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 #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.

TidBITS #1257 on 2015-02-02

In this week’s issue of TidBITS, we bring you the details on OS X 10.10.2 Yosemite, iOS 8.1.3, and Apple TV 7.0.3. Apple’s first quarter of 2015 has come and gone, with record-shattering sales and an official timeframe for the Apple Watch’s release. Glenn Fleishman reviews Audio Hijack 3, a major update that completely overhauls the popular audio workflow app. Mariva H. Aviram continues her series on computing for the visually impaired, this time focusing on software solutions to accessibility problems. Last, but far from least, we’re offering the first two chapters of Joe Kissell’s upcoming “Take Control of Security for Mac Users” for all to read. If you like what you see, you can read the remaining chapters as they’re released by becoming a TidBITS member. Notable software releases this week include Remote Desktop 3.8, Alfred 2.6, Downcast 1.1.6, SpamSieve 2.9.19, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 7.0.1, DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.8.3, Audio Hijack 3.0.1, iTunes 12.1, 1Password 5.1, Carbon Copy Cloner 4.0.5, and Security Update 2015-001 (Mountain Lion and Mavericks).

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.

Next 25 issues