WinterFest Sale

Nisus Software is again participating in the yearly WinterFest promotion. It’s simple: good discounts on a lot of great software.

All Nisus apps are discounted by 25% during WinterFest. That includes Nisus Writer Pro, Nisus Writer Express, and InfoClick. To receive the discount just enter coupon code WINTERFEST2022 during checkout at the Nisus store.

Other WinterFest participants include Scrivener, BBEdit, Bookends, DEVONThink, Yojimbo, and many more excellent apps. The exact discount varies by vendor from 20-30% off, but most are 25% off. To see a full list of participants and discounts visit the WinterFest website.

The WinterFest sale ends on January 17, 2023, so get to ‘festing soon!

iPhone SOS via Satellite

In case you missed it amongst Apple’s recent announcements, apparently the iPhone 14 will be able to send messages to emergency services via satellite in situations without cell service.

This is pretty amazing to me! There are a lot of great reasons to celebrate this capability to improve safety, but I guess we’ll have to see how Apple decides to monetize this. If would be awesome if all new iPhones had access to this for free.

On the other hand, people being people, someone will use this to tell emergency services that their BBQ pork order was cooked improperly.

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.

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.

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.

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 🥕

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!

Fondly (?) Remembering Clippy

It’s an unexpected thing to say, but I feel a certain amount of warm nostalgia for Clippy, one of the first virtual assistants, as found in Microsoft Office circa the 1990’s.

Oh sure I hated him at the time. He was basically worse than useless. I recall that my only interaction was to annoyingly dismiss Clippy’s popup window. But as they say, time is the healer and we must forgive our enemies.

The recent news is that Microsoft may supplant paperclip emojis with Clippy. That’s seems like harmless fun, so long as it doesn’t affect final output (e.g. PDF). Perhaps Nisus Writer should replace the bicep emoji with classic Nisus Man. I see a certain resemblance…

Music Widget Madness!

One thing not on my bingo card this year was a faithful recreation of the Dashboard iTunes widget from Mac OS X Tiger. However, developer Mario Guzman, who appears to be of sound mind and body, has produced Music Widget for macOS for modern versions of macOS, starting with Big Sur.

I downloaded and I have to say it is pretty cool. It works just as I remember the OS X widget worked. Yes, I’m old.

Be aware that this works with Apple Music only. Spotify need not apply.

The app is in beta, and is compatible with Big Sur and above.

Thanks to Cult of Mac for the original article.

From Ancient Wax Boards to iPads

It’s interesting to think about what counts as “technology” for particular generations of people. We might consider Apple’s latest iPad Pro on the edge of what’s new in personal tech. But in centuries past wax boards (literally wooden frames filled with melted beeswax) may have been the exciting new writing technology:

“Wax boards can be seen as the iPads of yesterday … they all allow writing without ink, and the erasing and re-inscribing of written text as much as is desired.”

That’s from this article from the American Society of Overseas Research which goes into great detail about these wax boards and how they were used in ancient Near East regions like Egypt. It’s fun to think about how neat these boards must have been when they were first available. What’s new and exciting is always relative.

One tidbit that I found interesting is the possible “use of a release agent made from sesame oil, date syrup and ghee” to help prevent the stylus from sticking in the wax– delicious!

AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch

Apple previewed new features for people with disabilities in a post on their newsroom page. There are several great features being added but the one feature that stood out to me was AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch. It allows users to control their watch without touching the screen.

According to TechCrunch “You can activate it either by selecting it in the Assistive Touch menu, or by shaking your wrist vigorously. It then detects the position of your hand as you move it around, allowing you to “swipe” by letting the cursor linger at the edge of the screen, or interact with things using a pinch or clench.” How great is that?

Apple says this and the other features will be available as an update, though no timetable was released. The sooner the better, please.