5 Mac Utilities That Rock My World

31 Comments

I work in front of a computer for 10 – 12 hours per day, and having a productive environment on my Mac is vital to my mental health. I don’t always use the Mac for my work, but I use it more than others since it’s sitting on my desk with a big Cinema Display. The Mac is a productive system on its own, but gets even better with some utilities I use that helps make it more so. Here are 5 Mac utilities that rock my world.

Cinch. That 24-inch Cinema Display gives me a lot of screen real estate, and putting it to best use is helped by Cinch. Cinch enables some windows management that mimics the Aero Drag features in Windows 7. I can drag a window to the top of the screen and it instantly goes full-screen; dragging it back down returns it to the original size. Particularly helpful is the ability to drag windows to the left and right screen border, which makes the window instantly size to half the screen. It’s a great way to put two windows — equally sized — side by side for working back and forth. $7.

Xmarks. I use many different computers — both Macs and Windows — and keeping my browser bookmarks in sync across them all is crucial for my work. I also use Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Google Chrome to further complicate this process. The Xmarks utilities are available on every one of these browsers for both Windows and Macs, and keep all of my bookmarks and site passwords synced across them all. I never have to think about this, it just works. Free.

SnagIt. I am constantly capturing images off my screen for my work. I take snaps of program windows to share, images on a web page and full desktop images. I have to resize these images to fit the particular need, and annotate them occasionally. SnagIt is a great method to do all of the above, and it has become a big part of my work day. I shot a video of SnagIt in action if you’re curious. It’s in beta so is free for now.

SoundSource. Simple utilities are often the best, and that fits SoundSource. Anyone who often switches audio sources appreciates when that is simple. SoundSource sits in the system tray and through a drop-down menu makes it one-click easy to change input/output audio sources and set the volume level. Input/output and system audio levels can be controlled independently through SoundSource. Free.

SugarSync. The cloud service SugarSync is not a utility per se, but the Mac program functions like one in the background and keeps all my files backed up. It also keeps them synchronized to other computers I use, and it does so silently and without fail. Through the iPad app I can use SugarSync to access all of my Mac’s files on the slate. Free and paid versions, depending on storage requirements.

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31 Comments

Gary

Check out “Voila” – don’t recall if it was free, but very comparable to SnagIt and works great!

Oliver

So being relatively new to the Mac world, I wonder if there isn’t a free/open source alternative to SnagIt (yes, I know, it’s free at the moment while it’s in beta). So far I have been using the Cmd-Shift-4 option and then previewer to resize it, but (maybe a sign of getting old) it takes me about three or four tries to remember which of the four modifiers, Fn, Ctrl, Option or Command needs to be used.

Robert

Thanks for the tips. If I were you, I would moderate the idiot (Cocko) into oblivion – seriously, if someone takes the time to posts his own (and in my book, helpful) opinion, if you don’t like it, it is entirely possible to just move on without shitting on the door mat. It’s free to read and you are free to leave if you disagree. Or start your own blog and see if you can write something everybody agrees with.

Gary

Yes, it’s always funny to me when the exchange becomes one of attacking someone (especially when the criticism is directed at someone whose content you are voluntarily reading), then going to grammar or spelling corrections as if to strengthen his position. Hilarious. It’s a pretty easy choice – don’t read the blog.

Cocko

Don’t get defensive, “Greg”. Deep inside, you know you’re an assclown.

Some people just wander the earth confused, stupidly oblivious to their own deficiencies. Your problem is that you don’t have the IQ to recognize that you’re a sub-normal.

Perhaps you’ve even sublimated the degradation you felt when your own mother rejected you, recognizing that she had given birth to a child who would forever require a dribble-cup, even as a hapless “adult”.

So now you waddle into the “comments” section of some obscure website, beating your chest like a retarded ape.

One can only sit back and smile with amusement at the befuddlement and consternation you feel when you sadly flail about cluelessly trying to outmaneuver those who are clearly your betters.

Please go back to your lower-echelon food service job and stop trying to mix it up with the more developed people.

“Greg”, you are a lifetime buffoon.

Kevin C. Tofel

Tell you what. Let’s have you two meet up, put on those padded Sumo wrestler suits and video the match while you two have at it. Sound good? ;)

Seriously, the bickering adds nothing of value to the conversation, which should be focused on Mac utilities. If you have some to add, by all means do so. Want to criticize what’s on the list or what’s missing, that’s great. Otherwise, start prepping for your steel cage match privately and tell us when we can see it on YouTube.

Cocko

You’re also an illiterate ignoramus, “Gary”.

You wrote “That may solve one of my issues”.

You don’t have an “issue”, you have a “problem”. You’re suffering from one of the most incorrect uses of a word in the 21st century.

Don’t confuse “issues” with “problems”.

http://languageandgrammar.com/2008/01/14/youve-got-problems-not-issues/

Not only are you a clown, you’re a dunce. A common simpleton.

prethought

Wow… what a heated exchange over grammar and colloquialisms. Talk about moving off topic. The real issue at hand is no one uses quicksilver or launchbar? Seriously? The real problem is not having them on the top 5 mac utilities that rock your world.

Gary

Well, the crummy amateur journalism piece is a matter of opinion.

The fact that you’re a self-righteous douchebag: not so much an opinion.

Cocko

What are you, “Gary”?

The self-appointed defender of crummy public amateur journalism?

Gary

@Cocko – Do you feel better now? Good, time for your meds!

BTW – you must enjoy his “column”, since you’re reading it and posting comments. Maybe when you see your therapist again you can ask her how to control the urge to verbally attack people for no apparent reason. Just because you probably got your a** kicked daily back in high school, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find peace with society.

Cocko

You have a stupid justification for every criticism about your abject ignorance.

“I get my terminology mixed up”

“I knew about it but forgot it”

HA HA HA.

You are a laughable aging doofus/clown with a dimwitted online “column”.

Oliver

At least JK has an online column… you, however…

Jeez… some people…

Ose

BetterTouchTool has the same ‘particularly useful’ resizing features as Cinch as well as expanding you multi-touch trackpad /magic mouse capabilities :)

Priit

cmd + shift + 4 on a mac makes a nice png screenshot as well.

DCJ001

Or, instead of using SoundSource on a Mac, you could press the Option key when clicking on the Sound Volume adjuster in the menu bar, and you’ll have the same access.

distortedloop

The hidden options and menus in OS X are amazing. Always good to be reminded that many menus or icons have some “options” when you hit the option key. Good tip (although it’s one I’d known about and forgotten in every day use).

netwiz

I like the idea of Sound Source, unfortunately I did some googling and found out that it can’t be done on a windows vista system, due to some “restricted APIs.”

I’m truly sad right now, which means I must post the mandatory sad face. :(

prethought

What about quicksilver or launchbar? My hands rarely leave the keyboard with quicksilver loaded.

Gary

Thanks James. Cinch is the only one I didn’t know about. Looks great. That may solve one of my issues – going from a 24″ external display on Macbook, and yanking out the mini-displayport, the apps are all off the screen. Guessing this is a quick way to resize the appropriately to the Macbook’s 13″ 1280×800 display?

Jon

How would you compare SugarSync with DropBox?

I use DropBox and have never heard much of SugarSync.

Jose Cruz Rodriguez

The trouble with Xmarks is that your bookmarks are kept on their system and evidently examined, because Xmarks also offers a “most bookmarked” service and doubtless also use bookmarking data for other purposes like identifying targets for various sorts of marketing and surveillance. I have no desire for others to examine my bookmarks and draw conclusions from them.

Jeff Dickey

I share that concern, too, Oliver; I’m working on scratching that itch now. I should have a public beta of what I’ve been calling ‘Concord’ in a couple of weeks or so; exports/imports using local disc, ftp or rsync, and exported bookmarks are encrypted… so even if you do put your export in a public place, it should be reasonably safe from prying eyes.

Troublingly, when I clicked the XMarks link, I discovered that I was logged in, as user ‘juszz’ who’d been a member since 25 July 2009…. on a private system that I had never used to create an account on…. drive-by site attack, anybody?

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