Apple doesn’t want you posting your messy iOS screenshots on the web anymore.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 8.53.18 AM

It seems like a strange thing, but people who write about iOS apps on the web are often ashamed of their status bars. When they post screenshots of an app, they feel embarrassed by the fact that they don’t have a full signal from their cellular carrier, or a clear connection to WiFi, or 100% battery life. It’s an expression of the pursuit of perfection that marks Apple and its fans as a whole.

You wouldn’t think this is a pathology that Apple would really care about. But apparently, it does. And in OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, they’ve figured out a way to fix it.

When using QuickTime in Yosemite’s new ability to record video of what’s on an iOS 8 device’s screen, Daniel Celeste of App Advice discovered something cool: while mirroring your device screen, the new QuickTime gives you 100% cellular, Wi-Fi, and battery, and changes the date to 9:41 a.m in your status bar…. even if you only have 5% battery left in the cellular boondocks at 11:30 p.m. at night.

Now that’s attention to detail!

Grovemade’s wood desk collection turns your Mac desktop into a designer paradise.

TopGrovemade-Desk-Collection

Grovemade already makes some of our favorite wooden accessories for the iPad and iPhone, but now the San Francisco based woodworkers are entering the realm of the desktop with the Grovemade Desk collection, a gorgeous array of accessories for the wood-obsessed Mac fan.

Available in walnut or maple, the Grovemade Desktop not only unifies your desktop aesthetically, but improves the efficiency of your desktop space. \\

A Desktop Stand ($79) lifts your iMac up so it is easier to see, while giving you a place to stow accessories like USB DVD drives and external hard drives.

Meanwhile, the Keyboard Tray ($59) ensconces your Apple Keyboard in glorious wood, lifting it up at a more ergonomic angle even as it houses business cards, pens, spare batteries, and paperclips underneath.

The Mouse Pad ($59) not only makes for an excellent, wood-and-leather surface to roll around your Apple Magic Mouse, but features a built-in pen and stylus holder. And finally, the Wrist Pad ($39) gives your wrist some cushioning during all-day typing jags.

There’s more to the Grovemade desktop collection, including Grove’s beautiful iPhone dock and various wooden receptacles for things like pens, paperclips, and even plants.

I love the way that the organic integrity of wood juxtaposes the colder purity of Apple’s stark aluminum designs, so I’m tempted to drop a few bills over at Grovemade on this collection right now. If you feel like joining me, you can check the Grovemade Wood Desk Collection here.

Is AppleCare worth it for your MacBook?

Is AppleCare worth it for your MacBook?

I’ve had my 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro for about a year and three months; three months longer than the standard Apple warranty. So when it started to develop problems with the trackpad recently, I was doubly grateful that AppleCare was part of the original purchase.

MacBooks are great, but at least in my house, they get used and moved around a lot. I take them outside constantly — with me to appointments, to meetings, to Starbucks. And things wear down, just in general. And as long as it’s not user-inflicted damage or what Apple considers a “wearable” part (like a battery, for example), AppleCare can be very useful to get stuff fixed.

Well loved

A few weeks ago my MacBook Pro developed a problem: The trackpad stopped working correctly. Sometimes I couldn’t press the trackpad button. Other times if I held the MacBook Pro by the right side, it would cause the button to depress. There were no obvious signs of damage — the case was straight, I hadn’t dumped a soda on the keyboard or anything.

But I use my MacBook Pro. I use it a lot. Enough that I’d etched straight through the lettering of the A and the S keys on the keyboard (some other keys showed signs of wear, too, but none as bad as those).

Fortunately, that’s exactly the sort of thing that AppleCare covers. And cover it did. In order to fix the trackpad, the entire top case had to be replaced. Coincidentally, that took care of my etched keys and gave me a new battery to boot (they’re all part of one integrated part).

Apple’s design of MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros has gotten slimmer and lighter over the years. Their design has also gotten markedly more complex over the years, making it harder and harder for even experienced Mac owners like me to get inside and actually do anything to them.

While I lament a little the reduced DIY access for these machines, I’d argue that the same phenomenon is another reason to consider getting AppleCare for a new Mac laptop. Between parts and labor, you’ll make your money back on the first repair.

That is, assuming you have a first repair. I’ll be the first to admit that my experience is purely anecdotal. Not everyone who buys AppleCare ends up using it (that’s the risk you run buying any sort of insurance — that you’re paying for something you may never actually need).

Not for everyone

I don’t always get AppleCare on my new Apple gear. I didn’t get it for most of the desktop Macs I’ve purchased over the years (a Mac Pro, an iMac, a couple of Mac minis), and I haven’t really regretted skipping it on those systems. Though I did for one system — my older son’s — and I’m glad I did, because we had to use it (not through any fault of his — it had a bum hard drive). I’ve been an iPhone owner since 2007 but I never got AppleCare Plus for one until I got my iPhone 5S last fall. And I haven’t needed to use it. Just figured better safe than sorry.

But for laptops I consider AppleCare an essential purchase. That’s partly because of how I use my Macs. My laptops are daily drivers — they’re the machines I use for work, all the time. I can’t afford to be without one for very long, so having a bit of extra insurance guarantees me that if my laptop breaks, I can get it fixed without too much headache or without having to shell out too much cash.

Of course, I’m an American, which factors into my decision too. I’m aware that consumer protection laws vary widely from country to country, and at least some of the benefit of AppleCare may be superfluous if the consumer protection laws in your country are stronger than mine. You may also be able to use other insurance coverage like some credit card companies offer to extend coverage on your Mac.

Support from Apple

There’s another, often overlooked aspect to AppleCare that’s tremendously helpful: Apple’s toll-free tech support. AppleCare doesn’t just extend out the warranty of your Mac from 12 to 36 months. It also extends out the amount of toll-free tech support you get from Apple from 90 days from the original purchase date to three years.

I’ve used Macs since 1985; I’ve written about the professionally for 15 years. I stillhave reason to call AppleCare for help every so often. I did just a month ago because I started running into a software problem that I couldn’t make sense of.

AppleCare’s support staff are really smart and on the ball, and they’re not afraid to escalate calls to senior staff when they don’t know the answers or can’t help. Theydid finally sort the problem I was having. But if I hadn’t had AppleCare, I would have had to pay an incident fee for the privilege.

The Bottom Line

You should decide for yourself whether AppleCare is worth it to you or not, and you certainly aren’t in any rush — Apple gives you until the one-year anniversary of your purchase to get it.

But that first year can lull you into a false sense of security about how well your Mac is working, and it’s easy to let the date slip by, only to find out you really could have used it a few months down the road. That’s why I almost always get AppleCare when I get my Mac — that way, I don’t have to thin about it after the fact.

BlueLounge Kickflip: An incredibly useful MacBookPro accessory.

BlueLounge KickFlip for MacBook Pro

I write a ton of hardware reviews for TUAW, and I really get tired of seeing overpriced stands for MacBooks. The idea of these things is to just put your device into a comfortable position for typing while you’re using the laptop on a flat surface or lap, but some of the accessory designers think that you want an expensive museum piece instead. Not so with the BlueLounge Kickflip, a US$19.95 (for 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display) or $17.95 (for 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display) adjustable stand that adds no bulk and almost no weight to your favorite Apple laptop. The Kickflip was released today by BlueLounge, in an act of perfect timing for the back-to-school crowd in another month.

Design Highlights

The Kickflip is made of a piece of black polyurethane that is hinged in the middle. It’s attached to your MacBook Pro (or in my situation, a Speck SmartShell case) with a special gel adhesive band that makes it possible to remove it without damage.

Normally, the Kickflip adds just a little height — maybe about a quarter-inch — to the back of your MacBook Pro. But when you flip down the hinged piece it raises the back of your laptop by about 1-1/4 inches, enough to really make a difference.

Functionality HIghlights

Installation of the Kickflip on either a “naked” MacBook Pro or on a shell like that I have installed on my MBP is quite simple — you just remove a piece of paper off of the gel adhesive, align the top of the sticky portion with the back of your laptop, and press it into place. The adhesive has a strong grip and inadvertent removal of the Kickflip should not be an issue.

So, now you’re typing away on your MacBook Pro and need a little bit of angle to the keyboard to make it a bit more comfortable? Just reach under and flick that “kickstand” down and you’re good to go. Ready to pop your MacBook Pro back into its carrying bag? With one hand, you can flip the Kickflip back up and get it out of the way.

Conclusion

I’m a sucker for well-designed products that are inexpensive, and the Kickflip from BlueLounge fits that bill. It works with either size (13- or 15-inch) MacBook Pro, and as you can see in my photo at the top of the page, it’s also compatible with third-party shells. I just wish it had the ability to lock into one more interim position as well in order to give it just a tad more flexibility.

5 Mac fundamentals everyone needs to know.

As user-friendly as they are, Macs are complex machines. They’re absolutely loaded with features, some of which might not be obvious from the start. In today’s video, we take a look at five basic tips that can help make everyday use of your Mac much more enjoyable. Find out how to clean up your desktop, customize your Dock, tweak audio settings and more with just a few quick clicks.