Product Review – I read about Grammarly in a recent “Working Smarter for Mac Users” newsletter. This is written and distributed by Bob “Dr Mac” Levitus from The Mac Observer. As you might expect from the product name, Grammarly is an extension for Safari on your Mac. As described on the extension website:
Grammarly – Will help you communicate more effectively. As you type, Grammarly flags mistakes and helps you make sure your messages, documents, and social media posts are clear, mistake-free, and impactful.
The free version does a nice job. Below are three examples of what it will catch. Text that it has a recommendation for is underlined in red. Move your cursor over the underlined word or phrase and the pop-up will appear. You can then click on the ‘green’ recommendation (if you agree with it) in the pop-up box and it will be implemented in the text you are writing:
- unnecessary comma
- wrong word
While I have not tried the Premium paid version, the level of writing I do just doesn’t, in my mind, justify the cost of the paid service. I will continue to use the Safari extension as I do like how it reports recommended changes.
My recommendation: Install the free version and pass on the paid Premium version
- Easy to use
- Easy to install
- Base service is free
- Works with any writing you do within a Safari window
- You do have to create an account
- You must be connected to the internet for Grammarly to work
- Paid (Premium) version is expensive ($29.95/month, $59.95 for 3 months, or $139.95 for a year)
See my other macOS articles
Product Review – The iOS App “Weather Now” has both a free and a paid tier of operation. I have only been using the free tier. I have been using this App for several weeks and am very pleased with it for the most part.
The App is very visually pleasing as you can see from the images above. Those screen shots are from a phone running the App and are taken from the Weather Now website. The App seems to be at least as accurate in forecasting as any of the other Apps I have tried. I would be inclined to pay the $3 to upgrade the App, but I don’t feel that the additional information would be better than I am getting from other free Apps.
- Free tier of operation
- Visually pleasing
- 30 minute refresh of data
- 48 hour and 15 day forecasts
- Easy selection of location
- $2.99 to unlock all features and remove ads
- Pop up advertisements on start up
- Difficult to have more than six locations defined in the free tier because of ads in the “Cities” tab
- $2.99 to unlock all features and remove ads
See my other iOS articles
Product Review – I have read about Duet Display and other software solutions that turn an iPad/iPhone into a second display for your MacBook. I finally made the decision and bought and installed Duet Display this past January. I haven’t regretted it in the least.
Now I don’t generally use this second screen solution at home as I am working mostly on my dual screen Mac Mini there. This is, for me, a travel productivity aid, giving me a second screen for my MacBook. Having that additional screen space has been very useful as I work on articles for my Blog.
I attach my iPad and start Duet Display on it and my MacBook, then set my iPad to the left side of my MacBook propped up with my ANKER Multi-Angle Stand. I can then drag windows from the MacBook main screen over to my iPad for reference while I am writing on the main screen.
I certainly like Duet Display and this product has been well received by users as it has over 2700 reviews in the App Store and a 4.4/5 rating. The iOS part of the App is currently $9.99 in the iTunes App Store. I now consider this a part of my required MacOS Toolkit for any MacBook I may have.
- Free software for the Mac/PC
- Low cost (~$10) software for the iPad/iPhone
- Works with Mac and Windows
- Little to no lag time
- Add Touch Bar access to Apps running in the iPad window
- iPad is powered by Mac while in use as a second display
- Requires a Lightning cable connection between MacBook and iPad
See my other Mac and iOS articles
Product Review – I bought the ANKER Multi-Angle Stand just a few days ago for use with my iPad. There are times when I want to use it as my primary writing device and having a stand that will prop the screen up at a comfortable angle makes a big difference.
I have been using it and I am very happy with it. Event though it is not very large, it easily props up my iPad on a table of lap desk. The fact that it is only $8.99 on Amazon is a real plus in my mind.
It has six preset positions from nearly vertical to nearly flat. A button on the top left allows you to change the angle of the stand and each position is locked in place with a clear ‘snap’ of the stand. It has pads on the bottom edges to reduce the chance of sliding. There are also similar pads to both hold and protect your electronic device. Though the unit is very light, it is of strong construction. I have no fear of it being bent or broken in the bottom of my computer bag.
This little accessory will be in my electronics travel kit from now on.
- Will work with almost any phone or tablet
- Six different angles for devices
- Low cost ($9)
- Light weight (less than 4 oz)
- Small size (3.15 x 4.72 x 1.06 inches)
- Will hold devices weighing up to 11 lbs.
- Stand only has fixed positions
- Non-slide pads on the bottom could have more ‘grip’
Product Review – A few months ago my home suffered a lightening strike that. among other things, broke the ethernet port on my Mac Mini. While I have been able to use the built in IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) connection, I prefer a hard wired network connection.
A few days ago I found the Anker USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter on Amazon and thought it would be just the accessory to put my Mac Mini back on the wired network. I ordered it and it arrived yesterday. I was able to install it easily: connect a RJ-45 cable from my Ethernet switch, then just insert the adapter into a free USB port on my Mac Mini.
The new connection was immediately recognized by macOS and I was back to using the wired connection. While I have only been using if for just about 24 hours it has worked perfectly so far.
- Easy to install
- Low cost ($13.99 as I write this review)
- USB 3.0 compatibility, backwards compatible with 2.0/1.1
- Gigabit Ethernet support
- Portable if needed
- Compatible with macOS and Windows
- Powered by the USB port
- Does require committed use of a USB port
This is a product that I would recommend to anyone who needed to add a wired Ethernet connection to your Mac or PC. You could also use this to add a higher speed or second Ethernet connection to your computer.
See my other Mac and OS X articles
Product Review – macOS Toolkit – I don’t recall where I first saw StartPage, but I installed the extension into Safari a few weeks ago and have been using it on a regular basis.
So, what is StartPage? StartPage is a search engine company based in the Netherlands. The potential benefits of StartPage include:
- it is outside the reach of US law enforcement agencies
- it uses secure connections over HTTPS
- it does not collect search information
- it provides private click-throughs using a proxy
The basis of the search engine results is Google, so the results of the searches are as good as any when using StartPage. StartPage is provided by Ixquick “the world’s most private search engine. Ixquick has been third-party certified by EuroPriSe, a European Union privacy initiative.” If you visit the StartPage website, you will see the very prominent statement that “StartPage does not collect or share any personal information!“. Many have become concerned with this as some ISPs have begun to ‘harvest’ search history information from their clients.
Beyond the search anonymity, sites listed in the StartPage search results are accessed through a proxy service that “allows users to surf the web with complete privacy. The proxy lets users browse websites safely and anonymously, without passing on any private, personally identifiable information to the websites they view.”
A portion of a search using StartPage is shown above. In the list of search results will be links very similar to those seen in a Google search. If you click on a link there, you leave the protection of StartPage and are browsing just as if you had been using Google. There is a “proxy” button besides each link in the search list. If you click that link then the page is retrieved through a StartPage proxy making your website visit invisible. You will encounter slower page loading when going through the proxy. StartPage provides a full description of how their proxy works here.
I think that this will become a standard part of my macOS Toolbox. While I am using StartPage with Safari, it is compatible with most browsers. There is also a Ixquick Search App that provides anonymous searching on mobile (iOS and Android) devices. If you are concerned with your web browsing privacy, this may be an option you want to look into.
See my other macOS articles
Product Review – I posted a Product Announcement a few days back on AppDelete. After hearing good feedback from a couple of people I know at CapMac and needing a way to thoroughly clean out some of the Apps I have installed for testing and review, I went ahead and purchased a copy for myself.
Installation was straight forward as was its use. When run it opens up a window on your desktop into which you drag any App you want deleted. Among the features of the product are:
- Search filters to find items for deletion fast (including old PPC apps)
- Finds associated items that are invisible or hidden
- Trash monitoring so that simply throwing an app in the trash triggers AppDelete
- Archive/Install from Archive feature for safekeeping and transferring items to another Mac
- Password requested only once if needed instead of multiple requests
- Keeps a Log of all activities and has the ability to Undo a deletion
- Moves items into an organized deleted package in your trash
- Force Empty Trash for stubborn to remove items
Having used AppDelete today to clean out my Applications folder, I am very pleased with the $8 I spent on the product. Knowing that I will be installing many Apps in the future and wanting to remove most afterward, I think that this has been a good investment. It will certainly be included in my recommendations for anyone’s macOS Toolbox.
- intuitive interface
- reasonable price
- ability to archive as well as delete Apps
- ability to ‘undo’ a delete
Read my other macOS articles
Product Review – As I mentioned in my “checklist” article, on my most recent trip, I forgot to take along a power adapter. After finding that our hotel was only wired for European power, my wife and I set out to find one for the remainder of our trip.
We were lucky to come across the Go Travel Worldwide Adapter, costing about $25 US. I have some other power adapters somewhere at home, but this is the first I have seen that is multiple adapters in one device.
We bought this and used it throughout our trip. It easily worked with my electric razor as well as our multi-port USB charger. Between using this adapter and the charger, we were able to keep our iPhones, Apple Watches and iPads charged throughout the trip.
- Low cost
- Works with power in over 150 countries
- Selected plug gives way sometimes when trying to plug the adapter in
- Only one 120VAC outlet
- No USB charging ports
I would strongly suggest buying your power adapter before you leave on your trip instead of searching for it after you arrive at your destination like we did. This adapter can be ordered through the Go Travel Products website.
Product Review – My wife and I just returned from a Mediterranean cruise. One of the Apps, or I should say a collection of Apps, we used were the travel guides from Ulmon. These are all free, provide a searchable database of locations, can be used off-line, and allow you to drop tags for those locations that you want to visit.
Off-line operation was important to me as I did not have a SIM to enable network access. I was able to turn off Cellular Data and put my iPhone into ‘Airplane Mode’ to avoid charges while still navigating through the cities we visited using the Ulmon App.
The maps I used were: Barcelona, Spain; French Rivera (for Marseille and Cannes, France); Florence, Italy; Rome, Italy; and Venice, Italy. These were really helpful as we made our way around these cities.
We did find that some of the locations we had selected to visit – coffee shop and book stores – were no longer at the location reported in the App, but for the most part they were accurate.
See my other iOS articles
Product Announcement and Review – Wide Angle Software of Stafford United Kingdom has released Duplicate Sweeper 1.0.2. It can be an essential tool in saving you space on your precious hard drive. Duplicate Sweeper makes finding, selecting and removing duplicate files on your Mac easy. It enables you to search for duplicates of all file types, such as your photos, videos, music or documents and you can select which folders to search for duplicate files in. For even more control, search preferences can be added so that only files matching your given criteria are searched. Duplicate Sweeper can ignore files that are larger than and/or smaller than given sizes. It can also ignore files with the given file extensions so that any important file types can be left out of the search.
Once Duplicate Sweeper has found all of the duplicates in the given folders, it allows you to select which files from the duplicates you wish to remove. Duplicate Sweeper has a built in document viewer so that you can check a file is not important before selecting to remove it. If you do not wish to manually select the files to remove, Duplicate Sweeper has multiple options to determine which files to remove for you.
Before removing files, Duplicate Sweeper displays a quick list of all the files that will be removed. It will also display how much space you will save by removing those files as well as a small breakdown of the media types being removed. Once you are happy to remove those files, Duplicate Sweeper can send them all to your Trash with a single click. These files can then be emptied from your Trash to delete them permanently or restored should the need arise.
- OS X 10.8 or later
- 64-bit processor
- 2.4 MB
Duplicate Sweeper 1.02 is currently Free for one week only (Starting 9/23/16), and available worldwide through the Mac App Store in the Utilities category. It normally retails at $19.99 (USD) from Wide Angle Software’s website.
I installed this a short time ago on my OS X 10.11.6 system and tried it against the Documents directory (with just under 10,000 files) in my Home folder. It completed the scan in just a few seconds. Being able to find duplicate files is a good way to begin your Mac Tune-Up efforts.
I tried a simple test. I duplicated a .rtf file that I found in my Documents folder, moved it to a sub-directory, then changed the name back to the original. When I ran Duplicate Sweeper they were not found. I tried with duplicate text files and they were not found either. Based upon this results, I cannot recommend this product.
- Currently FREE
- Runs quickly, just a few seconds for just under 10,000 files in my Documents directory
- very simple user interface
- Cost is $19.95 regularly
- Failed duplicate finding test
Read my other OS X articles