Tag Archives: macbook

macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Safari CVE-2021-1844 Bug : Fix It Now!

Apple just rushed out macOS Big Sur 11.2.3, iOS 14.4.1, iPadOS 14.4.1 and Safari 14.0.3 to patch a critical security bug.

Find out what they fix, and why you need to update your MacBook, iPhone and iPad right away!

 

Apple Rushes Out macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Safari Critical Bug Fixes!

Released on 8 March 2021, macOS Big Sur 11.2.3 patches only one bug, which may mislead users into thinking that it’s not very important.

WebKit

Available for: macOS Big Sur

Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved validation.

CVE-2021-1844: Clément Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Alison Huffman of Microsoft Browser Vulnerability Research

On the same day, Apple also released iOS 14.4.1 and iPadOS 14.4.1 – both patching the same CVE-2021-1844 vulnerability.

WebKit

Available for: iPhone 6s and later, iPad Air 2 and later, iPad mini 4 and later, and iPod touch (7th generation)

Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved validation.

CVE-2021-1844: Clément Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Alison Huffman of Microsoft Browser Vulnerability Research

Apple also released Safari 14.0.3, which patches the same vulnerability for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave :

WebKit

Available for: macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave

Impact: Processing maliciously crafted web content may lead to arbitrary code execution

Description: A memory corruption issue was addressed with improved validation.

CVE-2021-1844: Clément Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Alison Huffman of Microsoft Browser Vulnerability Research

 

Why Install These macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Safari Bug Fixes ASAP?

While they appear to only patch WebKit in macOS Big Sur, iOS, iPadOS and Safari, they are CRITICAL bug fixes that you need to install right away.

They patch the new CVE-2021-1844 vulnerability, which was discovered by Clément Lecigne of Google’s Threat Analysis Group and Alison Huffman of Microsoft Browser Vulnerability Research.

This vulnerability allows a remote attacker to trigger a buffer overflow when the victim opens a specially-crafted web page, allowing the attacker to execute arbitrary code on the target system.

It is not known if this vulnerability has been exploited yet, but it is critical to install the new updates to prevent that from happening.

 

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Apple M1 Gaming : Watch It Run The Witcher 3!

Windows gaming on the ARM-based Apple M1 is possible!

Watch how well the Apple M1 runs The Witcher 3 using CrossOver 20!

 

Apple M1 Gaming : Watch It Run The Witcher 3 On CrossOver 20!

AppleGamers successfully ran The Witcher 3 on CrossOver 20, using the 2020 Apple MacBook Pro with the new ARM-based Apple M1 SoC.

Here was their recorded gameplay of The Witcher 3 at the 1080p resolution, with the Medium graphics and post-processing presets, and VSync enabled.

They could not get the FPS counter to work, but it looks smooth and very playable, albeit with some visual artefacts.

Basically – Apple M1 gaming is not only possible, it is possible to play Windows games!

 

Windows Gaming On Apple M1 : Rosetta 2 + Windows API Translation!

That quick gameplay showcase of The Witcher 3 shows that Windows gaming is possible on the Apple M1.

The ability to run The Witcher 3 on CrossOver 20, and at such playable frame rates, is important for two reasons.

Windows App Compatibility

The Witcher 3 is a 64-bit Windows-only game, so you wouldn’t expect it to run well on the ARM-based Apple M1, right?

Running it on the Apple M1 involves translating Windows API calls using CrossOver, and then translating x86 instructions to ARM instructions using Rossetta 2.

Yet it not only worked, it ran pretty well on the Apple M1!

Performance

While AppleGamers was not able to obtain a frame rate, The Witcher 3 appears to run pretty well at the 1080p resolution.

That shows that the Apple M1’s integrated 8-core GPU is fast, and will have no problem handling native ARM games at 1080p, and likely 1440p as well.

 

Apple M1 : A Quick Primer

The Apple M1 is the first ARM-based SoC (System on a Chip) designed by Apple for use in Mac computers.

Packing 16 billion transistors, it is the first chip to be manufactured on the new 5 nm TSMC process technology.

It comes with 4 high-performance Firestorm CPU cores, 4 power-efficient Icestorm cores, an 8-core GPU, and a 16-core Neural Engine.

As the M1 is based on the ARM architecture, you can natively run iPhone and iPad apps on it. However, existing macOS apps will have to be ported over, or translated on-the-fly using Rosetta 2.

It is currently available in these Apple Mac computers :

  • 2020 MacBook Air : US | UK | AU | MY | SG
  • 2020 MacBook Pro 13-inch : US | UK | AU | MY | SG
  • 2020 Mac mini : US | UK | AU | MY | SG

 

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Mac Camera Cover Guide : Why Apple Is Wrong!

Apple recently advised everyone not to cover the camera of their Mac laptops, and rely instead on the camera indicator light.

Find out why Apple is WRONG, and why you need to physically cover your Mac computer’s camera!

 

Mac Camera Cover : What Is It For?

Cybersecurity specialists have long advocated covering the built-in camera of your computers, not just MacBook laptops or Mac desktops, with a camera cover of some sort.

This prevents hackers from taking over that camera, and secretly recording you. This has implications beyond just recording your embarrassing moments for blackmail.

With access to your laptop camera, hackers can determine when you are away from home, who lives at your home, who you are working with, and even where you currently are.

 

Apple : Don’t Use A Camera Cover For Your Mac

In their recent HT211148 tech advisory, they asked Mac laptop (MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro) users not to use any camera cover.

Recommended : Warning : Using A Camera Cover Can Damage Your MacBook!

Instead, they recommended that you use these two built-in features for your privacy :

A. The Green Camera Indicator Light

Apple points out that your Mac computer has a camera indicator light that glows green whenever the camera is active.

They also claimed that the camera is designed not to activate unless its indicator light is also turned on.

B. The Camera Access Control

As an additional measure built into macOS Mojave or later, you must give an app permission before it can use your Mac computer’s camera.

To view which apps has access to your Mac computer’s camera, and to revoke any app’s access :

  1. On your Mac, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, click Security & Privacy, then click Privacy.
  2. Select Camera.
  3. Select the tickbox next to an app to allow it to access your camera.Deselect the tickbox to turn off access for that app.If you turn off access for an app, you’re asked to turn it on again the next time that app tries to use your camera.

 

Why Apple Is Wrong, And You Need To Cover Your Mac Camera!

Apple fans may hate us for this, but they are wrong. You must physically cover your Mac computer’s camera to protect yourself.

Hackers Always Disable The Indicator Light

Mac computers are not the only ones to feature an indicator light for their built-in cameras. Most computers with a built-in webcam have such an indicator light.

It is, therefore, SOP for hackers to disable the indicator light after gaining control of the camera. Camfecting attacks won’t work if you are aware that the camera is turned on…

Apple asserts that the camera and its indicator light on Mac computers are wired in series, so the camera won’t work if the indicator light is turned off.

However, a 2013 Johns Hopkins University paper showed how it was possible to disable the indicator light of a Mac computer’s webcam, even though the camera module had a “hardware interlock”.

This isn’t just an obscure research subject. The FBI has the capability to covertly activate a computer’s camera without triggering the indicator light, according to Marcus Thomas, the former assistant director of FBI’s Operational Technology Division.

The only ways to prevent such attacks would be to either turn off your computer, or physically cover the camera.

Hackers Won’t Ask You For Permission

Security researcher Ryan Pickren showed in April 2020 how seven flaws in Apple Safari can let malicious websites hijack your camera and microphone to spy on you.

All you have to do is click on a link, and it lets the malicious website gain access to your webcam without asking for permission.

So much for the Mac Camera Access Control feature…

You May Not Notice The Light

Even if the camera indicator light is not disabled, it doesn’t mean you will immediately realise when the light turns on.

By the time you realise the green light is actually glowing, it may already be too late.

This is partly because it emits a steady glow, and doesn’t blink. Of course, a blinking light is bloody irritating, but we are more likely to notice it than a static green glow.

The only way to prevent that is to physically cover the camera.

Hackers Can Turn On Sleeping Or Hibernating Computers

Don’t assume that just because your Mac computer is sleeping or hibernating, hackers cannot access its camera.

They can potentially wake your computer, turn on the camera and record from it, with the indicator light turned off.

Security researcher Pedro Vilaça showed in 2015 how it was possible to remotely “root” and take over a Mac computer after it wakes up from sleep mode of 30 seconds or longer.

Irrespective of the method used, once hackers gain control of your computer, they can turn on its Wake On LAN (WOL) feature to remotely wake up your computer, like what the Ryuk ransomware does.

The only way to prevent that is to turn off your computer, or physically cover the camera.

Cybercriminals Can Trick You With A Fake Blackmail

Even if cybercriminals are unable to access your camera, they can still trick you into believing they somehow took compromising photos or videos from it.

They send out thousands of spam emails every day to trick people into believing they have been caught on camera.

People who don’t use a camera cover can be convinced into believing that their webcams were somehow compromised, and tricked into paying up to avoid exposure.

The only way to prevent that is to physically cover the camera.

 

The Best Way To Cover Your Mac Computer Camera

While we strongly advise you to cover your Mac computer camera, that does not mean you should risk damaging your display.

Laptop Computers (MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro)

According to Apple, we should not use any camera cover that is more than 0.1 mm thick. That basically rules out any camera cover, because it is impossible to make one that thin.

They also advise again using anything that leaves an adhesive residue. So that means cellophane tape (Scotch tape) and packaging tape should be avoided.

So here are the best options for you to consider, based on your requirements :

  1. If you don’t intend to use the camera at all
    a) Use your laptop in clamshell mode, with a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse
    b) Cover the camera with masking tape, which is gentle and leaves no residue
  2. If you plan to use the camera
    – Cut a small piece of sticky note, so that there is an adhesive part and a non-adhesive part.
    – Alternatively, cut a piece of masking tape, and fold part of it to create a non-adhesive portion.
    – Cover the camera with the adhesive part
    – You can then use the non-adhesive portion to pull it off whenever you need to use the camera

Desktop Computers (iMac, iMac Pro)

Desktop computers like the iMac or iMac Pro don’t have to worry about damaging their displays with camera covers of any thickness.

We therefore recommend using a proper camera cover that slides to let you use the camera whenever you want to, and physically cover it whenever you don’t.

Just make sure the camera cover does not use excessively strong adhesive, or leaves a residue that will require using solvent to remove, which could damage the display coating!

 

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Warning : Using A Camera Cover Can Damage Your MacBook!

After years of letting third-party companies sell camera covers, Apple just issued a warning that using a camera cover can damage your MacBook laptop!

Find out what’s going on, and why using a camera cover may be critical for your privacy, but can damage your MacBook!

 

Warning : Using A Camera Cover Can Damage Your MacBook!

In a new technical advisory, Apple warns that closing your MacBook laptop with a camera cover attached could physically damage the display, due to the limited clearance between the display and the chassis.

In addition, installing a camera cover can block the ambient light sensor located next to the camera. This will prevent features like automatic brightness and True Tone from working properly.

If you close your Mac notebook with a camera cover installed, you might damage your display because the clearance between the display and keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances.

Covering the built-in camera might also interfere with the ambient light sensor and prevent features like automatic brightness and technical advisory from working.

Instead of using a camera cover, Apple recommends relying on the camera indicator light to tell you when it is actively recording you.

This is a VERY BAD idea, which we will elaborate in this article : Apple Is Wrong. You Need To Cover Your Mac Camera!

 

What If You MUST Use A Camera Cover?

If your organisation or work requires you to use a camera cover, Apple issued these recommendations :

  • Make sure the camera cover is not thicker than 0.1 mm.
  • Avoid using a camera cover that leaves adhesive residue.
  • If you install a camera cover that is thicker than 0.1 mm, remove the camera cover before closing your computer.

For Americans and anyone else still stuck with Imperial measurements, 0.1 mm = 0.00393 inch.

This example of an ultra-thin camera cover designed for the MacBook is 8X too thick, according to Apple.

It is physically impossible to create a camera cover that thin. In other words, Apple is telling you yet again NOT to use an actual camera cover!

Instead, try using a tiny piece of sticky note. It is not only thin, it is also soft. Just make sure it covers only the camera, and not the ambient light sensor.

 

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The Mac Root User Login & Password Guide

Want to have elevated God-like privileges to your Mac OS X system? Then you need to be a Mac root user. In this guide, we will teach you how to enable the root user account in OS X, change the password, and disable it.

For experienced users or power users, you can use Terminal to quickly make these changes :

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If you are an inexperienced user, you can use the GUI method, which has more steps but does not require keying in commands.

 

What Is The Mac Root User?

If you are the primary user of a MacOS X system, you have an administrator account with administrator privileges. This gives you more privileges and access than a standard user account. However, that is not the highest access level possible.

There is a Mac superuser account called “root” that gives you elevated read and write privileges to hidden or protected areas of the system. With the Mac root user account, you can even access files in other user accounts.

In fact, it gives you such God-like powers, you can modify or even delete critical system files. So this Mac root account should only remain disabled unless you really, REALLY need to use it.

OS X High Sierra currently has a root bug that allows practically root access in a few simple steps. Therefore, Apple advises you to enable the Mac root account, with your own password, until they fix the bug.

Suggested Reading : The macOS High Sierra Root Bug Explained

 

How To Enable The Mac Root User / Change Password (Terminal Method)

Requisite : You need to be logged into an administrator account.

Please note this method is used to both enable the root account, and to change its password. The single command line of sudo passwd root both changes its password, while enabling the root account.

Step 1 : Click on the Apple () menu, and select System Preferences.

Step 2 : Click on Utilities, and select Terminal.

Step 3 : Type sudo passwd root and press Enter.

sudo passwd root

Step 4 : You will be asked for your administrator password, not the new root password. Key in your administrator password and hit Enter.

Step 5 : Now key in the new root password, and hit Enter. Then retype the new root password for verification, and hit Enter.

That’s it! You have successfully enabled the Mac root account, with a password of your choice. To use it, you need to log off your administrator account.

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How To Disable The Mac Root User (Terminal Method)

Requisite : You need to be logged into an administrator account.

Step 1 : In Terminal, type dsenableroot -d and press Enter.

dsenableroot -d

Step 2 : Key in your administrator password (not the root user password), and hit Enter.

If you succeed, you will see the notification : ***Successfully disabled root user.

Next Page > How To Enable The Mac Root User Account (GUI Method)

 

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How To Enable The Mac Root User Account (GUI Method)

Requisite : You need to be logged into an administrator account.

Step 1 : Click on the Apple () menu, and select System Preferences.

Step 2 : Click on Users & Groups.

Step 3 : In the Users & Groups screen, click on the lock and key in your administrator name and password.

Step 4 : Click on Login Options.

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Step 5 : Click on the Join… (or Edit…) button next to Network Account Server.

Step 6 : Click on the Open Director Utility… button.

Step 7 : Click on the lock, and key in your administrator name and password.

Step 8 : In the Directory Utility menu bar, select Edit and click on Enable Root User.

Step 9 : Now, key in the password you want, and a second time for verification, and click OK.

That’s it! You have successfully enabled the Mac root user account, with a password of your choice. To use it, you need to log off your administrator account.

Next Page > How To Change The Mac Root User Password

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How To Change The Mac Root User Password (GUI Method)

Requisite : You need to be logged into an administrator account, and have the root user account enabled.

If you have just enabled the root user account, and are still in the Directory Utility screen, skip ahead to Step 8.

Step 1 : Click on the Apple () menu, and select System Preferences.

Step 2 : Click on Users & Groups.

Step 3 : In the Users & Groups screen, click on the lock and key in your administrator name and password.

Step 4 : Click on Login Options.

Step 5 : Click on the Join… (or Edit…) button next to Network Account Server.

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Step 6 : Click on the Open Director Utility… button.

Step 7 : Click on the lock, and key in your administrator name and password.

Step 8 : In the Directory Utility menu bar, select Edit and click on Change Root Password.

Step 9 : Now, key in the new password you want, and a second time for verification, and click OK.

That’s it! You have successfully changed the Mac root user password. To use it, you need to log off your administrator account.

Next Page > How To Disable The Mac Root User Account

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How To Disable The Mac Root User Account (GUI Method)

Requisite : You need to be logged into an administrator account, and have the root user account enabled.

If you have just enabled the root user account, and are still in the Directory Utility screen, skip ahead to Step 8.

Step 1 : Click on the Apple () menu, and select System Preferences.

Step 2 : Click on Users & Groups.

Step 3 : In the Users & Groups screen, click on the lock and key in your administrator user name and password.

Step 4 : Click on Login Options.

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Step 5 : Click on the Join… (or Edit…) button next to Network Account Server.

Step 6 : Click on the Open Director Utility… button.

Step 7 : Click on the lock, and key in your administrator name and password.

Step 8 : In the Directory Utility menu bar, select Edit and click on Disable Root User.

That’s it! You have successfully disabled the Mac root user account.

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Killer Features In 2016 MacBook Pro Models Confirmed

Apple is gearing up for a refresh of their 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro models in Q4 of 2016, probably around September. In addition to the usual processor and graphics upgrades, Apple is looking to inject a little pizazz in the 2016 MacBook Pro models.

We have just confirmed with an internal Apple source, who has direct or working contact with the upcoming 2016 MacBook Pro models, that they will definitely come with two killer features – an OLED display touch bar, and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

 

OLED Display Touch Bar

The OLED display touch bar will run along the top of the keyboard, replacing the physical function keys. It will have full colour capability, and will be fully customisable by the user. Amongst other things, users can add a “Do Not Disturb” button, or switch it to a dark “Night Mode” colour scheme.

Our source will not (currently) send us pictures of the actual OLED display touch bar, but designer Martin Hajek came up with concept renderings of what he thinks the OLED display touch bar could look like. Check them out :

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Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor

The 2016 MacBook Pro models will also come with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. This will be used not just for user authentication, it will also be used to authorise payments via Apple Pay.

Our source is currently unwilling to share any additional details, or pictures, of the Touch ID fingerprint sensors. However, TheAlienPebble proposed that the entire glass trackpad may serve as a giant Touch ID sensor.

This would cost a lot more than a small sensor, but it would allow for multi-finger authentication, and active user authentication.

Multi-finger authentication would allow for much better security. You can use a combination of multiple fingers, to add an additional layer of complexity. Yet it is a simple concept to grasp and use all the time.

The same goes for active user authentication. With the entire touchpad functioning as a giant biometric sensor, the 2016 MacBook Pro can lock itself down if it detects someone other than the authorised (and logged-in) user using the touchpad.

 

What Else Is New In The 2016 MacBook Pro?

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The “less sexy” upgrades that we are looking forward to in the 2016 MacBook Pro models include :

  • faster 7th Generation Intel Core (Kaby Lake) processor options
  • faster Intel Iris Graphics or NVIDIA GeForce GPU options
  • new metal injection-moulded hinges
  • USB 3.1 Type C and Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • slimmer and lighter chassis

 

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Typeeto – Using Your Mac As A Bluetooth Keyboard

How many times have you worked on both your Mac and your iPhone or iPad and you suddenly find the need to copy and paste a text from your Mac to your iPhone. You would also wish that there must be an easy way to type into your iPhone from your Mac’s keyboard!

At this point, you’re probably wishing that you can use your Mac as a Bluetooth keyboard for your iPhone Well, there is indeed a solution.

 

How to use your Mac as a Bluetooth Keyboard for the iPhone

The app that I discovered recently is Eltima’s Typeeto. Its an app that usually costs $19.99. But as of the publishing of this post, it’s currently on promotion at $9.99 on the Mac App Store. But if you do prefer to not purchase it off the Mac App Store, You can also buy it directly from Eltima’s website which offers you a trial to test it you. Then just follow this link and you’ll automatically get a special 15% off discount coupon on the retail price.

Once installed, you would need to first connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac. The Typeeto app does tell you how to do it when try to add a new device in Typeeto after you start up the app.

Typeeto on the menubar

Typeeto actually works on any device that supports using a Bluetooth Keyboard as well. The following are the list of devices that Eltima’s team has tested Typeeto against.

Typeeto supported devices

Pairing the device of your choice is simply just how you would usually do it on your Mac. The following are screenshots of me pairing my iPhone 6s to my Mac.

Pairing the iPhone in MacOS Bluetooth menu

Confirming the pairing of the iPhone

Typeeto detects a newly paired iPhone

After pairing the iPhone, or any other device, you’re ready to use Typeeto. But before that, let’s take a look at the preferences and settings that you can set with the app.

General settings

The General settings are pretty self explanatory. I would recommend setting the paste text to device shortcut key combination to something that you would be comfortable with. The default alt-cmd-v works ok but change it if there’s another key combination that you prefer. Also, turn off the sending of usage statistics if you prefer to be private.

Devices settings

The Devices settings is important too. I recommend setting a Quick Launch shortcut key to have the ability to easily switch between your devices, especially when you have more that one that you intend to use with your Mac. Otherwise you would always need to click on the device you want to connect to using Typeeto’s menu bar.

Themes

As for the last Theme settings. I don’t think I need to explain it any more than the screenshot itself. ?

Next Page > Using Typeeto On Your Mac, Our Verdict

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Using Typeeto on your Mac as a Bluetooth Keyboard for the iPhone

I’ve had Typeeto running on my Mac for about a week now and I’d have to say that it’s been quite interesting using it. I actually have the Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard for Mac that I’ve been using to type on both my Mac and my iPhone when I need it. However, I usually just leave the keyboard, though portable at work. So anywhere else, I would find myself missing the external bluetooth keyboard when typing long emails on my phone.

Thus the “interesting” description of Typeeto. Interesting because it works really well. I’ve used another app in the past but it didn’t work too well for me as it didn’t work most of the time. Typeeto has been pretty stable in my testing over the week so far. But since I already have the Logitech K811 external keyboard. I usually find myself just switching my keyboard over to my iPhone and I’d start typing away.

But Typeeto does have one major advantage which is its ability to paste text that’s been copied from the Mac. This is definitely a very useful feature, especially typing over complex passwords that I used for my online accounts. (Seriously guys, using 1Password to generate unique and complex passwords you can’t remember is the only way to go now).

One thing to note is that this copy-pasting feature has a maximum text length limit of 1024 characters, which actually isn’t too bad. You can copy roughly a full paragraph with it as you’ll see in the video capture I took below. The way it works is that Typeeto would basically retype for you character by character onto your device. This presents an interesting behaviour if you turn on autocorrect on the iPhone. Any wrongly typed words that are copied would be automatically corrected if possible. The video below shows this behaviour when I copied over a Lorem ipsum text from my Mac to my iPhone. This is definitely something to be aware of.

 

 

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Our Verdict

At the usual price of $19.99, you may think that it’s a little on the pricier side. However, if you compare it with the Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard for Mac that costs close to $90 on Amazon, you basically get the same feature of the external bluetooth keyboard at a 80% discount. And if copying text and pasting it to your device is a must have feature, well, Typeeto is an obvious choice for you. That’s just something you can’t do with any external bluetooth keyboard.

Typeeto has been a solid software making the Mac as a bluetooth keyboard for any device that supports it. So if you find yourself needing it, it’s one that I would recommend quite easily.

Purchase Typeeto from this link and get a 15% discount off the retail price!

Disclosure: I was offered a press copy of the software to test and write this article that was originally posted on my blog.

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Must-Have Mac OS X Apps – 2015 Edition

More often then not I get asked what are some of the must-have Mac OS X apps by friends and family members who’s just got their hands on their first Mac. So much so that I had taken the effort to put them up in an article listing exactly that. With the recent release of OS X El Capitan, it’s time for a refresh of my top apps recommendation for the Mac platform again.

I’ve previously written a similar article back on my own blog site in 2013 when OS X 11 was released. In this article, I’ve now refine the list to a set of top 5 apps and the rest in a secondary list. This is by no means that apps are not as great but instead are ones that would depend on personal preference if you need such apps or not. Just as an example, as great Affinity Photo is, not everyone needs a powerful alternative to Apple’s own Photo app.

Ok. enough of this chit-chat. Let’s jump straight into the top 5 apps that you need to have.

 

Top 5 Must-Have Mac OS X Apps

1. Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X 14

Even when I work in a predominantly Mac user workplace, I still need to deal with a lot of NTFS-formatted external storages. More so if you work in an environment that’s largely Windows dominated. And as you would probably already discovered, OS X by default can only read NTFS formatted drives and not write into it.

Thankfully, the good folks at Paragon Software provides us with an implementation of NTFS support for OS X. The latest version 14 provides full NTFS features and supports the latest OS X El Capitan. This alone makes it the top of the must-have Mac OS X apps list. Paragon Software has also made the installation process a lot easier on this latest release, making it simpler for non-techies to install it.

I’ve been using Paragon Software NTFS for Mac OS X for a long time and it’s really stable! And I would also say that this is a  software that’s pretty much mandatory for anyone with a Mac, unless of course you exclusively only work on OS X.

Link: Paragon NTFS for Mac OS X 14 $19.95!

 

2. 1Password

With all the password hacks going around the web, it is time everyone starts using stronger passwords for all your online accounts. Not just a single strong password being re-used, but a unique strong passwords for each online account you have. And if that is to be, then you would need to use a password manager to help you remember all those passwords, unless of course you are one of those unique individual who can simply just remember everything. I’m surely am not, and therefore swears by the use of 1Password for this specific use!

When it comes to password management, 1Password is really in a league of its own. What I like most about 1Password is it’s ability to not just store and manage passwords well, but it’s ability to seamlessly sync the stored passwords across all your iDevices (iPad, iPhones and iPod Touch) via iCloud or Dropbox, as long as you also have the 1Password app on your device. It also stores not just passwords, but also credit card numbers (which is really helpful for all your online shopping needs), software license keys, accounts, and much more!

Generate strong passwords for your logins

And on the latest version of 1Password, it has a mini interface that is accessible with a quick shortcut key that allows you to quickly search the information you need and immediately copy it into the clipboard and allowing you to paste it where you need it to be.

[adrotate banner=”4″]Before, you would only be limited to the browser plugin that helps you automatically login with the stored user id and password, or opening up the full application to gain access to the secured information.

You can even create multiple vaults to be shared across different team or family members for those accounts that are meant to be shared, while keeping your own personal logins accessible just to yourself.

$49.99 and $17.99 may seem steep for an OS X and iOS app, but this amount worth spending so to allow you to start managing (and strengthening) all your online accounts. Getting your password hacked is far more annoying and potentially a costlier affair too!

Link: 1Password ($49.99 on the Mac App Store) and 1Password for iOS ($17.99 on the App Store)

 

3. Alfred with the PowerPack

Alfred is one of the few utility apps that I can’t live without now on my Mac. Essentially, it’s a search utility, working pretty much like Spotlight of OS X. However, it does it in a far more elegant way. It also provides you with the quickest way to launch applications. Find out more about what Alfred can do for you here. The basic version of Alfred is available free on the Mac App Store or from their website as well, which makes it a real no brainer to have it installed on your Mac.

Effortless search with Alfred

But I highly recommend using Alfred with its Powerpack which only costs you £15 as the extra features is really worth the cost! One of the greatest features that the Powerpack includes is the ability to create global shortcut keys that allows you to launch not just apps but also to open a commonly used folder, activate an AppleScript, run system commands, and much more. It also provides a quick file system navigator that’s really handy in many situations.

Extend Alfred with Workflows!

In addition to that, the Powerpack also enables the ability for you to create workflows! You can find many cool examples of the use of Alfred Workflows here. Personally, I use it as a replacement to bash scripts that executes or starts up servers which I would have to do on the terminal.

Starts up a web server and opens up the browser all with a quick keyword

Link: Alfred Powerpack (£15)

 

4. Airmail

Personally, I think Airmail is the OS X mail app that should have been. I’ve used Airmail from the very early days of its beta releases and now that the app is officially released on the Mac App Store, I’m highly recommending it to anyone who has looked out for an alternative to the default Mail app, especially if your email is based on Google Mail. Airmail is built from ground up to support Gmail natively.

What’s really great about Airmail is its highly responsive interface. It also have a very intuitive user interface which most mail apps have come to adopt since. One thing I like most about Airmail is its awesome support for multiple email accounts, support for a multitude of email services, including support for Exchange, IMAP, POP3, Gmail, Google Apps, iCloud, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.comLive.com and many other providers with IMAP or POP3 support.

Also, Airmail’s iOS app is on the way and when it is released, it would likely be the first mail app that supports the iOS and OS X Handoff feature.

Link: Airmail ($9.99 on the Mac App Store)

 

5. AppCleaner

Uninstalling applications on the Mac is really easy. Unlike Windows which requires an uninstaller to do the job right, on the Mac, you simple would just delete the application. It’s that simple! However, it still does leave some traces on your Mac, in the form of settings and configuration files. If you plan to reinstall the application later on and would like to have all the settings and configurations intact, then that’s fine. However, if you like to wipe it all clean, then AppCleaner does exactly that for you with just a simple drag and drop.

I would basically keep AppCleaner on my dock and simply drag and drop any applications I like to removed on the AppCleaner icon on the dock. The other options is to simple open up AppCleaner, click on Applications (or Widgets or Others) and search for the app in question and  then click on “Search”, confirm that you want to delete the app and its related files, then delete them,

Link: AppCleaner

 

So far…

As I’ve mentioned earlier, these 5 apps are must haves and I would recommend them to anyone who’s on the OS X platform. The total amount so far is about US$120 (US$97.92 + £15 which is roughly $23.00).

The rest of the must-have Mac OS X Apps

These next set of apps are really great to haves depending on how you use your Mac and the work that you do with it. I’ve decided not to put it up as top apps as not everyone needs to use these apps if there’s no need for it. Read on to find out more about them and see if you too have a need for them as I do.

 

6. Scroll Reverser

If you use both a mouse with a scroll wheel and the TrackPad with OS X’s natural scrolling direction, Scroll Reverser is the tool for you. The screenshot below shows the exact settings I’m using, specifically to keep using natural scrolling on the trackpad and maintain the expected scrolling direction for mouse’s scroll wheel.

Natural on the Trackpad and “normal” on the mouse scroll wheel

Link: Scroll Reverser

 

7. PathFinder 7

If you find OS X’s Finder lacking, consider trying out PathFinder 7. I’ve written a pretty comprehensive review of PathFinder 7 here in comparison to OS X Yosemite’s Finder. But even when compared with Finder in OS X El Capitan, the points I made in the review is still valid and I continue to use PathFinder 7 today.

8 customisable modules in both the bottom and right shelf

I won’t go deep into the features of PathFinder that makes it my choice of Finder replacement here on this article but here’s a summary of it.

  • File Operations Queue
  • Dual-pane view
  • Bookmarks and Favourites
  • Configurable Shelves
  • Highly customisable and a whole bunch of features like…[adrotate banner=”4″]
    • Calculate file checksums with MD2, MD4, MD5, SHA-1, SHA224, SHA-256, SHA384, and SHA-512
    • Built-in hex editor
    • Built-in image editor
    • Archive files and folders with zip, gzip, bzip, dmg, Stuff, tar, and more
    • Ability to quickly get the dimensions of an image file and copy the dimensions into the clipboard as the following text: width=”###” height=”###”
    • Built in terminal console module
    • Git or subversion integrations
    • Ability to securely delete a file
    • and more!

Link: Path Finder ($39.95)

 

8. Affinity Photo

If you need a good photo editor that has all the key features you look out for in Adobe Photoshop, but does not really need something as powerful as Photoshop, then Affinity Photo is the editor for you. First thing first, Affinity Photo is REALLY fast. It really is something that you have to use to believe how fluid the controls are. But more importantly, Affinity Photo provides most of the familiar features and capabilities as Photoshop, the industry benchmark for a professional photo editor app.

Affinity Photo also includes a pretty powerful RAW Processing capabilities as well which is very similar to Adobe’s Lightroom. I’ve not yer personally explored the RAW Persona deeply as I continue to use Adobe’s Lightroom for RAW development. But in my limited use of it, I find it as functional as one would expect from a RAW processing app. However, it does lack the rich support for camera color profiles and lens profiles as Adobe has. And because of that, I would likely continue to use Lightroom to develop my RAW files and then edit them in Affinity for post-processing.

Develop your RAW photos with Affinity Photo’s RAW Persona

Link: Affinity Photo ($49.99 on the Mac App Store)

 

9. DaisyDisk

If you have MacBook with limited SSD storage space, that means you’re more likely to fill it up faster as well. This is where an app like DaisyDisk is really handy.

As you can see form the screenshot, DaisyDisk presents your storage usage in a beautiful flower-like graph which acts as the intuitive visual map of your disk. It also doubles up as an interactive interface where you can discover what’s taking up all that storage space while allowing you to also select and remote the files within the app itself.

So if you find yourself to be running out of space on your Mac, DaisyDisk is the app to use to figure out what you can remove to gain back the space you need.

Link: DaisyDisk ($9.99 on the Mac App Store)

 

10. Gemini

Just as my recommendation for DaisyDisk, If you use a Mac with limited SSD storage space, any apps that helps you figure out how you can free up files that you don’t need anymore would be very helpful. And with Gemini, it does exactly that by searching your storage for duplicate files.

Gemini does it really fast and elegantly. Due to my highly collaborating work environment where I share a lot of files with my colleagues, there’s bound to be files that are duplicated pretty much all over my MacBook’s storage. Gemini has been a really great tool in helping me find all those duplicated files and allowing me to decide if I would want to delete them. I’ve so far been able to remove about 10+GB worth of storage wastage.

Link: Gemini: The Duplicate Finder ($9.99 on the Mac App Store)

11. iTerm 2

If you use the terminal and work on the command line a lot, then I highly recommend using iTerm 2 as the replacement of OS X’s Terminal. Just check out this list of advanced features of iTerm 2 here and you’ll never go back to Terminal. Trust me.

Searching on iTerm

 Link: iTerm 2

12. Little Snitch

For all the paranoid in you, Little Snitch is a great app that helps you protect your Mac from the outside world. How it works is quite interesting as it essentially is an anti-firewall, protecting not what’s incoming to your Mac, but what’s going out from your Mac to the Internet. And in some ways, this protects you better than just using a firewall as Little Snitch will prompt you every time an app requires to sent anything out to the Internet, unless you’ve already allowed it to do so permanently.

You can find out more about Little Snitch here. But if you are as paranoid as I am about what’s getting out of your Mac, Little Snitch is a great tool to help you keep that in check.

Link: Little Snitch (€ 29.95)

This article is an adaptation of the original article on my blog post here.