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Three minor updates have escaped into the wild…

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

…and while you’d think that’d be enough for one day for us, we are Many Tricks, after all. So a bit later today, stay tuned for an announcement witchwhich you may find of interest.

As for the escapees, they are…

  • Butler 4.1.23, which includes some comestic improvements and a couple of bug fixes. [release notes]
  • Resolutionator 1.1.1 fixes a color depth issue on newer laptops that could cause Resolutionator to not show any resolutions. [release notes]
  • Usher 1.1.15 has a ton of changes, most of which aren’t directly visible. But we’ve improved memory usage, speed of previews, crawler performance, and more. [release notes]

Butler and Resolutionator are direct-only apps, so you should get notified by each app that there’s an update available, if you haven’t disabled that setting in Preferences. Or you can just download the full app from our site again; you won’t lose your settings if you update that way.

Usher is available both direct and in the App Store, and the App Store update should be showing up any minute now, if it’s not out already.

A few minor (non App Store) updates…

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

We’ve released updates to a few of our apps. These are all quite minor changes; you can read the release notes for each if you’re interested in the nitty-gritty.

We did add a new AppleScript command to Resolutionator, if you’d like to control your display’s resolution via AppleScript … and Witch includes a blurred-translucent background option. To see it, either select the Default item on the Presets pop-up on the Appearance tab, or uncheck the Background color box on that same tab.

  1. Butler 4.1.21 4.1.22 [release notes]
  2. Desktop Curtain 3.0.7 [release notes]
  3. Resolutionator 1.1 [release notes]
  4. Witch 3.9.9 [release notes]

Why aren’t there any App Store updates for those apps that are in the App Store? Because these changes only affect the direct versions of Desktop Curtain and Witch (we fixed some stuff related to the new crossgrade feature). Witch’s blur background may come in a future App Store update, though, if the App Store review team doesn’t deem it a new feature. Remember you can freely crossgrade to the direct version of Witch today if you want the blur!

As always, you can update via the in-app updater, or just download a fresh copy of the app from our web site. (If you happen to be running the macOS Sierra public beta, you’ll need to download Butler and Resolutionator from our site this time only, as we had to fix a Sierra-specific update issue.)


Update: Butler just got bumped to version 4.1.22 to fix two bugs in 4.1.21. Sorry about those!

The new Many Tricks’ end user license agreement

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Ever since Peter and I relaunched Many Tricks in 2010, we’ve never had an official software license agreement. The closest thing we’ve had is this blog post, which explains limits on the use of our apps across multiple Macs (tl;dr: Use them on as many Macs as you personally use). However, we’ve never had an actual end user license agreement (EULA) that spells out the legal license you agree to when you purchase one of our apps.

Well, we have one now—it’s also permanently linked in the sidebar here, and will be accessible from within our apps. And a really big thanks to Rich Siegel at Bare Bones Software, who generously agreed to let us use his document as a starting point. I found the Bare Bones EULA to be well written, brief, and easily understood; hopefully our version, which has only minor changes, is still all of those things.

After six years, why did we suddenly need an EULA? The truth is we probably should have had one from day one, but never really felt the need. Recently, however, we’ve received inquiries from government agencies and larger companies interested in buying our apps … and many of these customers aren’t allowed to purchase our apps unless we have an actual legal license agreement. So now we do.

Note that this doesn’t change anything relative to the usage of our apps; we still allow you to use one license to install our apps on as many Macs as you personally use. We just needed to have a formal legal software license for larger customers and government agencies.

Announcing our new in-app help system

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Starting with our recent update to Keymo, we rolled out a new help system. We developed this new system to solve some aggravations we were having with Apple’s built-in help system, and to provide our users with a better help experience. This new help system will be rolling out to all our apps in the very near future.

Here’s a quick peek at the first screen of Moom’s new help:

Moom's new help

There are many aspects to our new help system that should make in-app help work much better for our users—some new features, some existing features working better, and a revamped look and feel.

First off, there’s a new navigation system, as seen in the image at right. Click the “hamburger” menu on any page, and this handy drop-down makes it simple to get wherever you need to go.

The current section is always marked with a checkmark, so you’ll know exactly which page you’re on when you activate the menu.

The help window is also now a normal OS X window, not the “I will block everything!” floating window of Apple’s help system.

Our new help window is also visible to apps—like our own Witch—that list open windows; the built-in help viewer windows aren’t visible to Witch.

Like the built-in help viewer, the text in the help window is resizable—just press ⌘-Minus (smaller) and ⌘-Plus (larger) to resize. The help system will remember your preferred size even if you close and reopen its window. (It will reset to the default size if you quit and relaunch the app.)

Our help system features two types of search. The first, and to me the most useful, is the ability to search the entire help system from within the app’s Help menu. (Note that you must be running the app in “normal” mode to use this search—otherwise, it won’t have menus!)

To use the help-wide search, select the Help menu within the app, then just type in the search box. You’ll see matches for any menu items, and then any help pages that contain your search term:

Search all

Select one of the matches from the Help Topics section, and help will open to that page, with the matching term already highlighted.

You can also search the current help page by pressing ⌘-F; this drops down a standard OS X search box. Type your search, and the first match will be highlighted on the page:

Find on page

Press ⌘-G and help will jump to and highlight the next match; repeat as necessary until you find the section you need. One nice bonus feature here is that if there are no matches on the current page, the help system will display a list of other help pages that do contain a match:

Find on other pages

Right-click on any open area of a page, and a handy contextual menu appears. You can use this to go back and forward between previously opened pages—though it’s easier to use the arrow buttons at the top of the window, or ⌘ and the left and right arrows if you prefer the keyboard.

There’s also a Reload button—this is there primarily for our use when writing help, but if you find yourself looking at a blank page, this may force the content to be reloaded.

But really, the important thing in the contextual menu is the ability to print help pages. Select Print… from the contextual menu, and a standard OS X print dialog appears:

If you’re an admirer of dead trees, click the Print button to send the output to your printer. But you may find it more useful to click the PDF button, and save a copy of the help page to PDF format—you could then add it to iBooks to read anywhere, for example.

We hope you find the new help system, well, helpful. We have plans to enhance it further in the future, but for now, it’s already a great improvement (for both us and you) over the old system.

All direct apps updated to improve update security

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Yes, that’s right, we’ve updated the updater in our direct apps. Our direct apps rely on Sparkle to inform you when there are new versions available. Over the weekend, we were made aware of a potential vulnerability in how we implemented Sparkle. Basically, if your network is already compromised by what’s called a Man in the Middle attack, then it’s possible an attacker could use the Sparkle update mechanism in our apps to remotely execute code on your Mac. That’s bad.

Although this is a relatively small exposure (as you must already be on a compromised network), we felt it was important to act on it right away, so we’ve updated all of our apps to use Sparkle over secure HTTP (HTTPS). Please update any directly-purchased Many Tricks apps immediately.

Important: There’s a bit of a Catch-22 here … in order to get you this update, it must come over insecure HTTP, because that’s how Sparkle in the app you’re using is configured. If you are concerned that you might be on a compromised network, please do not update using the in-app updater. Instead, just download the relevant app(s) directly from our site, which uses HTTPS.

If you have any questions on this update, please leave a comment or email us directly, and we’ll do our best to address your questions.

Note: Although our App Store apps don’t use Sparkle, we know they’re out of date with some of the other minor bug fixes that came with these releases. We’ll be submitting updates to the App Store next week to get App Store users current.

The Many Tricks holiday sale event and charity drive

Monday, December 14th, 2015

People ask us all the time, “When are your apps going on sale?” And we always reply “We don’t know,” because, generally, we don’t know. But we know now: Our apps—when you purchase directly from us—are on sale for the remainder of 2015, and there are two ways to take advantage of the sale.

Option One: Own Them All

First off, you can own them all for just $50—that’s $62 off the normal price of $112 for all 10. All ten apps, fifty bucks total. These are fully licensed versions, not some special one-off, so they’re all eligible for upgrade pricing when major new releases come out.

On the charity drive front, we will donate $10 for each bundle sold to the United Nation’s refugee fund, to help with the ongoing global refugee crisis. And to get things started, we’ve already donated $500 to the fund.

Option Two: Save Some Coin

If you don’t really want all our apps (we don’t understand such thinking, of course!), you’ll want to use option two: Every purchase is 30% off for the remainder of the year.

We will donate 10% of our net proceeds from any individual sales to that same UN refugee fund.

About the Mac App Store

You may have noticed that this sale is only available to customers who purchase directly from us; our App Store app pricing is unchanged, and we can’t create a bundle of apps there anyway.

So why aren’t the individual MAS versions on sale? Quite honestly, we feel Apple has ignored the MAS for too long, and as a result, the customer experience is not what it should be. Add in the recent snafu with certificates, and we would like to reward those who choose to purchase direct. That’s why this sale is for direct customers only.

So there you have it, the Many Tricks year-end sale event and charity drive.

All direct apps updated ahead of El Capitan’s release

Monday, September 28th, 2015

There are a couple of changes in the soon-to-be-released El Capitan that required us to update our direct-sales app update mechanism—an incredible open-source framework known as Sparkle. (App Store versions don’t have this update mechanism, because the App Store app handles app updates.)

Because of how we implemented Sparkle, we found that the updater wasn’t working properly in El Capitan. So we needed to fix this prior to El Capitan’s release. As a result, today we have updated every single direct app we sell (and even one we give away):

Butler, Desktop Curtain, Key Codes, Keymo, Leech, Moom, Name Mangler, Time Sink, Usher, and Witch

We have pushed all these updates live, so you should see them automatically (if you have our apps set to auto-update), or you can look in the Preferences > Updates section of a given app and manually check for updates. You can also download the complete new version from our site, if you prefer (just delete the old one and replace with the new; you won’t lose your settings.)

Resolutionator 1.0.1 gets Docky with it

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Today we released Resolutionator 1.0.1, which makes a number of minor changes and fixes (release notes). It also adds one major feature: the ability to change resolutions via Resolutionator’s Dock icon (click for a larger image).

Control Resolutionator via the Dock

If you have Resolutionator set to check for updates automatically, well, this might be old news to you. If you don’t, check for updates now, or just download the newest version if you prefer.

Welcome, Resolutionator

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Meet Resolutionator, the newest entry in Many Tricks’ stable of apps. Resolutionator makes it brain-dead-simple to switch the resolution on your display(s), and was developed with retina displays in mind (though it’s perfectly functional on non-retina displays, too).

Like many of our other apps, Resolutionator came about due to an internal need—I use a 13″ retina MacBook Pro, and as crisp and gorgeous as that 1280×800 ‘retinaized’ display is, that’s just not a lot of room when working with lots of windows. As a result, I found myself constantly switching resolutions—I’d use a higher resolution when working on complicated projects, then switch back to the default retina resolution when browsing the web or reading email.

In prior versions of the Mac OS, switching resolutions wasn’t a big deal—an optional menu bar icon provided quick access to any available resolution. But some years back, this feature vanished, never (at least so far) to be seen again. In its place is a convoluted process that requires launching System Preferences and clicking buttons. If you change resolutions once a week, it’s not too bad…but if you change multiple times a day, it gets old, and fast.

Switch via pop-up or menu barEnter Resolutionator, which recreates the old menu bar prompt to let you quickly change the resolution on any and all attached displays, as seen at right.

But Resolutionator goes well beyond the old stock resolution switcher.

You can assign a keyboard shortcut, and then switch resolutions via a pop-up menu. And whether you use a keyboard shortcut or the menu bar icon, Resolutionator lets you switch the resolution on all attached displays from the same location.

Want to conserve menu bar space? After assigning that keyboard shortcut, switch Resolutionator to faceless mode, and it runs completely invisibly, activated only when you press the assigned shortcut. (It can also run as a normal application, complete with Dock icon, if you prefer.)

Those features are useful, though not all that exciting. The exciting feature in Resolutionator is its secret superpower…

Resolutionator’s secret (OK, it’s not really secret) superpower is that it can offer you resolutions—including some that offer more pixels than your display contains—that OS X won’t let you use.

On my 13″ Retina MacBook Pro, for instance, OS X’s Displays panel lists four possible resolutions, ranging from 1024×640 up to 1680×1050.

Out of the box, Resolutionator shows me those four, plus a “native pixels” resolution of 2560×1600. When I enable the “show non-retina resolutions” option in Resolutionator, I see a total of 12 resolutions, including one (2048×1280) that I find very usable when I need screen real estate.

You can go further, if you wish: enable the “show silly resolutions” option, and you’ll gain access to resolutions that are greater than the number of pixels on your display—the last two resolutions in the image at right show more pixels than are available on my MacBook Pro.

How does such magic work? OS X handles the hard part, scaling down the entire OS so you achieve the chosen virtual resolution. It may sound silly (hence the option’s name), but it can be very useful: On my 11″ Air, which has a maximum resolution of 1366×768, Resolutionator will let me choose 1920×1080 (and higher, but those are ridiculously hard to read). Is it usable for reading emails or small-text web pages? Not really, but it’s great for eyeballing a page layout without scrolling.

Anyway, there’s more detail on the Resolutionator web page, so head over there, take a look, and download the free trial. If you like what you see (or see more of), a measly $3 will get you a license. If you switch resolutions a lot, we think you’ll find Resolutionator an indispensable tool.

Our apps and El Capitan compatibility

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

As you surely know by now, Apple announced OS X El Capitan (aka Mac OS X 10.11) this week, with general availability this fall. They also released a developer beta, so we were able to give our suite of apps a quick test on the new system.

Given El Capitan’s focus on improving Yosemite, not implementing wholesale changes to the system’s fundamentals, we were hopeful that things would just work.

And that’s what we found: all of our apps appear to work fine. We have not done extensive testing of 100% of the features in 100% of the apps, but they all launch and run, and we tested a number of functions in each app. Even older versions of our apps, such as Name Mangler 2, appear to run fine.

We may have some minor tweaking to do, due to the change in the system font, but the apps themselves are all running under El Capitan. Yes, this includes Butler. Yes, this includes Usher. And Time Sink. And everything else, including Displaperture and the beta Resolutionator. Even our two Safari extensions appear to work.

So if you’re a developer using the preview, or you’re planning on installing the public beta when it’s released, our apps should work as expected. Of course, please let us know if you run into any issues—it’s very difficult for us to test every feature in every app by ourselves.