six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

Support this Site

Take Control of Photos - Jason's e-book about the ins and outs of Photos for Mac and iOS.

Six Colors coverage of macOS Mojave



By Jason Snell

HazeOver makes Dark Mode that much darker

Those bright white background windows get darker with HazeOver.

The biggest problem with Dark Mode in macOS Mojave is that not every app has gotten the message. Some apps—especially ones that display web content—are going to be unflaggingly black-on-white, and it’s glaring and awful in Dark Mode.

There are a few workarounds. I’ve been pointed to a Safari extension that lets you override the design on specific sites, though I haven’t tried it myself. (I wish Apple would’ve just built this feature in itself.)

There’s one utility that I have tried out, though, that might help people who have crossed over to the dark side. It’s Maxim Ananov’s HazeOver, a $1 app that automatically darkens all of your background windows. It’s got a slew of options, including just how opaque it makes each window, and you can adjust behavior based on which app you’re using.

If you’ve got bright windows that are distracting you in Dark Mode—or heck, even in normal mode—HazeOver’s worth a try. It won’t make white windows any less bright when they’re in the foreground, but at least they’ll be easier to ignore when they’re in the background. And even your dark background windows will get darker, which might help your concentration.


Linked by Jason Snell

A looming Mac automation apocalypse?

Developer Felix Schwarz sounds the alarm about Mojave changes made for security reasons that could be really annoying and unhelpful for anyone who uses automation or apps that communicate with other apps (which is a lot of people!):

AppleEvent sandboxing, as of Mojave beta 9, is not in a good shape. The addition of new APIs in beta 7 telegraphed that Apple is still working on it. But it’s unclear what changes are still in the pipeline - and whether Apple can make enough progress before Mojave’s public release….

Ultimately, I’d like Apple to reconsider its approach when making changes like these to the foundation of macOS: introduce it at WWDC, but put it behind a feature toggle. Leverage the developer community. Enter into a dialogue to learn about unintended effects of the change, missing or bad APIs. Iterate. Make changes where needed. Provide comprehensive documentation well in advance. Then, at WWDC the year after, remove the feature toggle and make the change permanent.

A lengthy alert dialog.
Ugh.

I agree with Schwarz here; Apple’s goals with these changes are commendable, but why not provide a year for Apple and software developers to work out the bugs by shipping this feature with the ability to turn it off?

I wrote an AppleScript app last week to help automate how I use podcast editing templates. Even after adding it as an approved app by dragging it into the Accessibility list in the Privacy tab of the Security & Privacy pane in System Preferences 1, it still frequently demands approval at some point in the process of running. This is ridiculous. If these issues can’t be fixed by the time Mojave launches, maybe it’s worth backing off on them until all parties involved are ready?


Linked by Dan Moren

You can’t go back to your Mac again…

Apple has announced that the forthcoming macOS Mojave will discontinue support for the Back to My Mac service first introduced in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. A recently published knowledge base document lays out alternatives that offer much of the same functionality.

Back to My Mac made it easy to retrieve files or screen share with another Mac, no matter where it was, but other technologies have more or less obviated the nature for the service, which always was a bit on the unreliable side. Apple’s suggesting the use of iCloud Drive if you need to retrieve files remotely, and macOS’s Screen Sharing technology appears to allow for remote access without the need for further configuration.

This won’t cover every capability Back to My Mac provided, but given the feature’s flakiness, I imagine it was not in widespread use anymore.


By Dan Moren

Group FaceTime delayed until later this fall

As first noticed by developer Guilherme Rambo, Apple has removed Group FaceTime from the versions of the iOS 12 and macOS Mojave betas released today, with release notes saying that the feature will instead “ship in a future software update later this fall.”

For those paying close attention, this is pretty similar to what happened last year to AirPlay 2, a feature that only officially arrived in May of this year—shortly before WWDC.

There’s no inherent problem with taking a little longer to make sure a feature is fully baked: a late feature that works as intended will trump an on-time feature that’s broken.

That said, this has become enough of a regular occurrence with Apple that the company’s burned through some of its trust with users. A promise of “later this fall” doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence that Apple will hit this (admittedly self-imposed) deadline.

It also raises some eyebrows about why the company can’t seem to deliver some of these features as originally promised. 1


  1. And hey, speaking of things going MIA, where exactly is the AirPower charging pad introduced at last September’s event?  ↩

[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]


Jason Snell for Macworld

MacOS Mojave: 6 hidden features you can find in the public beta ↦

MacOS Mojave is here—at least for the brave, in a public beta. Apple makes early releases of macOS available to the public primarily because it can find more bugs if there are more people using the software. But it also does so because of the great demand from Mac users who want to run the newest Mac features and don’t mind hazarding a few bugs in order to get them.

You probably already know about Dark Mode and desktop Stacks and Gallery View, but they are just the top-level features in a surprisingly deep update. There are other fun features hiding just beneath the surface.

Continue reading on Macworld ↦


By Jason Snell

macOS Mojave: Back to the Mac

For a few years now, it’s seemed that any forward movement macOS might make was coming in lockstep with Apple’s other platforms, most notably iOS. What was new to the Mac was generally something that was also new to iOS, or was previously available on iOS.

With macOS Mojave, available today to the general public as a part of a public beta, the story is different. macOS Mojave feels like a macOS update that’s truly about the Mac, extending features that are at the core of the Mac’s identity. At the same time, macOS Mojave represents the end of a long era (of stability or, less charitably, stagnation) and the beginning of a period that could completely redefine what it means to use a Mac.

Is macOS Mojave the latest chapter of an ongoing story, the beginning of a new one, or the end of an old one? It feels very much like the answer is yes and yes and yes.

Continue Reading "macOS Mojave: Back to the Mac"


Linked by Dan Moren

macOS Mojave’s dark side of the mode

Our pal and regular Six Colors Magazine contributor Stephen Hackett delves into the most prominent feature of macOS Mojave, dark mode:

The last point, “Dark Mode is content-focused” should sound familiar to anyone who was around during the iOS 7 transition, or who was paying attention when OS X Yosemite was introduced. Apple’s modern design language, the company is fond of saying, is made to get out of the way, allowing users’ content to shine through.

Apple has returned to that well with Dark Mode, and I think it works.

I recently realized that I use the current Dark Mode on my iMac, and the normal light appearance on my MacBook Air, in large part because it matches the respective bezels on the devices’ screens.

Stephen also runs down the addition of the new Accents feature, which finally brings different selection colors to menus and other UI elements.


By Jason Snell

With Mojave, Apple makes changes inside and outside Mac App Store

The introduction of macOS Mojave will see Apple make some important changes to how Mac software is secured and analyzed—both inside and outside of the Mac App Store.

If you view software on the Mac as a simple binary—it’s either approved and scanned by Apple or it’s a free-for-all—you’re missing some important nuances. By default, macOS launches apps from the Mac App Store or apps that are cryptographically signed by a developer with its Apple-generated certificate. If an app from outside the Mac App Store isn’t signed, it won’t open (unless you change the security settings or override the check).

But in Mojave, the Mac App Store is getting more expansive. For example, Apps are able to ask for permission to creep out of the restrictive “sandbox” and access files more broadly across your Mac’s hard drive. The severe restrictions of the Mac App Store’s security policies were one of the reasons most frequently cited by developers who decided to bail out on the store and just go back to selling apps directly. It’s no coincidence that two notable developers who abandoned the Mac App Store, Bare Bones and Panic, were highlighted in a slide at the WWDC Keynote: That’s Apple sending a message to developers that the Mac App Store is changing and that they might want to give it a second look. I’d expect Apple to continue in this direction with the Mac App Store in the future.

Mojave also introduces a new set of security measures for apps outside the Mac App Store. The new concept is called “notarizing” apps, which is a way for Apple to digitally mark an app release that’s been signed by a registered Apple developer. To release an app (outside the Mac App Store), developers will upload their app to an Apple server, where it’s automatically scanned for malware. This isn’t anything formal like an App Store review, but it’s meant to catch obvious malware. When an app passes the scan, Apple generates a file that’s provided back to the developer. Developers don’t need to use this approach in Mojave, but down the road it seems like it will replace the current app-signing option for non-App Store apps.

The notarized-apps approach has some notable benefits, like the fact that a single rogue version of an app can be stopped without disabling every single app signed by that developer—a harsh side effect of the current approach to signing apps. But it also adds a delay in the software release, and brings Apple directly into the app release workflow. Any technical breakdown on Apple’s end could get in the way of app updates going out the door.

Still, it’s an interesting contrast: Apple is making it easier for more apps to get into the Mac App Store, while also instituting somewhat tighter security controls on apps that are released outside the store. Anyone who wants to see a slippery slope that ends up in the Mac software experience being entirely locked down will undoubtedly see it here; it’s more likely that this is Apple’s way of balancing the freedom of Mac software distribution with the need to protect Mac users from malware infestations.

As for the Mac App Store, this is great news. While the keynote showed off a fancy new App Store interface, complete with editorial content akin to what’s been on the iOS App Store since the release of iOS 11 last fall, you can’t write engaging marketing material about apps that aren’t allowed in the store. Altering policies and providing new tools for apps to ask permission, thereby returning developers like Panic and Bare Bones to the store, is what it will take to refresh the Mac App Store. And it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening.


By Dan Moren

The small details of iOS 12, macOS Mojave, and more

While it may have seemed like Apple went deep into its upcoming platform updates, there’s only so much time the company can spend onstage, so by necessity, not everything makes the cut.

So I always like to comb through Apple’s product web pages to turn up interesting tidbits and features that the company didn’t talk about during its keynote presentation. So here’s my pretty thorough list of features Apple mentions on its website for these platform updates. Did I miss anything? Let me know!

iOS 12

Automatic strong passwords. Apple says that Safari will now automatically create and save strong passwords in apps and websites, as well as flagging passwords that are reused. I’m curious how this differs from the current situation, where you can specifically tell iOS to generate a password. I’m also wondering if the company has changed its password-generation algorithms, based on the latest data about creating strong passwords. But frankly, I welcome any opportunity to encourage people to use better passwords.

Security code AutoFill. A feature I was just thinking about the other day, when my mother complained that sometimes those one-time security codes go by too fast. Now those codes will pop up as an AutoFill option, making filling them in that much faster.

More Siri features. Siri Shortcuts dominated the attention at the keynote, but it looks like the virtual assistant has learned a few new tricks, including food-related questions like how many calories or how much fat something has, and even the ability to look up a password. (Hopefully only when you’ve authenticated yourself.) Translation now supports more than 40 language pairs.

Battery info. Apple says you can now get battery info for the last 10 days in addition to the last 24 hours, which should help people get a better handle on what might be eating up their battery life.

Device support. Since the company specifically planted a flag about improving performance on older devices, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that iOS 12 will run on the same devices as iOS 11, all the way back to the iPhone 5s, iPad mini 2, and sixth-generation iPod touch.

Wink detection. In addition to being able to detect when you stick out your tongue, Animoji can now tell when you wink. (Before it generally just registered them as a blink.)

Animoji length. Recording clips with Animoji now has a 30-second limit, as opposed to the current 10 second limit.

App strip redesigned. The company’s tweaked the design on the App Strip in Messages, to take up less space.

AR linked to a location. Not only can you create an AR object that can be viewed by multiple people, but you can anchor it to a location, so it can be seen by anybody who goes to that place. Augmented reality geocaching anybody?

Photo places search. Anybody who’s tried to find photos from a specific location have probably run into issues with it not being quite granular enough. Now Apple says you can search generic terms, like “Japanese restaurant” as well as specific location names and events, like WWDC 2018.

RAW photo editing. The iPad Pro can edit RAW photos; iPads and iPhones can import and manage them.

Better portrait mode. Apple says it’s tweaked portrait mode’s algorithm to help better differentiate between the subject and the background.

Password sharing. Apple says it’s made it easier to share passwords between nearby devices. I imagine this works much like the current iOS feature that lets you share Wi-Fi passwords with known devices, but hopefully this will save a lot of time inputting passwords on Apple TVs.

Password management API. Fascinating: Third-party password management apps (think 1Password) can now let you access their vaults for filling in passwords in Safari, right from the QuickType bar.

iPad gestures. Apple says you can now swipe up on the Dock to get to the home screen, and swipe down from the top right corner to summon Control Center.

New dictionaries & thesaurus. New dictionaries for Arabic and English, Hindi and English, and Hebrew, plus—at long last!—an English language thesaurus.

watchOS 5

Hiking support. Just doing a walk is a little bit different from a hike, so good to see Workouts now supports the later, including tracking your elevation in real time.

Cadence tracking. Your running work can now track steps per minute, to help you figure out your optimal cadence.

Device compatibility. Sorry, Series 0 Apple Watch owners: no watchOS 5 for you—you’ll need at least a Series 1 or better. *looks mournfully at his original Apple Watch*

macOS Mojave

Time-shifting desktop. You can set your desktop to change throughout the day, shifting to Dark Mode at night, and even changing your desktop picture to match.

Customizable metadata. In addition to exposing way more of the metadata for a file, you can also choose which info you want to see, customizing the view for your needs.

QuickLook supports audio/video trimming. The new Quick Actions are for more than just photos and PDFs.

Custom save location for screenshots. Screenshots is one of those features that’s gotten almost no attention in the history of macOS/OS X/Mac OS X, so it’s nice to see it get some love here. Among the other improvements to Apple’s screenshots is the ability to set a custom save location.

Strong passwords/auditing. The same password-related features as iOS 12.

Favicons in tabs. Several eagle-eyed folks picked this up during the presentation, but yes, it’s official: favicons have arrived for tabs in Safari!

Mail improvements. Mail now has better support for entering emoji, including an emoji button. And Mail also suggests what folder you might want to file a selected message in.

Siri support for HomeKit. In addition to the Home app coming to the Mac, you can now control your HomeKit accessories via Siri on your Mac.

New language options. Including UK English, Australian English, Canadian French, and Traditional Chinese for Hong Kong. There are also better maps for China, a romanized keyboard input for Japanese, and an Indian English voice for Siri.

tvOS 12

Automatic TV remote in Control Center. As soon as you connect an iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV, the Apple TV Remote icon shows up in Control Center. (Instead of you having to manually turn it on.)

Shared passwords. As mentioned, you can autofill your passwords from your iOS devices.

Annnnd that’s about it for the Apple TV, which definitely got the short end of the stick this time around.

[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]