Now that almost every process you run requires some kind of network connectivity, whether it asks for it or not, it's become more important than ever to try to monitor what comes in and out of your network. Unfortunately, this user demand hasn't translated into a glut of options. Unless you're prepared to learn the intricacies of a monitoring tool like Wireshark, there has been very little ordinary users can do without resorting to a crude firewall to block entire devices. On macOS, there is a popular option called Little Snitch. This brilliant, proprietary, and paid-for tool will pop-up whenever some wayward application is trying to access some destination without prior approval, letting the user enable or disable network connections on a per-use, per-application basis. It's a utility that's become known as an application firewall.

OpenSnitch is an application firewall that covers much of the same functionality. We even looked at it a couple of years ago, but it has since iterated quickly and become a much more capable, and easier to install, application. Like Little Snitch, whenever a new application requests a new connection in the background, OpenSnitch will show you a small panel that tells you exactly which process is asking for what network resource. You can then choose to allow it through temporarily or permanently. If you don't do anything, a timer will eventually allow access, unless disabled, so that unattended essential processes can send their diagnostics back to base. Alongside these simple Python-drawn panels is an effective UI that shows you every terrifying connection made by your applications. You'll quickly see hundreds, but it's better to know what's happening with your own data than remain in ignorance. When first installed, it does take a while to go through your essential services and applications, but when saved, you can soon forget about them and focus on new and unpredictable connections.

Project Website

Enable or disable every connection for every application or process on your machine with the wonderful OpenSnitch.

Video converter


There are so many different media converter applications. And yet, none have ever quite perfected the process of transforming a video file from one format to another without having to make so many compromises you usually end up going back to ffmpeg on the command line. It's complicated, but it's better than trying to work out what a developer thought was important in their GUI. MystiQ doesn't have this problem because, while its still using ffmpeg in the background, it presents very few options to the user, preferring instead to use a preset to cover the broad conversion options. One of the best things about MystiQ is that you can easily queue up files you want to convert, tweak their settings, configure where you want the output to go, and then start the conversion process. The entire batch will be converted according to your wishes.

There are some settings you can change, and these are accessed by right-clicking on a file in your queue and opening Conversion Parameters. Audio conversion is actually handled by the sox utility, and you can change the sample rate, bit rate, number of channels, and overall volume in the output. The extra video options contain an excellent cropping tool, complete with real-time preview. With this, you can see your video playing and see where you want to cut the edges. You can also add subtitles, convert to black and white, and flip horizontally or vertically. A time tab even lets you adjust the start and end points, as well as the overall playback speed, which is ideal for learning Jimmy Page guitar solos. And if all else fails, an Advanced tab enables you to enter the raw ffmpeg arguments, for when you really can't dial in the best conversion.

Project Website

Even in the age of binge streaming, a little video file conversion is usually a necessity.

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