SummerFest Sale

Yep, it’s hot and sticky again. But we’re lucky to be pants-free Netizens working from home nearly the whole day. And, unless you’re on a video call, you can actually go further; whole hog as they say, free range, the full monty python, unfettered by cotton… well, you get the idea. The world is truly coming apart.

But enough nonsense. Down to business! The business of making and selling software, which is now on sale for a limited time.

The new season brings new plans, fresh projects, and great new ideas. Whether you’re mapping out your next novel, finishing your dissertation, planning a product, or writing memories for your grandkids, great tools can help. As is our custom in this season, we’re taking part in a gathering of software artisans called SummerFest.

You can save 25% on all Nisus Software apps by entering the coupon code SUMMERFEST2022 at checkout in the Nisus store. Likewise you can save up to 25% on other participating SummerFest apps. Check it out soon, before the savings come to an end.

How to Copy a File Path in the Finder

Maybe I should file this under “old news that I should be ashamed I didn’t already know”, but I recently learned you can easily copy the path of any file or folder in the Finder:

1. Select the file or folder in the Finder.
2. Hold down the Option key on the keyboard (and keep it down until you finish step 3).
3. Choose the menu Edit > Copy “Your File” as Pathname.

The item’s path has been placed onto the clipboard.

This same menu command is also available from the item’s contextual menu. As with the main menu, you have to hold down the Option key to see the alternative command (it supplants the normal Copy command).

The only remaining question is who at Apple decided to call this a pathname? That is a real term, but nobody calls it that. “Certainly milord, I shall fetch your pathname posthaste!” 🎩 Round these parts we just call ’em paths.

Scan Paper Documents with Your Mac

It’s a beautiful thing to go completely paperless when it comes to personal documents. No more monthly statements, yearly declaration packets, and other junk cluttering your space. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to finally digitize old accrued papers. It’s like a weight loss program for filing drawers– let’s feel the burn! 📄🔥

Did you know that you can scan papers by taking photos with your iPhone? The results are pretty good. There’s some filtering that increases contrast to hide lighting irregularities and sharpen text. You can add scans on your iPhone using the Notes app.

What’s even nicer is that you can initiate scans from your Mac using something called Continuity Camera. This mode will save the scan results directly to your Mac. Here’s the incredibly useful workflow:

1. Switch to the Finder and right-click on the Desktop or any other folder.
2. Choose the contextual menu command Import from iPhone > Scan Documents
   → Scanning mode will be activated on your phone.
3. Using your iPhone take photos of your paper documents, and click Save when finished.
   → A PDF file will be saved to the folder you used in step 1 above.

The resulting PDF will contain all of your scans, one photo per PDF page.

Nisus Writer Font Previews

Nisus Writer’s font menu has long been WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get, for any kids out there). But that isn’t always helpful. You don’t want to see how a list of font names will look. You actually want to see how your text will look.

This is where Nisus Writer’s font preview can help. For example, let’s say that you select a text equation in your document and use the menu Format > Font > Show Font Previews. You’ll see a dialog like this:

This dialog lets you pick a great looking font for your particular text. The previews also take into account whatever other formatting is already applied to your text, e.g. font size, color, underline, etc, so you can maximize WYSIWYGNESS and save yourself a bit of fiddling time.

WinterFest Sale 2021

We’re proud to again join WinterFest, a yearly seasonal sale and festival of artisanal software. The makers of WinterFest apps work hard to ensure our tools work together, each carefully crafted and maintained by a small, dedicated team with vision and determination.

You can save up to 25% on all WinterFest apps including Scrivener, Bookends, BBEdit, DEVONThink, TinderBox, Hook, and other high quality software. Nisus Writer Pro, Nisus Writer Express, and InfoClick are also on sale. To receive your discount visit the WinterFest web page or enter coupon code WINTERFEST2021 during checkout.

WinterFest apps are all full versions with complete support and upgrade privileges. No contests or hullabaloo. Just great prices for great software.

This sale ends on January 11, 2022, so take advantage soon

Happy Holidays!

All of us at Nisus Software would like to wish you a very happy holidays. We really do appreciate our kind and dedicated customers, to whom we’re very grateful. No matter how you celebrate, do it with joy in your heart!

As for me, I’m a simple soul. The small things make all the difference. It’s important to keep up deep ancestral traditions like visiting ☃.net (aka unicodesnowmanforyou.com) and breaking out the Festivus pole.

Should You Upgrade to macOS Monterey?

Now that macOS Monterey has been out for a while, is it a good time for you to upgrade your system? Let’s consult our old friend the 🎱✨

Ahh, that seems about right.

So far we haven’t heard of any major Monterey problems from our users. Our apps are compatible and we aren’t aware of any significant new bugs. But the smart question is how many Nisus users are actually using Monterey? To answer that let’s look at macOS Big Sur’s usage share for Nisus users:

You can see the big drop-off for Big Sur in November 2021, the first full month that Monterey was available. Although the numbers for December are incomplete (today is Dec 10th), this month shows that Big Sur and Monterey are exactly tied, both with a usage share of 33%.

My own upgrade to Monterey was relatively smooth, but there were some issues. The only potentially critical failure was that Apple Mail did not import all of my emails. Several hundred emails were completely blank and invalid:

I can’t be totally certain, but these emails appear to be unimportant messages from mailing lists and other impersonal sources, so it didn’t worry me too much.

Otherwise there are only a few irritating Monterey regressions, like how all windows on my screen are incorrectly resized and repositioned after my external monitor goes to sleep. But there are no showstoppers. And hey, it wasn’t all bad. I mean, just look at this cute ASCII art error from Apple’s developer notarization tool:

Everything considered, is it a good time for you to upgrade to Monterey? Maybe. But if you don’t have any compelling reason to upgrade, it might be best to follow the advice of the 8 ball or TidBits and wait for Apple to smooth things out a little more.

InfoClick 1.2.8 – M1 is Back

Are you an InfoClick user with a snazzy new M1 Mac? You’re in luck. InfoClick already has native support for Apple Silicon. However, the last version accidentally removed this support. InfoClick version 1.2.8 restores M1 support and includes a few other fixes.

If you’re not an InfoClick user please try our free demo. You don’t have to be angry at Apple Mail’s frustrating search any longer. InfoClick quickly finds your emails and shows you all possible remaining search criteria– unsuccessful searches are impossible.

Apple Silicon and Nisus Writer

Some customers have asked whether or not the new Macs with Apple Silicon will improve their Nisus Writer writing experience. The short answer is yes! Apple’s new M1 chip is really fast and Nisus Writer has native support for M1 that will definitely reduce wait times.

Let’s take a look at some firm numbers to see what you can expect. The following benchmarks were collected by comparing two humble Mac Minis:

Intel i5: 2018 Mac Mini, 16GB RAM, SSD
Apple M1: 2020 Mac Mini, 16GB RAM, SSD

Those Macs were tested using two large Nisus Writer documents. One is our Nisus Writer Macro language reference guide, and the other is our Nisus Writer Pro full user guide. Both are relatively complex documents using features like tables, bookmarks, cross-references, etc.

Now for the fun part. Let’s have the Intel and M1 Macs fight it out to see who is faster 🤓

The above graph is for our macro guide which contains 54K words, over 145 pages, with a 330K compressed file size. The results are clear: the M1 is about twice as fast as Intel. That’s awesome!

Let’s try the same common operations using our full user guide:

That’s also nearly a 2x speed improvement for the larger file which contains 227K words, over 770 pages, with a 90MB compressed file size.

If you’ve read about the M1 elsewhere you already know that it’s a significant leap forward for computing. By all accounts Apple’s new MacBooks are excellent machines. So these results are no surprise, but it’s nice to confirm that the M1 will also speed along your writing.

How to Reopen Closed Safari Windows

Maybe file this tip under “just open your eyes dummy” but I recently learned that Safari on macOS has a feature that allows you to reopen recently closed windows. That doesn’t mean just a single web page. You can restore a window fully, including the many tabs that were inside the window.

You can use this Safari feature via the menu History > Reopen Last Closed Window, or more generally via History > Recently Closed. I don’t expect to use this often, but we’ve all had that moment of regret after accidentally closing a window with like 10 tabs we still needed to review 🤬

Thanks to a Nisus user who tipped me off to this feature. That user was actually requesting that we add the same feature to Nisus Writer, in case a window with many tabbed Nisus documents is accidentally closed. We’ll certainly consider it as a potential future enhancement.

If you’d like to see Nisus add this feature (or any others) please get in touch with us. We love to get feedback from our users! You can leave a comment here on our blog, chat on our user forum, or contact us directly.

macOS Monterey

Earlier this week at Apple’s special event (unveiling speedy new MacBook Pros) we learned that macOS Monterey will be released early next week on October 25.

If you plan to upgrade to Monterey please make sure that you have the latest version of Nisus Writer. So far as we know Nisus Writer Pro 3.2.2 and Nisus Writer Express 4.2.2 are compatible with Monterey; earlier versions may not be functional.

Please let us know if you see any issues with Monterey or otherwise. We’re always happy to help!

Thanks Apple, I Hate It: Mail Sidebar

Apple Mail has been a relatively reliable app on macOS for a very long time. Well, that wasn’t always true, but it’s a work horse one way or another. For the most part it does what I need (except searching emails, but for that there’s InfoClick).

One aspect of Mail that Apple seems eager to tweak every couple years is the sidebar showing your accounts and inboxes. I think the Mail sidebar on macOS Big Sur is actually relatively straightforward considering some of the confusing messes Apple Mail has showcased over the years. But let me complain about this for a hot minute:

The “On My Mac” area has always been reserved for emails that are only stored locally, i.e. those not stored in the cloud. How the heck am I supposed to tell all these Trash folders apart? I have several accounts with local storage and there’s no labeling to disambiguate them. I’m forced to blindly click between the folders to stumble on the right one.

This is a tiny annoyance, but I still hope it gets improved. Maybe in macOS Monterey, which is likely to be finalized soon. We should know more about Monterey’s release date after the Apple event next week.

Apple’s March of Progress, circa iPhone 13

You probably already know that the iPhone 13, iOS 15, and Safari 15 have arrived. If you’re considering a nice new iPhone I thought this guide comparing the iPhone 13 to older models is a great help. You can jump to the section for your current model and see a quick summary of the top benefits.

We here at Nisus prefer stability and consistency to the hot new thing. Personally I’m not itching to upgrade. I have a perfectly good iPhone 11 and I like it when my web browser tabs look like tabs. Maybe Apple will walk back the much hated tab design in Safari 15. But this is Apple, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

That said we’re not oblivious or unprepared for change. Although Apple has yet to finalize the forthcoming macOS Monterey, we released Nisus Writer Pro 3.2.2 and Nisus Writer Express 4.2.2 last week to ensure our apps remain compatible.

My one temptation: the Apple Watch series 7 that’s available to order starting today. I still have a series 3 which performs admirably, but the incentives to upgrade are starting to pile up 🥕

Nisus Writer Updates

We are happy to announce the release and immediate availability of Nisus Writer Pro 3.2.2 and Nisus Writer Express 4.2.2.

These updates have plenty of fixes and enhancements for your writing pleasure, including preliminary macOS Monterey compatibility (pending Apple’s final release) and Bookends 14 compatibility. You can read the voluminous changes in our Nisus Writer Pro release notes or Nisus Writer Express release notes.

These updates are free for existing owners of the current version of each app. You get the update from inside the apps, the Mac App Store, or our website.

Issues with macOS Monterey and Bookends 14

Nisus Writer has issues with two recently released pieces of software:

1. The latest beta/preview version of macOS Monterey. Nisus Writer will often crash due to changes in the macOS system.

2. The recently released Bookends version 14. Nisus Writer can’t communicate directly with this version of Bookends due to internal changes in how the app identifies itself.

We are working on a software update to Nisus Writer that addresses all of these issues. We hope to finalize and release those updates soon. However, if you need to bypass these problems immediately please contact us about obtaining early access to a private beta version of Nisus Writer.

UPDATE: These issues have been resolved in Nisus Writer Pro version 3.2.2 and Nisus Writer Express 4.2.2.

File Conversion Failures due to Permissions

We’ve recently had more reports that Nisus Writer Pro users can’t import or export file formats that require conversion (e.g. DOCX). The error message states that “you do not have permission” to run the Nisus File Converter app. The alert looks like this:

This is caused by a bug that was introduced in recent versions of macOS Catalina and Big Sur. It affects not only Nisus Writer’s file converter, but also other kinds of helper apps. Apple has a support page for affected scanner software. MacRumors reports that apparently Apple will fix the problem in a future system update.

To quickly bypass the issue you can click the “Retry” button in Nisus Writer Pro. That will use a backup converter built into macOS. However, be aware that this backup conversion is less thorough and will omit special content like styles, comments, footnotes, etc.

You can fully bypass the issue by first manually launching the Nisus File Converter app in the Finder. Please see our FAQ for a precise list of workaround steps and more details on this issue.

How to Insert Overline Characters

In certain kinds of writing (e.g. mathematics or linguistics) it can be useful to insert characters with a line on top. This line is known by several names like an overbar, overline, or macron. Here are some examples of such characters:

ā ō n̅

You can easily enter such characters in Nisus Writer and other Mac apps.

How to type standard overline characters:
If you’re using a recent version of macOS like Catalina or Big Sur you can type several standard overline characters simply by holding down a letter key on your keyboard. As explained in Apple’s support document on typing accents, you hold down the letter key (e.g. the “A” key) for a few seconds. A popover will appear with several character variations:

You can now either click the desired character, or press the corresponding number key, to insert it.

How to add an overline to any character:
The standard keyboard only allows easy access to certain popular overline characters. But you can use a combining overline character to place a line over virtually any other character. Here’s how you can insert a combining overline:

1. Type the base character, e.g. the letter “N”.
2. Show Apple’s Unicode/emoji character palette. There are a variety of ways to do this. One way is to use the menu Insert > Special Character > Show Character Catalog.
3. The search field at the top of the character palette has focus. Type the phrase “combining overline”. (You could also just type “overline” but the results will show multiple lines and it’s hard to tell which one is combining)
4. Insert the overline by clicking it with your mouse, or pressing the Return key.

If you use overlines frequently you may want to add it to Nisus Writer’s special characters list. You can customize the list via the menu Insert > Special Character > Customize Special Characters. Once the character is added it will be available on the special characters menu and palette. That means you can optionally assign it a customized keyboard shortcut in our Menu Key preferences

Two Mac Tips To Brighten Your Day

Here are two quick Mac tips that will give you strength, whiten your teeth, and eliminate doggy breath.

Adjust Your Mac’s Volume in Fine Increments.
Want to fine tune the volume on your Mac? Press shift+option while pressing the volume or brightness keys. It will adjust in quarter increments instead of full increments.

This also works with the Touch Bar.

Open The Current Application’s Preferences.
If you need to get to an application’s preferences, simply type command+, (comma). I had no idea this existed until a few days ago. I mean, it’s not like I could have known about this, right?

Do you have a favorite tip to share? Let us know in the comments below!

MacBook Air vs. M1 Air: I’m Not Jealous!

Last year I purchased an early 2020 MacBook Air. It’s the base model with an Intel Core i3 dual core processor. At the time I purchased the M1 Air was just around the corner. However, I couldn’t pass up the new-at-the-time Magic Keyboard. I have to say that keyboard was worth the upgrade alone. The new keyboard is so much better that my fingers thank me every day I use it.

However, it’s been almost a year and the M1 machines are out and the new MacBook Air is the machine you recommend to anyone who is looking for a new laptop. My older 2020 dual core Air seems almost… quaint. So what is it like to use a dual core Air in the face of more modern hardware?

Honestly, it’s fine. Is it fast as lightning? No. However, it more than gets the job done. My usage is writing, surfing, mail, and other not terribly taxing tasks. For that, it’s fantastic. the speakers are surprisingly good for music or podcasts. However, it shows its pre-pandemic roots when you do video calls or connect it to an external monitor. At that point the Air gets hot and the fans spin up in a vain attempt to cool it down. The built-in camera is at best a potato and while on calls everyone hears the fan.

To be fair, on the plus side the Air keeps me warm in the winter. Seriously though, it’s fine for most uses. Plus, the keyboard is still great.

Am I jealous of those of you who own an M1 Air? No. I’ll eventually upgrade, but for now it’s running the Monterey beta and it doesn’t seem to mind.

So in short, don’t be jealous of those who have the M1 Air. There will be plenty of time to get revenge when the new, more powerful MacBook Pro with more ports comes out. The rest of you will be green with envy!