Application software

How to Quickly Unmount External Drives From the macOS Menu Bar

If you’re like me, you connect your Time Machine backup disk every time you’re at your desk. You know you should unmount that drive when it’s time to hit the road, but opening the Finder just to hit “Eject” feels like a waste of time.

Enter Semulov. This lightweight, open source application adds an “Eject” button to your Mac’s menu bar, so you can unmount any drive in just two clicks. You can even create a universal keyboard shortcut to unmount every drive connected to your computer, saving you from having to open the Finder and unmount everything individually.

To get started, download Semulov. The application comes in a ZIP file which you can unarchive by opening. Then, drag the icon to your Applications folder.

Start Semulov and you’ll see an Eject button in your menu bar. It looks just like the Eject button used back when Macs had optical drives and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Click the icon and you’ll see a list of currently connected external drives; click a drive to unmount it. You’ll see a notification when the drive is ready to disconnect.

What Is Windows 10 S, and How Is It Different?

Windows 10 S is “the soul of today’s Windows”, according to Microsoft. It’s a new version of Windows intended for school PCs, but available to everyone. It’s designed to be more simple and streamlined, so it only runs applications from the Windows Store—unless you spend another $50 to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

Microsoft announced that Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung, and Toshiba will ship Windows 10 S education PCs starting at $189, beginning this summer. Microsoft is also releasing a $999 Surface Laptop, which runs Windows 10 S.

This article was originally written based on the information Microsoft released at its May 2, 2017 event, but has since been updated with new information we’ve learned.

How Is Windows 10 S Different?

The biggest difference in Windows 10 S is that can only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. These apps are checked for security and run in a secure container. This ensures that applications can’t mess with your registry, leave files behind, or cause problems with the rest of your PC. You can get the same benefits by running those new Universal apps from the Windows Store on a Windows 10 PC. But unlike normal Windows 10, you won’t have the option of downloading other apps that aren’t available in the store.

Thankfully, full versions of Microsoft Office 365 applications—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote—are coming to the Windows Store soon. They’re packaged using Microsoft’s Project Centennial, which allows traditional Windows desktop applications to be run in a secure container and placed in the Windows Store. The application’s developer just has to package the application and submit it to the Store. Hopefully, Windows 10 S will give more desktop application developers the push to do so.

Microsoft demonstrated Windows 10 S signing in much faster than Windows 10 Pro on a first login. That’s no surprise, as Windows 10 S won’t have all the usual manufacturer-installed bloatware slowing things down.

Windows 10 S also has a different default desktop background that Microsoft says is “streamlined” like Windows 10 S itself, so it provides you with a clue you’re using Windows 10 S.

What Happens if You Download a Desktop App in Windows 10 S?

If you try to download a (non-Store) desktop application on a Windows 10 S PC, you’ll see a message saying that “For security and performance, Windows 10 S only runs verified apps from the Store”. The dialog informs you of similar applications available in the Windows Store. For example, Windows will suggest you install Adobe Photoshop Express from the Windows Store if you try to download the desktop version of Photoshop.

In this way, Windows 10 S’s default behavior works just like Windows 10 with the “Allow apps from the Store only” option enabled. This will also protect those PCs from malware.

Windows 10 S Offers Some Pro Features, But No Command Lines

Windows 10 S is actually built on Windows 10 Pro, and not Windows 10 Home. This means that Windows 10 S has access to powerful Windows 10 Professional features, including BitLocker drive encryption, the ability to join domains, and the Hyper-V virtual machine software.

However, the advanced features stop there. Windows…

Can we just call them apps?

Apps are everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere you look, you’ll find apps.

It wasn’t always that way.

On Windows, apps were “programs.” On a Mac, they were “applications.”

When Microsoft took up the term, following Apple’s App Store — THE App Store — Apple fans cried foul: They should be “progs,” they said, because Windows has programs, they said, and Mac has applications.

On gaming consoles, apps were once games, or discs, or cartridges. Music used to be CDs, or tapes, or vinyl. Cameras used to be cameras, but now they’re apps. Everything is an app. Social networks are camera companies now, which, again, are just apps. Websites were once just…

What to consider when parsing through your Parse alternatives

What to consider when parsing through your Parse alternatives

At the conclusion of January, Facebook had officially shuttered Parse, disabling the API on an app by app basis.

As a Backend as a Service (BaaS) product, the development platform provided SDKs and APIs that allowed developers to quickly build their apps without having to build a backend from scratch. Facebook did’t present much insight into the motivation to shut down the platform. But Parse’s customers, following the 2013 acquisition, comprised heavily of small to medium sized developers that had a lower propensity to spend.

While Facebook was burdened with having to answer to post-IPO investor concerns about desktop growth plateauing and uncertain mobile revenue, the Parse acquisition was a quick fix, helping secure Facebook’s grasp on widespread mobile adoption.

Despite Parse being the backend backbone for 60,000+ apps at the time of the acquisition, Parse, like many low-cost BaaS solutions, had limitations for businesses and developers who wanted to scale their app. Amazon, Microsoft and Google, who acquired Firebase afterwards, all followed Facebook’s suit, but aggressively doubled down on maximizing the assets in their developer platforms, while Facebook stood pat with Parse after accomplishing what they needed to do to establish their mobile adoption.

Realizing the peak of “mBaas”

The resulting shutdown of Parse should be viewed as a wakeup call to developers that a BaaS solution alone cannot be a long-term choice for sustainable digital, mobile and progressive web businesses.

The 2016 announcement of the shutdown gave developers time to find alternative solutions to migrate their applications. While a BaaS solution facilitates a quick time to market, API-centric development, and innovation, the drawbacks have become more evident.

  • Business data is more likely to be exposed on a cloud-based shared database. Customers starting to value data privacy more will be turned off by a solution that can be exposed with the vulnerabilities of a shared database.
  • As a business grows, extending the backend will be difficult because of the limitations BaaS offers for individual solutions. This will become a concern if your business needs to extend the…

What Happened to Solitaire and Minesweeper in Windows 8 and 10?

The classic desktop versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper are gone in Windows 8 and 10. Instead, you’ll find shiny new versions with advertisements, Xbox integration, and optional subscription fees. But you can still play Solitaire and Minesweeper without ads, and without paying a cent.

How to Launch Solitaire on Windows 10

Solitaire is installed by default on Windows 10. You can just open the Start menu and launch the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” application to open it.

If the Microsoft Solitaire Collection isn’t installed—perhaps you’ve uninstalled it in the past—you can get it from the Windows Store.

How to Get Minesweeper on Windows 10

Microsoft Minesweeper isn’t installed by default on Windows 10, but it’s available for free. To install Minesweeper, launch the “Store” application and search for “Minesweeper”. Click the “Microsoft Minesweeper” tile and click “Install” to install it.

You can also click here to go straight to Microsoft Minesweeper on the Windows Store.

Once it’s installed, you can launch Microsoft Minesweeper from your Start menu.

On Windows 8, neither Solitaire nor Minesweeper are installed by default. You’ll need to open the Store and search for Solitaire and Minesweeper to install the Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Microsoft Minesweeper applications.

How Solitaire and Minesweeper Are Different on Windows 8 and 10

Whether you like the new games depends what you’re looking for. The good news is that they’re more shiny and polished than the old Solitaire and Minesweeper games.

The Microsoft Solitaire Collection includes quite a few different games—Klondike, Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid, and TriPeaks. Klondike is the classic, default solitaire experience you’re probably familiar with from previous versions of Windows.

You can choose “solvable decks” of different difficulty levels—decks guaranteed to be solvable so you don’t get stuck and have to restart—or use a traditional, randomly…

How to Get the Most Out of Your Android TV

If you’re an Android user, Android TV is a great way to bring your mobile OS (and your favorite apps) to the big screen. And if you’re looking to get more from your Android TV box, this is a collection of few tips and tricks to help supercharge your experience.

If you’re really looking for more information on Android TV (and which box you should buy), this post probably isn’t for you…yet. First, I’d take a look at what Android TV is all about, along with a few recommendations of some of the best Android TV boxes on the market right now. Then, come back here and get started tweaking.

Re-arrange Your Apps

Just like on your phone, you can pick and choose the order of your apps on Android TV, as long as your box is running Android 6.0 and above. It’s actually really simple to do:

  1. Long press the icon you want to move,
  2. When the screen turns gray, move the icon around,
  3. Use the “select” button to drop the icon.
  4. Hit “Done.”

That’s all there is to it. If you want a more in depth look at re-arranging home screen icons, check out our primer.

Expand Your Device’s Storage

If there’s one negative thing to say about most Android TV boxes, it’s that they don’t have enough internal storage. Fortunately, you can use an external hard drive on most Android TV boxes to add more storage, or even an SD card on certain models to make the expansion process even easier.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a blanket method here—it all depends on what your device support. The good news is that we have an excellent tutorial on adding an external hard drive…

Watch Windows 10 running on ARM with full support for existing Win32 apps

During a Windows 10 on ARM session at Build 2017, Microsoft shared some more details about Windows 10 on ARM. Not only will Windows 10 on ARM support Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, Win32 apps in the Windows Store, but also existing Win32 apps.

Back in December 2016, Microsoft first revealed that it will allow Windows desktop apps to run on mobile ARM processors, but the company did not disclose a timeframe for when to expect such devices. Last month, Qualcomm shared that the first ARM laptops running Windows 10 won’t arrive until Q4 2017.

“For the first time ever, our customers will be able to experience the Windows they know with all the apps, and peripherals they require, on a mobile, power efficient, always-connected cellular PC,” the session’s description reads. Watch Hari Pulapaka, Microsoft’s lead program manager in the…

Microsoft launches Xamarin Live Player preview for debugging Android and iOS apps without SDKs or emulators

At its Build 2017 developer conference, Microsoft today released Xamarin Live Player in preview. The company called the tool “a live coding environment,” which essentially means developers can build, test, and debug apps without having to install SDKs or emulators. You can install the Live Player extensions for both Visual Studio 2017 and Visual Studio 2017 for Mac right now and download the Xamarin Live Player apps from Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

Here’s another way to look at Xamarin Live Player. Developers can already build for Android using Windows or Mac. Developing for iOS, however, requires a Mac. Xamarin Live Player removes that requirement and instead asks you for an iPhone and Visual Studio 2017 for Windows.

Microsoft acquired mobile app development…

How to Stop the Galaxy S7 and S8 from Setting Default Apps Automatically

Android is all about choice: like the option to use different apps for different things, or to change apps with one tap. But on the Galaxy S8 (and S7 running Nougat), Samsung changed the option to launch specific apps “just once” and automatically make them the default choice.

The thing is, that doesn’t work for most people. For example, if you don’t want to open a certain type of file with the same app every time (like when sharing), you’ll want to see Android’s default app picker every single time. That just makes sense. On Samsung’s Nougat, however, you’ll see the app picker once, then your selection will become the default.

The good news is…

How to Control When macOS Updates Are Installed

Updates are necessary, but annoying. Which is why your Mac, by default, installs them automatically.

System updates protect your Mac from malware and other threats, and occasionally add new features. The same goes for software updates, so it’s important to keep all your apps up to date. But popups asking users whether they want to install updates have a way of being ignored, even when the user knows that updates are important. So automatic updates make sense for most people.

…But not all people. Some of you prefer having control over what is installed when. Happily, there’s a way to take control, and it’s in System Preferences.

Click the “App Store” button and you’ll see the automatic update settings right at the top of the window.

The first two options are about checking for and downloading updates—not installing them.

  • The top option, “Automatically check for updates,” controls whether your Mac regularly checks for new versions or not. There’s no good reason to turn this off: it’s important to know about updates when they’re ready.
  • The next option, “Download newly available updates in the background,” controls whether or not you need to tell the system to download updates. The only reason to disable this feature is the need to manage bandwidth usage. If you don’t have that need, it’s best to leave this enabled.

Again, neither of these options installs updates automatically: they just set whether the system should look for updates regularly, and whether the system should download those updates when available. If you check the above two options, and only those options,…