Red Sweater Blog Official blog of Red Sweater Software Wed, 27 Feb 2019 19:41:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Accessible Crosswords Fri, 14 Jun 2019 13:59:32 +0000 Many years ago, I set out to make my Mac crossword app, Black Ink, accessible to VoiceOver users. I failed. The assistive technology on macOS at the time simply did not seem up to the task for mapping the complex, two-dimensional, nested hierarchy of a crossword puzzle into a form that could be meaningfully conveyed over VoiceOver.

Now, as I look forward to finishing up Black Ink 2.0, I am encouraged to give it another try. VoiceOver has improved dramatically and I am optimistic that I’ll be able to ship this major update of the app with features that make it accessible to all.

I can’t do this alone. I need to know how the ideal accessible crossword app would behave, and to know that, I need advice from experienced VoiceOver users. If you or somebody you know is a Mac VoiceOver user who would enjoy helping me design the accessible interface to Black Ink, please consider joining the Red Sweater Slack so we can collaborate on this:

Join the Red Sweater Slack Community

I have some vague ideas of how to accomplish this but I’m looking forward to hearing from folks who are keenly aware of just how such an app should behave. After you join the Slack, please join me in the #accessibility channel. Thanks!

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Improving the WordPress API Fri, 24 May 2019 21:45:07 +0000 Some MarsEdit customers may have run across a problem where posts that were published as “Draft” posts to WordPress end up getting stuck with the original draft publish date as the actual publish date when the post is changed to Published.

I took on the task of identifying the source of this problem and fixing it in the open-source WordPress project. That was 7 months ago. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been integrated yet. Here’s my post about the situation:

Unloved Patches

MarsEdit’s functionality is often limited by the capabilities of the blogs to which it publishes. WordPress is unusual in that it is open source, so anybody can contribute improvements to the platform. If those improvements are never accepted, however, it may as well not be open source.

MarsEdit’s Secret Title Bar Preference Thu, 23 May 2019 02:11:27 +0000 Michael Tsai wrote today about the accessibility challenges presented by Mac toolbars that do not have text labels. These are an unfortunate consequence of opting for macOS’s “no titlebar” style appearance, which has become increasingly popular in recent years. As Michael points out, MarsEdit is among the apps that has embraced it. This is how it looks by default:

Screenshot of toolabr icons from MarsEdit with no text labels.

The good news, for folks who don’t prefer this style, is MarsEdit supports a “secret preference” to change back to the more traditional style with a title for the window, and with the option to show or hide text labels. If you’re comfortable setting defaults from the command line, you can run this from Terminal to enable the labels:

defaults write ShowMainWindowTitleBar YES

If you’d rather avoid the command line, MarsEdit should apply the setting for you if you click this link:

Show MarsEdit’s Main Window Titlebar

Now, quit and relaunch MarsEdit. If the toolbar icon labels are not visible, select View > Customize Toolbar from the menu bar, and select the option to show “Icon & Text”. Here’s how it looks:

Screenshot of MarsEdit's toolbar icons with labels.

And if you decide to switch back, this link should do the trick:

Hide MarsEdit’s Main Window Titlebar

Ideally Apple would fix this mode so that some kind of appropriate compromise could be made to support the streamlined title-bar-free mode, while also supporting the display of labels. I’m not holding my breath on that, though. Hopefully this workaround will give those of you who either prefer, or outright depend upon the labels for accessibility reasons, something to tide you over.

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MarsEdit 4.3.2: Fixing the Fuzzy Icons Fri, 17 May 2019 20:23:24 +0000 MarsEdit 4.3.2 is now available at the MarsEdit home page and on the Mac App Store.

This update primarily addresses a problem that snuck in to the app recently, causing the icons for some blogs to appear blurry in the main window side panel, and in the Preferences list. It also includes a couple other small bug fixes.

Complete list of changes for this release:

  • Fix a problem that caused some icons to appear fuzzy or too large in the blog list
  • Fix an issue that caused the built-in crash reporter to fail to launch for some users
  • Refine the error message when uploading an image to Blogger fails because of their disabled API

If you enjoy MarsEdit, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter, and of course, writing about the app on your own blog! Thanks for your support.

MarsEdit is Now Available on Setapp Thu, 16 May 2019 12:42:14 +0000 Great news for Setapp users: MarsEdit is now available as part of the lineup of apps. This means that Setapp subscribers can use the app, with all its functionality unlocked, for free.

Sign up for a free Setapp trial.

If you aren’t already a Setapp subscriber, using the link above to sign up will help me. Try it out for free, and if you end up subscribing, I will receive a perpetual commission from Setapp based on your $9.99/month membership fee.

I have been thinking for years that it would be great to offer an alternative subscription pricing version of MarsEdit. I may still pursue that, but offering the app via Setapp seems like a great way to bundle it with several apps that my potential customers may already be using.

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FastScripts 2.7.7: Dark Mode Switching Fix Thu, 02 May 2019 18:38:29 +0000 FastScripts 2.7.7 is now available for download from the FastScripts home page and on the Mac App Store.

The main thing this update addresses is a problem where the FastScripts icon might not adapt to changing its color when going from Dark Mode to Light Mode, or vice-versa. The update also includes another minor bug fix and a tweak to hide file extensions from more types of scripts. This is the complete list of changes:

  • Fix a bug that could prevent the menu icon color from adapting to Light/Dark Mode changes
  • Fix a visual glitch with the focus ring displayed when editing a keyboard shortcut
  • Omit the file extensions for .applescript, .py, .rb, etc files in the script menu

If you enjoy FastScripts, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, or spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter! Thanks for your support. Questions or concerns? Get in touch at Thank you.

MarsEdit 4.3.1: Fixes For Crashes and Glitches Wed, 24 Apr 2019 12:40:21 +0000 MarsEdit 4.3.1 is now available from the MarsEdit home page and on the Mac App Store.

This update is a minor update with a few bug fixes:

  • Fix a crash when a blog has a favicon that cannot be rendered
  • Fix a crash when opening some posts from Nifty Cocolog blogs
  • Fix a visual glitch in the Find/Replace panel
  • Fix a bug that prevented system highlight color from applying to Rich Text in Dark Mode

If you enjoy MarsEdit, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter, and of course, writing about the app on your own blog! Thanks for your support.

MarsEdit 4.3: Animated GIFs and Other Delights Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:56:37 +0000 MarsEdit 4.3 is now available from our web site and on the Mac App Store.

First up, this release addresses a number of issues affecting the upload of GIF images. Chief among them: animated GIF images can now be resized without losing animation!

Second, a significant revision to MarsEdit’s Media Manager should improve its appearance for folks who are running in macOS Mojave’s Dark Mode. We added Dark Mode support in MarsEdit 4.2, but the Media Manager still had some rough edges.

Finally, this update contains a grab bag of little fixes and enhancements, any one of which might just make your day. Here’s a list of all the changes in MarsEdit 4.3:

MarsEdit 4.3

  • Improvements to handling of uploaded GIF images
    • Support resizing animated GIFs while preserving animation
    • Fix a bug that caused some GIF images to be uploaded as empty files
    • Fix a bug where GIF images uploaded to Tumblr blogs were converted to PNG format
  • Interface improvements
    • Refine Dark Mode support in the Media Manager
    • Fix a bug that prevented a visual divider line from appearing in Media Manager
    • Change the “New Category” placeholder text to a subtler style
    • Improve status messages when refreshing blog
    • Revised Preferences layout to unify General and Editing into single “General” tab
  • Other improvements
    • Fix a crash that could occur when undoing after “Restore Default” in the Quick Posts template editor
    • Fix the size of preview window content to match what is seen in web browsers
    • Fix a missing image MarsEdit Help in Text Filters documentation
    • Support new distinction between created and modified dates on posts
    • Fix a bug that could cause additional image markup to be entered when adding a photo to a Tumblr post

If you enjoy MarsEdit, please consider writing a review or rating the app on the Mac App Store, spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter, and of course, writing about the app on your own blog! Thanks for your support.

Configuring WordPress Custom Fields in MarsEdit Wed, 06 Mar 2019 18:29:32 +0000 Custom fields are a powerful feature of many WordPress blogs. You can add custom fields to support specific behaviors that are not supported by default. You might add custom fields to support plugins that do SEO optimization, associate custom downloadable data with a post, or to control some other feature of a custom theme or plugin.

On the Core Intuition Podcast, we use Custom Fields to support the listing of sponsor information on the show’s web pages. When a specific episode is being shown, a custom WordPress plugin looks up information about the episode’s sponsor, and adds suitable content to the sidebar for the page.

To achieve this, I first picked some suitable names for my custom fields, and added them to the site through the WordPress “wp-admin” interface. Then, I opened MarsEdit’s preferences and edited the “Custom Fields” section of my blog’s settings:

Screenshot of MarsEdit's custom fields configuration UI

You can type whatever you want for the “MarsEdit Label”, as it only affects how MarsEdit will identify the field in post editor window. The important part is the “Server Custom Field Name” which must match whatever the field’s name is in your WordPress admin panel.

Now whenever I am editing a Core Intuition podcast episode, the custom fields show up right along with standard fields such as Title, Tags, etc:

Screenshot of MarsEdit editor window with custom fields added

I just type or paste in the suitable values for the show’s sponsor, and everything else is taken care of for me automatically.

MarsEdit is great for setting up streamlined publishing workflows. If you’re using WordPress Custom Fields, you can use this one-time configuration change in MarsEdit to make it easier than ever to add custom field values to your posts.

Relief for Compulsive Command-S Savers Wed, 27 Feb 2019 15:05:49 +0000 Raise your hand if you, or somebody you love, still presses Command-S constantly while editing text, or really, working with any content in any app on your Mac.

Those of us who have been using computers for a long time remember a day when, if you didn’t remember to save, then you might lose everything. These days most apps, including apps such as our own MarsEdit and Black Ink, support some form of autosave, making this old-fashioned habit unneccessary, yet harmless.

Some apps, such as Apple’s Notes, have gone so far as to remove the save command. This is good in the sense that it simplifies the app, but bad in the sense that users who aren’t familiar with autosave may not know their work is saved. It’s also bad for compulsive Command-S savers, because every time we press the keystroke, we’re greeted with a loud BEEP! from the computer. Thanks for nothing.

One of Red Sweater’s apps, FastScripts, offers an elegant solution for quieting the beep that occurs in Notes, or in any other app for that matter, when Command-S is not wired up to any menu item. Because FastScripts can be used to override just about any keystroke, you can configure it to run a script in Notes when Command-S is pressed. The script? It does nothing. Thanks for nothing, indeed.

To use FastScripts to quiet the beep in Notes:

  1. Download FastScripts. It’s completely free for up to 10 keyboard shortcuts.
  2. Launch FastScripts and look for the little script icon with a lightning bolt, in the upper-right corner of your Mac’s main screen:

    Screenshot of the FastScripts icon in the Mac menu bar

  3. Open Notes on your Mac.
  4. With Notes running, click the FastScripts icon and select the “FastScripts” submenu, then select “Create Notes Scripts Folder”:

    Screenshot of the FastScripts submenu  with

    This is the folder in which we’ll create and save a “Do Nothing” script for Notes.

  5. Open Apple’s Script Editor from the Utilities subfolder of your Mac’s Applications folder.
  6. Create a new script by selecting File -> New Script from the menu bar. You can leave it empty, or type something as a comment to remind you about it’s purpose:

    Screenshot of a Script Editor window with a comment inside about giving FastScripts something to run when pressing Command-S

    Save the script and move it to the “Notes” folder you just created in the Finder.

  7. Switch back to Notes, where we’ll assign a shortcut for the script.
  8. Click the FastScripts menu icon, you should see the “Do Nothing” script appear near the top of the menu. Hold the command key down while you select it. This is a shortcut to jump to FastScripts preference and start editing the shortcut for the script:

    Screenshot of the Do Nothing script in FastScripts, selected with an indication that the Command key is held down

  9. In the FastScripts Preferences window that appears, you should be editing the keyboard shortcut for “Do Nothing”. Press Command-S on the keyboard to register the new shortcut:

    Screenshot of FastScripts Preferences with the keyboard shortcut for

  10. There’s no step 10!

Ah, the sweet silence of Command-S in Notes has never … not sounded … so good?

These steps may sound laborious, but you’ll quickly get the hang of it. Creating a such a script takes only a minute or so when you’re familiar with FastScripts and the Script Editor. You can use the same technique with any other app on your Mac that behaves in an unwanted manner when you compulsively press Command-S, or (almost) any other key, for that matter!