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):

Next 25 issues
 

TidBITS #1374 on 2017-06-26

You can save 25 percent on 15 great Mac apps and all Take Control titles through 29 June 2017 in the annual SummerFest sale. Virgin Mobile USA is going iPhone-only with a deal that’s almost too good to be true: an entire year of service for $1. But what does Apple’s partnership with Virgin Mobile mean? Back to more practical matters, Josh Centers takes you for a drive to show off the quirky TechMatte MagGrip CD Slot iPhone car mount. Finally, Josh explains how to ensure broadband access when buying a new home. Notable software releases this week include LaunchBar 6.9, Aeon Timeline 2.2.3, and Airfoil 5.6.1.

TidBITS #1373 on 2017-06-19

Apple didn’t say much about the Apple TV at this year’s WWDC keynote, but tvOS 11 is indeed on the way. “Take Control of Apple TV” author Josh Centers tells you what to expect later this year. Josh also takes a look at the Elgato Eve Room, a HomeKit-compatible sensor that tracks temperature, relative humidity, and air quality. He walks you through how to use it to automate a dehumidifier, a process that you could extend to other appliances like fans and heaters. Finally, Adam Engst reports on Tim Cook’s recent reveal that Apple is working on an autonomous driving system and explores what that may mean for the automotive world and the long-rumored Apple Car. Notable software releases this week include Tinderbox 7.1, Microsoft Office 2016 15.35 and Office 2011 14.7.5, OmniFocus 2.10, BBEdit 11.6.7, PopChar X 8.0, and Pages 6.2, Numbers 4.2, and Keynote 7.2 for Mac.

TidBITS #1372 on 2017-06-12

We wrap up this year’s WWDC keynote coverage with a look at new Mac hardware, including the upcoming iMac Pro. Thinking about buying one of Apple’s new iMacs? Wait! Adam Engst tells you how to get the most bang for your buck when ordering — some configurations that may seem identical aren’t, and you could lose graphics performance if you’re not careful. Adam also recaps this year’s ACEs Conference, which made him yearn for his consulting days. Rounding out the issue, Josh Centers explains how to control your payment cards from your iPhone, and William Porter looks at what’s new in FileMaker 16. Notable software releases this week include Boom 3D 1.0, GarageBand 10.2, and Swift Publisher 5.0.

TidBITS #1371 on 2017-06-05

Today brought an extra long keynote for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, and in addition to the expected macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS updates, Apple announced a slew of hardware, including refreshed iMacs and MacBook Pros, a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and an updated 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Also in the hardware pipeline is a high-end iMac Pro and Apple’s entry in the smart speaker race, the HomePod. We’ve been writing hard all day, so apologies in advance for any rough edges that we didn’t have time to smooth out! Notable software releases this week include Evernote 6.11.1, Quicken 2017 for Mac 4.5.6, Fantastical 2.3.8, DEVONagent 3.9.7, DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.9.12, Caboodle 2.0.3, iMovie 10.1.6, BBEdit 11.6.6, and HoudahGeo 5.1.9.

TidBITS #1370 on 2017-05-22

There won’t be an email issue of TidBITS next week — we’re taking Memorial Day off to spend time with our families, but articles will continue to appear on our Web site, and we’ll be back on 5 June 2017 with coverage of Apple’s WWDC keynote. Apple automation guru Sal Soghoian has created a new conference, CMD-D, that will help you up your automation game. Matt Neuburg rejoins us to discuss what it took to update the TidBITS News app for the iOS 10 era. Julio Ojeda-Zapata covers announcements from the Google I/O conference that will have ramifications for the Apple universe. Finally, we have an excerpt from Scholle McFarland’s new book, “Take Control of Calendar and Reminders,” which will help you solve common problems with those apps. Notable software releases this week include OmniOutliner Essentials and Pro 5.0.4, TextExpander 6.2.1, Things 3.0.2, Microsoft Office 2016 15.34 and Office 2011 14.7.4, Mellel 3.5.3, KeyCue 8.4, Airfoil 5.6, iTunes 12.6.1, Safari 10.1.1, and Security Update 2017-002 (Yosemite and El Capitan).

TidBITS #1369 on 2017-05-15

Apple has once again updated all of its operating systems, but don’t go looking for new features — these updates fall squarely in the bug fix category. Two lucky TidBITS readers will be getting into the 2017 iBooks Author Conference for free, and the rest of you can save 20 percent on the $600 tickets. Apple will be deprecating 32-bit iOS apps soon, but the good news is that we’ve made arrangements to bring the TidBITS News app into the modern world! In this issue’s feature stories, Mike Matthews runs through things to consider before enabling iCloud Photo Library, and Julio Ojeda-Zapata describes what he packed in order to leave his Mac at home during his last vacation. Notable software releases this week include Fantastical 2.3.7, PopChar X 7.7.1, and Default Folder X 5.1.5.

TidBITS #1368 on 2017-05-08

Apple’s Q2 2017 financial results were much better for our favorite computer company than those from the year-ago quarter, even if they were a little dull. Apple CEO Tim Cook used the quarterly investor call to launch a campaign touting the jobs Apple creates in the United States — presumably as a way to woo the current administration into helping Apple repatriate its offshore cash. A massive phishing attack hit Google Docs last week, and although Google plugged it right away, Adam Engst shows how you can better secure your Google account. Microsoft hosted an event dedicated to education, and Julio Ojeda-Zapata provides a breakdown of the Apple-targeted announcements, including a new version of Windows, a new Surface laptop, and an interesting addition to the popular game Minecraft. Geoff Duncan joins us to take a look at the Republican proposal to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules, and finally this week, you can win a pass to this year’s iBooks Author Conference in our latest DealBITS drawing. Notable software releases this week include OmniFocus 2.9.1 and OmniOutliner Essentials and Pro 5.0.3.

TidBITS #1367 on 2017-05-01

There’s huge news in the TidBITS universe today: Adam and Tonya have sold Take Control Books to Joe Kissell in order to focus more on TidBITS, the TidBITS Content Network, and new projects. Don’t worry, Adam and Tonya will still be involved with Take Control, and no one is more qualified to captain the Take Control ship than Joe. In other news, Julio Ojeda-Zapata reviews Apple’s Clips, a new social-focused video creation app for iOS, and Josh Centers suggests three reasons why you should give the Opera Web browser a look. Finally, in a new entry in his A Prairie HomeKit Companion series, Josh compares two HomeKit-compatible smart outlets, Elgato’s Eve Energy and iHome’s iSP5. Notable software releases this week include Tweetbot 2.5, 1Password 6.7.1, ChronoSync 4.7.6 and ChronoAgent 1.6.2, Typinator 7.2, and Pages 6.1.1, Numbers 4.1.1, and Keynote 7.1.1 for Mac.

TidBITS #1366 on 2017-04-24

In 2013, Apple made the iLife and iWork suites free for new Mac and iOS device buyers, and the company has now made the apps free for everyone. In other timely news, dates and locations for the roaming MacTech Pro events have been announced, and Apple has released its tenth annual Environmental Responsibility Report with some bold goals. Looking back, you can take a trip down memory lane with the Internet Archive’s new Mac emulator, which lets you run dozens of classic Mac apps in a Web browser. Back in the present, Geoff Duncan joins us to examine your options for maintaining privacy when bringing digital devices into the United States. Finally, you can save 30 percent on Letter Opener for macOS Mail from Creative in Austria, which helps Mac users deal with winmail.dat email attachments. Notable software releases this week include EagleFiler 1.7.6, Parallels Desktop 12.2.0, and Lightroom CC 2015.10 and Lightroom 6.10.

TidBITS #1365 on 2017-04-17

This issue marks the 27th anniversary of TidBITS! With his son Tristan starting college in a few months, Adam Engst thinks about what he might be able to do for TidBITS without the burden of daily parenting. Adam also has a warning for folks who use BusyCal 2 with Google Calendar: upgrade as soon as possible, since BusyCal 2 will soon no longer work with Google Calendar. Michael Cohen looks at what’s new in PDFpen 9, and Adam offers a preview of the upcoming business-oriented ACEs Conference for IT consultants, where he’ll be speaking. Finally, Mike Matthews joins us this week to compare five iOS travel management apps — read on to see which one reigns supreme. Notable software releases this week include Evernote 6.11, OmniFocus 2.9, Final Cut Pro X 10.3.3, Compressor 4.3.2, and Motion 5.3.2, and iMovie 10.1.5.

TidBITS #1364 on 2017-04-10

Apple issued a rare mea culpa last week, all but calling the 2013 Mac Pro a mistake, dropping prices on that model by $1000, and promising a new Mac Pro in the coming years. If Verizon is your home ISP, pay attention, because the company will soon be dropping its email service for customers; Josh Centers offers some suggestions for switching. Michael Cohen looks at the TextExpander subscription service a year in; despite the initial controversy, it seems to be panning out well. Adam Engst explores the mystery of which key you should press in macOS 10.12 Sierra to reveal the Library folder in the Finder’s Go menu. Lastly, in our latest DealBITS drawing, you could win a copy of Letter Opener for macOS Mail, which automatically decodes those annoying winmail.dat files from Windows users. The only notable software release this week was OmniOutliner Essentials and Pro 5.0.1.

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.

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