Unobstruct app icon

A week ago Troy Gaul released a universal iOS app called Unobstruct. It’s a Safari Content Blocker that removes those annoying floating bars that are used on sites like Medium.

Medium web page without Obstruct Medium web page with Unobstruct
Left: A Medium web page without Unobstruct.
Right: The same page with Unobstruct. The bottom "Open in app" and social media buttons have been removed.

There are some floating bars — primarily those found at the top of web pages on sites like Medium and Bloomberg — that Unobstruct doesn’t automatically block. (Unobstruct doesn’t block them because they’re often needed for page navigation on sites that use them.) Fortunately, Unobstruct includes an Action Extension that allows you to manually remove them.

Top floating bar on Medium web page Unobstruct Action Extension
Left: A Medium web page with a top floating bar (highlighted by red rectangle).
Right: The Unobstruct Action Extension (highlighted by red rectangle).
  Web page with floating top bar removed
The same page after the top floating bar has been removed by the Action Extension.

Unobstruct is 99 cents in the App Store. It’s a universal app, so it works on both iPad and iPhone (where it’s really useful since those bars take up so much space on the smaller screen).

Sunset on the Cuyahoga River
 Aug 7, 2017 20:56  |    Cleveland, OH
Sunset on the Cuyahoga River
Storm clouds behind the control tower at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Storm clouds behind the control tower at ATL

I’ve been a Transmit user since version 3 and have always liked it (and Panic, the company behind Transmit). When Transmit 5 was released with support for Amazon Drive, I was eager to try it.

Amazon lets Prime members store an unlimited number of photos, including RAW files — which is unique among cloud storage providers, to my knowledge — on Amazon Drive for free. It seemed like a good addition to my backup plan, and it would give me access to all of my photos on my phone or iPad (assuming I knew which ones I needed, since the Amazon Drive app doesn’t show previews of RAW files).

But because my photos are on an external hard drive, and Amazon doesn’t allow the sync folder to be on an external drive, there were a couple of things I didn’t like. First, I had to upload photos by dragging them to the Amazon Drive app, so I couldn’t do anything close to an automatic upload. Second, there was no good way to see my files in a traditional files-and-folders interface. I was hoping Transmit 5 could solve these problems.

Setting up the connection

Setting up the connection was simple. Just add a new server by clicking Servers > Add New Server or by clicking the + button at the bottom of the servers pane.

Select “Amazon Drive,” click Next, and you’ll be presented with an Amazon login screen.

  New server setup screen
Set up a new server

After you log in, Transmit will set up the new connection, and you’ll see a screen like the one below where you can change various attributes like the name of the connection.

  Amazon Drive setup screen
Amazon Drive configuration

Click Save, and you’re done.

On the front end, it works like any other connection in Transmit. You can browse the files in a Finder-like view, and you can preview them with Quick Look. (The files are still on a remote server, though, so Quick Look isn’t as fast as it is when previewing a local file.) One problem solved.

  Files and folders on Amazon Drive
There are my photos


One of Transmit’s great features is its ability to synchronize a local folder and a remote folder. If I could use Transmit to synchronize my Pictures folder on my external hard drive with my Pictures folder on Amazon Drive, that would solve the other problem.

Unlike in Transmit 4, where the Sync screen was behind a button that had both an intuitive icon and a “Sync” label, the Sync screen in Transmit 5 is hidden behind this unlabeled button that doesn’t really scream “synchronize” to me: Transmit Sync button

But once I found it, the screen looked (interface updates aside) and worked exactly like it did in Transmit 4.

  Transmit Sync screen
Same basic screen with an updated design

I simulated the sync first, and it took about one and a half minutes to determine that the local folder contained 378 files that weren’t on Amazon Drive. I proceeded to synchronize the folders, and everything went fine for about an hour. (I think Transmit is probably slower to upload that Amazon’s own app, but the extra features offered by Transmit are worth the trade-off to me.)

After about an hour (and all except 15 files successfully uploaded), uploads started failing. According to the message in Transmit, the Amazon token had expired; I suspect this was due to rate limiting. I simply closed the connection, reopened it, and synchronized again to fix the problem.


This is just a nice touch, but the Panic website has Apple Pay enabled, and it was super easy to use. My MacBook is too old to support it, but it worked perfectly on my iPad. I just tapped the “Buy With  Pay” link and authorized it via Touch ID. My serial number was displayed in the browser and sent via email almost immediately.

In the end, Transmit 5 solved my problems with Amazon Drive well enough that I thought it was worth the $35 price tag. (It’s currently discounted; the regular price will be $45.)

Here’s Ben Gibbard covering a great ’90s song, Teenage Fanclub’s “The Concept.” I have to admit I didn’t like it at first, but it hooked me on the second listen. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.

 Ben Gibbard's New Album Is Teenage Fanclub's "Bandwagonesque," Covered Song For Song