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Name Mangler 3.4 is at your service

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Name Mangler 3.4 is out now, and though there are only three changes in this version, we felt one of them was major enough to merit a full dot increase in the release number. You can read the details on the release notes page; two of the three changes are fixes, but the third…

The third is a nifty new feature best summarized with a screenshot:

That’s right, Name Mangler can now create Services out of your renaming actions. Services are available either via the Services menu in Finder, or (more usefully) via the contextual menu you get if you right-click on a selection of files. You can read all about this in the Menus (File) section of Name Mangler’s help, but the basics are, well, basic:

  1. Create your renaming action
  2. Choose File > Create Context Menu Service
  3. Enter a name, but do not change the save location in the dialog that appears
  4. Select some files in Finder, right-click, and choose your service from the contextual menu. (Or as above, go old school and use the Services entry in the Finder menu.)

When activated, what happens next depends on whether Name Mangler is running or not. If it’s running, Name Mangler will activate with the files populated, showing the effect of the Service you applied. All you need to do is click Rename, and you’re done.

If Name Mangler isn’t running, the service just does its thing on the selected files: They will be renamed without any interaction on your part. Easy!

To make your renaming Services even easier to use, you can assign them keyboard shortcuts, in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services. Once assigned, you can rename files with a quick press of a hot key. We think this feature makes Name Mangler even better, and hope you find it useful as well.

Direct users can get the update via the in-app updater, or by downloading the full app from our site. App Store users should see the update in the App Store app—if not already, then very shortly.

Name Mangler 3.3.7 released

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Name Mangler 3.3.7 is out, and it’s got some bug fixes and one nice neat new feature: Right-click on any entry in the file list area, and you can use a contextual menu to reveal the selected file in Finder. You can read about all the other exciting bug fixes on the official Name Mangler release notes page.

This release also fixes an issue that prevented the App Store version of Name Mangler from working on the Sierra Public Beta (the direct version always worked).

App Store users should be seeing the update shortly, and direct users can update either via the in-app updater, or by downloading a fresh copy from the Name Mangler web page.

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.

Moom and Name Mangler updated

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Final update: Moom 3.2.5 has been released on the App Store; this fixes the drag-to-display bug and all App Store users should now update.

Update: If you have the App Store version of Moom, and if you use multiple displays, then please don’t update to Moom 3.2.4—we just found and fixed an issue with moving windows to other displays. The Moom version on our site has been updated to 3.2.5, and we’re in the middle of submitting an App Store update.

As mentioned in the release notes, I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience. This was entirely my fault. —Peter


Hot on the heels of our recent Time Sink and Keymo updates come two larger updates: Moom 3.2.4 and Name Mangler 3.3.6.

These releases re-sync the versions numbers between the App Store and direct versions, and both feature some bug fixes and general improvements. You can read the details in the release notes for Moom and Name Mangler, respectively.

The big news in both versions (and coming soon to all our other apps) is our totally rewritten help system. You can read all about the new help system in the linked blog post, but the key bits are that search and navigation are now much nicer, and the window is a real (non-floating!) OS X window that’s visible to apps like Witch.

Direct customers can get the Moom and Name Mangler updates via the in-app updater, or by downloading the full versions from our site. App Store customers should see the updates in their App Store app—if not now, then shortly.

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.

Do not sync our apps’ prefs file across Macs

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Many users, myself included, own more than one Mac. For people like us, the concept of syncing an apps’ settings across those Macs, so they’re always the same and always up to date, is enticing. But unless the app has been specifically written to support such syncing (i.e. TextExpander, or the snippets/presets portion of our own Name Mangler), this is generally a Very Bad Idea.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve received emails from a few users, complaining of lost settings in a couple of our apps. After some back-and-forth, the common thread among these users was the use of an open source tool called Mackup.

Mackup claims that it will:

  • Back up your application settings in a safe directory (e.g. Dropbox)
  • Sync your application settings among all your workstations
  • Restore your configuration on any fresh install in one command line

If you browse the Mackup page, you’ll find a number of our apps—Moom, Name Mangler, and Witch—listed in the Supported section. This may make you think that we’ve been consulted, and that those apps have our blessing to be used with Mackup. This is not the case at all.

Supported apps are just apps that Mackup itself supports in its configuration; there’s not necessarily any involvement with—or approval from—the app’s original developer. That’s certainly the case with us, as we were never contacted about including our apps on Mackup’s supported list. At present, we do not support preference files synced across multiple Macs for our apps. (We have asked to have our apps removed from Mackup, but so far, there’s been no response from the Mackup developer.)

We do not recommend the use of Mackup, or any other such tool that syncs our apps’ prefs files across multiple Macs. You may lose all your settings, or introduce some sort of command conflict that could cause problems using our apps. Please revert to locally-stored non-synced prefs.

The way preferences files work in OS X now, syncing any apps’ prefs via a sync service is probably not a good idea anyway, unless the app is specifically designed for such sharing. Why not?

In modern versions of OS X, a process called cfprefsd manages preferences. When you launch an app, cfprefsd caches the prefs file values into RAM, and from then on, it’s in charge of how and when prefs changes get written back to disk. There are times when, even after changing a prefs file on disk (say via a Terminal command) that those changes aren’t reflected in the app, even after relaunching it. That’s because cfprefsd overwrote your changes when it wrote out its cached values.

Even if you weren’t to lose your preferences file due to Mackup, it will lead to conflicts that have no easy resolution. Consider Moom being used on two Macs, with a shared preferences file. Moom is an always-running kind of app, so it’s likely to be running on both Macs at the same time. On one Mac, a user adds a custom control; on the other Mac, a short time later, the user creates a different control, but accidentally uses the same keyboard shortcut as they did on the first Mac. What happens when the prefs file is synced between both Macs?

Excluding certain parts of Name Mangler, none of our apps are written assuming that they will have to manage a shared settings file. We have no idea what will happen if something like the above Moom scenario were to occur. But whatever the outcome is, it’s not something we have anticipated, because prefs file are expected to be local, and to only be modified by one instance of the app.

Future versions of some of our apps may support some version of pref syncing. But until they do, please keep our apps’ prefs files local to each Mac. (You can get a head start on configuring a new Mac by copying your apps’ prefs files from another Mac. But copy them, don’t sync them.)

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.)

Good things come in threes—Name Mangler 3.3.3 released

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Today we released Name Mangler 3.3.3 for both App Store and direct users. The interface has been modernized, and we’ve added a couple useful new features, including access to grandparent (and higher) folders via metadata. You can read the release notes for the full scoop.

App Store buyers should see the update shortly (if not already) in the App Store app; direct buyers will get an in-app update notice, or they can download the full version directly from our site.