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Archive for the ‘Tom’s Mac Software Picks’ Category

by Tom Nelson

Onyx from Titanium Software aids Mac users by providing a simple method to access hidden system functions, run maintenance scripts, automate repetitive system tasks, and access many of the secret parameters that can enable and disable hidden features.

Onyx has been performing these services for the Mac ever since OS X Jaguar (10.2) first appeared, and the developer recently released a new version specifically for macOS Sierra.

onyx

Image courtesy of Titanium Software

Using Onyx

When you first run Onyx, it will want to verify the structure of your Mac’s startup disk. Not a bad thing to do; it won’t cause any problems on its own, but it does force you to wait a bit before you start using Onyx. Thankfully, you don’t need to do this every time you want to use Onyx; you can simply cancel the verify option. If you find a need to verify your startup drive at a later date, you can do so from within Onyx, or use Disk Utility to perform the verification.

By the way, that’s an ongoing theme in Onyx, as well as many of Onyx’s competitors; many of the functions available in this system utility are present in other apps or system services. Onyx’s real service to the end user is bringing them all together in one app.

Once you move past the startup drive verification, you’ll find that Onyx is a single-window app with a toolbar across the top for selecting various Onyx functions. The toolbar contains buttons for Maintenance, Cleaning, Automation, Utilities, Parameters, Info, and Logs.

Read more on Lifewire: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

It’s been a while since I’ve used MacDraft, having first used this 2D vector drawing app with a Mac Plus quite a few years ago. Back then it was the professional CAD drawing app of choice for Mac users. It provided most of the features a CAD user needed, without having to pay an astronomical price.

macdraft

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

That’s still a good description of MacDraft Pro 6.2; a very good 2D CAD app that provides just about all the capabilities you’ll need, but doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for them.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Enpass is a cross-platform password manager that works for Macs, Windows, Android, iOS, Blackberry, and Linux. Its strength is its ability to make your login information available to you no matter where you are or what type of device you’re using.

enpassitems

Image courtesy of Sinew Software Systems

Pro

  • Desktop versions of Enpass are free.
  • Browser extension allows Enpass to capture login data, as well as complete login data fields for you.
  • Uses Open Source SQLCipher 256-bit AES encryption engine.
  • Supports TOTP (Time-based One Time Password)
  • Doesn’t store your data on any Enpass servers.

Con

  • Mobile pro versions require a one-time fee.
  • Enpass for Mac comes in two different confusing versions.

Enpass from Sinew Software is a mostly free password manager for the Mac. I say mostly free because while the desktop version of the Enpass app is free, the mobile version is offered in a limited-use format for free, or in a pro version for a one-time fee of $9.99 per mobile platform.

We’re going to concentrate on the Mac desktop version, though I’ve been told that all of the desktop versions of Enpass have almost the same features.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

App Tamer from St. Clair Software can take control of a wayward app that’s hogging CPU utilization and stop it in its tracks. Unlike Apple’s App Nap, which puts an app to sleep when its active window becomes covered by one or more windows, App Tamer can work to control both active foreground apps and apps that work in the background, such as Spotlight or Time Machine.

apptamer

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

App Tamer is an easy-to-use utility to help you control how your Mac utilizes its CPU resources and assigns them to the various running apps and services. Although App Tamer is a very easy app to use, it is by its nature an app for advanced Mac users, who have a good understanding of how apps interact to use processing resources, and how that affects other variables, such as battery runtime.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

BetterTouchTool is perhaps best known as an easy way to create custom gestures for use with a Magic Mouse, a Magic Trackpad, or a MacBook’s built-in multi-touch trackpad. The need for this app becomes apparent after the first or second time you try customizing your mouse or trackpad, Apple just doesn’t provide many gesture options, and the ones it does provide cover only the very basics of what can be done with a multi-touch surface as a pointer interface.

bettertouchtool

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

OK, let’s start with one of the cons; you really need to read the manual to get the most out of BetterTouchTool.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Corel Painter 2017 is the latest version of Corel’s well-regarded painting app. But to call it a painting app does it a great disservice; it brings to mind a primitive bitmap painting app, like the original MacPaint. Corel Painter is unlike any other painting app for the Mac.

CorelPainter2017

Image courtesy of Corel

Perhaps a better description is to call Painter 2017 one of the very best digital art applications; it provides convincing counterpoints to the analog tools commonly used by those working with oils, pastels, watercolors, charcoals, and colored pencils. But it doesn’t stop there. Painter is an impressive digital art studio, ready for those already working in digital media, including illustrators, manga, comics, graphic novels, fine art, and concept art, just to name a few.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Macs Fan Control from CrystalIdea is a utility app that allows you to monitor your Mac’s temperature and fan speed. If the app stopped there, that would be enough to make it a useful tool for many Mac enthusiasts. But its developer, CrystalIdea Software, took it several steps further, to provide not only monitoring capabilities but also the ability to control fan speed, both directly, by setting a desired RPM, and programmatically, by setting desired speeds based on measured temperature.

MacsFanControl

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Primary Reasons to Use Macs Fan Control

Macs Fan Control provides something that only Apple possessed in the past: the ability to control how a Mac’s cooling fans perform.

This is actually a big deal, and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Incorrect use of this app (or similar apps) could potentially cause damage to your Mac. Apple used advanced thermal modeling to come up with the cooling profiles used in a Mac’s fan management system; Macs Fan Control can replace the Apple-supplied fan profile with one you create, and is geared more toward intermediate to advanced Mac users than beginners. That doesn’t mean that if you’re a beginner you shouldn’t use it, only that you should use it carefully and wisely.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

WinZip has long been a popular compression and expansion app for Windows users. The software was first released in 1991 as a graphical interface to PKZIP, and quickly became one of the most often-used compression utilities in the Windows world.

WinZip5

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

WinZip Mac Edition brings many of the features that made WinZip so popular on PCs to the Mac environment. The Mac edition is more than just a port from the Windows counterpart; while it retains many WinZip features, it does so with a distinct Mac flare.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

I need an app to delete applications I install on my Mac for the purpose of checking them out, and possibly reviewing them, where appropriate. I go through quite a few apps each week, and unlike the early days of using a Mac, uninstalling is no longer as simple as dragging an app to the trash. In many cases, there are assorted files, preferences, startup items, and more that the application’s installer has scattered around my Mac. All of these extra files get left behind if I just drag the main app from the /Applications folder to the trash.

AppDeleteAppWindow

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

That’s why I’m particularly happy with AppDelete from Reggie Ashworth. It works well, and doesn’t clog things up on my Mac.

AppDelete is a useful tool to have, especially if you tend to install and uninstall a large number of apps. Normally, dragging an app to the trash works fine to get rid of the main body of an app. But this method does leave behind a few stray bits in the form of preference files and other data files the app uses. In some cases, there may even be hidden daemons left behind, small apps that run in the background consuming resources.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Do you enjoy tweaking your Mac, trying to get maximum performance out of its hardware? Or perhaps you’re having some type of intermittent problem that you think may be related to your Mac’s internal temperature, or other stress factors your Mac is under.

SystemMonitorPrefElCap

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

There are quite a few system monitor apps available for the Mac, including some like Activity Monitor, which is supplied free with the Mac. But for those power users looking for monitoring tools, Marcel Bresink’s System Monitor is hard to beat.

Read more on About: Macs.

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