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 #1282 on 2015-07-27

In this issue of TidBITS, we’re happy to announce “one more thing” — Joe Kissell’s latest book, “Take Control of Keynote,” which walks you through planning, creating, and delivering a killer presentation. Strong iPhone sales helped Apple break financial records in Q3 2015 again, despite iPad sales volume continuing to decline. Moving on from the news, Josh Centers takes a look at BeardedSpice, which lets you control Web media players with your Mac’s media keys, and shows you how to replace an iPhone 5c screen with the Screasy repair kit. Adam Engst reviews TripMode, which helps prevent data overages when tethering your Mac to your iPhone, and in FunBITS, Michael Cohen takes you on a trip though time, space, and music with Notable software releases this week include Mellel 3.4.2, Microsoft Office 2011 14.5.3, MacBook Pro Flash Storage Firmware Update 1.0, Default Folder X 4.7.3, and TextExpander 5.1.

TidBITS #1281 on 2015-07-20

In this music-focused issue of TidBITS, we cover Apple’s long-awaited update to the iPod touch and the recolored versions of the iPod nano and iPod shuffle. For those puzzled by the latest version of iTunes and Apple Music, we’re pleased to announce Kirk McElhearn’s new “Take Control of iTunes 12: The FAQ,” which answers all your questions. To round out our music coverage, the TidBITS crew shares five more Apple Music tips. Changing gears, Adam Engst unveils the new Take Control Web site and Josh Centers uses the recent Comcast outages as an excuse to explain what to do when your Internet connection goes south. Notable software releases this week include CrashPlan 4.3, DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.8.6, and Office 2016 for Mac.

TidBITS #1280 on 2015-07-13

Apple has released public betas of OS X 10.11 El Capitan and iOS 9. Josh Centers explains how to get started installing them and why you may not want to. Michael Cohen has updated his book, “Take Control of TextExpander,” to cover the new features in Smile’s TextExpander 5 and TextExpander touch 3. Michael also explains why recent minor updates to iBooks and iBooks Author are actually a big deal in that they let self-published authors reach larger audiences. Randy Singer joins us to describe a troubling Internet scam, and how to avoid it. Finally, in FunBITS, Josh discusses Her Story for iOS and Mac, and explains why the interactive movie may be making a comeback. Notable software releases this week include iTunes 12.2.1, GraphicConverter 9.7.1, LaunchBar 6.4.1, Skype 7.9, and PDFpen and PDFpenPro 7.2.

TidBITS #1279 on 2015-07-06

With other TidBITS writers on vacation, Josh Centers stayed behind to keep the home fires burning, where he handled the yeoman’s work of covering Apple’s releases of OS X 10.10.4 and iOS 8.4. He also found the time to provide a tour of some of the more subtle features of the just-released Apple Music streaming service, and to track down clues to the next-generation Apple TV in the forthcoming iOS 9. Notable software releases this week include Voila 3.9, Typinator 6.6, GarageBand 10.1, iTunes 12.2, Security Update 2015-005, Mac EFI Security Update 2015-001, and Safari 8.0.7, 7.1.7, and 6.2.7.

TidBITS #1278 on 2015-06-29

In this issue of TidBITS, Julio Ojeda-Zapata takes a look at Apple’s new iPhone dock to see how it stacks up to the competition, and Joe Kissell counts off 11 stupid backup strategies that you should avoid. Then Josh Centers shines a light on Flashlight, which expands OS X 10.10 Yosemite’s Spotlight capabilities, and in FunBITS, he laments the lack of originality in gaming. Notable software releases this week include ClamXav 2.8.1, Toast 14 Titanium and Toast 14 Pro, and iMovie 10.0.9.

TidBITS #1277 on 2015-06-22

Apple has started a replacement program for 3 TB hard drives in some 27-inch iMacs, and the company has also made the Apple Watch available for pickup in Apple retail stores. That’s perfect timing, since we’ve just released Jeff Carlson’s comprehensive “Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course.” Developer Vemedio has pulled the plug on its popular Instacast podcast client, but Josh Centers suggests some alternatives. Adam Engst warns that iCloud Photo Library could cause cellular data overages, and that repairing your Photos library could trigger another large upload. Michael Cohen examines the Revisions app for Dropbox, which offers a better interface for Dropbox file recovery. Finally, Josh takes you on a tour of the Pandoland conference, which brought Silicon Valley to Nashville. Notable software releases this week include Lightroom CC 2015.1 and Lightroom 6.1, Default Folder X 4.7.2, ChronoSync 4.6.2 and ChronoAgent 1.5.3, Audio Hijack 3.1.1, and Mellel 3.4.

TidBITS #1276 on 2015-06-15

In this week’s issue of TidBITS, we traverse a wide variety of topics. Apple has combined its developer programs for OS X, iOS, and Safari into one convenient package. Josh Centers describes three alternative ways to wear your Apple Watch Sport and examines the Robinhood stock trading app for the iPhone. Dan Moren joins us to explain how Doodle can make scheduling meetings a snap, and Steve McCabe tells us about his Apple Pay experiences around the world. We also bring you news of the SummerFest 2015 software sale and welcome a new sponsor: Bushel, a cloud-based service that simplifies Apple device management for small organizations. Finally, TidBITS newcomer Alexandre Leroux explains how to unlock the full potential of the iTunes visualizer in our latest FunBITS installment. Due to many developers being in San Francisco for WWDC last week, the only notable software release this week is GraphicConverter 9.7.

TidBITS #1275 on 2015-06-08

Another WWDC keynote has come and gone, and despite the season, snow is in the forecast for OS X, with the upcoming release of OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Adam Engst explains why it has the potential to be the best update since Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Josh Centers has the details on iOS 9 and an overview of the new Apple Music streaming service, while Michael Cohen tells you what to expect from watchOS 2. We have a new sponsor starting this week: Mapbox, which offers a platform that enables designers and developers to create custom maps. In other news, Congress has passed the USA FREEDOM Act — Josh explains how it changes government surveillance in the latest edition of Keeping Up with the Snoops. To wrap up the issue, Adam concludes his two-part series on exercising with the Apple Watch, this time examining Apple’s fitness software. Notable software releases this week include Fission 2.2.4, QuarkXPress 2015, CrashPlan 4.2, SpamSieve 2.9.20, Evernote 6.0.13, iFlicks 2.2.1, Mactracker 7.4.4, Tinderbox 6.3, and Fantastical 2.0.6.

TidBITS #1274 on 2015-06-01

As the weekly TidBITS issue returns from its Memorial Day hiatus, we have a bevy of news to share. Apple updated the Apple Watch’s operating system to version 1.0.1, and Josh Centers explains how you install the update. Apple also updated the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, released a less expensive iMac with Retina 5K display, and shipped a new iPhone dock. Automatic unveiled a new app platform for its connected car peripheral, and Smile released TextExpander 5 for Mac with snippet suggestions. Wrapping up the news, Jason Snell’s “Photos for Mac: A Take Control Crash Course” is now complete. Moving on to features, Adam Engst explains how to keep iCloud Photo Library from choking your Internet connection, and Josh ponders the gaming potential of the Apple Watch in our latest FunBITS segment. Notable software releases this week include DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.8.5, Audio Hijack 3.1, PopChar X 7.1, BBEdit 11.1.1, Little Snitch 3.5.3, OmniFocus 2.2, LaunchBar 6.4, and Microsoft Office 2011 14.5.1.

TidBITS #1273 on 2015-05-18

This week in TidBITS, Michael Cohen expands on his coverage of the Fountain screenplay markup language with a brief review of Highland, a text editor designed around Fountain. In the first of a two-part series, Adam Engst explores the Apple Watch hardware for those interested in its fitness tracking capabilities. For people who spend more time behind the wheel, Josh Centers reviews Automatic, a combination dongle and iPhone app that promises to improve your driving. Finally, we’re pleased to announce the release of Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Security for Mac Users,” which happens to be Joe’s 50th Take Control title. We’re having a party to celebrate, and you’re invited! Notable software releases this week include Postbox 4.0.1, Voila 3.8.4, Final Cut Pro X 10.2.1 and Motion 5.2.1, and FileMaker Pro/FileMaker Pro Advanced 14.

TidBITS #1272 on 2015-05-11

In this feature-packed issue of TidBITS, photographer Jeff Carlson compares two new solutions for cloud-based photo management: Apple’s Photos and Adobe’s Lightroom CC. Josh Centers once again catches up with the snoops, detailing new bills in Congress, recently revealed surveillance programs, a ranking of presidential candidates on mass surveillance, and more. Finally in FunBITS, Geoff Duncan explores a Google tour of the legendary Abbey Road Studios, where some of the most celebrated rock albums were recorded; don’t miss his spectacular audio version! Notable software releases this week include Fantastical 2.0.4, ChronoSync 4.6.1 and ChronoAgent 1.5.2, Downcast 1.1.10, and Safari 8.0.6, 7.1.6, and 6.2.6.

TidBITS #1271 on 2015-05-04

It’s new technology week, as TidBITS examines several recently released initiatives to see if they’re right for you. Michael Cohen kicks things off with an investigation of Dropbox’s new commenting feature to find out if it’s useful for collaborative work. Glenn Fleishman runs through the details of Google’s new Project Fi wireless service, which won’t work with an iPhone but may help drive down cellular plan prices. Julio Ojeda-Zapata evaluates Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook with an eye toward figuring out for whom the tiny but underpowered laptop is best suited. Will the Apple Watch make driving safer? Josh Centers took his Apple Watch for a spin to discover if it will improve on or detract from the automotive experience. Finally, in FunBITS, Josh looks at the App Camp for Girls Quiz Compendium, which we’re shoehorning into the theme in the sense that it was created by middle-school girls who are new to technology. Notable software releases this week include Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1, Quicken 2015 for Mac 2.5, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 7.1.1, Default Folder X 4.7.1, Pixelmator 3.3.2, and BBEdit 11.1.

TidBITS #1270 on 2015-04-27

We’re pleased to welcome a new sponsor: Automatic Labs, makers of the Automatic car adapter and iPhone app, which help you drive safer and smarter. For a limited time, TidBITS readers in the United States can take 20 percent off the $99.95 purchase price. Speaking of money, Apple is drowning in it, reporting record profits for Q2 2015. Apple said nothing about Apple Watch sales in the earnings call, but the TidBITS crew is here with our first impressions of the new device. Also on the Apple Watch beat is Security Editor Rich Mogull, who explains why the Apple Watch could lead to better security with less fuss. Finally, we’re happy to bring you the second edition of Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal,” which adds 50 pages of new content for anyone who wants to use OS X’s Unix underpinnings better. We even put the book to use right away, with an article explaining how you can eliminate drop shadows from OS X’s screenshots. Notable software releases this week include Nicecast 1.11.4, iMovie 10.0.8, OmniFocus 2.1.3, Hazel 3.3.5, iMac Graphics Update 1.0, Fantastical 2.0.3, KeyCue 7.5, BusyCal 2.6.6, and BusyContacts 1.0.3.

TidBITS #1269 on 2015-04-20

TidBITS is celebrating its 25th year of publication, and Adam Engst looks at some of the key inflection points in our history. We’re also celebrating the release of Sharon Zardetto’s “Take Control of Numbers,” a 330-page tome that covers everything you need to know about Apple’s free spreadsheet app. The net neutrality wars have begun, so Geoff Duncan joins us to explain who’s suing the FCC and on what grounds. Though the Apple Watch isn’t yet available, you can try it on at your favorite Apple Store. Julio Ojeda-Zapata visited four Apple Stores to get a full view of the experience. To wrap up the issue, Josh Centers has yet another installment of “Keeping Up with the Snoops,” and Joe Kissell shares an extensive FAQ that answers your questions about iCloud Photo Library. Notable software releases this week include OS X Server 4.1, Nisus Writer Pro 2.1.1, OmniOutliner 4.2, Tinderbox 6.2, LaunchBar 6.3, Final Cut Pro X 10.2, Compressor 4.2, Motion 5.2, and OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 Supplemental Update 1.0.

TidBITS #1268 on 2015-04-13

It was a big week in Apple news. The company released iOS 8.3, with a huge number of fixes, alongside OS X 10.10.3, which officially introduced the new Photos app for the Mac — Josh Centers runs down the details on both. The Apple Watch also went up for pre-order, and Adam Engst shares his experience and some thoughts on the wearable’s early popularity, while Michael Cohen offers a meta-review to help you decide if you should buy one. Adam also covers Karelia’s new Sandvox Hosting service, which integrates with its popular Web site creation tool. Finally, we have the ultimate chapter of Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Security for Mac Users,” which explains how to recover if you fall prey to data loss, malware, a network intrusion, a phishing attack, or identity theft. Notable software releases this week include DEVONagent Lite, Express, and Pro 3.9.1, FileMaker Pro 13.0.9, iTunes 12.1.2, GraphicConverter 9.6.1, 1Password 5.3, Security Update 2015-004 (Mountain Lion, Mavericks), and Safari 8.0.5, 7.1.5, and 6.2.5.

TidBITS #1267 on 2015-04-06

Settle in for a practical, privacy-focused issue of TidBITS! Josh Centers brings us two how-tos on maintaining your privacy, explaining how to opt out of Verizon Wireless’s “supercookie” and how to make your Twitter history vanish before an ill-considered tweet comes back to haunt you. Then, for TidBITS members, we have the penultimate chapter of Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Security for Mac Users,” in which Joe explains OS X’s privacy settings. Outside of the privacy realm, Michael Cohen compares the latest Steve Jobs biography, “Becoming Steve Jobs,” to the Jobs-authorized “Steve Jobs.” Julio Ojeda-Zapata joins us again this week to examine Bushel, a device-management service for small businesses. Last but not least, you can get an early look at the forthcoming Photos for Mac with Jason Snell’s ebook, “Photos for Mac: A Take Control Crash Course.” Notable software releases this week include Evernote 6.0.8, iFlicks 2.2, Fantastical 2.0.2, TweetDeck 3.9.482, LaunchBar 6.2, and ChronoSync 4.6 and ChronoAgent 1.5.1.

TidBITS #1266 on 2015-04-01

We’re happy to announce a new service for our readers: TidBITS Online, where you can hear our latest articles. Tax season is almost over — did you know that you can now receive your refund in the form of iTunes credit? Joe Kissell explains how, and Adam Engst breaks the story about the lie detection code built into the Apple Watch. Michael Cohen takes a look at Apple’s new Mac micro desktop computer, and we give you an early look at some third-party Apple Watch bands. Finally, Jeff Carlson has the scoop on the expansion of Apple’s solid-gold Edition line to include more than just watches. Notable software releases today include Pixelmator 3.3.2, Microsoft Office 2011 14.5, Minecraft 1.9, and BBEdit 11.4.1.

TidBITS #1265 on 2015-03-30

Topher Kessler joins us again this week to shine a light on what some have dubbed “Staingate” — MacBook Pro displays whose anti-glare coating is peeling off under normal use. Josh Centers takes a look at two new iOS apps: Periscope, a video streamer from Twitter that seeks to supplant Meerkat, and Launcher, a once-banned app that gives you quick access to apps and actions from a Notification Center widget. Adam Engst reviews Fantastical 2 for the Mac, which expands the menu bar utility into a full-featured calendar app. Finally, we have the tenth chapter of Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Security for Mac Users,” which teaches you how to prevent data loss and theft. Notable software releases this week include BusyContacts 1.0.2, Napkin 1.5, Backblaze 4.0, and PDFpen and PDFpenPro 7.1.

TidBITS #1264 on 2015-03-23

Much noise has been made about the new 12-inch MacBook’s vulnerability to the BadUSB exploit, due to its reliance on the USB-C connector, but a deeper look reveals mostly hyperbole. Likewise, Rich Mogull debunks tales of Apple Pay “insecurity” that are actually related to bank processes. Julio Ojeda-Zapata tries out the new Force Touch trackpad and is impressed by the technology, though not enough to retire his mouse. Former Macworld editor Dan Moren joins us this week to review BusyContacts, a new power-user alternative to Apple’s Contacts app. Finally, we have the latest chapter of Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Security for Mac Users” for TidBITS members, focusing on what you can do to increase the security of your iCloud account. Notable software releases this week include Safari 8.0.4, 7.1.4, and 6.2.4, Skype 7.6, Voila 3.8.3, Security Update 2015-003 (Yosemite), Typinator 6.5, Audio Hijack 3.0.3, and Nisus Writer Pro 2.1.

TidBITS #1263 on 2015-03-16

We kick off this week’s TidBITS with a look at Meerkat, the Twitter-powered video-streaming app that could democratize live broadcasting — if Twitter doesn’t kill it first. Michael Cohen takes a look at Apple’s open-source ResearchKit and finds out what doctors have to say about it. Michael also contributes an overview of Fountain, a markup language that makes it easy to write a properly formatted screenplay. In a pair of editorials, Adam Engst posits that how you see the Apple Watch says more about you than it, and Rich Mogull explains why it’s a good thing that the CIA is trying to hack Apple products. Finally, we have the latest chapticle of Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Security for Mac Users,” in which he explains how to surf the Web safely. Notable software releases this week include Security Update 2015-002 (Mountain Lion, Mavericks, and Yosemite), DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.8.4, iMovie 10.0.7, Evernote 6.0.7, GraphicConverter 9.6, and Mailplane 3.4.1.

TidBITS #1262 on 2015-03-09

Everyone was anticipating more details about the Apple Watch at Apple’s “Spring Forward” event today, which ratcheted up the surprise value of the announcement of the new 12-inch MacBook, a fanless, one-port notebook that is Apple’s lightest yet. Of course, we share the details about when the Apple Watch will ship and how much the different models will cost, but get ready for sticker shock — the most expensive version tops out at $17,000. To accompany the Apple Watch, Apple released iOS 8.2, which includes two new apps just for the Apple Watch along with a variety of bug fixes. On top of everything else, Apple slashed the price of the Apple TV and entered an exclusive deal with HBO. Outside of Cupertino, Microsoft released a free preview of Office 2016 for Mac, with new features and a redesigned interface. Finally, Adam Engst explains how to create site-specific browsers in the Mac version of Google Chrome, FunBITS returns with a look at the Saturday Night Live app for the iPhone, and we bring you both a new chapter from Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Security for Mac Users” and an early release version of Jeff Carlson’s new “Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course.”

TidBITS #1261 on 2015-03-02

The Apple Watch is due in April, but smartwatch market leader Pebble is racing to sell its new Pebble Time first; Adam Engst has the details, along with some reasons why it might be preferable to the Apple Watch. Speaking of which, could the amount of gold in the Apple Watch Edition shake up the world economy? Josh Centers runs some numbers that are either stunningly huge or that point out flaws in sales estimates reported by The Wall Street Journal. In other news, Apple has opened up iWork for iCloud to everyone, and Michael Cohen explains how it works for non-Apple users. The FCC last week passed controversial net neutrality rules that place broadband providers under Title II classification. Josh shares what details we know at the moment, and he also offers up a new edition of Keeping Up with the Snoops, with the latest in government surveillance revelations. Finally, we’re pleased to bring you Michael Cohen’s new “Take Control of PDFpen 7,” along with the latest chapticle of Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Security for Mac Users,” in which he explains how to protect your network connection from eavesdropping. Notable software releases this week include Fetch 5.7.5, Downcast 1.1.7, BusyCal 2.6.5, Logic Pro X 10.1.1, and VLC Media Player 2.2.0.

TidBITS #1260 on 2015-02-23

We’re offering 50 percent off the entire Take Control catalog through 25 February 2015, so act now for great savings! Apple has announced a repair program for select MacBook Pro models with video problems; Josh Centers explains how to get your Mac fixed for free. Apple’s Book Proofer app stopped working in Yosemite, but Michael Cohen explains how you can use iBooks to proof your EPUBs on an iOS device. Much has been said about the FCC’s proposed net neutrality regulations, but Josh points out that they won’t fix many of our broadband woes. FunBITS returns this week, as Julio Ojeda-Zapata explores the Sling TV service, which offers cord cutters many basic cable channels for $20 a month. Finally, we have a new chapticle from Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Security for Mac Users” that explains how to improve your passwords. Notable software releases this week include VMware Fusion 7.1.1, Coda 2.5.6, Audio Hijack 3.0.2, DEVONagent Lite, Express, and Pro 3.9, OmniFocus 2.1, and Airfoil 4.8.13.

TidBITS #1259 on 2015-02-16

This week in TidBITS, we look at Apple’s response to graphics failures in the 15- and 17-inch 2011 MacBook Pros. Topher Kessler of MacIssues joins us to explain the situation and explore what actions affected owners can take. If you’ve felt that Apple’s Safari Web browser is falling behind the competition, Michael Cohen shares four neat tricks that make Safari more compelling. Microsoft has released a version of its Outlook email, calendaring, and contact app for iOS, and Julio Ojeda-Zapata examines why you may want to consider it — along with one important reason why you might not. Finally, we have a new chapticle from Joe Kissell’s streamed “Take Control of Security for Mac Users” that delves into OS X’s Gatekeeper technology and how to configure user accounts for optimal security. Notable software releases this week include Hazel 3.3.4, Microsoft Office 2011 14.4.8, BusyCal 2.6.4, and PDFpen and PDFpenPro 7.0.2.

TidBITS #1258 on 2015-02-09

This week in TidBITS, Jason Snell, former lead editor of Macworld, takes a look at the beta release of Apple’s new Photos for OS X, which will be replacing iPhoto and Aperture later this year. In a surprise decision, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler came out in favor of Title II reclassification for broadband providers (and they’re not happy about it) — Geoff Duncan examines the potential ramifications. Rumors are swirling about an Apple-branded stylus, and Josh Centers explains why he thinks an Apple Pen could be in our future. Mariva H. Aviram concludes her series on computing for the visually impaired with a look at hardware, ergonomics, and innovations that can help low vision users. Finally, we’re pleased to announce a new version of Charles Edge’s “Take Control of OS X Server” that’s updated for Yosemite Server, along with a new chapticle from Joe Kissell’s streamed “Take Control of Security for Mac Users” that walks you through quick security fixes every user should take. Notable software releases this week include Evernote 6.0.6 and Mellel 3.3.8.

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