Write Better on Your Mac With These 9 Apps and Tricks

mac-writing-apps

Writing is an enjoyable activity, but you can really hamper yourself if you don’t have the proper tools. Whether you can’t find the motivation to write, have trouble collecting your ideas, or struggle with grammar, the right apps can really help. We’ll show you some of the best apps and tricks you can use to help you write more on your Mac. 1. Choose a Writing App Most writers will choose a standard word processor without a second thought. But there are many issues with this. When you type in a word processor, the text is continuously typeset as you…

Read the full article: Write Better on Your Mac With These 9 Apps and Tricks

mac-writing-apps

Writing is an enjoyable activity, but you can really hamper yourself if you don’t have the proper tools. Whether you can’t find the motivation to write, have trouble collecting your ideas, or struggle with grammar, the right apps can really help.

We’ll show you some of the best apps and tricks you can use to help you write more on your Mac.

1. Choose a Writing App

choose a proper writing app

Most writers will choose a standard word processor without a second thought. But there are many issues with this.

When you type in a word processor, the text is continuously typeset as you key it in. It’s easy to lose sight of the logical structure in favor of the typographical elements, which results in a loss of momentum while writing and subsequent distractions.

It also forces you to decide on a specific appearance of the heading with strict formatting options. A writer can’t focus on creating words, and may instead fiddle with fonts and menus as a way of procrastinating. A writing app should help writers to write; not get in the way to add unneeded friction.

And when you need a particular feature, it should be easy to discover. Word processors often obfuscate features in complex menus. You can work around this by writing in Markdown. Its syntax is simple to learn, lets you focus on the writing, and even let you create complex documents with all formatting options.

Take a look at these two Mac writing apps:

Download: iA Writer ($30)
Download: Typora (Free)

2. Outline Your Ideas With Scapple

outline your ideas with scapple

When you take time to draft an outline, you can work out if the ideas connect to each other, what order works best, identify gaps in your thinking, and confirm your thoughts with proven facts. Scapple is an intuitive app for jotting your ideas down by developing connections between them. It’s the software equivalent of pen and paper.

Unlike typical mind-mapping software, Scapple doesn’t force you to make connections, nor do you have to begin with a central idea. It’s a freeform writing app with an expandable canvas to fit all your notes. You can move notes around to make room for new connections, create stacks from notes, edit and resize them, or even link to files on your Mac.

Download: Scapple (Free trial, $15)

3. Manage a Notebook With OneNote

manage a notebook with onenote

Every writer should keep a notebook to store all their ideas and notes. OneNote is a personal digital notebook to write and manage all sorts of notes.

Try creating a Writing Projects notebook, and start adding few sections. You might have Ideas for new article ideas, Articles and Finished Articles for articles in progress and completed articles, and Track as a place to check your writing progress and improvements.

In the Ideas section, you can create a page for all ideas, another page as a simple Kanban board, and a page to keep web links. In the Articles section, create a new page for each article you want to write. Install the OneNote web clipper extension and start bookmarking or clipping articles from the web.

You can even embed a video, record audio, and take notes from the media. If necessary, create a subpage to keep your notes, bookmarks, and outline separately in a parent/child format. Develop your workflow and start using OneNote to manage resources and improve your productivity.

Download: Microsoft OneNote (Free)

4. Use SearchLink to Generate Links

use searchlink to generate links

Many writers spend a lot of time pasting links from the web. When you do it manually, you not only waste time, but also lose momentum while writing—or worse, get lost following all those links.

SearchLink is a system service for macOS that handles searching multiple sources and automatically generate links for text. Start with an exclamation point (!). Then type the argument you want to use. For example:

  • !mas: search Mac App Store
  • !itu: search iTunes App Store
  • !s: software search using Google
  • !@t: link text as Twitter username

Check the SearchLink website for more arguments.

Now let’s say you want to link an app from the Mac App Store. Type in !mas Pixelmator. Right-click and choose Services > SearchLink. Within seconds, it’ll run a search in the background and replace it with a full Markdown link.

You can use specific modifiers to customize the way you want to link with text. Put !! at the end of the text to only return the URL without any link formatting. Similarly, put ^ at the end to output the result to the clipboard, leaving the text in place.

For example, !s Pixelmator!! will run a software search for Pixelmator and output only a link. Then, if you bind this service with a hotkey, you can link the text just with the keyboard.

Download: SearchLink (Free)

5. Customize the Dictionary to Improve Vocabulary

customize the dictionary to improve vocabulary

The built-in Dictionary app is a powerful tool to search for definitions, plus thesaurus and Wikipedia entries. You can search for the words manually, or point to a word and press Ctrl + Cmd + D to open the dictionary panel with the definition right in front of you.

To make the Dictionary app more useful, install Terminology. It is based on the WordNet project, a large lexical database of English. It joins not just word forms, but specific senses of the word. Also, it labels the semantic relations among words, making it more powerful than a thesaurus.

Open Dictionary > Preferences and check the Terminology box. It’ll now appear as one of your search options in the Dictionary app.

Download: Terminology (Free)

6. Cut Off the Distractions

move the window from desktop1 to desktop2

Writing requires a clean working environment. Too many files and windows on the desktop act as clutter on the screen. It’s wise to develop good habits by making proper use of the workspace.

You can organize your workspace with Mission Control. The virtual desktop feature, called Spaces, lets you easily organize app windows across multiple desktops.

You can even use third-party apps to automate the window management operations. Hocus Focus is a menu bar utility that keeps your desktop clean by hiding the inactive windows automatically. If you have a problem with focus, use the HazeOver app to highlight the foremost app window and mask the windows in the background that distract you.

Download: Hocus Focus (Free)
Download: HazeOver (Free trial, $5)

7. Store Temporary Items With Clipboard Utility

store temporary items with alfred clipboard feature

It’s not necessary to store every piece of text, images, and link in a notebook. Some items are temporary, so you’ll discard them later on. That’s where a clipboard utility app might be of help.

Alfred‘s clipboard history feature (part of the Powerpack) is unique. Go to Alfred’s Preferences, and under Features > Clipboard, enable Clipboard History. Check the box next to the relevant types, and choose how long you want to remember your clips.

Now, press the Alt + Cmd + C hotkey to bring up the Clipboard History panel. Alfred will show you the clips you’ve copied. Type any word or phrase in the search bar to filter your results.

You can even merge multiple clips onto your clipboard. Go to Features > Clipboard > Merging and enable the box next to merging. To append a clip onto the previously copied text, hold Cmd and double-tap C quickly. Then paste the clip you copied onto any app.

Download: Alfred (Free, $25 Powerpack available)

8. Use a Text Expander Utility

using atext textexpander utility

Even if you’ve learned to type quickly, certain forms of writing can require you to type repetitive text. You can avoid RSI and other injuries by cutting down on your keystrokes. Using a text expansion tool can save your hands and hours of your time.

aText accelerates your typing by offering shortcuts for the characters you write. When you open the app for the first time, you’ll see boilerplate snippets for typing in the date and time, symbol substitution macros, and more. To create a new snippet, type the keyword in the Abbreviation field, and content you want to expand in the Content field.

Download: aText (Free trial, $5)

9. Correct Grammar and Get Writing Suggestions

get writing suggestions with writefull app

When you write a first draft, you’re just putting your ideas together. Spelling errors and poorly written sentences are common in first drafts, so it’s important to revise and improve it. You can use some tools to help you improve your final product.

At times, you’ll want writing suggestions. These can tell whether you’ve written a correct sentence, compare confusing words, which adjective or preposition is appropriate for a particular phrase, or get synonyms in context. Writefull is an app that gives feedback on your writing by checking your text against databases, like Google Scholar, Books, and more.

You might also want to use Grammarly for proofreading your articles. It checks your spelling, grammar, suggests synonyms in context, and more. And if you subscribe to Grammarly Pro, it’ll detect if you use words in a wrong way, subject-verb agreement, pronoun use, and punctuation usage.

Download: Writefull (Free)
Download: Grammarly (Free, subscription available)

Read Books to Become a Better Writer

To become a better writer, you need the best tools to help you realize your dreams. macOS is a creative environment to work with, and there are many third-party tools at its disposal—even more than ones discussed here.

Writing is a complicated skill, and these tools cover only half the job. You need to read more to become a better writer. If this inspires you, you might want to know how to read more books this year.

Read the full article: Write Better on Your Mac With These 9 Apps and Tricks

8 Sites to Find Discounts on Mac Apps Outside the App Store

mac-apps-discounts

Mac app developers often put their software on sale through the Mac App Store. But all sorts of great apps aren’t offered on the App Store. Although you may occasionally notice a deal on Facebook or Twitter, there are dedicated sites to help you find Mac apps on sale. We’ll show you eight ways to find discounts on Mac apps not available on the App Store. 1. MakeUseOf Deals MakeUseOf Deals offer a broad selection of deals on electronic gears and gadgets, apps, subscription-based web services, online courses, and design assets. Go to the Deals page, and choose Categories >…

Read the full article: 8 Sites to Find Discounts on Mac Apps Outside the App Store

Mac app developers often put their software on sale through the Mac App Store. But all sorts of great apps aren’t offered on the App Store.

Although you may occasionally notice a deal on Facebook or Twitter, there are dedicated sites to help you find Mac apps on sale. We’ll show you eight ways to find discounts on Mac apps not available on the App Store.

1. MakeUseOf Deals

makeuseof deals section

MakeUseOf Deals offer a broad selection of deals on electronic gears and gadgets, apps, subscription-based web services, online courses, and design assets. Go to the Deals page, and choose Categories > Apps + Software. You’ll see all the apps, including web apps, running on sale.

You can arrange those deals in different ways. Click the Filter By dropdown menu to narrow the selection choice, or use the Sort By dropdown menu to sort them by best sellers, newest apps, or sales ending soon.

There’s another unique feature, called the Pay What You Want bundle. If you enter an amount less than the average price, you’ll only get a few items from the bundle. Choose the average price to buy the entire bundle.

First-time MUO Deals users can also get an extra 10 percent discount on their first purchase.

2. BundleHunt

bundlehunt app bundle website

Sometimes you find yourself buying a bundle only to get few particular apps. This means you’re stuck with apps you’ll never use.

BundleHunt is a bundle site that offers a large selection of Mac apps, with an option to curate app selection yourself to avoid unwanted downloads. You can get those apps at a fixed price. Some apps are as low as $1, with a maximum price of $5.

Start adding the apps you like by clicking the Plus button below each app. In addition to the cost of the individual apps, you’ll have to pay $5 to “unlock” your bundle. Upon your purchase, you’ll get instant access to the license keys for apps you brought. You can even add multiple license keys (limit of three) for any app you like.

BundleHunt also lets you export registration keys as a CSV file. Go to Account > Downloads & License Keys, select your bundle, and click Export License Keys. Then import that file in the password manager of your choice to keep the details safe.

All the apps included in the bundle are directly available from the developer websites. You’ll also get the latest version of every app. You can follow BundleHunt on Twitter or sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates.

3. Two Dollar Tuesday

twodollartues deals website

Two Dollar Tuesday helps you discover Mac Apps at significant discounts. Every Tuesday, it features a few apps at a discount ranging from 50-90 percent. It promotes apps both from developer websites and the App Store.

If you find any app useful, click the Get This Deal button to buy that app before the deal expires. You can follow Two Dollar Tuesday on Twitter or subscribe to the newsletter so you never miss a deal.

4. BitsDuJour

bitsdujour deals website

BitsDuJour is an all-in-one deals website to bring you exclusive deals on Mac apps. It uses the coupon code system to process all the discounts. Click the Get This Deal button to purchase the app directly from the developer website. The discount is available only through this link, and since you’re buying the app directly from the developer, it’s a legal purchase.

The promotions typically last for 24 hours, although this may extend based on demand. Click the app name, and you’ll find every detail about it. You can go through the app description, see screenshots, ask the developer questions about the app or offer, review fine print about the deal, and more.

What makes BitsDuJour unique is the community involvement. You can browse forums, vote for the apps you’d like to see discounted, and check upcoming app discounts. To keep up with the latest updates, follow BitsDuJour on Twitter or add the BitsDuJour RSS feed to your feed reader.

5. OnTheHub

onthehub student deals website

OnTheHub is a premier website for productivity and academic software. It gives discounted or even free software to students and faculties. The discounts range from 50-90 percent.

Software titles include Microsoft Windows 10 for Education (one of the lesser-known Windows 10 versions), Microsoft Office 2016 Professional Edition, IBM SPSS Statistics, Parallels Desktop for Mac, VMware Fusion 8, EndNote X9, Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, Setapp, and more. Use OnTheHub School Search to find out if your school or college is eligible.

Alternatively, visit the OnTheHub eStore, submit valid proof of academic affiliation, and purchase your apps. Your account holds all the information (including registration details) about apps you purchase. OnTheHub regularly posts new articles on its blog; follow OnTheHub on Twitter and contact them if you have any questions.

6. Studentappcentre

studentappcentre deals website for students

The idea behind this service is that every student can get a discount on quality Mac apps without hunting though dozens of developer websites. You’ll see all kinds of options, including productivity, utilities, backup, calendar, academic apps, and more. The discounts range from anywhere between 20-50 percent.

The website has five categories: Organize, Enhance, Inspire, Develop, and Achieve. Within each group, you’ll find a dozen apps. Students can claim their discount by sending any one of the following forms of evidence: course acceptance letter, student ID card, or course bill.

An academic email address given by your institution is also required. To keep up with the latest updates, visit the FAQ section and follow Studentappcentre on Twitter.

7. Humble Bundle

humble bundle deals website

Humble Bundle is a distribution platform for selling games, software, ebooks, and other digital assets. Most bundles you see here offer a Pay What You Want system. You’ll need to pay more than the average price to unlock all rewards.

It also offers you great deals on games for both PC and Mac. You can still have a great gaming experience on Mac if you choose the right games and follow specific settings. Check the platform icon and system requirements for information about game compatibility.

If a particular game is not compatible with Mac, you’ll see a Not Available message in red text next to the platform icon. Apart from these bundles, Humble Bundle also offers smaller weekly bundles and daily discounts in the Humble Store. Follow Humble Bundle on Twitter to get the latest updates on deals.

8. MacBundles

macbundle one stop website for app bundles

Searching and keeping up-to-date with deals is not easy. To make it more simple and save time, MacBundles offers you a one-stop website to find and consolidate app bundles from many sites in a single place. It features bundles from BundleHunt, Creatable, Parallels, MacUpdate, and many more. Subscribe to the newsletter and get all the latest updates.

Get Premium Mac Apps for One Low Price

While getting apps from app bundles is a great way to save money, they may not always include quality software. You often end up buying a bundle to get one or two apps you want.

If you’re willing to spend $10 per month, you can have access to growing collection of quality Mac apps from different developers through Setapp.

Setapp is a new service from MacPaw that adopts a subscription model for Mac apps. As long as you’re a subscriber, you’ll get periodic updates and new apps. If you find this idea interesting, check out our overview of Setapp. We’ve also covered how to find Mac and iOS App Store discounts.

Read the full article: 8 Sites to Find Discounts on Mac Apps Outside the App Store

5 macOS Folders You Should Never Touch (And Why)

mac-folders-not-touch

macOS has a deep and nested folder structure, and a default macOS installation has many unfamiliar-sounding directories. The majority of users don’t ever need to touch these files. Apple keeps certain folders hidden for a reason. Messing with these directories could result in an unstable system, loss of data, or worse—prevent your Mac from booting up. We’ll show you the places that most users shouldn’t touch in the macOS file system. 1. Language Files and Folders Mac apps come with language files for every language they support. When you switch your Mac’s system language, the app will change to that…

Read the full article: 5 macOS Folders You Should Never Touch (And Why)

mac-folders-not-touch

macOS has a deep and nested folder structure, and a default macOS installation has many unfamiliar-sounding directories. The majority of users don’t ever need to touch these files.

Apple keeps certain folders hidden for a reason. Messing with these directories could result in an unstable system, loss of data, or worse—prevent your Mac from booting up. We’ll show you the places that most users shouldn’t touch in the macOS file system.

1. Language Files and Folders

Mac apps come with language files for every language they support. When you switch your Mac’s system language, the app will change to that language immediately.

To see the language files of an app, right-click it and choose Show Package Contents from the context menu. The path will look like this:

AppName.app/Contents/Resources/Lang.lproj

show package contents of an app

Removing the language files for third-party apps is easy through Terminal. But for the default macOS apps, you need to disable System Integrity Protection which we don’t recommend at all. Although there is a lot of advice on the internet recommending that you delete language files to gain disk space, the amount of space you earn is not significant enough for the risks involved.

A quick scan with CleanMyMac shows that my Mac will gain about 520MB of disk space by deleting these files. The result might be different in your case, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll gain more than a few gigabytes. Also, you must redo these steps after every major macOS upgrade.

quick scan with cleanmymac app

When you remove language files, you can’t predict which apps will crash or freeze. In the worst case, you’ll have to reinstall the app. Plus, old versions of programs like Microsoft Office and Adobe apps may not work properly or update. Therefore, it’s best to ignore the language files and folders.

Check out our tips for freeing up space on your Mac for better ways to do this.

2. Hidden /private/var Folder

macOS creates several user and system-related cache files to speed up the system. The cache and temporary data located in /Library/Caches is under your control. You can manually delete this cache without any third-party tools.

But the ones in the system folder are entirely managed by macOS. They’re not even visible to you. Sometimes items in these directories can take up vast amounts of disk space. Thus, you might wonder whether it’s safe to delete the contents of /private/var/folders or not.

Location of /private/var/folders

The simplest way to find the /private/var folder is through the Finder Go to Folder menu. Press Cmd + Shift + G to bring up the Go to Folder box and enter /private/var/folders. A new Finder tab will open immediately.

To open the location of system cached and temporary files, launch a Terminal window and type the following:

open $TMPDIR

You’ll see a two-character folder name with long, seemingly random subfolders. As you navigate the folder tree, explore these three folders. The C folder represents Cache, while T is for Temporary files. User files live in the 0 folder.

location of private var folder

Issues With /private/var/folders

A quick scan with OmniDiskSweeper shows that the size of /private/var/folders is 1GB and that of /private/var is about 4GB. The size of these folders can vary between system, but shouldn’t be too large. If these directories take up more than 10GB, then they’re a concern.

results from omnidisksweeper app

You should not attempt to manually delete files from any of the /private/var directories even if they’re large. Doing so might damage core macOS files, corrupt document data, and prevent your Mac from booting or behaving as expected. You’d then be stuck reinstalling macOS from scratch.

To safely remove these files, quit all apps, and choose Apple Menu > Shut Down. When you reboot your Mac, you trigger the built-in cache clearing mechanisms. This deletes the unnecessary contents, caches, and temporary items in /tmp, /private/var, and /private/var/folders.

If for some reasons these files don’t clear, then reboot your Mac in Safe Mode. macOS deploys additional built-in mechanisms to get rid of caches and temporary files in this mode. Then reboot into normal mode as usual and recheck your available disk space.

Other Important Folders in /private/var

Concerning disk space, there are few more folders which you should not touch:

  • /private/var/db: Includes a bunch of macOS configuration and data files. They include Spotlight database, network configuration files, and more.
  • /private/var/VM: Contains swap and sleep image files. If you hibernate your Mac, this directory will occupy more than 5GB of disk space.
  • /private/var/tmp: Another temporary file directory.

3. System Library Folder

The macOS filesystem contains multiple Library folders. This is by design, and while many similarities exist between the contents of the Library folders, each folder has a different role to play in the macOS filesystem. You’ll find three Library folders:

  • /Library
  • /System/Library
  • ~/Library

The main and System Library folder have a global scope. Their contents support every aspect of the system. The System Library folder contains the files that macOS needs to operate. Only the OS has the right to modify its data, and only system-level events should affect them. There’s no reason for you to touch anything in this folder.

system library folder

4. User Library Folder

The Library folder inside the home directory is your account’s personal Library. Here, macOS stores system, third-party support files, and preferences. It also includes Mail settings, Safari bookmarks, history, calendar data, and much more. The Library folder also include folders that need occasional cleaning. However, not all folders are safe to touch.

~/Library/Application Support

In this folder, both system and third-party apps store support files, usually in a subfolder named after the application. They contain registration data and even store saved app data used in a particular session. Do not delete contents of the Application Support files directly. Instead, use an app called AppCleaner to delete support files along with the app.

library application support folder

~/Library/Preferences

This folder contains all the preference data for default and third-party apps. Again, don’t delete the contents of the Preferences folder; otherwise an app will revert to its default state or might crash. AppCleaner will take care of preferences while uninstalling an app.

library preferences folder

~/Library/Mobile Documents

This is the actual location of the iCloud folder. Documents, application preference files, iOS app data, and more lives in this folder. You should not move, rename, or delete it. It’s also a folder that takes up lot of disk space if you use iCloud. Delete the files you don’t need from iCloud Drive to reduce its size.

library mobile documents folder

~/Library/Containers

This contains support files, cached data, and temporary files for apps you’ve download from the Mac App Store. Since apps on the App Store are sandboxed, they cannot write data anywhere on the system. Again, don’t delete the contents of this folder. If the Containers folder takes up lot of disk space, reinstall the affected app.

library containers folder

5. Hidden Folders in the Home Folder

hidden folders in the home directory

When you press the Cmd + Shift + Period keys in the Finder, you’ll see plenty of files and folders in the Home directory which are typically hidden from view. Different macOS technologies and apps store their data in these folders for the smooth working of your Mac. You should not modify or delete any of these folders:

  • .Spotlight-V100: Spotlight metadata for each mounted volume. The mdworker processes use this metadata to update Spotlight search.
  • .fseventsd: A log file of FSEvents logged by the fseventsd launchdaemon process. It monitors file system events, such as file creation, modification, deletion, and more. Time Machine uses this data to process backup in the background.
  • .DocumentRevisions-V100: macOS versioning database used by apps to save and retrieve different versions of a document.
  • .PKInstallSandboxManager: Used for software updates and sandboxing.
  • .PKInstallSandboxManager-SystemSoftware: Used for system software updates.
  • .Trashes: Trash folder in each mounted volume.

You Must Take a Backup

Messing with these folders is risky, as doing so might corrupt your apps, documents, and macOS. While most Mac users don’t have to worry about these folders, you might be tempted to start exploring these folders when disk space becomes an issue.

Having a backup is essential. If you lose any data, you can recover it relatively easily. If you don’t know how to back up, learn how to use Time Machine or check out some great alternatives to Time Machine.

Read the full article: 5 macOS Folders You Should Never Touch (And Why)

15 Free Open-Source Mac Apps You Must Install

Want to use some open source software on your Mac? These macOS apps are open-source, awesome, and best of all… free!

Read the full article: 15 Free Open-Source Mac Apps You Must Install

The trend of open source software is growing on Mac, and there’s no shortage of quality apps. You might be familiar with some common ones, like VLC, Firefox, LibreOffice, Handbrake, and more.

Here’s a list of some less popular open-source Mac apps you should try. You may be surprised by how useful they can be.

1. IINA

iina audio and video player

IINA is a modern audio and video player for Mac. It has an entirely new design and supports Force Touch, the Touch Bar, and picture-in-picture. When you open a video, it automatically adds other videos in that folder to a playlist. If you’re listening to an audiobook or podcast, then IINA lets you quickly navigate between MP3 chapters.

The player is minimal, with buttons for a playlist, music mode, picture-in-picture, and settings. It can automatically fetch subtitles for movies, provided you log in with an OpenSubtitles account.

It also offers many customization options, including changing the interface theme, tweaking audio/video settings, customizing the subtitle look, and configuring new key bindings.

Download: IINA

2. Cyberduck

add connection in cyberduck

Cyberduck is an FTP client for Mac. It lets you connect, browse, and manage the content stored on SFTP, WebDAV, Dropbox, Amazon S3, Backblaze B2, and more. The interface works like a browser and mimics common navigation and sorting features.

The outline view lets you browse large folder structures efficiently, while the Quick Look feature can preview files without downloading them. You can also organize bookmarks with drag and drop and check the history of all visited servers.

Uploading files is a one-step procedure. Drag and drop bookmarks to Finder and drop files onto bookmarks to upload. You can even sync local directories with a remote server.

Download: Cyberduck

3. Cryptomator

cryptomator vault in cyberduck

One of the best features of Cyberduck is the integration with Cryptomator. It works by creating a vault directory in the cloud storage and encrypts files and folders with AES-256 cipher keys. Anything you put inside this vault will encrypt transparently.

That means no hidden backdoors from third parties, and greater privacy when using cloud services. The app is easy to use. All you have to do is create a new vault and enter a name and passphrase to secure it.

Download: Cryptomator

4. Skim PDF Reader

skim pdf reader features

The built-in Preview app has exceptional support of PDFs and images, but alternative PDF reader Skim goes one step ahead. It has built-in support for AppleScript, LaTeX, BibDesk, and more. The left side of the main window lets you view page thumbnails or the table of contents. Meanwhile, the right side has a note panel that allows you to see all the annotations and notes you created.

Skim includes a feature called the reading bar to help you concentrate. And the content pane has a powerful built-in search feature: it highlights the search term on relevant pages and groups them by density and sheet.

If the book has thousands of pages, you can take a snapshot for reference or split the PDF into two halves. In combination with thumbnails/table of contents, you can skim the book faster. And finally, you can export all notes and annotations as a text file.

Download: Skim PDF Reader

5. BibDesk

bibdesk interface and citekey customization

Creating a bibliography is a tough job; it’s easy to make formatting errors. That’s where the BibDesk app can help. Just get the BibTeX citation of a source and put it in the app to create a well-organized library. If you work in different LaTeX editors, then you can write and cite with BibDesk effortlessly.

Using the app is easy. Create a library and search for papers on Google Scholar, ACM, arXiv, JSTOR, Springer Link, and more. Every publication offers a cite key with details like the article type, author, year, and more. Copy the cite key, and BibDesk will automatically retrieve all the details.

You can also drag and drop the PDF and fill in the details. The app supports exporting the bibliographic information to various formats, such as BibTeX, XML, HTML, and more. Or if you prefer, simply copy the details and paste them into your documents instead.

Download: BibDesk

6. SelfControl

selfcontrol mac app

If you find yourself slipping into procrastination and wasting time on distracting sites, then this app will prove useful. Add the website you want to block in the blacklist window. Move the slider to decide the duration of the block (the minimum is 15 minutes). Click Start, then type your password to start the block.

Download: SelfControl

7. Katana

katana screenshot app

Katana is a simple screenshot utility that lives in your menu bar. Take a screenshot with a hotkey, and the app will then upload the file to several image hosts, including Imgur and Pomf. If you wish to shorten the link, copy the URL and press another of the app’s hotkeys.

Download: Katana

8. Kap

kap screen recorder tool mac

QuickTime Player comes with screen recording capabilities, but they’re pretty limited. Kap is a great alternative that sits in your menu bar for easy access.

The crop tool menu has six preset layouts, including 1:1, 4:3, 16:9, and more. You can also manually insert custom values or capture the entire window of an app—the layout guidelines will always remain visible. Kap even lets you record mouse movements.

If you have an attached microphone, you can add your voice to the recording. Finally, you can export your screeencast in different file formats, such as GIF, MP4, WebM, and APNG.

Download: Kap

9. SlowQuitApps

slowquitapp black overlay on top of the app

Most Mac users know that Cmd + W key closes a window or tab, while the Cmd + Q quits the entire app. The problem is that since those keys are near each other, it’s easy to quit an app by mistake.

This app adds a delay to Cmd + Q to prevent accidental closures. When you press Cmd + Q, a countdown overlay will appear above the current window. This puts the quit action on hold until the countdown completes. You can increase the delay from one second to, say, five seconds with this Terminal command (the time is in milliseconds):

defaults write com.dteoh.SlowQuitApps delay -int 5000

Download: SlowQuitApps

10. MarkText

marktext markdown editor app

MarkText is a cross-platform Markdown app (what’s Markdown?) designed with simplicity. It supports both CommonMark Spec and the GitHub Flavored Markdown Spec. The app has all the features of a typical Markdown app, including support for both light and dark themes. The standard preview window that replaces markdown syntax symbols with their proper formatting is here too.

It includes different modes to help you focus on writing, whether it’s an article or code. MarkText also has an autocomplete feature to pair brackets, supports emojis, and has built-in support of MathJax. You can export your draft as HTML or PDF if you like.

Download: MarkText

11. CotEditor

coteditor user interface

CotEditor is a lightweight text and code editor. It features a clean and straightforward interface that lets you quickly change line endings, file encoding, and syntax coloring. It supports nearly 60 programming languages, so you can choose the syntax coloring as needed.

The built-in Info side panel lets you view detailed information about the file, including text encoding, character count, and more. It has excellent support of regular expressions, a powerful feature for finding and replacing text usually found only in paid editors.

It also lets you split the window into two halves, so you can keep one window for reference while you work in another. If you work with a lot of text, this is a handy app to have.

Download: CotEditor

12. KeePassXC

keepassxc password manager for Mac

KeePass is a popular password manager for Windows. Unfortunately, it’s not available for macOS. One Mac alternative is KeePassX, but it rarely gets updated. KeePassXC is a community fork of KeePassX and the best way to use this tool on your Mac.

KeePassXC uses the KDBX password database format. That means you can share your database with KeePass without worrying about compatibility issues. It also natively integrates with any browser. Just press a hotkey to autofill username and password fields.

You can organize passwords into different groups, plus it has a password generator that allows you to generate long and secure passwords. By default, the app will lock after 30 seconds, but you can increase that duration. When you copy a password, the clipboard will clear itself after 10 seconds for security.

Download: KeePassXC

13. Sloth

sloth mac app

Longtime Mac users have likely seen an annoying error message that a particular file, process, or port is in use. For example, you can’t unmount a disk because some unspecified files are in use. This type of error is difficult to troubleshoot.

The lsof Terminal command lists all open files, processes, directories, devices, and more on your device. But using this command is tough. That’s where this app can pitch in.

Sloth offers a GUI built on top of lsof with additional useful features. You can filter the output, kill a file’s owner process, display file info, and more. This makes it easier to inspect what apps are using which files and sockets.

Download: Sloth

14. Fluor

fluor mac app

Apple’s keyboard (aside from MacBook Pro models with the Touch Bar) has a row of function keys at the top. These keys perform dual functions; as well as shortcuts like changing your screen brightness and volume, they can also act as standard function keys. The Fn modifier key adjusts this behavior.

Fluor lets you change the behavior of the function keys on a per-app basis. It detects the active app and changes the behavior of the keys in the background. In the app, the circle icon represents the default option. The sun icon is for the key’s shortcut, whereas the Fn button acts as standard function keys (F1, F2, etc.).

Download: Fluor

15. Karabiner-Elements

karabiner elements mac app

Karabiner-Elements lets you remap the entire keyboard. You can remap a single function key or make complex modifications. If you switch between Windows and macOS often, this app will help you create a consistent experience.

Some rules are available for download, so you get a feel for the capabilities of this app. I use it to assign complex modifier keys to a single function key and media keys to different functions. The app also lets you set up profiles or create rules for input devices.

Download: Karabiner-Elements

Open-Source Mac Apps Are Awesome

These open-source apps for Mac showcase some of the best options available, and they’re all free to boot. Chances are you can find an app that does just what you need and doesn’t cost anything.

If this list has intrigued you, check out our guide to living an open-source life.

Read the full article: 15 Free Open-Source Mac Apps You Must Install

5 Tips for Detecting and Avoiding Dangerous Apps on Android

To avoid dangerous apps on Android, you must know how to determine whether an app is safe. These crucial tips will help.

Read the full article: 5 Tips for Detecting and Avoiding Dangerous Apps on Android

The Google Play Store is not the only way to download Android apps. Third-party marketplaces give you access to apps that are not available on the Play Store, as well as paid apps for free. By sideloading these apps, you’re risking your personal data.

Sometimes apps on the Play Store are not safe either. They can ask for a host of permissions to access data they don’t strictly need and push ads to track you. While Google works hard to keep harmful apps out of the store, you should take precautions too.

We’ll show you how to avoid potentially dangerous apps on Android.

1. Avoid Installing Apps From Unknown Sources

The Play Store is the safest place to browse and install Android apps. Google employs a variety of security mechanisms and ensures that apps you download are safe. One such mechanism is Google Play Protect, which works in the background to scan apps from the Play Store and unknown sources.

To check the status of Play Protect on your device, open the Play Store and tap Menu > Play Protect. Then check the status of Recently scanned apps and toggle the Improve harmful app detection option to send unknown apps to Google for further review, if you like.

Sideload Only When Needed

Sideloading is the process of installing an app (via an APK file) on your device from sources other than the Play Store. When you sideload an app, you bypass Play Store protections and can put thus your device at risk from various security threats. There are both legitimate and illegitimate reasons for sideloading an app.

Good reasons for sideloading:

  • You might want an app in your local language or to fulfill a particular task targeted for your region.
  • The app is not available in the Play Store because of geo-restrictions or its policies. Also, you may want to install an older version of a particular app if the new one starts crashing or removes features you need.
  • You want a free and open source app without ads and trackers.

Poor reasons for sideloading:

  • You don’t want to pay for an app, because it’s available for free on third-party app stores or random websites.
  • Downloading modded streaming apps for watching free movies and TV shows illegally.

Risks You Might Encounter When Sideloading

The majority of malware comes from outside the Play Store. Since an app’s source code contains the malware, you won’t know about its malicious behavior beforehand. Infected apps are usually distributed as pirated apps, repackaged legitimate apps, or even through drive-by download attacks in a browser.

A repackaged app is mostly original, but modified with new functionality. Developers usually add new ad libraries to steal or reroute ad revenue. In some cases, you might see a repackaged app with a malicious payload.

This payload can toggle the GPS switch in the background to spy on your location, send texts to premium numbers without your consent, and more. When a user taps an in-app banner ad by mistake, it can redirect the user to a malicious website with a fake video downloader or battery analyzer app. These spoofs use familiar icons and interfaces to gain trust and steal personal information.

What to Ask Before Sideloading

Ask yourself:

  • Is this app from a trusted source or a legitimate website?
  • Is this the developer’s official website?
  • Does it come from a reputable developer or publisher?
  • Have other people used this app?

Verifying this information is easy. Search Reddit, browse XDA forums, and ask the community about the app or website. Researching this will ensure that the app is safe to use.

2. Avoid Third-Party App Stores

While third-party app stores can be great, not all marketplaces are the same. Many of them do not require developer registration to submit their apps. They often lack security controls, strict policies, and quality control, so it’s easier to download malicious apps.

The Safest Third-Party App Stores

There are two marketplaces where you can download apps for free without worrying about any security issues.

F-Droid is an app store for free and open source Android apps. It’s a community-run software project developed by a wide range of contributors. The documentation page list all the FAQs and support for releasing your app on the F-Droid store.

There’s an entire page of security model and architecture to validate the integrity of the store and keep you safe from malicious apps. Also, the apps on F-Droid cannot use any proprietary Play Services, analytics, or ad libraries. They have a specific set of policies and strict application review process too.

APKMirror is not an app store, but a community-run software project that curates only high-quality apps. It lets you install apps that are not available on the Play Store due to geo-restrictions, provides old versions of popular apps along with their changelogs, and allows instant updates to apps that roll out slowly. It also has a strict policy and security model for including apps.

3. Cross-Check App Permissions With AppBrain

Since Android Marshmallow, you grant apps individual permission to access certain data or features as needed. Before installing any app, you must take a complete look at permissions the apps want.

At the bottom of every app’s info page, you’ll see a section labeled Permission details. But this is only a basic summary. Such a simple explanation does not illustrate the way an app actually uses the permission.

That’s where the app AppBrain Ad Detector can help. This app detects all annoyances, such as push notifications, homescreen spam, and apps with privacy concerns. It also tells you the details of the ad network and tracking libraries apps use.

Once installed, go to Edit Settings and Enable live mode. It’ll then scan all newly installed apps and show notifications of annoyances and concern when appropriate. Tap Show Apps to display apps by concern or alphabetically. You can also tap Show Concerns and sort apps based on concerns, ad networks, social SDKs the app uses, and more.

Alternatively, go to AppBrain Stats on your computer and enter an app name in the search box. Then click on the app’s page to see an in-depth analysis. Take note of the app’s age and last updated date, the frequency of updates, permissions the app uses, and ad networks the app uses.

Based on this information, you can decide whether to install or skip the app. AppBrain will also suggest related apps, so you can find an alternative that has a good score and fewer permissions.

4. Review the App Listing Page

Checking whether an app does what it claims to do is a good way to weed out problematic apps. Sometimes, detecting abnormal behavior is not easy. A behavior considered malicious in one app may be a feature of another app. Pay close attention while taking a look through the app listing page.

Read the App Reviews

Instead of looking at the number of stars, read the reviews and pay attention to what users are saying. If an app is working well enough, but users complain about permissions it asks for in the recent update, then do more research. Change the review sorting from Most helpful first to Newest first, and under Options, choose Latest version. This will show the newest reviews for the current update.

Some developers buy fake reviews, but you can spot them. A genuine review will include problems with an app, and the reviewer might share their opinion too. Also, note if the developer responds to those reviewers or not. Reviews have their share of problems too, and you should not trust app ratings blindly.

Read the App Description

The description should highlight and describe the key features of the app. Look for signs of professionalism, including proper sentence structure, clean grammar, and a lack of spelling errors. A reputed developer will usually explain major features instead of simply listing them. Most also include a feedback link and explain what their apps do.

The Play Store policy suggests that screenshots should show off the best and most essential features of your app. If the screenshot is stolen from the legitimate listing, showing more generalized images of the interface, that’s a warning sign.

Check the Published Date and Download Count

Take a quick look at when the app released and how many people have downloaded it. A recently released app from a small developer should not have a huge number of downloads. Such behavior could indicate phony downloads.

If the download count is low, that app may have enrolled in the Early Access program. This usually suggests legitimacy, as scammers wouldn’t bother with early access.

Examine the App Developer

If you’re not sure about the authenticity of the app, then verify the developer name. It shows right below to the app’s name. Tap the developer’s name to bring up its page with other apps it has published. If you see a single app (especially with a mismatch in the download count and published date), then beware.

To see if an app is a copycat, check the spelling. For example, WhatsApp Messenger is developed by WhatsApp Inc. If you see “WhatsUp” or “WhatzUp Messenger,” skip it. Reputable developers will have a website, information about other apps, social media pages, and contact details.

Read the App Privacy Policy

If an app collects and transmits personal or sensitive user data in any way, then it has to declare so in the privacy policy. At the bottom of every app listing, there’s a section labeled Privacy Policy. Tap this section to read up on what the app does.

Apps that ask for dangerous permissions with no privacy policy is a big red flag. Also, privacy policy generators are common, so read some sentences to discern whether they look genuine or fake.

5. Always Install System Updates

Google releases monthly security updates for Android. Ideally, you should install the updates as they arrive because they protect your device against specific vulnerabilities malicious apps try to exploit.

However, not every mobile manufacturer releases timely updates. Thus, your buying decision with your next phone should consider whether the device will receive support for at least two years of major upgrades, plus periodic security updates.

Avoid the Obvious Scam Apps

Google is doing best to keep malicious apps away. It frequently tweaks the Store policy and bans apps that violate these guidelines. If you take the precautions discussed here, you’ll stay safe.

As you might imagine, some apps on the Play Store are totally unnecessary, so you shouldn’t even should bother installing them. Check out some scam apps you need to avoid.

Read the full article: 5 Tips for Detecting and Avoiding Dangerous Apps on Android

How to Fix 5 Common Mac App Store Problems and Issues

mac-appstore-issues

Installing software from the Mac App Store usually only take few clicks. But what happens when something goes wrong? Whether apps fail to download, you get errors while purchasing apps, or even see a blank App Store page, we’ll show you how to solve common Mac App Store problems. 1. Missing App Store Purchases Apps you purchase from the Mac App Store collect in the Purchased section. The apps link with your Apple ID, which means that if you own multiple Mac computers, you can install your apps on all of them. The apps are always available to update, and…

Read the full article: How to Fix 5 Common Mac App Store Problems and Issues

mac-appstore-issues

Installing software from the Mac App Store usually only take few clicks. But what happens when something goes wrong?

Whether apps fail to download, you get errors while purchasing apps, or even see a blank App Store page, we’ll show you how to solve common Mac App Store problems.

1. Missing App Store Purchases

Apps you purchase from the Mac App Store collect in the Purchased section. The apps link with your Apple ID, which means that if you own multiple Mac computers, you can install your apps on all of them. The apps are always available to update, and you can reinstall them whenever you want.

The purchases page list all apps in chronological order. You can open or install them right from this page, but sometimes you’ll notice they’ve gone missing. Various reasons can cause this:

  • Apple has removed the app because it’s outdated or doesn’t adhere to app review guidelines.
  • The developer is no longer interested in selling the app.
  • The App Store may automatically hide an app that you don’t install for a long time or has compatibility issues.

When an app gets hidden, you’ll no longer see it on the Purchased screen, and you won’t get update notifications for it. But you can still view these hidden apps with a bit of digging.

Open the App Store, and click Store > View My Account. Sign in to view your account information. Then on the Account Information page, scroll down to the Hidden Items section and click Manage.

account-information-page-of-the-app-store

Now click the Unhide button for each app you want to show again.

With this fix, you’ll be able to restore all the missing apps. Just note that if the app is not available, then clicking on that app will not do anything. Check the developer’s website or social media pages to see if the developer is still active.

manage-hidden-purchases-in-the-app-store

2. Apps Incorrectly Show Up as Installed

The Mac App Store has all the information about your Apple ID. It knows which account you’re using, and tracks your application ownership. Sometimes, you might encounter an issue where the App Store falsely reports that a particular app is installed, and therefore won’t let you download it.

You might also see the misleading message You have updates available for other accounts, even if you use one Apple ID. This type of error can happen for various reasons.

Reason 1: Problem With the Cache Folder

In this case, you must clear the cache folder manually to fix the issue. Before you proceed with these steps, ensure that you’ve backed up your Mac.

Quit the Mac App Store with the Cmd + Q shortcut. Open Terminal and type the following command:

open $TMPDIR../C/com.apple.appstore/

Press Enter and the com.apple.appstore folder will open in Finder. Delete the contents of this folder. Relaunch the Mac App Store. Note that this is a system cache and temporary folder. Do not delete any files or folders here other than this directory.

delete-the-app-store-cache-folder

If you’re facing constant verification errors or incorrect download status issues, use this method to fix the problem.

Reason 2: Beta Apps on Other Drives

This type of problem occurs when you install a beta version of macOS on another partition or external drive. Apps you install on it get indexed by Spotlight. The index that the system creates will make the App Store think that a duplicate copy of the app exists on another drive. It’ll refuse to download or update the app on the primary partition.

Fixing this issue is simple; you must delete the duplicate copy of the app and rebuild the Spotlight index.

Open the Apple Menu and select System Preferences. Choose the Spotlight entry and switch to the Privacy tab.

Click the Plus tab at the bottom of the list. A new Finder window will pop open. Add Macintosh HD (or whatever you named it) to this list and close the System Preferences window. I’d also recommend to log out of your account and sign in again. The indexing will stop for this drive.

rebuild-spotlight-index

Now go back to the Privacy tab and click the Minus sign to remove the Macintosh HD drive. Close the System Preferences window. The system will begin to reindex everything on the disk drive, which will take some time.

Reason 3: App Updates on Other User Accounts

If you use a shared computer with another user account, then you might face a similar problem. Apps you install on other accounts should not pose a problem. But if you delete the user account, the App Store will not know that you have done so and will encounter similar issues.

To fix this issue, follow the steps in the above section to rebuild the Spotlight index.

3. App Updates or Downloads Are Stuck

The App Store provides regular updates to both system and third-party apps. In some cases, the download doesn’t complete and might hang in the middle of the process. You might see a familiar Waiting or Installing—Calculating message just beneath the download progress bar.

To approach this problem, we’ll look at what happens behind the scenes.

Delete the Cache Folder

When the download begins, the App Store creates many temporary files in the cache folder. They include a Spotlight metadata file, incomplete installer file, and a PLIST file with details of the app you’re downloading.

In the first step, you must clear the App Store cache folder as mentioned above. Quit the Mac App Store, then open a Terminal window and type the following command:

open $TMPDIR../C/com.apple.appstore/

Press Enter and the com.apple.appstore folder will open in Finder. Delete everything inside. Next, you must delete the user com.apple.appstore folder. To do so, go to

~/Library/Caches/com.apple.appstore

and delete all the files in the fsCachedData folder.

delete-the-user-app-store-cache-folder

Delete the Contents of the Updates Folder

When an app download completes, the package moves from a temporary cache folder to

MacintoshHD/Library/Updates

If an app gets stuck during the installation or gets corrupted for some reason, then clear the contents of this folder. Otherwise, skip this step.

delete-the-contents-of-the-update-folder

Kill the Culprit App Store Processes

After deleting the contents of the cache folder, you’ll next need to kill the culprit processes from the Activity Monitor. This will ensure that when you re-download the update, the processes will not hang again.

Open the Activity Monitor and set its view to All Processes. Type in store to search for App Store related processes, and force-quit all of these daemon processes:

  • storedownloadd: Handles downloads of apps found in the App Store.
  • storeinstalld: Covers app installation and their updates.
  • storeassetd: Handles all the resources and language files of the App Store.
  • storeaccountd: In charge of authentication, and acts as a bridge with your Apple ID account.

Do not open the App Store yet, because there’s one more step to fix this problem.

kill-the-culprit-store-processes-in-activity-monitor

Delete the Preference File

Go to Finder and press Cmd + Shift + G to open the Go to Folder box. Go to the following folder:

~/Library/Preferences

Here, delete the following files:

  • com.apple.appstore.plist
  • com.apple.storeagent.plist

Now go to

~/Library/Cookies

And delete this file:

  • com.apple.appstore.binarycookies

Once you delete all the preference files, choose Apple Menu > Shut Down. Then press the power button to start your Mac again and the problem should be gone.

4. Blank App Store Page

One of the most notorious problems of the Mac App Store is when it displays the error message Cannot connect to the App Store. This has multiple causes, but you can solve them.

First, you must check your internet connection. Open Apple Menu > System Preferences. Choose the Network item and ensure that there is a green icon next to the network in the left sidebar. If there’s a red icon next to the network, then your internet connection is down.

check-the-internet-connection Mac

Sometime the issue may not be a problem on your end. Check out Apple’s System Status Page. Here, you can see information about the status of Apple’s services, such as iCloud, the App Store, and more.

If a particular service has a red icon next to it, then it’s down.

apple-service-status-page

Should you still see the error message even with green lights, choose Store > Logout and quit the App Store. Relaunch the app and sign in again.

5. Errors While Purchasing Apps

Rarely, you might see a peculiar We could not complete your purchase: Unknown Error message when buying apps. This problem occurs when you update macOS or use multiple Apple IDs.

Open both the App Store and iTunes, and ensure that you use same Apple IDs in both of the apps. If you use two separate Apple ID, then log out of the apps, quit them, and sign in again with a single Apple ID.

If you still see the same error message, then you might have an issue with the iTunes Terms and Conditions. When you do a significant update of macOS, Apple wants you to accept the conditions again. In this case, quit the apps, accept the new Terms and Conditions, and relaunch them. You may need to reboot to prompt the acceptance dialog.

Don’t Forget to Score Big App Store Discounts

Over these years, Apple has tended to ignore the Mac App Store. It’s slow and suffers from many bugs and stability problems. Troubleshooting errors is difficult because when the App Store has problems, it doesn’t crash—it simply refuses to work.

With the launch of macOS Mojave, the App Store will get a huge upgrade. We don’t know whether this will iron out these common errors or not.

After you fix your App Store issues, don’t forget that you can save money on apps from the store. Take a look at these methods to find Mac and iPhone App Store discounts.

Read the full article: How to Fix 5 Common Mac App Store Problems and Issues