How-To: Go beyond OS X Photos + make amazing wall art from your Mac’s pictures (Part 1)

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Apple knew it had something special to share with the world when it released iPhoto in 2002: in addition to printing 20″ by 30″ poster-sized photos, the original iPhoto’s “most stunning feature” (according to Apple) was a page layout tool that quickly turned digital photo collections into printed hardcover books. These were Apple’s acknowledgements that tangible photos still had value in a digital era, and it subsequently added calendars, greeting cards, softcover books, and letterpress cards to iPhoto. Apple’s newer app Photos for Mac hides these options under the File menu at the top of the screen, and hasn’t expanded on them, a shame considering how nice the results look.

But apart from including the poster options in 2002, Apple never added “large-format art” to the list of things its photo apps could produce. Back in 2002, digital cameras were so low-resolution that they struggled to produce pixel-free 4″ by 6″ photos, so it’s no surprise that Apple wasn’t trying to build a market for large prints. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. Canon currently sells two 50-Megapixel cameras, Sony has one 42-Megapixel camera, and Nikon offers four 36-Megapixel cameras. iPhones and iPads can create up to 43-Megapixel ultra-wide panoramas. A large, properly-composed print from any of these cameras (or even the more common 20- to 25-Megapixel cameras people are using today) will look amazing hanging on the wall of your home or office… if you know how to do it.

I wanted to see what the best options were for large-format photography, so I reached out to a collection of excellent art print services to see how digital photos would look on metal, glass, and canvas — materials Photos doesn’t offer. In Part 1 of this How-To guide, I’m looking at large-format metal prints that apply dyes and gloss directly onto aluminum surfaces, with results as saturated as Apple’s famous “nanochromatic” iPod nanos. Part 2 will look at large-format canvas and glass prints. Read on for all the details…

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Review: Moshi’s iGlaze, iVisor, ClearGuard & Muse enhance & protect the 12-inch MacBook

Dedicated accessories for Apple’s 12-inch MacBook with Retina display are still rarities at this point with the new design being different in every dimension than other MacBooks in the notebook lineup. For new MacBook owners looking to keep the $1300 and up machine in pristine condition, Moshi has a whole collection of premium accessories designed for the 12-inch MacBook. Today we’re taking a look at Moshi’s iGlaze 12, iVisor, ClearGuard & Muse 12: a lightweight hardshell case, bubble-free screen protector, ultra-thin keyboard cover, and slim fitting sleeve case for MacBook owners.

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Review: Bowers & Wilkins’ P5 Wireless hits new highs in Bluetooth headphone luxury

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Back when white earbuds dominated the market, Beats by Dre proved that mainstream customers were willing to pay $300 for large wired headphones and nearly $400 for wireless versions — even plasticky, overly bassy ones. The subsequent shift towards big headphones nearly killed makers of premium in-ear models, leading many audio companies to mimic Beats’ formula. But there were holdouts: iconic audio companies including Bowers & Wilkins refused to compromise their materials or change their sonic signatures to match Beats. Instead, B&W offered premium-priced headphones made from premium-quality materials, and let customers pick between plastic Beats or metal and leather alternatives.

Today, Bowers & Wilkins is debuting P5 Wireless ($400), a Bluetooth version of last year’s luxurious P5 Series 2 (and the since-discontinued original P5). Mixing chrome, brushed aluminum, and ultra-soft sheep’s leather, P5 Wireless is virtually indistinguishable from P5 Series 2 apart from its ability to operate with or without a 3.5mm audio cable. Classy in ways that even the top-of-line Beats Pro can’t match, P5 Wireless is the first Bluetooth headphone I would recommend to fans of classic premium audio gear…

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Latest MacBook hub on Kickstarter is the neatest yet, with form-fitting design

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Ever since Apple launched the single-port 12-inch MacBook, we’ve seen a flurry of companies offering to add the missing ports back in through various adapters, hubsdocks and more. Latest to the party is Branch, a Kickstarter project whose USP is its ‘form-fitted’ shape, which is naturally available in each of the three MacBook colors.

The emphasis here is on packing the essentials into an extremely portable unit, providing USB-C pass-through, two USB 3.0 ports and one Mini Display port capable of driving a 4K monitor. The company had originally pitched with HDMI (shown above), but said that it has switched to Mini DisplayPort following feedback from Kickstarter users …  Read more

Review: Akitio’s Thunder2 Dock fits a 7-port Thunderbolt 2 hub in your favorite MacBook bag

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Up until recently, Thunderbolt 2 docks could mostly be described as “seen one, seen them all.” I’ve continued to like the idea of docks that fuse Thunderbolt 2, USB 3.0, and other peripherals together in a single Thunderbolt-to-Mac connection, but the docks I’ve seen from Belkin, Elgato, and Kanex are so similar in looks and features that they’d be hard to tell apart in a lineup. CalDigit’s dock looked very different from the rest, but functioned almost exactly the same. No Thunderbolt 2 dock has been small enough to consider “portable,” and CalDigit’s design is downright bag-defiant in shape.

That’s why it’s great to see Akitio take a different path with the $279 Thunder2 Dock (available through Amazon for $230), a Thunderbolt 2 dock with a smaller form factor and focus. Roughly as thin as a MacBook Pro and made from a nearly-matching aluminum, Thunder2 Dock manages to include seven high-speed data ports even though it’s roughly the size of a portable hard drive. Since it requires wall power, it’s not completely portable, and just like its rivals, you give up certain features to gain others. But it’s definitely the first Thunderbolt dock I’d carry around if I needed multi-device support in the field…

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The best Mac desk, chair, decor, and peripherals for your home office

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Like Apple Watches, home offices are “personal” — the look and furniture that work well for one person might not seem “right” to another. But the unified metal and glass aesthetic of Apple products works really well with modern office furniture, and there are also some iconic decor items Apple lovers can incorporate into a home office.

I spend a lot of time working from my home office, and have considered it a work in progress ever since I started building it around an aluminum PowerBook many years ago. Below, you’ll find a collection of items that will help you build a beautiful, practical home office that really spotlights your Apple gear, based on a mix of affordable and small investment-worthy choices…

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Two weeks with iOS 9 and El Capitan: Which new features stand out and which ones fall short

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It’s been two full work weeks since Apple released the first betas of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, and I’ve been using the software since day one. With a ton of new features from a revamped Notes app to a completely new Search system and new multitasking tools, both operating systems promise to make your life much, much easier.

But how much of an impact on your daily life can these new features have? I’ve compiled some thoughts after using them to help you get an idea.

Before we jump into anything, I want to point out that the purpose of this article isn’t to focus on the bugs or problems that (obviously) plague beta software, but rather to examine the usefulness of the features added in the most recent updates. For that reason, there won’t be much discussion of stability or other potential issues unless they directly relate to how the features work, and the impact they’ve had on my day-to-day usage.

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MacPhun’s new Tonality 1.2 brings beautiful black & white photo tools to Apple Photos, Adobe Lightroom CC

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Even though it’s known as “black and white photography,” balanced grays are what make monochrome images striking or flat. Today, MacPhun released Tonality 1.2 ($18) and Tonality Pro 1.2 ($70), tools designed specifically for making the best possible black and white images from color photos. Both versions work with popular photo library management tools, newly including the Mac version of Apple Photos. The Pro version now plugs into Adobe’s new Lightroom CC, and adds RAW support for both new cameras and Lightroom.

Like MacPhun’s excellent noise-removing app Noiseless, Tonality uses a super-simple interface to let you preview potential changes to your images. The window’s bottom initially scrolls across 13 “Basic” presets, ranging from the intelligent “Adaptive Exposure” to the simpler “Underexposed;” 10 different categories collectively contain 150 different presets. Each preset effect starts at maximum, but can be muted using a single slider. Power users can access a right-side pane with controls for exposure, contrast, clarity, structure/micro-structure, color and tone filters, split-toning, glow, blur, vignette, and grain. Additionally, masking tools and a gradient filter let you alter specific areas of your images while leaving others untouched. The differences are so dramatic that you’ll never feel satisfied with a one-step “apply B&W filter” button again.

Tonality is currently being offered at an introductory price of $13 through the Mac App Store, with Tonality Pro at $60 through the company’s web site. Additional photo galleries of the app in action are below…

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Major zero-day security flaws in iOS & OS X allow theft of both Keychain and app passwords

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Researchers from Indiana University and the Georgia Institute of Technology said that security holes in both iOS and OS X allow a malicious app to steal passwords from Apple’s Keychain, as well as both Apple and third-party apps. The claims appear to have been confirmed by Apple, Google and others.

We completely cracked the keychain service – used to store passwords and other credentials for different Apple apps – and sandbox containers on OS X, and also identified new weaknesses within the inter-app communication mechanisms on OS X and iOS which can be used to steal confidential data from Evernote, Facebook and other high-profile apps

The Register says the team reported the flaws to Apple in October of last year. At that time, Apple said that it understood the seriousness of the flaws and asked the researchers to give it six months to address them before the exploit was made public. In February, Apple requested an advance copy of the paper, yet the flaws remain present in the latest versions of both operating systems …  Read more