Mac News Review

Lion to Snow Leopard Downgrade Tutorial, iCloud May Come to OS X 10.6, Loving Dropbox, and More

This Week's Apple and Desktop Mac News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2011.09.02

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review. iPad, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV news is covered in iOS News Review. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News & Opinion

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News & Opinion

How to Downgrade from OS X Lion to Snow Leopard

Redmond Pie's Goncalo Ribeiro notes that OS X 10.7 Lion includes many improvements, such as support for fullscreen apps and reliability additions such as Auto Save. Yet if you're finding it hard to cope with such a radical change, or if some apps that are essential to you aren't compatible with the new system, it might be a good idea to move back to OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

If you're wondering how, Ribeiro has posted a guide for downgrading to Snow Leopard, at least provided you don't have a Mid 2011 Mac mini or Mid 2011 MacBook Air, neither of which supports Snow Leopard.

Publisher's note: Some users have managed to get Snow Leopard running on Mid 2011 Macs, but with mixed results. See iFixit for details. dk

Apple May Bring iCloud to Snow Leopard

AppleInsider Staff reports that for Mac users who have not yet upgraded to Lion, new evidence suggests that Apple will add iCloud support to its predecessor, Snow Leopard, in the form of an update, and that that iCloud will require a computer running Mac OS X 10.6.9 or later.

Editor's note: If so, that'll keep a lot of us using Dropbox , which felicitously supports OS X versions back to OS X 10.4 Tiger inclusive, and out of the iCloud. cm

Dropbox: Cloud Computing As It Should Be

NoodleMac says:

"Some things in life are meant to be. Macs are beautiful. PCs are not. iPhones are beautiful. Android phones? Not so much. And with the world moving quickly to the cloud, and Apple's iCloud service set to rule the digital cumulus, stratus, cirrus, and nimbus of Macs and PCs, a demonstration of why its going to be a worthwhile revolution can be summarized in one word. ' Dropbox .'

"Dropbox can be loaded on multiple Macs, iPhones, and PCs. And all the information you store on one gets updated on the others, all via that Big Dropbox In The Cloud. That means you have access to what's important whenever you have a decent Internet connection. Just don't plan to store your music and movie collection online."

Publisher's note: Dropbox has improved workflow at Low End Mac headquarters. I do the bulk of my work (writing, editing, image work, and other site work) on a Power Mac G4 running OS X 10.4 Tiger, but I use a 2007 Mac mini with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard for Mail, NetNewsWire, iPhoto, iTunes, Google's Chrome browser (Intel-only), and BlueGriffon, a free WYSIWYG webpage editor that I am growing increasingly fond of. Because the Mini has only 1 GB of memory, it's much more efficient to run Photoshop Elements 3 on the old Power Mac, which has 2 GB of RAM. I can copy files from email to Dropbox and have them auto-magically appear on the Power Mac, edit files in BlueGriffon on the Mini or on Claris Home Page on the Power Mac and have them go to the other machine, etc.

BTW, there is nothing hard and fast about the 2 GB limit on free Dropbox space. I currently have over 4 GB of free space on my account. Some helpful resources for learning how to accumulate more free space:

How Did I Ever Get Along Without Dropbox?

In an AppleTell blog, Charles W. Moore says:

"How much do I love Dropbox? A lot. For someone like me, who uses three laptop computers plus an iPad on a regular basis for production work, Dropbox is the best thing that's come down the pike in a very long time.

"Dropbox is the practical quintessence of what cloud computing has to offer, while keeping synchronized (at least to the last time you logged onto the Internet) copies of files contained on all machines."

Mac/iOS User Loses Passion for Apple

BetaNews' Joe Wilcox reports that earlier this month he sold his 11.6" MacBook Air, replacing it with a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, and also divested his iPhone 4, switching to a Google Nexus S, and says he doesn't miss either Apple product even a little bit.

Wilcox says that without Apple Chairman Steve Jobs driving innovation or inspiring passion - the legendary Jobsian "Reality Distortion Field" - his Apple enthusiasm is gone, musing that "perhaps it's return to sanity."

More objectively, Wilcox observes that while elegant simplicity has been a marquee attribute of Apple products during the Jobs era, he sees that now giving way to "complication creep," with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and iTunes 9 and 10 being prima facie examples of increased complexity, as were iOS 4 (and soon iOS 5), Safari 5.1, iLife 11, and most other Apple software.

"Apple feels quite different to me now in 2011 than it did in 2008," Wilcox summarizes. "It's all corporate now. Just dollars and cents on a ledger." What Jobs imbued already is gone, at least for him, and he predicts it will fade for many technophiles, albeit not so much for mass market consumer buyers, who have always been more influenced by what their friends and family use than by the aura of Steve Jobs.

Publisher's note: Rather than migrate to the most different version of the Mac OS ever (Lion), a lot of us have drawn a line in the sand and are sticking with the traditional versions of OS X, whether 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard, or 10.6 Snow Leopard. Between all the changes in the way Lion works and losing compatibility with old, time-tested apps that are part of our workflow, we're sticking with what works. New touch-based paradigms are fine for touch-based hardware, and while it may be nice for new Mac users to have an OS that's familiar from the iPhone or iPad, for longtime Mac users Lion is more of an obstacle than an opportunity. dk

Windows 8 vs. OS X Lion & iOS: User Interfaces Take Opposite Directions

Default interface for Windows 8 Explorer
The default interface for Windows 8 Explorer.

OS X Daily's Paul Horowitz says he would be convinced that the new Windows 8 Explorer default interface was an April Fools joke were it not August, noting that while Apple is busy reducing clutter and creating minimalist interfaces, streamlining the OS X and iOS interfaces, Microsoft is moving in the distinctly opposite direction with its Windows 8 user interface and file system, adding even more buttons, icons, actions, tabs, and whatever else they could stuff into Windows Explorer's brand new window toolbar.

Editor's note: While the Windows 8 "Ribbon" motif UI indeed does seem unnecessarily busy to my eyes, IMHO Apple has gone off the deep end in the opposite direction with OS X 10.7 Lion, deviating from the happy medium that's characterized previous versions of OS X. cm

Freedom from IT Mismanagement

Forrester Research Senior Analyst David Johnson says we're learning once again that what people want most is to be free, and that we're in the midst of a revolution in personal computing, the extent of which we'll only fully comprehend once it's over.

"It's not about Microsoft vs. Apple or Google vs. Apple," says Johnson, "It's about freedom. Freedom from control. Freedom from establishments. Freedom of identity. Freedom from IT departments too understaffed and ill-equipped to help. Freedom from layers of management agents and miscellaneous junk that sap minutes to hours of productive time from our lives every day."

To those who insist all that's the price of compliance and security you say, Johnson says "Hogwash!"

Johnson thinks the personal computer end-user experience has deteriorated to the point that we are relegated to twiddling our thumbs while the hourglass spins, remote bots take inventory, and software updates install unbidden, slowing down the works often at critical moments when we're frantically rushing to meet a business schedule or submission deadline, locking up the cursor while we try to to write email, or interrupting presentations with embarrassing popup reminders to update our software.

The needs of high performers and power users are being sacrificed to accommodate the technologically inept and/or lazy, Johnson observes. "Our workspaces don't belong to us any more, so more and more of us are choosing to go it alone," thereby risking the wrath of IT departments for violating corporate security policy by using their own personal computer in the office rather than one IT provides.

How to fight back? "New technologies must be allowed to unleash new levels of productivity and value," Johnston allows, offering some practical suggestions.

Publisher's note: As someone who once was the corporate IT department for an all-Mac publishing house, I always did my best to run backup and perform software updates outside of business hours, and to avoid any unnecessary updates of servers until the weekend. You'd think IT departments would realize they are about enabling end user productivity and have an obligation to schedule updates for down times - before and after work hours, during breaks, etc. It's about making thing easier for the end user, which is not necessarily easier for IT. dk

Steve Jobs' Biological Father Waits for Son to Call

The New York Post's Georgina Dickinson reports that Steve Jobs' biological father, 80 year old Syrian emigré Abdulfattah John Jandali, who is now an executive vice president at a Reno casino, shares with his offspring a common workaholism, a determination to avoid retirement at all costs, and an unwillingness to speak with the other, "even if either of us was on our deathbeds."

Jandali explains that Jobs would have to take the initiative, because his Syrian pride prevents him from giving Jobs any reason to "ever to think I am after his fortune," he said, adding that he is "overcome with guilt" over his treatment of Jobs, and fears time is running out, saying that "even to have just one coffee with him just once would make me a very happy man."

Jandali learned only in recent years that the son his then-girlfriend gave up for adoption in 1955 grew up to be "the Edison of his age."

Products & Services

Mobee Magic Numpad Turns Magic Trackpad into Powerful, Customizable Numpad

Mobee Magic NumpadPR: Apply any of the Magic films to your Apple Magic Trackpad, install the free App and you'll instantaneously get both a Trackpad and a Numpad combined in a single device.

The Main Features:

  • Works Exclusively with the Apple Magic Trackpad : Apply any of the Magic films on your Apple Magic Trackpad, install the free App and you will instantaneously get both a Trackpad and a Numpad built into one single device.
  • 3 Custom Layouts : available and delivered in the pack to let you customize the way you want to use your Numpad. These Magic Films are high-technology films, each of them built on an exclusive 3-layer technology, having a bubble-proof reusable material for the bottom layer, an ultra-soft antiglare material for the top and high-quality printing in the middle for full protection.
  • Calculator Mode : A special feature allows the Magic Numpad to display a calculator on your screen to allow simple calculations without typing formulas into Excel.
  • Free Software : Thanks to the Software Serial Card included, you will be able to activate the free software (Compatibility OS X Snow Leopard & Lion).
  • Green Technology : Adding a Numpad to your Apple universe without adding a piece of hardware is a green way to achieve Mobee's customers' needs.

Mobee Magic NumpadCustom Layout Numpad Films

Three different layouts are available and delivered in the pack to let you customize the way you want to use your Numpad :

  • Have a full Numeric Calculator Keyboard at your fingertips or,
  • Have a full-function Numeric Calculator Keyboard plus a tactile area on the Magic Trackpad or,
  • Have a full-function Numeric Calculator Keyboard with configurable shortcut buttons for use with programs of your choice.

Installation is claimed to take only one minute.

  • Clean your Apple Magic Trackpad with the included textile
  • Install your chosen Magic Numpad Film thanks to the application Card
  • Download the Free Mobee Magic Numpad Software

Included in the pack are:

  • NUM10, NUM20, NUM30 High Quality Films
  • Permanent Pen
  • Application Card
  • Textile
  • Software Serial Card

System requirements: Compatible with OS X Snow Leopard & Lion.

$29.90 (preorder, availability October 2011)


PhotoStudio 6, Powerful Image Editing Application Comes to Macs

PhotoStudio 6PR: PhotoStudio 6 For Mac provides powerful photo editing functions for all levels of users, fully supporting Raw photo, 48-bit imaging and large photos, and can automatically remove photo "noise" as well as offering various image manipulation tools and a convenient photo management and browser

PhotoStudio 6 for Mac's array of advanced editing tools, includes more than 40 photo filters and 3 convenient ways for you to capture images on your computer screen.

PhotoStudio 6The program's Face Beautify feature can help make your subjects look younger and flawless, reducing blemishes on the face such as wrinkles, moles, spots, and freckles. It also adjusts face color, brightens eyes, removes redeye, whitens and repairs teeth, adds color to lips, and so forth.

PhotoStudio 6A Magic-Film feature applies professional film effects to your photos, while Magic-Cut allows you to quickly extract an object from a photo's background to paste into any background with only three easy steps required,

Toy Camera makes the photo appear as if it had been captured by a LOMO Camera.

PhotoStudio 6PhotoStudio for Mac 6's file browser helps you conveniently review, search, and organize thousands of files with the use of tags, ratings, or through a convenient calendar view using imported and captured dates.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.7, 10.6, 10.5, 10.4
  • PowerPC G4 and up
  • 256 MB
  • 400 MB disk space

MSRP: $79.99

Lion-Compatible Dragon Dictate 2.5 with iPhone Mic App: Upgrade for $100

PR: Nuance's latest release of Dragon Dictate 2.5 for Mac includes several new features to help you get more done faster.

Registered users who are Nuance customers can upgrade at the special price of only $99.99 (a $100 saving off the everyday price of $199.99).

Nuance also notes you plan to upgrade to OS X Lion and wish to continue working with Nuance speech recognition products on your Mac, you will need to upgrade to Dragon Dictate 2.5, since earlier versions of MacSpeech Dictate are not supported on the latest Mac operating system.

New in Dictate 2.5

One of Dictate 2.5's marquee new features is the ability to combine talking and typing in Microsoft Word. In previous versions of Dragon Dictate, users were forced to complete their documents entirely by voice. Dictate 2.5 gives users the freedom to interact with their computers using the method that works best at any given moment - dictation plus mouse or keyboard entry.

The result is more flexibility and improved efficiency for document creation and editing within Microsoft Word 2011. Additional flexibility is delivered with new Auto Formatting capabilities so that you can be sure Dragon Dictate works the way that you work.

Dictate 2.5 also works with the new Dragon Remote Microphone App (free from iTunes) so that you can turn your iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless microphone. Same great accurate recognition, but no headset wires!

Additional new features included with Dictate 2.5, as well as some of the features that were introduced in Dictate 2.0 include the following:

  • [NEW] Numbers Mode: Dictate numbers with ease. With Numbers Mode Dictate more accurately recognizes strings of numbers - perfect for entering figures in a database or dictating lengthy product codes.
  • [NEW] Auto Sleep Microphone: Practice effective microphone control even when you forget to turn off your mic! Dictate 2.5 automatically puts your microphone in Sleep mode after a period of silence.
  • Improved Speed and Accuracy: Powered by the latest version of Nuance's renowned speech recognition engine, Dragon 11. Faster speech recognition and better speech accuracy than MacSpeech Dictate.
  • Editing Commands: Dragon Dictate makes light work of document editing with a new suite of built-in editing commands. Now it's easier than ever to perform tasks such as selecting and deleting text, inserting text, capitalizing text, choosing text for recognition training and much more.
  • Proofreading: Taking advantage of Mac OS X's powerful Text-to-Speech capabilities, simply select text and Dragon Dictate reads it back to you.
  • Voice Navigation: Dragon Dictate lets you quickly control your Mac's cursor and mouse actions with your voice using Nuance's MouseGrid technology.
  • Dragon Voice Shortcuts for Search: With just your voice, Dragon Dictate dramatically accelerates the way you find information on the web and on your Mac. Simple voice commands let you do things like, "Search Google for Italian restaurants" or "Search Mac for 'lecture notes'" and so much more.
  • Flexible Microphones: Switching between microphones is easy to manage with Dragon Dictate. You can even designate multiple microphones for a single voice profile, such as a wired microphone headset and a wireless microphone.

To upgrade, call Nuance at 1-888-781-1189 to place your order. They're offering a 30-Day Return Policy.

Primate Labs Releases Geekbench 2.2

PR: Primate Labs has released Geekbench 2.2, an update to their popular cross-platform benchmark. Available for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows, Geekbench 2.2 features an improved interface and hardware stress tests.

Geekbench for Mac"This new release is a huge step forward in usability" says John Poole, founder of Primate Labs, "With a simplified interface and users will find it easier than ever to discover if their computer is up to speed"

Geekbench 2.2 also includes a new hardware stress test which helps users determine if their computer is experiencing hardware problems. The stress test fully loads all of the processors and cores in a system to uncover hardware problems.

"Most users only notice when things go horribly wrong with their computers. Smaller problems, like an underperforming fan, can go undetected for weeks or months.", says Poole. "Geekbench's new stress tests will help users detect these problems sooner, ensuring their computer is working as expected."

Geekbench 2.2 also includes a new command-line interface on Mac OS X and Windows. The command-line interface provides enterprise users, system administrators, and power users with a way to automate Geekbench, making it a valuable addition to diagnostic toolkits everywhere.

Geekbench is a cross-platform processor and memory benchmark. Engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance, Geekbench takes the guesswork out of producing robust and reliable benchmark results.

Geekbench 2.2 is a free update for existing Geekbench users. New users can purchase a single-platform license for $12.99 from the Mac App Store or the Primate Labs Store, or a cross-platform license for $19.99 from the Primate Labs Store.

Download, Tweet, and Win with MacScan 2.9.1 Release

PR: SecureMac is celebrating the release of MacScan 2.9.1, the latest version of its award-winning anti-malware privacy and security software for Mac OS X. The Download, Tweet and Win! Campaign allows Mac users the opportunity to download MacScan and audit their computer for security threats and privacy issues, such as tracking cookies, and tweet their results for a chance to win great prizes such as a MacBook Air, MacScan licenses, and gift cards to favorite retailers.

No purchase is necessary. Mac users should simply download, install, and run the latest version of MacScan (2.9.1) to scan their system for malware, then use the handy link within the program to tweet ( account required - free) their results for a chance to win.

The new version of MacScan enhances protection against the latest threats for Mac OS X, adding usability enhancements, scan engine updates, scheduler fixes as well as user interface changes and updates.

MacScan 2.9.1 is immediately available for download to try for 30 days or purchase for $29.99. Upgrades from previous versions of MacScan 2 are free and can be obtained by either selecting "Check for Updates" under the "MacScan" menu, or by downloading the demo version and entering your serial number.

MacScan Family Pack lets you install the popular MacScan anti-spyware software on up to three computers for only $49.99. Existing single-license owners of MacScan can upgrade to the MacScan Family Pack allowing installation on up to three computers for the difference of the original price and the Family Pack price.

MacScan quickly detects, isolates, and removes spyware from Apple Macintosh computers as well as enhances Internet privacy and security by cleaning up Internet clutter. It is designed for Mac OS X version 10.2.4 and higher, including Apple's latest, Lion (10.7).

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