Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2019

by Tom Nelson

If you’ve been using Macs for a while, you may remember when Microsoft was offering Internet Explorer for the Mac. There was even a 5-year period (1997 through 2003) when it was the default browser for the Mac. Microsoft stopped developing Internet Explorer for the Mac in 2003 when Apple released the Safari browser. The last non-security update of Internet Explorer occurred in the summer of 2003.

It’s been sixteen years since Microsoft has actively been involved in the Mac web browser market, but in late spring of 2019, Microsoft unveiled the Edge browser for the Mac during its developers conference

Microsoft Edge Browser Versions

The preview of the Edge browser for the Mac is currently available in two versions, with a third to be offered soon:

  • Microsoft Edge Canary: This version represents a nightly build incorporating bug fixes, feature enhancements, and performance tuning.
  • Microsoft Edge Dev: This is a weekly build incorporating the most stablechanges to the Edge browser that occurred during the week.
  • Microsoft Edge Beta: Not yet available, this version will be on a 6-weekupdate cycle, and will contain the most stable changes to the Edgebrowser.

The Canary, Dev, and Beta versions of the Edge browser can be downloaded from the Microsoft Edge Insider website. I’ve noticed that there are a number of other download sites offering versions of the Edge browser for the Mac. I advise only acquiring the preview or beta versions of the Edge browser directly from the Microsoft Edge Insider site.

Microsoft Edge Canary

We’re going to use the Canary version of the Edge browser for this mini review and benchmark because we want to have the most current version with as many bug fixes in place as possible. This also means we’ll be working with a version most likely to have issues of some type. But that’s OK; we knew before we started that Edge is currently in a pre-beta state.

Edge has multiple layout options including the Inspirational one shown here. This layout option includes a background image and quick access to often used web sites. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Speaking of bugs or issues, I was pleasantly surprised at how robust the current version of the Edge browser is. During benchmarking and daily use it distinguished itself as being very stable and performed well in our basic benchmarks.

There were a few blips; a few times, Edge wouldn’t quit without being forced to, and some preference settings don’t seem to actually work yet. But overall, it’s a very impressive preview.

Some of that isn’t surprising; after all, at heart, Edge is running an open source Chromium engine, the same rendering engine that powers Google’s Chrome browser. Microsoft is adding interface elements for the Windows and Mac versions, and tweaking performance for a good fit with Microsoft’s own family of web apps.

Edge Features

Although this is just a preview, Edge has been developing at a fast pace. The current version of Edge has Touch Bar support, updated keyboard shortcuts that match up to what Mac users will be expecting, and media casting, which allows you to play videos or audio on an external device.

You’ll find all the usual browser features, including bookmarks/favorites, tabs, private browsing, muting tabs, pinning tabs, a download manager that can track downloads by file types, and a handy Task Manager which conceptually is like the Mac’s Activity Monitor, but only tracks Edge-related processes. Also recently added is basic support for the Mac’s Dark Mode.

Edge’s Task Manager allows you to keep track of browser performance; it also provides the ability to end individual processes that may be causing issues. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

I tried a few Edge extensions available from the Microsoft store without running into any issues. I didn’t try it, but Edge also allows you to use third-party add-ons/extensions, although that feature is turned off by default. Once the feature is enabled, most Chrome/Chromium-based extensions should work with the Edge browser.

One interesting feature, so far only seen in Edge, is Collections, a tool for allowing users to collect text, images, just about any information you may come across while browsing, and save it in collections. Collections maintains links back to the original website where you found the interesting tidbit.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

by Tom Nelson

macOS Catalina, the new Mac operating system, was announced at WWDC 2019. It has so many new features and changes to existing ones, that it really can’t be summed up in just one article.

So, we’re going to start by telling you how you can get your hands on macOS Catalina, and then we’ll tell you about the features that caught our eyes.

Apple Beta Software Program

There are two ways you can participate in the beta program for macOS Catalina. First, you can become an Apple developer and receive the beta for evaluation. Apple developers already have access to macOS Catalina, as well as a number of other beta software apps. But if you’re not a developer, and you don’t have an app you’re just waiting to unleash on the world, you can still take part in the Catalina public beta program.

macOS Catalina with auto dark mode enabled. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The public beta program is open to just about everyone. You just need to sign up for the program, download the software, and give the beta a try. But remember, this is beta software and can cause issues for you and your Mac. You can find out how to get your Mac ready for beta software in the Rocket Yard guide: How to Get Your Mac Ready for the macOS Mojave Beta.

And yes, that’s for last year’s Mojave beta, but the same principles apply.

The macOS Catalina public beta is expected to be available sometime in July, so if you’re interested in trying out the beta, sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program now.

And now, some of our favorite new features.

Sidecar

Using multiple displays with your Mac is nothing new; even the ability to use an iPad as a display has been around for a bit, using third-party apps such as Duet Display, Luna Display, or Air Display.

Now Apple is getting into the act with Sidecar, a feature of Catalina that allows you to use your iPad as a secondary display for your Mac. Sidecar can work wired or wirelessly with your iPad, and will also allow the iPad to be used as a drawing tablet and touch input device. The touch input can be used with any app that supports touch-based input, including those that make use of the Touch Bar found in the newer MacBook Pros.

Project Catalyst

Project Catalyst is not a feature you’ll actually see, but you’ll make use of its capabilities. Project Catalyst is a development tool that allows developers to easily port their iPad apps to the Mac OS.

The News app is an example of an iOS app making the transition to the Mac. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

If you’re using macOS Mojave, you’ve already seen what Project Catalyst can do; it was the method Apple used to bring News, Stocks, Home, and Voice Memos iOS apps to macOS Mojave.

Now Apple will put Catalyst in the hands of Apple developers and allow them to take their existing iOS apps and transition them to run under the Mac OS.

What Catalyst is not is an iOS emulator that can run iPad or iPhone apps on the Mac. Developers will have to do some work to allow their apps to make use of Mac features that aren’t available to the iOS version of their apps.

Catalyst is by no means a simple recompile, where the developer hits a few switches and the iPad app magically becomes a Mac app. But it does make the process easier by reusing the vast majority of an app’s existing code.

Look forward to a flood of great iPad apps making the transition to the Mac.

Music, Podcast, Apple TV apps

Say goodbye to iTunes; it’s dead, an ex app, it’s pushing up the daisies, and not a minute too soon in the view of many Mac users, including me. In its place, Apple announced three new apps: Music, Podcasts, and Apple TV.

The Music app is focused on organizing and playing back your music no matter what the source. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The Music app gives you full access to your existing music library of both purchased music and tunes you added via other methods.

The iTunes Store is available for buying new content; access to the Apple Music subscription service is still available, too.

Podcasts allows you to access the podcast library that was once part of iTunes. The Podcasts app adds browsing, viewing chart toppers, and seeing curated content from Apple.

Apple TV is a lot like the Apple TV app found in iOS devices, or in the Apple TV streaming device. The new Apple TV app gives you access to TV and movie content that used to be in your iTunes library. You can also browse new content and TV channels, such as HBO, Showtime, or Starz, rent or buy new release movies or TV shows and watch content in 4K HDR format.

Apple TV gives you access to all the TV shows and movies you may have rented or purchased, as well as an ever-expanding collection of Apple-curated content. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

If you used iTunes as a method to sync content between your iOS device and your Mac, that function has been picked up by the Finder, which will now have syncing options in the Finder sidebar.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

Read Full Post »

by Tom Nelson

The 2019 edition of the Mac Pro saw the light of day at the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) last week. It’s a remarkable powerhouse that does justice to the Mac Pro model line, and certainly to its name.

At a starting price of $5,999, the Mac Pro is targeted at multimedia pros and those with scientific computing needs. And while at first glance the starting price may seem steep, it’s actually in the ballpark when compared with competing products from other manufacturers.

And that $5,999 price is only the beginning; the keyword for describing the new Mac Pro is expandability. Apple may want to call this a modular design, but the rest of us recognize this Mac Pro as the logical extension of the older Mac Pro, where expandability was one of its chief assets.

In this Rocket Yard guide, we’re going to delve a little deeper into what Apple has revealed about the new Mac Pro to see if it is the Mac pros have been waiting for. Since Apple hasn’t released all of the technical details about the Mac Pro yet, we’re going to be doing a bit of speculation, so with that in mind, let’s take a look.

Return of the Tower

Gone is the cylindrical form over function design of the 2013 Mac Pro. Some have even said the 2019 Mac Pro’s tower case is a return to the earlier cheese grater design that has been around since the Power Mac G5. There’s certainly a resemblance, but the new Mac Pro goes well beyond just looking like the older and much loved Mac Pro models.

The new Mac Pro uses a stainless steel space frame chassis and aluminum case to provide tool-less access to its internal parts. The motherboard is designed with the processor and PCIe expansion bus on one side, and memory and storage on the other. Removing the aluminum case provides 360-degree access to all the internal modules, no matter which side of the motherboard they reside on.

Mac Pro with case removed showing PCIe expansion and MPX modules, cooling fans, and memory slots.

The case is removed with a simple turn of a recessed handle in the top, and lifts off easily, revealing the Mac Pro’s elegant modular design. By the way, turning that access handle also performs a shutdown, and turns the power off to the case, so no hot swapping of internal components.

Measuring 20.8 x 17.7 x 8.5 inches, the Mac Pro at first glance seems large but it’s a relatively compact tower case when you consider it houses a 1.4 kilowatt power supply, and can contain a quad set of graphics cards and still have free PCIe slots available.

If at 40 lbs., the new tower weight seems a bit much, you can optionally add wheels to allow you to roll the Mac Pro about your studio or lab as needed.

The front and back of the case use a perforated panel resembling a cheese grater. Those perforations are not a design element but are used by the cooling system: three large fans that quietly push air from the front, across the CPU and GPUs. An additional blower pulls air across the memory, storage, and power supply, exhausting heat out the back of the case.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

Read Full Post »

by Tom Nelson

Mission Control, originally released with OS X Lion, allows you to organize your windows, apps, and virtual desktops, as well as run small apps known as widgets, in a dedicated space. If it sounds like Mission Control is the Mac’s built-in window manager for users, you’re on the right track, but Mission Control does a good deal more.

A Bit of Mission Control History

Mission Control is actually a conglomeration of three earlier OS X Technologies: Dashboard, Exposé, and Spaces. Exposé, the oldest of the features, dates back to 2003, and the introduction of OS X Panther.

  • Exposé allows you to hide documents and app windows, or just as easily expose a window, app, or document you need to work on.
  • Spaces lets you create and manage virtual desktops, allowing you to organize activities to specific desktops, and then switch between them as needed.
  • Dashboard is a dedicated desktop that can run mini-apps called widgets. These small apps were based on web technologies: HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

Mission Control united these similar technologies under a single roof, or in this case, a single preference pane, to control, configure, and make use of the windows and desktop management system.

What Mission Control Does: The Basics

Mission Control’s main task is to help you de-clutter your desktop and be able to work more efficiently, even when you have dozens of apps or windows open.

There are six key tasks that Mission Control allows a user to do:

  • View all open windows: Display all windows as thumbnails to ensure every window can be seen at the same time.
  • View all windows of a specific application: Displays all windows used by a single app. If needed, the windows will be displayed as thumbnails to ensure all of the app’s windows can be seen at once.
  • Hide all windows and display the desktop: All windows are hidden, revealing the underlying desktop.
  • Manage windows across multiple monitors: Allows windows to be moved to additional displays.
  • Manage apps and windows across multiple virtual desktops: Multiple desktops can be created, each having its own set of apps and windows assigned to it.
  • Manage Dashboard widgets: Controls how Dashboard widgets are displayed.

Mission Control uses a combination of keyboard commands, gestures, and mouse shortcuts to control its various capabilities. Learning the various shortcuts is the basis for making effective use of Mission Control and its ability to help you manage the workflow on your Mac.

Mission Control allows you to find any open window no matter how many other windows it may be hiding behind. Clicking or tapping one of the thumbnails will switch you to that window. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Setting Up Mission Control

The heart of Mission Control is its preference pane, which you can access using the following method:

Launch System Preferences by clicking or tapping its icon in the Dock, or by selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

In the System Preferences window that opens, select the Mission Control preference pane.

The Mission Control preference pane allows you to configure basic options as well as assign shortcuts to the various functions.

Place a checkmark in the box to enable any of the following functions:

  • Automatically arrange Spaces based on most recent use: If you’re going to use multiple virtual desktops (Spaces), this allows the most recently used desktop to be the easiest to access.
  • When switching to an application, switch to a Space with open windows for the application: This rather convoluted description just means that if an app you want to use is already open on a virtual desktop, it will switch to that desktop.
  • Group windows by application: When viewing all windows in Mission Control, have the windows organized by app.
  • Displays have separate Spaces: If you have multiple monitors you can assign each monitor its own virtual desktop.
  • Dashboard: This dropdown menu controls how the Dashboard feature is used. You can find out more in the Rocket Yard guide: Get Dashboard Up and Running Again in macOS Mojave. Although the article was written for Mojave users, its information is general enough for understanding the Dashboard options.

The Mission Control preference pane lets you customize shortcuts and adjust options. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Besides configuring the basic options, you can also set up shortcuts to use Mission Control by selecting a shortcut from each dropdown menu. You may have one or two dropdown menus for each item listed below. The second dropdown menu allows you to assign an alternate shortcut for the specific function. The alternate options are usually present when you have input devices with many I/O options, such as a multi-button mouse:

  • Mission Control: Use the dropdown menu to assign a shortcut to open Mission Control and display all open windows.
  • Application window: Set the shortcut that will be used to open Mission Control and display the windows of a selected application.
  • Show Desktop: This shortcut you assign will hide all windows and display the current desktop.
  • Show Dashboard: If Dashboard is enabled (see the option, above), this shortcut will display the Dashboard.

You’re not done assigning shortcuts to access Mission Control yet; you can also assign the corners (Hot Corners) of your display to be shortcuts to access Mission Control, as well as a few other functions of your Mac. Hot Corners are activated when you move the cursor into the corner of the display. If a Hot Corner is assigned for that corner, the function is activated.

Use Hot Corners to assign Mission Control features to the four corners of your monitor. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Click or tap the Hot Corner button in the Mission Control preference pane.

A sheet will drop down, displaying a thumbnail of your desktop with dropdown menus at each corner.

Use the dropdown menu to assign a function to any of the corners. The available functions are:

The first three are Mission Control options; the remaining ones involve other Mac OS features that are dependent on the version of the operating system you’re using.

Make your selections; you can then close the Hot Corner sheet as well as the Mission Control preference pane.

Read more on Rocket Yard, The MacSales.com Blog

Read Full Post »