Apple Releases iTunes 12.5.3

newitunes122logoApple today released iTunes 12.5.3, which is available for macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan users.

iTunes 12.5.3’s changelog lists the same stability and performance improvements as iTunes 12.5.2, including a fix for an issue where albums may play in an unexpected order. A second fix resolves a problem that prevented lyrics from appearing while listening to Beats 1.

iTunes 12.5.3 can be downloaded immediately from the iTunes download page, and it should also be rolling out through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store.

iTunes 12.5.3 has been released just four days after iTunes 12.5.2, and just over six weeks after iTunes 12.5.1 was released with a revamped Apple Music design.

iTunes 12.5.3 has the same update changelog as iTunes 12.5.2 released last week, so what’s new in today’s update remains unclear.

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Float Shelf is an aluminum-matching iMac stand for decluttering your desk

[Update 10/14: Float Shelf is now available for all earlier iMacs, and Apple Thunderbolt & Cinema displays, including 17″/20″/21.5″ iMacs, 24″/27″ iMacs, 27″ Thunderbolt displays, 20″/23″ Cinema displays, and 24″/27″/30″ Cinema displays.

Float Shelf initially only supported newer 21.5″ and 27″ iMacs without SuperDrives. Now two additional versions which will fit older generations iMacs and Apple Thunderbolt & Cinema displays are available through the campaign.]

Earlier this year at CES I met the folks at Prism Designs who have some interesting new accessories for Apple products in development. The latest is called Float Shelf, which is an aluminum panel that attaches to the back of your iMac to provide a handy stand for decluttering your desk. Float Shelf is launching as a Kickstarter project today with nearly $9,000 (and climbing) in funding already, and we recently got a chance to go hands-on with Float Shelf for iMac…

 

Prism Designs describes Float Shelf as being machined “from a solid extrusion of aircraft-grade aluminum, a Float Shelf is strong enough to support ten pounds (4.5 kg).”

That’s practical for photos and other things you may want to display on your desk and usually fine for small speakers, routers, and similar accessories.

Float Shelf touts an “elegant tapered profile and anodized finish beautifully complement an iMac’s minimalist aesthetic.” In person, I was very impressed with just how Apple-like Float Shelf seemed.

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There’s a single Prism Designs company logo on the bottom side of Float Shelf (out of sight) and no visible logos that would make it look unofficial. It matches the quality of the aluminum base that holds the iMac up with detailed curves and a solid feel.

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Installation is very simple. Float Shelf just slides over the top of the iMac’s stand and down into place. A rubber padding prevents any aluminum from making contact to prevent any scratching, and Float Shelf settles firmly into place.

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Once installed, Float Shelf looks like a natural extension of the iMac’s stand. While Float Shelf is clearly visible from the sides and back, it’s surprisingly out of sight from the front view.

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How you might use Float Shelf depends on your iMac’s placement. For example, the back of the iMac would be facing a wall in my office so Float Shelf could hold speakers or a router that I might want to keep out of sight or off my desk. If you frequently use a SuperDrive or USB hub, for instance, this is a very useful place to leave either.

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Testing the version for 27-inch iMacs, Float Shelf fully accommodates the iMac’s full range of tilt too. Even with a speaker loaded up, the iMac didn’t make contact at it’s most extreme recline. The same is true when tilting the iMac as far forward as possible.

Float Shelf had zero issues from installation, use, and removing during testing. Out of curiosity, however, I did test how level it was using the iPhone’s Compass app and saw a -2º readout when flat. For context, my desk showed a -1º reading from the same iPhone when laying flat.

You can lightly tap either side of Float Stand to adjust its placement during installation, however, so if a degree of balance is important to you keep that in mind. In practice, I wouldn’t have noticed any difference in how level it was from just eyeballing it during installation.

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Overall, Float Shelf is a very solid product and one that would fit just fine in an Apple Store. The quality is top notch and it had no negative impact on the attached iMac. The Kickstarter is just getting started and funding is increasing quickly ($5000 added in the last two hours). 50 days to go with a funding goal of $25,000.

There are a few early bird pricing levels available starting at $75 for 21.5-inch iMac versions and $85 for 27-inch iMac versions. Delivery for both versions is estimated at April 2017. Having tested Float Shelf for iMac, I’m confident it will hit its funding goal and impress its backers.

How to Add and Use VIP Contacts in Apple Mail

VIP Contacts is a feature that that allows Apple device users to only get notifications from important people in their lives, sparing them useless alerts for newsletters and spam. Not only is it useful for whittling down the notifications the desktop Mail app sends, but if you also own an iPhone, VIP settings are carried over to your phone for alerts from the iOS Mail app.

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Here’s how to mark a contact as a VIP and tell Apple mail to only send notifications for emails from VIPs.

1. Select a message.

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2. Hover over a sender or recipient’s name.

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3. Click the arrow that appears to the right of the name.screenshot 2016 06 24 15.58.56

4. Select Add to VIPs. Repeat steps 1 through 4 for each person whose emails you deem important.screenshot 2016 06 24 16.00.02

5. Click Mail in the menu bar.06 2938051466798161

6. Select Preferences.07 2938051466798161

7. Click the drop-down menu next to New message notifications.08 2938051466798161

8. Select VIPs.09 2938051466798161

Now, you’ve set Apple Mail to only send notifications for new messages from the important people in your digital life.end 2938051466798162

OS X: Pasting Text into Emails, Much Faster

So if you’ve gotta copy some text on your Mac and paste it into a new email, how do you typically do that? I’d say that most people select the text, press the keyboard shortcut for Copy (Command-C), go to Mail, open a new message, move their cursor to the body, and then press the shortcut for Paste (Command-V). There’s a way that’s just so much faster that I love it to bits, and I think you’ll like it too.

What you’ll do is select the text you’d like to email (or send through Messages, or tweet about, or add to Notes, etc.) and then right- or Control-click on it. When you do so, a contextual menu will appear, and one of the available options is “Share.” If you hover over that, you’ll see your choices.

Pick “Mail,” and the text you selected will be inserted right into the body of an email, ready for you to pass it along. That sure does make things faster! And if you select “Messages” or a few of the other options, you’ll instead get a little box overlay for you to compose and edit as you see fit.

This works in quite a few places around the operating system, including Safari and Mail, so if you need to forward only a bit of a message to someone else, for example, you can do so. That’s awesome. I just love step-skipping!

Huge changes may be in store for Apple’s MacBook Pro

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That rumor about Apple redesigning the MacBook Pro might come true after all.

Corroborating a previous report from KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi-Kuo, Cult of Mac claims to have obtained photos of what could be the aluminum casing for a new MacBook Pro.

The “spy shots” reveal what appears to be a 13-inch MacBook Pro chassis. Look closely and you’ll be able to spot some big changes.

Noticeably missing are the function keys that normally sit above the numbers row. The missing row matches up with a recent report that the new MacBook Pro will sport an OLED touch bar instead of function keys.

Replacing the function keys with a touch bar could allow for a multitude of different use cases. If it’s indeed a screen, it could be used to display simple notifications, replace OS X’s dock entirely, or allow for customizable shortcut buttons that change depending on the app in use.

There are also a pair of speaker grilles flanking the keyboard. The 15-inch MacBook Pro is currently the only laptop in Apple’s lineup with this kind of speaker grille on the left and right side of the keyboard; the 13-inch MacBook Pro has its speakers built into the vents underneath the hinge. This could suggest audio will get a big boost on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

A second photo shows four USB-C ports (two on each side) and a headphone jack on the right side.

A redesign for the MacBook Pro is due. Apple slimmed down the MacBook Pros in 2012 starting with the 15-inch Retina model, and the followed it up with the 13-inch Retina model in 2013. Both MacBooks dropped the optical disc drive, although Apple still continues to sell the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro with it.

Apple will hold its Worldwide Developer Conference on June 13. It’s possible Apple may show off the redesigned MacBook Pro. Ming Chi-Kuo’s report, however, claims Apple may not announce them until later this year.

Insane mod turns your Raspberry Pi into a tiny Apple III

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You can pick up some pretty snazzy cases for your Raspberry Pi, but none of them beat this insane Apple III mod. Built using drawings of the real thing and a 3D printer, it looks almost identical to Apple’s machine, only smaller.

 

The Apple III made its debut way back in May 1980 with a 2MHz Synertek processor and 128KB of RAM. Its launch was plagued by stability issues that meant over 14,000 units had to be recalled, and just four years later, the machine was discontinued.

Apple sold less than 75,000 units during that time, so it’s incredibly difficult to find an Apple III today. But if you have fond memories of the machine, you can build a tiny replica that will lovingly house your Raspberry Pi.

Charles Mangin shows us how in the YouTube video below. He starts by drawing things up in iDraw, then made 3D models in Autodesk 123D. The model was then send to a 3D printer to be created before the paint and finishing touches were applied.

This obviously isn’t the easy Raspberry Pi case mod, but for long-time Apple fans, it has to be the coolest. You’re certainly not going to bump into anyone else whose Pi looks as good as this.

OS X: Making Your Mac Stop Ringing

I have to admit that when receiving phone calls on the Mac became a thing under Yosemite, I was pretty excited about the possibility. Oh, sweet naive Melissa from way back when!

Now, though, my feelings on that have changed. The idea that every Apple device I own should ring when someone calls me? Madness, and especially so on my computer. There is, however, a really easy way to turn off that “feature,” thank goodness. To do that, open the FaceTime program from your Applications folder.

Then click on the “FaceTime” menu at the upper-left and choose “Preferences.”

From the window that’ll open, simply deselect the “Calls from iPhone” checkbox.

Moreover, if you want to prevent your Mac from receiving FaceTime calls entirely (like if someone accidentally attempts to start a video chat), go to the top of that window and deselect the “Enable this account” checkbox.

If you’d prefer, you can also pick the “Turn FaceTime Off” option shown in my second screenshot above. But then your Mac will no longer ring, either when your phone does or for mistaken video calls! Ahhhh, sweet, blessed silence.