Why do Adobe users have to pay extra to use certain colors? Adam Engst dips his toe into the complex world of color and why Adobe Creative Cloud users must now subscribe to Pantone Connect or use a workaround to access “Pantone-ish” colors. Josh Centers discusses the official launch of Matter, which promises a future of home automation free from walled ecosystems but isn’t quite there yet. Freshly back from a trip to Greece, Adam reviews the svelte OneWorld 65W international adapter and charger, which can power up to six devices anywhere in the world. Josh talks about how SaneBox helped him tame his email where nothing else worked. Finally, we welcome e3 Software, makers of the Direct Mail email newsletter app, as a TidBITS sponsor. Notable Mac app releases this week include (deep breath) Transmit 5.9, Logic Pro 10.7.5, GarageBand 10.4.7, Photos Search 4.0, Pixelmator Pro 3.1, Ulysses 28, Alfred 5.0.5, Hazel 5.2, 1Password 8.9.8, Fantastical 3.7.3, and HoudahGeo 6.3.3.
We’re pleased to welcome our latest long-term TidBITS sponsor, e3 Software, makers of the Direct Mail email newsletter and marketing app for the Mac. At an individual level, email is easy, but it gets complicated once you want to build a list of recipients and send messages that go beyond text and a few simple graphics. Many people end up in that situation—perhaps you volunteer with a non-profit and want to send a monthly newsletter to a few hundred members. Or maybe you’re a consultant who wants to alert your clients to important security updates.
Direct Mail provides all the capabilities you need to grow your mailing list, compose attractive emails, send them with attention to deliverability, track their efficacy, collaborate with colleagues, automate responses, and integrate with other systems.
- Grow mailing lists: Direct Mail enables you to put subscribe forms on your website that sync with Direct Mail. You can also import existing contacts from other apps, CSV files, or databases. Subscribers can have custom fields, and you can target mailings to specific sub-groups to ensure people receive only appropriate messages. And, of course, Direct Mail supports one-click unsubscribe requests so you can be a good Internet citizen.
- Compose attractive emails: Creating HTML email is hard, so Direct Mail provides a gallery of professionally designed templates for you to customize. They display well on both desktop and mobile email clients, and a Design Test feature lets you preview screenshots of your message as it would look in over 50 email apps. You can even personalize messages with custom fields and add polls and surveys with results appearing in your campaign report.
- Send messages: The toughest part of sending email newsletters and marketing campaigns is deliverability. Direct Mail integrates with the e3 Delivery Service to provide optimal performance and deliverability—it supports SPF, Sender ID, DKIM, DMARC, and SMTP over TLS for email authentication—and manages bounces. You’re alerted to broken links and other mistakes before sending, and you can schedule messages for delivery at specific times. If necessary, Direct Mail can send through your own SMTP server too.
- Track efficacy: If you want to make sure your email is useful to recipients, Direct Mail can track opens, clicks, bounces, and unsubscribes, and it reports on the most popular links—all with real-time live updating. It also performs bounce and spam complaint processing to help you keep your list clean.
- Collaborate with colleagues: When you’re developing an email newsletter, you’ll likely want to work with others on it. The Direct Mail cloud enables sharing of projects with fine-grained permissions (view, edit, send), and it lets you keep working even when you’re offline, resuming syncing once you connect again.
- Automate responses: Direct Mail can create automatic messages that can respond to incoming emails, welcome new subscribers, send reminders about upcoming appointments, or send targeted follow-ups.
- Integrate with other services: No Mac is an island, and for more integration, you can use Zapier to connect Direct Mail with other Web services or have a developer create a custom solution using Direct Mail’s API.
The big win of using Direct Mail is that it’s a native Mac app with full support for numerous Apple technologies. Similar solutions are generally clumsy Web apps that run in your browser, putting them at the mercy of your Internet connection and making it all too easy to lose work by accidentally closing a tab.
I’ve lived in an email-centric world for much of my career, and while the scale of what we do with TidBITS (and did with Take Control before selling it to Joe Kissell) meant that it was worth investing in custom development, I can’t recommend that to most people. A Mac-native solution like Direct Mail will be far faster, easier, and cheaper.
You can download Direct Mail and use it to send up to 150 messages per month for free, which might be sufficient for some. For higher volumes of regular use, you can pay monthly for unlimited messages based on the number of subscribers. Or, if you send email infrequently, you can instead opt to pay by the number of messages.
If you work with color in the publishing world, you may have heard about how a licensing dispute between Adobe and Pantone has resulted in Pantone Color Books being phased out of Adobe Creative Cloud apps, starting with updates to Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop released after 16 August 2022. After November 2022, only three Pantone Color Books will remain: Pantone + CMYK Coated, Pantone + CMYK Uncoated, and Pantone + Metallics Coated.
To access all other Pantone Color Libraries, Creative Cloud users must purchase a $59.99 per year ($7.99 per month) Pantone Connect license and access the libraries through the generally unpopular Pantone Connect plug-in. For the most part, existing files should continue to work as before, although Adobe offers details of how files in Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop may be affected.
A possible workaround may come from the FREETONE color palette plug-in from Stuart Semple of Culture Hustle. The plug-in provides 1280 “Pantone-ish” colors that Semple says are nearly indistinguishable from Pantone colors. It’s available for free to anyone who doesn’t work for or with Adobe or Pantone.
If you find all this as confusing as we do, turn to Dan Vincent’s The Adobe and Pantone Color Apocalypse: Frequently Asked Questions post on his Userlandia blog and podcast.
One of the big headaches of home automation is the assortment of walled gardens that have filled the space. Apple has its HomeKit ecosystem, Google has Google Home, and Amazon has Alexa. If you prefer Apple’s Home app for consolidating your home automation gizmos, you have to evaluate every product you purchase to make sure it works with HomeKit. And if you’re attracted to a device from a competing team, like a Google Nest thermostat, you have to weigh whether it’s worthwhile even without HomeKit integration.
The industry recognized that this fragmentation was holding back the entire home automation market and came together to create the Connectivity Standards Alliance—a consortium of all the major home automation players that seeks to tear down these walls so every home automation gadget can communicate. The solution is called Matter, and it’s finally here. Sort of.
Matter launched at a big event in Amsterdam on 4 November 2022, along with announcements about the first devices that will support it. Prior to the event, Apple rebuilt the Home app from scratch for iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS 13 Ventura to support Matter.
The vision? A new world of seamless home automation integration in which you can use any accessory with any ecosystem.
The reality right now?
- The new Home app is flaky and unreliable. Devices are often unreachable, automations don’t trigger, and sometimes devices do random things.
- Apple says this will be fixed with the iOS 16.2 round of updates thanks to a new home automation backend, but it won’t be backward compatible with older Apple operating systems, so not everyone will be able to update to that new backend immediately.
- Not just any device will support Matter. Some of your existing devices will become Matter-compatible with a software update. Others you’ll have to replace.
- Few devices from major vendors currently support Matter, though that will soon change.
- You’ll need a Thread border router like a HomePod mini or second- or third-generation Apple TV 4K. Older HomeKit hubs don’t qualify.
I’m optimistic that Matter will be tremendous in the long run, given its wide industry backing. However, I don’t think it’s something to get too excited about just yet. Let those of us on the cutting edge put it through its paces, and I think Matter will naturally fall into place over time.
What Will Work with Matter
An official launch needs actual products, and Matter has those, but supported product categories are currently limited to:
- Media Devices (like TVs)
The Matter team is working on support for other popular devices, like security cameras and robot vacuums. Again, Matter support is a long-term project that’s still in progress. Matter expects to roll out new device categories every six months.
There are already 190 Matter-certified products. One of the more notable vendors is Eve (which sponsored my book Take Control of Apple Home Automation). Until now, Eve has focused exclusively on HomeKit, but it will release optional Matter-enabling firmware updates on 12 December 2022 to the Thread-capable versions of the Eve Energy, Eve Door & Window, and Eve Motion. Other current products will be updated over the next year. Unfortunately, since Thread support is required, older models won’t be updated to take advantage of Matter.
The Matter firmware updates for Eve devices are optional because they cannot be reversed. Initially, updating devices also would have meant losing some features, but Eve quietly resolved that problem with the iOS 16.1 update.
Another issue related to updating Eve devices is that Matter support requires a Thread border router. If you already have a HomePod mini or a second- or third-generation Apple TV 4K, you’re golden, but an older HomeKit hub (like an iPad or a HomePod) won’t work. Recent Nest Hubs and routers, and recent Eero mesh routers can also act as a Thread border router.
In Q1 2023, Philips Hue hubs will receive an update to support Matter. The nice thing about the Hue architecture is only the hub needs an update; the individual lights do not. However, the move to Matter will leave behind some products, like the Hue Play and the Hue Tap Dial Switch.
My advice for now is to resist all optional Matter updates until the spec has more time to mature and you have time to evaluate which of your devices will be supported.
I’ve received several questions about when I will update Take Control of Apple Home Automation. Given the major changes to HomeKit and the Home app, I need to do that soon, but I’m still wrapping my head around what Matter means for HomeKit. I’ve been waiting for that answer for over a year, and it’s still not entirely clear. We now know some specifics, like what Matter support requires and which vendors will be first to market. But much of that is still largely theoretical until I can start testing devices and see where the pain points lie. I hope to have something out by the end of 2022.
Tonya and I recently traveled to Greece on vacation, and while the trip itself devolved into a tale of COVID-driven woe for me, it did give me a chance to test some new gear: the OneWorld 65 International Adapter with 65W Charger from OneAdaptr.
For the past few years, I’ve been using a Saunorch International Travel Power Adapter that provided a universal AC socket with four USB-A charging ports, all in a colorful little cube that could extend plugs to fit into US, UK, European, and Australian power outlets (see “UK Travel Tips: Giffgaff for Cellular and Apple Pay for Transit,” 15 June 2018). It worked fine but felt increasingly dated as more of our devices rely on USB-C.
The OneWorld 65 is a product in much the same vein, but with even more power and flexibility. It too features built-in plugs that you extend using sliders that support US, UK, European, and Australian outlets. In a clever bit of transforming, it combines the US and Australian plug types, allowing the two metal blades to rotate slightly to fit angled Australian jacks. I had no trouble using it in both US and European outlets, although it’s heavy enough that it sometimes felt like it might fall off the wall (but it never did). The plugs retract into the cube so you can toss it into a laptop bag without worrying about poking anything.
As far as charging ports go, along with the universal AC socket on the front, it features two USB-A ports and two USB-C ports on the bottom, plus a third USB-C port on the side. The universal AC socket supports 100–250V at 10A for up to 2500 watts. The USB-C ports on the bottom can provide up to 15 watts, and the USB-A ports are good for up to 12 watts. The real win is that the side-mounted USB-C port is a 65-watt Power Delivery charging port that worked well to charge my MacBook Air directly, letting me leave its bulky power adapter at home.
The OneWorld 65 can charge six devices at once, although if I’m reading the specs right, the USB-C PD port will drop down to a max of 45 watts at that point. We didn’t have any devices with us that needed to plug into a regular AC outlet, but simultaneously charging five USB devices worked perfectly. I can’t say if the MacBook Air charged more slowly when other devices were attached since it was all happening overnight anyway.
While the mix of port types made things a little easier, we still had to fuss to plug everything in. Our Apple Watch chargers are still USB-A, but we now have USB-C to Lightning cables for our iPhones and AirPods cases. And Tonya’s iPad Air and my MacBook Air both need USB-C cables. It all worked out, though I once used a tiny USB-A to USB-C adapter to get an older Lightning cable to work as well.
Although the OneWorld 65 feels a little chunky compared to my previous power adapter, it’s reasonably sized, given that it’s also a 65W charger. That’s possible thanks to gallium nitride technology, which is all the rage because it enables the creation of smaller, more efficient, and cooler chargers.
My only real criticism of the OneWorld 65 is its blue LED, which is bright in dark hotel rooms. Tonya detests such LEDs, so whenever we travel, she’s constantly draping clothes over whatever items in the room emit light. I was particularly pleased with myself when I found LightDims Black Out Edition on Amazon. For about $7, you get over 100 light-blocking vinyl stickers in various sizes that you can use to cover annoying LEDs (other types merely reduce the light level). They’re reusable and don’t leave a sticky residue, unlike the Band-Aids that Tonya pasted over the previous adapter. She loves the stickers, but unfortunately, the OneWorld 65’s LED is positioned such that light leaks out the USB-A ports as well, where it’s impossible to block. Back to draping clothes over it at night.
The OneWorld 65 costs $69, which seems like a fair price. You can find both comparable chargers and international adapters for less, but the combination of a 65-watt gallium nitride charger and an international power adapter that can charge up to six devices at once is unusual. I’m planning to use it regularly rather than just when we travel—it’s just as functional as one of Apple’s chargers, the extra USB charging ports are useful, and it even works fine with the magnetic charging nubbins for my pre-MagSafe MacBook Air (see “Are Cheap MagSafe-Like Adapters for USB-C Worthwhile?,” 4 March 2021).
Since joining TidBITS, my email has been a hot mess. Like any tech journalist, I’m flooded with a constant stream of irrelevant PR and sales pitches that have rendered my email nigh unusable. As a result, I miss important emails from real people, leading to lost opportunities and annoyed readers. Forget “inbox zero.” My email is more like “inbox 600,000.” No amount of filtering or deleting has been able to tame the flood. Until I tried SaneBox (use that link for a $25 discount).
SaneBox is an add-on service for any email account that adds powerful custom filtering. It’s more powerful and granular than a spam filter, and it’s much smarter and easier to manage than email filters in clients like Apple Mail and Gmail.
Here’s how it works: you provide SaneBox with your email login (which also gives SaneBox access to your email—you have to be comfortable with that), and it creates special folders for different features that automatically sort your email. SaneBox can cordon off emails you don’t want, keep newsletters in their own folder, remind you of emails at later dates, and many other things.
I wish I had signed up for SaneBox years ago, but let me explain why I didn’t.
I’ve heard people raving about SaneBox for years but was put off by its pricing model. Not by the price necessarily, which ranges from $24 to $299 per year (or $7 to $36 if you pay monthly), but by the way the tiers work.
In most subscription services, you pay a set amount per month and get all features, or at least a certain subset at different tiers. However, with SaneBox, you get a fixed number of features—which you choose—that you can activate at any given time. If you pay for six features and want to use a seventh, you have to turn off one of the features in use or pay more.
I found that vexing because I didn’t know what features I would need or how many. Thankfully, the two-week free trial lets you test all the features so you can figure out which you find useful.
Here are the available tiers:
- Appetizer: One feature for one email account for $24 per year
- Snack: Two features for one email account for $7 per month, $59 per year, or $99 for two years
- Lunch: Six features for two email accounts for $12 per month, $99 per year, or $169 for two years
- Dinner: All features for four email accounts for $36 per month, $299 per year, or $499 for two years
I currently subscribe to the Lunch tier, albeit somewhat reluctantly, since I primarily use only three features, and I paid for two years in advance since it’s the most cost-effective option.
However, if your budget is tight, there’s only one feature you really need.
A Black Hole for Unwanted Email
SaneBox’s killer feature is the SaneBlackHole folder, which stores unwanted emails for 7 days before moving them to the trash. When you move one message from a particular sender to the SaneBlackHole, every email from that sender—past and future—goes into that folder. It makes inbox management so much easier since you don’t have to delete messages repeatedly, hope an unsubscribe link works, or set up custom filtering rules.
The genius of SaneBlackHole is if you move a message to it but later decide you’ve made a mistake, you can move any email from that sender back to the inbox and all the rest of that sender’s messages return along with it. If you ever make a huge mistake, SaneBox has a Reset Trainings feature that lets you undo the trainings you made between two dates, bringing back everything that you’d sent to SaneBlackHole during that time.
The other nice thing about SaneBlackHole is it holds messages for a week before deleting them, so you can also add things to it that you may want to see but are of value for only a limited time, like sale notices from online retailers.
You can mass train SaneBlackHole in one sitting, either through the website or the companion iOS app. I don’t always like the suggestions, so I spent some time at the beginning of my trial moving PR and sales spam to the SaneBlackHole folder.
I was initially skeptical of the SaneBlackHole feature, but it works amazingly well. Only emails I have designated for the SaneBlackHole go there, nothing more and nothing less. It has done wonders to make my inbox usable again and let me delete a number of Fastmail filters and extra folders I was using to tame my email.
Other SaneBox Features
Since you choose your SaneBox features, your SaneBox experience is highly personal. I’ll discuss the other features I use and briefly describe what else it can do.
The SaneBox feature I use most beyond SaneBlackHole is SaneNews, which corrals email messages from newsletters and mailing lists. Overall, it does a good job, but I find a lot of unwanted junk there that I have to move to SaneBlackHole.
Sanebox lets you create custom DIY folders based on your own criteria. However, each one you create counts against your feature count, so I haven’t used them extensively. One that I do use was suggested by SaneBox when I set up my account: SaneReceipts, which rounds up order confirmations, payment confirmations, shipping notices, renewal messages, and other such things. That’s helpful.
Since I paid for six features, I also turned on SaneNoReplies, which is supposed to collect every email you’ve sent that has not received a reply. But for reasons I don’t quite understand, my unreplied emails don’t show up there. I need to work with support to figure out what’s going on, but I don’t recommend it for now. It may not be necessary for Apple users anyway, now that Mail in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS 13 Ventura has a follow-up feature that attempts to do the same thing.
Other features of SaneBox that I haven’t used include the following:
- SaneLater: To help you clean up your inbox, SaneLater automatically captures less important emails you want to read later.
- SaneCC: This feature stores every email on which you’ve been CC’ed but not directly addressed. This can be useful in work environments where you are copied on numerous messages that aren’t relevant to you.
- SaneDoNotDisturb: If you want to ignore certain messages while on vacation, for instance, SaneDoNotDisturb keeps matching emails out of your inbox for a set amount of time, after which they reappear.
- SaneAttachments: If you’re running low on your email storage quota, SaneBox can store incoming email attachments on a cloud service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive, freeing up your email storage quota while keeping them connected with their messages.
- Snooze Folders: Move an email to SaneTomorrow, SaneNextWeek, or SaneNextMonth to keep it out of your inbox until the time specified by the folder. I’m not a fan because each folder counts as a separate feature, and many email clients—including Mail in Apple’s latest operating systems—already have snooze functionality.
- SaneReminders: As an alternative to using the snooze folders, you can send or forward email to a special time-based address like [email protected] or [email protected] to make SaneBox deliver it to you at that time.
In addition to the features, SaneBox provides several tools to all subscribers for free:
- Email Deep Clean: This tool helps you quickly trash old messages in your inbox. It scans for emails older than a date you specify and lists them by sender. Then you select each sender, and with a single click, you can move all messages from that sender before the date to the trash.
- Email Organize: This lets you quickly move all emails from multiple senders at once to a folder. I use it primarily to train things to the SaneBlackHole.
- Domain Filters: With the domain filters tool, you can automatically assign emails from a specific domain to a folder, much like a classic email filter. Your email service probably already offers such filtering, so the benefit of using SaneBox is mostly that it’s a bit easier to configure than traditional email filter rules.
- Advanced Filtering: SaneBox provides a few extra settings: move automatic replies (like out-of-office notices) to a certain folder, automatically move starred or flagged messages to the inbox from other folders, and add “[SaneBox]” to the subject when forwarding.
A Power Tool for Email
Let me set some realistic expectations about SaneBox: while it’s a powerful automation tool for cleaning up your email, it still requires quite a bit of manual intervention. If deleting messages manually is like chopping trees with an axe and email filters are like using a chainsaw, then SaneBox is like a tree harvester. It still requires some time and effort, but SaneBox helps you do the job much faster than anything else I’ve tried.
If you’re drowning in email, give SaneBox a try with a two-week trial. Don’t be like me and make yourself miserable for years to save a buck. (However, you will save $25 with our link.)