Software

GarageBand 10.3 update

GarageBand 10.3 update

Yesterday, Apple released a new GarageBand update. GarageBand is an application which comes bundled with every Mac, iPhone and iPad.
If you’re not familiar with GarageBand, it’s a pretty full-featured application that allows you to create music, podcasts, or background music for your videos.
This update introduces some new sounds, loops, and a few other new features. But probably the most interesting thing is that you can now download artists lessons for free that used to cost $4.99 a piece. To be honest, these are the same short lessons which came out years ago, and they are really basic. But it’ll be interesting to see whether Apple starts creating new content if they find that people are using and enjoying these lessons.

GarageBand is a pretty powerful app that can be used to make professional songs if you know how to use it properly. I can see GarageBand being far more attractive in schools if they include more educational music lessons than what is available now. And the fact that you could potentially work on a song on your Mac, iPhone and iPad is pretty appealing. And if you master GarageBand, you can then move up to Logic Pro X which is far more powerful, but also has a much more steep learning curve. But starting off with GarageBand gives you a great stepping-stone to learning Logic.

So, I’m hoping that Apple will devote a little bit of their vast resources towards improving the educational possibilities of GarageBand over the coming years.
The new update can be downloaded directly from the Mac App Store.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, Mac, Software, 0 comments
The best To Do apps for Mac

The best To Do apps for Mac

There are some great options available on the Mac to help you organize your to-do list and manage your tasks efficiently. Given the fact that many Mac users are also using an iPhones and iPads, I will focus on to-do apps that work on both macOS and iOS.

There is some excellent free to-do apps currently available, as well as some really top notch paid apps available on the market.

Things 3: This is one of the most popular task management application available for the Mac and iPhone. This application has been around for 10 years, and they’ve won many awards over the years as one the best productivity tools for Apple users. It’s a very elegant looking application with a very minimal interface, yet still manages to pack in a lot of features. Things 3 has won a lot of praise recently and has a large user-base, and continues to receive regular improvements and new features. With a price of $49.99 for the Mac version, $19.99 for the iPad version, and $9.99 for the iPhone version, it can be pretty costly to have it installed on all your devices. Also keep in mind that you have to buy these all over again apps again when they introduce a new version, such as the upgrade from version 2 to version 3.
So, while I think it’s a great app from a great company, just be aware that it’s also one of the most expensive tool you can buy for task management.
You can find more information about Things 3 on their website here

2Do: This is my personal favorite at the moment, and the one I use on a daily basis. This one is also a paid application which usually costs $49.99, but is occasionally on sale for $24.99. But unlike Things, the iPhone and iPad versions of 2Do are free, which is a great little added bonus. It’s a very powerful application loaded with features and many ways to customize it the way you like to work. It is always one of the most highly rated productivity app on the Mac App store with a 5 star rating, and for good reason. I highly recommend that you check it out.

You can find more information about 2Do on their website here

Wunderlist: Wunderlist is a wonderful to-do list app which works well on your Mac, as well as on mobile devices. It’s also cross-platform, meaning that it also works for Android, Windows and Kindle devices. It’s completely free to use, with an option to sign-up for some premium features which are mainly useful for teams. And while I used to really recommend Wunderlist, the company that created it was bought by Microsoft in 2017, and it now looks like they will eventually kill off Wunderlist for their own to-do app. So, for that reason, I wouldn’t get too invested in Wunderlist, as I think it’s eventually going away.

Get more information about Wunderlist on their website.

These 3 apps are the most useful for anyone using Apple products at the moment in my opinion. Leave me a comment below if you think there’s something else better out there.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iPhone, Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Software, 0 comments
Photo management for the Mac in 2018

Photo management for the Mac in 2018

Taking a lot of pictures is wonderfully easy and affordable nowadays. But once you have taken all those pictures, you need a good way to organize those photos.
In this post, I will cover what I think are the best tools currently available to help you manage your photos on the Mac in 2018.

When it comes to photography software, applications are usually split in two different categories: Photo management software, and photo editing software.
Photo management software allows you to import all your pictures and organize them in various ways so that you can easily find them, and also share them with others. Typically, you can also do some light editing inside of those apps as well, so that you can improve your pictures and make them look better, or get creative with them.
Photo editing software allows you to get far more creative and do powerful photo editing, graphic design, and even blend images and graphics together.

Well known examples of photo management apps for Mac are iPhoto (now discontinued), Photos, Lightroom and Picassa (also discontinued).
Well known examples of photo editing apps include Photoshop, Pixelmator, and Affinity Photo.
In this article, I’ll be focusing on the best photo management apps for the Mac. I’m also taking into consideration that ideally, you’ll want something that not only works well on the Mac, but also syncs well with your mobile devices.

Photos : The first and most obvious option is the application which comes pre-installed on every recent Mac, iPhone, and iPad since 2015. Photos replaces Apple’s older photo management app called iPhoto, which was used and loved by millions of people before before discontinued by Apple in favor of Photos. Photos was introduced to replace iPhoto presumably because they couldn’t really make iPhoto work on mobile devices, and they needed something that would work well on both the Mac and iPhone / iPad.
For most users, Photos can do everything necessary, and is probably the only program you’ll need. While the original version of Photos that came out in 2015 was overly simplistic and lacked many features of its predecessor, the current version built into macOS High Sierra is very nice indeed.
It features a simple interface that let’s you easily organize and group your pictures by year, places, media type, people, and much more. But the biggest improvement in the latest version of Photos is how much better the editing options have become. You can now radically adjust and improve your pictures using some of the new and improved editing tools which were previously only available in programs such as Photoshop and Aperture. There are powerful adjustments available such as light, Color, white balance, levels, curves, definition and more. That’s on top of your standard Black & white, retouch, cropping and red-eye tools. You also have some pretty nice filters available right in Photos. And finally, Photos also allows you to use 3rd party extensions that extend your editing capabilities even more.
So, Photos really is becoming a very full-fledged and powerful program that will satisfy the needs of most Mac users, and it really is worth taking the time to learn how to get the most out of it. And it is completely free. But in case you want something a little different, or more powerful, I’ll be looking at a couple of alternatives to consider next.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: Lightroom has been around since 2007, and has become a massively popular program amongst hobbyist and professional photographers alike. At core, it is a very powerful tool that lets you organize your pictures in a multitude of ways, and also offers some very powerful editing and sharing tools. Adobe has recently split Lightroom into 2 different programs: Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC. The Classic version is the version that’s been around since the start, while the new CC version is a somewhat simplified application that is very much geared towards photographers who are looking to keep all their pictures in the cloud. It is also focused on people who want the ability to work on multiple devices easily and have everyting sync seamlessly.
And even though you can still buy Lightroom Classic for a one-time fee of $150. But Adobe is really pushing for customers to sign-up for one of their Creative Cloud plans. For $10 a month, you can sign-up for the Photography plan, which includes Lightroom, Photoshop, and Adobe Bridge and is frequently updated with new features. It is a really good deal if you’ll be using any of these applications frequently, and want access to frequent updates and new features. But this subscription model is pretty unappealing to many people who would rather just pay once for their software and own it outright. So, in conclusion, Lightroom is an excellent program used by millions worldwide. But it does have a steeper learning curve, and you have to comfortable with their monthly or yearly subscription model. If you’ve never used it before and you’re pretty serious about your photography, it’s worth checking out all the features it offers and giving it a try.

ON1 Photo Raw: If you’re looking for an excellent photo management and editing program that does not require a monthly subcription payment, this may be the best option currently available. This is an excellent photography application which has been around for a few years, and they have consistently improved this program over time. It is created by a small company in Oregon, and I’ve been very impressed the care and attention they’ve put into this product. For $120 one-time fee, you’re getting an incredibly powerful photography application that will satisfy the needs of just about anyone. You can also use some its features within Photos, and they also offer tons of free training videos on the support section of their site, which is really awesome. As you can probably tell, I’m very impressed by ON1 Photo Raw and I think it’s an excellent alternative to both Photos and Lightroom, or it can be used alongside both of those programs in order to enhance your pictures in new and innovative ways. I encourage you to look on their website to see what you think for yourself.

The other options I’ll talk about briefly are programs worth checking out but are not as versatile as the top three listed above:

Google Photos: This can be used predominently to back-up your photos to your Google account. Any photos stored on your Mac or mobile devices can be backed up, and you can then organize them and do some light editing through a web browser. Like most Google services, this is completly free. If you’re not currently backing up your photos to any cloud services, and you don’t want to pay for such a service, you’ll probably not find anything better than Google Photos. Much like Apple made the switch from iPhoto to Photos, Google has made the switch from Picassa to Google Photos. It’s a cloud friendly service that works well on all your devices.

Adobe Photoshop elements: This is sort of a mix between what you get with Photos while adding some of the more basic Photoshop features. If you want to get creative with your pictures without having to learn some of the more complex and difficult aspects of Photohsop, this might be a good option for you. For $80, you get a very sturdy photo management app, with some pretty powerful editing features. Some users complain that the Photoshop elements interface is not very intuitive, but overall I think this is a very solid program sold at a very reasonable price.

Capture One: This software is very much geared towards serious or professional photographers who mainly shoot RAW images. It allows you to organize your images much the same way as Lightroom or ON1 Photo Raw, but has some very powerful editing features. This application is mainly used by serious photography professionals for good reason. The editing features are nothing short of phenomenal, which is why it’s also the most expensive program covered in this article. At $20 a month, or for a $300 license, it’s obvious that this software is aimed at serious hobbyists or professionals. Check out the website, and download the free trial version if the software interests you.

I’ll try to update this article if I find something else worth mentioning, or if someone brings something else to my attention. But hopefully, this can help you make a decision that helps you organize your photos and make them look their best.

 

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Photography, Recommendations, Software, 0 comments
3 tools to cut out distractions on your Mac

3 tools to cut out distractions on your Mac

There are times when you really need to get things done on your Mac, and you need to make sure you can avoid distractions as much as possible. Notifications, pings, emails, and other intrusions can put a severe dent in your productivity. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you specifically resolve that problem.
In this article, I’ll show you 3 things you can do to cut back on those pesky distractions:

First off, your Mac already has one very useful tool built-in, which is the DO NOT DISTURB feature. This is similar to the DO NOT DISTURB feature on the iPhone. This feature is available on the Mac in Control Center, which you can access from the very top right of your screen. When you click on the 3 little bars icon at the right top corner, that will open up Notification Center and by default you should be in the Today tab. At the very top, you should see today’s date listed, along with the weather forecast and some calendar information. If you scroll UP, you’ll see the DO NOT DISTURB on and off toggle switch. Using this switch, you can turn on DO NOT DISTURB for however long you need, so that you’re not getting notifications on your Mac. Very useful !

The second tool I’d like to recommend is an app for Mac called Focus. Focus gives you a lot of flexibility to block certain distracting websites, and you can even block certain distracting apps for a set amount of time. This way, you can block sites like Facebook, Twitter or whatever other site you may find yourself going to compulsively for a set amount of time. You can also block apps like Apple Mail or Outlook if you find yourself checking your email too often when you should be working. So, any distracting website or app can be blocked for a short or long period of time. Focus is not the only app capable of doing what it does, but with it, you do get a lot of options such as scheduling, statistics, and the ability to take breaks.
You can purchase the Focus app for $20 on their website by clicking here. I’m not associated with this company whatsoever, I just love this product.

The third and final tool I want to bring up is called Self-Control, which is very similar to the Focus app, simply with less options. But this one is free, with an option to donate if you choose to. But you get the same functionality of being able to block both distracting websites or apps on your Mac. It’s simple and to the point and a great little app. You can download it here.

Alright, so those would be my picks for 3 of the best ways you can help yourself stay on track and get stuff done without getting caught up with distractions on your Mac. If you have any other recommendations, please them below.

 

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Software, 0 comments
Keep your apps updated

Keep your apps updated

Today, YouTube updated their iOS app after users reported that their devices would get unusually warm and the battery would deplete much quicker than usual while watching videos on the YouTube app. This update is supposed to fix that. And I think this brings up another important point. Whenever Apple releases a major software update such as they did with iOS 11 a couple months ago, many users will experience battery issues and are often very quick to blame Apple for what they are experiencing. I see a lot of comments implying that Apple is intentionally breaking or slowing down their phones with these updates so that consumers will be forced to buy a new iPhone or iPad. But I think that’s completely wrong. In most cases, I do think the problem lies with poorly written apps, or outdated apps that do not function properly with the new iOS update.

I often work with clients and when I open up their App Store, there is often dozens of apps that need updates. And once we’ve updated those apps, it usually resolves most of the issues they had been experiencing. Somewhere along the way, it seems like many people using various technology have gotten weary and suspicious of updating their devices. But updates in the vast majority of cases actually fix bugs and improve the app. Rarely is it a bad idea to update your devices. So, keep all your apps up to date and and you will most likely experience a better functioning device and new feature in your apps.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in iOS, iPhone, Productivity, Software, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
New Firefox Quantum

New Firefox Quantum

Yesterday, a big update to the Firefox web-browser was released. Firefox Quantum was redesigned for better and faster performance, less impact on the battery, and a nice shiny new interface. They’ve done an excellent job with this big update. I think Firefox was already an excellent browser, but they have been losing market share to Chrome in a big way the last few years. Far less people use Firefox nowadays than they did 5-6 years ago, as Chrome has sort of taken over. The improvements in this version may help Firefox regain some users. At least I hope so, since competition is a good thing, and Mozilla (the makers of Firefox) is a great non-profit organization as well. Download or update to the new version and check it out.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Recommendations, Software, 0 comments

10 tips for Apple Mail

I’ve recently uploaded a video to YouTube with 10 tips for customizing and working smarter in the Mail application for Mac. These should help anyone work a little faster when using the Mail app. In this video I explain how you can :

  1. Customize the Mail toolbar.
  2. Make your email replies a little more concise.
  3. Check the real email address of a sender in order to prevent scams.
  4. Clean up old email addresses stored in Mail.
  5. How you can use the Filter and VIP function.
  6. Save attachments to different locations on your Mac or in the cloud.
  7. Use shortcuts to store messages in your folders.
  8. Select the default account for sending new messages.
  9. Use the Stationery browser.
  10. Change the sidebar icon size.

Hopefully you’ll find a couple of these tips and tricks useful, and let me know if you have any questions about any of these.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Productivity, Software, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
Great free software for your Mac

Great free software for your Mac

There are some great Mac software available your computer, which can help make your Mac run a little smoother and safer. Today, I will list 3 of these tools which I highly recommend, and that I’ve been using for years.

The first one I’d recommend is OnyX from Titanium Software. This utility lets you clean up and customize certain aspects of your Mac without requiring you to learn a ton of features. You still need to be careful, as it is pretty powerful, but as long as you stick to the default options and do not turn on the features you don’t understand, you will be fine. You can download OnyX from here.

Another piece of software that I would strongly suggest you install on your Mac is Malwarebytes for Mac. This program lets you easily remove any malware you may have inadvertently installed on your Mac. Even though they now also offer a paid yearly subscription, the free version still does a fantastic job of removing any malware from your computer. This is an incredibly useful piece of software which can be a life-saver if you have adware on your Mac.
You can find Malwarebytes for Mac on this page.

And finally, I’m also a big fan of AppCleaner. If you decide to remove an application from your Mac, you should make sure that you remove every little bits and pieces from your computer. If you simply drag an application to the trash, there will still be plenty of small helper files left on your Mac. AppCleaner searches your whole computer and removes everything associated with the software you’re getting rid of, which is really great.
You can download and then install AppCleaner from this page.

That’s it, hopefully, you will find these applications useful for your Mac for some time to come. Enjoy !

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Mac, Recommendations, Software, Tips & Tricks, 0 comments
iOS 11 is now available

iOS 11 is now available

The long awaited iOS 11 update is finally available to the public, and it brings some really cool new features to the iPad and iPhone. The iPad definitely benefits the most from this update with big speed improvements, and a host of new functionality that radically improve what you achieve with your iPad. Features such as a new Dock, better app switching and drag and drop functionality. These a game changers for the iPad and makes it a much more powerful device than before.

The iPhone also benefits greatly from some of the new changes such as a much improved and customizable control center, a completely revamped App Store, an improved Siri and a whole lot more. Some of my other new favorite features include : Do Not Disturb while Driving, a new document scanner in Notes, and QuickType keyboard improvements.

All in all, there are hundreds of small changes throughout this new operating system. And there will be new features added in the coming months such as the eagerly anticipated Apple Pay Cash for sending and receiving cash within Messages.
The only negative for some people is the fact that some older apps which are 32bit will  no longer work on iOS 11. If the developers do not release an update, then those apps will never work on iOS 11 and you’ll need to find an alternative app.

So, overall, I’m really impressed with this update and what it brings to the iPhone and iPad, and I would highly recommend that you update your devices when you get a chance. As always, just make sure to have a back-up of your device before you start the update process, just in case something goes wrong.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, iPhone, Software, 0 comments
iOS 11 Beta 7 and macOS High Sierra Beta available now

iOS 11 Beta 7 and macOS High Sierra Beta available now

Apple has released the sixth public beta versions of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra to users enrolled in the public beta testing programs. There’s no major changes in these releases, just bug fixes and minor improvements, as we seem to be getting closer to the official release in the coming weeks.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke in Apple news, iOS, iPhone, Mac, Software, 0 comments