No Hints till Monday

It’s the Fourth of July everywhere, and that means it’s Independence Day in the U.S. We’ll have new hints on Monday.

And of course, as always, we’d love your hint submissions! Send them in, and we’ll make you famous. At least here at Mac OS X Hints!

Source: Mac OSX Hints


Animate still photos in the Finder

Suppose you have a folder full of photos taken in rapid succession. These might be images from an MRI or ultrasound, or simply a sequence of shots snapped at a celebration of some sort. Either way, you’ve ended up with a series of photos that would likely look good animated—but they’re all simply stills.

There’s an easy way to put those photos in motion. Single-click on the first one in your folder, and then press the Spacebar to bring up the Quick Look preview of your image. Now, simply hold the down arrow. The Finder selection will cycle through all the photos in your folder, and the Quick Look preview will instantly update in real time.

If your folder contains photos that work as a flip book, you can see the animation right there in the Finder using this method.

Source: Mac OSX Hints


Checking for Mac App Store system updates from a non-Admin account

In OS X 10.8.3 and later, Apple seems to have changed the behavior of the Mac App Store: It will no longer automatically check for System Updates if you are running from an account that does not have administrator privileges.

A simple work-around: Select the Updates tab in the Mac App Store. From the Store menu, select Reload Page (Command-R). The app will now prompt you for an administrator’s credentials. Then the app will search and (in my experience) find system updates if any are available. Updates can now also be installed from your non-admin account.

Lex adds: I haven’t tested this one.

Source: Mac OSX Hints


Create an unread badge for a Feedbin Fluid app

Now that Google Reader is dead, it’s time to find a replacement news-reading solution. If you, like me, land on Feedbin as your answer, you might not be happy with any of the current Mac apps that can connect to the service. And thus you might—again, like me—choose to set up a single-site browser for Feedbin using Fluid.

In general, Fluid and Feedbin get along fine. I tweaked settings to that I could open any URL within my Feedbin Fluid app, so that I could more easily open links to whatever sites I stumble across using the service. But I missed my “unread articles” badge, which NetNewsWire had long sported in my Dock.

Getting a similar badge back isn’t too tough. Launch your Feedbin-specific Fluid app. Then, go to Window -> Userscripts, and the top, default U …

Source: Mac OSX Hints


ReadKit tip: Nested rules in smart folders

By Matt Swain As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve switched to using ReadKit for reading RSS feeds on the Mac.

ReadKit’s “smart folders” are a great feature that Reeder lacked, making me consider sticking with ReadKit even if Reeder introduces third party sync options in future.

One problem I had was figuring out to create smart folders with nested groups of rules where “any” or “all” must be true. One of the default smart folders has nested rules, so I knew it must be possible, and after a bit of trial and error I figured it out.

Simply hold down the Option (alt) key and you should see the plus (+) button will switch to an ellipsis (…). Clicking this will create a new nested section where you can require “any” or “all” of the nested rules to be true.

Using this technique, it’s worth adding a rule to your smart folders that excludes archived items, so articles you have already read don’t show up.

Source: Mac OSX Tips


Dealing with the demise of Google Reader

By Matt Swain I have long been a happy user of Reeder for reading RSS feeds on both the Mac and iOS. However, that will all change on Monday, when Google shuts down Google Reader. Unfortunately, Reeder uses Google Reader behind the scenes to manage your subscriptions and unread items and sync them across your devices. And because the developer of Reeder hasn’t been able to add support for other sync services in time, this leaves many of us in an interesting situation where we need to find both a new RSS reader app and a new backend sync service.

RSS sync services

Here are the main contenders in the battle to replace Google Reader. Some have a one-click process for importing your Google Reader subscriptions, while others will require you to download your subscriptions as a file and then upload the file to their service to import.

Feedly (free)

Feedly seems to be the most popular Google Reader replacement, presumably because it is completely free and was up and running right away. It has a web interface that is on the whole reasonably well designed apart from a few quirks. There are also native apps for iPhone and iPad.

One thing that puts me off Feedly is the seeming lack of business model, as it raises the probability of intrusive advertising in future, or a sudden demise like Google Reader. However the main deal-breaker is the current lack of export functionality, making it extremely difficult to switch away from Feedly at any point in the future.

Feed Wrangler ($19/year)

Feed Wrangler is the work of “Underscore David Smith”. He is pretty friendly with many Apple/tech podcasters and bloggers, and as a result Feed Wrangler has received many “celebrity” endorsements from people like Marco Arment, Shawn Blanc and Federico Viticci.

The most unique feature is “smart streams,” which work like smart playlists in iTunes. I could see this being useful for building filters for really high volume RSS feeds, so only the articles that you are interested in get through. They are also great for grouping articles around topics, regardless of which feed they are from. This is a big improvement over the traditional “feeds grouped into folders” model, as it allows grouping to work on a per-article basis instead of an entire feed, and also allows articles to appear in multiple groups.

Many people have complained that Feed Wrangler’s web interface and apps are “ugly,” but when considering it purely as a backend sync service to use with other apps, this isn’t really a concern. A slightly more practical problem with Feed Wrangler is its inability to import folders from Google Reader. You can use the smart streams feature to create what are essentially folders, however you will have to do this manually after importing your subscriptions.

Feedbin ($20/year)

Feedbin offers a widely supported replacement for Google Reader in terms of syncing, along with what is probably my favourite web interface of all the services here – in fact probably the only web interface I could see myself using instead of a native app. It’s far more simple and intuitive than Feedly, while having the quality design and attention to detail that Feed Wrangler lacks.

Unlike Feed Wrangler, Google Reader folders are automatically imported and converted into Feedbin’s tags. These tags can be used in exactly the same way as Google Readers folders, only go a bit further as a single feed can have multiple tags, essentially allowing it to be in multiple folders at once.

NewsBlur ($24/year)

NewsBlur has been around since well before Google announced it was shutting down Reader, but has received renewed attention since. It has a novel web interface that in some ways reminds me of Safari’s (long gone) built-in RSS viewer. NewsBlur is clearly aimed at “power users,” which can be both its greatest weakness and its greatest strength. It has many features that go far beyond the other services, such as inline comments from NewsBlur users, and a system you can train to automatically highlight stories you will like and hide stories you won’t. However, this also results in NewsBlur having one of the most cluttered interfaces, especially if you rarely use these power features.

In terms of native apps, there is support from ReadKit on the Mac, however, as far as I know the only option on iOS is the official NewsBlur app.

The rest

Digg Reader – Recently entered beta, so one to watch for the future. Betaworks recently acquired both Digg and Instapaper, so it will be interesting to see if we get any nifty integration in future.
Tiny Tiny RSS – An open source, self-hosted solution.
Fever – A self-hosted solution with a one-off $30 fee. Reeder for iPhone support.
The Old Reader – Currently in beta, very little support amongst Mac and iOS apps.
MnmlRdr – Web interface only.

Mac RSS apps

ReadKit ($5)

At first glance, ReadKit appears very similar visually to Reeder for Mac. It has the familiar 3 column view, with almost identical buttons in the top and bottom toolbars. It feels a bit like an imperfect imitation of Reeder, although that is hardly a major issue.

In terms of functionality ReadKit has all the features that Reeder offers and far more. Most importantly, of course, is support for a multitude of sync services, including Feed Wrangler, Feedbin, NewsBlur and Fever. I’m also particularly liking the Instapaper and Pocket integration too, which makes ReadKit a fantastic unified place to do all my reading on my Mac.

The other notable feature is smart folders, which are just like Feed Wrangler’s smart streams. The added benefit of ReadKit’s smart folders is that they work with any (or multiple) sync services, however the downside is that they won’t appear outside of ReadKit on your other devices.

NetNewsWire ($10 pre-order, usually $20)

NetNewsWire has been around almost as long as RSS itself. It has a loyal following, and the recent update to version 4 brings a nice UI overhaul. The big problem with NetNewsWire is the current lack of any sync options whatsoever. New versions of the iOS apps are also still currently under development, so it’s likely that a proper sync solution will be on a similar timescale to Reeder for Mac.


Caffeinated gets an honourable mention purely for its absolutely beautiful interface. Like NetNewsWire it is currently completely lacking in sync options, and no proper support for third party sync services is even on the roadmap. But if sync is not an issue for you, it looks fantastic.

iPhone and iPad RSS apps

On the iPhone, Reeder already supports Feedbin and Fever. Supposedly it will support Feed Wrangler any day now, but without proper support for smart streams. So if you are a happy Reeder user, there might not be an urgent need to switch, but you might want to take the opportunity to assess some of the alternatives. If you choose Feedly, Feed Wrangler or NewBlur for your sync service, their own native apps are an option. However, like its web interface, Feed Wrangler’s app receive a lot of complaints for being “ugly”. While it’s not a conventional RSS reader, Flipboard has recently gained a lot of popularity as an alternative way to read news.

For the iPad, Mr Reader has been almost universally touted as the best option.


Everyone has different requirements and tastes, meaning there is no obvious best choice suitable for everyone. In a way that is one of the great things about the death of Google Reader – such an amazing ecosystem of different apps and services has sprung up so quickly. In the end, I settled on using Feed Wrangler for my sync service. Feedbin was a close second, and likely would have been my first choice if I anticipated making regular use of a browser-based web interface. In terms of apps, I’m currently using ReadKit on the Mac, while keeping an eye on the progress of Reeder and NetNewsWire. For the iPhone, I’m planning on just sticking with Reeder, which will mean putting up with a possible interruption if Feed Wrangler support comes after Monday. On the iPad I’m actually doing most of my reading through Flipboard.

Source: Mac OSX Tips


Moving on

Today is my last day running the Mac OS X Hints website. I’d like to thank all of the site’s readers, and especially those who have submitted hints, for visiting the site and helping us provide neat hints and tips about OS X.

Lex Friedman of Macworld will be replacing me. I wish him all the best, and hope that Mac OS X Hints continues to be a place where you can find great ways to work more efficiently with your Mac.

If you want to keep up with what I’m doing, visit my website, Kirkville, follow me on Twitter, or check out my articles on Macworld.

Source: Mac OSX Hints


How to set up a Mac as a PXE boot server, with Debian Live

Here is how to set up a Mac, running OS X Client 10.5 or later, as a PXE boot server. We will configure OS X’s built-in DHCP, TFTP, and NFS servers, start the servers, and put the client boot files in place. (The NFS server may be optional, depending on the operating system we are booting.)

You’ll need the Mac, a PXE-capable PC, and an ethernet cable. Some steps will require being logged in as an administrator on the Mac.

We’ll boot Debian Live on the client PC as an example. We’ll show a regular setup with NFS, an alternate setup without NFS, and how to uninstall.

Regular setup (with NFS):

Connect the Mac and the client PC with the ethernet cable.

On the Mac, in System Preferences > Network, click “Ethernet” and enter the following settings:

Configure IPv4: Manually
IP Address:
Subnet Mask:
(All others can be left blank)

Note the status may read “Cable Unplugge …

Source: Mac OSX Hints


More easily ignore unwanted calls to your iPhone

You can identify unwanted calls. I still have a land line, but I am forwarding all calls to my iPhone. To identify unwanted calls (new windows, green energy, political adds…), I created a Contact named Don’t Answer.

When I answer the phone and it is one of those annoying calls, if the number shows up, I can just use the ‘add to existing contact’ feature. Of course, this doesn’t work if the number is blocked. But, in two weeks, I have a long list of calls that show up as Don’t Answer and I can just not answer or choose Decline—there’s no guesswork involved.

Lex adds: I do something similar for another reason. I use Google’s two-factor authentication, and Google uses a variety of phone numbers to text me my passcode when I log in. So I created a Google entry in my contacts, and add each different number the company texts me from to that contact. That way, instead of ending up with lots of old entries from Google in Messages, there’s just one that …

Source: Mac OSX Hints


Thoughts on iOS 7. The Most Significant Update Since iPhone

By Alex Brooks iOS 7 preview (from left to right) iTunes Radio, Multitasking interface, Home screen, Control Centre, Safari Tabs
It’s been the talk of the town for some months now. With the departure of Scott Forstall last year the rumours pointed towards a major new direction for iOS—led by none other than industrial design God and revered designer of the Jobs era, Jony Ive. The rumours weren’t specific, but they were eyebrow raising. They pointed towards a whole new interface, a “flat” skeuomorphic free interface but the question on everybody’s mind, “How far would Apple go?”

So Flat
Today we have our answer and it’s somewhat shocking. iOS 7 presents a major departure from any version of iOS that has come before it. So much that I suspect for the average consumer that will run this update in September, they will be shocked and confused. But Apple had little choice, as outlined by myself and Gruber, times have changed since 2007 when the original iPhone took the very same stage that iOS 7 did today. Apple had been pushed into a corner by ever innovating Windows Phone and Android, by company’s that care less than Apple does about the effect on the end user and therefore is often more willing to push the boundary. Today Apple pushed hard; some may argue, too far.
iOS 7 preview (from left to right) Lock Screen, Home Screen, Control Centre | Image courtesy of Apple
The new interface is packed full of clean fonts, colourful icons and gesture ripe interfaces. The motives are simple when compared to the scene in 2007. Higher resolution and more vibrant displays can cater to more colours and thinner, sharper fonts. Typography can be used to complement interfaces like never before. In 2013 we’re used to touch interfaces, we’re used to gestures and we’ve departed from buttons, clickable areas and boundaries of interfaces. iOS 7 packs in endlessly scrolling interfaces, UI elements that fade away upon interacting with the content and buttons that float in a translucent area above the content. It’s all so 2013.
Features Too
Thankfully iOS 7 is more than just an overhaul of the UI, Apple also took some time out of today’s two hour keynote to show off a mere ten headline features of the new OS. Some of them are eye catching such as the long overdue Control Centre that slides up from the bottom of the display. Packed into this confusing interface is all the access an iPhone user would want, from quick access to WiFi, Do Not Disturb, all the way to a quick access flash light (Sorry flashlight apps).
There’s not much innovative about Control Centre though, it’s been a no brainer since iOS 3. Notification Centre has taken a more iterative route, accessible from the Lock Screen it’s now easy to see a lot of Notifications at once. Also just a swipe way from Notification Centre is the new Today feature showing a run down of the day ahead including the weather, traffic and meetings. Is that enough to compete with Google Now?
On the other end of the scale, there are some innovations. Apple continues to dismiss the idea of NFC and has brought AirDrop from OS X onto iOS, allowing easy sharing of files with people around you. In fact going around the room tapping phones was actively encouraged as being silly, AirDrop is the future of iOS file sharing.
Apple has also been listening to those law enforcement agencies and has strengthened Find my iPhone with Activation Lock. This feature prevents Find my iPhone being turned off without entering the Apple ID and can even prevent erasing of data or reactivation of the device.
There’s also some nice improvements in iOS 7, including an update to Siri giving it far more power (“Turn on Bluetooth”) and a new voice, Notification sync will clear notifications across iOS and OS X devices, and FaceTime audio is a fancy way of saying Voice over IP calling (sorry carriers).
My favourite new feature is the redesigned Photos app which should make that Camera Roll a bit easier to navigate. iOS 7 will group photos into Moments, so by place and time, making navigation far simpler. And let’s face it the iPhone now packs over five years of photos and it’s only growing quicker and quicker.
The Not So Good
It’s clear that Apple has had its work cut out. Redesigning an entire OS from the ground up is no easy task and it’s going to be a painful transition for hundreds of thousands of apps. Clearly it was too much work for Apple too, you’ll note that during the whole 40 minute demo of iOS 7 that not a single iPad was seen—good luck finding one of the Apple website too.
Then there’s the really not so good. I had a niggling feeling it would happen but this grand overhaul of the interface has distracted from the real meat of the matter. iOS is beginning to drag and it clearly comes down to the Jobs-era philosophy that Apple designs the look and feel of the device, not the consumer. On one hand it means that I can’t integrate Fantastical as well as the built-in Calendar, it’s icon will be unable to show the current date for example. But even worse it appears that even Apple’s own apps are still stubborn, static icons.
iOS Today view in Notification Center and Missed View | Image courtesy of Apple
Putting access to Today and Notification Centre in the Lock Screen is not how I want to see what’s going on in my social sphere, or how I want to quickly catchup up on news without having to unlock and open an app. It’s a different world out there on Android and Windows Phone, I’m not saying it’s better but it sure looks brighter.
iOS 7 will grow on all of us over the coming months. I will offer a more in depth look as and when I’ve played with it but on the surface iOS 7 is a beautiful renovation of the oldest mobile OS on the market. But I remain unconvinced that Apple has packed enough into this update for some to stick around.
iOS 7
As is the norm, iOS 7 is available now for developers to begin prepping their apps and for Apple to continue testing and refining. Apple says iOS 7 will be available in the fall for consumers, that historically means late September, accompanied by new iPhones and iPads.
Refreshingly iOS 7 is slated as working with the iPhone 4 and up, iPad 2 and up and iPod touch 5th generation and up but there was no mention of how severely some features would be scaled back for those lower end devices.

Source: World of Apple


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