Mac utilities come in all shapes, sizes, prices, and utility. Many utilities are very good, some are great, many are unncessary (although they may work OK).
Here’s my view of two great Mac utilities that I use, and two of the worst ever (yes, they work, but they don’t do anything important).
Today is the day of the good, the bad, but not the ugly Mac utilities. I’ll reserve the really ugly review for another date. This is compare and contrast.
The List: CircusPonies’ NoteBook, SuperDuper! (and DragThing), Internet Connection Keeper, Safari Magic.
First, the good: CircusPonies’ NoteBook.
NoteBook is a must have if you’re using your computer as a true digital hub (meaning, everything passes through it: notes, contacts, to-do lists, calendar, word processing, digital photos, movies, and much more). If your Mac is used as a PDA on steroids, then NoteBook is for you.
CircusPonies calls NoteBook the $50 valet for iLife. That’s an appropriate description. I took on the challenge of using NoteBook because my organizational skills needed organization.
My digital hub had become the little village below the Hoover Dam, just after the dam broke. Keeping track of everything coming through my Mac (both PowerBook and PowerMac) was a challenge, and the waves kept coming.
Yes, I finally managed to nail email thanks to some tough love with Apple’s Mail app. Tough Love. Every incoming email message goes straight to the Junk folder unless the incoming email address is in my Address Book or I’ve sent a message to that address. Then, I just have to sort through the Junk from time to time.
After a few years of the digital hub, that’s all I’ve nailed. Email. NoteBook to the rescue.
First, NoteBook looks like a notebook so it was comfortable from the start. It’ll take notes and help you organize the notes; not wholly different from a spiral bound notebook, in fact. Add pages, add tabs, arrange however you like, collapse or expand the hierarchy when you want to reduce “clutter” or look at everything all at once.
That alone was spongeworthy.
I used to highlight my notes (in a spiralbound notebook, no less) with a highlighter. NoteBook lets you do the same thing; highlight keywords, add action items, add a priority, even set a due date. Sweet.
Since I’m on the web about 10 hours a day, I come upon clips, links, text, that I want to keep. Cut and paste and they pop right into NoteBook and get organized.
Once you get all that stuff in there, finding it is tough right? It is if you’re still using a spiral bound notebook and not the digital hub valet as NoteBook truly is. You can search NoteBook via keywords, stickers, highlighting and other items. Index pages for faster search; even user a Super-Find function to make the search cover multiple words or attributes.
Try NoteBook. It’s worthy, but will take a little time to get used to and get set up for organizing.
Of course, this is the year 2005 and life is increasingly complex. As you’d expect, NoteBook imports photos, images, sound, movies, scans. Then it’ll add shadows, rotate, scale, and playback. While NoteBook isn’t something to show your friends, so it’s not a slide show app, it’s a great place to KEEP stuff.
“Add pages, add tabs, arrange however you like, collapse or expand the hierarchy when you want to reduce “clutter” or look at everything… that’s spongeworthy.”Once you get plenty of STUFF, you can, of course, export your NoteBook to the web so that non-NoteBook users can view your, well, your notes.
NoteBook is a free download from CircusPonies. It’s $50.00 well spent, but you can try it first..
What don’t I like about NoteBook? It forced me to think about my organization process (or lack of). Frankly, that was painful. Remember, I was trying to get rid of the pain my digital hub was causing me.
NoteBook did that. But not after a little organizing pain.
OK, before getting on to the two worst Mac utilities, let me tell you that #2 on my list of Best Mac Utilities was nearly a tie. So I’ll mention both. SuperDuper (the backup utility) and DragThing. You get the extra review for free.
Alexis does a great review of the backup utility Super Duper; Click Here.
Our digital hub now carries a lot of valuable stuff; Quicken files, email files, browser URLs, reports, letters, spreadsheets, photos, scans, movies. Howe do we prevent loss of data?
Easy. Get a second hard disk and use SuperDuper!. Click Here for Alex’s review.
For navigating your Mac and keeping tabs on where everything is, no Mac utility is better than DragThing. Again, Alexis is on top of things and provides a detailed look at James Thompson’s wonderful utility. Click Here for the full review.
See how easy that was? 3 of the Best Mac Utilities in nothing flat. Besides, what you really want to know is which Mac utilities to avoid, right?
Here they are.
First, let me acknowledge that Mac programmers are courageous and creative. Some of the very best computer applications ever got started on the Mac. Many remain Mac only. Highlights of good Mac apps: easy to use (no manual), intuitive, useful, beneficial, worthwhile, fill a need, dependable and stable, easy to recommend to a friend.
“For navigating your Mac and keeping tabs on where everything is, no Mac utility is better than Drag Thing.”NoteBook, SuperDuper, and Drag Thing all fit that definition. Unfortunately, the following do not.
Internet Connection Keeper – AlphaOmega Software
This company produces more little utilities for the Mac than Wal-Mart has Roll Back signs. At one time, something like this might have been worthwhile (perhaps for Mac OS 7.5) to keep a connection open. Today, it’s worthless.
If your Mac isn’t dropping a dial up connection, don’t touch this software with your neighbor’s 10 foot pole. First, you’ll be annoyed like the dickens by the constant registration demands. That alone is enough to make you want to quit Internet Connection Keeper. Except you can’t.
ICK (hmmm, ICK for ick!!) refuses to quit most of the time. I tried. And tried. And again. Save the $15 for an album at the iTunes Music Store and a trip to Starbucks. The cup that holds your latte’ is more valuable than ICK (ick!). VersionTracker users gave it two whole stars. I’ll give it less than that.
Actually, ICK is the worst on my list. Next to last is Safari Magic 1.0. Did you ever see an application get only one star? That was too kind.
Safari Magic is published by MacEase, Innovative Software Solutions. Yes, it’s innovative. It does nothing.
Here’s what Safari Magic claims:
“Safari Magic adds powerful tools to Safari that make it easy for you to gather, edit (Safari Magic includes a built-in editor), save, and print just the information that you want from the Internet! In fact, Safari Magic gives you instant and total control over the information that’s displayed on the Internet.”
Uh, not quite. First, I struggled to find anything worthwhile at all besides an inherent desire to criticize the whole thing. Thankfully, PerversionTracker did a better job.
“In addition to its conspicuous lack of utility, this app is uglier than a mud fence with D-i-c-k Cheney nailed to the gate.”
That’s priceless. Unfortunately, Safari Magic’s only magic is geting money from unsuspecting Mac users who haven’t been forewarned that you can’t take control over the information on the Internet with a $20 application. Yes, for $20 you can copy clips from Safari and save them. Then you can print them.
Haven’t you always wanted to do that?
How about you? What’s on your list of Good Utilities for Mac OS X? What’s on your Bad List?