Thoughtful, detailed coverage of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, plus the TidBITS Content Network for Apple consultants.

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):

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TidBITS #1363 on 2017-04-03

Apple has just released iOS 10.3.1 with a critical security fix, so be sure to update if you’re running 10.3 now. Speaking of fixes, macOS 10.12.4 may address some of Sierra’s PDF rendering woes, but it also introduces new PDF-related bugs. Republicans in the U.S. Congress have voted to undo Obama-era ISP privacy rules, but Josh Centers explains why not much is actually changing. Michael Cohen covers the many changes in the latest iWork updates, and Jeff Carlson reviews Macphun’s Luminar, an alternative to Adobe Photoshop that combines all of Macphun’s standalone apps into one. Finally, you can save 50 percent on all Take Control titles through 9 April 2017! Notable software releases this week include Tinderbox 7.0.2, Apple Configurator 2.4, macOS Server 5.3, Skype 7.49, BBEdit 11.6.5, DEVONthink 2.9.11/DEVONnote 2.9.11, Safari 10.1, and Security Update 2017-001 (Yosemite and El Capitan).

TidBITS #1362 on 2017-03-27

Since our last issue of TidBITS, Apple has flooded us with newsworthy moves. First, the company replaced the iPad Air 2 with a new iPad for a surprisingly low price, tweaked the iPad mini line, added PRODUCT(RED) iPhone 7 models, and doubled the storage capacity of the iPhone SE. It also released updates to iOS 10, macOS 10.12, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10. The iOS 10.3 update is particularly notable because it introduces a new file system, the capability to track down lost AirPods, and other significant refinements. To top it all off, Apple purchased the iOS automation app Workflow, and Josh Centers ponders what that could mean for the future of Apple automation. Finally, Adam Engst explains why the Take Control Web site was briefly labeled as “Not Secure” by the Google Chrome Web browser. Notable software releases this week include iTunes 12.6, EagleFiler 1.7.5, GraphicConverter 10.4, HoudahGeo 5.1.8, PopChar X 7.7, and Default Folder X 5.1.4.

TidBITS #1361 on 2017-03-20

In TidBITS this week, Josh Centers profiles both an inexpensive iPad case that’s great for little kids and the handy Wi-Fi Widget for iOS, which simplifies working with Wi-Fi info and settings. Julio Ojeda-Zapata reviews nine accessories that you might find useful for charging Apple devices. Finally, we cover 23 conferences that Apple professionals can attend in 2017. Notable software releases this week include Microsoft Office 2016 15.32, Fantastical 2.3.4, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 8.3.3, ChronoSync 4.7.5, and ClamXav 2.12.1.

TidBITS #1360 on 2017-03-13

In this issue of TidBITS, we bid a fond adieu to our friend and long-time Mac writer Tom Negrino, who will soon take his life in the face of terminal cancer. In happier news, Jeff Carlson tells you how you can improve your MacBook Pro’s battery life by identifying apps that are using the high-performance graphics processor. Adam Engst reviews two inexpensive Bluetooth earbuds that are easier to find and way cheaper than Apple’s AirPods, and he also explains how to use iOS’s Wallet app to manage airplane boarding passes. Notable software releases this week include 1Password 6.6.2, Hazel 4.0.9, Lightroom CC 2015.9 and Lightroom 6.9, and ChronoSync 4.7.4.

TidBITS #1359 on 2017-03-06

This issue of TidBITS kicks off with some news: Bare Bones Software is replacing its free TextWrangler text editor with the equally free but more capable demo version of BBEdit, and Dropbox is rebranding its paid Pro tier and getting rid of the Public folder. Julio Ojeda-Zapata takes a look at the nostalgic Elago W3 Apple Watch stand, which bears a striking resemblance to a 128K Macintosh, and Josh Centers shows you how to set up Philips Hue lights as a high wind alarm. To wrap up the issue, we take a deep dive into the macOS Dock. Notable software releases this week include Nisus Writer Pro 2.1.7, RapidWeaver 7.3, EagleFiler 1.7.4, iFinance 4.2, and SpamSieve 2.9.28.

TidBITS #1358 on 2017-02-27

The privacy implications of smart TVs are back in the news after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission slapped TV maker Vizio with a hefty fine for its egregious data collection practices. “Take Control of Apple TV” author Josh Centers explains what’s going and what you can do about it. Josh also brings you another installment of “A Prairie HomeKit Companion” that discusses an alternative to Apple’s Home app. Should you have trouble with information stored in iCloud (corrupted contacts, anyone?) Michael Cohen has a helpful guide on how to restore your data from iCloud’s Web interface. Finally, Julio Ojeda-Zapata takes a look at five keyboard cases for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Notable software releases this week include TextExpander 6.1.7, Apple Remote Desktop 3.9, SoundSource 3.0.1, Slack for Mac 2.5.1, Logic Pro X 10.3.1, BBEdit 11.6.4, Tinderbox 7.0, and 1Password 6.6.1.

TidBITS #1357 on 2017-02-20

Feeling pressure from Verizon and T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint have both expanded their unlimited data options, but there are caveats associated with both. Those hoping to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in 2017 can look forward to a return to San Jose in June — the ticket lottery will open in late March. Developer Rogue Amoeba has released SoundSource 3, a simple yet powerful audio device management app for the Mac; Josh Centers shares how you may be able to get it for free. If you’ve had trouble with PDFpen crashing on launch (or with 1Password or Soulver), Adam Engst explains what’s going on and how to fix it. Finally, about a year after Apple added imperfect iCloud support to iBooks, ebook maven Michael Cohen revisits his criticisms from a previous article to see which Apple has resolved and which remain. Notable software releases this week include ScreenFlow 6.2.1, GarageBand 10.1.6, Parallels Desktop 12.1.3, and Microsoft Office 2016 15.31.

TidBITS #1356 on 2017-02-13

TidBITS is expanding — Adam Engst introduces our new TidBITS Content Network, a syndicated content service designed to help Apple consultants, resellers, and other professionals populate their blogs, newsletters, and social media streams. Wireless carriers are coming full circle, as Verizon Wireless reintroduces an “unlimited” data plan at a reasonable price. QR codes, which make it easy to share URLs and other bits of data in the physical world, have never quite caught on. Google hopes to change that by including a QR code scanner in the iOS version of its Google Chrome Web browser. We welcome a new sponsor this week: Squarespace, which makes creating and hosting beautiful Web sites fast and easy. Josh Centers is a longtime customer, and he gives a few usage tips and tells you how you can save 10 percent on your first purchase. Finally, Josh dives back into his “A Prairie HomeKit Companion” series with a look at Automations. Notable software releases this week include Alfred 3.3 and TextExpander 6.1.5.

TidBITS #1355 on 2017-02-06

Apple saw what looked like a return to growth in Q1 2017, thanks to record iPhone and Mac sales, but is it possible that a “leap week” skewed the results? Also on the business front, Josh Centers tells the story of the Airwalk shoe company and how it illustrates the importance of the professional market to Apple. Apple silently updated the AirPods firmware to fix minor bugs, so we explain how you can be sure to get the update. Finally, we have the next installment in our “A Prairie HomeKit Companion” series, getting into the actual control of your home automation devices. Notable software releases this week include Airfoil 5.5.2 and CleanMyMac 3.7.2.

TidBITS #1354 on 2017-01-30

This issue of TidBITS coincides with Joe Kissell’s latest book, the essential “Take Control of Your Digital Legacy,” which will help you ensure that your digital photos, videos, email, and documents can be passed on to your family. In an engaging chat with his (fictional) Aunt Agatha, Joe explains the basics of why you should care about your digital legacy and where to focus first. Last week in ExtraBITS, we linked to a Reddit thread that erroneously claimed Apple was deleting reviews for the LG UltraFine 5K Display — in retracting our criticism, Adam Engst explains what we should have done and rounds up legitimate problem reports. Slack has introduced the much-requested threading to the company’s eponymous group messaging service, but as Slack expert Glenn Fleishman explains, the feature feels a bit tacked-on. Josh Centers has the next entry in his “A Prairie HomeKit Companion” series, explaining the initial setup of HomeKit to prepare your home for automation. Finally, Adam Engst reviews Setapp, MacPaw’s new subscription service that provides full access to over 60 independent Mac apps for $9.99 per month. Notable software releases this week include DEVONthink 2.9.10/DEVONnote 2.9.9, Quicken 2017 for Mac 4.4.3, Art Text 3.2, ChronoSync 4.7.3, Safari 10.0.3, and iTunes 12.5.5.

TidBITS #1353 on 2017-01-23

Apple has updated all of its operating systems, including a macOS Sierra update that promises to address a major PDF bug, but read on to learn why you should probably wait to install the updates. Some confusing reports claim that Apple has added Netflix support to its TV apps for iOS and tvOS, but Josh Centers explains why this isn’t quite true. Jeff Porten follows up on his CES coverage with a discussion of how 5G cellular networking could change the way you use the Internet from mobile devices. Finally, as a bonus, Adam Engst has compiled your stories about Mac automation, which he will also send to Apple executives. The response was overwhelming, so don’t feel obligated to read every story right away, but many of them are amazing. Notable software releases this week include Final Cut Pro X 10.3.2, Compressor 4.3.1, and Motion 5.3.1, BusyCal 3.1.4 and BusyContacts 1.1.6, Mailplane 3.6.9, Boom 2 v1.5.2, Logic Pro X 10.3, and Security Update 2016-007 (Yosemite) and 2016-003 Supplemental (El Capitan).

TidBITS #1352 on 2017-01-16

Consumer Reports initially issued a “not recommended” rating for the 2016 MacBook Pro, citing poor battery life, but later recanted after learning that an Apple software bug that no user would ever experience was skewing their test results. Glenn Fleishman explains the mistakes Consumer Reports made and why it matters. Also this week, Jeff Porten wraps up his CES 2017 coverage, with a broad selection of gadgets and gizmos from the show floor. And Adam Engst reviews Ookla’s Speedtest app for the Mac, which lets you test your Internet performance with just a couple of clicks. Notable software releases this week include Fantastical 2.3.3, HoudahGeo 5.1.5, and Typinator 7.1.

TidBITS #1351 on 2017-01-09

All the big news this week comes from the CES show in Las Vegas, where our roaming gonzo reporter Jeff Porten scoured the show floors to find the best gizmos and gadgets for 2017. Also this week, Adam Engst wants to know how you use automation on the Mac. That’s because Apple has eliminated the position of Product Manager of Automation Technologies, and we want to let Apple know how important Mac automation is to you. We’ll compile your stories into a future article and forward it to Apple executives. Notable software releases this week include OmniFocus 2.8 and Default Folder X 5.1.2.

TidBITS #1350 on 2017-01-02

Welcome to 2017 and thanks for your continued support! The big news in the Apple world over the last two weeks was the much-anticipated release of the AirPods — Julio Ojeda-Zapata reviews Apple’s wireless earbuds, and Josh Centers explains how you may be able to fix connection and stuttering problems. macOS 10.12.2 Sierra made its appearance after our last issue too, and while it addresses some glitches with the new MacBook Pro models, it introduces a serious new problem with editing PDFs to Sierra’s already troubled PDF support. If you need help with Sierra, you might turn to Apple’s new Apple Support app for iOS — it doesn’t provide anything you can’t find on the Web, but it might be easier to navigate. Finally, Glenn Fleishman takes a deep dive into ChronoSync 4.7’s intriguing new features to see if it makes sense for cloud backup. Notable software releases this week include SEE Finance 1.1.2, ChronoSync 4.7.2, HandBrake 1.0.1, GraphicConverter 10.3, Quicken 2017 for Mac 4.4.1, LaunchBar 6.8, MoneyWiz 2.5.3, Default Folder X 5.1, Boom 2 v1.5.1, Capto 1.2.3, BBEdit 11.6.3, and iTunes 12.5.4.

TidBITS #1349 on 2016-12-12

This is our last issue of TidBITS for the year, so we’d like to thank everyone who makes what we do possible. Until the next email issue on 2 January 2017, keep an eye on our Web site for new articles. Another sign of the season is the WinterFest sale, in which you can save 25 percent on both Take Control books and 14 of our favorite Mac productivity apps. As we were putting this issue to bed, Apple released three notable operating system updates — iOS 10.2, tvOS 10.1, and watchOS 3.1.1 — so we scrambled to explain what’s new, with a focus on the new TV app for iOS and tvOS. Next, Josh Centers reviews the Mangobeat iPhone amplifier, and Michael Cohen examines Apple’s new iBooks StoryTime app for the Apple TV. We wrap up the issue and the year with reviews of two TV services — PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now — for those who want to stop paying so much for cable TV. Notable software releases this week include BusyCal 3.1.3 and BusyContacts 1.1.5, SpamSieve 2.9.27, Little Snitch 3.7.1, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 8.3, and Lightroom CC 2015.8 and Lightroom 6.8.

TidBITS #1348 on 2016-12-05

TidBITS has covered Apple and the Mac for over 26 years, and if you appreciate our content, we need your support. Apart from a couple of sponsors, TidBITS readers like you pay for the articles in every issue of TidBITS. This week, Andy Affleck explains how to block the iCloud calendar spam that affected so many Apple users over the Thanksgiving holiday. Josh Centers shows you how to watch Netflix content offline on your iOS devices and how to use Amazon’s Package X-Ray feature to sort out holiday gifts. TidBITS reader Mike Matthews joins us to demonstrate the Carpool-Kids service, which simplifies managing carpools for busy families. Finally, Jeff Porten warns about problems copying large quantities of data across external USB drives connected to the new MacBook Pro. If you find these articles useful, please become a TidBITS member to help keep them coming! Notable software releases this week include DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.9.8, Live Home 3D 3.1, Mailplane 3.6.8, 1Password 6.5.2, Fantastical 2.3.1, and Typinator 7.0.

TidBITS #1347 on 2016-11-21

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the United States — the next email issue of TidBITS will appear on 5 December 2016 so the TidBITS crew can prep for and enjoy the holiday this week. Apple has released a $299 book, no, not a MacBook, but rather a picture book showing off Apple’s designs. The company has also launched two iPhone repair programs: one to address “touch disease” in the iPhone 6 Plus and another to fix unplanned shutdowns on the iPhone 6s. Many Mac users are feeling glum over the Mac’s prospects — Adam Engst addresses that in two articles: one explaining why Apple has marginalized the Mac and another describing what the MacBook lineup should look like. Finally, Michael Cohen ponders the Touch Bar in the new MacBook Pros and how it could address a long-standing computer interface limitation. Notable software releases this week include Alfred 3.2, Microsoft Office 2016 15.28 and Office 2011 14.7, Hazel 4.0.8, Slack for Mac 2.3.2, Postbox 5.0.7, ChronoSync 4.7.1, 1Password 6.5.1, and Pixelmator 3.6.

TidBITS #1346 on 2016-11-14

macOS 10.12 Sierra’s Optimized Storage offers a lot of ways to save drive space, but it seems that some of them can turn on without your consent. If that happens to you, Adam Engst explains how to turn them off again. Many creative professionals are perturbed by Apple’s lack of attention to the desktop Mac line, so Julio Ojeda-Zapata takes a look at Microsoft’s new touch-enabled Surface Studio desktop PC to see if the competition might inspire Apple’s hardware designers. If Apple wants to get into the content business, it needs content, so Josh Centers offers four reasons why buying Time Warner would be a straightforward solution to Apple’s needs. Finally, Josh kicks off a new series about HomeKit with an overview of how Apple’s home automation system works. Notable software releases this week include Quicken 2017 for Mac 4.3, Airfoil 5.5.1, Capto 1.2.1, Mellel 3.5.2, BusyCal 3.1.2 and BusyContacts 1.1.4, and DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.9.7.

TidBITS #1345 on 2016-11-07

First off, if you’re a U.S. citizen, please go vote on Tuesday for the candidates whose experience you believe best qualifies them for the jobs at hand. Elections aren’t about picking a new best friend or making a statement; they’re how we hire high-level employees whose actions will affect the entire planet. Meanwhile, back in the Apple world, if you’ve seen several seemingly identical iTunes updates in the past week, you’re not going crazy — Adam Engst explains what happened, though the differences between the updates remain a mystery. Julio Ojeda-Zapata reviews Feed Hawk, which makes it easier to subscribe to RSS feeds on iOS. Many Apple users are annoyed by the number of peripheral adapters they’ll need for a new Thunderbolt 3-only MacBook Pro, but thankfully Apple is temporarily cutting prices on its Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C accessories. And if the complicated world of Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C has you boggled, Glenn Fleishman joins us to explain what each of these standards is, how they relate to each other, and what other protocols they support. Notable software releases this week include Fantastical 2.3 and Nisus Writer Pro 2.1.6.

TidBITS #1344 on 2016-10-31

We kick off this issue with iOS 10.1.1, which fixes a problem with displaying Health data. Despite a fiscal quarter that saw the launch of new iPhones and Apple Watches, Apple’s revenues are still in a slump — Josh Centers and Michael Cohen team up to explain what that means. Last week, Apple announced two major new products: new MacBook Pro laptops with the Touch Bar and a new app, called TV, that aims to integrate video content from multiple apps in both tvOS and iOS. If you’re considering one of Apple’s new notebooks, Joe Kissell offers a thorough explanation on how to migrate your data to your new Mac. Notable software releases this week include VMware Fusion 8.5.1, DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.9.6, Final Cut Pro X 10.3, Compressor 4.3, Motion 5.3, Airfoil 5.5, GarageBand 10.1.3, iMovie 10.1.3, Pages 6.0.5, Numbers 4.0.5, and Keynote 7.0.5 for Mac, iTunes 12.5.2, MoneyWiz 2.5, Safari 10.0.1, Security Update 2016-006 (Yosemite) and 2016-002 (El Capitan), Art Text 3.1, Keyboard Maestro 7.3.1, Slack for Mac 2.3, and Moneydance 2017.

TidBITS #1343 on 2016-10-24

In this news-heavy edition of TidBITS, we cover Apple’s latest round of operating system updates: iOS 10.1, macOS 10.12.1 Sierra, watchOS 3.1, and tvOS 10.0.1, which squash bugs and add a few new features. MacTech has announced that Marshall Smith, NASA’s Chief Engineer of Human Exploration Systems, will deliver the keynote at the 2016 MacTech Conference — you can meet him, as well as Adam and Tonya and several Take Control authors, at the conference next month! Amazon has a serious problem with counterfeit Apple accessories, and Josh Centers explains why Apple is taking legal action. Finally, a massive denial of service attack made much of the U.S. Internet inaccessible on 21 October 2016 — Jeff Porten explains what a DDoS attack is and makes a case for how we as a society should respond. Notable software releases this week include Mactracker 7.6, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 8.2.1, ChronoSync 4.7 and ChronoAgent 1.6.1, SpamSieve 2.9.26, 1Password 6.3.5, BusyCal 3.1.1, and Audio Hijack 3.3.2.

TidBITS #1342 on 2016-10-17

Apple has released iOS 10.0.3 to correct cellular connectivity problems on the iPhone 7 models. Siri is new to macOS 10.12 Sierra, but unlike its iOS sibling, it doesn’t automatically support the “Hey Siri” invocation. However, Adam Engst shares a tip from Scholle McFarland’s “Sierra: A Take Control Crash Course” that shows you how you can activate Siri hands-free. Julio Ojeda-Zapata provides an overview of Google’s latest product announcements and examines how they challenge Apple’s offerings. Finally, Adam rounds up five features missing from Sierra and explains how to work around them. Notable software releases this week include Microsoft Office 2016 15.27 and Office 2011 14.6.9, OmniFocus 2.7.2, Typinator 6.11, and TextExpander 6.1.

TidBITS #1341 on 2016-10-10

If you know you should get to bed earlier, give iOS 10’s new Bedtime timer a try — Josh Centers explains how to use it. He clearly has sleep on the brain this week, given his review of the Studio Neat Material Dock, which holds both an iPhone and an Apple Watch by your bedside. For those lamenting the eFax acquisition of Internet faxing service MaxEmail, or anyone who needs to send or receive the occasional fax, Randy Singer joins us to provide some recommendations for alternative services. Finally, Julio Ojeda-Zapata takes a look at the Instagram photo-sharing social network and makes the case that it’s more interesting than many veteran Apple users may have thought. Notable software releases this week include iFinance 4.1.3, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 8.2, and DEVONthink 2.9.5.

TidBITS #1340 on 2016-10-03

We kick off this issue of TidBITS by revealing a subtle feature of macOS 10.12 Sierra that can help make your Desktop a neater place. ScanSnap scanner users who have been putting off a Sierra upgrade can likely move ahead now that Fujitsu has published full details of the conflicts, which turn out to be easily avoided. If you’re perturbed by how the iPhone 7 said sayonara to the headphone jack, Josh Centers reviews four affordable wireless audio solutions to ease the sting. Finally, Glenn Fleishman looks at three iMessage apps that let you send money to a friend via Messages in iOS. Notable software releases this week include Default Folder X 5.0.7 and Airfoil 5.1.2.

TidBITS #1339 on 2016-09-26

Apple was quick to deliver iOS 10.0.1 and 10.0.2 last week to address some early bugs, most notably problems that prevented headphone audio controls from working reliably. The company also released macOS 10.12 Sierra, and Michael Cohen offers highlights of the new operating system. That said, if you use a ScanSnap scanner, Adam Engst explains why you should hold off on the upgrade. The developer beta of iOS 10.1 enhances the dual-camera iPhone 7 Plus with the promised Portrait mode, which offers a professional-looking bokeh effect — Glenn Fleishman provides an explanation of the feature and a preview of how it works. Finally, macOS Sierra brought with it an avalanche of app updates, so the long list of notable software releases this week includes: Postbox 5.0.2, Sandvox 2.10.8, Tweetbot 2.4.3, TextWrangler 5.5.2, HoudahGeo 5.1, Parallels Desktop 12.0.2, Mailplane 3.6.7, CleanMyMac 3.5.1, Gemini 2.2.2, Safari 10.0, 1Password 6.3.3, Firefox 49.0, OmniFocus 2.7, Capto 1.1, Lightroom CC 2015.7 and Lightroom 6.7, Pages 6.0, Numbers 4.0, and Keynote 7.0 for Mac, SpamSieve 2.9.25, macOS Server 5.2, KeyCue 8.2, iBooks Author 2.5, and BBEdit 11.6.2.

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