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Archive for January, 2016

by Tom Nelson

This week, Apple added the 4th generation Apple TV to the refurb store, in both the 32 GB and 64 GB configurations. If you’ve wanted to pick up the new Apple TV, this is a good time; and who doesn’t want a refurb discount on the Apple TV?

Moving beyond the Apple TV, the refurb store has a few Mac minis in stock, but no 2013 Mac Pros. To tell you the truth, I can’t recommend the Mac Pros any longer; they’re just too long in the tooth. Of course, if you need to replace an existing Mac Pro in your environment, then by all means watch the refurb store; they’ll be back in stock soon.

2015macbookair

Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our deals this week are for higher-end Mac configurations. We usually like to highlight a few entry-level or mid-range models in our deals, but this week, the lust for power overtook me.

Our first deal is for a current version of the 13.3-inch MacBook Air. This model is decked out with a Dual-Core i7 processor and 512 GB of PCIe Flash storage. This should be a real performance leader in portable Macs.

Up next is a 2015 MacBook Pro, This more powerful portable Mac comes with a Quad-Core i7, 16 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB PCIe Flash drive. In addition, it’s equipped with dual graphics systems, so you can save the battery when performing mundane tasks, or hog all the power for fast graphics performance.

Last up is a 2014 27-inch Retina iMac with a 4.0 GHz Quad-Core i7, 8 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB Fusion drive. It also has the AMD Radeon R9 M290X to power the graphics.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Acorn from Flying Meat, Inc., has long been one of our favorite alternatives to complex image-editing apps such as Photoshop. Don’t get me wrong; Photoshop has its place, but for 90 percent of the type of image editing I do, Acorn more than meets my needs, at a substantiality lower price point, and without having to buy a subscription to use the application.

Acorn

Image courtesy of Flying Meat, Inc.

Acorn is available directly from Flying Meat, as well as from the Mac App Store.

The price is the same no matter where you purchase Acorn from, however, there are some subtle differences between the two versions. The most notable is that the direct version can create layers directly from your computer’s camera, letting you easily overlay an image on top of an existing one. You can find the rest of the differences outlined in Acorn’s FAQ.

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by Tom Nelson

The Finder sidebar is a handy list of commonly used folders, drives, and network locations. Apple pre-populates it with what it considers to be most useful items for most users, but there’s no reason not to add, remove, or rearrange items. After all, setting it up just the way you like it is a key to productivity.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

You can add your most often used files or folders to the sidebar, to keep them a mouse click away whenever you open a Finder window.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Apple routinely releases updates to OS X that are available through the Software Update process or the Mac App store, depending on the version of OS X you are using. These software updates, available from the Apple menu, usually provide the simplest method for ensuring your Mac’s operating system is kept up to date. They can also cause problems, particularly if your Mac should freeze, lose power, or otherwise prevent the update from completing.

OSXElCapitanDock

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

When this occurs, you end up with a corrupt system update, which may manifest itself as simple instability: occasional freezes or the system or applications locking up. In the worst-case scenario, you may have problems booting, forcing you to consider reinstalling the OS.

Another problem is related to OS X’s incremental approach to updates.

Read more on About: Macs.

 

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by Tom Nelson

Apple Mail has been the de-facto standard for email clients almost since the early days of OS X. Since then, many Mac email clients have come and gone, but Apple Mail remains.

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Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Apple Mail is quite versatile, with plenty of options and features. Even so, most users love to customize it, and eke out one more feature. For all you tweakers, here is our list of Apple Mail tips and tricks.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Since 2008, I’ve been picking the best Mac apps each Saturday and adding them to our collection of Tom’s Mac Software Picks. Over the years, we’ve put together quite a collection of Mac apps that I believe provide exceptional value and meet our standards for quality.

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Fantastical 2 from Flexibits. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

In 2016, I’ll continue our tradition of selecting amazing apps for you to consider for your Mac. I try to pick apps that have demos available, although that isn’t always possible, especially with the Mac App Store being a driving force in the Mac app distribution business. The Mac App Store doesn’t generally allow demos, but many app developers have demos on their web sites, or provide apps for free or at a very low cost through the Mac App Store, and then later offer the option to turn on specific features with an in-app purchase.

For many apps, the in-app upgrade is a modified demo. Try the app for free, or a very low cost, and if you like it, purchase an upgrade that turns on advanced features. In the case of games, the in-app purchase is almost required to be able to complete a game, advance a level, or gain points that are used to “purchase” necessary game paraphernalia. I’m not fond of these types of games, and if I select one of these games, I’ll mention in the review that additional purchases are required.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

This week, the Mac refurb store is missing Mac minis, and has only a single 12-core top-of-the-line 2013 Mac Pro in stock. Luckily, the rest of the store is well stocked, with lots of Macs to choose from.

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Image courtesy of Apple

Deals of the Week

Our deals this week are for a pair of 27-inch Retina iMacs. The first is a 2015 Retina iMac that is the entry-level model. With 8 GB of RAM that’s user upgradeable, its only real sour note is a slower hard drive. But you can easily add faster external storage if you need more performance. As it is, this is a good deal for a low-cost Retina iMac.

Our second deal is a 2014 27-inch Retina iMac. Even though it’s nearly a year older, the 2014 model has some advantages, including a much faster 1 TB Fusion drive, and a slightly faster processor. Of course, it’s also a bit more expensive than the 2015 model we’re featuring.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Loopback from Rogue Amoeba is the modern equivalent of an audio engineer’s patch panel. Loopback lets you route audio on your Mac to and from multiple apps or audio devices you may have connected to your Mac. In addition to routing audio signals, Loopback can combine multiple sources, and even reassign audio channels, in just about any way you wish.

Loopback

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The first time you launch Loopback, the app will need to install audio handling components. After the audio components are installed, you’re ready to use Loopback to create your first audio device.

I know many of you are concerned when an app installs components deep within the Mac’s operating system, but in this case, I haven’t seen any issues. If you decide not to use Loopback, it includes a built-in uninstaller that will leave your Mac just as it was before you started using the app.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Time Machine, Apple’s popular backup app, isn’t limited to working with backup volumes that are physically attached to your Mac. It supports remote backup drives in the form of networked drives, including Apple’s own Time Capsule product.

time-machine-multiples

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Network-based Time Machine volumes are very useful. Having your backup drive in a remote location, one that’s physically isolated from your Mac, protects your backups in the event your Mac has a catastrophic failure.

Another wonderful use for remote Time Machine volumes, such as Time Capsules or NAS (Network Attached Storage), is to allow multiple Macs to perform backups to a single central location.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Starting with OS X Mountain Lion, and continuing with all subsequent versions of OS X, Apple removed the Web Sharing feature that made sharing a web site or related services a simple point-and-click operation.

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Image courtesy of Apple

The Web Sharing feature uses the Apache web server application to allow you to run your own web server on your Mac. Many individuals use this capability to host a local web site, web calendar, wiki, blog, or other service.

Some businesses use Web Sharing to host workgroup collaboration features. And many web developers use Web Sharing to test their site designs before moving them to a production web server.

Read more on About: Macs.

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