Smile History: Products That Weren’t

The Other Guys

On June 12, 2018, Smile celebrates our 15th birthday. In this series we’re looking back at some of our history. Hope you enjoy!

In addition to PageSender, DiscLabel, PDFpen, and TextExpander, Smile released some other products which didn’t exactly become household names. Here are their stories and some lessons we’ve learned.

HTMLColorPickerX (July 2002 – March 2005)

The first was HTMLColorPickerX, not long after PageSender was released. I had completely forgotten about it until I wrote the post on PageSender. It became obsolete as soon as Apple released an HTML color picker built in to macOS. Don’t let its stripes hurt your eyes.


PhotoPrinto (January 2005 – April 2006)

After PageSender and DiscLabel, we figured we’d release a new product each year. Following DiscLabel, we thought we’d try to do for scrapbooking what we’d done for labeling CDs, DVDs, and packaging.

PhotoPrinto Icon

At Macworld San Francisco 2005, we released PhotoPrinto, which made it easy to create albums of photos imported from iPhoto and to frame and decorate them. Nowhere near as many people wanted to do this as wanted to label CDs, DVDs, and packaging. We discontinued PhotoPrinto in April 2006.

BrowseBack (January 2006 – July 2008)

At Macworld San Francisco 2006, we shipped BrowseBack, which offered a visual presentation of your internet search history, complete with full text search. Browseback was a cool idea, and it was unlike anything available at the time. BrowseBack won Best of Show at Macworld San Francisco 2006. Unfortunately, imaging every web page you visited, even in the background, was really resource-intensive. The computers of the time didn’t have enough power or storage to support BrowseBack. We discontinued BrowseBack in July 2007 but kept it running through July 2008.


Smile isn’t alone in discontinuing products. The installer for PhotoPrinto and BrowseBack was developed using FileStorm from eSellerate. May they all rest in peace.

PDFpen Cloud Access (January 2012 – March 2013)

When iCloud debuted, only apps sold via the Mac App Store had access. PDFpen customers wanted access to iCloud, including those who purchased directly from Smile. This led to PDFpen Cloud Access, a companion app for PDFpen, which we sold on the Mac App Store for 99 cents. Several months after we shipped, we got a call from the App Review Team at Apple telling us that what we were doing was not allowed. They were quite polite, but they were also clear that our only option was to discontinue the product. They struck a reasonably fair balance by prohibiting updates but allowing us to retire the app on our own timeframe.

Apple introduced iCloud Drive along with OS X 10.10 Yosemite in October 2014. Third party apps sold directly to customers were allowed to present iCloud drive in their file dialogs, just as Mac App Store apps did. We promptly added support for this in PDFpen 7, released in January 2015.

Parting Thoughts

One thing we’re all proud of and committed to is Smile and our customers.

Shipping products is challenging. Marketing products is challenging. Making products customers want and selling to them is challenging.

We relish the challenges. Persistence pays. We discontinue products when we must. We evolve our products over time to adapt to changing customer needs.

Not everything we’ve shipped has been a success, as you can see from this article.

The greatest product we build is our company.


Smile Founder
Professional Triage-er