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Author: Andy Slye (page 2 of 9)

Best Mac Apps 2017: Must-Have Apps for MacOS!

What makes a Mac great? The awesome apps you can use on it. Here are the best Mac apps of 2017! (in alphabetical order)

1Password: Easy-to-use and secure password manager for all your passwords.

Alfred: Boost your productivity with hotkeys and keywords. Search your Mac and the web effortlessly and control your Mac using customized actions.

Amphetamine: Keep your Mac awake. Simple.

AppCleaner: Automatically uninstall Mac apps along with all the junk files that usually get left behind.

AstroPad: Turn your iPad into a graphics tablet for Mac.

BackBlaze: Backing up your Mac is extremely important. BackBlaze offers a simple and secure way to back up all your files at a low cost.

Beamer: Stream videos on your Mac to your Apple TV or Chromecast.

BetterTouchTool: Configure many gestures for your Magic Mouse, Macbook Trackpad and Magic Trackpad and also mouse gestures for normal mice.

Boom 2: System-wide volume booster and equalizer for Mac.

CarbonCopyCloner: Create bootable backups of your Mac.

CheatSheet: Provides the list of keyboard shortcuts for whatever app you have open.

Chrome: Google’s free and fast web browser.

CleanMyMac: Clean and optimize your Mac’s storage drive to free up space.

CopyClip: Clipboard manager for your Mac that stores all that you have copied or cut in the past.

Downie: Easily download Internet videos from over 1,100 different sites.

DaisyDisk: Helps you recover disk space by finding and removing large useless files.

Dropbox: Free cloud storage solution up to 2GB (iCloud alternative)

Duet Display: Turn your iPad into a 2nd monitor for your Mac.

Duplicate File Finder: Quickly finds duplicate files on your Mac to reduce clutter and remove unnecessary files.

Evernote: Cloud-synced notebook and notes to store everything you need to remember.

Flux: Makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

GIMP: Open source photo editor. Photoshop alternative.

Google Drive: Free online data storage and online office suite from Google.

Handbrake: Video converter and DVD ripping app.

Hazel: Automated organization app for your Mac.

Helium: Always keeps a media file playing in the foreground over any other app that’s open.

HitFilm Express: Free and powerful video editor. iMovie or FCPX alternative.

ImageOptim: Free image compressor to reduce file size for photos.

LibreOffice: Open-source office suite for Mac. Microsoft Office alternative.

Onyx: System maintenance tool for your Mac.

Parallels: Easiest way to virtually run Windows inside your Mac.

Plex: Free media server for when you want to watch your movies from anywhere.

ScreenFlow: Best screen recording software and video editing software for Macs.

SmartConverter: Simple video and audio file converting app.

Spectacle: Resize Windows with quick keyboard shortcuts.

Spotify: Popular music streaming and online radio app.

Stamp: Migrate your playlists from various different music streaming services.

SublimeText: Intuitive text editor for programmers and coders.

TeamViewer: Remotely connect and control your Mac or other authorized computers from anywhere.

Time Machine Editor: Allows you to customize Time Machine backup intervals and other settings.

Transmission: Lightweight and easy-to-use torrent client.

Unarchiver: Open any zipped file.

VirtualBox: Run Windows and other operating systems virtually on your Mac.

VLC: Best overall media player that plays nearly any audio/video file.

10 Useful iPhone Apps You Should Download Now

Here are 10 of my favorite iPhone apps that you may have never head of. Enjoy!

10. Narro (free) – Convert your favorite text blog posts into an audio podcast feed.

9. Vote Spotter (free) – See what your US elected officials vote on and give them feedback on how they voted.

8. Be Focused (free) – Simple productivity app that is based off the Pomodoro Technique. Track goals and get stuff done.

7. Fing (free) – Network analyzer that scans your currently connected WiFi network and gives you useful information on the connected devices.

6. VHS Cam ($2.99) – Fun video filter that resembles the look of an old vintage VHS camcorder.  (Free alternative)

5. Fit Men Cook ($3.99) – Very well designed recipes app for finding tasty yet healthy meals to cook.

4. Vellum (free) – Clean layout and nice size selection of amazing wallpapers for your iPhone.

3. Blinkist (freemium) – Listen to short summaries of the most popular non-fiction books so you can learn the most important points without reading the actual book.

2. Tunity (free) – Get a real-time audio stream of nearly any TV channel. Great if you’re at a gym or sports bar and want to listen to a muted TV.

1. Musi (free) – Stream any YouTube video as an audio file that will play even when your iPhone is locked or you’re using other apps.

What’s your favorite app that almost nobody knows about?

By Andy Slye

GarageMate Review: Open Garage Door with Phone!

Buy the GarageMate on Amazon

Video Transcript:

What’s up guys? It’s Andy and I am recently a new homeowner. This is actually my new kitchen and that’s my cat right there in the window sill.

Anyway I apologize for the echo. I wanted to do this video about my garage because I’m a new garage owner as well, and this 1980 garage door opener came with the garage. It’s the only one I have and I was like “There’s got to be a better way to open the garage possibly with, you know, your phone.”

So I went online and this is not a sponsored video by the way, but I found this product called the GarageMate, and you can open your garage over Bluetooth with this thing. It’s $50 on Amazon. I’ll leave a link in the description below so you can check it out.

But I just want to do a video over how to install it and how well it works because I don’t see many videos about this GarageMate product so I wanted to do one and let you guys know, if you’re a garage owner yourself, how it works and how you can set it up and how easy it is to install. So let’s go out to the garage and put this thing up and see how it works.

Alright so we’re in the garage now, and we are going to open up this panel here and the GarageMate works with almost any garage door opener but there are some exceptions. I’ll leave a link to their website so you can check it out and see if it works for your garage door opener that you currently have.

The process is pretty simple, I think you just connect the wires to these terminals right here, the red and white ones. So here’s the GarageMate right here. I’m going to go ahead and open it up and plug it in.

Ok so now I got the GarageMate plugged into power up there and the first thing you want to do is actually connect it to your iPhone so this works for iOS and Android devices and you can pair up to eight devices per one GarageMate receiver.

So once it’s powered on hold the blue button down for about 4 to 5 seconds until the LED starts to blink. Ok and then once it starts blinking you can pull out your phone. Make sure Bluetooth is on then go to the GarageMate app. It’s free and then you click on the gear icon here. Click on “My Garages” and then scan for new receivers. It’s going to, should pick it up in a few seconds and it says “Receiver found” and we want to go ahead and click “Pair”. And it’ll pair to your GarageMate receiver and then you also have a PIN on the back of your receiver that you put in right now and there we go. Success, you have successfully paired your GarageMate receiver. Sweet that was pretty easy.

So now once you’ve paired your GarageMate with your phone as long as you’ve got the red and white wires connected depending on however your garage door opener is set up. That’s how mine is set up. Once those are connected the power is plugged in up there. The receiver – there’s the GarageMate receiver. I’m just going to leave mine in this little white thing. You can leave it dangling down however you want to do it but I think Bluetooth is going to go through this no problem. We’ll test it out though.

Make sure Bluetooth is on your phone, open up the GarageMate app and all you have to do is hit this main garage door button. There you go, works like a charm. I want to test this out a little farther away see how far the Bluetooth will work but there it works. I’ll go ahead and leave that closed. We’ll back up in my car and see how far away it will work.

Alright so now we’re about like 20 feet away, I don’t know, I’m not good at guessing the lengths of things but I’m guessing about 20 feet away. Let’s see if it works. Yep worked great. I’m so far, I’m extremely happy with this. I’ve only opened my garage door twice but I think it seems to be working as expected.

So if you never want to deal with garage remotes again, changing out batteries, buying new ones, losing them, and you want to open your garage door wirelessly over Bluetooth then check out the GarageMate. I think it’s an awesome purchase for $50. It should last you for a long time. Thank you for watching. Make sure you subscribe to this channel if you haven’t already and give it a thumbs up if you liked this video. My name is Andy and I will talk to you guys in the next one.

Don’t Buy the 2016 MacBook Pro Until You Watch This

When Apple first announced the 2016 MacBook Pro I did a video over the top 5 letdowns about the new laptop based on what Apple showed us during the announcement.

Now I’ve owned the 2016 MacBook Pro for almost 3 months, and I’m here to share my experience and give you an update to those letdowns that I was expecting. Is it as bad as I thought it would be? Stick around to find out and at the end of the video I’ll tell you whether you should buy it or not.

Money, Baby

First, let’s address the cost. So many people including me were up in arms about the 2016 MacBook Pro being way overpriced for what you get. I bought the 13″ Touch Bar Space Gray model with a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD, which came out to be right around $2,000 USD.

Let’s put that into perspective.

At the time of this recording for $250 less, on Amazon you can get a 2016 Dell XPS 13 with a newer generation 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, double the amount of RAM, same size SSD, but a higher resolution display that’s also a touch screen.

If you’ve seen my Dell XPS 13 vs MacBook Pro video in which both laptops have 6th gen Skylake processors, you know that not all user experiences are created equally just by basing it off of specs alone. But when you’re talking about an exact dollar-to-specification ratio, the 2016 MacBook Pro is certainly overpriced compared to other laptops in its class.

Oh, Performance

The big question is: How well does the 2016 MacBook Pro perform given its seemingly lower specs?

For me, the toughest task I perform on my laptop is editing 4K videos. Since I use Final Cut Pro X, which is optimized for MacOS, I can export a 5-minute 4K video in about 4 minutes on the 2016 MacBook Pro. That’s actually pretty impressive. The lack of a dedicated GPU is its biggest hurdle when rendering videos but overall, Final Cut Pro X works well enough for me to use the MacBook Pro as a video editing machine, albeit not the greatest one.

Other than video editing, as with any other computer with an SSD, normal day to day tasks are handled with ease. Everything from web browsing to office applications are all fast. There’s no lag or stuttering when opening apps or having multiple tabs open in Chrome. The cold bootup time is about 24 seconds which is longer than I expected, but with one of the MacBook Pro’s best new features, Touch ID, getting back into the laptop from sleep mode is dang near instantaneous which is nice.

On the GeekBench tests, which measures overall performance, my MacBook Pro scored a 7606. LaptopMag.com tested two different models of the Kaby Lake Dell XPS 13, with the Core i5 model scoring 7159 and the Core i7 model scoring 7915. That means the 2016 MacBook Pro 13” i5 model falls right in between the i5 and i7 on the Dell XPS 13, which is pretty good since the MacBook Pro has the previous generation CPU.

Overall, I think the 13″ MacBook Pro is the perfect balance of mobility and performance.

New Features, Bruh

As for the new features, the 2nd gen butterfly keyboard is extremely nice to type on in my opinion. I enjoy it very much, and the super large trackpad is a dream. It’s way better than any other trackpad I’ve used.

Battery life has been kind of average, nothing spectacular. On a normal day for me which includes watching YouTube videos, streaming Spotify, browsing the web, typing documents, it lasts about 7 hours on a full charge. I do love how fast it charges from 0-100% in about 90 mins when the lid is closed, though.

What about the “coolest” new feature, the Touch Bar? I called it a gimmick when I first heard about it and honestly, it pretty much is. It really is just a coolness factor for the most part.

Sometimes it is useful in native apps like Final Cut Pro which is nice for me because I use that to edit, but for web browsing I use Chrome, and I’m not going to switch to Safari just because it’s optimized for the Touch Bar.

Given that the Touch Bar changes depending on what app is open, it’s not easy to wire your brain to use it. If you want a quick way to message emojis it’s great. But other than that, the Touch Bar is overhyped and underused.

The other big change is the port selection on the MacBook Pro. It only has USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. No USB-A ports, no SD card slots, no HDMI port, which is kind of a travesty for something labeled as Pro. But hey, at least they remembered to put a headphones jack in. (Too soon?)

Out of the box you cannot connect any of your current USB-A devices or even your latest iPhone which is crazy. If you get the 2016 MacBook Pro, I hope you like using adapters. These USB-C to USB-A adapters are probably a necessity.

On the bright side, USB-C with its universal design and incredibly fast transfer speeds is certainly the way of the future and having four USB-C ports will be really convenient when all devices go that route. But right now, it feels unfriendly.

Worth It?

Is the 2016 MacBook Pro worth it? Well we know it has an awesome design, it has a solid build made of high quality materials, it has a fantastic display, nice sounding speakers, great keyboard and trackpad, good reliable performance. But it is expensive, lacks port variety, and has seemingly lower specs than most of its competitors.

I think you should only consider buying it if you:

  • Don’t mind taking adapters along with the laptop wherever you go or if for some reason you don’t need a variety of ports.
  • Absolutely want the Touch Bar and you think you would get use out of it.
  • Have a high budget and don’t care about the latest and greatest specs.
  • Plan to keep this laptop for 5+ years.

If you don’t meet all those conditions but you still want a MacBook Pro, I would suggest looking at a 2015 MacBook Pro instead. Sometimes you can find a good deal on a refurbished one.

The 2015 model will have older specs but the performance will be similar to the 2016 model and you’ll have a wider variety of ports, along with the MVP MagSafe connector, and most of all you’ll save some money.

Let me know what you decide and if this video helped you out, please give it a thumbs up I would really appreciate it. Also subscribe if you haven’t already. My name is Andy. Thank you for watching and I’ll talk to you in the next one.

Top 3 Reasons to Buy Apple AirPods!

Apple AirPods are Apple’s new wireless Bluetooth earbuds, and they’re not for everyone. In fact, after owning them for a few days and using them for multiple hours on end, I’ve discovered who the AirPods are meant for so in this video I’ll go over my top 3 reasons to buy the Apple AirPods.

AirPods start at $159 so they’re definitely not cheap. However, they do have some cool features that may justify that price tag. In the box you’ll see a magnetic carrying case that doubles as a charger which most other Bluetooth devices don’t offer. Inside the case are the AirPods themselves. There’s a Lightning port at the bottom the case for charging via the included USB-A cable. Don’t get me started on why it’s not USB-C. Let’s just go ahead and start with reason number one:

Unique Features > Audio Quality

Don’t proceed if you’re an audiophile or obsessed with super high quality audio. AirPods are tiny wireless earbuds. I don’t expect people to think that these have superior audio quality. They have good sounding AAC audio but still not the best when it comes to pure audio quality for the price. It’s very similar audio quality to iPhone 7 EarPods (though the AirPods mids seem slightly clearer).

So audio quality takes backseat to the main features, one of which is a processor inside each AirPod called the W1 chip which makes them “smarter” than most Bluetooth headphones. It has instant pairing when you open the case near a compatible iPhone with Bluetooth enabled. A window pops up asking to pair and gives battery percentages. The W1 chip makes AirPods more power efficient leading to long battery life. Apple claims 5 hours on single charge (my first 2 hours used 35%). The case also has its own re-chargeable battery built-in. That means if the case is charged, you can insert your AirPods into the case and it will charge your AirPods. Apple says the case adds an extra 24 hours of use. W1 chip works with small infrared sensors in each AirPod that can detect when you’ve put them in your ears so music will automatically play when you put the AirPods in and music will automatically pause when you take one or both out. The chip also tells your iPhone if you’re only wearing one AirPod at a time. Each AirPod has a built in microphone which is not the greatest mic in the world, but if you want those main features more than having the best audio quality, AirPods are a good choice.

Current Apple User

You can actually pair AirPods with non-Apple devices with the button on the back of the case, but I wouldn’t buy AirPods unless I owned at least 2 of the following: iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 or later, Mac with MacOS Sierra or later, or Apple Watch with watchOS 3 or later. The fit is identical to the latest EarPods so if you know the EarPods fit your ears well then AirPods should too. The same can be said if the EarPods don’t fit you well, then the AirPods most likely won’t fit you well either. As for me, the AirPods fit well and it’s a pretty comfortable fit. They’re snug and secure. They don’t seem to come loose even when running at full speed. Great for working out and running. AirPods sync across all your Apple devices through iCloud after initial pairing. If you want to switch over from listening on your iPhone to your Mac, you just select the AirPods from the task bar at the top of your screen. So if you are invested in the Apple ecosystem like me, then the AirPods are a good choice.

Minimalist as Possible

This is where the AirPods are really polarizing. They go full out minimalist which will appeal to some people but cause hatred from others. My current Bluetooth headphones are each under $50 so they’re much cheaper than the AirPods and they have actual buttons for play, pause, and skip. AirPods are completely different.
Obviously there are no cords which means no more messy tangled wires which makes it very simple to manage and a good enough reason in itself to get AirPods if you don’t currently own Bluetooth headphones. I hate wires. However this does mean that it will be easier to lose one of the AirPods since they aren’t connected to each other. If you lose one, Apple will sell you a replacement at a “special discounted rate” of $69 so try not to lose one. AirPods have zero buttons. This means you control everything through Siri which you can activate by double tapping near the top of the AirPods. I’m so used to tapping previous earbuds for the purpose of getting them to settle into my ears, but with AirPods this double-tapping gesture activates Siri where you can tell it to lower your volume or play or pause the music and many other commands. Of course the double tap gesture can be customized in your Bluetooth settings or even turned off completely. I found that voicing commands through Siri works well for the times when I can actually get it to activate. Sometimes it takes many attempts because the AirPods don’t actually have a touch capacitive surface. The double-tapping is detected by the built-in accelerometers so it takes a little more force than with a normal touch surface which can become quite annoying if you’re constantly banging your ear drum. I still prefer to use the controls from my device. So if you want to go on full-on minimalist, the AirPods are a good choice.

I honestly think $99 would be the perfect price for the AirPods. $159 is just a bit too high even with the included battery case and the new W1 chip, but if those 3 reasons I gave resonate with you then you should look into getting them!

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