she knows. Finally, in FunBITS this week, Josh tackles Trivia Crack, explaining why the game is popular despite its many annoyances. Notable software releases this week include Little Snitch 3.5.1 and ChronoAgent 1.5.

TidBITS #1253 on 2015-01-05

Happy New Year! Looking forward, we put our heads together to share where we’d like to see Apple devote energy in 2015 — please join in with your suggestions in the comments! Joe Kissell looks back to provide a progress report on Apple Mail in Yosemite. And Julio Ojeda-Zapata takes a break from listening and watching podcasts to compare four Mac- and Web-based podcast clients. Notable software releases in the past few weeks include OS X NTP Security Update (Yosemite, Mavericks, and Mountain Lion), BBEdit 11.0.2, Paprika 2.1.2, Airfoil 4.8.12, Quicken 2015 for Mac 2.3.1, Evernote 6.0.5, GraphicConverter 9.5, Mellel 3.3.7, Typinator 6.3.1, Pixelmator 3.3.1, Mailplane 3.3.4, and LaunchBar 6.1.6.

TidBITS #1252 on 2014-12-15

In this final issue of TidBITS for 2014, we have a couple of holiday sales to pass on: a discount on BeLight Software’s Printworks for those who didn’t win a copy in last week’s DealBITS drawing and the WinterFest 2014 sale on essential Mac writing tools. Also this week, Apple pushed out iOS 8.1.2, mostly to address the problem of purchased ringtones that have gone missing. Since releasing iOS 8, Apple has been giving developers a hard time about how they can use its Extensibility features; Adam Engst shares his thoughts on the game Apple is forcing developers to play, and why it’s bad for everyone. Glenn Fleishman takes you on a tour of ScreenFlow 5, a professional app for recording Mac and iOS screencasts. Michael Cohen’s “Take Control of Pages” is now complete, and Michael reflects on his year of documenting the word-processing and page-layout app. Finally in FunBITS, Josh Centers presents his game of the year: Shovel Knight for Mac, which takes you back to the good old days of 8-bit gaming. Notable software releases this week include Default Folder X 4.6.12; Hazel 3.3.3; Labels & Addresses 1.6.9; Safari 8.0.2, 7.1.2, and 6.2.2; OmniFocus 2.0.4; and DEVONagent Lite, Express, and Pro 3.8.3.

TidBITS #1251 on 2014-12-08

As we return from the Thanksgiving break, we implore you to consider becoming a paid TidBITS member. In addition to receiving exclusive benefits and saving hundreds on Mac software, your support would help us fund great articles like those in this issue. To start, Adam Engst explains the hidden trick for changing the font in Yosemite’s Messages app, and Josh Centers shows how you can prevent the next version of Twitter in iOS from spying on your apps. Also this week, Michael Cohen looks at PDFpen 2 and its innovative way of enabling upgrade pricing on iOS, Jeff Carlson tells you how to remove the Slo-Mo effect from iPhone videos, Julio Ojeda-Zapata reviews Ergotron’s budget-minded standing desk solutions, and you can enter to win a copy of BeLight Software’s Printworks in DealBITS. Finally, we’ve been listening to the Apple community’s Yosemite complaints, and while we can’t solve every problem, we have rounded up fixes for five common annoyances. Notable software releases this week include Firefox 34.0, Boom 2.0, Airfoil 4.8.11, Downcast 1.1.5, Lightroom 5.7, Carbon Copy Cloner 4.0.3, and PopChar X 7.0.

TidBITS #1250 on 2014-11-24

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States, so we won’t be publishing an email issue on 1 December 2014, but new articles will keep appearing on our Web site. Apple has provided developers the tools they need to build Apple Watch apps, but those apps will be rather limited at first. Michael Cohen looks at why and what we can expect. Did you know that Yosemite has a new batch-renaming feature? Josh Centers explains how it works, and also shares the latest in the NSA spy scandal in a new installment of Keeping Up with the Snoops. In Take Control news, Joe Kissell’s updated “Take Control of iCloud” now covers iCloud Drive, iCloud’s confusing photo services, and Family Sharing, among much else, and Charles Edge’s “Take Control of OS X Server” is now available in book form after being streamed to TidBITS members. Finally, in FunBITS, Josh takes a look at the iOS game Overglide, which is played inside a Today View widget, and ponders the future of widgets in iOS 8. Notable software releases this week include DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.8.2, Mactracker 7.4.1, Evernote 6.0, SpamSieve 2.9.18, and Mailplane 3.3.3.

TidBITS #1249 on 2014-11-17

Apple has updated OS X 10.10 Yosemite, iOS 8, and Apple TV in one fell swoop — Josh Centers has a detailed list of what changed. In other Apple news, the company is offering a new Apple Rewards Visa card, along with a long-awaited tool that enables iPhone switchers to decouple their phone numbers from iMessage. President Obama delivered a strong message on net neutrality last week, and Geoff Duncan explains what that means for the FCC. Josh also takes a look at the Neato note-taking widget for iOS 8, and Adam Engst explains the thinking behind the significant changes in our new Take Control Crash Course series. Finally, in FunBITS, we cover the Internet Arcade, which lets you play the games of yesteryear for free in your Web browser. Notable software releases this week include Little Snitch 3.5, Firefox 33.1, and LaunchBar 6.1.5.

TidBITS #1248 on 2014-11-10

If your email address is managed by Apple, AOL, or Yahoo, this may be the first issue of TidBITS you’ve received in a while — sorry! Those services were incorrectly blocking us as spam, and Adam Engst explains what he’s done to address the current situation. Microsoft has now brought Office to the iPhone, and opened up more free features for both iPad and iPhone users. Julio Ojeda-Zapata looks at what’s new in the mobile Office apps, and what’s coming down the pike. In a pair of security-related articles, Josh Centers reviews the Authy two-factor authentication app, and Rich Mogull explains why Apple’s biggest security challenge is… you. Finally, Michael Cohen answers a frequent reader question: can iCloud Drive take the place of Dropbox? Notable software releases this week include BBEdit 11.0.1, CrashPlan 3.6.4, Quicken 2015 for Mac 2.2, Pixelmator 3.3, and ReadKit 2.4.2.

TidBITS #1247 on 2014-11-03

We’re happy to announce that delivery of the email edition of TidBITS has been restored for Comcast subscribers, and anyone participating in NaNoWriMo should check out the free trial of Scrivener and our special deal on “Take Control of Scrivener 2.” Also this week, Michael Cohen explains how you can capture iOS device video in Yosemite, and Julio Ojeda-Zapata returns with a pair of articles looking at the new iMac with Retina 5K display and physical keyboards for the iPhone 6 Plus. Finally, in FunBITS this week, Fruit Ninja meets Ghostbusters for a special in-game event. Notable software releases this week include Microsoft Outlook 15.3 for Mac, Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.4, CloudPull 2.6.1, 1Password 5.0.2, and Downcast 1.1.1.

TidBITS #1246 on 2014-10-27

In this extra-long issue of TidBITS, jam-packed with important articles, Glenn Fleishman looks at Wi-Fi changes in OS X 10.10 Yosemite and the new Transmit file transfer client for iOS 8. Adam Engst dives into what’s new with BBEdit 11 and why it’s good that it’s a paid upgrade. Josh Centers then explains how to use the new Apple Pay service and suggests that Apple is intentionally rolling it out slowly. However, some merchants are heading Apple Pay off at the pass, and Rich Mogull explains why this has little to do with Apple and a lot to do with credit cards. Rich also provides an analysis of how the new Spotlight Suggestions feature impacts your privacy. Finally, in FunBITS, Josh takes a look at Pedometer++, which unlocks the motion-processing capabilities of the latest iPhones. Notable software releases this week include Fetch 5.7.4, Sandvox 2.9.1, Security Update 2014-005 (Mountain Lion and Mavericks), SpamSieve 2.9.17, Hazel 3.3, and TextExpander 4.3.4.

TidBITS #1245 on 2014-10-20

Buckle up, folks! OS X 10.10 Yosemite, iOS 8.1, and Apple Pay are all here, along with the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, an updated Mac mini, and the stunning 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display. Three new Take Control titles from Joe Kissell and Scholle McFarland are also available to help with your transition to Yosemite, and Michael Cohen has some helpful tips for migrating to iCloud Drive, along with an overview of what’s new with iWork and iBooks Author. Meanwhile, Agen Schmitz takes you on a much-needed tour of the redesigned iTunes 12 interface. Apple has again posted record profits for the last fiscal quarter, though you might be surprised at which product lines are growing and which are shrinking. Finally, a bit of sad news as we say goodbye to Macworld Expo, which is going on indefinite hiatus. Notable software releases this week include Carbon Copy Cloner 4.0.2, Things 2.5, Coda 2.5, Parallels Desktop 10.1, Airfoil 4.8.10, Microsoft Office 2011 14.4.5, Scrivener 2.6, DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.8.1, DEVONagent Lite, Express, and Pro 3.8.2, SuperDuper 2.7.3, Apple Configurator 1.7, GarageBand 10.0.3, iMovie 10.0.6, LaunchBar 6.1.3, 1Password 5.0, and KeyCue 7.3.

TidBITS #1244 on 2014-10-13

Apple debuted Activation Lock in iOS 7 to discourage phone theft, and the company has now launched an online tool that can determine if a given device is locked. Josh Centers explains how to use the new Activation Lock checker and why you should when buying a used iPhone. Apple and Google are taking steps to make their devices even more secure, and some law enforcement officials are crying foul. Security Editor Rich Mogull examines both sides of the debate. Also this week, Josh dives into the world of iOS 8’s new third-party keyboards, and in FunBITS, he takes the Manual camera app for a spin. Notable software releases this week include Backblaze 3.0, GraphicConverter 9.4, OmniFocus 2.0.3, ChronoSync 4.5.3 and ChronoAgent 1.4.7, Carbon Copy Cloner 4.0, 1Password 4.4.3, and DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.8.

TidBITS #1243 on 2014-10-06

Severe vulnerabilities in OS X’s Unix-based underpinnings could put your Mac at risk. Adam Engst explains how to test your system and install Apple’s OS X Bash Update 1.0 to eliminate your exposure to Shellshock. Glenn Fleishman joins us to explore 1Password 5 for iOS, which takes advantage of iOS 8’s browser extensions and works with Touch ID in supported iPhone models. Glenn also takes Quicken 2015 for a spin to see if it can replace the languishing Quicken 2007 for managing his finances. Finally, one of the biggest hit games of the year puts you behind the eyes of a violent… goat? In FunBITS, Josh Centers looks at how Goat Simulator has become a surprise success. Notable software releases this week include Photoshop Elements 13, StuffIt Deluxe 16, and Default Folder X 4.6.9.

TidBITS #1242 on 2014-09-29

After a botched iOS 8.0.1 update that disabled cellular connectivity and Touch ID for many iPhone users, Apple quickly released iOS 8.0.2 to fix those issues, along with other iOS 8.0 problems. But that wasn’t the end of Apple’s software concerns for the week: a long-standing vulnerability in the ubiquitous Bash shell could leave some systems exposed, as Rich Mogull explains. In a Jeff/Geoff op-ed trifecta, Jeff Carlson explains why Apple kept 16 GB iPhones in the lineup and dropped 32 GB models, Jeff Porten expounds on why he’s not impressed with Apple’s latest offerings, and Geoff Duncan investigates Apple’s new commitment to privacy. Finally, in FunBITS this week, Josh Centers tours Epic Zen Garden, which isn’t so much a game as a visually stunning demonstration of the iPhone 6’s power. Notable software releases this week include OS X Server 3.2.1, Evernote 5.6, SpamSieve 2.9.16, Sandvox 2.9, PopChar X 6.7, and Typinator 6.2.

TidBITS #1241 on 2014-09-22

iOS 8 is here, and we have answers to your questions, but Adam Engst also has a couple of warnings before you upgrade. Along with iOS 8 comes Apple TV 7.0, and with it, Apple’s recently acquired Beats Music service arrives in your living room. Apple gave every iTunes account holder U2’s new album for free, but if having it appear in your account felt a little creepy, Josh Centers has some thoughts on what turns a gift into an intrusion. This week in FunBITS, Josh also offers a crash course in the hit game Minecraft to give you a sense of why Microsoft just acquired it for a whopping $2.5 billion. Notable software releases this week include Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.3, Nicecast 1.11.3, and Airfoil 4.8.9, Security Update 2014-004 (Lion and Mountain Lion), Safari 6.2 and 7.1, BusyCal 2.6, and TunnelBear 2.4.2.

TidBITS #1240 on 2014-09-15

Hold on to your hats, because this issue of TidBITS is a whopper! We say hello to both the Apple Watch and the record-breaking iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but goodbye to the print edition of Macworld and the iPod classic. Apple also announced Apple Pay, with the hope of revolutionizing the payment business, and Adam Engst and Rich Mogull team up to tell you how it works. Adam also details Apple’s more competitive iCloud storage plans, and Josh Centers explains how to get, or get rid of, the free U2 album Apple placed in 500 million iTunes accounts. Finally, Agen Schmitz brings us this week’s FunBITS entry, an in-depth look at Amazon’s Prime Music. Can it go toe-to-toe with the likes of Spotify, Rdio, and Beats Music? Notable software releases this week include Parallels Desktop 10.0.2, TextExpander 4.3.3, Marked 2.4.1, and iTunes 11.4.

TidBITS #1239 on 2014-09-08

The big news this week is the theft of nude photos from the iCloud accounts of a number of Hollywood actresses. Rich Mogull brings you analysis of Apple’s official statement, and Josh Centers reports on what Tim Cook says Apple will do to improve iCloud security. OS X Yosemite is coming soon, and you can get ready ahead of time with the early-bird version of Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Upgrading to Yosemite.” In other Take Control news, we’re excited to publish the final chapter of Charles Edge’s streamed “Take Control of OS X Server” — TidBITS members can learn all about server maintenance. If you sync your music collection between iTunes on the desktop and an iOS device, losing access to that computer could orphan your music collection — Josh Centers has discovered a simple, free app to recover your music. Finally, in FunBITS this week, Julio Ojeda-Zapata explains how you can host your own backyard movie night. Notable software releases this week include VMware Fusion 7.0 and Mailplane 3.3.

TidBITS #1238 on 2014-09-01

Under pressure from competitors, Dropbox has boosted the base level of storage for its Dropbox Pro plan to 1 TB and added some welcome features, all while keeping the price at $9.99 per month — Adam Engst dives into the details. Decentralized workgroups can be great, but keeping up with time zones isn’t. Josh Centers takes a look at the new Time Zones app from developer Jared Sinclair, and also tells the tale of trying to get his iPhone 5 battery replaced by Apple. For TidBITS members, we have the penultimate chapter of Charles Edge’s “Take Control of OS X Server,” which focuses on running the Time Machine service to enable your users to back up to your server. Steve McCabe closes out the issue with an installment of FunBITS about CanOpener, an iOS app that uses some impressive tricks to improve the quality of audio heard through headphones. Notable software releases this week include Microsoft Office 2011 14.4.4, BBEdit 10.5.12 and TextWrangler 4.5.10, and LaunchBar 6.1.

TidBITS #1237 on 2014-08-25

If your iPhone 5’s battery isn’t holding a charge like it used to, Apple might replace it for free or reimburse you if you’ve already paid to replace it. The NFL arrives on the Apple TV, but perhaps not in the form you expected — Josh Centers explains. The DuckDuckGo search engine is coming to Safari in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8; find out why it caught Apple’s attention. For TidBITS members this week, the latest chapter of Charles Edge’s “Take Control of OS X Server” details the essential Caching and Software Update services, which can save bandwidth and reduce support headaches. For everyone else, this is the final day of our Take Control Back to School sale, where everything is 50 percent off! Finally, this week’s FunBITS entry is Knots 3D, a great iOS app for anyone who wants to move beyond granny knots. Notable software releases this week include Parallels Desktop 10, Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 6.3.2, and PopChar X 6.6.

TidBITS #1236 on 2014-08-18

Whether you’re a current student or a lifetime learner, you can save 50 percent on all Take Control ebooks this week in our Back to School sale! For TidBITS members following along with Charles Edge’s in-progress “Take Control of OS X Server,” we also have a chapter explaining how to run wikis and blogs in OS X Server, something that nearly any organization can use. You may not associate Android with productivity, but Julio Ojeda-Zapata has discovered that Samsung’s larger tablets are surprisingly capable. Sadly, comedian and actor Robin Williams died last week, and we say goodbye to a fellow Apple fan with a few Macworld pictures and Jeff Carlson’s story about his brush with fame. Photographer Charles Maurer returns to TidBITS to review the Fujifilm XQ1 point-and-shoot camera, which is capable of producing professional quality photos when paired with the Photo Ninja app. FunBITS continues the focus on photography, with Michael Cohen returning from vacation to review PhotoCard, a modern take on the postcard from Apple legend Bill Atkinson. Notable software releases this week include Fission 2.2.2, Alfred 2.4, Delicious Library 3.2.2, CloudPull 2.5.4, Corel Painter 2015, and Safari 7.0.6 and 6.1.6.

TidBITS #1235 on 2014-08-11

We once again catch up with the snoops, this time bringing you an update on the CIA/Senate spy drama, where Edward Snowden will likely be spending the next three years, and why using Tor may do more harm than good. Moving to the less dramatic world of graphics, Caroline Green joins us to take a look at Macphun’s new Tonality, a tool aimed at helping photographers improve black-and-white photos. And although we didn’t plan it this way, we have a pair of articles on the intersection of physical books and ebooks. First, bibliophile Michael Cohen ponders the BitLit service, which lets you purchase electronic versions of your print books for a nominal charge. Then Glenn Fleishman wades into the increasingly bizarre battle between Amazon and publisher Hachette in an attempt to explain what’s actually going on. In our own book news, Charles Edge explains what you need to know to run a Web server in this week’s installment of “Take Control of OS X Server.” Finally, in FunBITS, Josh Centers looks at NPR One, an iPhone app that brings the Pandora experience to National Public Radio. Notable software releases this week include GraphicConverter 9.3, Mactracker 7.3.3, Airfoil 4.8.8, iTunes 11.3.1, Carbon Copy Cloner 3.5.6, Hider 2.1, and DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.7.7.

TidBITS #1234 on 2014-08-04

Apple has updated the MacBook Pro lineup, but don’t get too excited, since the update brings only small performance increases, along with a couple of $100 price cuts. More compelling is Microsoft’s Office for iPad update, which addresses many user complaints, adding support for third party fonts, PDF export, Excel pivot tables, and more. In Take Control news, the indefatigable Joe Kissell has designed his most recent book — “Take Control of FileVault” — to dispel misconceptions and encourage readers to enable FileVault in order to protect their data in the event of theft. Plus, for TidBITS members, the latest chapter of Charles Edge’s “Take Control of OS X Server” covers mobile device management, a hot topic for anyone tasked with managing a collection of iPads. If you’ve been wondering what’s available in the smartwatch world to compete with the Pebble, Jeff Porten took a look at four available smartwatches, with an eye toward what an Apple smartwatch could look like. Finally, in FunBITS, Josh Centers evaluates Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited service to see if it’s worth the monthly price. Notable software releases this week include Paprika 2.0.4, ChronoSync 4.5.2, Mellel 3.3.6, and OmniFocus 2.0.2.

TidBITS #1233 on 2014-07-28

Apple has once again posted record profits, but more interesting is that the company has released the public beta of the upcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite. If you want to tour around Yosemite, Joe Kissell has the ultimate guide to installing it: “Take Control of Beta Testing Yosemite,” which we’re offering for whatever price you wish to pay. For TidBITS members, we also have Chapter 8, “Mail Services,” of Charles Edge’s “Take Control of OS X Server.” Potato salad made a surprising splash on Kickstarter, causing Glenn Fleishman to ponder if we’ll be inundated with more joke campaigns. Apple and IBM have signed a pact to bring iOS devices to the enterprise, and systems administrator Andrew Laurence joins us to examine its implications. Amazon’s hoping to light up the mobile space with its Fire Phone, but does it offer anything new? Julio Ojeda-Zapata took the phone for a spin to find out. In this week’s FunBITS, Adam Engst gives his take on Strava: a social network for fitness buffs. Notable software releases this week include TinkerTool 5.3, Default Folder X 4.6.8, Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.0, Nicecast 1.11.0, Airfoil 4.8.7, Piezo 1.2.5, and Marked 2.3.

TidBITS #1232 on 2014-07-21

With his “Take Control of Apple TV” hat on, Josh Centers explains how the Apple TV’s Netflix client can now automatically play the next episode of a TV series when you finish an episode. Apple has launched a new iTunes Pass feature that lets you buy iTunes Store credit in a retail Apple Store via Passbook — we delve into what it’s useful for and how to set it up. Sitting too much may be killing us all, but the Stand Up work break timer could lessen the damage. Josh reviews it, as well as Marco Arment’s new podcast app, Overcast, which isn’t for everyone but brings welcome refinements to podcast listening. Michael Cohen tells the story of his involvement with the invention of the ebook, and how it almost fell prey to the curse of Macbeth. In this week’s FunBITS, Josh takes a look at The Rhythm of Fighters, a musical take on a fighting game mainstay. Notable software releases this week include DEVONagent Lite, Express, and Pro 3.8.1, Typinator 6.1, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 6.3.1, and Voila 3.8.

Next 25 issues