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  1. Apple releases macOS Catalina 10.15.7, possibly the last Catalina update There were also updates to Final Cut Pro X and iMovie. Enlarge / No operating system is an island, but macOS Catalina is named after one. Apple 11 with 11 posters participating Earlier this week, Apple released updates for iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS—but nothing for macOS. Usually, Cupertino updates all its operating systems at once, but we're in an odd place right now with new annual releases of the former three making their way to users' devices while macOS Big Sur still sits an indeterminate amount of days away. However, Apple nonetheless followed up today with an update for macOS Catalina labeled 10.15.7. It's likely the last update to Catalina before Big Sur is released. The company also released new versions of Final Cut Pro X and iMovie for the Mac. The Catalina update is a modest one that fixes three bugs: a graphics-related problem on new iMacs with Radeon Pro 5700 XT graphics cards, a bug that prevented automatic connection to WiFi networks, and an iCloud Drive syncing issue. Want it straight from the source? Here are Apple's release notes for macOS Catalina 10.15.7: macOS Catalina‌ 10.15.7 provides important security updates and bug fixes for your Mac. Resolves an issue where macOS would not automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks Fixes an issue that could prevent files syncing through ‌iCloud Drive‌ Addresses a graphic issue that may occur on ‌iMac‌ (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2020) with Radeon Pro 5700 XT Some features may not be available for all regions, or on all Apple devices. For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222 The updates to Final Cut Pro X and iMovie are also about fixing bugs. Here are the Final Cut notes: Fixes an issue in which XAVC media from the Sony PXW-FX9 camera is not recognized Fixes an issue where brightness levels shift when switching between Better Quality and Better Performance in the viewer Fixes an issue in which effect keyframes are not added correctly when using onscreen controls Improves stability when using the transform tool with multiple clips in the timeline Improves reliability when exporting an FCPXML that contains Compound clips Addresses an issue which could prevent sharing at certain resolutions Fixes an issue in which sharing a Compound or Multicam clip from the timeline was disabled The iMovie update improved stability and fixed an export bug. Yesterday, Apple also released an update for Xcode that fixed a problem that could "cause Xcode to crash while viewing documentation." Apple releases macOS Catalina 10.15.7, possibly the last Catalina update
  2. SwagLyrics displays the lyrics of the song that's playing in Spotify desktop and the web version Spotify added support for Live Lyrics a few months ago (at least in some Countries). I don't like the way it has been implemented. First there is the gigantic text which looks odd, but the main problem with it is that when you click on the mic button the program loads the lyrics in the main pane. If you click on anything else, the window changes, so you can't browse/discover music and have the lyrics displayed at the same time. A side-panel for the lyrics would have been much better. Well, you can have one by installing a program called SwagLyrics. The tool is open source and is available in three flavors: a command-line tool, a desktop program and a browser extension. SwagLyrics - Command Line You'll need to install Python and Pip for the program to work. Since Python comes with the pip tool, you don't need to download that separately. The next step is to open a Command Prompt window. Type the following command in it: pip install swaglyrics This will download SwagLyrics and some additional dependencies that the program requires to run. You can now start using Swaglyrics from the command-line. Open the Spotify client on your PC, and play a song. Switch to a command window and type swaglyrics You'll see a few switches that you can use. To display the lyrics in the command window, run the following swaglyrics -c The program will fetch the song's lyrics and display it in the command line. Cool, isn't it? To view the same in your browser type, swaglyrics -t The program opens a local URL (127.0.0.x) to display the lyrics in your browser. That wasn't too difficult now, was it? SwagLyricsGUI This is the easiest way to use SwagLyrics. Head to this page and download the SwagLyricsGUI installer (also requires Python). The installer will install all required dependencies when you run the program. Note: The GUI's setup installs the files required for the command-line version, so you can use either program. SwagLyricsGUI has a compact interface that is almost like a side panel. This window stays on top of other programs, which makes it great to use while you browse Spotify. Play a song in Spotify, and the lyrics appears in SwagLyricsGUI's interface. The program has an auto scroll option that's pre-enabled, and it works quite nicely if you feel like singing along. The only other option that you can change in the application is the Theme. Click on the drop-down menu to switch among Light, Dark and SwagLyrics themes. Both versions of SwagLyrics support automatic detection of song change, and display the relevant lyrics accordingly. Spotify web version Hate the Spotify desktop program? If you want to use SwagLyrics with the Spotify web player, you'll need to install the SwagLyrics for Spotify Chrome extension. Unfortunately, a Firefox version isn't readily available, though the developer plans to release one in the future. Login to your Spotify account in Chrome, play a song. Run the command-line or GUI version of SwagLyrics and the lyrics will be displayed in the corresponding window. The plugin acts as a bridge between the browser and SwagLyrics to help identify the song that's playing. How it works SwagLyrics doesn't rely on Spotify's API to get the song information. Instead, it detects the URL of the playing song in the streaming platform, and fetches the lyrics from Genius. You don't need Spotify Premium for using SwagLyrics. Fun fact: SwagLyrics displays some random facts when Spotify is playing ads. There were occasional hiccups when the program said lyrics for the song weren't available, but restarting the application fixed the issue. However, there are several songs for which lyrics aren't available on Genius, but that's technically not related to the application. Landing Page: https://github.com/SwagLyrics/SwagLyrics-For-Spotify SwagLyrics displays the lyrics of the song that's playing in Spotify desktop and the web version
  3. YACReader is an open source, cross-platform comic book reader Do you like comic books? Want to read your favorites on your computer? Have you tried YACReader? It is an open source comic book reader for Windows, macOS and Linux. The program consists of 2 components: YACReader and YACReader library. Select the folder where your comic books are located in and YACReader Library will import your books from to its database. It is a central location from which you can manage, read your comics. The left pane of the library displays sub-folders that contain your comics. Books that aren't placed in folders are not displayed in the Folder pane, so it is advisable to keep your comics in sub-folders, even if the directory contains just a single book. YACReader supports CBR, CBZ, CB7, PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, BMP, TAR, RAR, ZIP, ARJ, CBT formats. I used it primarily with the CBR and CBZ formats. Right-click on a folder to update a folder, or mark it as incomplete or read. Use the + and bin icons to add or remove folders from the library. To update your library, right-click on its name. You may also rename or remove a library, export/import comic info to a YDB file. Click on a folder to open it. The top pane on the right-hand side displays the cover image of each comic book. The pane at the bottom lists all books in the selected directory, with the name, number of pages, disk size of each book. It also shows you whether you have read the book, the current page you're on, and the rating that you gave for each comic. Right-click on a comic book to open it, or the folder that it's located in, reset the comic rating, download tags from Comic Vine, set the order (number) for the comics, mark a book as read/unread. You can delete comics, or add them to the favorites list from the context menu. The same options are available on the toolbar at the top of this pane. Comics that have been marked as favorite, and the ones you're currently reading are listed in the pane to the bottom left corner. Double-click on a comic book in the Library and it will be opened in YACReader. Or you can open it directly from the reader's browse option. The Toolbar has various options, and the same can be found in the right-click menu. Use it to open a new comic book, a folder, save the image from the current page, navigate to the previous/next comic. The other options allow you to switch the pages, fit the window to the height/width of the page, full size, rotate the page, toggle double page mode, adjust the zoom level. The magnifying glass tool enlarges the content under the mouse cursor, and is handy when the text is too small or illegible. Don't have time to finish a comic? Set a bookmark and comeback to it later. The program has a built-in dictionary that can be used to translate words. YACReader supports various keyboard shortcuts for opening, reading the comics. The hotkeys are customizable. The program can also be used with the mouse, the wheel scrolls the page, while double-clicking on the screen switches to full-screen mode The application comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, but these aren't portable. YACReader is also available for iOS and syncs with the desktop program. YACReader is an impressive application and I had a perfectly enjoyable time using it to read comics, aside from when it failed to work in a couple of instances with an "Error opening comic - Unknown error opening the file". The same files worked perfectly in other comic book readers such as CDisplayEX and SumatraPDF. Landing Page: https://www.yacreader.com/ YACReader is an open source, cross-platform comic book reader
  4. Microsoft is working on a fix for 'Error code 6' crash on Microsoft Edge for Mac Microsoft has acknowledged an issue on Microsoft Edge for Mac that is causing the web browser to crash with 'Error code 6'. Earlier this week, users took to Microsoft Answers forum (via Techdows) to report the issue with Edge on macOS Catalina. According to users, Microsoft Edge started crashing after updating to Safari 14. The browser crashes after opening a new tab, settings, and even Edge extensions, with the error, "The page is having a problem. Try coming back to it later”. It also suggests users to refresh the page or open a new tab but none of the workarounds solves the problem. Fortunately, the Microsoft Edge Dev Twitter account has now confirmed that the culprit has been found and they are working on a fix that will roll out to Edge users in all the channels. In the meantime, the Edge Dev team has suggested rebooting Mac as a temporary fix to the problem. Some users have tried reinstalling Microsoft Edge but that does not fix the problem and hence, is not advised. Unfortunately, we don't know what exactly caused the problem but we do expect Microsoft to shed light on the problem once the fix has rolled out to Mac users. Microsoft is working on a fix for 'Error code 6' crash on Microsoft Edge for Mac
  5. Apple Accidentally Approved Malware to Run on MacOS The ubiquitous Shlayer adware has picked up a new trick, slipping past Cupertino's “notarization” defenses for the first time. Notarization can help Apple keep security pretty tight, but anything that does sneak past can then spread quickly because it has the company's imprimatur.Photograph: Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto/Getty Images For decades, Mac users had to worry less about malware than their Windows-using counterparts, but over the last few years that's begun to change. In an attempt to crack down on growing threats like adware and ransomware, in February Apple began "notarizing" all macOS applications, a vetting process designed to weed out illegitimate or malicious apps. Even software distributed outside of the Mac App Store now needs notarization, or users wouldn't be able to run them without special workarounds. Seven months later, though, researchers have found an active adware campaign attacking Mac users with the same old payloads—and the malware has been fully notarized by Apple. The campaign is distributing the ubiquitous "Shlayer" adware, which by some counts has affected as many as one in 10 macOS devices in recent years. The malware exhibits standard adware behavior, like injecting ads into search results. It's not clear how Shlayer slipped past Apple's automated scans and checks to get notarized, especially given that it's virtually identical to past versions. But it's the first known example of malware being notarized for macOS. College student Peter Dantini discovered the notarized version of Shlayer while navigating to the homepage of the popular open source Mac development tool Homebrew. Dantini accidentally typed something slightly different than brew.sh, the correct URL. The page he landed on redirected a number of times to a fake Adobe Flash update page. Curious about what malware he might find, Dantini downloaded it on purpose. To his surprise, macOS popped up its standard warning about programs downloaded from the internet, but didn't block him from running the program. When Dantini confirmed that it was notarized, he sent the information on to longtime macOS security researcher Patrick Wardle. "I had been expecting that if someone were to abuse the notarization system it would be something more sophisticated or complex," says Wardle, principal security researcher at the Mac management firm Jamf. "But in a way I’m not surprised that it was adware that did it first. Adware developers are very innovative and constantly evolving, because they stand to lose a ton of money if they can't get around new defenses. And notarization is a death knell for a lot of these standard ad campaigns, because even if the users are tricked into clicking and trying to run the software, macOS will block it now." Wardle notified Apple about the rogue software on August 28 and the company revoked the Shlayer notarization certificates that same day, neutering the malware anywhere that it was installed and for future downloads. On August 30, though, Wardle noticed that the adware campaign was still active and distributing the same Shlayer downloads. They had simply been notarized using a different Apple Developer ID, just a few hours after the company began working on revoking the original certificates. On August 30, Wardle notified Apple about these new versions. "Malicious software constantly changes, and Apple’s notarization system helps us keep malware off the Mac and allow us to respond quickly when it’s discovered," the company said in a statement. "Upon learning of this adware, we revoked the identified variant, disabled the developer account, and revoked the associated certificates. We thank the researchers for their assistance in keeping our users safe." Apple also makes a distinction in its notarization materials between its more thorough iOS "App Review" and this check for macOS applications. "Notarization is not App Review," the company wrote. "The Apple notary service is an automated system that scans your software for malicious content, checks for code-signing issues, and returns the results to you quickly." Before Apple introduced notarization, malware developers simply needed to pay $99 a year for an Apple Developer ID so they could sign their software as legitimate. Any application not downloaded from the Mac App Store would trigger a warning when users tried to run it about making sure programs downloaded from the internet were safe to use, but users could easily click through them. Notarization makes it much more difficult to deploy malware—or at least that's the idea. Wardle says that in his experience submitting his own security tools for review, Apple's initial, automated check only takes a few minutes to issue an approval. Still, bad actors are clearly slipping through. "I've been quite certain that malicious apps would slip through the notarization process, so this doesn't surprise me," says Thomas Reed, director of Mac and mobile platforms at the security firm Malwarebytes. "I'd actually been considering writing an app that would exhibit classic malicious behaviors and trying to get it notarized. Unfortunately, this saves me the trouble. This is the proof I've been waiting for that notarization is not effective." Reed also notes that he's started seeing Mac malware like adware evolve to get around notarization. One method is to distribute software that is completely unsigned and unapproved by Apple and trick users into installing it by telling them to expect warnings from Apple and then guiding them through the workaround processes. As with any trust-based system, notarization can help Apple keep security pretty tight, but anything that does sneak past can then spread quickly because it has the company's imprimatur. This is already a problem in both Apple's iOS App Store and Google's Play Store for vetted Android apps. Malicious apps often slip in and then get downloaded by unsuspecting users. Malware scanners would have still detected the notarized Shlayer installations as malicious, but anyone not running antivirus would be out of luck. "Anybody’s going to make mistakes detecting malicious software, because it's difficult to do. Overall from a security perspective, I still think notarization is a good step," Wardle says. "But the average user is going to trust Apple—I do, too! So if something says it's notarized, even a security-conscious user is more likely to trust that it's OK." Apple Accidentally Approved Malware to Run on MacOS
  6. Hackers could exploit this nasty Safari bug to lift files from your hard drive Safari bug could be used to steal local files from iOS and macOS devices (Image credit: Shutterstock / Nicole Lienemann) A bug in Apple's Safari browser could be abused by hackers to leak or steal files from the devices of Mac and iOS users according to a new report from a security researcher. Co-founder of the Polish security firm REDTEAM.PL, Pawel Wylecial first discovered the bug back in April and responsibly reported it to Apple. However, he decided to go public with his findings after the iPhone maker decided to delay patching the bug until the spring of 2021. In his recently published blog post, Wylecial explains that the bug resides in Safari's implementation of the Web Share API which is a new web standard that allows for cross-browser sharing of text, links, files and other content. Apple's browser allows users to share files that are stored locally on both their iOS or macOS devices. However, this feature could exploited by malicious web sites that secretly steal files from a user's device when they try to share an article or other content online using Safari. Safari Web Share API Wylecial also included a proof-of-concept video in his blog post where he shows how the bug in the Web Share API can be used to steal a user's /etc/passwd or browser history database files in Safari. Although Wylecial has described the bug as “not very serious” due to the fact user interaction and complex social engineering are both required to trick users into leaking local files, he also pointed out that it would be quite easy for an attacker “to make the shared file invisible to the user”. While the Web Share API bug is certainly concerning, so to is the way in which Apple handled Wylecial's bug report. Typically security researchers give companies a 90-day vulnerability disclosure deadline before going public with their findings but by putting off patching the issue until the spring of next year, Apple forced Wylecial's hand when it came to disclosing the vulnerability publicly. As for the bug itself, Wylecial said that iOS versions 13.41 and 13.6 as well as macOS Mojave 10.14.16 with Safari 13.1 and macOS Catalina 10.15.5 with Safari 13.1.1 are all affected and there is currently no fix available for the issue. Hopefully by publishing his findings publicly, Wylecial can convince Apple to expedite fixes for this bug and those disclosed by other security researchers. Via ZDNet Hackers could exploit this nasty Safari bug to lift files from your hard drive
  7. Apple News+ redirects web links to the News app by default in iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur beta Apple's news subscription service, Apple News+, appears to be "intercepting traffic" to the sites of publishers that have participated in the program. This has been pointed out in a tweet by Tony Haile, CEO of subscription news service Scroll. News+ has been spotted opening web links from its participating publishers directly in the dedicated News app by default in the early beta versions of iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur. That means when you tap or click on a link to an article published by a News+ partner, Apple's latest mobile and Mac operating systems will redirect you from the publisher's website to the story's page on the News app. Normally, News+ subscribers must opt in to this feature to open web links in that app. That can be done through a toggle in Apple News on iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur. Haile remarks that this change intercepts traffic to a publisher's website and "cannibalizes a publisher's core subscription audience" by bringing subscribers to the News app. The move is seen as a part of Apple's aggressive effort to grow the subscriber base of its rather struggling subscription news service, as per a CNBC report last year. It remains to be seen now how publishers will react to this change. That said, there's no certainty that this change will make it to a public release when the final versions of iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur are released. Apple News+ redirects web links to the News app by default in iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur beta
  8. Parallels Desktop 16 adds Big Sur support, 3D Metal support, and more Windows on Apple Silicon is still a question mark, though. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. Parallels Desktop 16 launched on the Mac today. It's the latest major release of the software used by developers and others to run Windows, Linux, and macOS applications and virtual machines under macOS. Its most notable offering is full support for macOS Big Sur. According to the Parallels representatives Ars spoke with, Big Sur support was no small task: Big Sur ended support for the third-party kernel extensions that Parallels built on. That meant an enormous amount of work was required to play nice with Big Sur—25 human-years of engineering work, they claimed. In addition to supporting Big Sur for both host machines and virtual machines, Parallels Desktop 16 has a slightly different look to fit the different appearance Apple has gone with in Big Sur. While Big Sur support is the flagship feature here, there's a laundry list of small improvements in this release. For example, Parallels Desktop 16 supports 3D in Metal applications when running a macOS Big Sur virtual machine on a macOS Big Sur host. Printers can be shared between host and virtual machines across operating systems, and support has been added for zoom and rotate gestures on multitouch trackpads for Windows apps that have zoom/rotation functionality. Parallels Desktop 16 also promises faster performance than the previous version; it claims to launch twice as fast and offer a 20 percent improvement in DirectX performance, as well as 75 percent faster "git status" in Linux virtual machines. Support for newer versions of OpenGL has expanded which Windows apps will run in a virtual machine via Parallels. Pro Edition users can now name their custom networks, and they can export virtual machines in a compressed format that Parallels claims are a fraction their precompression size. Also, Parallels has launched a plug-in for Microsoft Visual Studio to simplify testing on different OSes. We asked about any plans for supporting Windows on Apple Silicon in Big Sur, but Parallels reps declined to talk about that, saying they would discuss it at a later date. Parallels Desktop 16 will be available starting today. The standard edition is a one-time purchase at $99.99, while the Pro and Business Editions require a $99.99 per year subscription. Upgrading from Parallels Desktop 14 or 15 to the new version costs $49.99 once for the standard edition. That package includes Parallels Toolbox, which was recently updated with new tools and features as well. Those include a screen-break tracker, a unit converter, and show desktop and window manager options for Macs. Listing image by Apple Parallels Desktop 16 adds Big Sur support, 3D Metal support, and more (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  9. With macOS Big Sur, Apple succeeds where Microsoft failed with Windows 8 Opinion: macOS Big Sur is everything I wanted and more The UI is the best it's ever been. Here is my story. (Image credit: Apple) When most people think of Apple these days, products like the iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch are probably the first things that come to mind. That makes a lot of sense, through these mobile platforms, Apple, along with Google with its Android mobile operating system, has fundamentally changed the way people interact with technology on a daily basis. While laptops aren't going anywhere, no matter how many weird commercials Apple releases asking what a computer is, there is definitely a lot to be said about finding ways of melding the user experience between these different devices. That's been tried before – both with Windows 8 and ChromeOS – with mixed results in terms of usability. However, it's with macOS 11 Big Sur that Apple may have just cracked the code. This is due in part to the update's new design elements and Mac Catalyst, which will bring essentially every iOS and iPadOS app to Mac. This is still how you'll be using macOS (Image credit: Future) Trying to tear down the walls When the iPad launched 10 years ago, I don't think anyone was expecting it to be as huge as it ended up being. I had a lot of friends who just laughed it off as a "watered down" computer, rather than something that would ignite a tablet revolution. And, to be clear, it definitely wasn't the first tablet, but you can't tell me the iPad wasn't what popularized the form factor. A couple years later, Windows 8 was released, with its touch-friendly UI, doing away with the start menu that so many people have grown used to over the years. This was largely done to allow Windows tablets, phones and computers to all operate on the same platform, in theory boosting compatibility between the three. However, Windows tablets never really took off in the same way as iOS or even Android tablets did. In practice, this meant that desktop users were stuck with an interface that was woefully inept for desktop usage. Microsoft eventually did alleviate some of this pain by reintroducing the start menu with Windows 8.1 and then Windows 10, but there are still a ton of people who yearn for the days of Windows 7 and Windows XP instead. Just to give credit where it's due, Microsoft has made a lot of progress from where things were with Windows 8. However, in the interest of making Windows 10 touch-friendly, it's still not as desktop-friendly as Windows 7 or XP were. There is a wealth of mods and software out there to bring back older Windows interfaces back to Windows 10, and that should speak volumes to how much some users would like to get rid of the touch-friendliness altogether. Ideally, Microsoft would make a touch-friendly interface optional, like a toggle somewhere in the settings that can enable or disable the tile interface in the new touch menu, without users having to scour the web for potentially harmful software. But, for the time being it seems like Windows 10 is stuck in this "is it touch or isn't it" limbo. Messages is a lot better, too (Image credit: Apple) Sowing the seeds When macOS 10.14 Mojave hit, bringing with it four iOS apps: Home, Apple News, Stocks and Voice Memos. None of these were particularly exciting, but it did give us a glimpse of what a unified – or more unified – Apple ecosystem could look like. Apple further expanded upon this with macOS 10.15 Catalina with Apple Catalyst, which gave Apple developers a full suite of tools to port mobile apps to macOS. That is even further expanded with macOS 11 Big Sur, with Apple claiming that every iOS app will be compatible with your Mac, which is definitely huge. Add on to that the shift to Apple Silicon later this year, and there's a huge shift in the way Macs operate, even if functionally they'll serve the same purpose. But it's more than just app compatibility here. The macOS Big Sur's UI brings in a ton of inspiration from the design philosophy of iOS. This could cause some concern for anyone having flashbacks to Windows 8's marriage of desktop and mobile design, but there's one thing to keep in mind: there still won't be touchscreen macs. Unfortunately, no Aaliyah's music still isn't on Apple Music, I just own the CDs (thank you iCloud Music Library) (Image credit: Apple) Mice can stay Now this may be a hot take, but I think touchscreens are a tad overrated on Windows devices. Even after using hundreds of touchscreen laptops, none of them have really struck me as actually needing a touchscreen. There are certainly devices that are aimed at artists, however it seems that drawing tablets are typically still the way to go if you want to create art on your device – a cheaper solution, too. Apple, however, still refuses to release a MacBook with a touchscreen, which means there is one core way to interact with a computer – and that's with a keyboard and mouse (or trackpad). What this means is that the UI is purpose-built around it, and there are no real growing pains. So, when Apple brought over a lot of design cues from iOS, it's more like it took the iOS design of something like, say, Control Center, and twisted it to fit into a desktop setup. On macOS Big Sur, when you click to open up Control Center, it doesn't take up the entire screen like it does on your iPhone. Instead, you just get a small drop down menu that has a similar design, but doesn't take up too much space. In the current Beta build, it's not the most useful menu in the world, but having a quick way to enable or disable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, change volume and brightness is genuinely useful – especially if you're using a MacBook Air or a Mac desktop that doesn't have easy access to sliders like that through the Touch Bar. Plus having easy-to-use widgets that I can access anywhere by just swiping with two fingers to the left is extremely useful. Right now, the only widgets I have on that bar are the world clock – as I work with people all over the globe – and a weather app, so I can tell at a glance whether or not I'm going to melt in the New York sun as soon as I walk outside. This is a very mobile phone-inspired feature, too, but again it's implemented in a way that doesn't interrupt whatever you're working on. The notification tray where the widgets live is transparent with Big Sur, which means they take up as little or as much of your screen as you want them to. This is huge when you're just checking the time when working on a photoshop project. And, yeah, you can do the same thing on a Windows laptop. But don't even try telling me that Windows trackpads are anywhere near as responsive or gesture-friendly as a Mac trackpad. Apple has nailed the trackpad years ago, and no one has caught up – even if Dell and Razer are starting to get close. The only real problem I have with either one so far is the lack of customization for the Control Center. My favorite thing about the feature on iOS is that I can add shortcuts to things like the Screen Recorder, the camera or a calculator. But again, we're still early in the macOS Big Sur Public Beta – so that can definitely change. Nothing gets in the way, and it's great. (Image credit: Apple) It's not here yet, but Apple kind of wins? I have not by any means exhausted all the good stuff coming to macOS Big Sur, and there is definitely a lot. But throughout my time with the new operating system, I can't help but think of Windows 8. I have had hot takes in the past defending Windows 8, and to this day I think that operating system is a bit too maligned. But Apple merged mobile and desktop design in an amazing way here, and I'm going to say it. And I'm sure that Apple wants to sell you both a MacBook and an iPad for users that want that touchscreen experience, and a touchscreen MacBook would kind of defeat that. But, hey, that's a discussion for another day. For right now, however, Apple deserves some praise for bringing this new design philosophy to macOS without falling to the same pitfalls that caused Windows 8 to become the joke it is today. With macOS Big Sur, Apple succeeds where Microsoft failed with Windows 8
  10. Apple launches public beta of macOS Big Sur, its biggest desktop OS update in years Big Sur has big design changes Image: Apple The public beta of macOS Big Sur, the next major release of Apple’s Mac operating system, is now available. The new update brings a big visual overhaul to macOS while also adding a number of brand-new enhancements. If you’re thinking about installing the macOS Big Sur public beta, be warned that it’s still, well, a beta. That means you could experience some unexpected bugs, and software you rely on may not work with the new OS just yet. Before you install Big Sur, make sure all of your important documents are backed up somewhere safe, and if at all possible, you should only install this on a secondary Mac. But if you do roll the dice and install the Big Sur beta, you’ll immediately see that it looks much different than previous versions of macOS, as Apple has made significant design changes across the entire operating system. Windows have a whole lot more white, for example (unless you’re using dark mode, in which case, there’s still a lot of black). Apple’s app icons have received a major facelift and are now rounded squares, like iOS’s app icons. And the menu bar is now translucent, blending into your wallpaper. macOS Big Sur has an all-new design. Image: Apple In Big Sur, Apple has added a dedicated Control Center, like what iOS has had for years, making it easy to manage items like your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections and the display brightness and volume of your Mac, all in one place. And Notification Center is no longer two separate panels for notifications and widgets; it’s now combined into one. Control Center in macOS Big Sur. Image: Apple If you’re a Safari user, you’ll notice some big changes, too. You can now set a customized start page, letting you add things like your favorites, frequently visited websites, and even a background image of your choice. Tabs get some improvements as well: favicons are turned on by default, and when you hover your mouse over a tab, it shows a preview of that webpage. And like iOS 14, Safari in macOS Big Sur offers what Apple calls a Privacy Report, which shows you what trackers the browser has blocked for you. Safari in macOS Big Sur. Image: Apple Messages is also getting some much-needed improvements in Big Sur. You can finally send the message effects like the ones on iOS, meaning you can send virtual confetti, balloons, lasers, and more to your contacts (though only if they’re also on iMessage). Some of the new updates to Messages on iOS 14 are coming to Big Sur, too, such as pinned conversations and inline replies. Messages in macOS Big Sur finally supports message effects, like virtual confetti. Image: Apple There’s a bunch more packed into Big Sur that I didn’t touch on here, such as improvements to Maps, a suite of new system sounds, and the return of the Mac’s iconic startup chime. So if you do install the Big Sur public beta, there’s a fair amount to dig into. I’ve been running the Big Sur developer betas on my personal MacBook Air purchased in 2014 without too many issues, and I like a lot of the changes, especially to Messages. But I pretty much only use Apple-made apps on that computer, so I can’t really speak to how other apps you might rely on will run. If you decide to install the public beta, just know that things may not work like you expect them to just yet. Apple says macOS Big Sur will be released sometime this fall and will work with all of these computers: MacBook (2015 and later) MacBook Air (2013 and later) MacBook Pro (late 2013 and later) Mac mini (2014 and later) iMac (2014 and later) iMac Pro (2017 and later) Mac Pro (2013 and later) If you want to install the beta, follow our guide here. Apple launches public beta of macOS Big Sur, its biggest desktop OS update in years
  11. Mozilla takes first step in pulling Firefox plug on macOS Mavericks, Yosemite and El Capitan Beginning next week, Mozilla plans to automatically move users running older versions of macOS to the Firefox Extended Support Release, a version of the browser that provides security updates only. Magdalena Petrova/IDG Mozilla this week announced it would automatically move users running outdated versions of macOS to the Firefox Extended Support Release (ESR), an edition that provides security updates only. The move, a first step towards dropping all support, will take place June 30, when Mozilla releases Firefox 78. On that date, users of Firefox still running OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), 10.10 (Yosemite) and 10.11 (El Capitan) on their Macs will instead be shunted to the extended channel and given 78.0 ESR. While that and Firefox 78 will be identical, when the latter shifts to version 79 four weeks later, ERS will remain at 78, increased to 78.1 to mark its first security update. Firefox ESR and its limited feature changes were designed for enterprises that valued stability over sexy new functionality. Mozilla has used it before to wind down support for aged operating systems; three years ago, it pushed users who relied on Windows XP or Windows Vista onto Firefox 52 ESR. For the next year, Mozilla will deliver security updates to Firefox 78 ERS running on Mavericks, Yosemite and El Capitan. In July 2021, those patches will stop and anyone stuck on one of those versions of OS X will be taking risks if they're browsing with Firefox. Apple abandoned those flavors of OS X some time ago. The last security update for El Capitan, the youngest of the three, was in July 2018. By tradition, Apple supports only the three latest versions with security updates. Currently, the trio in support are Catalina (10.15), Mojave (10.14) and High Sierra (10.13) from 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Other browsers continue to work on some older Apple operating systems. Although Google shut down Chrome running on Mavericks in 2018, the browser remains supported on Macs running Yosemite and El Capitan. More information about Mozilla moving some Mac users to the ESR build can be found online. Mozilla takes first step in pulling Firefox plug on macOS Mavericks, Yosemite and El Capitan
  12. HandyPAF

    MacYTDL 1.14.3

    A macOS GUI front-end for the youtube-dl video downloader MacYTDL is a macOS GUI front end for youtube-dl, the cross-platform video downloader. It has been developed in AppleScript. The code is not protected and can be opened in Script Editor. MacYTDL is code signed and notarized. Features: Download individual videos and playlists. Download multiple videos separately (in parallel) or in one process (sequentially). Works with all sites supported by youtube-dl. Can cancel individual downloads. Settings for level of youtube-dl feedback, download folder, file format and remuxing format. Batch downloads. Download a text description of the video. Download and embed subtitles in chosen format and language. Download and optionally embed thumbnail images and metadata. Download or extract audio-only files in chosen format. Download selected episodes from ABC iView (Australia) show pages. Optional macOS Service for use in web browsers which copies the current URL, switches to MacYTDL and pastes URL of video to be downloaded. All components downloaded and/or installed by MacYTDL, which can be controlled by the user. Component updates available in the app. A separate log file is retained for each download enabling problem solving if a download fails. Has a built-in uninstaller which moves all components to Trash. Includes a range of simple utilities. Is 64-bit and so runs in macOS 10.15 Catalina. ====================================================================== Changelog: Version 1.14.3 – FFmpeg update/install fix again FFmpeg should now reliably install or update. Users with system language set to German or Italian might notice some dialogs are translated from English. This indicates under-the-hood work to implement localization. Please send raise an issue is this causes any problems. ------------------------------ Requirements: macOS 10.10 or later ====================================================================== Home: https://github.com/section83/MacYTDL Download: 9.6 MB https://github.com/section83/MacYTDL/releases/download/1.14.3/MacYTDL-v1.14.3.dmg
  13. Dr.Web Security Space is an advanced security application that comes packed with several protection modules for fighting against all sorts of threats that may comprise your computer’s stability and performance. It offers support for antivirus, protection against spam and phishing websites, parental control, remote antivirus network options, firewall (you may choose to deploy it on your PC during the installation process), identification of malicious URLs via its personal cloud servers, backups, and blocking mode for removable devices. Some of the most notable antivirus technologies offered by Dr.Web Security Space help you detect viruses, malware, and other types of threats in real time, automatically update virus definitions, proactively block viruses, as well as discover spam emails and filter messages in real time. Dr.Web Security Space for Windows for 3 months Dr.Web Anti-virus for MacOS for 3 months Dr.Web Anti-virus for Linux for 3 months Giveaway: link https://www.comss.ru/page.php?id=5299 Obtaining a license for 3 months 1. To use Dr.Web Antivirus free 3 months, go to the respective product download page: https://www.comss.ru/download/page.php?id=5299 2. On the product page, click Download for 3 months and enter your email address. 3. Confirm your email address after receiving the letter and complete the registration for demolitsenzii Dr.Web for 3 months. conditions proposals You get a trial version (demolitsenziyu) for 3 months free of charge (demoperiod). Validity demolitsenzii starts with the activation code received. Free use of the software Dr.Web for demoperioda guaranteed only if the user agrees to receive service messages about the status of the license. In the case of non-receipt of these messages demolitsenziya blocked, and the following license for examination can be received only nine months after the opt-out
  14. Slow Ring Office Insiders on macOS get new features for Excel and Outlook As another month starts, Microsoft is rolling out a new build of the Office suite of apps to users in the Slow Ring of the Insider program on macOS. Following up on last month's updates, this release comes with version number 16.37, and it brings a few new features to Excel and Outlook. For Excel, there's a new feature that lets users add data from an image to spreadsheet. Essentially, if you take a picture or screenshot of a table with data, Excel can recognize the data in the image and put it into a spreadsheet in text form. Additionally, Microsoft is bringing back Click to Add mode, which was last seen in Excel 2011 for macOS. Microsoft says this was the fifth most requested featured on UserVoice, so it should be good news for plenty of users. On Outlook, it's now possible to use voice dictation to write messages using the new Dictate button. There's also a new capability that lets users create actionable messages, so that users can interact with those messages directly from Outlook. These actions can include leaving comments on a document or event. Finally, there's a small update for PowerPoint, which includes a new search box for finding content in a PowerPoint presentation. The updates should be rolling out right now, so some users may already have it, while others may have to wait a little longer. They should also make their way to non-Insiders sometime soon. Source: Slow Ring Office Insiders on macOS get new features for Excel and Outlook (Neowin)
  15. SteamVR will no longer be supported on Apple's macOS Today Valve Corporation announced that it is ending its support for macOS on its virtual reality gaming platform, SteamVR. Valve stated that the move was made so that it could focus on the other platforms that the virtual reality software is available on - Windows and Linux. The announcing post on Steam was rather short and did not give away much else. It stated: "SteamVR has ended OSX support so our team can focus on Windows and Linux. We recommend that OSX users continue to opt into the SteamVR [macos] branches for access to legacy builds. Users can opt into a branch by right-clicking on SteamVR in Steam, and selecting Properties... -> Betas." SteamVR made its debut on Linux and was first brought to Apple's OSX - or macOS as it is now known - roughly three years ago. After expanding support to Microsoft's technology, it enabled compatibility with plenty of other headsets eventually. After dropping macOS support, the VR software is still available on Windows and Linux. A comprehensive list of compatible headsets for SteamVR can be found on its official page on Steam. Source: SteamVR will no longer be supported on Apple's macOS (Neowin)
  16. Making macOS run well on ARM processors isn’t the hard part Less surprise will mean more delight Mark Gurman at Bloomberg has the confirmation we’ve all be waiting for: Apple will reportedly use a 12-core 5nm ARM processor in a 2021 Mac. There’s plenty of time to work out the details, but getting both the rollout and the technical side of this transition right won’t be easy. We watched a generation of pretty bad Windows 10 ARM laptops come out. Then we got the excellent Surface Pro X, which still has very aggravating software compatibility gotchas. The forthright and direct way Apple handled the last Mac processor architecture switch — from PowerPC to Intel — went really well. Though I’ll admit it’s easy to say that now that the complications of that switch are so far behind us. Still, as I remember it everybody knew what to expect, knew it would take a minute, and was so eager for the switch that they were willing to deal with the hassles it caused. If you haven’t ever watched Steve Jobs’ 2005 announcement of the Intel switch for Macs, I highly recommend it. He makes a strong case for the transition’s necessity, lays out the benefits for users, details how it’s going to happen, and makes some jokes in the process. He’s not trying to hide the rabbit, he just explains that Apple hadn’t been able to make the computers it wanted to make on the old PowerPC chips. Making these new ARM chips that Gurman has detailed must be a huge, multi-year effort, but it will all be for naught if the software doesn’t run well — or at all — on them. And even then, the truth is that just porting macOS and Apple’s own apps over to ARM isn’t the hard part. The hard part is clearly communicating to users and developers what the change will mean to them — and providing them with tools to deal with it. What software will work, won’t work, and will work slowly via emulation? What will developers need to do in order to port their apps over? Will porting an app to ARM even be worth the effort and cost? Apple does not like pre-announcing anything, but I’m not sure how you effectuate a whole damn processor transition without giving developers a heads up. In fact, I think it would be utter madness to not give developers a heads-up as early as possible. Apple was willing to pre-announce and share some basic information on its Mac Pro plans well ahead of that release, so there’s recent precedent for pre-announcing. This year’s WWDC would have been a great time to do it, but who knows if the online-only version of it will change that plan (if it was, you know, the plan). Certainly many developers would benefit from one-on-one time with Apple’s engineers once the transition is official. That’s just the communication and release strategy. When it comes to the actual technical solutions, I am sure that there are no easy answers, either. Windows on ARM has performance issues with emulated apps and straight-up availability issues with apps that don’t work with its emulation. It’s entirely possible that Mac on ARM could face similar problems. And while I am sure Apple was hoping Catalyst apps would be a piece of the puzzle, to date they’ve been quite disappointing. Even with a massive turnaround, they would be need to be just one of many strategies for getting fast apps on the new ARM-based macOS. There will surely need to be some sort of emulation layer for Intel-based apps. And I have to assume that the many developer tools Apple has been pushing lately (like Swift) will smooth the transition for app makers. Even so, there’s a lot of work ahead for Apple and also for app developers, who will have to contend with this new processor architecture at some point. Hopefully that work will also come with new opportunities. I would love nothing more than to not hear anybody (including myself) complain that Adobe apps are either unavailable or painfully slow because there are so many great, native-ARM alternatives. There are more questions than answers, and until we get a better sense of what Apple is planning for software compatibility it’s hard to even say what the right answers would be in the first place. So the best I can do is offer some some very unsolicited advice: don’t be afraid to Osborne your current Macs, Apple. You’ve got the cash. Announce as early as you can and go all-out to support developers big and small. If you want to avoid the stigma Windows faced (and still faces) with its ARM version, make sure that macOS on ARM absolutely flies. Then take whatever investment you’re making in developer tools and developer relations and double it. There’s a marketing term called “surprise and delight.” I’m sure you’ve heard it. When it comes to switching the Mac to ARM, I’d suggest forgetting about the surprise part — it’ll make it that much harder to get everybody to the delight part. Source: Making macOS run well on ARM processors isn’t the hard part (The Verge)
  17. Facebook launches new Messenger app for Windows and macOS During the F8 developer conference last year, Facebook promised to bring a new Messenger app to desktop devices, both on macOS and Windows 10. The Windows 10 version of the app has been in public beta testing for some time, and the macOS variant was spotted in some regions last month, but today, the new Messenger is officially available on both platforms. The goal of the new app is to bring over most of the features of the mobile Messenger apps, and wrap them in a package that looks and feels more native to each platform. The previous Windows 10 app was based on an old version of the iOS app, and the design was somewhat out of place on Windows. [Video here ... ] https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=237772287272154 The new app does pretty much what you'd expect it to do, including group video calls and, of course, message syncing across devices. It also supports dark mode, which only made its way to the mobile apps somewhat recently. If you're interested, you can download the new Messenger app from the Microsoft Store or the Mac App Store, depending on your platform of choice. Source: Facebook launches new Messenger app for Windows and macOS (Neowin)
  18. By Sara Morrison @ Recode Macs aren’t as safe as they used to be. Here’s how to protect yourself. Think your Apple product is safe from malware? That only people using Windows machines have to take precautions? According to cybersecurity software company Malwarebytes’ latest State of Malware report, it’s time to think again. The amount of malware on Macs is outpacing PCs for the first time ever, and your complacency could be your worst enemy. “People need to understand that they’re not safe just because they’re using a Mac,” Thomas Reed, Malwarebytes’ director of Mac and mobile and contributor to the report, told Recode. Windows machines still dominate the market share and tend to have more security vulnerabilities, which has for years made them the bigger and easier target for hackers. But as Apple’s computers have grown in popularity, hackers appear to be focusing more of their attention on the versions of macOS that power them. Malwarebytes said there was a 400 percent increase in threats on Mac devices from 2018 to 2019, and found an average of 11 threats per Mac devices, which about twice the 5.8 average on Windows. “There is a rising tide of Mac threats hitting a population that still believes that ‘Macs don’t get viruses,’” Reed said. “I still frequently encounter people who firmly believe this, and who believe that using any kind of security software is not necessary, or even harmful. This makes macOS a fertile ground for the influx of new threats, whereas it’s common knowledge that Windows PCs need security software.” Now, this isn’t quite as bad as it may appear. First of all, as Malwarebytes notes, the increase in threats could be attributable to an increase in Mac devices running its software. That makes the per-device statistic a better barometer. In 2018, there were 4.8 threats per Mac device, which means the per-device number has more than doubled. That’s not great, but it’s not as bad as that 400 percent increase. Also, the report says, the types of threats differ between operating systems. While Windows devices were more prone to “traditional” malware, the top 10 Mac threats were adware and what are known as “potentially unwanted programs.” Adware typically redirects users to websites with ads on them or throws pop-up ads in front of their intended internet destination. Those may not be as “dangerous,” as the report says. They are becoming a “noticeable nuisance,” and some of them are able to track your activity, making them a privacy issue as well. Potentially unwanted programs are apps that are often downloaded along with software you actually want or come pre-installed on your device. The most frequently detected of these came in the form of “system optimizers” that, ironically enough, often pitch themselves to Mac users as adware removers (for a price). Even though Google is a relative newcomer in the operating system business, it has its own set of problems. Malwarebytes found malware pre-installed on some phones running its Android operating system as well as third-party apps that came infected with adware. This is a known issue with Android phones, although as we’ve pointed out before, the security of these devices isn’t always entirely in Google’s control, since Android is an open source platform. As for Apple’s iOS platform, which is used in its mobile devices, the new Malwarebytes report noted that there is currently “no way” to scan for malware but that it is known to exist — mostly in targeted attacks by nation-states, which is not something the average user has to worry about. What can you do about malware if you’re a Mac user? A few things. “People need to understand that they’re not safe just because they’re using a Mac,” Reed said. “They need to exercise care about what they click on, what apps they download — and from where — and who they allow to have access to their computers.” A big factor in the Mac malware increase might be down to one piece of adware called NewTab. As 9to5 Mac pointed out, there were almost 30 million downloads of the NewTab adware app on Mac devices in 2019 alone. This is typically downloaded onto devices by posing as an app or browser extension that will track package deliveries or flights. Reed also recommended against installing Adobe Flash Player. “Fake Flash installers are one of the top methods for getting malware installed on a Mac,” he said. In general, if you’ve downloaded malware, you can try removing it manually or, if you’re less comfortable messing around with your computer’s settings, get a security program that will do it for you. As always, practice good password hygiene, as one machine was infected because the hacker gained remote access by using a password that was exposed in a password breach. That’s one of many reasons to use different passwords for your accounts and change them on a regular basis. Of course, downloading anti-virus software never hurts. Malwarebytes will sell you some of that, as will many other companies. Just make sure the one you choose is a trusted source. And always be wary of free software — it’s never really free. Source
  19. Rocket League is dropping Mac, Linux because of crazy-low player counts [Updated] "0.3% of all active players" stat comes after vague explanation last week. Enlarge Epic Games For anyone who clings to Linux or MacOS as a preferred gaming platform, Epic Games and Psyonix offered a rare kind of bad news on Thursday. The companies confirmed that their mega-hit game Rocket League would no longer receive updates for either platform following a "final" patch for all non-Windows versions on PC coming in "early March." This "end-of-life" version of Rocket League on Linux and MacOS will still function in a wholly offline state, and affected players will be able to access whatever cosmetics and add-ons they'd previously earned through the game's economy system (but no more new ones). Additionally, those platforms will be able to use Steam Workshop content, but only if it's downloaded and applied to the game before the March patch goes live. Otherwise, if any function in the game connects even in the slightest to the Internet—from item shops to matchmaking to private matches to friends lists—it will stop working once the March patch goes live, and any future modes, maps, or other game-changing content won't come to their platforms, either. The announcement suggests that MacOS users buy a Windows OS license and run future online versions of Rocket League through Apple Boot Camp. It also suggests that Linux players should try Steam Proton or Wine to do the same thing. "These tools are not officially supported by Psyonix," the guide points out. Psyonix's announcement vaguely places the blame for this upcoming change on "adapting to use new technologies," which "has made it more difficult to support macOS and Linux (SteamOS)." Nothing else in the article clarifies what those technologies might be. Thus, the developers at Psyonix leave this decision wide open to speculation, particularly about whether the studio's May 2019 acquisition by Epic Games factors into the decision. At the time of that acquisition, in an attempt to abate fans' worries about Epic Games Store exclusivity, the companies announced that existing game owners "will still be able to play Rocket League on Steam with all of the content they've previously purchased." Today's news for MacOS and Linux owners includes a similar promise of "previously purchased" content working after the patch otherwise shuts down access to future online content. The Epic Games Store launcher and its mega-popular free-to-play game Fortnite have yet to receive a Linux port, but both executables come in a MacOS flavor. We're not sure if the same "new technologies" in question will ever affect Fortnite, which has been built in Unreal Engine 4, as opposed to RL's use of Unreal Engine 3. This news differs from the usual question of whether an in-development game will or will not work on non-Windows platforms. We can't think of many popular games that have worked on Linux and MacOS and then had that perk removed. That said, it's not hard to find developers who might defend dumping support for non-Windows platforms, whether because MacOS has waved goodbye to 32-bit support or because customer-support tickets for Linux players are allegedly quite disproportionate to the platform's sales. This news comes long after Valve's vocal efforts to create a Linux-only SteamOS slowed and while Google is reigniting the conversation by requiring Linux and Vulkan support for all its Stadia streaming titles. Update, January 27: In the days since this announcement, Psyonix has issued a more technical breakdown of the reason for this March 2020 change. Rocket League's update roadmap includes plans to jump from DirectX 9 to DirectX 11 and plans to update from a 32-bit executable to a 64-bit one. The DirectX jump seems to be the stickier point: To keep these versions functional, we would need to invest significant additional time and resources in a replacement rendering pipeline such as Metal on macOS or Vulkan/OpenGL4 on Linux. We'd also need to invest perpetual support to ensure new content and releases work as intended on those replacement pipelines. And that's when the team was frank with its non-Windows players: they only make up 0.3% of "active" players. "Given that, we cannot justify the additional and ongoing investment in developing native clients for those platforms, especially when viable workarounds exist like Bootcamp or Wine to keep those users playing." Psyonix didn't define what "active" meant, nor whether that percentage was for all Rocket League players (including consoles) or only its PC playerbase. This statement came as part of an official refund offer to affected Linux and MacOS players, so long as they follow a specific series of steps to request their money back. Source: Rocket League is dropping Mac, Linux because of crazy-low player counts [Updated] (Ars Technica)
  20. Apple on Wednesday took the next step in pulling the plug on the once-prolific Adobe Flash. Apple on Wednesday took the next step in pulling the plug on the once-prolific Adobe Flash. With the latest release of Safari Technology Preview, Flash is no longer supported. Introduced in 2016, Safari Technology Preview gives users an early look at upcoming web technologies in macOS and iOS. It's a standalone app that works alongside the latest version of Safari. The death of Adobe Flash has been years in the making. Back in 2017, Adobe announced it would stop supporting Flash by 2020. Along with Apple, Microsoft, Google and Mozilla all announced their plans for retiring the technology in their respective browsers. Flash was once ubiquitous on the web -- the Flash runtime was installed 500 million times in the second half of 2013. Apple users, however, have been experiencing the web without Flash for a while. The iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch never supported it. Meanwhile, Apple stopped pre-installing it on Macs in 2010. Source
  21. Apple may have known for months Apple stakes a lot of its reputation on how it protects the privacy of its users, as it wants to be the only tech company you trust. But if you send encrypted emails from Apple Mail, there’s currently a way to read some of the text of those emails as if they were unencrypted — and allegedly, Apple’s known about this vulnerability for months without offering a fix. Before we go any further, you should know this likely only affects a small number of people. You need to be using macOS, Apple Mail, be sending encrypted emails from Apple Mail, not be using FileVault to encrypt your entire system already, and know exactly where in Apple’s system files to be looking for this information. If you were a hacker, you’d need access to those system files, too. Apple tells The Verge it’s aware of the issue and says it will address it in a future software update. The company also says that only portions of emails are stored. But the fact that Apple is still somehow leaving parts of encrypted emails out in the open, when they’re explicitly supposed to be encrypted, obviously isn’t good. The vulnerability was shared by Bob Gendler, an Apple-focused IT specialist, in a Medium blog published on Wednesday. Gendler says that while trying to figure out how macOS and Siri suggest information to users, he found macOS database files that store information from Mail and other apps which are then used by Siri to better suggest information to users. That isn’t too shocking in and of itself — it makes sense that Apple needs to reference and learn from some of your information to provide you better Siri suggestions. But Gendler discovered that one of those files, snippets.db, was storing the unencrypted text of emails that were supposed to be encrypted. Here’s an image he shared that’s helpful to explain what’s going on: The circle on the left is around an encrypted email, which Gendler’s computer is not able to read, because Gendler says he removed the private key which would typically allow him to do so. But in the circle on the right, you can make out the text of that encrypted email in snippets.db. Gendler says he tested the four most recent macOS releases — Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and Sierra — and could read encrypted email text from snippets.db on all of them. I was able to confirm the existence of snippets.db, and found that it stored portions of some of my emails from Apple Mail. I couldn’t find a way to get snippets.db to store encrypted emails I sent to myself, though. Gendler first reported the issue to Apple on July 29th, and he says the company didn’t even offer him a temporary solve until November 5th — 99 days later — despite repeated conversations with Apple about the issue. Even though Apple has updated each of the four versions of macOS where Gendler spotted the vulnerability in the months since he reported it, none of those updates contained a true fix. If you want to stop emails from being collected in snippets.db right now, Apple tells us you can do so by going to System Preferences > Siri > Siri Suggestions & Privacy > Mail and toggling off “Learn from this App.” Apple also provided this solution to Gendler — but he says this temporary solution will only stop new emails from being added to snippets.db. If you want to make sure older emails that may be stored in snippets.db can no longer be scanned, you may need to delete that file, too. If you want to avoid these unencrypted snippets potentially being read by other apps, you can avoid giving apps full disk access in macOS Catalina, according to Apple — and you probably have very few apps with full disk access. Apple also says that turning on FileVault will encrypt everything on your Mac, if you want to be extra safe. Again, this vulnerability probably won’t affect that many people. But if you do rely on Apple Mail and believed your Apple Mail emails were 100 percent encrypted, it seems that they’re not. As Gendler says, “It brings up the question of what else is tracked and potentially improperly stored without you realizing it.” Source: Apple is fixing encrypted email on macOS because it’s not quite as encrypted as we thought (via The Verge)
  22. Devs lament 'trash fire' 'Windows Vista-like' release Comment Amid Apple's attempt to fend off criticism for its removal, restoration, and re-removal of an app used by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, the company is also facing particularly voluble criticism from users of its latest desktop operating system, macOS Catalina. Since at least 2015, developers and other technically-savvy folk have fretted that Apple's software quality isn't what it could be. The gripes reached Apple executives and by 2018, there were reports that company technical leaders were focused on improving quality. To judge by the reception of macOS Catalina, aka macOS 10.15, it appears Apple's quality push was more aspirational than actual. In two posts this week, macOS developer Tyler Hall, from Nashville, Tennessee, savaged Apple's macOS Catalina update, likening it to the reviled Windows Vista and subsequently detailing its many alleged faults. The Register contacted Hall to discuss his concerns, but he declined to comment further. "[T]his has all blown up way more than I ever intended," he said in an email. "And I’ve heard personally from folks inside Apple who I’m friends with and others that I just know by reputation, that my comments were hurtful. I’d rather not say anything else." The Register also asked Apple whether the company would comment on how macOS Catalina has been received and whether user dissatisfaction differed from previous releases. But Apple – and this may not come as a surprise – has not responded. To some extent, dissatisfied users should be expected with any software release. And there's no shortage of these. Apple's macOS Catalina forum is currently full of people reporting problems, and criticizing Apple's quality assurance process. Discontent can be attributed in part to Catalina's removal of support for 32-bit apps, necessary for a possible future transition away from Intel. But there's more to it than that. Experienced macOS users tend to advise waiting a few months for updates and bug fixes before installing a major operating system revision. Even so, macOS Catalina appears to be worse than people's general low expectations for software. Among those discussing Hall's posts on Hacker News, there's quite a bit of support for his concerns. • "I'm sort of surprised that they actually released with the state it is currently in." • "This year all their OSes seem to be riddled with issues at release. iOS 13.0 was so bad they released 13.1 in less than 5 days, but even now many things are still hit and miss (with 13.2 in beta). watchOS 6.0 is also still pretty bad and not yet fixed (with 6.1 in beta). macOS 10.15 GM seems pretty buggy." Sentiment on Twitter isn't much better: Then there are the posts that purport to be from Apple employees and describe the company's internal disarray and lack of communication. The Register is unable to verify who these people might be, but other people posting to the thread confirm that Apple employees they've known have raised similar concerns. In particular, these supposed employees raise the same issue cited by Hall, that Apple's marketing group overrides engineering concerns. As Hall argues, "Apple’s insistence on their annual, big-splash release cycle is fundamentally breaking engineering." Michael Tsai, a macOS software developer who blogged about Apple's software quality problems back in 2015, told The Register in an email that he thought Hall's critique is mostly fair. In Twitter message, developer Steve Troughton-Smith said he didn't have much to say about Catalina. "It's been in a pretty stable state for a while, as far as I know," he said, noting that much of the criticism of the operating system follow from its security and privacy features, which he's disabled on his machine. "I don't think it was premature, I think it's been in roughly the same state for a while," he said. "People were running into problems syncing their Reminders to Mojave from iOS 13 because of the new Reminds app, so it wouldn't surprise me if Apple accelerated Catalina by a couple weeks just to make that problem go away." Even so, Troughton-Smith agreed that Apple's software quality recently has been uneven. "I think they made last year a little better at the expense of this year," he said. "They've been having software quality issues since at least iOS 7 and the switch to [Craig] Federighi." "I think iOS 8, 11, and now 13 have been breaking points. iOS 13 has been the first time the OS didn't make it over the line for the iPhone release. There is a pattern here that may be due to scale/complexity, or management style, but it seems balanced on a knife edge." Source
  23. macOS users targeted with new Tarmac malware Tarmac malware deployed via malvertising campaigns across the US, Italy, and Japan. Security researchers have discovered a new piece of Mac malware; however, some of its purpose and full features will remain a mystery for a little longer. Named Tarmac (OSX/Tarmac), this new malware was distributed to macOS users via online malvertising (malicious ads) campaigns. These malicious ads ran rogue code inside a Mac user's browser to redirect the would-be victim to sites showing popups peddling software updates -- usually for Adobe's Flash Player. Victims who fell for this trick and downloaded the Flash Player update would end up installing a malware duo on their systems -- first the OSX/Shlayer malware, and then OSX/Tarmac, launched by the first. Distributed since January 2019 This malvertising campaign distributing the Shlayer+Tarmac combo started in January this year, according to Taha Karim, a security researcher at Confiant. Confiant published a report about the January 2019 malvertising campaign at the time; however, they only spotted the Shlayer malware, but not Tarmac. But in a follow-up report published two weeks ago, Confiant dug deeper in the -- still ongoing -- malvertising campaign and its payloads. This is how Karim found Tarmac, as a second-stage payload for the initial Shlayer infection. However, the Tarmac versions the researcher identified were relatively old, and the malware's original command and control servers had been shut down -- or most likely moved to a new location. This hindered analysis, as Karim wasn't able to gain a full insight into how Tarmac operated. All that's known at the moment is that after Shlayer downloads and installs Tarmac on infected hosts, Tarmac gathers details about a victim's hardware setup and sends this info to its command and control server. At this point, Tarmac would wait for new commands. But since these servers aren't available, Karim wasn't able to determine the full scope behind Tarmac. In theory, most second-stage malware strains are usually very powerful malware strains, possessing many intrusive features. Tarmac, should, at least in theory, be a very dangerous threat. However, for the time being, the mystery remains. Tarmac distributed to US, Italian, and Japanese users But while Tarmac's full set of features have yet to be uncovered, we do know some details about who may have gotten infected. In an interview today, Karim told ZDNet that the malvertising campaign that distributed the Shlayer and Tarmac combo was geo-targeted at users located in the US, Italy, and Japan. While the US and Japan are regular targets for malvertising and malware campaigns, Italy is somewhat of an odd choice. "We think actors proceed by trial and error, and they might have found a sweet spot in Italy, between the profit they can reap and the level of attention from the security community," Karim told ZDNet. Since Tarmac payloads come signed by legitimate Apple developer certificates, features like Gatekeeper and XProtect won't stop its installation or show any errors. Users and companies looking to see if they've had Mac systems infected by this malware can find indicators of compromise (IoCs) in Karim's Tarmac report. Source: macOS users targeted with new Tarmac malware
  24. Twitter launches new macOS app leveraging Project Catalyst It's been nearly two years since Twitter decided to pull support and availability of its app from the Mac App Store in a move that the company said would see it "focusing our efforts on a great Twitter experience that's consistent across platforms". Since then, we have seen Twitter turn its attention to its Progressive Web App (PWA), including a new experience for desktop users visiting the website. However, thanks to Project Catalyst, iOS apps can now be ported over to macOS, although the process is not easy according to reported feedback from developers. While Netflix is believed to have passed on using Catalyst to port its iOS app, Twitter announced back in June that it would be bringing back Twitter for Mac using Project Catalyst for macOS Catalina. Now, for those who have been waiting for an official Twitter client for macOS to return, that day has come. In its prior announcement, the company said: "The new Twitter for Mac app will use our existing iOS codebase, rather than being built from a separate codebase, following the same successful strategy we've used with Web to expand our supported clients. By supporting key Mac-specific behaviors on top of our iOS code, we will be able to maintain feature parity across our iOS and Mac apps with relatively low long term maintenance costs." The app also includes support for Dark Mode and will toggle based on the setting currently applied in the operating system settings and should present a similar user interface for those who have previously used the Twitter app on iPad. If you're keen to download the Twitter for Mac app right now, you can download it from the App Store here at no charge but it may still be deploying to regional Mac App Stores as of the time of writing. Source: Twitter launches new macOS app leveraging Project Catalyst (Neowin)
  25. Up to 40,000 macOS systems expose a particular port online that can be abused for pretty big DDoS attacks. DDoS-for-hire services, also known as DDoS booters, or DDoS stressors, are abusing macOS systems to launch DDoS attacks, ZDNet has learned. These attacks are leveraging macOS systems where the Apple Remote Desktop feature has been enabled, and the computer is accessible from the internet, without being located inside a local network, or protected by a firewall. More specifically, the attackers are leveraging the Apple Remote Management Service (ARMS) that is a part of the Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) feature. When users enable the Remote Desktop capability on their macOS systems, the ARMS service starts on port 3283 and listens for incoming commands meant for the remote Mac. Huge "amplification factor" But sometime this year, cyber-criminals have realized that they can abuse the ARMS service as part of a so-called "DDoS amplification attack." DDoS amplification attacks are one of the many forms of DDoS attacks. It's when attackers bounce traffic off an intermediary point and relay it towards a victim's server. In this case, that intermediary point is a macOS system with Remote Desktop enabled. Protocols like DNS, NTP, CharGEN, Memcached, NetBIOS, CLDAP, and LDAP are often abused as part of DDoS amplification attacks. CoAP and WS-Discovery are just the latest protocols to have joined this list. Most of these protocols are UDP-based, where UDP is a type of network packet used as the base for the other, more complex protocols. ARMS is also a UDP-based protocol. The danger level for any of the above protocol is what security researchers call the "amplification factor," which describes the ratio between a packet before and after it bounces off towards its target. Most DDoS amplification attacks observed in the wild have an amplification factor of between 5 and 10. The higher the protocol, the more useful it is for attackers. According to security researchers from Netscout, who saw the first ARMS-based DDoS attacks in June, ARMS commands an impressive 35.5 amplification factor. Furthermore, while there've been other protocols with big amplification factors in the past, most of them are oddities and rarely used protocols, making them unusable for attackers. Most of today's DDoS amplification attacks rely on DNS and NTP, which even if they have a small amplification factor, there's plenty of servers to go around that attackers can use to amplify their bad traffic. Up to 40,000 macOS expose ARD/ARMS ports However, ARMS is different, in the sense that this is the worst-case scenario, where we have a big amplification factor protocol that's available on a large number of hosts that attackers can abuse. A search with the BinaryEdge IoT search engine shows nearly 40,000 macOS systems where the Remote Desktop feature is enabled, and the systems reachable via the internet. Some attacks peaked at 70 Gbps It is unclear who discovered that the ARMS service could be abused for DDoS amplification attacks, but attacks have already happened in the real world. Netscout spotted the first one in the second week of June. The company said the attack peaked at 70 Gbps, which is a pretty large attack. Other attacks followed, as observed by the Keyo University Shonan Fujisawa Campus in Japan, and by Italian systems administrator Marco Padovan. But while initial attacks were sparse, they're now starting to pick up, according to a source in the DDoS community. The main reason is that some DDoS booters have added support for launching attacks via this protocol, this source told ZDNet. This means that macOS systems across the globe are now being used as bouncing points for DDoS attacks. These systems should not be reachable via the internet According to an analysis of the BinaryEdge search results, the vast majority of these systems are on university and enterprise networks, where system administrators use the Apple Remote Desktop feature to manage large fleets of macOS systems, at a time. These systems should not be available online, and if they need to be, then access should be restricted using Virtual Private Networks or IP whitelists. The Apple Remote Desktop feature is the direct equivalent of Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). In the past, hackers have brute-forced RDP endpoints to gain access to corporate networks, from where they stole proprietary information, or have installed ransomware. Similar to how crooks target companies with RDP systems exposed online, they can do the same for Mac systems with ARD. Admins of macOS fleets should probably secure ARD endpoints to prevent these types of attacks first, and DDoS nuisance second. Source
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