Five Essential Apps for Your Mac

Apps designed for the Mac often don't get as much attention as apps for iOS, even though there are dozens of super useful, must-have Mac apps out there.

In our latest YouTube video, we took a look at five of the most useful Mac apps that may have gone under your radar. If you don't already own these apps for organizing and sharing files, they're well-worth checking out.

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All of the Mac apps featured in our video are listed below, with prices and links.

Unclutter ($9.99) - As the name suggests, Unclutter is designed to clean up your desktop. It's an app that's designed to store notes, files, and everything copied to your clipboard. You can drag everything that's on your desktop into Unclutter for a neat, organized desktop that still offers easy access to all the temporary files and information you need.

DeskCover (Free) - If you often work with multiple windows open but dislike distraction, DeskCover is an app worth looking at. It automatically highlights the active app window while dimming everything else in the background, plus it allows you to hide everything stored on your desktop with a single mouse click.

Dropzone 3 ($9.99) - Dropzone makes it easier to copy, move, and share files with unique, customizable actions that let you organize your data with simple drag and drop gestures. Drag a file into an application listed in Dropzone and you can copy it, share it to a social network, AirDrop it, and do tons more.

Bartender 3 ($15) - Bartender 3 is a super popular Mac app that lets you rearrange and hide icons on the menu bar of your Mac. With Bartender, you can put the menu bar items you use most often front and center, while hiding all the rest behind the Bartender icon for a much more streamlined menu bar. Bartender 3 is the only app on our list that you'll need to download outside of the Mac App Store.

Magnet ($0.99) - Magnet is designed to let you rearrange all of your open app windows into an orderly layout for a clean, organized desktop. It's called Magnet because your app windows will snap right into place.

Do you have favorite must-have Mac apps that aren't in our video? Let us know what they are in the comments and we might feature them in a future video.


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macOS High Sierra’s App Store System Preferences Can Be Unlocked With Any Password

A bug report submitted on Open Radar this week reveals a major security vulnerability in the current version of macOS High Sierra that allows the App Store menu in System Preferences to be unlocked with any password.


MacRumors is able to reproduce the issue on macOS High Sierra version 10.13.2, the latest public release of the operating system, on an administrator-level account by following these steps:

• Click on System Preferences.
• Click on App Store.
• Click on the padlock icon to lock it if necessary.
• Click on the padlock icon again.
• Enter your username and any password.
• Click Unlock.

As mentioned in the radar, System Preferences does not accept an incorrect password with a non-administrator account.

We're unable to reproduce the issue on the third or fourth betas of macOS High Sierra 10.13.3, suggesting Apple has fixed the security vulnerability in the upcoming release. However, the update currently remains in testing.

MacRumors is also unable to reproduce the issue on macOS Sierra version 10.12.6, suggesting the issue affects macOS High Sierra only.

The security vulnerability means that anyone with administrator-level access to your Mac could unlock the App Store preferences and enable or disable settings to automatically install macOS updates, app updates, system data files, and, ironically, even security updates that would fix a bug like this one.

This is the second major password-related bug to affect macOS High Sierra in as many months, following a major security vulnerability that enabled access to the root superuser account with a blank password on macOS High Sierra version 10.13.1 that Apple fixed with a supplemental security update.

Following the root password vulnerability, Apple apologized in a statement and added that it was "auditing its development processes to help prevent this from happening again," so this doesn't look great.
We greatly regret this error and we apologize to all Mac users, both for releasing with this vulnerability and for the concern it has caused. Our customers deserve better. We are auditing our development processes to help prevent this from happening again.
Apple will likely want to fix this latest security vulnerability as quickly as possible, so it's possible we'll see a similar supplemental update released, or perhaps it will fast track the release of macOS High Sierra version 10.13.3. Apple did not immediately respond to our request for comment on this matter.

In the meantime, we can't think of an obvious workaround for this issue, so if you keep your App Store preferences behind lock, you'll want to keep a close eye on your Mac until further notice. If we learn of a solution, we'll share it.

We're still investigating further to confirm if macOS High Sierra versions 10.13 or 10.13.1 are affected. We'll update this article as we learn more.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra

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Popular Game ‘Prison Architect’ Comes to Mac App Store

Popular Steam game Prison Architect, which was originally released in October as part of Steam's Early Access program, is making its way to the Mac App Store today through a partnership between developer Introversion Software and MacPlay.


Prison Architect is a top-down simulation game where the goal is to build and run a successful prison. Players are tasked with building cells, recruiting prisoners, hiring staff, establishing utilities, developing prisoner schedules, managing entertainment and reform programs, and keeping prisoners from escaping.

Prison Architect features two game modes -- story and escape. In story mode, the player follows the story of Edward, a man who is facing the electric chair for committing a crime of passion, while in escape mode, the player takes on the role of a prisoner attempting to escape from the prison.

On the Mac, Prison Architect requires 4GB RAM, a Core2 Duo processor or better, and 300MB hard drive space.

In addition to being available in the Mac App Store, Prison Architect can also be played on the iPad, as an iOS version of the game was released earlier this year.

The Mac App Store version of Prison Architect is priced at $29.99. [Direct Link]


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Survey Suggests Mac Developers Continue to Be Dissatisfied With Mac App Store

Setapp, a company that offers a Mac app subscription service, recently polled 742 developers to get their thoughts on the Mac App Store and the state of Mac app development. The survey is a follow-up to a survey that was conducted last year, which concluded many Mac developers are unhappy with Apple's platform.

That same anti-Mac App Store sentiment can be seen in the results of this year's survey. Of Mac developers polled, just 23 percent use the Mac App Store as their sole distribution platform, while 47 percent use the Mac App Store alongside another distribution method. 30 percent don't bother with the Mac App Store at all. The number of developers using both the Mac App Store and another distribution method is up slightly from last year, but the Mac App Store only category is stagnant.


Developers who don't use the Mac App Store cite reasons like the long app review process, the 30 percent revenue split with Apple, and the inability to offer trials.

The majority of money made from Mac apps is made outside of the Mac App Store among developers polled. Revenue from the Mac App Store accounted for 44 percent of app earnings, while revenue from outside of the Mac App Store accounted for 56 percent.

Developers were asked how likely they were to recommend the Mac App Store as a primary distribution channel to a friend or colleague, and the results were tallied using a Net Promoter Score that can range from 100 (everyone recommends) to -100 (no one recommends). A higher negative score means a more negative opinion.

Mac App Store developers had Net Promoter Score (NPS) of -34, non-Mac App Store developers had a score of -97, and developers who sell their apps both in and outside of the Mac App Store had a score of -48.


69 percent of developers polled said that sharing 30 percent of their revenue with Apple was not worth it based on what the Mac App Store provides, while 31 percent said it was worth it. In 2016, 62 percent said not worth it and 38 percent said worth it.

Sandboxing, a lack of analytics tools, no app bundles, no upgrades, and no ability to respond to reviews were seen as major factors limiting developers' businesses. As of iOS 10.3 and macOS Sierra 10.12.4, developers have been able to respond to customer reviews, eliminating at least one factor keeping developers from using the Mac App Store.


On the plus side, developers were happy with improvements to the Mac App Store review process and the speed with which apps go through the review process, while opinions on Mac App Store communications, review guidelines, and the appeal process saw smaller positive changes.

Going forward, developers would like to see faster app approval times, more flexibility when it comes to Apple's sandboxing policies, better communication with the Mac App Store approval team, and clearer explanations when an app is rejected.

Additional topics, like the new subscription options, are covered in the survey and can be viewed over on the main survey page. There are also comparisons between the 2016 survey for a clearer look at the state of the Mac App Store.


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Puzzle Game ‘The Witness’ Launches on Mac App Store, iOS Version Still Coming Soon

Jonathan Blow's console and PC puzzle game The Witness has launched on the Mac App Store a little over a year after first debuting on PS4 and Windows PCs. Like other platforms, the game costs $39.99 [Direct Link] and tasks players with deciphering hundreds of puzzles set on a mysterious island.

Since its release early last year the game has received critical acclaim for its puzzle design, graphics, and secrets-filled backstory. The macOS version ports the same game and experience over to Apple computers running macOS 10.11.6 or later with 4GB of RAM and 5GB available storage space. The game also requires Apple's new Metal graphics technology to run.

You wake up, alone, on a strange island full of puzzles that will challenge and surprise you.

You don't remember who you are, and you don't remember how you got here, but there's one thing you can do: explore the island in hope of discovering clues, regaining your memory, and somehow finding your way home.

The Witness is a single-player game in an open world with dozens of locations to explore and over 500 puzzles. This game respects you as an intelligent player and it treats your time as precious. There's no filler; each of those puzzles brings its own new idea into the mix. So, this is a game full of ideas.
An iOS port of the game has long been in development, and a few developers at Thekla -- the game's creators -- mentioned in passing recently that the game is still being worked on for iOS, but a launch date is unspecified. Since The Witness is so graphically intensive, the iOS port will require a longer gestation to pare down the visuals in order to run properly on Apple's smartphones and tablets.


The Witness is available today for $39.99 on the Mac App Store [Direct Link]. A Mac version of the game on Steam is also said to be coming in the next few weeks.

Related Roundup: macOS Sierra
Tags: Mac App Store, The Witness

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Expiring Developer Certificates Causing Some Mac Apps to Refuse to Launch

A number of Mac apps failed to launch for users over the weekend because of a change to the way Apple certifies apps that have not been bought directly from the Mac App Store.

Users of apps including Soulver and PDFPen who had downloaded the apps from the developers' websites all reported immediate crashes on launch. Developers of the apps quickly apologized and said that the issue was down to the apps' code signing certificates reaching their expiration date.

Apple issues developer signing certificates to assure users that an app they have downloaded outside of the Mac App Store is legitimate, comes from a known source, and hasn't been modified since it was last signed. In the past, the expiration of a code signing certificate had no effect on already shipped software, but that changed since the release of Sierra last year, when Apple began requiring apps to carry something called a provisioning profile.


A provisioning profile tells macOS that the app has been checked by Apple against an online database and is allowed to perform certain system actions or "entitlements". However, the profile is also signed using the developer's code signing certificate, and when the certificate expires, the provisioning profile becomes invalid.

Victims of expired provisioning profiles over the weekend included users of 1Password for Mac who had bought the app from the developer's website. AgileBits explained on Sunday that affected users would need to manually update to the latest version (6.5.5), noting that those who downloaded 1Password from the Mac App Store were unaffected. The developers' surprise was explained in a blog post:
We knew our developer certificate was going to expire on Saturday, but thought nothing of it because we believed those were only necessary when publishing a new version. Apparently that's not the case. In reality it had the unexpected side effect of causing macOS to refuse to launch 1Password properly.
Currently, the common factor among affected apps appears to be those that were issued iCloud entitlements as part of their provisioning profile. Smile, developers of PDFpen and PDFpenPro, told TidBits that users would need to manually download the latest updates to the apps to fix the problem. Acqualia, developers of number-crunching app Soulver, also apologized for the problem and asked affected users to download an update to fix the issue.

As the above suggests, the immediate solution is for developers of affected apps to renew their code signing certificates before they expire. AgileBits said the incident had given them "a new understanding of the importance of expiring provisioning profiles and certificates" and would be renewing its current certificate, due to expire in 2022, "far before then".


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Apple’s Education Bundle With Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro Now Available Around the World

Apple's new Pro Apps Bundle for Education, which launched in the United States last week, is now available for purchase in several other countries, including but not limited to Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, UAE, and the United Kingdom.

Other countries where the bundle is now available include Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Thailand, and Turkey. If we spot any others, we'll add them to this list.


The education bundle, available to qualifying students and faculty, includes permanent copies of Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro X, Motion 5, Compressor 4, and MainStage 3 for a significant discount. In the United States, for example, the five apps usually cost $629.95, while the bundle is $199.99—a savings of over $425.

Elsewhere, pricing is set at £199.99 in the United Kingdom, $299.99 in Australia, $259.99 in Canada, and €229.99 in several European countries, such as Belgium, France, Germany, and Ireland. Prices in other countries vary.

Final Cut Pro X is Apple's professional video editing software, while Logic Pro X is its professional audio workstation for advanced music production. Motion 5, Compressor 4, and MainStage 3 are companion tools for creating 3D animations and effects, customizing output settings, building set lists, and more.

After purchasing the bundle, education customers will receive an email with codes to redeem the apps on the Mac App Store.


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