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July 17 2018

20:00

How to Use WhatsApp While Maintaining Your Privacy

privacy-and-whatsapp

Do you want to use WhatsApp, but don’t want people to know what you’re doing? By default, WhatsApp shares your activity with friends and the public in several ways. Privacy-conscious folks will likely have concerns about this.

Thankfully, you can use WhatsApp almost completely in secret. So, try these useful tips to regain some of your privacy while using WhatsApp.

1. Turn Off Last Seen in WhatsApp

By default, WhatsApp lets your contacts know when you last opened the app. You might prefer to hide this information so people don’t wonder why you’re not responding to their messages.

To do so, first open WhatsApp. On Android, tap the three-dot Menu button in the upper-right and choose Settings. For iOS, tap the Settings entry at the bottom.

Choose Account > Privacy and you’ll see an option labeled Last Seen. Tap it and change it from Everyone to My contacts or Nobody depending on your preference.

Once you’ve done this, it becomes a mystery when you were last online. But you won’t be able to see when others were online either.

2. Disable WhatsApp Read Receipts

Read receipts let the sender of a message know that you received it. Two gray check marks means that WhatsApp delivered your message successfully; they turn blue when the other person reads your message.

These are helpful for confirming someone read your message without responding, but you may prefer the other person not know you’ve seen their message yet. To disable them, head back to Settings > Account > Privacy and uncheck Read receipts at the bottom.

If you disable read receipts, you won’t see them for others either. And unfortunately, you can’t disable read receipts for group chats. But because it’s so useful, this is still one of the big WhatsApp settings everyone must know.

3. Hide Your WhatsApp Profile Photo

You may have set a profile photo your contacts can see while messaging you, but would prefer to hide it from people you don’t know. Or maybe you’d rather not show your face on WhatsApp at all.

To change your profile photo privacy, visit Settings > Account > Privacy. Select the Profile photo option, and again choose from Everyone, My contacts, or Nobody. They’ll see the generic outline picture instead.

4. Exclude Contacts From Status Sharing

Not content with just messaging, WhatsApp has added a “status update” function too. Only contacts can view your status, but you can pick exactly which ones enjoy that privilege.

Visit Settings > Account > Privacy and choose Status. You have three options: My contacts shows it to everyone you know, while My contacts except lets you specify people to block. Pick Only share with if you want to restrict your status to only certain people.

5. Hide Your About Message

Your “About” message in WhatsApp is a brief bio people will see under your name. It’s more for a funny quote or joke than it is for personal information, but you can hide it from unknown users or everyone if you like.

Like many of the others settings we’ve discussed, you’ll find it at Settings > Account > Privacy. Tap About and choose whether to show your About message to Everyone, My contacts, or Nobody.

6. Check If You’re Sharing Your Location

WhatsApp allows you to share your location with contacts. You can do this by tapping the Attachment icon in a chat and tapping Location.

While this is useful for short-term cases, you wouldn’t want to realize you’ve been unknowingly sharing your location with someone for months.

Thankfully, WhatsApp provides a feature to check on this. On the Privacy menu, tap the Live location entry. You’ll see if you’re sharing your location with any chats here and can disable it if so.

Speaking of this, location information is one of the smartphone permissions you should check you haven’t granted to apps unless it’s really needed.

7. Use Airplane Mode With WhatsApp

Airplane mode comes in handy for a whole lot of different things. As you’re probably aware, this mode cuts off all wireless communications, so your phone isn’t connected to the internet, Bluetooth, and similar.

While it’s intended for use on planes (as its name suggests), it’s also great for shutting out distractions and hiding ads in mobile games. But you can use it as a quick workaround if you want to read a message without alerting the sender.

Toggle the airplane mode shortcut by dragging down with two fingers on Android to open Quick Settings, or swipe up from the bottom to open Control Center on iOS. Then, open WhatsApp and check out the message you received. Since you’re offline, your “last online” time won’t update and the sender won’t get a read receipt.

Of course, you won’t receive new messages when in airplane mode, so it’s not a perfect solution. But it may still come in handy.

8. Take Advantage of Popup Notifications

You can use WhatsApp notifications to your advantage to read messages without altering the sender that you’ve done so. By enabling popup notifications on Android or alert notifications on iOS, you can see new messages in a big bubble on your screen.

For Android, visit Settings > Notifications. Select Popup notification and change it to Always show popup. You can also choose Only when screen on or off if you prefer. Repeat this in the Group notifications header below if you wish.

On iOS, you’ll have to change the notification style instead. Go to Settings > Notifications, then select In-App Notifications. Here, change Alert Style to Alerts. Unlike banners, which appear at the top and then disappear, these require your action to close.

Once you’ve done this, new messages will show on-screen. You can read them and close the popup without marking the message as read.

Staying Stealthy and Private on WhatsApp

If you don’t want to share any more information on WhatsApp than necessary, try putting these eight tricks into practice. They let you use WhatsApp on your own terms without having to worry about what other people think.

But using WhatsApp in secret is only part of the fight. You should make sure you’ve also taken these measures to make WhatsApp safer and more secure.

Read the full article: How to Use WhatsApp While Maintaining Your Privacy

19:00

The Best Cheap Bluetooth Speakers (Under $50)

best-bt-speakers

Bluetooth speakers vary wildly in price. Some cost a few dollars, and others cost hundreds of dollars. But you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy high-quality sound. You can spend under $50 and still get a fantastic speaker.

Here are some of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers.

1. Anker Soundcore 2

Anker Soundcore

Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Superior Stereo Sound, Exclusive BassUp, 12-Watts, IPX5 Water-Resistant, 24-Hour Playtime, Perfect Wireless Speaker for Home, Outdoors, Travel Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Superior Stereo Sound, Exclusive BassUp, 12-Watts, IPX5 Water-Resistant, 24-Hour Playtime, Perfect Wireless Speaker for Home, Outdoors, Travel Buy Now At Amazon $39.99

“High-quality sound that rivals high-end models.”

The Anker Soundcore 2 is arguably the best Bluetooth speaker available for less than $50.

Owners of the original Anker Soundcore might not find the upgrade worthwhile, but for newcomers, it’s a bargain. The sound is better than several larger, more powerful speakers. Low ends diminish at 150Hz.

The speaker, which measures 6.6 x 1.9 x 2.2 inches, comes with two 6W speakers and two 1.5-inch drivers. It offers 24 hours of battery life and Bluetooth 4.2 support for up to 66 feet.

There’s also an AUX port that allows you to play music from devices that aren’t Bluetooth-enabled.

The Anker Soundcore 2 has an IPX5 waterproof rating. It means the speaker can withstand being splashed on around the poolside or used in the shower. (What is a waterproof rating?)

2. JBL Clip 2

JBL Clip

JBL Clip 2 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black) JBL Clip 2 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Black) Buy Now At Amazon $39.39

“A tiny clip-on speaker for people on the move.”

Although almost all of the best cheap Bluetooth speakers are portable, many aren’t suitable for using when you’re physically on the go.

The JBL Clip 2 is different. It offers a solution for people who don’t want to use Bluetooth headphones while they’re moving. Everyone from gardeners to sportspeople will find it useful. The device includes a carabiner clip so you can attach it to your clothes.

Given its small size (it weighs just 184 grams), it’s unsurprising that the speaker itself doesn’t pack the same punch as the other models on this list. It includes a solitary 3W speaker and 40mm transducer. The batteries last for around eight hours.

It does not include an AUX port.

3. Dell AD211

Dell AD211

Dell 05CC6 AD211 2.0 Bluetooth Portable Speaker - 5 W RMS - Wireless Speaker(s) - Black, Gray Dell 05CC6 AD211 2.0 Bluetooth Portable Speaker - 5 W RMS - Wireless Speaker(s) - Black, Gray Buy Now At Amazon $39.95

“Feature-rich speaker for indoor use.”

The Dell AD211 isn’t designed for rugged outdoor use. The silver casing looks excellent on desks and in kitchens, while the rubberized plate on one end gives you the option of placing it vertically or horizontally.

It also includes some features that are more suited to indoor use. They include NFC compatibility for rapid pairing and a microphone for using on hands-free phone calls.

The Dell AD211’s Bluetooth signal has a 33-foot range, and the battery will last for 10 hours. Under the hood, you will find two 2.5W speakers, a full-range driver, and a passive radiator.

4. AOMAIS Sport II

AOMAIS Sport

AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers 4.0 with Waterproof IPX7,20W Bass Sound,Stereo Pairing,Durable Design for iPhone /iPod/iPad/Phones/Tablet/Echo dot,Good Gift(Orange) AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers 4.0 with Waterproof IPX7,20W Bass Sound,Stereo Pairing,Durable Design for iPhone /iPod/iPad/Phones/Tablet/Echo dot,Good Gift(Orange) Buy Now At Amazon $35.99

“The best cheap Bluetooth speaker for rugged outdoor use.”

The AOMAIS Sport II oozes durability. The entire speaker’s outer shell is reinforced with a combination of thick rubber and plastic. A watertight flap hides all of the speaker’s ports.

All the reinforcement earns the speaker an IPX7 rating; it’s the only speaker on this list to have it. This rating means the speaker is mud-resistant and dust-resistant and waterproof to a depth of one meter for 30 minutes.

Sound-wise, the AOMAIS Sport II doesn’t disappoint. It offers two 10W speakers; it’s more than enough to fill a large room with music. On the downside, the two speakers’ output their sound in mono. If you want to enjoy stereo sound, you’ll need to pair two of the devices together.

The speaker also comes with a microphone and NFC reader.

5. DOSS SoundBox

DOSS SoundBox

DOSS SoundBox Bluetooth Speaker, Portable Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Touch Speakers with 12W HD Sound and Bold Bass, Handsfree, 12H playtime for Echo Dot, iPhone, iPad, Samsung, tablet, Gift ideas[White] DOSS SoundBox Bluetooth Speaker, Portable Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Touch Speakers with 12W HD Sound and Bold Bass, Handsfree, 12H playtime for Echo Dot, iPhone, iPad, Samsung, tablet, Gift ideas[White] Buy Now At Amazon $25.99

“Powerful desktop Bluetooth speaker.”

While the Dell AD211 wins in terms of design, if sound quality is more important to you, the DOSS SoundBox is the best Bluetooth speaker available for under $50.

The audio is delivered via two 6W speakers, enhanced bass, and 360-degree sound technology.

In addition to Bluetooth and AUX-in connectivity, the DOSS SoundBox is also one of the few speakers that offers a Micro SD card port. The presence of the port means the speaker isn’t waterproof and thus isn’t suitable for rugged outdoor use.

The controls might not be to everyone’s taste. They’re touch-only and are illuminated by a bright backlight that you cannot disable.

The speaker measures 6.6 x 2.9 x 2.7 inches and comes in white, black, and blue. It has a Bluetooth range of 33 feet.

6. Creative Muvo Mini

best cheap affordable bluetoothe speakers

Creative Muvo Mini Pocket-Sized Weather Resistant Bluetooth Speaker with NFC that Delivers Loud and Strong Bass (Black) Creative Muvo Mini Pocket-Sized Weather Resistant Bluetooth Speaker with NFC that Delivers Loud and Strong Bass (Black) Buy Now At Amazon $37.99

“A tough speaker that also looks great indoors.”

The Creative Muvo Mini is a curious speaker. Its quirky design means it doesn’t look out of place indoors or outdoors, while the features will also appeal to both markets.

For example, the built-in microphone and NFC support make it a perfect desktop companion, but the 10-hour battery life and IP66 waterproof rating make it ideal for use on a deck or patio during the summer. The speaker also has an AUX port and microphone.

The low-end bass sounds acceptable, but not perfect. It is the speaker’s biggest weakness.

The Creative Muvo Mini weighs 285 grams and measures 7.4 x 1.4 x 1.7 inches. It is available in black, blue, red, and white.

7. OontZ Angle 3

OoontZ Angle

OontZ Angle 3 ULTRA : Portable Bluetooth Speaker 14-Watts deliver Bigger Bass and Hi-Quality Sound, 100ft Wireless Range, Play two together for Music in Dual Stereo, IPX-6 Splashproof Black OontZ Angle 3 ULTRA : Portable Bluetooth Speaker 14-Watts deliver Bigger Bass and Hi-Quality Sound, 100ft Wireless Range, Play two together for Music in Dual Stereo, IPX-6 Splashproof Black Buy Now At Amazon $39.99

“Weatherproof speaker with exceptional range and battery life.”

The OontZ Angle 3 is perfect for people who want to use their speaker for a long time in large spaces—for example, on camping trips.

The battery lasts for an impressive 20 hours, while the 100-foot Bluetooth range is the largest out of the seven speakers we’ve discussed in this list.

With an IPX6 rating, the speaker is spray-resistant and splash-resistant, but it will not survive complete submersion. Think of it as shower-proof rather than bath-proof. The two physical speakers each provide 7W of sound and are capable of handling stereo output.

The speaker has an AUX port and built-in microphone.

Other Speakers You May Want to Consider

When you’re hunting for the best cheap Bluetooth speakers, the key to long-term satisfaction is to purchase a device that meets your specific needs. There’s no point in buying an expensive rugged speaker if it’s just going to sit on your desktop all day, every day.

If these are too cheap for you, check out our other article on the best Bluetooth speakers for all budgets. Or if you don’t want Bluetooth anymore, check out these awesome desktop speakers that are worth every penny.

Read the full article: The Best Cheap Bluetooth Speakers (Under $50)

18:30

Microsoft Launches Skype 8.0 for Desktop

Microsoft has released a new version of Skype for desktop, and this one looks and feels just like the mobile version of Skype. The only catch is that Microsoft is forcing everyone to upgrade to Skype 8.0 as all previous versions are set to stop working within weeks.

The new Skype arrived last year to mixed reviews. The new Skype, which was designed to appeal to the next generation of Skype users, landed first on Android and iOS. However, it’s now also available on other platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Skype Version 8.0

The new version of Skype for desktop, Skype 8.0, is designed to replace Skype 7.0 (also known as Skype Classic). Microsoft is recommending everyone upgrades at their earliest convenience, as, after September 1, 2018, only Skype 8.0 will function.

Microsoft claims this is to “ensure that all customers have the best possible Skype experience, and that there are no quality or reliability issues resulting from old technology and new technology interoperating.” Which is fair reasoning.

Skype 8.0 offers free HD video and screensharing calls, @mentions for more productive messaging, a chat media gallery to help you find files in conversations, and the option to share photos, videos, and other files up to 300MB just by dragging and dropping.

On the Skype Blog, Microsoft also shared what’s coming next, including read receipts as standard in other messaging apps, private conversations, cloud-based call recording, and profile invites and group links to help you start conversations more quickly.

Free Skype Alternatives

Microsoft is doing the right thing in trying to make sure Skype users enjoy the same experience across multiple platforms. However, forcing people to upgrade to the latest version of the desktop within the next few weeks is bound to annoy some people.

Skype 8.0 is a vast improvement over previous versions of Skype for desktop. And judging by the new features Microsoft has lined up for the future this is just the beginning. But if you really don’t like the new Skype, there are plenty of free Skype alternatives.

Read the full article: Microsoft Launches Skype 8.0 for Desktop

18:00

The Best External GPU for a MacBook Pro

best-external-gpu-macbook-pro

The idea of an external graphics card (eGPU) was once the talk of fantasy, but that’s no longer the case. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3 and its high-bandwidth 40Gbps transfer rate, external enclosures can now accommodate high-end graphics cards.

That means you can now supercharge the visual performance of your Mac computer, even if it’s a laptop. There are some caveats to doing this, namely a limited number of supported graphics cards and the high price of getting started (for now, anyway).

So let’s take a look at what you need to add an external GPU to your Mac or MacBook and which ones you should buy.

What You’ll Need

First, you’ll need a Thunderbolt 3-capable Mac or MacBook model. Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C connector, and appears on the following models:

  • MacBook Pro, late 2016 and newer
  • iMac, mid 2017 and newer
  • iMac with Retina Display, mid 2017 and newer
  • iMac Pro, late 2017 and newer

MacBook Pro connections and ports

In addition to owning one of these Apple computers, you’ll also need macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later. Finally, you’ll need to purchase two additional items, either separately or part of a bundle:

  1. A Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure, into which your graphics card will slot.
  2. A macOS-compatible graphics card.

With all this in place, you should be able to put the graphics card into the enclosure, then plug the enclosure into your Mac for a significant boost in graphical fidelity. However, you may still be limited in how you can use your eGPU.

The Limitations of External GPUs on macOS

Not every application you run can take advantage of your eGPU. In many cases, you’ll need to plug an external monitor directly into the eGPU enclosure in order to see the benefit. This is the case with many 3D games and VR applications.

Some pro-level software designed to take advantage of multiple GPUs will “just work” as you’d expect. This includes 3D modeling apps and video editors, but it’s worth confirming your preferred application will see a benefit before you buy.

eGPU Disconnect macOS High Sierra

Some applications and games have received patches allowing you to accelerate the built-in display on your iMac or MacBook. However, this is something that developers must enable on their end, so it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re thinking of using an eGPU purely to accelerate your in-built display.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to use your external GPU with Boot Camp to run Windows games on your Mac. But since most of these enclosures are also compatible with Windows, this might improve in the future.

Mac Compatibility With External GPUs

At present, there are only a small number of compatible graphics cards you can use as an eGPU on your Mac. These are all AMD cards, with none of the popular Nvidia cards officially supported at present.

According to Apple, these are:

  • AMD Polaris cards: Radeon RX 470, RX 480, RX 570, RX 580, and Radeon Pro WX 7100
  • AMD Vega 64 cards: Radeon RX Vega 64, Vega Frontier Edition Air, and Radeon Pro WX 9100
  • AMD Radeon RX Vega 56

Users over at the eGPU.io community have managed to get Nvidia cards working on macOS, but not without a lot of tweaking. If you already own an Nvidia card and you want to try, its forums are your friend. But I wouldn’t buy an Nvidia card with the intent of “hacking” your way to success at this stage.

Picking an eGPU Enclosure for Your Mac

The eGPU enclosure you pick for your Mac largely depends on the graphics card you’re going to use. Modern graphics cards suck up a lot of power, with the higher-end cards using significantly more power than the more affordable ones.

Power is delivered in watts, but some of that power is dedicated to powering the connected Mac. Make sure your enclosure’s GPU maximum power output doesn’t exceed that of the graphics card you intend to put inside it. This information should be available on the respective manufacturer’s specification sheets.

The size of the graphics card will count too. Your card has to physically fit inside the enclosure, so make sure the two components are compatible in this regard. If you intend on upgrading the GPU in the future, you might want to buy the best enclosure you can afford rather than the best short-term solution.

Radeon RX 560 Graphics Card

Some manufacturers aim their enclosures at the Mac market, while others create eGPU solutions with their own brand of Windows laptops. You should always ensure the enclosure you pick is compatible with macOS, though the vast majority will be.

There are other aspects to consider too. Many enclosures function as Thunderbolt 3 hubs, adding additional features like USB ports, Ethernet, SATA ports, HDMI, and similar.

Recommended eGPU Enclosures for Mac

Here are a few of the best external GPU enclosures on the market now, including those recommended by Apple. Most of these are compatible with Nvidia cards, which is handy if Apple adds support somewhere down the line.

PowerColor Devil Box

PowerColor Devil Box External GPU Enclosure

Recommended by Apple for use with macOS, the Devil Box is a 500W (maximum GPU power 375W) eGPU. It includes a whopping five USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, and a SATA port. It’s based on AMD XConnect technology, and compatible with the Radeon RX 570, RX 560, RX 550, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 10 series of cards (but not on Mac, yet).

For ease of use, the PowerColor Devil Box features thumbscrews so you can swap out cards without breaking out your tools.

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box

Sonnet Breakaway Box External GPU Enclosure

Sonnet’s eGFX Breakaway Box lineup comes in a modest, powerful, and extreme variant depending on the card you’re using. This is a barebones eGPU affair, with nothing in the way of expansion ports or USB connectivity to speak of.

The more powerful variants offer laptop charging up to 87W, and the 650W model can power a 350W card with an additional 100W of peak power where required.

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck

Sonnet Breakaway Puck External GPU Enclosure

Looking for an all-in-one solution? Sonnet also produces the Breakaway Puck, which comes with a Radeon RX 560 or 570 pre-installed.

Since the Radeon is an AMD card, it’s plug-and-play compatible with macOS, and will charge laptops up to 45W. For connectivity, you get three additional DisplayPort outputs and an HDMI output, but no extra USB ports.

Razer Core V2

Razer Core V2 External GPU Enclosure

The Core v2 is an updated version of Razer’s previous eGPU enclosure, and it’s a premium product. Not only does it look the part, it’s compatible with AMD and Nvidia cards. This one has a 500W power supply capable of delivering a maximum GPU power output of 375W. It features fancy LEDs and four USB 3.0 ports to boot.

Razer Core X

Razer Core X External GPU Enclosure

The Razer Core X is both more powerful and less expensive than the Core V2, though it presents itself as a less refined product. Lacking the fancy LEDs and styling found in the V2, the Core X delivers the goods with a 650W power supply capable of driving a full-length 500W graphics card.

Compatibility includes most major cards from Nvidia and AMD, and it can charge laptops up to 100W too.

The Best External GPU Advancements Are Yet to Come

Thunderbolt 3 is fast, but it’s still only about a third as fast as plugging your graphics card into a high-end gaming motherboard. Since Apple and Intel have pretty much doubled the throughput with each iteration of the technology, the viability of the eGPU is only going to improve in future.

Check out the above eGPU units if you need the best visual performance now, but it’s not a bad idea to wait if you can help it. Either way, you may also want to read up on common mistakes that are slowing down your Mac.

Read the full article: The Best External GPU for a MacBook Pro

17:00

How Tech Companies Mislead You Into Making Bad Privacy Choices

companies-privacy-choice

Who has control of your data online? It’s you, right?

Not so fast. The answer is complicated.

A recent report by the Norwegian Consumer Council reveals that tech companies are misleading you into giving away rights to your data.

Using what the Council calls “dark patterns,” companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are taking advantage of psychological biases to increase the likelihood that you’ll make privacy choices that may not be in your interest.

No one expects tech companies to protect consumer privacy, but this might be a new low. Let’s take a look at these dark patterns and how they might be influencing you.

What Are Dark Patterns?

(Watch the video for a great example of a dark pattern on Amazon.)

DarkPatterns.org defines dark patterns as “tricks used in websites and apps that make you buy or sign up for things that you didn’t mean to.”

There are all kinds of examples: Bad user interface design. Misleading wording. Hidden options. Even color choice can be part of a dark pattern.

The site lists 12 types of dark pattern:

  • Bait and switch
  • Confirmshaming
  • Disguised ads
  • Forced continuity
  • Friend spam
  • Hidden costs
  • Misdirection
  • Price comparison prevention
  • Privacy zuckering
  • Roach motel
  • Sneak into basket
  • Trick questions

I highly recommend reading about each of these dark patterns. You’ll immediately recognize quite a few of them (especially Mark Zuckerberg’s preferred tactic, privacy zuckering).

The big problem with these tactics is that humans aren’t well equipped to deal with them. We have psychological biases called heuristics that make us more likely to respond in certain ways. And when companies take advantage of those heuristics, the argument goes, they’re taking away our agency as consumers.

How Companies Trick You Into Giving Up Your Privacy

dark patterns mislead into giving up personal data

The report shows several tactics used by Facebook, Google, and Microsoft to trick you into selecting the options that decrease your privacy.

1. Default Settings

The new GDPR regulations say that “default settings should not allow for more data collection or use of personal data than is required to provide the service, and that the use of personal data for other purposes requires an explicit opt in consent.”

This one almost isn’t worth mentioning. Of course these companies are going to default to collecting a lot of your data. That’s how they make money. Does this policy violate the GDPR regulations? You can make a strong argument that it does.

Both Facebook and Google make users go into their settings to disable information collection and sharing. That’s a dark pattern. (Microsoft’s GDPR update, in contrast, had no default settings, letting users choose whatever they want from the start.)

2. Ease of Changing Settings

How easy did the companies make it to change privacy settings? If you’ve ever used Facebook or Google’s privacy settings, you won’t be surprised to find out that it was harder to turn data-sharing off. Both services also chose images and text placement to encourage users to share more data.

Microsoft used these visual nudging cues too, but required the same number of clicks to give away data as it did to protect it.

Facebook is notorious for requiring a lot of clicks, a lot of reading, and many different screens to figure out who can see your data and what they can do with it.

In contrast, Twitter’s privacy settings are extremely straightforward:

dark patterns mislead into giving up personal data

3. Framing

This one’s all about how options are presented. Companies tell you the positives of letting them sell your data to advertisers—but not the negatives. And they tell you all the reasons you shouldn’t increase your privacy options, but none of the privacy concerns you might face without them.

The report gives Facebook’s facial recognition settings as an example. Facebook tells you the benefits of automatic tagging, and warns that without facial recognition, it won’t be able to identify when strangers are using a picture of you as their profile photo. Is this really a serious concern?

dark patterns mislead into giving up personal data

They also point out that people using screen readers won’t know if you’re in a picture.

They don’t tell you that advertisers might use facial-recognition technology to target ads or what else they might do with that data.

Google and Microsoft weren’t any better.

4. Reward and Punishment

You’ve probably seen this; both Facebook and Google tell you that you’ll lose functionality if you protect your data. Facebook even presents you with the option to delete your account without pointing out that you can download all of your data first.

Scary?

It’s supposed to be. Look at the flowchart of Facebook’s GDPR privacy update options (which is, in itself, surely a form of punishment):

dark patterns mislead into giving up personal data

Once you’ve made all of those choices, are you really going to hit the “Delete Account” button at the end? Probably not.

And companies tell you all the time that you’ll get better service if you share your data. No big surprise there.

Microsoft, however, did include a statement that Windows would still work at full capacity if you didn’t share your data.

5. Forced Action and Timing

Do you make good decisions when you’re rushed? Do you weigh all of the options?

No. Which is why companies give you options to maintain your privacy from their mobile apps while you’re on the go. And put them in front of you when you’re trying to get to some other part of the app or service.

Facebook was especially bad at this—they locked people out of their profiles until they accepted the GDPR updated documentation.

But Google and Microsoft weren’t much better. While I was writing this article, I received this email:

dark patterns mislead into giving up personal data

The timing was just too perfect not to share it. It’s a great reminder that these same tactics are used by businesses to get you to spend more money. They work, and they get you to give away your data.

How to Shine Light on Your Privacy and Data

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do about these types of misleading tactics. We’ve been telling you for a long time to read privacy options carefully, and to dig deep into settings to find out what you do and don’t have control over.

Knowing that companies are doing their best to mislead you into sharing more information, however, is a good step in the right direction. Even when companies look like they’re doing you a favor by making it easy to manage your privacy settings, they’re probably not.

Here’s one of the best quotes from the report: “By giving users an overwhelming amount of granular choices to micromanage, Google has designed a privacy dashboard that, according to our analysis, actually discourages users from changing or taking control of the settings or delete bulks of data.”

Google’s privacy dashboard is flashy and friendly. But it’s not actually designed to help you manage your privacy.

Remembering facts like this will help you stay alert for the dark patterns that companies use to encourage you to part with your data. (It’s also a good idea to use privacy apps that have gotten a boost with GDPR.)

Image Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Depositphotos

Read the full article: How Tech Companies Mislead You Into Making Bad Privacy Choices

16:00

The Best GPS Tracker for Dogs and Cats

best-pet-tracker

What would you do if your beloved dog or cat escaped? If you hadn’t taken preventative measures beforehand, they could be gone for good.

Fortunately, the current trend of wearable devices extends to pets too. We have smartwatches and fitness trackers for ourselves, but did you know that you can buy a GPS tracker for dogs or cats?

We’ve rounded up some of the best pet trackers and activity monitors (plus other smart pet gadgets) that you can benefit from, so let’s take a look.

The Best GPS Tracker for Dogs
Whistle 3

Whistle 3 GPS Tracker for dogs

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor Buy Now At Amazon $79.95

If you’re looking for an all-in-one dog GPS and activity monitor (think Fitbit for dogs and cats), then it’s hard to top the Whistle 3.

The Whistle 3 simply attaches to your pet’s existing collar, meaning you don’t need a dedicated dog tracking collar. You’ll need a Wi-Fi connection for the initial setup, as well as to mark areas deemed “safe” for your pet.

The safe areas you set up with Whistle 3 are like invisible gates. If the tracker breaches these specified zones, you get a notification right away through push notification, email, or text.

Like most other trackers, Whistle 3 requires a monthly subscription plan. Whistle 3 uses cellular connectivity from AT&T to pinpoint your pet’s location anywhere in the United States, and it’s pretty accurate.

All your pet’s location data from the past 24 hours gets kept in the iOS and Android app. The app also lets you set up fitness and activity goals for your dog or cat, much like you would with a Fitbit or smartwatch. Doing so helps you know how they’re doing at maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.

Whistle 3 has maintained a 4.5 star rating on Amazon with over 3,400 customer reviews.

The Best GPS Collar for Dogs
SportDOG Brand Tek Series

SportDOG Brand Tek Series GPS Tracker for dogs

SportDOG Brand TEK Series 2.0 GPS Tracking System - 10 Mile Range - Waterproof and Rechargeable - Expandable to Locate up to 21 Dogs - Unlimited, Lifetime Map Updates SportDOG Brand TEK Series 2.0 GPS Tracking System - 10 Mile Range - Waterproof and Rechargeable - Expandable to Locate up to 21 Dogs - Unlimited, Lifetime Map Updates Buy Now At Amazon $599.90

For those who like to have outdoor adventures with their pup and don’t mind a splurge, the SportDOG collar could be a great fit.

What sets the SportDOG Brand Tek Series collar apart from other dog GPS trackers is that it doesn’t require a subscription. So while the initial price tag seems much steeper than other options, you don’t have to worry about those fees adding up.

The SportDOG has additional “Add-a-Collars,” allowing you to add up to 21 dogs on one system. Users see each dog’s location on the separate handheld map device, along with other useful data. This includes like traveling speed, distance traveled, and where they are in relation to other dogs.

The device offers a 10-mile range with the SportDOG collars and handheld unit. And since there’s no cellular data to worry about, SportDOG is a great option for those who take their dogs on adventures in the mountains and other areas with poor cell coverage.

To top it off, SportDOG collars and handheld devices are fully waterproof, so durability should be no issue. It takes four hours to fully charge a collar that lasts 24 hours, and eight hours for the handheld that lasts 12 hours.

While SportDOG is quite pricey, the handful of reviews on Amazon give it a solid 4-star rating.

The Best Tracker ID for Pets
Paw Prints ID QR Smart GPS Pet Collar

Paw Prints ID QR GPS Tracker for dogs

Paw Prints ID QR Smart GPS Pet Collar Rescue and Recovery ID Dog Tag Paw Prints ID QR Smart GPS Pet Collar Rescue and Recovery ID Dog Tag Buy Now At Amazon $35.00

If want a GPS tracker on your pet in case of spontaneous escapes, you should consider the Paw Prints ID tag. It’s a particularly good choice as a cat tracker for indoor animals.

You simply clip this to your pet’s existing collar like any other tag. Each one comes with a unique QR code and ID number exclusive to you, so it’s impossible to confuse it with someone else’s pet.

The Paw Prints ID QR Smart GPS Pet Collar allows you to set up a web page for your pet. This holds important info like name, breed, owner contact info, vet info, and medical records. Additionally, you can upload a photo of your pet to the page.

Should anyone find your lost pup or cat, they can scan the QR code on the tag. Doing this alerts the owners by sending a text message within 30 seconds of the scan. The rescuer also gets a lot of information about your pet. On top of this, if the person who scanned the tag has a GPS-enabled phone, you’ll get a map of your pet’s exact location.

The best part about the Paw Prints ID tag is that there are no activation fees, monthly subscriptions, or upgrade charges. It’s also reasonably priced, so you can get peace of mind without breaking the bank.

The Best Dog Tracker With GPS and Wi-Fi
Pod 3

Pod 3 GPS Tracker for dogs

Pod 3 - GPS Pet Tracker and Activity Monitor Pod 3 - GPS Pet Tracker and Activity Monitor Buy Now At Amazon $89.00

If you’re looking for a high-tech dog tracker that’s small, discreet, and doesn’t get in the way of your pet’s comfort or movement, then Pod 3 is the way to go.

With the small and lightweight Pod 3, you’re able to keep track of your furry friend’s location and health at the same time. The Pod tracker utilizes a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular to accurately find your pet, no matter where they are. You can even set up “safe zones” and get immediate alerts once the pet has left the area.

Pod 3 works worldwide. With coverage in over 175 countries, it’s safe to say that you’ll always know where your pet is, even if you travel.

The activity tracking works like Fitbit and Apple Health. You’ll see details like heart rate, play and rest time, and more. The Pod 3 is even capable of recording your pet’s adventures, so you can see your dog’s run through the park or the cat’s nightly prowl.

Pod 3 comes with a reusable strap and is completely waterproof, so you don’t need to worry if your cat or dog takes a swim with it on. It even has interchangeable batteries, so you can track your pet even while a battery charges.

Since Pod 3 uses cellular data to get your pet’s location, it requires a monthly service fee starting at $9 a month. At the time of writing, your purchase includes a limited-time special offer of a free lifetime subscription.

The Best GPS Trackers to Keep Your Pets Safe

We love our pets, which makes it scary when they escape from your home. Thus, purchasing a great GPS tracker for dogs or cats can help give you peace of mind. If you don’t like these options, you’ll find plenty more available.

For more ways to improve your pet’s life with technology, check out some cool tech toys to automate pet ownership.

Read the full article: The Best GPS Tracker for Dogs and Cats

15:00

How to Connect a Hard Drive to Raspberry Pi (And Why You Should)

connect-hdd-raspi

You’re running a Raspberry Pi, perhaps as a server or for retro gaming. Maybe you’re using it for Kodi. The point is, you need extra storage beyond the limits of a microSD card.

It doesn’t matter how large your microSD card is; sooner or later, your Raspberry Pi will need more storage. Also, regardless of how good the error correction is on your little piece of flash memory, sooner or later it will corrupt.

The solution is a hard disk. But how do you connect a hard disk drive to a Raspberry Pi? And what are the benefits of doing so? Here’s everything you need to know.

How to Mount and Read an HDD in Raspbian

As long as you have an external HDD with a USB cable and its own power supply, you’ll be able to use it with your Raspberry Pi. (If your drive doesn’t have a power supply, it will require connecting via a powered USB hub.) All you have to do is connect the drive to a USB port, and power it up.

By default, the hard disk drive won’t be immediately accessible. This is due to a couple of factors: the file system on the disk, and the lack of automatic mounting in Raspbian.

If the disk isn’t formatted with the EXT4 file system, then it cannot be natively read. One way around this is to remove the data from the drive, reformat in EXT4, and then replace the data. Once this is done, it should be accessible, but you’ve wasted a lot of time and effort.

More convenient is the option to use the ntfs-3g software, so that the Raspberry Pi can read the NTFS file system:

sudo apt install ntfs-3g

Note: If the drive is in FAT32 format, you’ll need to install vfat instead.

Ensuring the drive is connected, and powered on, you should find it within the Media directory on your Raspberry Pi. If not, you’ll need to do a bit more work.

First, find its UUID string:

sudo blkid

In the response, the final alphanumeric string is the UUID; keep a note of this. Next, create a location for the mount point. This is typically:

sudo mkdir /mnt/mydisk

Note: Swap “mydisk” with your preferred disk label.

Assign permissions with:

sudo chmod 770 /mnt/mydisk

Next, mount the drive with:

sudo mount -t ntfs-3g -o uid=1000,gid=1000,umask=007 /dev/sda1 /mnt/mydisk

Once you’ve done this, you should be able to access the drive in Raspbian. But what if you want to access the disk after a reboot?

The answer is to edit the fstab. Begin by backup:

sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.backup

Next, edit the original:

sudo nano /etc/fstab

Add the information need to mount the disk; this begins with the 16-character UUID string you made a note of earlier:

UUID=ABCDEFGH12345678 /mnt/volume ntfs-3g uid=1000,gid=1000,nofail,umask=007 0 0

Next, reboot:

sudo reboot

You should now find that the HDD storage is accessible each time you boot up your Raspberry Pi! This might prove very useful for storing a retro gaming library, or media for a Raspberry Pi-based Plex media center to stream.

How to Boot Your Raspberry Pi From HDD

What if simple storage isn’t what you’re looking for? Perhaps you want to lose the potential weak link of the microSD card, and boot from HDD instead?

Raspberry Pi Model B 3+

Using a hard disk drive with your Raspberry Pi doesn’t have to mean using the disk as a secondary device. It is possible to install your OS to the disk, removing the requirement for a microSD card completely.

To do this, you’ll need to ensure the Pi (this works only with the Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi 3B+) knows that it no longer needs to boot from microSD. This is achieved by starting with a standard Raspbian install on microSD, then changing the USB boot mode.

You can then connect a HDD via USB, format the drive, copy the operating system from the microSD card, and enjoy larger (potentially faster) storage with your Raspberry Pi.

For the full details, see our guide to booting a Raspberry Pi from USB.

Installing Multiple Raspberry Pi OSes to HDD

If these seems too hands on, and you want to take advantage of the vast additional storage, you should check out the various tools for installing multiple operating systems to your Raspberry Pi. Berryboot, NOOBS, and PINN Lite can all do the job.

All options can install to your Pi-attached hard disk drive, although you may prefer to jump straight into our guides. We’ve produced a tutorial for NOOBS, and an in-depth guide for Berryboot. (You cannot use NOOBS to install to HDD without first following our guide to changing the USB boot mode.)

Raspberry Pi Cases With Space for an HDD

Once you’ve got your HDD sorted out, you’ll probably want to keep it close to your Raspberry Pi. Several enclosures are available that have space for a Raspberry Pi and a 2.5-inch hard disk drive.

ModMyPi

This popular online store has several options from WD Labs, all designed to store a Raspberry Pi and a HDD. Although designed for the WD Labs PiDrive disk drive, a small amount of customization should allow any 2.5 inch drive to slot into one of these.

Geekworm Raspberry Pi X820 Enclosure

Geekworm Raspberry Pi X820 (X800) SSD&HDD SATA Storage Board Matching Metal Case/Enclosure + Power Control Switch + Cooling Fan Kit Geekworm Raspberry Pi X820 (X800) SSD&HDD SATA Storage Board Matching Metal Case/Enclosure + Power Control Switch + Cooling Fan Kit Buy Now At Amazon $24.99

A useful all-in-one option is this enclosure from Geekwork, which incorporates a Raspberry Pi, X820 expansion board, and compatible 2.5 inch SATA disk drive.

While the enclosure itself is available on Amazon, the X820 SATA expansion board must be purchased separately.

NODE Decentralized Mini Server

If you prefer, something even more integrated, prefer an open source design, and don’t mind a bit of soldering, then YouTuber NODE’s amazing decentralized mini server build might suit you.

Featuring some modifications to a Raspberry Pi 3B+ and a 3D-printed case with space for a 2.5 inch HDD to slot in, this is designed for using your Pi as a server. Find full details at n-o-d-e.net.

Setting Up Your Raspberry Pi With an HDD Is Simple

By now, you should be ready to add a hard disk drive to your Raspberry Pi, if you haven’t already. While any model can benefit, the best results are undoubtedly enjoyed on a Raspberry Pi 3 or 3B+.

How you use the hard disk drive is up to you. It may prove useful in a number of ways, including several of the ones in our list of the best Raspberry Pi projects.

Read the full article: How to Connect a Hard Drive to Raspberry Pi (And Why You Should)

14:00

The Best VPN According to Reddit

best-vpn-acc-reddit

If you’ve been reading the news, you’ll realize just how much of a problem snooping from supposedly trustworthy businesses have become for online users. That’s why many people are resorting to using a virtual private network (VPN).

But with so many options on the market, how do you decide which one to use? Well, the users of Reddit are always willing to weigh in.

We dug through multiple subreddits and recommendation threads to find out which VPN the platform’s users support the most. Here are the best VPNs for different categories based on Reddit user recommendations.

The Best Free VPN According to Reddit

Winner: ProtonVPN

When it comes to free VPN recommendations, ProtonVPN appears to get the most thumbs up from Reddit users.

It should be noted that many Reddit users warn against using free VPN services as there is distrust regarding their business practices.

Many free VPNs have ended up on the list of VPN services you shouldn’t trust. That’s why in many threads asking for free VPN recommendations, most Redditors simply say don’t use a free VPN and will not provide any recommendation.

Of those who are willing to recommend one, ProtonVPN is usually the go-to answer. This is because the company, which is also the creator of the encrypted email service ProtonMail, has a firm commitment to not selling user data and protecting privacy.

Benefits of ProtonVPN include:

  • Free plan is available
  • Logless service

However, bandwidth and server availability is limited for users with the free plan of ProtonVPN. You can also only connect one device to the VPN. If you want extra features, you’ll have to pay for one of their other plans.

If you want to know more about why people distrust free VPNs, make sure to check out these reasons why you shouldn’t use a free VPN.

The Best VPN for Torrenting According to Reddit

mullvad-vpn-screenshot

Winner: Mullvad

Mullvad carries a great reputation among many Reddit users. The company emphasizes its dedication to privacy—calling it a fundamental human right. The VPN even allows users to pay using certain crytocurrencies and online platforms to increase anonymity.

Another aspect that makes it appeal to users of Redditors is that Mullvad requires no personal details to sign up or log in. Rather, you are assigned an account number that you use with the VPN. No email addresses or other details required.

Benefits of Mullvad include:

  • The ability to pay using Bitcoin and PayPal
  • Service keeps no logs
  • Optional killswitch when disconnected from VPN
  • Subscription costs €5 per month

The company also says that it does not track users on its website as part of its commitment to privacy. In terms of torrenting, Mullvad is not only recommended for torrenting by Redditors. The company itself also includes its own guide on its website on how to use the VPN with BitTorrent—highlighting its suitability for torrenting.

The killswitch functionality, which blocks traffic if you’re disconnected from the VPN, is another reason that those torrenting choose this particular service.

We did our own comparison between ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Mullvad—find out which one we decided is the best VPN for torrenting.

The Best VPN for Netflix According to Reddit

Winner: NordVPN

On the subreddit dedicated to accessing Netflix through VPN services, the recommendation that gets the highest number of upvotes is NordVPN. This is thanks to its ability to access both Netflix US and UK, and its price.

Some of the benefits of NordVPN include:

  • Up to six devices can be used on the same connection simultaneously
  • Subscription plans for between $2.75 to $11.95 per month
  • No limits on bandwidth or speed

It should be noted that some Reddit users have concerns about NordVPN’s business practices. One thread mentions that the company tracks users visiting their website (not users of the VPN).

Many VPN users on the thread weren’t concerned about the revelation since it didn’t relate to their service. However, for others, this goes against the spirit of privacy and is a dealbreaker.

The Best Value-for-Money VPN (Cheap and Effective)

Winner: TorGuard

When it comes to price versus functionality, many Redditors point to TorGuard as their choice. The main reason for this is the flexibility in subscription periods, the extended 50% off discount, and the number of features compared to price.

The benefits of TorGuard include:

  • Over 3,000 servers in 50 countries
  • A monthly subscription of between $4.99 (annual packages) and $9.99 (monthly package)
  • No bandwidth or speed limits
  • Simultaneous connection of up to five devices
  • No activity logs

The VPN doesn’t offer different tiers based on price—rather the price only differs when subscribing for longer periods. Users can choose a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual package. Regardless of the subscription period, all users have access to the same features.

Multiple users have also complimented the VPN service’s customer support. The 50 percent discount seems to be widely available—some users even share the discount code in Reddit threads. Meanwhile, the VPN shares adverts for the discount through their YouTube videos, meaning many users end up only paying between $2.50 and $4.99 monthly for the service.

The Best VPN Overall According to Reddit

Winner: Mullvad

When it comes to choosing a VPN that balances speed, flexibility, security, and affordability; Mullvad is the major go-to VPN for Redditors.

The trust regarding Mullvad’s services is seen not only in what Redditors say, but also what they don’t say. The service attracts little (if any) criticism or skepticism from users. This is a good sign considering most services have at least a few detractors who question them.

The main drawback of Mullvad is that it may not be able to unblock Netflix. It is also based in Sweden, which falls under the 14 Eyes jurisdiction. However, the service claims that it does not keep logs and therefore even if it received a government request for intformation, it would have nothing to hand over.

Some of the major benefits pointed out by Reddit users include:

  • Mullvad received high ratings from TheOnePrivacyGuy
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Discount for using cryptocurrencies
  • Includes killswitch
  • Mullvad controls their servers, rather than using virtual servers
  • Servers use OpenVPN

Other features that can make users feel more secure include a tool to prevent DNS leaks. The company has also been praised for rejecting affiliate programmes and vowing to never pay for reviews.

Subreddits to Find Out More About Your Own VPN

Browsing different threads on Reddit can help you make an informed decision regarding your VPN. Many subreddits on the topic require users to provide reasoning for recommending a VPN. This helps weed out those who simply try to add affiliate links or suggest VPN companies they have a connection to.

A few of the subreddits you can visit are: /r/NetflixViaVPN, /r/VPN, and /r/VPNreviews.

The /r/VPN subreddit also has a megathread of VPN recommendations. New, updated megathreads are created every few months; with older megathreads still available to browse too.

Some websites claim to have ranked VPNs according to Reddit user recommendations. Be wary of any site that has assigned ratings or star grades based on Reddit recommendations, since they are often marketing a specific brand. Reddit users suggest various VPNs, but there is no central rating system.

Be wary of sites that don’t cite the sources for the recommendations they claim are made by Redditors, since they could be plugging a specific product.

Need More VPN Advice?

Depending on your knowledge of online privacy and the technicalities of VPN services, you may need more advice when choosing the right one for you. The VPN industry is full of shady companies and worrying business practices; but also some great companies that prioritize users.

If you want to know more about how to decide on a VPN, read our guide on how to know if you can trust a VPN company.

Read the full article: The Best VPN According to Reddit

13:00

How to Master the iPhone App Store’s Settings

iphone-appstore-settings

Apple’s App Store is a simple service on the surface. Yet there’s a lot more to it than simply logging in with your Apple ID and providing a credit card.

You can access a bevy of settings to improve your App Store experience. These range from basic, such as viewing your purchase history and redeeming gift cards, to more advanced, such as changing payment information and subscriptions. Let’s dive in.

Basic App Store Account Details

Anytime you want to access your App Store account details in the app, tap your profile icon in the upper-right corner (the bullseye in the screenshot below).

On the Account page, you can see all the apps you have Purchased, which includes both paid and free apps. Your purchase history includes every app you’ve ever added to your devices, whether it’s installed or not.

If you’re trying to find an app you installed and then uninstalled, you can narrow it down a bit by choosing Not on this iPhone.

To hide anything in your purchased history, swipe left on it and you’ll see a red Hide button. Once you hide an app, you won’t be able to see it in your purchase history unless you unhide it in the App Store Settings.

The Account page will also let you easily redeem gift cards or codes, send gift cards to others by email, and add funds to your Apple ID so you can buy apps, music, and more.

Understanding the App Store Account Settings

To access the Account Settings, tap your name at the top of the App Store Account screen. You’ll need to enter your passcode or use Touch ID (or FaceID) to authenticate.

If you want to edit your Apple ID, it will redirect you to appleid.apple.com. There, you’ll need to log in with your Apple ID, password, and two-factor authentication verification code, if necessary.

Adding, Editing, and Removing Payment Methods

If you want to buy anything through the App Store or iTunes, you’ll need a payment method. You can add, edit, or remove a credit card or PayPal account through Payment Information.

Apple won’t charge your card until you actually make a purchase; it’s just safely stored in case you need it. If you want to remove your payment method, you can select None.

Below the payment information, you can change your App Store country or region. If you move to a new region or locale, you will need it to match your address.

Removing App Reviews and Managing Subscriptions

Have you left ratings and reviews on certain apps? If so, you can remove that rating or review later. For example, if an to an app update has tarnished your opinion of it or you don’t use it anymore, you can delete the rating.

To manage your app subscriptions, tap Subscriptions on the Account Settings page. Here you can check both active and expired subscriptions and change them as needed.

Viewing Purchase History and Unhiding Apps

Earlier we pointed out that you can view your App Store purchases from your Account page. If you want more detailed breakdown of your purchases, you should check out your Purchase History on the Account Settings page. Here you can view full information in case you need to submit a screenshot for proof of purchase.

If you want to sort your apps by date, you can tap Last 90 Days for a full breakdown by year.

Next in the Account Settings is Hidden Purchases, where you can supposedly “[u]nhide purchases that you have previously hidden.” It doesn’t appear as straightforward as that, though. There’s no clear way on how to actually unhide a hidden app. You can certainly download it again if you want, but it will still remain hidden.

Rounding out the App Store settings are three items. You can remove your device from automatic downloads (such as apps, updates, and music) or previously downloaded content on other devices associated with your Apple ID.

If you want to add money to your iTunes Pass (so you can buy movies and other media), simply show the QR code to a cashier at a participating retailer. Finally, you can manage iTunes newsletters and special offers.

Other App Store Settings You Should Know About

Head over to the iPhone Settings app, tap your name, and select iTunes & App Store.

These settings are pretty basic. Automatic Downloads determines what downloads to your device, even if it’s purchased on another. If you’re on a limited data plan with your mobile carrier, you’ll probably want to turn off Use Cellular Data.

If you want to preview videos in the App Store, you can turn Video Autoplay on, off, or only on Wi-Fi.

Have you ever been annoyed by an app asking you to review it? If so, then In-App Rating & Reviews is something you’ll want to turn off.

Finally, if you want to save space on your iPhone, the Offload Unused Apps feature can help. If you have apps you don’t use, iOS will remove them automatically. Any documents or data associated with the app will stick around. However, you’ll need to reinstall the app again (provided it is still available).

Master the iPhone App Store for a Better Experience

While the settings we’ve discussed technically fall under the Apple ID umbrella, they have more of an impact on how you use the App Store (and iTunes, somewhat). As such, it definitely pays to know what you can do and where.

For more help, check out our tips for getting more out of the revamped App Store.

Read the full article: How to Master the iPhone App Store’s Settings

12:30

BenQ TK800 is a 4K Projector You Can Actually Afford

Our verdict of the BenQ TK800:
Affordable, super-bright, outstanding colors, lifespan, and screen size. This fantastic projector has it all. There's no reason not to purchase it.
10 10

BenQ’s TK800 is a high-performance 4K HDR projector. Priced under $1500, this DLP projector is aimed at the sports entertainment market, so what better time to test it than during the soccer World Cup?

Read on to see what we think of this projector (TL;DR: it’s awesome), and make sure you enter our giveaway contest at the bottom, where you can win a TK800 projector for yourself.

Features

The Ben Q TK800 sports a large number of features:

  • DLP projection system
  • 4K UHD output
  • 3000 ANSI Lumens brightness
  • 10,000:1 contrast ratio
  • 1.47 to 1.76 throw ratio (not “short throw”)
  • Zoom Ratio: 1.2:1
  • 92% Rec. 709 coverage
BenQ TK800 4K UHD HDR Home Theater Projector, 8.3 Million Pixels, 3000 Lumens, 3D, Keystone, HDMI BenQ TK800 4K UHD HDR Home Theater Projector, 8.3 Million Pixels, 3000 Lumens, 3D, Keystone, HDMI Buy Now At Amazon $1,499.00

With a bulb rated at 240W, the TK800 consumes a total of 330W when in use. It produces 33dB of acoustic noise and can comfortable produce a 300-inch image.

Inputs and Outputs

This projector features analog audio in and out, analog video in through the VGA port, HDMI 2.0 and 1.4 ports, USB Type-A, USB Mini-B, RS-232, and a 12V trigger.

This I/O may not be surprising—it is a projector after all, but there are some limitations here. First, the inclusion of VGA is baffling, as it’s not able to support 4K content. This makes it more versatile for those with older computers, but why bother buying a 4K projector if you’re going to use an analog video signal?

The USB ports can’t be used to playback content; they are for servicing and USB power output for devices such as a Chromecast or Fire TV Stick.

The 12V trigger and RS-232 ports can remotely control the projector or link up associated devices such as motorized projector screens.

Finally, only one HDMI port supports HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. The only other HDMI port supports 1.4a with HDCP 1.4. It’s unclear why one uses an older standard, but if you need more HDMI 2.0 ports, you’ll need to use a switch box.

Supersize the Sports

The TK800 is capable of producing a cinema size 300-inch screen. That’s 25 diagonal feet of glorious 4K content. I was unable to test this out, as I don’t have a wall big enough.

For me, 90 inches is the largest I was able to project while still being able to see the image. There is no noticeable reduction in sharpness or brightness, and images still look as sharp and vivid as when projected at much smaller sizes.

If you’re looking for a home cinema projector, make sure you have enough room to place the projector far away from the screen. The throw ratio of 1.47 – 1.76 isn’t bad, but remember that to get a gigantic 300-inch screen will require you to sit the projector about 37 feet away. If you’re tight on space, you’ll want to look at a short throw projector instead.

Design and Usability

Like many other premium projectors on the market, the TK800 takes for the format of a “traditional” rectangular box. It has a locking port, adjustable feet, and bracket mounting holes.

The lens cap is securely attached by a small lanyard, and the blue fascia differentiates the otherwise plain white exterior.

Measuring 13.9 x 5.3 x 10.7 inches, this projector is larger than your average home projector, but about on par with many similar home cinema models. It weighs a manageable 9.2lbs.

The single built-in 5W speaker reproduces sounds well enough for casual watching, but you’ll definitely want a dedicated surround sound system for the cinematic experience. If you’re aiming for a huge screen size, you’ll be too far away from the projector to even hear this speaker.

Like all projectors, this kicks out a load of heat. This isn’t a problem for most users, just don’t block the right-hand vents. The internal fan can be noisy, but what projectors aren’t? All that screen size comes at a cost, but it’s not loud enough to drown out the speaker.

Finally, the basic menu works well, but it can respond slowly sometimes. Although once you’ve done your first setup, you’ll rarely need to access the menu. Common tasks such as changing volume or input are instantaneous.

Image Quality and Brightness

Image quality from this projector is stunning. Thanks to the DLP sensor, and 4-segment RGBW color wheel, colors look bright and vivid. Animated content such as Big Buck Bunny looks outstanding.

Video games running on 4K capable consoles Xbox one X, or PS4 Pro look equally amazing, and feel really immersive if you have the space for a huge screen. Some games can be on the dark side, so you will need to take the time to fine-tune your brightness and contrast settings for the best experience.

It’s marketed as a sports projector for parties or outdoor barbecues, and indeed, the TK800 is brilliant for watching sports on. The 3000 lumens brightness is enough to melt your eyeballs indoors and is bright enough to see outdoors as well, as long as the screen isn’t in direct sunlight.

With the world cup currently taking place as of writing, there’s been no shortage of matches to watch. Colors look spectacular, especially the green turf and the player’s kits. There’s no ghosting or stuttering either. You’ll have more trouble finding a reliable 4K football stream than you will get from this projector.

When 4K Isn’t 4K

It’s worth pointing out that this projector isn’t “true” 4K. It can handle a 4K input and output a 3840 x 2160 pixel image, but the native resolution of the sensor is less than 4K, at 2716 x 1528.

This sensor uses a technology known as “XPR pixel shifting”. This cleverly moves the sensor really fast, to produce a larger resolution output than the sensor can handle on its own. It works very well and is the reason for the sub-$1500 price point.

This may sound like cheating, but each pixel is individually addressable by the projector or digital input device, so it meets the required standards for a 4K display.

If you’re put off by this, and would rather have a native 4K DLP sensor, then you’ll have to pay much more. Native 4K projector prices start around the $4000 range.

Don’t forget to read out 4K streaming device comparison if you’re looking for a 4K device to go alongside your projector.

Lamp Life

Like any projector, the TK800 bulb only has a finite lifespan. Rated at 4000 hours in normal mode, 8000 hours in “SmartEco” mode, or 10,000 hours in economic mode. This lifespan is fantastic, and either eco mode is more than bright enough when using the projector for a movie night or with the lights off.

If you’re using this projector outdoors, or indoors with bright sunlight coming in through the windows, you will need to use normal mode, or otherwise increase the brightness. The 4000 hours lamp life in normal mode is still very good for such a bright projector and will last approximately five years of two hours per day usage.

Genuine replacement bulbs cost $250, which is reasonable given the projector cost and bulb life. This equates to about six cents per hour in normal mode, so put 12 cents in a jar every time you watch a movie and you’ll have the money in no time.

Is It Worth It?

The TK800 is worth every cent of the $1500 price tag. Support for 4K HDR content, outstanding colors, amazing brightness, and huge screen size are all fantastic features. This projector is the perfect choice for getting the IMAX experience at home.

BenQ TK800 4K UHD HDR Home Theater Projector, 8.3 Million Pixels, 3000 Lumens, 3D, Keystone, HDMI BenQ TK800 4K UHD HDR Home Theater Projector, 8.3 Million Pixels, 3000 Lumens, 3D, Keystone, HDMI Buy Now At Amazon $1,499.00

Purists may not be happy with the way 4K content is displayed, And it can be tough to set up in a very small room, but these are only minor sticking points, which don’t detract from an amazing deal. Buy it now, you won’t regret it.

With the price of the best 4K HDR TVs, it’s almost a no-brainer to purchase the TK800!

Thanks to our friends at BenQ, we’ve got a brand new TK800 to give away. All you have to do is enter our giveaway contest below, and make sure you follow the instructions to gain some extra entries.

Enter the Competition!

BenQ TK800 4K Projector Giveaway

Read the full article: BenQ TK800 is a 4K Projector You Can Actually Afford

11:30

Instapaper Breaks Away From Pinterest

Instapaper is a note-taking app with a long history and a loyal following. And after a couple of high profile changes of ownership, Instapaper is once again going independent. What that means for the future of Instapaper is anyone’s guess.

A Brief History of Instapaper

Instapaper has a rather interesting history. Instapaper was developed by Marco Arment, who launched it in 2008. It rapidly gained millions of users, and in 2013, Arment sold Instapaper to Betaworks. Then, in 2016, Betaworks sold Instapaper to Pinterest.

Now, less than two years since Pinterest acquired Instapaper, the note-taking app is striking out on its own once again. Pinterest is stepping aside, with the people who have actually been working on the app since 2013 making Instapaper independent once more.

Instapaper Regains Its Independence

On the Instapaper Blog, the Instapaper Team announced that “Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc.” This is “a new company owned and operated by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper since […] 2013”.

The team states that Instapaper will “continue to be built and maintained by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper for the past five years” who will “continue offering a robust service that focuses on readers and the reading experience for the foreseeable future”.

The change of ownership will happen in a few weeks, with Instapaper giving users 21 days notice. This is necessary given the personal information involved. Which is also why Instapaper hasn’t been available in Europe since the GDPR was put in place in May 2018.

Making sure Instapaper complies with the GDPR rules will surely be a priority for the new (old) team. Because Europe surely represents a sizable chunk of the Instapaper userbase. After that has been fixed, who knows what the team has planned for Instapaper.

Instapaper Faces Stiff Competition

Instapaper is just one of a handful of read-it-later apps. The competition includes Evernote, OneNote, and Google Keep. However, those who use Instapaper want to see it succeed. And hopefully becoming independent once again assures it a bright future.

Image Credit: Johan Larsson/Flickr

Read the full article: Instapaper Breaks Away From Pinterest

09:30

How to Sort Your LinkedIn Jobs and Skills in the Correct Order

linkedin-publishing

LinkedIn is the Filofax for all your professional achievements. Your job roles and your hard-earned skills are at the heart of your LinkedIn profile. So, how can you ensure that they are up to date and in the right order? With a quick edit, of course.

How to Sort Your Jobs in the Right Order on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Reorder Current Roles

It’s quite possible that you have a day job and another where you moonlight in a different role. Depending on the relevance and the kind of future jobs you are looking for, LinkedIn allows you to set one job as your primary one. You can move the other below it even if it’s a current job.

  1. Click your profile picture on the right to open your profile page.
  2. Scroll down to the Experiences section. Choose the current job which you want to keep as a  secondary role. For instance, for me, my editorial job is more important than my own dormant blog.
  3. Click and hold the mouse over the Reorder icon on the section you want to move. Drag the section up or down your profile to its new location.
  4. Release your mouse to drop the section into that place.

How to Sort Your Skills in the Right Order on LinkedIn

Reorder your skills and endorsements.

The LinkedIn Search algorithm aligns your job title with the skills you have advertised on your profile. Recruiters use skills as keywords to search for the right candidate. So, pay careful attention to the skills and the order of their priority on your profile. Keep the most relevant skill at the top and then graduate downwards.

  1. Go to your profile and scroll down to the Skills and Endorsements section.
  2. Click the Pencil icon to edit the section.
  3. In the next screen, grab the Reorder icon for the skill you want to shift up or down the list. Do note that LinkedIn only allows 3 skills to feature in your top skills.
  4. Deselect the Pin icon to move top skill to the Industry Knowledge section. Select the Pin icon for a skill you want to move into the Top Skills section.
  5. Click on Save.

Your LinkedIn profile needs a lot of attention. But always think of it as your “live resume” and keep these LinkedIn profile tips in mind the next time you log on.

Read the full article: How to Sort Your LinkedIn Jobs and Skills in the Correct Order

08:30

How to Cancel Your Amazon Prime Membership

Amazon Prime has so many awesome benefits. If you’re in the United States, you get free shipping, access to Prime Video and Prime Music, free ebooks to read, exclusive deals, and so much more.

But the service isn’t right for everyone. A monthly Amazon Prime membership sets you back $12.99, while an annual Amazon Prime subscription costs $119. If you don’t buy much and don’t take advantage of everything it offers, you might be better off canceling Amazon Prime altogether.

Keep reading, and we’ll explain how to cancel Amazon Prime. (If you still want to watch stuff on Amazon Prime, you can always subscribe to Prime Video only for $8.99/mo.)

How to Cancel Your Amazon Prime Membership

The Amazon Prime cancellation process is relatively painless, but you need to know where to look. Understandably, Amazon doesn’t splash cancellation buttons all over its website. To cancel your Amazon Prime subscription:

  1. Head to Amazon.com and log into your account.
  2. Locate the Hello [Name] button in the upper right-hand corner and click on it.
  3. Using the menu, click on Your Prime Membership in the Your Account section.
  4. On the next page, find the End Membership and Benefits link at the bottom of the left-hand panel.
  5. Amazon will offer you three choices. You need to select Continue to Cancel.
  6. Finally, you need to decide whether you want to cancel now (and receive a pro-rata refund for any unused time) or cancel at the end of the current billing cycle (and not receive any refund).

If you choose to cancel immediately, Amazon will typically process any refund owed in three to five business days.

Whichever method you choose, you will receive an on-screen message and an email which confirm your cancelation. If you change your mind later, you can re-join Amazon Prime at any time.

Remember, if you cancel Amazon Prime, you won’t be able to enjoy the fantastic deals in the next Amazon Prime Day. They are exclusively available to Amazon Prime members.

Read the full article: How to Cancel Your Amazon Prime Membership

07:30

WonderFox Makes Ripping DVDs Easy

Though streaming media has become the standard recently, many people still have DVD collections. Since physical media can break or wear out, it’s wise to back up your DVD collection digitally to an external hard disk or other form of storage.

Whether you want to back up your movie collection or home videos on DVD, WonderFox DVD Ripper can do the job. Let’s take a look at what this tool is capable of.

Getting Started With WonderFox

Head to the WonderFox homepage to get started. You can download a free version of the software by clicking the Free Download button. It should download and install quickly, with nothing to configure during installation.

Ripping a DVD With WonderFox

Once installed, open WonderFox DVD ripper to rip your first DVD. You’ll see its home screen:

WonderFox-DVD-Ripper-Home

Insert the DVD you want to rip into your computer’s disc drive if you haven’t already. Once that’s ready, click the DVD Disc option in the source menu of WonderFox. Confirm that it has the correct drive letter, then click OK.

WonderFox-Drive-Letter

This will populate the background with scenes from your DVD. If you don’t want to rip a DVD, you can also use an ISO image or DVD folder from your PC.

Configure Ripping Options

Once it completes, click the Output Profile tab to expand it with more options.

Use the tabs at the top to select the device you plan to play the video file on (such as Apple > iPhone 8 or Sony > PlayStation 4). You can also choose Video, Audio, or Web to pick a specific format like AVI, MP4, MP3, or HTML5. A common format like MP4 will work well for general use, but you can get more specific if you like.

WonderFox-Video-Formats

You can use the Output Format options on the right to configure further. Drag the Quality slider to choose your balance of quality and speed of ripping. Click the Settings tab below to adjust video options like encoder and resolution, as well as audio options like channel and sample rate.

To change where it saves the resulting video, click the button next to the Output Folder field. When you’re ready, click the Run button to start the ripping process. You’ll see a prompt about registering WonderFox to unlock all its features. Click Continue to proceed with the trial version if you’d like.

Premium Version

WonderFox packs in a lot of great features, including bypassing copyright protection, removing regional code restrictions, and making a perfect copy in little time. The free version, however, only lets you rip 15 minutes of each DVD. You also won’t get the video enhancing and speedy backups without a license.

You’ll need to purchase a license key to unlock the full version of the software. Thanks to a special offer WonderFox provided us, you can purchase it for just $29.95.

Get Ripping With WonderFox

If you need to rip DVDs, WonderFox makes it easy. Don’t risk losing your old DVDs to scratches or other damage—you can easily make 1:1 backup copies in minutes.

Read the full article: WonderFox Makes Ripping DVDs Easy

05:30

Get Two Years of Online Privacy Protection for $49 with PureVPN

Online privacy feels pretty elusive nowadays, and cybercrime is a growing problem. The best way to defend yourself is by using a VPN. With fast connections and a strict no-logging policy, PureVPN is one of the best providers around. Right now, you can get two years of protection for just $49 via MakeUseOf Deals — and use code JULY40 for an extra 40% off.

Complete Protection

Protecting your digital privacy can be an uphill battle. Every website you visit is collecting personal data. Rogue Facebook apps want to target you with political ads, and your ISP will probably sell your browsing history to the highest bidder.

By masking your IP address and location, PureVPN stops all this nonsense. Without any identifying information, no-one can track you across the web or hack your connection. This is doubly important if you regularly use insecure public Wi-Fi networks.

PureVPN also encrypts your data using proprietary software — there are no third parties involved — and the company uses a strict no-logging policy.

With 550 servers across 141 countries, PureVPN allows you to bypass local restrictions and enjoy geo-blocked content. One subscription covers five devices, with easy-to-use apps on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and other platforms. The price includes 24/7 live support and unlimited bandwidth.

Two Years for $49

Two years of service with PureVPN is worth $262, but you can get your subscription now for only $49.

Read the full article: Get Two Years of Online Privacy Protection for $49 with PureVPN

04:30

5 Smart Recipe Sites and Apps to Simplify and Reinvent Cooking

smart-recipe-sites-apps

The internet is a giant, free recipe book. So giant that it can be overwhelming. A few new apps and sites are solving this problem of plenty with smart ideas that reinvent how you cook or look for recipes.

Even Google has realized how complicated things get when you try to find a recipe, so it has made Google search easier for recipes. It’s also why Buzzfeed’s Tasty section has grown so popular with those quick recipe videos. The order of the day is simplifying recipes, finding the right one quickly, and saving what you like for later.

Average Cookbook (Web): Shows You What Many Recipes Agree About

Every recipe writer has their own take on how to make even the simplest thing, be it French Toast or a cup of lemonade. Average Cookbook finds the consensus of multiple recipes, to form a new recipe that everyone agrees on.

It might seem like a weird idea, but it works. Each recipe includes variations too. For example, mashed potato can be made without salt, or without milk, or by adding sour cream, or by adding garlic, and so on. Average Cookbook takes 1,034 total recipes for mashed potatoes to turn them into seven basic variations depending on the ingredients. And for each variant, it has different directions to make it.

Rather than checking a recipe on All Recipes and then comparing it to the same item on Food Network, It’s easier to search on Average Cookbook and find these aggregations that clearly state what is different in each variation. It puts the focus on cooking, not on searching the many recipe sites.

Plant Jammer (Android, iOS): AI-Generated Recipes for Vegetarians

Plant Jammer is another app that helps you find recipes based on ingredients. What’s different is that Plant Jammer actually guides you in building a healthy, well-rounded meal.

Here’s how it works. The app first asks what you’re craving to eat: pasta, pizza, stir fry, dips, risotto, stew, and so on. Depending on what you pick, it will help you “build” a dish. For example, if you pick a warm salad, it will guide you to pick four types of ingredients: a base (like couscous), a splash (like olive oil), a boost (like spring onion), and a topping (like cheese or nuts).

Each choice can be based on what you have in your pantry already, or a new item that you shop for. And once you choose the first ingredient (like mushrooms), the AI will change its recommendations for the next type (like turning olive oil into vegetable stock).

At the end of choosing ingredients, Plant Jammer spins your choices into a simple step-by-step recipe. Start cooking!

If Plant Jammer suits your lifestyle, you should also check out these other vegetarian and vegan apps.

Download: Plant Jammer for Android | iOS (Free)

Get Noodles (Web): Simplified Way to View and Collect Recipes

Run a Google search for anything and one of three recipe sites will dominate the results: The New York Times’ Cooking, Epicurious, or All Recipes. Each has its own format for how it displays and talks about recipes, ingredients, and so on. Get Noodles strips this formatting for a minimalistic view, and ingredients listed by your preferred units of measurement.

You’ll need to sign in to use Get Noodles. Go to the Explore section and search for a recipe. Find what you like and add it to your Recipes section. It’s a simple, standardized text format, stripped of all the photos and videos that these sites usually throw in your face. Of course, you can follow the link to the original site to see those photos or videos if you want.

Get Noodles also works with several other popular recipe websites, but those aren’t included in the search. For example, if Alton Brown has your favorite recipe for a Grilled Cheese Sandwich on the Food Network, you’ll need to manually import that link to your Recipes section.

Think of Get Noodles as your personalized Pinterest on steroids, made purely for discovering and cooking your favorite recipes.

Cinc (Web): Mix and Match Recipes to Create Your Own

Cinc calls itself the Github for cooking. Geeks, you’re going to love this one. The site is a giant database of recipes from various sites. It also supports several blogs, so you can import a recipe from your favorite food writer.

There are several things that set Cinc apart from a regular cooking site. It can automatically convert ingredients between metric, US, or cup-based calculations, and even scale them up or down so you can serve more or fewer people. Unlike Get Noodles, Cinc also imports photos from the recipe site, giving you that visual guidance you sometimes need.

But what’s the Github connection? Well, Cinc lets you “fork” recipes, which means you can take an existing user’s recipe, and “fork” it to create a variation of your own with some different ingredients or techniques.

These forks are also a wonderful way to discover new dishes. You might come across a variation of one of your favorite food items, and you can see where else this dish was used. For example, checking a recipe for the chicken stock might lead to new items among soups, broths, and stews.

Chowii (Web): Aggregator of Short Video Recipes on Facebook

By now, you’ve definitely seen some of those super-quick recipe videos on social media. Usually shared on Facebook, these videos simplify recipes and make cooking look easier than ever with their stop-motion style. More often than not, this simplicity can inspire you to actually cook the dish than looking at a daunting, long recipe.

Several sites make these videos, like Buzzfeed’s Tasty, Feedy, Spoon University, and others. Chowii collects all of them in one place, giving you an easy way to search through such video recipes and get inspired to cook. There’s even a bit of categorization, like breakfast, desserts, drinks, salads, etc., as well as a few collections of cuisines.

Remember, you won’t get ingredient listings or any textual guidance here. It’s a short and quick recipe, made to inspire and browse. If you have lesser time than you think, then try these sites for quick meal ideas too.

Beginner Cooks, Start Here

The above sites assume you aren’t a complete beginner in the world of cooking. You’ll need to know the basics to be able to use any of the above apps effectively. In case that’s not you, you should start with our essential sites for newbies in the kitchen.

Image Credit: stockasso/Depositphotos

Read the full article: 5 Smart Recipe Sites and Apps to Simplify and Reinvent Cooking

July 16 2018

21:00

The 15 Best HBO Shows That Make HBO NOW Worth the Money

hbo-worth-money

Without a doubt, HBO is the highest-quality TV network in the world. Not only is it packed with the best shows in TV history, but it was also the first major cable network to embrace the idea of streaming its own content.

If you have HBO as part of your cable TV package, you can watch everything online with HBO GO—but these days, you don’t need cable TV to watch HBO thanks to the advent of HBO NOW. For $15 per month, you can grab a standalone HBO NOW subscription and drop cable TV for good.

Does that price sound steep? Trust me, it isn’t! While HBO has 75+ original TV series in its library, the following shows are so good that they alone can justify the cost.

1. Band of Brothers

hbo-show-band-of-brothers

Historical Drama | IMDb: 9.5

This miniseries is the incredible tale of “Easy” Company’s training and involvement throughout Europe during World War II. Obviously some parts were adapted for structure and dramatic effect, but it is based on historic people, events, and accounts.

How good is Band of Brothers? Not only does it sit atop IMDb’s Top Rated TV Shows list, but it’s been there for many years. You may not enjoy it if you specifically hate war stories, but otherwise this will likely be the best show you’ll ever watch.

2. Game of Thrones

hbo-show-game-of-thrones

Fantasy Drama | IMDb: 9.5

Game of Thrones needs no introduction. Even if you’ve never seen it before, you’ve undoubtedly heard about it. This show is everywhere and it’s hard to get away from it.

Why is it so good? Because it’s all about the characters. The plots are dark, the twists are heart-wrenching, but most of all, Game of Thrones offers some of the most sprawling and engaging stories of all time, and that’s really all that matters. The fantasy underpinnings are just icing on the cake.

3. The Wire

hbo-show-the-wire

Crime Drama | IMDb: 9.3

The Wire is a police drama unlike any other police drama in television history. It takes place in the city of Baltimore and follows a massive cast of characters that are so fleshed out that it can feel more like a documentary than a drama at times.

Each season offers a study of the various institutions of Baltimore—police, dockworkers, politicians, schools, the media—and shows how the problems of the city are intertwined, systemic, and impossible to fix even with good intentions.

For its sheer amount of dramatic depth and breadth, The Wire is my favorite TV show of all time. You can also watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

4. The Sopranos

hbo-show-the-sopranos

Crime Drama | IMDb: 9.2

The Sopranos follows an Italian mobster and his family in New Jersey, depicting the difficulties of balancing his life at home with his life as a criminal mastermind. Bridging the gap are his sessions with his therapist.

Many laud The Sopranos as the greatest TV show of all time. Not for me, but I can appreciate the show for how it impacted the landscape and future of drama TV with its quality of writing, acting, directing, and serialization.

It was, in a word, groundbreaking.

5. True Detective

hbo-show-true-detective

Crime Drama | IMDb: 9.0

The first season of True Detective is some of the best television in the past decade. Over the course of eight episodes, you’re treated to a dark and mysterious investigation that twists and turns at all the right moments.

The second season is a completely different story with different characters and a different plot. Many critics felt that it was weaker on the whole, but still solid enough to be worth watching.

6. Westworld

Science Fiction Drama | IMDb: 8.9

Westworld is a fictional amusement park for the rich, where lifelike robots play out Wild West scenarios for visitors to take part in. These robots are equipped with next-level artificial intelligence, and they’re on the brink of developing true consciousness.

This incredible show is an expertly crafted crossover of genres: drama, science fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, and more. Not many series can claim to be an experience for viewers, but Westworld certainly can. From the very first minute, you can sense that there’s something special about it.

7. Rome

hbo-show-rome

Historical Drama | IMDb: 8.8

In many ways, Rome could be seen as the precursor to Game of Thrones. Not that they’re related in any way, but Rome pioneered a lot of the narrative aspects that people love about Game of Thrones: ensemble casts, political intrigue, and a “distant past” fantastical setting.

Don’t go into this show looking for historical accuracy, though there is a good bit of that. Rather, look at it as a rich exploration of Rome’s fall and the complex characters that lived and died during that time.

8. Curb Your Enthusiasm

hbo-show-curb-your-enthusiasm

Comedy | IMDb: 8.7

From the creator of Seinfeld comes a more cynical and more absurd kind of comedy that follows a retired television writer, his family, and his friends. Like Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm feels very much like a “show about nothing.”

In addition to being awkwardly hilarious, it maintains a consistent quality over the course of its eight seasons. Is it a binge-worthy show? Probably not for most. But taken in small doses, Curb Your Enthusiasm can be, and often is, laugh-out-loud funny.

9. Deadwood

hbo-show-deadwood

Western Drama | IMDb: 8.7

Deadwood is a late-1800s period piece that takes place in the American Midwest and incorporates a lot of mythical figures like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, but never depicts them as caricatures or legendary. These are real people in Deadwood.

That said, it is the kind of show that falls into the “love it or hate it” category. The acting is some of the best you’ll ever see, but it’s not an easy show to watch. It’s grim, it’s dark, and while it can be hilarious at times, it’s serious.

10. Silicon Valley

hbo-show-silicon-valley

Comedy Drama | IMDb: 8.6

Silicon Valley is about six young guys who make a technological breakthrough in file compression and decide to start a new company around it. What follows is a somewhat absurd-yet-strangely realistic look at the modern culture of Silicon Valley.

Obviously it’s not entirely true to life as the writers do take creative liberties for the sake of drama and comedy, but on the whole it’s rather insightful. And yes, it’s funny! Oh, so funny.

11. The Night Of

hbo-show-the-night-of

Crime Drama | IMDb: 8.6

This miniseries follows the story of a Muslim college student who ends up accused of murdering an acquaintance in New York City. The premise may sound rather run-of-the-mill, but The Night Of is one of the most suspenseful shows you’ll ever watch.

What’s to love about this show? Many things, but its commitment to realism is something that’s rare in modern television. It’s realistic, but not in a way that distracts or detracts from the drama of it all. Rather, it amplifies the stakes and makes the story that much more meaningful.

12. Boardwalk Empire

hbo-show-boardwalk-empire

Crime Drama | IMDb: 8.6

Boardwalk Empire is a period piece set in the 1920s to 1930s that takes place in Atlantic City and focuses on a historical criminal mastermind, and his gang, that lived during those times.

The show experienced a dip in quality around the third and fourth seasons, but overall it’s pretty good—if you like slow-burning plots. While the characters and dialogue are engaging, Boardwalk Empire’s greatest strength is its visual aesthetic. “Beautiful” doesn’t quite cut it.

13. The Pacific

hbo-show-the-pacific

Historical Drama | IMDb: 8.3

After the success of Band of Brothers, HBO went ahead and produced another miniseries that’s essentially a spiritual successor but not a direct continuation. Called The Pacific, it follows a different region and different characters during World War II.

Most critics agree that Band of Brothers remains the superior work, but The Pacific is still a fantastic series in its own right. If you enjoy war stories and you’re itching for something similar to Band of Brothers, you’ll probably like this show.

14. The Leftovers

hbo-show-the-leftovers

Fantasy Drama | IMDb: 8.2

Imagine you wake up one day and two percent of the world’s population has mysteriously vanished—and you weren’t one of them. What would you do? How would you feel? Your life would never be the same.

The Leftovers is a polarizing show. It’s a slow-burning story that’s heavily character driven but also philosophical and even a bit depressing. It’s extremely ambitious, it doesn’t always achieve what it strives to do, but it’s willing to go where no other show has gone before.

I recommend powering through the first season because the second and third seasons contain some of the best TV episodes of all time. The series also ends with an incredibly emotional and satisfying finale.

15. Veep

hbo-show-veep

Comedy Drama | IMDb: 8.2

Veep is political satire. You can think of it as similar in premise to Parks and Recreation, but with all the heartwarming bits replaced with an overwhelming combination of incompetence and cynicism.

Yes, Veep is funny, but it’s funny in a way that’s more “cable TV funny” than “network TV funny,” which explains why it’s on HBO. It may not be your brand of humor, but you may be surprised by how much you like it anyway.

Is HBO NOW Worth It to You?

At $15 per month, HBO NOW is honestly a bargain—especially if you don’t have cable TV. And the best part is that you can start streaming shows as soon as they start airing live on TV, meaning you can stay caught up on shows like Game of Thrones and not have to worry about spoilers the next day.

If nothing else, you can subscribe to HBO NOW while a specific show is airing (e.g. Westworld during the summer), then unsubscribe when it finishes, meaning you only need to pay for a few months every year.

Start watching today and subscribe to HBO NOW.

Note that in addition to all of these TV series, HBO NOW grants you full access to the entire HBO library, including hundreds of classic and modern movies. If you’ve been hesitant to cut the cord, this may help you pull the trigger on dropping cable TV and streaming instead.

Read the full article: The 15 Best HBO Shows That Make HBO NOW Worth the Money

20:00

How to Add Borders to Photos: 9 Easy Methods Anyone Can Use

There’s no limit to the ways you can add a border or frame to your photos. From online tools, to mobile apps, to desktop programs, there’s something to suit everyone’s needs.

You can opt for something as simple as surrounding your image with a plain white border, you can create a diptych or collage using multiple photos, or you can get creative with your frames, adding color, patterns, stickers, and more.

These apps and sites can be used to up your photo styling, especially if you plan on sharing your images online using photo-sharing apps like Instagram.

Web Apps That Add Borders to Photos

If you don’t want to install software on your computer or smartphone, there are several solid free photo frames and borders available through these sites. And you can also upgrade to a paid account to access more features and designs.

In addition to these online apps that add frames to your images, there are also plenty of solid web apps that make cropping and retouching your images a breeze.

1. Canva

canva frames

Canva is your one-stop shop for online design, but there’s no reason you can’t use it for something as simple as adding a border or frame to your photo.

To use the service, you’ll have to sign up for a free account.

After you begin a new design, click Elements > Frames to get started. With Canva, you’ll have to select your frame before adding your image.

The frames on offer include borderless collages (perfect for Instagram), frames that make liberal use of color blocking, spliced images, polaroid frames, and more.

There are plenty of free frames to choose from, but Canva also offers additional paid frames or frames only available for premium users.

With some of the frames (like the Polaroid frame for example) you would want to download it as a PNG with a transparent background to really get the full effect, but that requires a paid account.

2. BeFunky

befunky screenshot

BeFunky’s Photo Editor includes a way to add frames to your photos—and you don’t need to sign up to use it. There’s a small selection of free frames (one per category), but upgrading for around $5/month gets you a lot more options.

When you first load BeFunky, select Photo Editor. You can then upload your image, and click on Frames in the menu. BeFunky has a selection of frames including ArtDeco, Rustic, Lace, and its “Instant” category offers users an easy way to create a digital polaroid design.

3. Pizap

pizap screenshot

Pizap can be used to add frames to photos and create collages. You can test the feature before signing up, but in order to save your images, you’ll have to create a free account.

To add a border to your image, click the Edit a Photo button on the homepage. The Borders option has over 13 categories, most of which are themed for special occasions like Christmas, Halloween, and birthdays. Each of the categories have free options you can use, along with designs reserved for premium users.

The designs available through Pizap are a little louder and more colorful than other options on this list, and are definitely as kitschy as they come. At the same time, if you’re looking for a simple, online method for adding a white border to your photo, Pizap is your best bet.

Mobile Apps That Add Borders to Photos

If you’re adding frames to photos you’ve taken on your phone, and plan on sharing them on mobile-friendly platforms, then you might as well add frames to them using one of these mobile apps.

There are plenty of border and frame apps available on Apple iTunes and Google Play, that cater to a variety of tastes, and these are just a few that we’ve found offer unique designs or decent free options.

4. Fuzel (Android and iOS)

Fuzel Collage makes it easy to add frames and borders to one photo or multiple photos.

If you’re looking for a simple way to add a border to just one image, the free version of the app has over 20 simple, tasteful options available. In addition to frames, the app also offers users some stickers, labels, and patterns for free.

Fuzel Collage comes with a great selection of paid frames, but its payment system can be a little confusing. You can purchase packs of frames with credits. Most packs will run you about 49 credits, and you can purchase close to 700 credits for $6.99.

While Fuzel might be on the pricier side of these kinds of apps, its designs are extremely on trend and offer a great way to up your Instagram game.

Download: Fuzel for iOS | Android

5. April (Android and iOS)

April is a quirky little app with two annoying factors to bear in mind if you’re an Android user: it will constantly ask to use your location data which is totally unnecessary, and if you don’t grant it access, it will ask you every time you open the app.

The app can also be a bit of a battery drain because it runs in the background, so you’ll need to manually kill the process every time you finish using the app.

That said, it has some of the most unique and creative frames, with endless free options based on how many photos you want to use.

You can choose between “Layout” for basic frames or “Poster” for more elaborate options. Within “Poster”, you’ll find different options based on category (Decoration, Food, Daily) and based on how many photos you’ve chosen to use.

April can also be a one stop shop for all your mobile photo editing needs with some really solid filters, editable text, and stickers.

When you apply a pre-set frame, April may also apply a filter, but you can remove that manually if you prefer to simply add the frame.

Download: April for iOS | Android

6. PhotoFrame – Billboard and Collage (Android)

If you’re looking to frame up your photo as a billboard or magazine cover, the PhotoFrame is completely free.

Unlike most other frame and border apps that offer users a free selection, after which you’ll have to pay to download additional options, PhotoFrame is 100 percent free. And it may not be obvious at first, but you can remove the PhotoFrame watermark by tapping the Watermark tab at the end of the menu.

With different frames and templates based on how many photos you want in your final design, PhotoFrame also offers stickers, filters, and a freestyle option where you can rotate and move photos on the background, which can also be tailored to your color of choice.

Download: PhotoFrame for Android

7. ShakeItPhoto (iOS)

ShakeItPhoto is an iOS app that does just one thing and it does it really well—it adds a Polaroid frame to your photo and also adds a bit of vintage editing to your photo.

So if all you’re looking for is an easy way to add a polaroid frame to your iOS photos, you really don’t need to look any further than this app.

You can take the photo directly within ShakeItPhoto, or pull a photo from your camera roll.

Download: ShakeItPhoto for iOS

Desktop Apps That Add Borders to Photos

Finally, there are a couple of desktop apps that can also get the job done.

8. Photoshop

photoshop clipping mask

Photoshop boasts a ton of features, just one of which is the option to add a frame to any photo. And if you already have access to Adobe Creative Cloud, using Photoshop gives you complete control over the final product.

You can go as simple as adding a white border to your photo using Photoshop, or you can add a pattern, change the shape, and more. The only limit is your own creativity.

A handy trick when it comes to creating borders with Photoshop is to use the Clipping Mask feature:

  1. After you’ve designed your frame, add a box or rectangle indicating exactly where the photo is going to go.
  2. Add the photo as an additional layer in your design.
  3. With the photo layer above the shape where you want your photo to go, right click the image layer and select Create Clipping Mask.
  4. Once you’ve done this the image will be confined to the rectangle or shape you clipped it to. You can move the image within the confines of that shape using the Move (keyboard shortcut V) tool.
  5. You can resize it by selecting the Rectangle Marquee tool (keyboard shortcut M), right-clicking the image and selecting Free Transform. Hold down the Shift button and using the mouse, grab one of the corners of the image and drag to resize.

This is how your layers should look with clipping masks added to the frame:

photoshop clipping mask

You can use this method to add texture and patterns to your frames as well, because it ensures that your additions are limited to the shape you’ve created.

For those of you who don’t want to shell out money for Creative Cloud, GIMP offers similar features to Photoshop and is also worth exploring.

9. Microsoft Word

add frame word

If all else fails, Microsoft Office products alone can be used to add a basic frame or border to your image. Microsoft Word’s basic image editing features include the ability to add a frame to an image. Similar features can be found in PowerPoint and even Excel.

After you’ve inserted your image into the Word document, right-click it and select Format Picture. In the menu that opens you have several options including adding a variety of drop shadows, a reflection of your image, and an outer glow.

If you want a simple frame, click the “Fill” icon (bucket) and select Line > Solid Line. You can change the color, type of line, width, and more.

From Simple Photo Borders to Vintage Frames

From adding simple white borders, to making your photos look like Polaroids, to making your digital shots look like they were taken with a vintage Kodak camera, there’s plenty you can do with just an app or two.

Beyond frames and borders, there are plenty of great smartphone photo editing apps to help make your photos stand out even more.

Read the full article: How to Add Borders to Photos: 9 Easy Methods Anyone Can Use

19:00

The 4 Best Online Print-on-Demand Book Services for Self-Publishers

Getting a book published used to require submitting your work to a publisher and hoping for the best. These days, on-demand book printing (which is a kind of self-publishing or indie publishing) is even easier.

This is called print-on-demand. Thanks to print-on-demand book services, you can now format, order, and print copies of your own book right from the comfort of your home. Not only that, you can sell printed copies of your books directly to readers on demand, meaning you don’t have to print a risky bulk order beforehand.

Nowadays, there are several print-on-demand services that’ll help you make your own book online. Here are the best on-demand book printing services we recommend.

1. Blurb

best print-on-demand book services online

Blurb is a San Francisco-based self-publishing company that has been around since 2005. One of Blurb’s strength is the easy ability to create highly visual works using the site’s online tools. That makes Blurb great for photo books and magazines. Plus you can still turn to Blurb if you’re producing a print-only work.

Blurb lets you produce paperback or hardcover copies of your books, with the latter costing more. You can also use the service to create ebooks. If you prefer to work offline using your preferred programs, you also have the option to upload your book as a PDF.

Blurb charges you a set price for the cost of making your book. You decide for yourself how much profit you want to add on top of that figure. The resulting number is what people will pay to buy your work if you choose to sell it.

When you create a Blurb book, you can sell the finished product on Amazon without any extra hassle. However, Amazon does tack on a fee to the cost of each book.

2. CreateSpace

best print-on-demand book services online

CreateSpace began as a South Carolina-based company called BookSurge back in 2000. Amazon acquired the business five years later. As a result, CreateSpace does NOT charge you extra fees to sell your work on Amazon.

CreateSpace provides you with the tools to create a cover and design the interior inside your browser. Alternatively, you can upload a PDF. Either way, there’s a limitation that you don’t face with Blurb. CreateSpace does not offer hardcover work as an option (unless you want to order copies to distribute yourself).

Amazon’s print-on-demand option provides the company with a cut of every sale, which is how you ultimately pay for the service. The money leftover is your royalty (i.e. the money you get to keep). Not having to pay an extra fee to distribute books via the world’s largest online book retailer is part of CreateSpace’s main appeal.

3. Lightning Source

best print-on-demand book services online

Lightning Source is one of the older options on this list. The Tennessee-based company has been around since 1996.

Today Lightning Source offers a print-on-demand service to authors and says most of its orders print and ship within 48 hours. The company claims to make your work available to over 39,000 retailers, libraries, and other points of sale.

The website offers calculators to determine: the cost of printing and shipping a book to your door, how much profit you can expect to make, how much your book will weigh, etc. Prices depend on a wide range of factors, but you can get a single copy of a 100-page paperback novel for under $10. Hardcover and color products are also options.

Lightning Source works with individual authors, small publishing companies, and larger publishers. For many prices, you may need to contact for a quote. The company is primarily a book printer, leaving you more control (but also more heavy lifting) throughout the process. You may need to look elsewhere to design your cover.

4. Lulu

best print-on-demand book services online

Lulu is a North Carolina-based company born in 2002. Its founder, Bob Young, also co-founded the largest open source company in the world—Red Hat. If you’re familiar with Linux, you may recognize Red Hat as the sponsor of Fedora Linux.

Lulu publishing targets everyone from indie authors to businesses in need of manuals and schools looking to print instructional materials. The site makes prices immediately transparent. You can produce paperbacks or hardcovers, as well as photobooks and calendars.

You will make more revenue when you sell a copy of your book through Lulu’s website. Lulu can make your book available in a wide number of retailers, including Amazon, but books sold here will also require a distribution fee that eats into your profits.

Words of Advice for Self-Publishers

With online book printing, make sure you research well and ensure a publisher good fit for you before committing your time and money or signing any agreements. Here are a few important things to look out for:

  • For non-US citizens, remember that different companies have different tax withholding requirements and that the check fees and your ability to deposit US checks may de-value your earnings somewhat.
  • Having your book formally listed with an ISBN will often require you to ensure the quality of your book. This may require you to purchase a copy of your book each and every time you make a change (this can include price or directory changes). If you sign up for an ISBN, read the fine print, be prepared to purchase if required and don’t make changes to your book after this unless it’s very important.
  • No-frills DIY publishers will endeavor to make money from added extras such as cover art, editing, and ISBNs. If you want to use these services, make sure you compare the prices between publishers and the cost of doing it yourself.

Are You Ready to Print Your Books Online?

It’s not the easiest time to make it as a writer. Consolidation has reduced the number of book publishers out there, and many are only willing to bet on similar types of work from established authors.

If you’re trying to publish your first book, self-publishing still isn’t an easy path to walk. But it does work for some people.

If you’ve used a service to print your own book, let us know about your experiences with the publishers. Which print-on-demand company did you choose and why? Were you happy with the book quality? Read about our own experience with self-publishing.

Read the full article: The 4 Best Online Print-on-Demand Book Services for Self-Publishers

18:00

The 3 Best Mac App Switchers for Jumping Between Apps and Windows

best-mac-app-switchers

Most Mac users know that Cmd + Tab is the default way to switch applications in macOS. It lets you jump between apps without taking your hands off the keyboard.

While this works fine, it isn’t perfect. The icons appear in order of last use, not alphabetical. And you can’t switch open tabs or windows in applications. If you need an app switcher than can do this and more, you’re in luck.

We’ll show you three switcher apps for Mac that are powerful enough to replace the default tool.

1. Witch

witch-application-switcher-for-Mac

Witch provides an entirely new experience for swapping apps. It lets you quickly switch between apps, multiple windows, and their tabs. Witch is not a standalone app; it’s a preference pane application. To install it, just drag and drop the Witch.prefPane to the System Preferences window.

When you launch this app for the first time, you’ll see a dialog box asking for permission to control this computer using accessibility features. This way, it can interact with other apps through the Accessibility API and get the information about their open windows.

Setting Up Witch as Your Application Switcher

To start using this app, tick the Enable Witch checkbox in the upper-left corner of its window. Then press and hold Option + Tab to activate the window switcher. You’ll see a vertical list of application windows along with a search bar. To navigate the switcher, hold the Option key and press:

  • Tab to move the selection down and Tilde to move up. Alternatively, you can also use the up and down arrow keys.
  • Right arrow to drill down into a window that has tabs. Left arrow to move back from the tab view to the main window.

Release the Option key to switch to the highlighted app.

How to Use Witch

witch-application-panel-switcher-setup

This switcher is great for switching windows and their respective tabs, if any. But the power of Witch lies in its multiple switchers, so you can make it work the way you want. Click the Plus button at the bottom-left corner of the window to add a new switcher panel, then configure it:

  1. The Cycle Windows popup menu lets you control what the switcher will display when activated. Underneath this menu, you’ll see many options.
    1. You can cycle apps, apps and their windows, minimized or non-minimized windows, and more. Explore these switcher options and see which of them works best for your needs.
  2. The Sort by popup menu lets you control the way Witch will sort the switcher panel. You can choose from: App Activity, Window Activity, App Name, Window Title, and more.
    1. Experiment with these options, as not all sorting methods work best for a switcher cycle. You can change the orientation of windows as vertical or horizontal. Or change the mode it uses to list the tabs. For example, you can treat tabs as a separate window.
  3. On the right side, you can assign a keyboard shortcut for that switcher panel. For example, to cycle windows, use Option + Tab. To cycle minimized windows, you might use Shift + Cmd + Tab.
    1. Witch doesn’t limit you to the keyboard. You can use a mouse too. Tick the Show in menu bar box to access the switcher panel from the menu bar.

Witch is completely flexible. The app doesn’t restrict you to one method. You can utilize the modifier keys to switch between windows, or type in few characters to search the windows.

To use this, press Cmd + Tab, then the S key to switch to the search mode. The search field works just like Spotlight: type in few characters, and it’ll quickly find a matching window or tab.

Download: Witch (Free trial, $14)

2. Contexts

Contexts App Mac

Contexts is another powerful application switcher for Mac. The app gives you four different ways to switch application windows. The main panel has a built-in search to switch windows faster, and a sidebar panel to switch windows with a click. It also features a better Cmd + Tab with the support of separate window lists, and finally built-in gestures to switch windows easily.

Like Witch, you must allow this app to use accessibility features. The app will then immediately open its main panel and a sidebar.

How to Use Contexts

Contexts offers you a quick way to switch windows through built-in search. Press Ctrl + Space (or whichever shortcut you prefer) to open the main panel in search mode.

Type in few characters from the window title or app name to filter the list, then press Return to switch to the highlighted window. The search field supports non-consecutive characters, acronyms, and even a hotkey to switch windows faster.

Contexts also have an auto-hiding sidebar panel that organizes windows by Spaces. Bring the cursor to the side of the screen to activate the sidebar panel. Click on the window title to switch to that window.

By default, Contexts groups windows by Spaces. Go to Preferences > Rules and under Group windows, choose Manually. When you do this, apps and windows will distribute across groups. You can re-order or move apps between groups and reserve spots for apps from the right-click menu. The app provides you additional options to customize the sidebar panel under Preferences > Sidebar.

You can limit the sidebar option to show windows from currently visible Spaces. By default, the position of the sidebar is towards the right side of the screen. If you work with another display, then you can change the panel position to the left side of the screen. And if the sidebar is distracting you, it allows you to hide the sidebar panel temporarily until you move the cursor to the edge of the display to make it appear again.

sidebar-panel-of-the-contexts-app

More Ways to Use Contexts

The default application switcher does not work with multiple windows, but Contexts offer better support. It shows all open application windows as a vertical list. To switch to the highlighted app, follow the same procedure for switching apps with Cmd + Tab. The app provides you additional options in the Preferences > Command-Tab to change the way app works.

By default, the app shows windows from all Spaces, whether they’re in normal, hidden, or minimized state. You can sort the windows by importance, and put minimized or hidden windows at the bottom of the list to make switching faster for frequently used windows. It also offers the usual shortcuts to quit, minimize, or hide the window just like the default application switcher.

Switching windows is also possible with built-in gestures. Go to Preferences > Gestures and activate the Gesture option. Now put two fingers on the top edge of the trackpad, and scroll down to select the window you want. Lift your fingers to switch.

Download: Contexts (Free trial, $10)

3. Command-Tab Plus

list-of-apps-in-the-command-tab-plus

Command-Tab Plus is the most straightforward application switcher. Out of the box, it improves on the default app switcher by enhancing its basic features. The app also gives you an option to change the appearance of the switcher completely, making it more fun to use.

Using Command-Tab Plus as Your Application Switcher

Command-Tab Plus has two modes: Cmd + Tab to switch applications, and Option + Tab to switch windows. When you press Cmd + Tab, it shows you a horizontal list of apps with a number badge. You can use these icon numbers to switch between apps. Just hold the Cmd key and press the app’s number to switch to it. This way, you don’t have to press Tab multiple times.

When you press Option + Tab, you can switch windows quickly. The app isolates the workspace; it doesn’t show you the complete list of windows from all Spaces. Go to Preferences > General and tick Show All Apps to show you a full list of windows. Also, tick the Show Hidden Apps checkbox to enable inactive windows in both the application and window switcher.

appearance-option-of-the-command-tab-plus

The app also lets you tweak the switcher’s appearance. Go to Preferences > Appearance, and you’ll see many options to customize its look. You can change the background color, transparency, app name color, icon size, and more.

Download: Command-Tab Plus (Free trial, $10)

Better App and Window Management on Your Mac

You probably switch apps dozens of times in a day to complete numerous tasks. But once you start using these apps, you can forget about the Dock and other slow methods. Using the keyboard to switch between apps and windows saves both time and mental energy.

Switching apps is great, but managing windows is a whole different task. If you’re facing issues with window management and desktop clutter, then take a look at the best window management tools for Mac.

Read the full article: The 3 Best Mac App Switchers for Jumping Between Apps and Windows

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