Under The Microscope

Archive for November, 2023

A Word of Caution on MacOS Updates

For well over a decade, Apple has made a practice of releasing annual updates to their operating systems. New OS versions are unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference in late spring, then tested over the summer, with official releases coming in the fall. These OS upgrades often significantly change how your devices work, particularly when it comes to MacOS. Apple has now made it possible to upgrade your OS, and even install pre-release beta OS versions, with just a few clicks.

While the ease of beta release installation can be convenient for developers, it poses risks for most users. As one of Rogue Amoeba’s frontline support technicians, I’ve observed the negative effects MacOS updates sometimes cause. That’s why we always recommend taking things slow when it comes to updating your Mac’s OS, as well as avoiding beta OS versions entirely.

Beta Breakers

The recent MacOS 14.1 beta update is a case in point, as it introduced substantial breaking changes. Those changes interrupted significant functionality in the then-current versions of our apps. For folks using our apps for production or other critical work, installing a beta version of the OS brought things to a halt until we could issue our own updates. We worked swiftly to debug problems and then ship new versions to restore functionality, but that type of work often requires days or even weeks. Those users who didn’t install MacOS 14.1 betas avoided headaches, blissfully unaware of the hiccups.

Check Your Settings

The aforementioned issue affected a significant number of users who had tested the MacOS 14 (Sonoma) betas over the summer. These users ran into trouble because Apple opted not to reset the beta OS updates setting in MacOS, even after the official Sonoma release shipped. As a result, many users who thought they were now on a normal OS update track were surprised to find themselves running beta versions of MacOS 14.1.

If you tested Sonoma over the summer, you may still be enrolled to receive Apple’s beta software updates. Turning that setting off is strongly recommended. This can be done by going to the General section of System Settings, selecting Software Update and ensuring that Beta Updates are switched off. We recommend disabling Automatic Updates there as well, so that you have full control over scheduling when your Mac’s operating system changes.

Rogue Amoeba’s Test Releases

Since our founding, Rogue Amoeba has provided our users with hundreds of high-quality free updates to our software, containing both bug fixes and enhancements. We also work hard to ensure our software is ready for Apple’s major updates to MacOS. All of that requires a great deal of time and careful testing.

As part of our development process, we provide our own optional access to pre-release versions of our products, called test releases. As the introductory post explained:

Test releases are the precursor to full, official releases of our software, and provide early access to new features and functionality. Though not recommended for those with production systems, these releases are vetted internally, and should be suitable for general use.

If you’re interested in trying out our test releases, see this article for instructions.

β Is For Bugs

For nearly all users, sticking with official releases of both MacOS and our own software is the way to go. If you do plan to test beta versions of MacOS, go into the process knowing that problems may occur, and remember to try our test releases as well. As well, for current compatibility information on all our apps, our Status page is always a helpful resource.

Of course, whether you’re using a beta version of MacOS or a public release, we’re always here to assist. If you notice a problem, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You’ll get a reply from me or one of my colleagues on our friendly Support team.

Turn Speech Into Text With Audio Hijack 4.3’s New Transcribe Block

Our flagship recording tool Audio Hijack can now serve as your own personal stenographer! We’ve just released version 4.3, with a brand-new Transcribe block to turn spoken audio into a written text transcript. Read on for more details, or grab this free update immediately by selecting Check for Updates in the Audio Hijack menu or downloading right here.

The Brand-New Transcribe Block

Transcribe can convert speech from an astonishing 57 languages into text, providing you with a written transcript of any spoken audio. It’s powered by OpenAI’s automatic speech recognition system Whisper, and features two powerful models for fast and accurate transcriptions.1

Best of all, unlike traditional transcription services, Transcribe works for free inside of Audio Hijack. There’s absolutely no ongoing cost, so you can generate unlimited transcriptions and never again pay a per-minute charge. It’s pretty incredible.

It’s also completely private. When you use Transcribe, everything happens right on your Mac. That means your data is never sent to the cloud, nor shared with anyone else.

Transcribe Audio From a Microphone

To get started, use Audio Hijack’s Template Chooser to create a new Transcribe session, which you can see running below:

This straightforward configuration takes audio from a microphone and runs it through the Transcribe block, while also saving a recording for reference. Just speak into a microphone connected to your Mac and you’ll get a transcript file.

Transcribe Calls or Any Audio From an Application

Thanks to Audio Hijack’s ability to capture audio from any app running on your Mac, you can now transcribe anything you can hear. This is particularly useful for voice and video calls over Zoom, Skype, and other VoIP services.

Skip the note-taking! With text transcripts, your meetings on Zoom and calls on FaceTime can now be referenced and searched. And of course, this isn’t limited to just VoIP apps. Use Transcribe with any application on your Mac, for endless speech to text possibilities.

Transcribe From a File

Your audio doesn’t even need to be live. If you already have a recorded audio file, it can serve as a source for transcription. Play the audio file in any app (such as our audio editor Fission), then capture the audio with Audio Hijack and route it through the Transcribe block to get your transcript.

Great for Podcasters

With Audio Hijack and the new Transcribe block, it’s easy for podcasters to provide audiences with a text transcript of every show. Make it part of your podcasting setup, and your transcript will be ready for you moments after you finish recording.

When recording from multiple inputs, Transcribe can even handle multiple hosts, with the transcript accurately labeling each speaker:

Your resulting transcript will be easy to read:

You may wish to clean up transcripts for accuracy before posting, but even a rough, unedited transcript can be very helpful for listeners.

Beta; More to Come

When using the Transcribe block, you may notice it has a “beta” label. It’s not yet as polished as we plan for it to be and you should be cautious when using it in production systems. Still, we’ve tested it thoroughly, and it’s incredibly useful even as a beta.

Try it out, then let us know what you think. We already have plans for more transcription integration in future Audio Hijack updates, and user feedback will definitely be a helpful guide.

Get Audio Hijack 4.3 Right Now

The new Transcribe block will be a boon to all manner of users, from podcasters to lawyers to doctors and more. The ability to quickly convert spoken audio into a text file opens up countless new workflows, and we’re excited to see how you use it!

Get the brand-new Transcribe block right in Audio Hijack 4.3, which is a free update for all existing users of version 4. Just select Check for Updates from the Audio Hijack menu to download it today.

If you’re new to Audio Hijack, visit the app’s product page to learn more about the Mac’s very best audio recording tool, then download the free trial to test it out. You’re going to be delighted.


  1. For the best experience, Apple Silicon-based Macs are strongly recommended. Due to the processing requirements of the machine learning models, Intel Macs can be very slow to transcribe. Transcribe will run on any Mac that supports Audio Hijack 4.3, but Apple Silicon Macs are best. ↩︎

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