MacLife March 2021

Mac|Life is the leading independent magazine devoted to all things Apple. For over five years, Mac|Life has helped both new and veteran users get more out of their iPhones, iPads, Macs, and more, with coverage that cuts through today's glut of apps and accessories to find what matters most. With a bright, clean design and casual tone, Mac|Life offers an easy and enjoyable way to keep up with the latest Apple trends and topics.

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1 min
spot the electron apps

Many good Mac apps are built using Electron, Catalyst, or another framework to make development quicker, and support multiple platforms. Judge the final products rather than how they’ve got there. These frameworks can have drawbacks: Electron apps have been vulnerable to security attacks, and Catalyst apps are prone to design shortcomings, which are easily assessed. Working out whether an app uses a framework requires deep insights into its code and structure which even the most advanced user can’t hope to achieve. Helge Heß of ZeeZide has built a free app to distinguish these and other types such as apps built using AppleScript. His 5GUIs tool is available free from the App Store, and its source code is at…

1 min
master the photos app

BIG SUR HAS has enabled the macOS Photos app to catch up with the iOS version, especially in the area of video editing. You can now adjust a clip to fix problems with color and tone directly in the macOS version instead of having to export clips to iMovie for grading purposes. Big Sur’s Photos app also sees an improvement to the Retouch tool. In older versions of Photos, the Retouch tool could struggle to replace unwanted objects with suitable pixels. Retouched areas could look blurry or contain unsuitable pixels. The enhanced Retouch tool benefits from machine learning to help it replace unwanted objects with appropriate adjacent pixels. This helps you remove objects quickly, without having to manually define the sampled area. Photos in Big Sur is now more up to speed…

1 min
how to create and edit smart stacks

1 Add a pre–made Smart Stack Tap and hold a blank area of the Home screen, tap the “+” button (top–left corner), then scroll down and tap Smart Stack. Choose one of the three available sizes, then tap Add Widget. 2 Reorder the widgets If you want to edit a Smart Stack, tap and hold it until a contextual menu appears, then tap Edit Stack. You can use the handles on the right–hand side to rearrange widgets to your liking. When you’re done, tap the cross. 3 Add a widget to a stack To add another widget to a Smart Stack, open the widgets menu from step 1, then drag and drop a new widget over an existing stack. All widgets must be the same size — you can’t combine large and small widgets, for…

1 min
transform your old ipad into a neat photo frame

FIRST, GET A stand to hold your iPad in place. As the iPad will be in landscape mode, you will need a separate charging cable unless both your iPad and stand have a Smart Connector. Before starting, enable Do Not Disturb mode from Control Center. You may prefer to enable Airplane Mode to eliminate distracting notifications and preserve battery life (if you’re not using a charger). Open Photos on your iPad, tap the “+” in the top–left corner, then tap New Album. Give it a name and add the photos that you want to display on your iPad. When you’re done, tap the “…” button in the top–right corner when inside the album, then tap Slideshow. Tap the Options button in the bottom–right, then turn on Repeat. If you want to add…

2 min
use an old ipad as a media hub

One of the main benefits of the iPad is its portability, and that makes it ideal for turning into a media streaming device. Once set up, you will be able to consume your media without needing to store it on your iPad. For this, you’re going to need Plex, a media server app that’s free to download (but we recommend unlocking it to avoid its playback limits). Once you have set up your server following our steps on the left, install the Plex Media Server app on your server Mac. Once installed, this will scan your Mac for media files; you can add more from the Libraries section in the sidebar. Make sure to create an account. On your iPad, install the separate Plex app from the App Store. When you open…

1 min
my mac is now unresponsive after a silent update

Almost certainly not. Open About This Mac at the top of the Apple menu, and click on the System Report button to open System Information. Select Installations at the left, then click twice on the header of the Install Date column. That lists installations in chronological order, with the latest at the top. You will likely see a recent entry for MRTConfigData 1.68, a silent security update which has caused these problems, as it did for many before Apple pulled that update. Fixing this isn’t easy. Restart in Recovery mode, open Terminal there, disable SIP with the command: csrutil disable and restart as normal. Locate, which is in/System/Library/CoreServices or/Library/Apple/System/Library/CoreServices in Catalina and Big Sur. With SIP disabled you can rename that to Restart into Recovery mode again and enable SIP…