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

10 Tips and Tricks for Amazing Keynote Presentations on Mac

Keynote is the simplest way to make a beautiful presentation on your Mac. If you pick a template you like and let the defaults do the trick, you’ll always end up with something decent. But there’s a lot more to Keynote after you’ve mastered the iWork basics. Keynote sneaks in amazing features for animations, transitions, shared elements, and more. Keep reading to find out the best Keynote tips that will boost your presentations. 1. Master Keynote’s Slide Transitions Transitions and animations are the two biggest reasons to use Keynote for making a presentation. It’s the subtle effects that will set…

Read the full article: 10 Tips and Tricks for Amazing Keynote Presentations on Mac

Keynote is the simplest way to make a beautiful presentation on your Mac. If you pick a template you like and let the defaults do the trick, you’ll always end up with something decent. But there’s a lot more to Keynote after you’ve mastered the iWork basics.

Keynote sneaks in amazing features for animations, transitions, shared elements, and more. Keep reading to find out the best Keynote tips that will boost your presentations.

1. Master Keynote’s Slide Transitions

Keynote Add Transition Effect for Slides

Transitions and animations are the two biggest reasons to use Keynote for making a presentation. It’s the subtle effects that will set your presentation apart from others using Microsoft PowerPoint or—heaven forbid—a PDF slideshow.

To add a transition effect, select the slide from the slide navigator on the left. From the right sidebar, click on the Animate tab. Then select the Action option and you’ll see a big blue Add an Effect button. That’s your cue.

When you click on it, you’ll be able to select from more than a dozen effects. Pick something basic like Confetti, or go fancy with a Swish or Swirl.

Once you select a transition, you’ll be able to define the duration, the direction, and the start time.

2. Animate Individual Objects on the Slides

Keynote for Mac Animate Objects inside a Slide

Once you’ve got the right transition effect, you can move on to animating specific parts of the slides. Here, you can do two tasks: animate objects as they come into the slide, and move their position at a later time.

This feature gives you incredible control over exactly when and where the objects show up. You can animate a bullet list to show up one after the other, or have an image bounce in from the right edge of the screen.

To animate objects as they come into the slide, use the Build in section in Animate.

Select the object you want to animate and then from the Build in section, choose Add an Effect and select an animation. Click the Preview button to see how it looks. If you want to animate multiple objects together or one after the other, select all of them when defining the Build in effect.

When multiple objects are involved, click on the Build Order button from the bottom of the sidebar. Here, you’ll be able to define the order in which the objects show up on the screen.

3. Move Objects Within Slides

Keynote for Mac Move object inside a Slide

To make your presentation extra groovy, you can even move objects within slides. Say you’re showing a process chart in your presentation. It would be helpful to actually move an object from one section of the screen to another.

You can do this using the Action tool. In the particular slide, click on the object you want to move. Then from the sidebar, go to the Action tab and select the Move effect.

The object will now duplicate. Move the duplicated object where you want it to end up. You’ll see a line linking both objects. That’s the path the object will take as it animates. Click on the line and drag it from the middle if you want to add a curve to the animation.

From the sidebar, you can define the duration, delay, and acceleration as well.

4. Master Magic MoveKeynote for Mac Magic Move Option

Magic Move is a legendary feature. This mind-blowing little utility has been in Keynote for ages.

Magic Move combines the transition and animation features we’ve talked about above. Instead of moving an object from one position to another in one slide, you can directly move an object from one slide to another, with complete control over the animation.

First, place the objects on the slides the way you want. From the Slide Navigator, duplicate the slide by using the Cmd + D shortcut.

Now, change the position of the objects on both slides. The first slide will have objects in the default state. In the second slide, position the elements where you want them to end up.

Select the first of the two slides (not both) and from the sidebar, click on the Animate tab. From the Add an Effect section, choose Magic Move.

Preview it and you’ll instantly see a smooth animation going from one slide to another. Keynote takes care of the transition and animation automatically. But if you want, you can change the duration, match it with text instead of objects, and define when to start the transition.

5. Use Master Slides for a Consistent Design

Keynote for Mac Edit Master Slides

If you’re working on a big presentation and you want to have a consistent styling, get into the habit of using Master Slides. These let you define particular layouts for designs you use frequently.

Right-click on a slide and click on Edit Master Slides. The content from your slides will swap to the default template. You can now move the default objects around and when you save it, your current presentation’s slides will update to match the template.

If the default templates don’t do it for you, why not try these great free Keynote templates?

6. Update Fonts Throughout Presentation

Keynote for Mac Update Font Throughout Presentation

If you always fiddle with fonts until the last minute, you’ll appreciate this one. Keynote has a useful feature where you can apply a font change across the entire presentation.

Say you change the font size of a title in one slide and you want it updated everywhere else too. After making the change, click on the Update button next to the text style dropdown. This saves you from tracking down everywhere else you’ve used that style.

7. Embed a YouTube Video in Keynote

Embed YouTube Video in Keynote for Mac

Unlike Google Slides, there’s no straightforward way to embed a YouTube Video directly into a Keynote presentation. But you can use a different method. You’ll first need to download the YouTube video, which we can’t help you with here.

Next, create a new blank slide and from the menu bar, select Insert > Choose. Select the video you downloaded and it will instantly show up in the slide. You can use the same steps to embed music as well.

While we’re talking about media, let’s discuss the aspect ratio of Keynote presentations. By default, Keynote formats presentations to a 4:3 aspect ratio. That’s fine if you’re presenting it on a projector. But if you’re using a TV or recording the Keynote as a video, you’ll want to use widescreen instead.

From the sidebar, switch to the Document option and from Slide Size, choose the Widescreen format.

8. Make Your iPhone or iPad a Keynote Remote

Keynote for Mac iPhone Remote Screen

Forgot to bring a clicker for your big presentation? Don’t worry, you can use your iPhone or iPad as a remote for your Keynote presentation.

On your Mac, go to Keynote Preferences and choose Remotes. Click on the checkbox next to Enable. Then on your iOS device, click on the remote icon from the top toolbar and press Continue.

Now, on your Mac, you’ll find your iOS device listed in the Remotes section. Confirm the passcode and your devices will link. Simply press Play on your iOS device. You can now control the presentation and read presenter notes as well.

9. Customize Your Toolbar

Keynote for Mac Customize Toolbar

Once you start working with Keynote more often, you’ll figure out which features you use most. Like with everything else on your Mac, you should take the time to customize it.

Click on View from the menu bar and select Customize Toolbar. You’ll see a huge array of icons. Drag in the features you use often and remove the ones you never touch. While you’re working on this, you may want to customize your keyboard behavior too.

10. Make Use of Action Buttons

Keynote for Mac Make Interactive Button

There’s a hidden feature in Keynote that lets you turn any object into an interactive button. You can create a shortcut to jump to a particular slide, open a web page, or even end the presentation.

Select a shape and use the Cmd + K keyboard shortcut. From here, select if you want to link to a slide, web page, or an email.

Getting Advanced With iWork

Now that you’ve dug a bit deeper into the world of Keynote, why not dive into our advanced tips for the whole iWork suite? Just like Keynote, there’s a world of customization waiting inside them.

Read the full article: 10 Tips and Tricks for Amazing Keynote Presentations on Mac

5 Simple macOS Tweaks to Help You Stay Focused

stay-focused-mac-apps

Activating Do Not Disturb mode is not the only tweak that can save you from distractions while working on your Mac. You can make a few other changes to help yourself focus on the task at hand if single-tasking is your goal. We recommend starting off with the five tweaks outlined below. Feel free to pick the ones that will work for you and don’t worry about the rest. 1. Enable Single Application Mode Going full-screen or maximizing the active window will hide the distracting apps behind it. Instead of doing that, you can hide all apps except the current…

Read the full article: 5 Simple macOS Tweaks to Help You Stay Focused

stay-focused-mac-apps

Activating Do Not Disturb mode is not the only tweak that can save you from distractions while working on your Mac. You can make a few other changes to help yourself focus on the task at hand if single-tasking is your goal.

We recommend starting off with the five tweaks outlined below. Feel free to pick the ones that will work for you and don’t worry about the rest.

1. Enable Single Application Mode

Going full-screen or maximizing the active window will hide the distracting apps behind it. Instead of doing that, you can hide all apps except the current one with the keyboard shortcut Option + Cmd + H. If you want to minimize all windows of the active app, try the shortcut Option + Cmd + M.

But wouldn’t it be painless if you could minimize all but the current app window automatically? You can do that, too, with the single application mode built into macOS.

To enable this mode, open the Terminal app, paste in the following bit of code, and hit Enter:

defaults write com.apple.dock single-app -bool true; killall Dock

(To reverse the change, use the same code above, but replace true with false in the snippet.)

Now try switching apps. You’ll see that the app you switch to is the only app visible.

To try fading out the windows in the background instead of hiding them, try a dimmer app like HazeOver ($4). Install Hocus Focus (Free) if you want to hide only inactive app windows.

Speaking of hiding, you can hide pretty much anything on your Mac (not just apps and windows) for a cleaner, less distracting interface.

2. Switch to Grayscale Mode

use-grayscale-mac

Overlaying your screen with a blanket of gray can take all the fun out of using your Mac, unless you actually like the new retro look.

Dampening the impact of all the colorful elements on the screen might be just what you need to keep your focus completely on your work. You can achieve this with a switch to your Mac’s grayscale mode via System Preferences > Accessibility > Display. There, all you need to do is select the Use grayscale checkbox.

3. Enable Parental Controls

web-parental-controls-mac

You don’t have to be a parent to take advantage of your Mac’s Parental Controls feature. It can help you filter out distracting websites like Facebook, limit screen time, and restrict access to non-work apps.

To enable Parental Controls, first visit System Preferences > Parental Controls. Next, select the user account you want to restrict and click on the Enable Parental Controls button that appears on the right.

You’ll then see a bunch of tabs with various settings to control macOS behavior for the selected account. The settings are easy to understand and you’ll have no trouble tweaking them to set up the perfect work environment.

parental-controls

Parental Controls work only with a non-administrative user account. We recommend creating a dedicated Standard account that you can switch to for work.

Don’t want to fiddle with Parental Controls? You can still block websites and desktop apps from your primary account with Focus ($20), which comes with a free trial. The app sits in the menu bar and lets you trigger app and website blocking with a couple of clicks. Focus also includes a Pomodoro timer and inspiring quotes, among other features.

4. Use Safari Reader Everywhere

safari-reader-mac

Safari’s Reader view is a quick way to hide all the shiny buttons, links, and toolbars that distract you from the primary content of web pages. You can bring up this view by clicking on View > Show Reader or on the Show Reader View button in the address bar. But it’s much faster with a shortcut. You can program one under System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > App Shortcuts.

Better yet, enable the Reader view to show up automatically for all websites as soon as you load them. To do this, open Safari > Preferences (Cmd + Comma) and switch to the Websites tab.

auto-reader-safari-mac

Next, select Reader from the sidebar and set the When visiting other websites dropdown menu to On. (You’ll find this menu below the right-hand panel.)

This tweak excludes the websites that are currently open. You’ll have to enable Reader on them using their respective dropdown menu from the same settings section as above.

5. Create a “Panic Button” App to Quit All Apps at Once

quit-all-apps-automator-mac

Remember those extensions that let you hide all your browser tabs in a single click? It would be nice to have a similar panic button to get rid of everything on your Mac’s screen and start from scratch. Thankfully, you can create one yourself with Automator.

Open the Automator app and click on the New Document button within the Finder dialog that shows up. Now, select Application as your document type.

Next, from the Actions library in the sidebar, click on Utilities. From the corresponding list of actions, drag Quit All Applications to the blank right-hand panel, which is the workflow editor.

Here, you’ll see a Do not quit option where you can list specific applications that you want your new app to leave alone. Use the Add button to add them one by one.

(When you use Automator in future, you’ll get a prompt to save changes in apps where you might lose unsaved work. The Ask to save changes checkbox in the workflow editor takes care of this.)

Click on File > Save to save the app to a location of your choice. Once you have saved the app, drag its icon out to the Dock. Click on the icon whenever you want to sit down to work and start with a clean screen.

Tune Out the Noise

Self-discipline is the best productivity hack there is and no amount of device hacking can replace it. But the latter can certainly keep digital temptations out of your way. Discover it for yourself with the macOS tweaks that we have listed above.

And while you’re at it, how about setting up your Mac for a minimalist experience to reduce distractions further?

Read the full article: 5 Simple macOS Tweaks to Help You Stay Focused

10 Handy Ways to Use Your Mac and iPhone Together

ios-macos-together

MacOS and iOS work well together. If your desktop and phone both come from Apple, you have many useful functions at your fingertips. Let’s explore the best ways you can use both devices side-by-side. 1. Copy and Paste Content It’s easy to move between your Apple devices seamlessly, thanks to a special set of features called Continuity. The Universal Clipboard feature is part of this set and it allows you to share clipboard content between your Mac and iPhone. To copy-paste text and graphics between the two devices, you’ll need to ensure that on both of them: You’re signed in…

Read the full article: 10 Handy Ways to Use Your Mac and iPhone Together

MacOS and iOS work well together. If your desktop and phone both come from Apple, you have many useful functions at your fingertips.

Let’s explore the best ways you can use both devices side-by-side.

1. Copy and Paste Content

copy-paste-from-mac

It’s easy to move between your Apple devices seamlessly, thanks to a special set of features called Continuity. The Universal Clipboard feature is part of this set and it allows you to share clipboard content between your Mac and iPhone.

To copy-paste text and graphics between the two devices, you’ll need to ensure that on both of them:

  • You’re signed in with the same iCloud account.
  • Bluetooth is turned on.
  • You have enabled the Handoff setting. On macOS, it’s called Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices and lives under System Preferences > General. On iOS, you’ll find it listed as Handoff under Settings > General.

After that, you can copy content on your Mac and paste it in anywhere on your iPhone, and vice-versa.

2. Resume Tasks

resume-task-on-mac

As long as you have the settings outlined in the above section in place, you can also stop tasks on one device and resume them on another.

For example, you can start typing a note in Notes on your iPhone and finish it within Notes on your Mac. The Notes app active on your phone gets a special icon in your Mac’s Dock at the far left. (Look for the Notes icon with a tiny phone attached to it.) Click on that Dock icon to resume typing the note.

If you’re resuming a note from Mac on your iPhone, you’ll have to tap on the Notes banner that appears at the bottom of the app switcher screen. To reveal this screen, double-press the Home button on your phone.

This Apple feature, Handoff, works with various apps including Mail, Safari, Reminders, and Pages.

3. Drop Files, Webpages, and More

airdrop-mac

To share files between your Mac and iPhone, you can use AirDrop, Apple’s in-built file transfer utility for desktop and mobile devices.

After you enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on both devices and ensure that they’re discoverable, sharing is simple. (The devices don’t need to be on the same network for AirDrop to work between them.)

To begin sharing, select the Share > AirDrop option from the context menu of the file or folder you want to send from your Mac to your iPhone. Then select the destination device when it shows up in the Share dialog.

If you’re transferring files in the other direction, first select the ones you want to send. Then tap on the Share button to reveal the AirDrop option in the Share menu.

airdop-iphone

You can transfer not only files and folders with AirDrop, but other types of data as well. This includes webpages, notes, contacts, and photos.

Keep in mind that AirDrop can be temperamental at times. If you have trouble using it, we have a few tips to troubleshoot your file transfer woes.

4. Play Music, Movies, and TV Shows

play-audio-from-iphone

You can play audio from your iPhone on your Mac with a Lightning USB cable. But if you want to stream (or mirror) content wirelessly from your Mac and iPhone, you can use Apple’s AirPlay feature. The catch is that neither device can act as an AirPlay receiver. But an Apple TV can. Its price starts at $149.

If you don’t want to spend that much money, you can get a piece of software like Reflector ($15) instead. It simulates an AirPlay receiver and lets you stream content from your iPhone to Mac. To stream content from your Mac to your iPhone, you can use StreamtoMe.

Our beginner’s guide to AirPlay will tell you everything you need to know about streaming and mirroring on your Mac and iPhone.

5. Share an Internet Connection

personal-hotspot-on-mac

You need a simple tweak to turn your Mac’s internet connection into a Wi-Fi hotspot. First, head to System Preferences > Sharing and enable the checkbox for Internet Sharing. Then click on the Start button at the confirmation prompt.

To use your iPhone’s internet connection on your Mac (known as tethering), you’ll need to enable the Personal Hotspot option under Settings on your iPhone. Your mobile device will then show up in the list of networks on your Mac, and you can connect to it.

Instead of Wi-Fi, you can also use Bluetooth or a USB cable for tethering. Our iPhone hotspot guide can help you understand the ins and outs of the hotspot feature. Your experience of this feature might vary depending on your carrier. If you face any issues, go through our troubleshooting tips for iPhone tethering.

6. Close Safari Tabs

icloud-tabs-on-iphone

If you enable iCloud sync for Safari on your Mac and iPhone, you can close tabs open on one device from the other. To set up syncing:

  • On macOS: Visit System Preferences > iCloud and enable the checkbox for Safari.
  • On iOS: Go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud and flick the toggle switch for Safari to the right.

After you make these changes, the Safari tabs from your iPhone show up in the Safari tab switcher on your Mac. You might need to scroll down to see them.

(To reveal the tab switcher, hit Shift + Cmd + Backslash () or click on View > Show Tab Overview).

To close one of the iCloud tabs, click on the Close button that appears when you hover over it. If you want quick access to iCloud tabs, keep the Show iCloud Tabs toolbar button handy.

Now, on your iPhone, you’ll find your Mac’s Safari tabs listed below your active tabs in the tab switcher. To reveal the tab switcher, tap on the Tabs toolbar button at the bottom-right. Slide the tab name to the left to reveal its Close button.

7. Unlock Your Mac Using Your iPhone

tether-mac

You’ll need a third-party app for the convenience of using your iPhone’s passcode or Touch ID fingerprint to unlock your Mac. You can try Tether (Free) or FingerKey ($3). Unlox ($4), formerly known as MacID, is another great option.

If you have an Apple Watch, you can use that to unlock your Mac simply by sitting in front of it. That’s the Auto Unlock feature in action. Speaking of which, you might be missing out on more Apple Watch features like this one.

8. Type on Your iPhone Using Your Mac’s Keyboard

typeeto-mac

If an iPhone app you’re typing into has a Mac version and supports iCloud sync, anything you type into the app on your desktop shows up in the mobile version soon and vice-versa.

Even if that’s not an option, a Mac app that simulates a proper Bluetooth keyboard can work. We recommend Typeeto ($20), which comes with a free trial. Our guide to typing on your iPhone with your Mac’s keyboard will show you how such software works.

9. Make and Receive Calls From Your Mac

call-from-mac

You can receive and make both cellular and FaceTime calls on your iPhone from your Mac. To make this work, your Mac and iPhone must be connected to the same network and signed in with the same iCloud and FaceTime account. You also have to enable these settings:

  • On macOS: Facetime > Preferences > Settings > Calls from iPhone
  • On iOS: Settings > Phone > Calls on Other Devices > Allow Calls on Other Devices (From the same section, enable the the toggle switch for the Mac in question.)

Now when you receive a call on your phone, you’ll see a notification for it on your Mac. You can accept or decline the call from the notification itself.

receive-iphone-call-on-mac

To make a call from your Mac, first right-click on a phone number or its link from any app. Next, click on the Call [Number] using iPhone option in the context menu and then the Call option in the alert that appears.

10. Send and Receive SMS From Your Mac

You can use your Mac to send text messages using your iPhone if you enable Text Message Forwarding from Settings > Messages on your iPhone.

You also have to ensure that you’re reachable at your phone number and email address on iMessage. To do this, put a check mark next to the relevant contact details in the Messages app settings:

  • On macOS: From Messages > Preferences > Accounts
  • On iOS: From Settings > Messages > Send & Receive

Now you’re all set to send SMS from your Mac. Start an iMessage conversation as you normally do, but this time see if you can select a phone number to send the message to. With text forwarding in place, you should be able to do so.

Mac Plus iPhone Equals Harmony

As a Mac user, you don’t always have to buy an iPhone (and vice versa), but if you do so, it can prove quite convenient. You can use a mix of native features and third-party apps to move effortlessly from your Mac to your iPhone and back.

Speaking of seamless transitions, you must take a look at these iOS apps that can power up your Mac experience.

Read the full article: 10 Handy Ways to Use Your Mac and iPhone Together

4 Ways BetterTouchTool Is the Ultimate Mac Productivity App

ultimate-mac-productivity-tools

Interested in a magic wand that can transform your Mac workflow? You need BetterTouchTool ($7), a powerful automation app that gives you precise control over your input devices. (Most likely, you won’t need all 45 days of the free trial period to convince you to buy the app.) BetterTouchTool lets you assign a custom trigger for various tasks on your Mac. But it does a lot more than that. Let’s see a few ways the app can save you some serious time and effort. Note: We’ll refer to BetterTouchTool as BTT going forward. 1. Custom Keyboard Shortcuts and Trackpad Gestures…

Read the full article: 4 Ways BetterTouchTool Is the Ultimate Mac Productivity App

ultimate-mac-productivity-tools

Interested in a magic wand that can transform your Mac workflow? You need BetterTouchTool ($7), a powerful automation app that gives you precise control over your input devices. (Most likely, you won’t need all 45 days of the free trial period to convince you to buy the app.)

BetterTouchTool lets you assign a custom trigger for various tasks on your Mac. But it does a lot more than that. Let’s see a few ways the app can save you some serious time and effort.

Note: We’ll refer to BetterTouchTool as BTT going forward.

1. Custom Keyboard Shortcuts and Trackpad Gestures

custom-gesture-btt-mac

Let’s say you’re using the trackpad and want to switch to full screen mode quickly. You’ll have to reach for:

  • The View > Enter Full Screen menu option, or
  • The green Zoom button in the top-left section of the active window, or
  • The keyboard shortcut Control + Cmd + F.

But if you have set up a BTT gesture, toggling full screen mode can be as simple as:

  • A one-finger tap of, say, the top middle part of the trackpad, or
  • Pressing a single key like F11 on your keyboard.

Likewise, you can maximize and minimize windows, bring up context menus, and launch apps with a gesture or a keyboard shortcut of your choice. You can also choose to toggle Night Shift and Do Not Disturb, empty the trash, switch desktops, and look up words.

Mapping function keys to useful tools like a calendar app, a to-do app, or the emoji viewer is also a good idea. And if you’re worried about triggering functions accidentally with the trackpad, you can combine gestures with a modifier key to prevent that.

You might wonder why BTT is worthwhile when you can set up custom hotkeys using the built -in macOS settings under System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts. You can also make a few trackpad tweaks under System Preferences > Trackpad.

But with BTT, you get way more options to match input devices with actions. For example, you can pick from one, two, three, four, and five-finger gestures to trigger actions.

gesture-options-btt-mac

You also get to use many different input types to create shortcuts. Magic Mice, normal mice, Magic Trackpads, normal trackpads, the Siri Remote—they all work! Plus, BTT allows you to remap/bind mouse buttons.

If you install the free BTT Remote, the iOS companion app for BTT, you can even control your Mac using your iPhone.

And if you have fallen out of love with your MacBook’s Touch Bar, creating custom Touch Bar buttons with BTT might fix that.

2. Key Remapping

remap-esc-btt-mac

You probably don’t use certain keys on your Mac’s keyboard all that much. Or maybe your muscle memory has trouble with the placement of some keys. Perhaps you often have to switch between different Macs, one with a numeric keypad and the other without.

In such cases, you can remap keys with BTT to your liking to avoid confusion. For example, you can remap the Tilde key (above the Tab key) to function as a second Delete key, or the Backslash () key as another Play/Pause key.

Unfortunately, behavior such as remapping Caps Lock to Enter isn’t possible even with BTT. But as a workaround, you can try something else.

From System Preferences > Keyboard > Modifier Keys, remap Caps Lock to work as the Esc key. Then remap Esc to trigger the Enter key with BTT. As long as you don’t have an item selected (like a file or dropdown menu), you won’t lose the original functionality of the Esc key.

3. Window Management

window-management-btt-mac

BTT lets you move windows around to arrange them perfectly. You can maximize them, snap them to any of the screen corners, and scale them to various sizes. You also get the option to create custom snap areas and set up split views.

Of course, since this is BTT we’re talking about, you can use various input types (including gestures) to customize window behavior.

If you’d rather get only the window control features of BTT and leave out the rest, try BetterSnapTool ($3). It comes from the same developer as BTT, and is one of the best window management tools for Mac along with Spectacle.

4. Screenshots, Text Expansion, Clipboard Manager

btt-clipboard-mac

BTT might tempt you to get rid of your screenshot tool, text expander app, and clipboard manager. The app comes with in-built options for all three utilities.

The screenshot capture tool is quite customizable, as you can see in the screenshot below. You get to specify whether you want to capture the whole screen, a specific window, or a custom area. You can also set a delay, trigger a few preset follow-up actions, and configure the format for file name and type.

capture-screenshot-btt-mac

The text expansion utility is easy to use. All you have to do is assign a shortcut to insert or paste text snippets into any app of your choice.

text-expansion-btt-mac

The clipboard manager can save text, links, and images for you and paste them anywhere (with or without formatting) using a shortcut. You can even paste items as a file and edit copied content right from the clipboard.

How to Get Started With BetterTouchTool

You might feel intimidated by all the options staring at you when you open BTT for the first time. If that happens, focus only on the Keyboard section in the black end-to-end navigation bar.

After you set up a few custom shortcuts, you’re sure to get more comfortable with BTT. The app has numbered arrows to point you in the right direction.

Now let’s see how to set up a custom keyboard shortcut from the Keyboard section:

1. Click on the Add New Shortcut or Key Sequence button.

add-new-shortcut-bettertouchtool-mac

2. Click on Click to record shortcut in the bottom panel and press the key combination you want to use.

record-shortcut-bettertouchtool-mac

3. Open the Trigger Predefined Action dropdown menu on the right.

trigger-action-bettertouchtool-mac

4. Select the action you want to trigger with the keyboard shortcut you recorded in the first step. For example, to take screenshots, pick the Capture Screenshot or Capture Screenshot then edit in BTT action. If it’s the clipboard you’re looking for, select the Show Clipboard/Pasteboard History action.

btt-preset-actions-mac

The Trigger Predefined Action dropdown menu is where all BTT’s power rests. Take one look at its contents and you’ll see right away how versatile BTT really is.

See the Trigger Other Keyboard Shortcut to the left of this dropdown menu? It lets you trigger another key or key combination using your original choice of shortcut. This feature comes in handy when you want to remap keys as we discussed above.

trigger-keyboard-shortcut-btt-mac

You’ll find that the interface for each input type follows a similar pattern. So once you learn to create custom keyboard shortcuts, setting up shortcuts for other forms of input is easy.

By default, BTT shortcuts apply across macOS, which is why you’ll see that the sidebar shows the option Global as selected. If you would like to create shortcuts for a specific app, you’ll first have to add/select it from the sidebar.

BetterTouchTool Is Mac Productivity at Its Best

Thanks to BTT, you don’t need to switch between your Mac’s trackpad, keyboard, and other input devices as often as you do now. Also, with gestures and shortcuts of your choice, you’re less likely to forget them.

Ready to make your Mac workflow effortless now? Go ahead and try BetterTouchTool for 45 days (also available via Setapp.) It’s a must-have app, especially if you spend all day on a Mac or if you work with multiple Mac monitors.

Read the full article: 4 Ways BetterTouchTool Is the Ultimate Mac Productivity App

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 Ways to Turn Any Website Into a Desktop Mac App

turn-website-into-mac-app

No matter how good a web app is, sometimes you wish you could have it on your Mac desktop. That’s especially true when it comes to the apps (and websites) you use often. Sure, if the app has a macOS version, you can install that. But if it doesn’t, or if the desktop client is poorly made, what are your options? We’ve lined up five apps that can turn websites into Mac apps. 1. Fluid For a long time, Fluid was really the only app that let you turn web apps into real Mac apps. Now it has some competition,…

Read the full article: 5 Ways to Turn Any Website Into a Desktop Mac App

turn-website-into-mac-app

No matter how good a web app is, sometimes you wish you could have it on your Mac desktop. That’s especially true when it comes to the apps (and websites) you use often.

Sure, if the app has a macOS version, you can install that. But if it doesn’t, or if the desktop client is poorly made, what are your options?

We’ve lined up five apps that can turn websites into Mac apps.

1. Fluid

makeuseof-fluid-app-mac

For a long time, Fluid was really the only app that let you turn web apps into real Mac apps. Now it has some competition, but Fluid continues to do its job well. It even gained a spot on our list of must-have apps for users who spend all day on a Mac.

After you install Fluid, creating a new desktop app is straightforward. First, grab the URL of the website you want to turn into a Mac app and paste it into Fluid. Next, type in a name for your new desktop app.

If you want to throw in a custom icon for the app, you can add that too. (By default, Fluid uses the source website’s favicon). Now hit the Create button to set up the app. You’ll then find it in the Applications folder unless you have changed its location during setup.

create-fluid-app-mac

Fluid gives you several customization options once you’ve created a desktop app. These appear in the app’s settings or Preferences section, like they do for any regular Mac app.

You don’t have to worry about a limit on the number of desktop apps you can create with Fluid—the app is free. You’ll need a Fluid license ($5) only if you want to pin Fluid apps to the menu bar or customize them with Userstyles and Userscripts. Using full screen mode for apps created with Fluid is also a premium feature.

Download: Fluid (Free, premium version available)

2. Applicationize

applicationize-whatsapp

Applicationize lets you turn web apps into Chrome apps. You can create a Chrome app at applicationize.me/now. There, enter the URL of a website or web app you want to add to your desktop and hit the Generate and Download Chrome Extension button. The downloaded app appears as a CRX extension file.

create-applicationize-extension

Before you generate the app, you can also configure a few settings for it with the Advanced Options link. For example, you can customize the app to receive notifications and open links within popups.

applicationize-advanced-options

Now let’s see how to install your new app extension in Chrome.

To begin with, type chrome://extensions into the address bar and hit Enter. On the Extensions page that opens up, turn on the Developer mode switch at the top-right.

After you restart Chrome, drag and drop the CRX file onto the Extensions page. Then click on the Add app button when Chrome asks you if you want to install the extension.

Once you do, the app appears within the app launcher at chrome://apps. It’s now ready for you to launch as a standalone app. If you want to drag the app out to the Dock, you can do that via the Create Shortcut option within the app’s context menu.

Download: Applicationize (Free)

3. Web2Desk

web2desk-mac-app

This website gives you a ready-made interface to generate desktop apps, with bo installation required.

Start by grabbing the URL of the website you want to turn into a Mac app and paste it into the field provided. Add a name for your new desktop app and a custom app icon if you want one. After you type in the email address where you want to receive the download link, hit the Create Now button.

create-web2desk-mac-app

Once you download the app, you can move it to the Applications folder or add it to a separate folder.

If you want to see the results of Web2Desk before you convert a web app into a desktop app, try one of the sample apps featured on the website.

Of all the apps listed here, Web2Desk is the only one that generates a heavy app (it takes up a few hundred megabytes of space). The rest create apps that hover in the 1-10MB range. To save space, it’s best to use this if you want to generate only a handful of apps.

Download: Web2Desk (Free)

4. Unite

unite-mac-app

Like Fluid, Unite lets you create native Mac apps. This means that each app gets a browser of its own, complete with separate cookies and settings.

As you can see in the screenshot below, creating a new app is as straightforward as Fluid and Web2Desk we discussed above. A website address, a name for the new app, and a favicon are all you need to get started.

create-unite-mac-app

Unite also has many customization options hidden in the settings of the new desktop app. There, you’ll see that Unite lets you pin apps to the menu bar and tweak the appearance of app windows. It also allows you to configure how tabs, cookies, and notifications work for the active app.

unite-settings-mac

If you want a versatile solution with plenty of options to tweak how your new desktop apps behave, Unite is a good bet.

Download: Unite (Free trial, $5 license required)

5. Automator

automator-mac-app

You don’t really need a dedicated service to turn websites into standalone Mac apps. Your Mac’s Automator app will do just fine. Let’s see how to create a desktop app with it. (That’s just one way to use Automator with your browser.)

To begin with, open Automator, select Application as your document type, and click on the Choose button. Now look for the action item Get Specified URLs and drag it to the right-hand panel. (You can use the search box to find the action faster.)

automator-action-1

You’ll see that the default address in the panel is Apple’s homepage. Double-click on that address and replace it with the address of the website you want to turn into a desktop app.

Next, grab the Website Popup action and drop it onto the right-hand panel below the first action. Here you’ll find options to customize the look and feel of the desktop app.

automator-action-2-mac

Once you save this new Automator application, your desktop app is ready for launch.

A Few Important Pointers

Here are a few more similar apps you might want to check out:

While these apps look lovely, their behavior seems unreliable. Still, you might want to give them a shot; your results may vary.

Before you begin your app search, ask yourself:

  • Do you mind using a website wrapper or do you need a “real” app?
  • Is the lack of notifications a deal-breaker?
  • Do you plan to generate several desktop apps, and in that case, do you need the most lightweight ones?
  • Do you need multiple sign-in for Gmail or any other account?

Getting clear on what you consider must-haves will help you find the perfect solution.

Web Apps vs. Desktop Apps: Which Do You Prefer?

Sometimes it’s better to choose web apps over native Mac apps, but not always. And when you need those desktop apps, sometimes you have to resort to makeshift ones using the apps we’ve mentioned above.

But don’t worry. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) that promise to bridge the gap between web apps and native apps are gaining more traction. Let’s look forward to that.

Read the full article: 5 Ways to Turn Any Website Into a Desktop Mac App

How to Check Your Mac’s Memory for Problems

check-mac-memory

Random Access Memory (RAM) is a vital component of any computer. When you launch an app on your Mac, it requires a portion of your available memory to run. Serious problems can arise if there are problems with your computer’s memory. Today we’ll look at how to find out how much memory you have, what’s using it, and how you can perform thorough testing to ensure it’s working correctly. If you recently installed a new stick of RAM and you’re encountering problems, testing is a vital part of troubleshooting your issue. Find Out How Much Memory You Have To find…

Read the full article: How to Check Your Mac’s Memory for Problems

check-mac-memory

Random Access Memory (RAM) is a vital component of any computer. When you launch an app on your Mac, it requires a portion of your available memory to run. Serious problems can arise if there are problems with your computer’s memory.

Today we’ll look at how to find out how much memory you have, what’s using it, and how you can perform thorough testing to ensure it’s working correctly. If you recently installed a new stick of RAM and you’re encountering problems, testing is a vital part of troubleshooting your issue.

Find Out How Much Memory You Have

To find out how much memory your Mac has, click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen and select About This Mac. On the Overview tab, the Memory line lists the amount of RAM in GB, the speed of the RAM in MHz, and the generation of double data rate (DDR) you’re currently using.

About This Mac Check Memory Information

This is important if you intend to add more RAM to your machine, since you’ll want to match your existing RAM with any you install. This is mostly advice for owners of iMacs and older MacBooks, since the RAM on Apple’s newer laptops is soldered to the logic board.

Click System Report and navigate to the Memory section to find out even more information. Here you can see how many sticks of RAM you have installed, which is another important piece of information to keep in mind if you want to upgrade. macOS will also give you a status report of your memory’s current condition (though you’ll need further testing to isolate problems).

macOS System Report

Find Out What’s Using Your Memory

Activity Monitor is a small app that lives in your Applications > Utilities folder (launch it with Spotlight) that provides information about what’s currently running on your machine. You can also use it to find out which apps are using your available memory, and how much they’re using.

Launch Activity Monitor, then click on the Memory tab. Sort the Memory column by descending order (it will show a downwards pointing arrow) to see processes that are using the most memory at the top. If you see “kernel_task” using a lot of memory, that’s the operating system ticking along in the background.

Activity Monitor Memory Usage Mac

You can kill any processes by selecting it, then clicking on the X at the top of the window. Keep in mind this will close the corresponding app or browser tab. To avoid data loss, quit the application as you normally would, or by selecting it and using the Cmd + Q shortcut.

At the bottom of this screen, you’ll see a summary of your total memory, the amount you’re currently using, and a graph showing memory “pressure” over time. Try opening a few apps to see how they affect performance.

Learn the Symptoms of Faulty Memory

There are a few telltale signs that suggest your memory may not be working correctly. Watch out for any of these problems:

  • Apps crash unexpectedly, more often than they used to.
  • Your operating system freezes or restarts with no warning.
  • Poor performance means your computer gets slower the longer you use it.
  • Files and settings become corrupted easily.
  • Problems occur even after you have reinstalled macOS.
  • Boot problems, including three beeps on startup.

The best way to check your Mac’s memory for problems is to perform memory testing while using as little of it as possible. Since the operating system uses quite a bit of RAM in the background, testing memory by booting into a lightweight testing environment is recommended.

There are two methods of testing that we’ll look at today: Apple’s own set of user diagnostics, and a third-party tool called MemTest86.

Check Your Memory Using Apple Diagnostics

Testing your RAM with Apple’s user diagnostics tools is easy. Simply restart your Mac, then hold down D as soon as it restarts. If you did it correctly, your computer will either boot into Apple Diagnostics or Apple Hardware Test, depending on the age of your machine.

Apple Diagnostics testing

Follow the prompts and let the test complete. It can take a while, particularly on older computers. When you’re done, you should see a report giving you a brief overview of any detected issues. Unfortunately, the test will only tell you whether or not problems were detected. You won’t be able to tell which stick of RAM is faulty.

Problems running the test? Holding down Option + D at startup will run this test from the internet. It will take longer to gather the required files, but it should work just as well once the download completes.

Check Your Memory Using MemTest86

If you want to learn more about any problems Apple’s diagnostics detected, or you want to run another test for peace of mind, MemTest86 is one of the best tools for the job. There are a few memory testing tools that use similar names, but MemTest86 is still regularly maintained and updated.

In order to test your machine, you’re going to need to make a bootable USB drive from which to run the test. The first step is to find a suitable USB drive and make sure there are no important files on there, since the whole drive will be erased. Insert the USB drive into a free port.

Now download free drive creation tool Etcher, mount the DMG, and install it to your Applications folder. Head to the MemTest86 Downloads page and grab the Image for creating bootable USB Drive under Linux/Mac Downloads.

Once MemTest86 has downloaded, extract the archive and launch Etcher. Click Select image, navigate to the extracted archive you previously downloaded, and choose the memtest-usb.img file. Now click Select drive and choose the USB drive you want to use. When you’re ready, click Flash! and wait for the process to complete.

Create Bootable USB with Etcher

Next, shut down the Mac you want to test and insert the USB drive you just created. Press and hold the Option key and power on your Mac. When prompted, select the external drive you created (it may show up as EFI Boot) by clicking the arrow to boot into MemTest. Don’t select Macintosh HD, since this is your internal drive.

Wait for MemTest86 to initialize. Testing should begin after a short pause, but if it doesn’t, select Config then Start Test. Allow time for the test to complete; it took around 40 minutes on our test machine. At the end you’ll be given a summary, and an option to save a report to the USB drive in HTML format.

MemTest86 Running on a MacBook Air

Save the report if you find anything unusual and use it to seek help on message boards like Apple Support Communities, or from a technician.

Free Up Disk Space on Your Mac

Some people use “memory” as a catch-all term for free space, but macOS specifically refers to this as “storage.” You can find more information about this by clicking the Apple logo, selecting About This Mac, then clicking on the Storage tab.

Don’t forget to try out a few of our recommended free tools to inspect how much free space you have on your Mac, and remedies to create as much free space as possible.

Read the full article: How to Check Your Mac’s Memory for Problems

The 8 Best Free Mac Tools to Detect and Fix Common macOS Problems

best-free-mac-tools-fix

All Macs are perfect, and never encounter a single problem. This is thanks to the unicorn dust applied liberally to the internals of each new machine. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Just like Windows machines, your Apple hardware can and will go wrong from time to time. Apple provides plenty of tools to get you on your way, but a few free third-party apps don’t hurt either. Here are eight free tools that can help when your computer don’t work properly. 1. Disk Utility When to use it: Corrupted files, drive errors, or a Mac that won’t boot into macOS. Disk…

Read the full article: The 8 Best Free Mac Tools to Detect and Fix Common macOS Problems

best-free-mac-tools-fix

All Macs are perfect, and never encounter a single problem. This is thanks to the unicorn dust applied liberally to the internals of each new machine.

Unfortunately, that’s not true. Just like Windows machines, your Apple hardware can and will go wrong from time to time. Apple provides plenty of tools to get you on your way, but a few free third-party apps don’t hurt either.

Here are eight free tools that can help when your computer don’t work properly.

1. Disk Utility

macOS Disk Utility

When to use it: Corrupted files, drive errors, or a Mac that won’t boot into macOS.

Disk Utility is a utility provided with macOS, which you can find under your Applications > Utilities folder. It’s used for formatting drives, mounting and unmounting volumes, and fixing problems as they arise.

You can run First Aid on any drive by launching the utility and clicking the corresponding button. For better results, and in cases where your Mac won’t boot, you can launch your Mac in Recovery Mode by restarting and holding Cmd + R while it starts up. Select Disk Utility, then First Aid to attempt a fix. Hit Repair Disk if it detects a problem.

It’s also possible to create whole images of your current disk using this utility, which is perfect if your drive is failing. Reboot in Recovery Mode and connect a large enough external drive. Then eject the drive you want to back up (probably called Macintosh HD), followed by File > Create New Image from “Macintosh HD” (or whatever the label is).

Failing Disk Utility’s repair options, you can always boot into single user mode and use fsck to fix drive options from a command line interface.

2. Apple Diagnostics/Apple Hardware Test

Apple Diagnostics results

When to use it: Suspected hardware issues, when trying to find out which specific component is causing an issue.

Another tool that comes bundled with your Mac is Apple Hardware Test. This simple utility can help diagnose problems, though it lacks the detail required to make serious repairs. It is, however, useful in cases where you’re trying to isolate a hardware issue from a software one.

The age of your machine will determine whether you use Apple Diagnostics or Apple Hardware Test, but they do the same job and launch using the same shortcut. Simply hold down D while your Mac boots, or Option + D to run the test from the internet (in cases where the test won’t run from disk).

If you’re feeling brave and you want to glean as much information as possible about your hardware problems, you can use Apple Service Diagnostics, assuming your Mac isn’t too new.

3. OnyX

OnyX for Mac

When to use it: For making deep system tweaks, cleaning up caches, and fiddling with the OS.

OnyX is the jack of all trades maintenance tool for macOS. Most users won’t have any specific need for it until the time comes, but it’s a handy tool to have installed. Just like Disk Utility, you can use OnyX to verify the structure of the startup disk. It can also repair permissions, something that most users of El Capitan or later will never need to do.

With OnyX you can perform tasks like run the operating system’s daily, weekly, and monthly clean-up scripts with the click of a button. You can also rebuild databases like Spotlight, Mail, and LaunchServices without having to boot into Safe Mode.

This tool works to to clear just about every cache on your system, though generally speaking you should let the OS take care of this task. You can also perform three and seven-pass secure erases, though you shouldn’t do this on solid state drives. OnyX can also show and hide files, folders, and applications, plus access macOS applications like the hidden Network Utility and Directory Utility tools with a click.

Finally, you can tweak some settings that are usually only available via Terminal prompts. These include the format, location, and naming conventions for screenshots, recent folder and file listings, Safari tweaks like history cutoff and DNS prefetching; startup sounds, and even graphical effects throughout the OS.

Download: OnyX

4. MemTest86

MemTest86

When to use it: Crashes, freezes, app instability—particularly if you just installed some new memory.

RAM is one of the last internal components Mac owners can still customize—on some machines at least. The iMac in particular still provides a window at the back that pops open and allows you to add physical memory. Older MacBooks, where the RAM isn’t soldered to the motherboard, are also open to tinkering.

But this can lead to issues when the memory you’ve installed is faulty. Application crashes, hard reboots, and freezing are all symptoms of dud memory. Even the old sticks of RAM installed when your machine was new can fail, leading to problems. MemTest86 is a free tool for thoroughly testing your RAM and isolating memory problems.

To use it, simply download the version for Linux and Mac, create a bootable USB drive using the image, insert your USB stick, and hold the Option key when your Mac boots. Choose the USB boot option from the menu and follow the prompts.

There are memory testing tools that run under macOS or via a graphical interface. But the problem with this approach is that your operating system is already using the RAM you want to test. By booting into a lightweight Unix environment, you can test the RAM more thoroughly.

Download: MemTest86

5. Malwarebytes

Malwarebytes for macOS

When to use it: Periodically to ensure your Mac is malware-free.

Your Mac is susceptible to malware, even though the likelihood of infection is low. Apple has put in place protections like system integrity protection and Gatekeeper to limit damage from errant third-party software. But exploits still happen, and Malwarebytes is a free solution to keep you protected.

If you’ve already been infected, this is one anti-malware tool that can help. The free version lacks real-time protection, but that’s fine since resources are precious. A quick scan from time to time, as well as running the updates when they arrive, should be enough to keep you safe.

You’ll get a free trial of the premium version of Malwarebytes when you download, but the free version offers ample protection for most users.

Download: Malwarebytes

6. KnockKnock

KnockKnock for Mac

When to use it: When you suspect malware is persistently trying to install itself on your machine.

Objective See produces a whole range of security tools for macOS, but we’re going to focus on KnockKnock here. It’s a tool that looks a little deeper than your average malware scanner for applications that attempt to persistently install software on your machine.

This is the hallmark of many vehicles used to deliver malware, though the app will also detect benign applications that do this as part of their regular operation. The app is integrated with VirusTotal protection, indicating if anything unusual is attempting to install something more sinister.

Download: KnockKnock

7. EtreCheck

EtreCheck for macOS

When to use it: When you’re experiencing problems with the normal operation of macOS.

EtreCheck is a tool that can detect over 30 minor and major problems with your Mac. It generates reports based on what it finds, so you can ask others to help remedy the problem. EtreCheck works in tandem with Apple Support Communities to help users with limited technical knowledge solve their computer problems.

EtreCheck will generate five reports for free, which should be enough to help diagnose an immediate problem with your hardware. After this it will cost around $10, depending on where in the world you are. This is so anyone can use it as a fast diagnosis tool, but also to cover the continued development costs.

When you first run the app, you’ll see a prompt asking for description of your problem. EtreCheck will then scan your computer for hardware, configuration, software, and performance issues.

Download: EtreCheck

8. PhotoRec

PhotoRec

When to use it: In cases where you need to recover media from external drives.

Test Disk and PhotoRec are two closely related projects. The former is aimed at whole drive recovery, while the latter is designed to recovery media from removable storage. Unfortunately, TestDisk doesn’t yet support Apple’s new file system APFS, but it does work with HFS+ file systems created prior to macOS 10.13 High Sierra.

PhotoRec supports the most common file systems used to store media, so if you’ve lost an SD card full of photos it might be your best bet for getting them back. Unfortunately you’ll lose your original filenames, but that’s better than losing the data entirely.

If your card becomes unreadable, remember that you should not write to it at all until you have tried everything to get your data back. The more you write to the volume, the less likely a full recovery is possible.

Don’t Forget Your Boot Modes

You Mac uses various boot modes for all kinds of troubleshooting functions. Safe mode will automatically verify your disk on startup, while resetting your PRAM and SMC can solve numerous minor issues.

Check out the full list of Mac boot modes for fixing a whole range of problems with your computer. If you’re having network issues, macOS’s built-in Network Utility can help you out too.

Read the full article: The 8 Best Free Mac Tools to Detect and Fix Common macOS Problems

6 Fun Ways to Give Your Mac a Retro Look

mac-retro-look

If you like to relive the good old days, you might enjoy the idea of making your Mac look retro. You can do that from the outside with a new decal or sticker, but what about the inside? That’s easy too! With the following six tips, you’ll soon have macOS looking as good as old. Note: Our tips focus on generic changes, not specifically those to match older macOS versions. 1. Paint the Screen Old Computers of the past had either neon colors or, at the other extreme, gray and similar dull colors. You can achieve either effect on your…

Read the full article: 6 Fun Ways to Give Your Mac a Retro Look

If you like to relive the good old days, you might enjoy the idea of making your Mac look retro. You can do that from the outside with a new decal or sticker, but what about the inside? That’s easy too!

With the following six tips, you’ll soon have macOS looking as good as old.

Note: Our tips focus on generic changes, not specifically those to match older macOS versions.

1. Paint the Screen Old

use-grayscale-mac

Computers of the past had either neon colors or, at the other extreme, gray and similar dull colors. You can achieve either effect on your Mac with a few tweaks.

To go gray, start by changing the theme for windows, menus, buttons, etc. from System Preferences > General. Select Graphite from the Appearance dropdown menu there.

You can also select Graphite from the Highlight menu to change the color of highlighted text from blue to a plain gray.

highlighted-text-gray-mac

You’ll notice that the Graphite theme doesn’t affect app and folder icons. If you want to dull those down as well, you can do that from System Preferences > Accessibility > Display. Look for the Use grayscale checkbox and select it.

(Skip this step if you’d like to retain the option to customize colors across apps.)

Immediately, the icons in the sidebar and Dock turn gray. If you peek into the Applications folder, you’ll see that the apps in there are also gray.

Prefer brighter colors? You might want to enable the Invert colors option under System Preferences > Accessibility > Display.

invert-colors-mac

To add to the overall retro look, you can also:

  • Increase contrast: Visit System Preferences > Accessibility > Display and select the Increase contrast checkbox. Then drag the Display contrast slider towards the right till you’re satisfied with the visual effect.
  • Reduce screen resolution: Select a lower screen resolution from System Preferences > Displays > Display.

2. Get a Wallpaper With the Right Feel

retro-wallpaper-mac

Adding a new wallpaper is an easy way to transform how your Mac looks, so you might next want to get an old-time wallpaper. Start your search with Unsplash. Our ultimate Mac wallpaper resource is also here to help you.

You can go for a wallpaper that, say, shows a rainbow-colored or pixelated version of the Apple logo or displays the logo in neon lights. One with psychedelic effects or tiled textures is also a good choice.

Another option is picking a wallpaper from one of the past versions of macOS (then OS X). You’ll find the default wallpaper for each release at 512 Pixels.

If you want a quicker way to induce nostalgia, pick a dull solid color as the background from System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver. Look for Apple > Solid Colors in the sidebar, and select one of the default colors displayed in that section. Medium gray, blue, and green are ideal for what we have in mind.

3. Add Custom Icons

retro-icons-mac

macOS lets you add custom icons for apps, folders, and other system components. That’s another area where you can personalize your Mac desktop. Start with Daniel Ehrman’s icon pack. It has icons for Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Evernote, QuickTime, Photoshop, and more.

Also, search sites like Iconfinder and Noun Project to find old-style icons. Look for icon sets with flat, pixelated ones, or black-and-white icons. Those with exaggerated gradients will work well too.

4. Install a Classic Version of Finder

classic-finder-mac

Finder started out as a visually simple, toolbar-free file explorer. If you want to return to that experience, you can thanks to the open source app Classic Finder. It runs in parallel to your usual Finder app, allowing you to switch between the two anytime.

If you’d rather have the stripped-down Finder experience without the classic Finder look, try Simple Finder. You’ll have to enable parental controls first via System Preferences > Parental Controls. Once you do, you’ll find the Simple Finder option in the Other tab that appears.

5. Make the Command Line Old Again

cathode-app-mac

Your Mac’s Terminal app looks nothing like the black-and-green vision that says “instant flashback”. To bring back that classic look, you need the cool-retro-term app. It lets you emulate the look and feel of CRT screens from the past.

To use cool-retro-term, you’ll need to know how to install Mac software from Terminal with Homebrew.

If you prefer an easier solution, try Cathode ($5), which comes with a free demo version. The app has quite a few options to get the look of the terminal just right. You can change themes, sounds, colors, fonts, and other visual effects.

6. Switch to a Monospaced Font

use-monospaced-font

Monospaced or fixed-width fonts bring typewriters to mind, and typewriters equal charmingly old. That’s why switching to a monospaced font is perfect for our purposes here. It’s a pity that you can do it only in certain apps and not across macOS, though.

Your Mac already comes with a few fixed-width fonts. To view them, open the Font Book app and click Fixed Width under Smart Collection in the sidebar. You’ll see the available fonts listed on the right. Courier, Menlo, and Monaco are your top options.

If you aren’t happy with the default choices, you can find a new font from a site like Font Squirrel. After you install the font, feel free to switch to it via Format > Font > Show Fonts within apps that support font changes. To know more about installing and managing fonts, read our Font Book tips.

Finally, here’s a look at the combined result of various tweaks we’ve made above.

retro-mac

A Brand New Retro Look for Your Mac

After paying for an expensive fancy-looking Apple computer, you might not want to make it look like a relic permanently. So why not use these tips to set up a second user account with a retro feel just for fun? Combined with classic Mac software you still access, it’ll prove handy when nostalgia comes calling!

Read the full article: 6 Fun Ways to Give Your Mac a Retro Look