Revisiting Fluid

I first used Fluid, the site-specific browser creation tool for Mac OS X, a long time ago. But I didn’t find it compelling enough to integrate it into my daily life, in part because virtually all of my digital life still lived on the desktop. As I personally moved more and more to the cloud, it became key.

I tend to use Fluid apps for things that I want to have open and at the ready all day. These are things I consider to be more like apps than websites, so having a separate window makes sense, if for no other reason than I can easily command-tab among applications by selecting the appropriate high-resolution logo. With Safari, Chrome and Firefox, I’m in and out of a lot of websites throughout the work day, but most are content sites, or web applications that I use once per week or less. Here are a few of the key ways I’m using Fluid today.

Google Calendar

I long ago tired of problems with invitations in iCal. There were just too many frustrating examples of invitations not coming through properly or at all, and I invested the maximum amount of time I was willing to solve it. Last year, I also tired of Mail.app’s performance when dealing with many accounts and large numbers of messages. I was using Google Apps for several accounts with IMAP enabled, and using Mail.app as my client. Since they were all Google accounts anyway, I made the decision to switch to Mailplane, which performs flawlessly and had the added benefit of saving a lot of precious space on my MacBook Air’s hard drive.

Then I started noticing how good email invitations looked in the Gmail interface, and how easy it was to add them to the Google Calendar associated with that account. It just worked. But I also have several calendars. So I decided to make one Google Calendar account my main or master account, and shared all my other accounts with it, with full read and write permissions. Then I created a Fluid app for that Google Calendar account. I now have one Fluid app called gCal that holds my various calendars in one view, and I turned on Google Mobile Sync for them all, so I immediately get changes on my iPhone and vice versa.

Pandora

Pandora has become my music source of choice while working. I’ve got several stations queued up, including Wilco, Spoon, Ben Harper, and Res, among others. I haven’t really tracked it, but I don’t think I come close to Pandora’s maximum of 40 hours of listening per month. If I exceed that, I’ll need to look into a paid Pandora One account, which has its own player download. In the meantime, I’m quite content to load Pandora in a Fluid app, start it up, and hide the window from view until I need to click the button that says I’m still listening. Again, having it in a separate window that I can hide from view while still using Safari is a huge win for me.

Facebook

There’s not much I need to say about Facebook, which has taken the world by storm. But I am now syncing my contacts with Facebook via their iPhone app, which I love because it’s the easiest and best way to have friend’s pictures show when they call. I once suffered from Facebook Fatigue, but I’ve gotten past that and now use it as an essential communications tool for certain contacts. I’m just starting to use it for some serious social marketing for my projects, and having it open in its own window makes it easier to keep abreast of messages and other updates.

WordPress

Finally, TheAppleBlog is hosted on WordPress, so I created a Fluid app specifically for creating posts like these. I’m also finding it more and more useful to tap out ideas that pop into my head and create rough outlines while the ideas are fresh, and save them as drafts. Then, when I have dedicated time later in the day or week, I can spend more time working on the posts.

Are you using Fluid in your daily Mac experience? If so, how do you use it? If not, why?

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