RSS reader NetNewsWire 6 is out for iPhone and iPad with iCloud sync

NetNewsWire 6 for iOS is now available on the App Store! This release brings new features — iCloud sync; sync with BazQux, Inoreader, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, and FreshRSS; home screen widgets; special support for Twitter and Reddit feeds; and more.”

If you’re not using RSS now is a perfect time to give it a try. NetNewsWire is free and with version 6, you can now use iCloud for syncing, saving the cost of a paid syncing service.

The one thing Apple Notes is missing

Quick note and tags are coming to Apple Notes in iPadOS 15. Even though these are nice additions, I doubt that Notes will become my everyday note-taking app, and here’s why.

Many of the notes that I take throughout the day are notes that I will want to do something with later. A note may become a task in Things, a reminder, or event in Fantastical, a new draft for this blog in Ulysses, or a journal entry in Day One. Missing from Notes is the lack of export options or actions to get notes out of Notes. This is a dealbreaker for making Notes my everyday note’s app. That’s why I use Drafts. Ya know, the old saying “text starts here”. Any text starts in Drafts, including stuff that may eventually end up in Notes.

That said, I do use Notes as cold storage for notes that I seldom reference. I have several hundred of these notes and Notes is the perfect place for them.

Journaling app Day One is now part of Automattic

Day One joins WordPress.com, Tumblr, Simplenote, and Longreads as part of Automattic.

Paul Mayne, writing for Day One Blog:

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Day One is being acquired by Automattic Inc. This is incredibly exciting news. For the past 10 years since I started Day One, I’ve worked to not only create the best digital journaling experience in the world, but one that will last. By joining Automattic, I’m now more confident than ever that the preservation and longevity of Day One is sure. This acquisition will provide Day One access to the same technological, financial, and security benefits that WordPress.com, Tumblr, and other Automattic entities enjoy.

[…] 

When a small software company is acquired by a larger company, the original team is often swallowed up by the larger company. That’s not the case here. I’ll be remaining at the helm of Day One, leading the same passionate team that has been responsible for the development and design behind the app today. This means that the Day One you rely on to save your thoughts, photos, videos, audio recordings, and more isn’t going away. Instead, it’ll only get better, with future integrations with Tumblr and WordPress.com. Rest assured there are no current plans to change the privacy of Day One; safely protecting memories and creating a 100% personal space is the foundation upon which this company was built.

When an app that I use gets acquired I usually become concerned about its future. In this case I’m not. I have experience with both companies. I’ve been using Day One since 2016 and WordPress.com hosts this blog. I have a feeling we’ll look back on this acquisition as positive step forward for the Day One app.

If you have concerns about the acquisition please read the very thoughtful piece that MereCivilian has written on his blog.

Reeder 5 iCloud feeds sync revisited

I’m a long-time Reeder user for RSS. Not long after Reeder 5 was introduced I tried out the new iCloud feed sync feature. At the time I wrote that I wasn’t impressed.

I wanted to try iCloud feed sync thinking I could cancel my free Feedly account. I’ll share a couple of issues that I experienced and ultimately sent me back to using the free version of Feedly. First off I found iCloud feed sync to be much slower than Feedly. In addition to being much slower, often times feeds timed out and didn’t sync.

A few weeks ago I was having some sync issues with Feedly and while I was waiting for Feedly to fix them I decided to give iCloud feeds another go. And you know what? It’s now rock solid! It is so good that I’m leaving Feedly behind. I have had no issues with time-outs and in my opinion sync is just as fast as Feedly.

As a side note, David Sparks recently wrote about switching to Reeder 5 and using iCloud feeds for managing his RSS.

Looking at my toolset for managing RSS, it’s getting expensive. I currently use a Feed Wrangler account ($19 per year) to manage my feeds, Unread ($20 per year) to view my threads, and Instapaper ($30 per year) for read-it-later. In addition to being expensive, there is a certain amount of mental overhead that comes with managing data between three services that I would prefer to avoid.

[…]

This newest version of Reeder does a good job of managing your feeds, displaying your articles, and giving you the ability to set them aside to read later. It does all of this in one application, and in addition to the iPhone and iPad apps, there is also a Mac app. A nice bonus is that Reeder is a one-time purchase. There is no subscription involved. Instead, the developer releases a new version every few years that you buy over, but it is still far less expensive than what I paid for subscriptions. Reeder for iPhone and iPad is $5. On the Mac, it is $10.

Trying new apps

Greg Morris writing about trying out new shiny apps when he is already happy with what he is using.

It’s not that I have anything to gain, and it’s not marketing hype, I think I just like playing with new things and trying out other ways.

I guess it’s a bit of a waste of time but it give me quite a bit of enjoyment so what’s it matter. I enjoy the journey of transferring my information, setting things up to work for me. Those little “a ha” moments when you find a little feature that works are as enjoyable as finding a robust system and sticking with it.

I get it. I do this as well. I recently experimented with Notion and Obsidian and considered trying Craft. I didn’t switch to any of them. But I did enjoy the process and I now have a basic understanding of how each app works.

As a side note, I went in to a retail store without a face mask for the first time in 12 months this week. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, and the CDC says I don’t need to be concerned, I felt really uncomfortable without my mask. It’s going to take sometime before I stop feeling anxious when I’m not wearing a mask.

An update on Goodlinks my read-it-later app

Last July I wrote the following about Goodlinks.

In my opinion, GoodLinks is one of the best read-it-later apps out there. The reading experience is excellent. Articles and reading position sync between devices via iCloud. And best of all it’s a one-time purchase for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Since it’s a relatively new app it’s missing a few features. One big one for me is that there is no way to import saved bookmarks from other apps. I would like to use GoodLinks as my bookmark manager as well as read-it-later but until import is available that will have to wait.

Since then, the developer has been busy improving Goodlinks, and it has become my go to read-it-later and bookmark manager app of choice.

In version 1.1.1 the ability to import links from Instapaper, Pinboard, and Pocket was added. Version 1.2 added support for iOS and iPadOS 14 and widgets. And version 1.2.1 added the ability to export links.

At this time, the only thing that’s missing from Goodlinks is highlighting, but I can work around that by clipping excerpts to Drafts instead.

Give Goodlinks a try. I highly recommend it. Oh! And by the way, it’s a universal purchase, so it’s a one-time purchase that includes the Mac, iOS, and iPadOS apps. And it syncs via iCloud, so there’s no subscription.

New from Bitwarden: Send

Secure one-to-one information sharing

Bitwarden has been my password manager since 1Password went subscription a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong I love 1Password but by comparison, it’s pricey. Bitwarden is free to use with Premium features for $10 a year. The free version will do everything most people need from a password manager.

This week Bitwarden introduced a cool new feature. Send for secure one-to-one information sharing. “Bitwarden Send is a lightweight utility used to share information with another person for a limited period of time. Bitwarden users can easily transmit a file or text, and rest easy knowing the sent information is protected with end-to-end encryption, and will not live forever. Users choose an expiration date for the Send link, after which it no longer works to access the information.”

“This new feature is available on all Bitwarden clients: Web Vault, mobile, browser extensions, and CLI, meaning users will always have a secure way to share sensitive information temporarily.”

About Send | Bitwarden Help & Support

Create a Send | Bitwarden Help & Support

This isn’t something that I will use all that often but it sure is good to know that Send is there for that rare occasion that I need it.

Did the Bitwarden Safari web extension disappear on your Mac?

Bitwarden Safari extension no longer works with the Bitwarden direct download application

Today I needed to login into a website so I opened Safari and went to open the Bitwarden extension and to my surprise, it wasn’t there. WTF!

Here is whats up: “Due to changes by Apple, Safari limits Web Extension use to only those obtained through Mac App Store downloads. As of the 2021-03-11 Release, users will not be able to use a Bitwarden Safari Extension obtained through a .dmg installation from bitwarden.com/download or any other non-App Store source. ”Safari Web Extension | Bitwarden Help & Support

According to Bitwarden Support Release Notes the Safari App Extension has officially been ported to a Web Extension for use with Safari 14 . Due to changes to Safari, Web Extension use is now limited to only those obtained through Mac App Store download. Release Notes | Bitwarden Help & Support

I unistalled the download version of Bitwarden and installed the Mac App Store version and all is good. A little advance notice on this issue would have been nice.

New in NetNewsWire 6: Syncing Via BazQux, Inoreader, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, and FreshRSS

More news today from NetNewsWire. “NetNewsWire 6 — currently in beta (Mac for now) — adds support for a bunch of RSS sync systems: BazQux, Inoreader, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, and FreshRSS. (NetNewsWire already supported Feedly and Feedbin: this makes the list a lot longer.)”

If you’ve held off on checking out NetNewsWire because you use one of the above, well, you don’t have to wait any more. If you are new to RSS this is an excellent reader and it’s also free.

Thoughts on Notion app

Mac Power User episode 587 Getting to Know Notion, with August Bradley was about how August uses Notion. It has been getting a fair amount of buzz lately so I decided to check it out.

First what is Notion? It is an all-in-one workspace that provides components such as notes, databases, wikis, calendars, and reminders.

I spent an entire day getting to know the app. To get started I watched several videos so that I would have some idea of what I was doing when opened the app to nothing more than a blank page. Next, I worked with a few of the built-in templates, made my own notes notebook, and started making a notes database. By the end of the day, I had a basic understanding of how things work in Notion.

Here is my takeaway. For personal use Notion is a powerful personal wiki app that requires building out components for what it is that you want from the app. It also takes a lot of customization and tweaking. I could see that this could become a major time suck. Why not just use an app instead?

Things to consider:

After a day of using the app, I don’t see a use case for me. Of course, this is my opinion. Your situation may be different.

Since Notion is free for personal use I might continue experimenting with it just for the learning experience. But, I doubt that it could ever become part of my workflow.

Google apps will stop certain tracking to avoid the iOS “Allow Tracking” prompt

With iOS 14, Apple is requiring app developers to tell users about and have them opt-in to tracking. Google today announced that “when Apple’s policy goes into effect, it will no longer use information (such as IDFA) that falls under ATT for the handful of our iOS apps that currently use it for advertising purposes. As such, we will not show the ATT prompt on those apps, in line with Apple’s guidance.”

I don’t use Google’s apps but for those of you who do this should be a welcome change.

Firefox 85 adds supercookie protection. What about Safari?

In technology news today Mozilla announced that it has added built-in protection from supercookies to Firefox 85. “Firefox now protects you from supercookies, a type of tracker that can stay hidden in your browser and track you online, even after you clear cookies,” Mozilla explains in a blog post. “By isolating supercookies, Firefox prevents them from tracking your web browsing from one site to the next.”

With Safari being my main browser and Firefox being secondary I wondered if Safari might have the same protection from supercookie tracking? To my surprise, it does and has since 2018.

“Quietly and without fanfare Apple has rolled out a change to its Safari browser that munches one of the web’s most advanced “super cookies” into crumbs.” Apple burns the HSTS super cookie WebKit blog: Protecting Against HSTS Abuse

No Switching!

Do you know what one of the hardest things to do is? To not be switching apps all the time. Especially writing, todo, and notes apps. Switching to the latest new shiny thing is unproductive and can be expensive.

Here’s an interesting thread about the subject over on Talk – Mac Power Users:

Resolving to not switch apps

For 2021 I’m sticking with the apps that I wrote about in my 2021 Essential Apps articles. No more switching!

My 2021 Essential Mac Apps

My 2021 Essential iOS Apps

Notes and more to Devonthink

The year has just begun. A few days ago I published my Essential Mac Apps story and guess what? I’m making changes.

I wrote that I’m using Apple Notes for all my notes. Last week I began to have regrets. The reason, I’m uncomfortable having my notes in a proprietary database system.

I started considering other options including moving back to text files. The advantage of text files being there is no lock-in. They are more accessible and reliable. Another benefit is the ability to change client apps seamlessly. Edit one file with iAWriter, edit another with 1Writer, and a third with Byword. So I settled on moving my notes back to text files.

Over the holidays DEVONtechnologies put all their apps on sale at 30% off including upgrades. I took advantage of the discount and upgraded Devonthink to version 3 even though I wasn’t currently using it.

After moving my notes to text files actually, .md markdown files, I decided to put Devonthink to use. I indexed all my working files notes included to Devonthink. I chose indexing over importing so that the files would still be accessible in Finder.

Now, my bookmark collection, notes, personal files, research projects, and writing files are all in Devonthink.

Maestral: An open-source Dropbox client for Mac

Dropbox has taken a lot of heat from users lately. They aren’t happy with the app that’s now part of the Dropbox install. Like me, most users would like to have the Finder integration only. That said, I only have a couple of Dropbox folders that I would like to have on my Mac but I don’t want them enough to have the new Dropbox app installed.

Last week macosxguru mentioned Maestral in his 2020 Review. Maestral is a light-weight and open-source Dropbox client for macOS and Linux. It uses the public Dropbox API and integrates with Finder just like Dropbox used to do. I’ve been using it for a few days and have had no issues.

If you’re interested in Maestral an app bundle is provided for macOS High Sierra and higher and can be downloaded from the Releases tab on the Maestral GitHub page.

My 2021 Essential iOS Apps

Every year towards the end of December I evaluate the apps that I’ve been using and what I will use for the next year. I find that writing this out helps me better evaluate the apps that best fit my workflows. Once I complete my evaluation, I summarize it in a post on this blog.

Another reason for this post is that visitors are always asking me which apps I use for specific tasks. To keep from repeating myself over and over, here’s the list of apps that I use.

My setup:

  • MacBook Pro early–2015 13” (soon to be replaced with a MacBook Air M1/8gb)
  • iPhone 11
  • iPad 5th Generation (which I rarely use these days)
  • Apple Watch 44 mm Series 4

Table of Contents

Web

Safari – Safari is my browser of choice. I use Wipr with Safari to block ads, trackers, cryptocurrency miners, and other annoyances.

Communication

Fastmail – I’ve been using Fastmail for email ever since I left Gmail over 6 years. I also use it for calendar, and contacts.

Fastmail has an iOS app, that I use.

Messages – Messages is how I communicate with family and friends.

Calendar and Tasks

Fantastical 3 – Fantastical is my calendar and task app. It integrates perfectly with my Fastmail calendar appointments and events and Apple Reminders tasks.

Due – Due is where I keep all my reminders. What I love about Due is that it repeatedly notifies you of overdue reminders until I mark them complete or reschedule them.

Reading

Reeder – Reeder is what I use for my Feedly RSS feeds. Anything that I want to read I save to Instapaper for reading later.

Twitter – Twitter is for news and the feeds for apps that I use.

Writing

Drafts 5 – I’ve been using Drafts for several years. Drafts is a launching-off point for text – use the actions to copy it, share it, or deep link into other apps and services.

1Writer – I don’t write on iOS but I do some proofreading and editing and for that I use 1Writer.

Apple Notes – Notes that I want to keep long-term go in the Notes app.

Day One Journal – I keep a lifelog in Day One.

Utilities / Productivity

Bitwarden – Gotta have a password manager.

Scanner Pro – Scanner Pro is also part of my paperless workflow. I use it to scan paper documents into PDFs with OCR that look clean and professional.

TunnelBear VPN – TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and web browsing privacy.

PCalc – PCalc is my stock calculator replacement. I use it for its additional features and customization.

Health and Fitness

Apple Fitness – I use the Workout and Fitness apps with my Apple Watch to track my daily activities.

To keep my mind occupied during workouts I listen to podcasts in Overcast.

My 2021 Essential Mac Apps

My 2021 Essential Mac Apps

Every year towards the end of December I evaluate the apps that I’ve been using and what I will use for the next year. I find that writing this out helps me better evaluate the apps that best fit my workflows. Once I complete my evaluation, I summarize it in a post on this blog.

Another reason for this post is that visitors are always asking me which apps I use for specific tasks. To keep from repeating myself over and over, here’s the list of apps that I use.

My setup:

  • MacBook Pro early–2015 13” (soon to be replaced with a MacBook Air M1/8gb)
  • iPhone 11
  • iPad 5th Generation (which I rarely use these days)
  • Apple Watch 44 mm Series 4

Table of Contents

Web

Safari – Safari is my browser of choice. I use Wipr with Safari to block ads, trackers, cryptocurrency miners, and other annoyances.

As we all know some websites don’t play nice with Safari. In those situations I use Firefox.

Communication

Fastmail – I’ve been using Fastmail for email ever since I left Gmail over 6 years ago. I also use it for calendar, and contacts.

Fastmail has an iOS app, that I use, but none for the Mac so I use the Fastmate app which is a native Fastmail-wrapper.

Messages – Messages is how I communicate with family and friends.

Calendar and Tasks

Fantastical 3 – Fantastical is my calendar and task app. It integrates perfectly with my Fastmail calendar appointments and events and Apple Reminders tasks.

Reading

Reeder – Reeder is what I use for my Feedly RSS feeds. Anything that I want to read I save to Instapaper for reading later.

Twitter – Twitter is for news and the feeds for apps that I use.

Writing

Drafts 5 – I’ve been using Drafts for several years. It’s the launching-off point for text for me. I use the actions to copy it, share it, or deep link into other apps and services.

iA Writer – iA Writer is my current writing app of choice. For preview I use Marked 2 side by side with iA Writer. Everything that I write goes through Grammarly for proofreading grammar and spelling.

Apple Notes – Notes that I want to keep long-term go in the Notes app.

Utilities / Productivity

Bitwarden – Gotta have a password manager.

Alfred – Alfred is Spotlight on steroids. I’d be lost without it.

Keyboard Maestro – Keyboard Maestro is another app that I can’t live without it. I use it for keyboard shortcuts, launching apps, opening files and folders and automating actions. It has a learning curve but once you start to get the hang of it you can do amazing things. I’ve written about Keyboard Maestro here.

PopClip – I use PopClip to manage what I do with selected text. I’ve written about PopClip here.

Hazel – Hazel watches whatever folders I tell it to, automatically organizing my files according to the rules that I’ve created.

Yoink – Yoink speeds and up my workflow by simplifying drag and drop. I’ve written about Yoink here.

Dropzone – Dropzone makes it easy to copy or move files to my favorite folders, open applications and uploading files to the Internet right from your menu bar.

App Cleaner – AppCleaner is my app uninstaller. I use it because it deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you drag the app icon to the trash.

Moom – I use Moom for window management.

Witch – Witch is my app switcher.

Bartender 4 – Bartender is the app I use to organize my menu bar. I’ve written about it here.

ScreenFloat – ScreenFloat is my app for taking screenshots and storing them.

TunnelBear VPN – TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and for web browsing privacy.

PCalc – PCalc is my stock calculator replacement. I use it for its additional features and customization.

My 2021 Essential iOS Apps

 

Instapaper Mac app falls short

On November 11 Instapaper announced that a Mac app is available in the Mac App Store, thanks to Apple’s Catalyst technology. As a long-time Instapaper user, I was excited to hear this. Now that I’ve used the app for a few days it’s nothing more than a basic reader and lacks almost all the features the website and iOS apps have.

You can’t highlight text, add notes, copy text, copy article links, delete articles from the article view, and the share sheet is non-functional.

The app in its current state is useless to me. Let’s hope the developer gets the app on par with the iOS apps and website.