App of the Week: CCleaner

A few weeks ago, CCleaner was released for Mac. CCleaner is well know to Windows users for a quick and efficient way to clean up your PC, and now wants to do the same for your Mac. CCleaner works by scanning your Mac and its various applications for things that it can clean out.

I had some initial trouble getting CCleaner to run when it first came out. It got seemingly stuck booting up in my Mac’s primary account, but not another account I had made. I later updated and cleaned out CCleaner and was able to actually run it. The interface is exactly the same as it is in Windows, minus the parts where Mac functions were switched in the place of Windows functions. The app is very straight forward to use; all the buttons and functions are clearly labeled. While perhaps CCleaner could have practiced a little more in the Mac aesthetic, the fact that they are keeping the apps consistent across Windows and Mac is commendable.

In the left sidebar, you will find Cleaner, Tools, and Options. The Cleaner functions gives you the option to clean out Mac specific functions, such as Safari’s cookies, history, preferences etc. You will also find it can clean up your Mac’s Trash Bin, Logs, the Software Update Cache, and more. It also gives you the option to clean out junk from your other apps, such as Dropbox, Evernote, Flash Player, Skype, LibreOffice, and more. It also gives more specific option for the web browsers Firefox and Opera. In the Tools Section, CCleaner allows you easily uninstall apps, repair disk permissions, and erase free space. You can choose to erase disk space using a single pass, 7 passes, or the most secure 35 passes. Repairing of disk permissions seems efficient, though I still prefer to use Disk Utility or a more robust tool like Onyx. Uninstalling apps worked, but it completely deleted my Skype app rather than throwing the files into the Trash Bin. Therefore I couldn’t compared it to another app like AppCleaner, which moves all the associated files of an app into the trash so that you can see what was removed.

The Options setting doesn’t really provide many options. It does allow you, however, to select what cookies you want to keep. Unlike almost every other cookie-cleaning app, CCleaner allows you the option

CCleaner's uninstall screen

to select what Internet cookies you wish to keep when CCleaner cleans out your system. This means you don’t have to log into YouTube, Facebook, or any other account you have. It also allows you to see how many cookies are really on your system. If there was one must have feature, it would have to be this one.

CCleaner overall still has some problems. I mentioned that I don’t like how it just deletes the app instead of send it to the trash bin. And while the scope of CCleaner’s app cleaning abilities may be, I would appreciate if CCleaner would tell me what exactly it’s cleaning when I hit the “Clean” button. It does a very good job at telling me what it’s doing for web browsers, but I wish they could extend that explanation to the other apps and functions that it cleans.

CCleaner seems to be a very good cleaner, especially when it comes to cleaning out web browsers. I really like it when it comes to keeping browser cookies that you choose, rather than mass deleting. I hope to see better explanations and a different uninstall format in future updates. For the average user, CCleaner seems to the trick, and is my choice for when I need to clean up my web info.

CCleaner is made by Piriform available for Mac’s running OS 10.5 or higher. You can download it for free from their website or from the Mac App Store. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen. You can also check out my Google Plus Page at https://plus.google.com/107817518299218190319. Thanks!

App of the Week: Raven Browser

It seems that the world of internet browser is growing more and more daring. A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Sleipnir browser’s release for Mac, which had a very surprising twist to the browser interface, specifically where tabs and the URL bar were concerned. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying out the newest beta Mac browser on the scene, called Raven. Like so many new upstart browsers to the scene, this one runs on the Webkit engine, the same one that powers Safari and Chrome. As such, most browser testing sites see Raven as Safari. That being said, it feels very light, fairly responsive, and only takes up a little over 7 megabytes.

What first sticks out at you when you first run Raven is the left sidebar, called the SmartBar. You can install into Raven what are called webapps, which really are nothing more than glorified versions of websites. However, where other browsers like Firefox and Chrome simply let you pin the tab,

Screenshot of the Raven Smartbar

when you install a Raven webapp, it really acts like an app. For example, if I install the Facebook app, upon subsequent opening, the app’s icon opens up to reveal quick access to my news feed, messages, friend requests, and calendar. Likewise, other apps have appropriate shortcuts that open up under the app’s icon. If you navigate away from the webapp, you’ll see a a small little light to the right of the icon, much like the OSX dock, to show that the app is still running. These webapps are different from tabs. The tabs are found at the top, just under the URL box. But just like Safari, the tabs are hidden until you have multiple open tabs, or you re-enable them. The tabs also aren’t open in every webapp; so if I open a link in a new tab on my Facebook webapp, and then switch to the YouTube webapp, I won’t see those tabs anymore until I switch back to the Facebook app. Depending on who you are, this may be annoying or convenient, I however did not find it all that distracting. Also, most links opened from outside sources, such as a mail client, will open in the main app, which just looks like the Raven logo at the top of the Smartbar. It is also from this tab that you can easily access your history, downloads, and bookmarks.

Bookmarks also are treated a little differently in Raven. Bookmarks are organized as bookmarks and favorites. Confused? Favorites are websites that you might visit frequently. Bookmarks, are websites that you want to have for reference later or to read the articles on later. It seems a bit of an odd choice to do so, but then again many people have done this before. If you do bookmark a lot of items to be read later, you can link Raven to an Instapaper account so that you can read it later from there. Raven takes a page from Apple’s book, and then makes it better. Raven gives you a visual history of your web activity in a two-paned window style. One pane shows the link and the headers of said links that you clicked. Once you click on one of them, the second page shows you the page itself as when you visited it. I find this nicer than Safari’s visual history because it gives a nice chance to read over the page, so you don’t have to open a whole new tab if you just want to reread an article or quote a small portion of it.

The control bar, which is the main bar of the browser, also has some interesting features. On the left side of the URL/search bar, you have the standard back, forward, and home buttons, but also the add bookmark button. Here you can add the current page to either your bookmarks or favorites. On the other side of the URL/search bar, is the favorites button, for quick access to your favorites, a tab reveal button that will hide of show all your open tabs in the current window, and a mobile view switcher. I find it strange that the favorite button and the add bookmark are not closer to each other. The mobile view button allows you to switch the current webpage from a desktop browser mode, to a mobile mode that you would see on a smartphone or tablet, including the width. I can see this being handy for people testing websites, but I found the idea buggy when trying to exit mobile view. Sometimes it took a restart of the browser to fully exit mobile mode.

Since this is a beta browser, there are some flaws in the system. The browser still seems slow in some areas, such as loading the YouTube homepage, though overall it is faster than Apple’s Safari from the feel of it. I also found that it had occasional problem properly loading Flash video, meaning that my mouse arrow would sometimes vanish from screen, and the when moving to a different part of the video that hadn’t been rendered yet, Raven would get stuck loading that page. While this seemed to be fixed in a recent update to Raven, the browser still seems to struggle with Flash content. Raven also has an abundance of preferences, but it seems most of them can’t be turned on or off. For example, while there is a setting to turn on or off JavaScript being run in a page, the setting is grayed out so that I cannot change the setting

Grayed out preferences

if I want. And while Raven does have a rudimentary Ad-blocker, there are still several ads that it still seems to miss. This also relates somewhat to download. Raven automatically sends and downloaded files straight to your Downloads folder. While this isn’t necessarily bad, I prefer that it pops up a notification asking at least if I want to download the file. Once I was on a merely reading a forum when it automatically started downloading a file. What that file was, I don’t know, but that is a security flaw to me if there were any chance of getting some Mac malware or unwanted crapware on my system. The browser, like most beta browsers do, also does not support links opening the browser from an outside source. So if Raven is closed and I try to open a link from my Twitter feed, I have to click the link once to open the browser, and a second time once Raven is open to actually open the link. One last request would be the addition of notification badges in the webapps, that way I could know if something important changed on the page without always flipping to it (say like a notifications badge for Facebook, new tweets badge for Twitter, etc.).

The browser is still in beta, so it would be no surprise that most of these issues should be resolved with future updates before the final version is released. It is worth the try and is a step in the right direction, but I wouldn’t recommend using this browser just yet for work or for any sensitive web browsing. Raven is a free download from raven.io and runs on Mac OS 10.6 and 10.7 (Snow Leopard and Lion). And If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen. You can also check out my Google Plus Page at https://plus.google.com/107817518299218190319. Thanks!

App of the Week: Sleipnir

In recent years, the number of web browsers available for Mac has grown in recent years.  Some have tried to stick to a Mac-like theme, or follow the path of Chrome and take a more minimalist design.  And then some take a wholly different path, like Sleipnir.  Sleipnir is a web browser that has been on Windows for a while and gained a devoted Japanese following in the process.  Named after an 8-legged horse from Norse mythology, it looks about as strange, but has plenty of speed.  Having used for a short while on Windows, and its release just last week from beta (or release candidate as the case may be), I decided to give it another go.

Sleipnir looks completely different from any other browser I’ve yet to see.  It has a really clean interface up top and can integrate well with Lion’s full screen mode.  The tabs are integrated into the top of the browser, hidden inside the title bar with the back and forward button.  Don’t see a URL bar to type you web address?  On the right side the site’s name, HTTPS status, reload button, and a download icon/manager, much like Safari 5.1.  Click on the URL, and the URL bar opens up and lets you get to the site you need.  WHen you’re done, it retracts back to a smaller size, returning a title bar.  I have to say that as strange as it is, it actually feels like a design choice that Apple could have made themselves.  Interestingly there are a couple seeming design flaws in it.  While I had the option to show a bookmarks bar, I never could get it to show up.  Sleipnir also has no Home button, even though you can set a homepage, which is a rather strange setting for a browser.

The browser runs off of the Webkit engine, just like Safari and Chrome, making it quite fast.  In fact, I found that it loaded various pages almost instantly, faster than most Chrome or Chrome based browsers I tried.  This is true for very media intensive pages, which it excelled at.  The Peacekeeper browser test showed it faster than Firefox, but slower than Chrome, though my experience felt different.  But this browser is more than speed or looks.  It has some very Mac like features as well.  It

Sleipnir's look and its Peacekeeper score against other major browsers (longer bars are better, Sleipnir listed as Safari 5.1)

has gesture support for those using Trackpads: a two-fingered swipe left or right takes you back or forward in that tab’s history respectively.  A two-fingered pinch in also shows you an overview of your tabs.  You also can organize bookmarks into several pre-made categories, such as shopping, research, and more.  It also has a read it later feature, which I like but I think should be more prominent.  You can also sync bookmarks using the Fenrir Pass to other copies of Sleipnir, including those on other platforms, like iOS.

The iOS version also has some neat features, like Hold to Go, gestures, and touch paging.  Hold to Go lets you press and hold on a link or bookmark to open it in the background.  Gestures include drawing a circle to reload the page, and S to start searching, and more.  Lastly, the TouchPaging feature allows you to scroll through your tabs by flick left or right.

Back to the Mac version for a minute though, there a several flaws that just put me off.  For example, there is no security settings in the Preferences, which would be nice to have.  And while the Windows version has a few extensions, none of them work for Mac.  Full screen in Flash also still shows the menubar, which I have mixed feelings about.  I also would still like that Home button.

Overall, Sleipnir is a really quick and interesting browser that could shake up the game if it gained traction, but it feels like it is incomplete.  But for quick web browsing and a new browser experience, Sleipnir makes for one heck of a ride.  It is available for  Mac OS 10.6 and higher (Snow Leopard and Lion) & iOS (iPad and iPhone).  It also works for Android as well as Windows 98, XP, Vista and 7 (that’s not a typo, it really can support Windows 98).  You can find the version you want at http://www.fenrir-inc.com/ or check out the Mac specific version at http://www.fenrir-inc.com/global/mac/sleipnir.html.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus Page at https://plus.google.com/107817518299218190319  Thanks!

Securing Opera Web Browser (Part 2)

Here is the 2nd part of how to secure to Opera web browser. I hope to get another security based video or two out, but I’m working on some other non-security related stuff as well. Enjoy the video, and thanks for watching.

P.S. Send any tips, suggestions, or questions to me at easyosx@live.com, or on Twitter @EasyOSX.

Securing Opera Web Browser

First, I want to wish all of my fellow Americans a Happy Memorial Day! Everyone outside of America, I hope you enjoy your day anyway. Today I’ve put out the first part of securing the Opera web browser video. Part one is about Opera itself, and part two will be about extensions for Opera. I’ll be working on some non-security related posts to put up soon (Games4Mac anyone?).

Thanks for reading, and share this with your friends and family if they use Opera as well.