Hide your Mac menu bar icons with Vanilla

Vanilla is a new Mac application that hides your menu bar icons making your screen clean and minimal.

The app is free to download and use plus it has a pro version available for $3.99 that includes:

  • Completely remove menu bar items
  • Automatically hide icons after five seconds
  • Start at login

It’s not as full-featured as Bartender but for the price, it’s hard to beat. If you are looking to hide your menu bar icons, check out Vanilla.

Things Three

Yesterday, to much fanfare Cultured Code launched an all new version of the to-do app Things. The app features a new design, new features, and completely rebuilt from the ground up.

The app is really well done and in my quick testing, the feature that I most enjoyed is the “Today and This Evening” section. Things integrate directly with your calendar so you can see a list of those events grouped at the top and your tasks below. This allows you to get a high-level overview of your entire day all in one app.

Things Calendar Integration

The one part I do not like is the pricing. To go all in you’ll need to purchase for each primary device so you are looking at almost $64.00 at the current prices:

This is comparable to the competitors like Omni Focus, but in my opinion, it’s a big investment for tracking to-do items. I personally am a bigger fan of Todoist’s plans, where it’s free on all devices, then a low monthly or yearly subscription.

Over time the subscription will end up costing you more, but I feel like when I’m constantly paying they have it in their best interests to continue coming out with updates.

No matter what you choose Things 3 is a great update and if you care about design it’s worth checking out.

Visual Studio for the Mac

Today Microsoft released Visual Studio 2017 for the Mac.

Use Visual Studio 2017 for Mac to develop apps for Android, macOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, web, and cloud. Code fast, debug, and diagnose with ease, test often, and release with confidence. Use version control, be agile, and collaborate efficiently with this new release!

With this initial release, it includes a full-featured source editor, code search and navigation, a powerful debugger, a customizable workspace, Git integration, and a rich extension system. However, it is missing support for some common languages like Go, Ruby, and PHP and Miguel (migueldeicaza) said the following on Hacker News:

We will be adding support for more languages. We will be doing that with the Language Server Protocol effort that was started at Microsoft and is currently in use by VSCode and other languages.

So that is a positive for those that are looking to use it and are using languages that are not currently supported. I’ve heard from other developers that Visual Studio on Windows is an excellent IDE.

Another nice feature that is that it includes support for TextMate language bundles, which you can use to add:

  • Editor color themes.
  • Code snippets.
  • Grammars for new languages, enabling highlighting, and basic IntelliSense.

So although it doesn’t get full support for languages like PHP you can still get basic syntax highlighting through Textmate bundles or stick with their Visual Studio Code offering.

MNML: A New Mac App for Writing on Medium

MNML is a brand new app by the indie developer, John Saddington, and he is actually one of the first interviews that I did on this site.  The app is based on his popular Desk app, but designed specifically for Medium.com. Here are a few screenshots from his release:

write, publish, share
Write. Publish. Share.
Compose with comfort
Save locally, or in the cloud

This app is a great way of bringing the simplicity of the Medium editor to your desktop, and the bonus is saving locally. The price is $29.99 which I admire since the App store has lately become a race to the bottom. If you want to find out more checkout the app in the App Store.

Apple Releases a JavaScript LivePhotosKit

Today Apple released a JavaScript API for live photos and you can now embed Live Photos on your website.

The integration looks simple and you can use their hosted JavaScript file or pull it in via NPM:

npm install --save livephotoskit

Next add the following HTML tags for the static image and one for the .mov file:

The tricky part is exporting the raw live photo and their documentation outlines how it can be done. I use iCloud to auto sync to the MacOS photos app and after it synced I just had to run the following, “Use File > Export > Export Unmodified Original to export to your file system”

This should breath new life into live photos by making them accessible on the web, but for storage, and family viewing Google’s Motion Stills app is really fantastic.

Git to FTP deployments for macOS

GitFTP-Deploy is a MacOS app that allows you to deploy to sites where you may not have shell access. It can monitor your git repository and pushes only your changes through FTP or SFTP. It also features:

Modern front-end workflows

Run your terminal commands or shell scripts on every deployment. Compile your SASS-files to CSS and push to your server. (SFTP/SSH only)

Talk to your server

Take down your site during deployment or run migration scripts on your server. (SFTP/SSH only)

Always upload

You may not have every file, like compiled JavaScript- or CSS-files, under version control. Add the files or even a build that will be uploaded on every deploy.

You can find out more about GitFTP-Deploy on their site and it is free to try and $14.95 to buy.

Medis – A Beautiful Mac App for Redis

Medis is a Redis management application built on Electron, React, and Redux and designed to be simple and easy to use. It supports:

  • Keys viewing/editing
  • SSH Tunnel for connecting with remote servers
  • Terminal for executing custom commands
  • Config viewing/editing

and advanced Redis features like:

  • JSON/MessagePack format viewing/editing and built-in highlighting/validator
  • Working with millions keys and key members without blocking the redis server
  • Pattern manager for easy selecting a sub group of keys.

Windows and Linux versions are on the roadmap as well as support for SaaS Redis services.

You can purchase Medis from the App Store or find out more from the Github project page.

4 Apps for a Minimal Mac Experience

As developers, we get junk everywhere. Hundreds of files in your Downloads folder, dozens of apps open at once and lots of little utilities that overwhelm your menu bar. Let’s check out a few of my favorite apps to help you keep focused and experience that blissful minimal Mac experience.

Hazel by Noodlesoft

Hazel bills itself as your personal housekeeper and it performs admirably. It installs through System Preferences and allows you to create automation rules.
Here are a few that helps prevent junk from piling up:

Automatically delete files that have been in the trash for a set number of days. It also supports “app sweep” to uninstall any leftover artifacts from removing an application.

Auto Trash Downloads

A good Hazel rule to pair with emptying the trash is setting up one that finds old files in your Downloads folder and automatically moves them to the trash.

With this setup, now any downloads added four weeks ago is automatically trashed.

Limitless Rules

You can setup many different rules for your personal workflow. For example, I have one in place to sync from Dropbox/Camera Uploads to Google Drive, so I get a secondary backup.


The menu bar can quickly turn into a dumping ground of every utility app that you keep running. I have 14 apps with menu bar icons and just looking at that giant list is overwhelming.

With Bartender you can hide all these behind a single icon, giving you the ultimate minimal menu bar.

Of course, all the apps are still accessible from Bartenders icon, the star in the above screenshot.

Hocus Focus

On a Mac, when you switch apps the last opened ones cascade in the background. If the active app window is smaller than the others then the back ones can call for your attention.

Hocus Focus is designed to prevent this by automatically hiding inactive apps. This helps remove distractions and clutter.

Moom by Many Tricks

Moom is an app that allows you to quickly move and resize application windows. Using a grid, you can position an app at any location on the screen.

Splitting two apps across the screen is great when doing research so you can position your browser on one side and your writing app on the other. Just note that if you are using Hocus Focus, you will need to set both apps to not automatically hide in this scenario.

What I like about Moom is that you don’t have to remember any keyboard shortcuts. Just hover over the “full screen” icon in the upper left of your open app and the grid pictured above auto expands so you can position how you want.

Minimal Mac Zen

These four apps will help you get in the zone and keep you from losing focus. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed give these a consideration. They are essential to all my Macs.

Wallcat — Every day a new desktop image for your Mac

I enjoy a minimal Mac experience. At the end of the day, I quit all my apps so I start the next day with a fresh canvas.

Having a clean desktop at the end of the day puts me in a done with work mindset and I love having a great looking desktop image. Over time this image gets stale and I start looking for a new one.

Wallcat, is a simple Mac app that does one thing — Sets a new beautiful desktop wallpaper every day. That’s it.

For ultimate simplicity, Wallcat has three settings launch at login, select an image channel, and share the image.

The channels include Gradients, Structure (Buildings and Architecture), and Fresh Air (Outside). After using this app for a few weeks I’ve only had one day where I didn’t like any of the images in the categories.

If you enjoy changing your desktop image or just want to mix things up this app is for you. Minimal, Simple, and Useful. It can’t get any better.

Wallcat is free in the App Store.