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



Pick an apple! 

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):

Previous 25 issues | Next 25 issues

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.

TidBITS #1338 on 2016-09-19

Apple has released iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10 — we have highlights and tips for all three operating systems, plus three Take Control titles covering iOS 10 and macOS 10.12 Sierra. Sierra is due to drop tomorrow, and Adam Engst prepares you for its Optimized Storage features, telling you which to enable and which to avoid. Finally, Apple has lowered its screen replacement costs, making AppleCare+ a better deal for those of us who punish our iPhones. Notable software releases this week include Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1.10, VMware Fusion 8.5, BusyContacts 1.1.2, SuperDuper 2.9.1, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 8.1, Keyboard Maestro 7.3, Boom 2 v1.5, BusyCal 3.0.6, and iTunes 12.5.1.

TidBITS #1337 on 2016-09-12

We have huge news for you this week, as Apple has announced the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, as well as the Apple Watch Series 2. But that’s not all: Apple also unveiled the AirPods, new Bluetooth wireless earbuds powered by a proprietary W1 chip. Apple’s September 7th event boasted other surprises as well, including new commitments to education, real-time collaboration features in iWork, and a Super Mario Bros. game for the iPhone. And if that weren’t enough, Apple that day also published the release date for macOS 10.12 Sierra and tweaked its iPad lineup. In other news, Dropbox is removing the capability to host Web pages with its service. Finally, Jeff Porten takes a deep look at how foreign hackers could affect the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Be sure to read ExtraBITS right away for news of a spectacular one-day sale on iTunes Movies! We have no TidBITS Watchlist for you this week, as most developers delayed releases to avoid being overshadowed by Apple’s announcements.

TidBITS #1336 on 2016-09-05

In response to an attack vector discovered by human rights activists, Apple has issued another set of urgent security updates, this time for OS X and Safari. The company has also been slapped with a massive tax bill by the European Commission over its controversial tax deal with Ireland, and neither the Irish nor U.S. government is happy about it. Responding to complaints, T-Mobile has tweaked its T-Mobile ONE “unlimited” data plan — Josh Centers has all the details. Josh also offers a complete guide to the Mac’s startup key combinations, which can be essential when you’re troubleshooting problems. Finally, Glenn Fleishman dives into the topic of Slack privacy to discuss how team admins could access your private messages. Notable software releases this week include Alfred 3.1, Default Folder X 5.0.6, Nisus Writer Pro 2.1.5, DEVONthink 2.9.4, iFinance 4.1, and EagleFiler 1.7.

TidBITS #1335 on 2016-08-29

Apple has released iOS 9.3.5, and you should install it immediately — read on for the tale of intrigue behind this update. Adam Engst has a beef with how Apple labels Mac audio outputs and inputs, along with a suggestion for how to fix it. Julio Ojeda-Zapata reviews Google’s new Duo video chat app, which works between iOS and Android, but may be a bit too simple. Finally, Michael Cohen takes a deep dive into all the many ways you can revisit pages in Safari on the Mac. Notable software releases this week include Microsoft Office 2016 15.25 and Office 2011 14.6.7, Fantastical 2.2.5, Pixelmator 3.5.1, BBEdit 11.6.1, and Typinator 6.10.

TidBITS #1334 on 2016-08-22

Cellular carriers are tweaking their plans in the lead-up to the next iPhone, with AT&T abandoning data overage charges and Sprint and T-Mobile offering new unlimited data plans. A new version of virtualization app Parallels Desktop is out, and with it comes a new Take Control book from Joe Kissell — Joe explains what’s new in Parallels and why you want “Take Control of Parallels Desktop 12.” If you’ve had trouble transferring a Take Control book or other file to your Kindle, Adam Engst has some solutions. Finally, get ready for new iPhones by learning about Find My iPhone: why you need it, how to turn it on, and when to turn it off. Notable software releases this week include LaunchBar 6.7.2 and OmniFocus 2.6.2.

TidBITS #1333 on 2016-08-15

Good news for owners of Eye-Fi X2 wireless storage cards: the company has released a new utility to set up and sync older Eye-Fi cards after the 15 September 2016 support cutoff date. Accessibility expert Steven Aquino rejoins us this week for a look at the new accessibility features coming to Apple’s ecosystem in the upcoming updates to macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Finally, Julio Ojeda-Zapata reviews the Markdown-focused Ulysses writing app for the Mac and iOS. Notable software releases this week include Parallels Desktop 11.2.1, 1Password 6.3.2, Storyspace 3.2, and DEVONthink 2.9.2.

TidBITS #1332 on 2016-08-08

Apple has released iOS 9.3.4 with just a single security fix, implying that it’s an important one to install. In the ongoing trend toward subscriptions, AgileBits has introduced a 1Password service that bundles software updates and cloud sync. Don’t worry, though, since the service is optional: the standalone 1Password apps remain available for purchase and will still receive development efforts. Apple has overhauled its remote control iOS app for the fourth-generation Apple TV — “Take Control of Apple TV” author Josh Centers has the details. Finally, we have sad news about the venerable digital commerce company Kagi, which is going out of business after nearly 22 years due to fraud. Adam Engst has the exclusive inside story on what went wrong. Notable software releases this week include Quicken 2016 for Mac 3.5.1, SEE Finance 1.0.10, Capto 1.0.3, OmniFocus 2.6.1, and DEVONthink 2.9.1.

TidBITS #1331 on 2016-08-01

Apple recorded $7.8 billion in profits and beat analyst expectations in Q3 2016, but the company is still battling falling sales and revenue, with only two bright spots: its burgeoning Services category, and the high-margin iPad Pro line. Speaking of the iPad Pro, Julio Ojeda-Zapata brings you a thorough comparison of both models, so you can decide which is right for you. Finally, Josh Centers dives into home automation with a detailed look at the Philips Hue smart light bulbs, explaining why they’re interesting and how to set them up correctly. Notable software releases this week include iTunes 12.4.3, Mellel 3.5.1, Lightroom CC 2015.6.1 and Lightroom 6.6.1, GraphicConverter 10.1, and TextWrangler 5.5.

TidBITS #1330 on 2016-07-25

You asked for it, and now you’ve got it: we just released “Take Control of Preview,” significantly expanding on our “Power of Preview” series! In it, Josh Centers and Adam Engst guide you through all the secret powers of the Mac’s built-in image and PDF viewer. Adam also warns that iCloud’s Find My Mac feature can be disabled by just resetting your Mac’s NVRAM, which may be a blessing or a curse. Glenn Fleishman discusses Firefox’s gradual deprecation of Adobe Flash, and Jeff Carlson returns to TidBITS to explain why the Lightroom for iOS 2.4 update is big news for photographers. Notable software releases this week include Alfred 3.0.3, Tinderbox 6.6.2, Evernote 6.8, DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.9, BusyCal 3.0.4, PopChar X 7.6, Safari 9.1.2, and Security Update 2016-004 (Mavericks and Yosemite).

TidBITS #1329 on 2016-07-18

Apple has updated all of its operating systems with security updates and a few bug fixes, but no new features — we recommend holding off for a bit until early adopters have determined if there are likely to be any problems. Josh Centers took Walmart Pay for a spin and reports that it’s not as bad as you might think. While he was at Walmart, he also captured a Pidgey — if that’s confusing, never fear, since it was all part of his efforts to explain the Pokémon Go phenomenon that’s sweeping the world. Finally, Michael Cohen offers a first look at Scrivener for iOS — does the highly anticipated writing app live up to the hype? Notable software releases this week include iTunes 12.4.2, Microsoft Office 2016 15.24 and Office 2011 14.6.6, Airfoil 5.1.1, ClamXav 2.9, and LaunchBar 6.7.1.

TidBITS #1328 on 2016-07-11

Verizon Wireless is raising its data caps, but also its prices. Josh Centers evaluates the wireless carrier’s new plans, which come with some new features as well. It’s bittersweet news as Adam Engst bids farewell to Apple news site MacNN and legendary reseller Tekserve before wishing happy anniversaries to and Mactracker. Julio Ojeda-Zapata takes another look at Sling TV, which now boasts an app for the fourth-generation Apple TV. Finally, in our latest installment of OS X Hidden Treasures, Josh and Adam explain how to type emoji, accented letters, and other exotic characters on your Mac. Notable software releases this week include BBEdit 11.6, PDFpen and PDFpenPro 8.0.2, Mellel 3.5, Audio Hijack 3.3.1, and Capto 1.0.2.

TidBITS #1327 on 2016-07-04

Happy Independence Day to our readers in the United States! Celebrate with the new NASA app for the fourth-generation Apple TV, which Julio Ojeda-Zapata covers in this issue. Rumors are swirling that Apple might buy rapper Jay Z’s Tidal music service — the prescient Josh Centers explains why Tidal could be beneficial to Apple’s future. BusyCal has been updated to version 3 on the Mac, and with it, developer BusyMac has introduced an iOS variant of the popular alternative to Apple’s Calendar — Adam Engst evaluates both the Mac and iOS versions. To round out the issue, Julio looks at the Eero Wi-Fi mesh networking system, and Glenn Fleishman joins us to discuss how Eye-Fi is discontinuing support for many of its older Wi-Fi camera cards and what that means for other cloud-dependent hardware products. Notable software releases this week are brought to you by the letters “F” and “K” and include Fantastical 2.2.4, f.lux 37.3, KeyCue 8.1, and Keyboard Maestro 7.2.

TidBITS #1326 on 2016-06-27

The multi-developer SummerFest sale is going on now, offering 25 percent savings on Take Control books and 14 great Mac apps. In sad news, Apple has suddenly discontinued the 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, while failing to announce a replacement. On a happier note, Josh Centers looks at CiderTV, which offers a Notification Center widget to control your Apple TV even when your iPhone’s screen is locked. Michael Cohen explains how Apple’s forthcoming APFS file system will affect you — it’s all good, but not due until late 2017. Finally, Adam and Josh delve into the topic of copy and paste on the Mac, exposing some features that may surprise even Mac veterans. The only notable software release this week is BusyCal 3.0.1.

TidBITS #1325 on 2016-06-20

What’s the best way to share a password with a relative or colleague? Standard email and text messages aren’t safe, so Adam Engst reviews the Web app One-Time Secret, which provides a more secure solution. Adam also addresses reader complaints about macOS Sierra, reminding us that it won’t be available until this fall and that we should maintain optimism for the future. Julio Ojeda-Zapata joins us this week to discuss the state of virtual reality on the iPhone, including the accessories and apps that put your iPhone at the center of a virtual reality experience. Notable software releases this week include Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1.9, Microsoft Office 2016 15.23 and Office 2011 14.6.5, and LaunchBar 6.7.

TidBITS #1324 on 2016-06-13

Today was Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, with big announcements about the future of OS X, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS, along with the Swift programming language. Adam Engst recaps the WWDC keynote and delves into the new features coming to OS X, now rebranded as macOS. Josh Centers shares what will be new in iOS 10, Julio Ojeda-Zapata covers the changes planned for tvOS 10, and Tonya Engst explores the possibilities in watchOS 3. Finally, Michael Cohen explains what’s cool about Swift Playgrounds, Apple’s first step into app development on iOS. Notable software releases this week include Default Folder X 5.0.5, Lightroom CC 2015.6 and Lightroom 6.6, iTunes 12.4.1, Audio Hijack 3.3, and DEVONthink/DEVONnote 2.8.11.

Previous 25 issues | Next 25 issues