Apple put a touch screen on the MacBook Pro, but doesn’t offer some way of launching or switching apps from it. Seriously, Apple? It seems like an oversight, but happily a couple of developers have stepped up to offer this feature.
Two main applications offer touch bar app switching and launching: TouchSwitcher and Rocket. Both are compelling in their own way, but we like TouchSwitcher as a starting point. Here it is in action:
It’s simple enough, but there’s a bunch of functionality hidden just below the surface. Let’s dive in.
Command+Tab for the Touch Bar
TouchSwitcher, when launched, adds a button on your Control Strip.
Press this button and the App Controls segment of the touch bar shows you all of the currently open applications.
Tap any icon to switch to that program. It’s simple, but it works entirely in the touch bar.
But there’s more! You can hold your modifier keys to close or hide apps.
Hold Shift and tap an app icon to hide that app.
Hold Option and tap and app icon to quit that app.
You can hold the key and tap a bunch of apps to quickly hide or close things i bulk. Honestly, this application is worth installing for this alone.
You can also hold Control and tap to see a list of options for the app.
Here you can hide or quit the application, or you can hit the Star icon to add a given app to your list of favorites.
Where do the favorites end up? To the right of your currently open apps, though you’ll have to…
Software analytics company OverOps has raised $30 million in a Series C round of funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Menlo Ventures.
Founded out of Israel in 2011 as Takipi, the Israeli startup changed its name to OverOps back in August to reflect its push into the broader DevOps realm. OverOps’ self-proclaimed mission is to “rid the world of application logs” through performing code analysis and tracking code changes to first detect bugs and then highlight the specific source code and variable state that caused the break. OverOps works on live apps in real-time, monitoring them after release.
The company had raised around $20 million before now, and with its latest cash influx said that it plans to scale its efforts in the enterprise IT operations market, including opening up support for .NET CLR.
“While the way we monitor and deploy applications improved dramatically over the years, with the move to microservices,…
The more you know about Excel, the more powerful the software becomes. Once you’re fairly comfortable with the application, it’s well worth getting to grips with macros. Macros can help remove menial tasks from your workflow, giving you the time to focus on more important matters.
The simplest type of macro is a series of actions carried out manually, that you can “record” and perform again at the touch of a button. More advanced examples use VBA to automate complex processes.
Macros really come into their own once you’re able to create them to suit the task at hand. However, these five sites will help you find existing macros that can save you time and effort.
There’s a subreddit for everything, and that includes Microsoft Excel. Reddit users discuss all aspects of the software, and macros are a popular topic of conversation. If you’re looking for a particular kind of macro, your best bet is the site’s search tools. However, if you simply want to see the best of the best, check out the coolest macro competition from October 2016.
With a $10 Amazon gift card on the line, users contributed their best macros. There’s no particular theme, so it’s a great look at what various people consider to be their most useful effort. The winner created a handy macro that allows users to go back to the last sheet they viewed in their current workbook.
Other notables include a way of inserting page numbers with consistent formatting and a neat game to test player reflexes.
Many Excel users rely on Excel Forum for help with their various projects and problems. The site hosts a forum dedicated to programming, VBA, and macros, and it’s a great place to find new macros created by other users.
Typically, people ask for help, rather than posting finished macros for others to use. This is great, because other user responses will often explain the thought process behind using certain techniques, rather than just how to execute them.
Not sure you love the touch bar? Maybe you mostly just don’t love what’s on it. No worries: that’s easy to change.
I’ve long had a troubled relationship with the top rows of keys on the Mac. Some, such as the volume and brightness toggles, I use constantly; others, like the Mission Control and the Launchpad, I’ve never touched. There were ways to swap out these key’s functions for something else, if I decided to put these buttons to work, but they depended on third party software and often didn’t work consistently. Plus, they key itself would look the same, meaning the icon wouldn’t match any new functionality.
This is where the touch bar shines. You’re in control of which buttons show up, and how they show up. And it’s easy to customize out of the box.
What’s on the Touch Bar?
Before we talk about customization, let’s talk through the basics of how the touch bar works. Here’s what the bar like without any application open:
The escape key takes up the leftmost spot, as it pretty much always does. On the right we’ve got four buttons, which Apple calls the Command Strip. You can tap the left-facing arrow to expand this strip, showing a collection of buttons similar to the top row of physical keys on other MacBooks.
This is called the Expanded Control Strip. Most users will only see it when they specifically expand the Command Strip. It’s possible to make this the default, though (more on that later).
For now, let’s talk about the rest of that empty space, which Apple refers to as App Controls. This space is used by whatever app is open, to show basically whatever that application feels is important. Safari gives you back buttons, a search bar, and a new tab button, for example.
Microsoft Word, meanwhile, gives you exactly the sort of buttons you’re used to seeing in a Microsoft Word toolbar.
And some applications, mostly older ones, show nothing at all here. That’s about all the touch bar can do, save one more trick: the old-fashioned F keys…
There are two kinds of Mac users: those who use Spotlight constantly, and those who ignore it.
If you’re in the second category, that’s too bad: everything about using a Mac gets faster with Spotlight. This search tool doubles as a text-based Siri alternative, and with just a few keystrokes, you can launch or look up anything. Getting started couldn’t be easier: just click the little magnifying glass.
But if you really want to be quick, don’t click: press Command+Space on your keyboard to launch Spotlight. If you only learn one Mac keyboard shortcut, make it this one. You’ll instantly see a blank search window.
What can this search box do? A lot: just start typing. Let’s dive in, starting with the basics and working our way toward lesser known features.
Getting Started: Looking for Files
The basic functionality of Spotlight is instant search of every file on your computer. A very simple use for this is to launch software: just type the name of the program.
Results will pop up instantly as you type, and you can hit “Enter” right away to launch an app or game. It feels silly at first, but it’s actually faster than clicking an icon somewhere—you never even have to take your hands off the keyboard. Once you get used to it, you will seriously wonder why you ever opened software any other way.
You can also use this to launch individual panels in the System Preferences, again just by typing the name.
This becomes really useful when you need to quickly find a file. If you want to quickly find a photo you took in Paris, just hit Command+Space and search for the word “Paris.”
In the above example, you’ll notice that music came up before photos. No matter: you can use the up and down arrow keys to quickly jump from item to item. As you scroll through the photos, you’ll see thumbnails in the right panel.
Searches look at filenames, but in the case of documents, Spotlight also looks inside the file. For example: way back in college, I helped publish a parody publication that was “written” by a cat named Muffles. All these years later, searching Spotlight for “Muffles” brings up the document, even though “muffles” is nowhere in the filename.
If you’re like me, sometimes you can’t remember where you put a document, or what its filename was. In those cases, typing a phrase you know is in the document can help. You can open the document by hitting Enter, or see where it is in the Finder by hitting Command+Enter.
If you want to get fancy, you can also use basic boolean queries, including OR, AND, and NOT. It’s usually not necessary, but good to have sometimes.
Searching for Files With Natural Language
Spotlight is useful enough for simple searches alone, but you can go deeper by using natural language. What does this mean? That you can type surprisingly specific queries and get the results you’d expect. For example: type “pictures from december…
If you’re like me, the Applications folder on your Mac is overflowing with apps, most of which you rarely use but still like to keep around. If scrolling through everything to find what you’re looking for is overwhelming, a simple trick lets you sort these applications by categories—like Productivity, Music, Education, and more.
To get started, open your Finder and head to the Applications folder.
From here, press Command+J on your keyboard to open the View Options window. Alternatively, you can click View > Show View Options in the menu bar.
iPhone: Twitter has rolled out an update for the official Twitter app that solves the pesky problem of app bloating. Now, you can manually clear out the cache in the app.
A lot of apps on iOS have a problem where they bloat up in size over use, which can cause issues with those of us with 16GB phones. The best workaround I’ve found for this involves downloading a giant app to force iOS to clear the…
If you want to show somebody photos on your phone but don’t want them wantonly scrolling through the rest of your camera roll, there are a few clever tricks you can employ to ensure that they see what you want them to see…and nothing else.
Smartphones have become our take-everywhere, do-everything, all-in-one pocket computers that we manage (and record!) our entire lives on. Unlike handing somebody the little photo book from your wallet that we used to carry around, handing somebody your smartphone gives them access to your personal photos and more. And we’ve all handed someone our phone to show them one photo, only for them to start swiping through to look at everything else.
Rather than simply accept that, you can easily use these tricks to put a lid on rampant camera-roll-scrolling behavior and keeps their eyes just on the photos you want to share.
For Single Photos: Just Zoom In a Little Bit
This tip is a very low effort one, and best suited for showing someone a single photo on your phone while you’re there to supervise them.
On nearly all image gallery apps, including the default gallery apps on iPhone and Android, using the pinch-to-zoom function on a photo “locks” it into place. This locking mechanism isn’t intentionally intended to lock the user onto that photo, but is a side effect of how the activating the zoom function also activates the swipe-to-pan function so you can move around the zoomed in image.
Depending on the operating system and application the photo either stays locked until you zoom out or until you attempt to swipe multiple times—on the iPhone, for example, swiping on the photo bumps into the sides of the screen, and you have to swipe multiple times before it zooms out and resumes normal camera roll functionality.
To take advantage of this unintended feature, simply pinch-and-zoom every so slightly on the photo (zooming even the tiniest amount will do the trick). Unless the person looking at the photo understands both the concept of pinch-zooming and that the reason their swipe left/right failed, then they’ll likely just scratch their head and hand it back to you. This is a perfect super low effort solution for those times that you’re handing your phone to, say, a relative who doesn’t get the concept of digital privacy (or that you’d even have racy or private photos on your phone in the first place).
Create Albums to Contain Groups of Photos
What about those times you want people to swipe through some photos, but not others?…
If you use a Mac and any software that controls your keyboard, including text expanders, you’ve probably come across a dialogue box asking you to grant the app access to “accessibility features.” How-To Geek explains what that means.
Accessibility settings are gated off by Apple for security purposes because apps that help with accessibility, like text-to-speech applications or key logging applications, work by controlling certain system level services or other applications entirely. Traditionally, a Mac app is a single container that cannot access system level controls. Accessibility apps get a little more control over system access and can control other apps entirely. How-To Geek explains it like so:
In part, it uses this name because multiple accessibility applications need access to these…
Some apps, like Dropbox and Steam, will ask to “control this computer using accessibility features.” But what the heck does that even mean?
The wording is confusing, to say that least. What does this permission actually grant? Basically, this gives the app in question the ability to control other programs. Apple outlines their advice here:
If you’re familiar with an app, you can authorize it by clicking Open System Preferences in the alert, then selecting the checkbox for the app in the Privacy pane. If you’re unfamiliar with an app or you don’t want to give it access to your Mac at that time, click Deny in the alert.
But that just leaves more questions. Why do you have to give this permission at all? What does giving this permission mean—will such applications really “control this computer”? And why is this called “Accessibility” access, instead of just system access? Let’s break this down.
The process of enabling Accessibility Settings is a bit convoluted. You need to open System Preferences, then head to Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility. From there you need to click the lock icon in the bottom-left corner, enter you password, and only then can you grant your application access.
So why do you have to do this? The answer, in short, is to protect your security.
By default, Mac apps are self-contained, and can’t change the way you interact with the system or other applications. This is a very good thing. It prevents sketchy things from happening, like games you’ve downloaded logging your keystrokes or malware clicking buttons in your browser.
But some applications need to control other applications to…