Time Sink 2 is on the clock

January 17th, 2017 by Rob Griffiths

Time Sink 2 iconTime Sink 2 is out today—yes, it’s a major update in version numbers, and no, it won’t cost you a cent. That’s right, Time Sink 2.0 is a free new major version, for both direct and App Store buyers.

Why free? Because all though we’ve done a ton of behind-the-scenes work to make Time Sink an even better time tracking app (so it’s indeed a major upgrade to us), the user-visible new features may not feel like typical “oh wow this is a MAJOR update!” material to you. So instead of trying to justify charging for the upgrade, we decided to give it to everyone for free. (But hey, if you want to buy another copy or gift one to a friend, we won’t mind—it’s still just $5.)

So what’s new in Time Sink 2? We won’t bore you with all the many behind-the-scenes changes, other than to mention that Time Sink is now sandboxed, so we can add new features to the App Store version to keep it in sync with the direct version—hooray!

Here’s the stuff you can see and work with as a Time Sink user:

  • Ad-hoc timers can be used to track non-Mac activities, such as phone calls or client meetings.
  • All timers can be paused via an assignable hot key, and can be set to resume automatically when activity resumes.
  • A pop-up menu at the bottom of the Activity Report window lets you easily select time frames like today, this week, this month, or this year.
  • Define the “start of day” time for the “today” Activity Report view. No longer must you start working just after midnight.
  • Use window title filters to merge windows from apps that include always-changing info in their window titles, as when Photoshop appends @50%, @75%, etc.
  • Exported reports can be opened in Time Sink to view historical data.
  • View time usage in the Organizer as percentages of total time instead of hours/minutes.

Finally, there are a couple of new themes for the Activity Report:

Two new Activity Report themes join the original

The original purple (left) is joined by light (center) and dark (right); the blue shown in the dark theme shot will be replaced with whatever you’ve set as your macOS highlight color (System Preferences > General).

How to update

Direct customers can get the update via in-app updating; App Store customers should see the update in the App Store app soon, if not already. (Just one note of caution: Time Sink 2 requires OS X 10.8 or newer; if you’re on OS X 10.7, you’ll want to stay with the original Time Sink. See the museum for links to older versions.)

How-to: Track top-level web site usage with Time Sink

January 2nd, 2017 by Rob Griffiths

Our time-tracking app Time Sink relies on window titles to track your activities. This approach works great for most use cases, as window titles are supplied by the vast majority of apps out there, which means Time Sink is able to keep an eye on nearly everything you do.

But when browsing the web, relying on window titles can sometimes be problematic: Many sites don’t include any site-specific information in their window titles. For instance, a news site may just have the title of the news article as the window title. So if you were interested in finding out how much time you spend on that news site, Time Sink apparently wouldn’t be able to help, because there’s no way to tell which site those news stories came from.

Other sites do include some site-specific data in their window titles, but what that is will vary by site, as well as where it appears within the window title.

The good news is that Time Sink can track site-wide time usage for both types of windows—it’s relatively simple for sites that include site-specific data in their window titles, and it’s somewhat more involved for sites that do not.

The relatively simple way

Some sites include a bit of unique information in each page’s title, which makes tracking them simple. YouTube, for instance, appends ” – YouTube” to every window title:

Any site that does this is easy to track with a pool, regardless of which browser you use. (This example assumes Safari.)

  1. Drag any opened YouTube window (in Time Sink’s Organizer window) to the Pools section of the Organizer window, and drop to create a new pool.
  2. Expand the Safari (assuming you used Safari, of course) folder in the Pools section, then expand Safari (the app within the folder) to reveal the window title.
  3. Select the window title and press Return to edit it. Change the window’s title to * – YouTube and press Return again. The * is Time Sink’s wildcard, and it means “match anything.” In this example, it will match any number of characters that are followed by the ” – YouTube” bit.

That’s it; Time Sink will now add all time spent on any YouTube page (in Safari, at least) to that pool. In general, there are basically three versions of the window title that you could see. Here’s how you’d edit each in a Pool to track the site in aggregate:

  • unique tidbit – words ==> unique tidbit – *
  • words – unique tidbit ==> * – unique tidbit
  • words – unique tidbit – words ==> * – unique tidbit – *

Related tip: If you want to track YouTube usage in any browser (actually, any app that can load web pages and includes page titles), right-click on the Safari application entry in the pool, then select Track Across All Applications:

This will change the application name from Safari to Any Application, and now all your YouTube time will be captured in one pool. (Are you sure you want to do this!?) You can also, as seen in the screenshot, change the name of the pool to reflect that it’s no longer Safari-specific.

So much for the simple sites…

Announcing the Witch 4 public beta

December 22nd, 2016 by Rob Griffiths

It’s been a long time since we released a major update to Witch. How long has it been? It’s been 27 minor updates long, that’s how long (nearly seven years, if you count like a normal human).

But the long wait is (nearly) over…


Hey, are those tabs in Safari or separate windows?

Say hello to Witch 4. You can try it out for yourself, today, via the Witch 4 public beta (with special pre-release pricing, too).

And yes, Witch 4 has learned more than a few new tricks…here’s just one…

If the above images have you convinced you need the beta, well, give it a try! But you should also keep reading, as there are some important details about the new features, the beta itself, and the pre-sale.

The pre-sale? Glad you asked: During the public beta, new users can buy Witch 4 for just $10 (normally $14); users of prior versions of Witch can upgrade for only $6 (normally $8). And yes, this includes App Store buyers. There are more details on the pre-sale at the end of this post.

What’s new?

Horizontal switcher

Obviously, Witch now has a horizontal mode. And anything you can do with “vertical Witch” you can also do with “Horizontal Witch.” But more on that in a bit…

Switch to tabs

That’s right, tab support! Witch can now switch directly to any tab in many apps, including the biggie, Safari…

Switch between tabs

“What other apps’s tabs will work?,” I can already hear you asking. Any app that uses the built-in support for tabs in macOS should work just fine. So all of Apple’s apps work, obviously, but so do Chrome and Opera. (Firefox, iCab, OmniWeb, and Vivaldi don’t use the system-provided tab feature, so their tabs won’t show in Witch. If you want browser tabs with Witch, use Safari, Chrome, or Opera.)

Switch to non-standard windows

If you’re like me, your toolbar is full of useful add-ons, things like Moom and Keymo, and maybe even some stuff from other developers.

The windows that open from these menu bar apps aren’t normal—they don’t show in the Command-Tab switcher, for instance. But they do show in Witch 4:

No more window shuffling to find that one settings window!

Multiple switchers

Witch 4 lets you have many switchers—one vertical and one horizontal, for instance:

Each switcher can be set to show windows or just apps. Each can have a different sort order. Each can separately list tabs or not. You get the idea. There are many actions to choose from, too:

These were all choices in the old version of Witch…except for that first one, which when used with a horizontal switcher, gives you a nicer-looking alternative to the built-in Command-Tab switcher. And now you can easily add and remove any of these actions from your collection of active switchers.

Search window titles

Even with Witch, switching between many open windows can be time consuming—you have to find that one particular window in a potentially huge list of windows. But with Witch 4, it’s easy…

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Switch via the menu bar

Witch 4 includes an optional menu bar mode that can be added to any and/or all actions you create.

Switch apps via the menu bar. Switch windows and tabs via the menu bar. Switch just the frontmost app’s non-minimized windows and tabs via the menu bar. The possibilites are endless…well, no, that’s a cliche, they aren’t endless. But they are many!

Lots more

There are other new things, too, but we’ll leave them for you to discover during your explorations of the beta. Speaking of the beta…

About the beta

Please download the beta and put it to use, and send us feedback. We’d prefer it if you could use the Witch Talk Google group (so everyone can see what’s being discussed), but feel free to use any of the other support methods. We welcome all feedback—bugs, feature requests, and how-do-I questions are all fair game.

Note that Witch 4 will only be available directly from us, because it cannot be sandboxed, which is a requirement for the App Store. (We have a migration process for App Store customers…keep reading.)

About the pre-sale

Witch 4 will be available at the same price as Witch 3—$14 for new customers, $8 for upgraders.

During the public beta period, however, the price is just $10 for new customers and $6 for upgraders from older versions of Witch—including App Store users.

Also, anyone who purchased Witch 3 after October 1st already has a valid license for Witch 4 —you can start using it as a fully licensed user with your existing license.

App Store buyers

Because Witch 4 cannot be sold in the Mac App Store, you’ll have to purchase directly from us in order to use Witch 4. The good news is that as an existing customer, we’ve figured out a way to get you the upgrade pricing, too. Here’s how:

  1. Permanently migrate to the direct version of Witch 3 by following these instructions.
  2. Purchase an upgrade license for Witch 4.

If you purchased Witch 3 from the App Store after October 1st, you only need to do step one—the license you’ll receive will work with Witch 4.

If you have any questions on the beta or the pre-sale, let us know! Otherwise, enjoy the beta, and please, send us your feedback!

Three minor updates have escaped into the wild…

December 22nd, 2016 by Rob Griffiths

…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.

Direct vs. Mac App Store: Where to buy Mac apps?

December 9th, 2016 by Rob Griffiths and Peter Maurer

One of the more-popular questions we receive is “should I buy your app directly from you, or from the Mac App Store?” The factual no-opinion-involved answer to this question is that it’s your money, so you should buy from whichever source you prefer to use. That has been, and will always be, our “corporate” answer to that question.

With that said, if you ask either of us for our opinion on the best place to buy Mac software, here’s our opinionated answer:

We strongly recommend buying direct over using the Mac App Store

At a personal level, we both always try to buy direct, using the App Store only when there’s no direct alternative.

Why do we think you should buy direct? Because we feel the advantages of buying from the Mac App Store are greatly outweighed by the disadvantages of buying from the Mac App Store.

Here’s a comparison of the two methods of buying, with what we view as some of the pros and cons of each.

Mac App Store – Pros

  • No need to manage serial numbers and/or license files, or disk images containing the apps. Buy from the store, install and reinstall from the store, and never worry about where you saved that last-used-six-years-ago license number or file when you need it again.
  • App updates for all App Store purchases are handled by one app, simplifying update management.
  • You remain anonymous to the developer, as Apple provides no customer information to them. 1Based on emails we receive, many App Store customers believe we do get their info. That is not the case.
  • Apple is collecting your money and credit card information, not some developer and/or a payment processor you’ve never heard of and know nothing about.
  • Apps are sandboxed for your protection. A sandboxed app is limited in the damage it can cause, even if it’s malicious.

In summary, the App Store makes it really easy to install, update, and reinstall apps on one or more Macs. Everything is done through one program, you don’t need to visit developers’ web sites, you don’t have to deal with licensing issues, and the sandbox protects you from dangerous code.

Mac App Store – Cons

That’s a long list of cons, and many of them are onerous. No refunds, when coupled with no trials, means that you’re buying before trying without a chance at getting your money back—and buying solely based on a handful of screenshots and other users’ reviews.

If Apple offered refunds or trial versions, things wouldn’t be quite so bad. But when neither are offered, that’s a possibly expensive hit to your pocketbook.

Note: The data for the following Direct pros and cons is based on Many Tricks’ own policies—although most other indie developers have similar policies, we’re not trying to speak for them here.

Direct – Pros

  • Money back guarantee—our site says 60 days, because that’s what our payment processor offers. But if you’re unhappy beyond that for some reason, talk to us and we’ll work something out.
  • Free trials of all our apps. There’s no need to buy before you try, you can download fully functional versions of every program we sell, so you can give them a good test run before you plunk down your money.
  • Upgrade pricing for existing customers. Generally, if we release a major new version, existing customers will be able to buy it at a discount. (This isn’t true for some of our really inexpensive programs, like Leech at $6.) Existing customers are rewarded for being customers, and save some money on the new version.
  • Developers get more of your money. Apple charges 30% of the list price for each unit sold in their store. Direct sales are notably less expensive, typically in the 8% to 15% range. More money to the developer means they’re more likely to be in business in the future, and if you like their apps, that’s a good thing for you, too.
  • Our apps can be installed on as many Macs as you personally use, with just one purchased license file.
  • We don’t care what country you live in, nor what country you move to, when using our apps. If you own our apps and manage to get on the first Mars colonization flight, you’re welcome to use our apps on Mars, too.
  • The apps we sell direct are not sandboxed, even if (as with Leech and Name Mangler) their App Store counterparts are. And while we do our best to make the two versions functionally equivalent, the sandbox sometimes makes that impossible. For example, there are some differences with Name Mangler that we couldn’t avoid.
  • We have no way to remove or disable an app you’ve purchased from us. Once you’ve bought it, you can use it for as long as it works. Even if we decide to discontinue an app, you’ll still be able to install and use it (assuming it runs on whatever version of macOS is current at that time). Just keep a copy of the download somewhere, and you can use it for a very long time.

Direct – Cons

  • License management. No doubt about it, this is the biggie. We send you a license file for our apps, and you need to keep track of it. You need to copy it to other Macs you use. You need to back it up. You need to restore it when you get a new Mac. You need to be able to find it when you rebuild your hard drive, and you’re hard up against a work deadline. If you bought an upgrade, you need to track both the original and the upgrade license.

    It’s a complex-enough task that we have a blog post that deals just with the subject of saving license files. The App Store definitely wins this one.

  • Updates are per-app, not all-in-one-app. Granted, our apps will check for updates and inform you of when they’re out, but you still have to update them each separately.

    Add in a handful of other non-App Store apps, and suddenly it seems like all you’re doing is updating apps. So yes, the App Store makes this simpler, too. (The good news is that our updates aren’t a rapid-fire affair, so it’s not like updating is a non-stop project.)

  • Anonymity lost. When you buy direct, we know who you are. We have your name, email, and other data. (We do not have any of your financial data; that’s all handled by our cart provider.)

    In the six years I’ve worked here, though, we have never contacted our customers en masse for any reason. We’ve never even emailed the customer base to inform them of a new major release. Should we? We probably should; it would probably help sales. But we both dislike direct email marketing, so we don’t do any of it.

  • Possible exposure to payment fraud. Indie developers need to have a system for collecting payment for their apps. We use FastSpring, which in turn lets buyers use a credit card, PayPal, Amazon, and a few other sources. But other developers may try to host this process themselves, or use a provider you’ve never heard of an know nothing about … and that’s scary, as you’re trusting the developer’s processor with your financial data.
  • Unknown security issues with the developers’ apps. When you buy direct from a developer, there’s usually no third party who has reviewed the app to make sure it does what it says it does, and that it doesn’t do anything malicious.

    In theory, you do get that protection in the App Store, as every app must pass Apple’s review. Yet we’ve still seen some undesirable apps make it into the App Store, because it’s possible to hide malicious behavior quite deeply. But when buying direct, you’re almost always on your own.

To help mitigate these risks before you buy (or even try) an indie developer’s apps, find public reviews of the developers’ apps. See how long they’ve been in business, and what other apps they sell. See how much they reveal of themselves and their company on their web site. Check out their payment processor—how long have they been in business, and what partners (i.e. PayPal, etc.) do they work with? Do the developers disclose their names, company mailing address and/or phone number on their web site? Do they tell you anything of their background, or the company’s background? After finding answers to these questions, if you’re not comfortable with what you’ve discovered, then don’t try or buy the app.

By buying direct, you’re taking a more active role in your software: You’re responsible for the license, and for installing updates for each app. You’re also responsible for doing your homework before you purchase. In exchange for these tasks, most developers offer free trials, money back guarantees, discounted upgrades, and fewer restrictions on where you use your purchased apps.

In the long run, buying direct helps developers stay in business, which is good for you and good for them. It gives you more control over your software, which is good for you. But it does require more work than does the App Store. In this case, though, it’s our opinion that buying direct is worth the extra hassles involved.

Name Mangler 3.4 is at your service

November 22nd, 2016 by Rob Griffiths

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.

Moom 3.2.6 snaps into existence

November 3rd, 2016 by Rob Griffiths

Moom 3.2.6 has been released with a few bug fixes for snap-related actions. Users had reported some issues with snapping when working with zoomed displays and when customizing toolbars, and some reported decreased responsiveness in certain apps. We have addressed all of these issues in Moom 3.2.6; you can see slightly greater detail on these changes in the official release notes, if you wish.

App Store users should see the update shortly, if not already, in the App Store app. Direct users can update via the in-app updater, or by downloading a new copy of the app from the Moom page.

How-to: Make Witch (indie) launch on login in Sierra

October 25th, 2016 by Rob Griffiths

We’ve had a few reports of the direct version of Witch not automatically launching at login after upgrading to macOS Sierra. While we haven’t seen this issue here, if it happens to you, here’s how to resolve the problem. (There have been no reports of troubles with the App Store version, so the following is only for our direct customers.)

First, open System Preferences, click on Users & Groups, then click the Login Items tab. Scan the list of items and see if witchdaemon is listed. If it is listed, and Witch still isn’t running at login for you, please open a trouble ticket for one-on-one assistance.

If you don’t see witchdaemon then—leaving System Preferences open—switch to Finder.

In Finder, navigate to your user’s Library folder (or to the top-level Library folder, if you installed Witch for all users). Your user’s Library folder may be hidden; if so, hold down the Option key and choose Go > Library from the Finder’s menu.

Once inside the Library folder, navigate into PreferencePanes. There you will (hopefully) see Witch.prefpane. (If you don’t see it, it’s probable you installed Witch for all users, in which case you need to navigate to the top-level /Library > PreferencePanes folder, then follow the rest of these instructions.)

Right-click on Witch.prefpane and choose Show Package Contents from the contextual menu; this will display a Contents folder. Navigate into Contents > Helpers, which should show just oen entry, witchdaemon.app. Leave this window open.

Now drag witchdaemon.app from the Finder window into the list of login items in System Preferences, and drop it there. Make sure witchdaemon now appears in the list, then close System Preferences. You should now be good to go—Witch should now launch properly at login.

If you need additional help with this process, or Witch still isn’t launching at login after even though it’s listed in login items, please open a trouble ticket for additional support.

Time Sink 1.2.6—direct only—released

September 9th, 2016 by Rob Griffiths

Time Sink 1.2.6 is out, but only for direct customers. This update is basically an update to get ready for a major update (hint: its version number starts and ends with ‘2’) that’s coming Very Soon Now. Actually, that’s not entirely true; this update is so that future updates (including said major update) will work properly under macOS Sierra.

Note: If you’re already running Sierra (beta or Gold Master version), you will need to manually download Time Sink 1.2.6 from our site (only this one time).

App Store customers don’t get this update, because it doesn’t affect their version of the app (because there are no in-app updates). However, pending App Store review and approval, we fully expect that the next major update (that one that starts and ends with ‘2’) will be available for App Store users as well.

Stay tuned for more on Time Sink 2! Oh dang, I’ve gone and spilled the beans…

Leech 3.1.1—App Store only—released

September 9th, 2016 by Rob Griffiths

Today we released an update for the App Store version of Leech. This minor update changes the way Leech accesses the filesystem via the sandbox; the method we previously used didn’t work correctly in macOS Sierra, which is due out within a couple of weeks. (Because the direct version doesn’t use the sandbox, no update is required for direct customers.)

If you’re an App Store Leech user, please update to 3.3.1 before installing macOS Sierra. The update should be available now, or very shortly, via the App Store app.