I’m on a quest. I want to find the absolute perfect utility for Mac users; the one software tool that has the most value to the most number of Mac owners. It’s easier said than done. Think of it this way. If you could have only one non-Apple utility on your Mac, what would it be?
The first and most obvious answer would be, “It depends.” Yes, it does, but there still must be a single Mac utility that would be high on the list of most Mac users. That’s what I’m after. My quest is not without some planning, effort, judgement, and criteria.
What Is A Mac Utility?
That’s a fair question and requires a qualified response. How would you define a utility on your Mac?
A Mac is made up of many files, but, generally, we could classify those files we interact with as documents, applications, or utilities.
A document is a file created by an application (or a file manipulated or modified by an application). An application creates a document. Mail is an application because it creates a document.
What about Safari? Yes, it can create a document, but the primary purpose is to read and display documents, so I’ll place Safari in the application stack. For the sake of simplicity rather than semantics, allow me auto place our major Mac tools in the application stack.
Mail. Safari. iPhoto. iTunes. Garageband. iWeb. Automator. Photo Booth. QuickTime. iCal. Address Book. All applications. Terminal. Activity Monitor. Time Machine. Network Utility. Console. System Preferences. All utilities.
Utilities, in general, don’t create applications, but, rather, modify settings, files, documents, etc.
The Search For A Non-Apple Utility
Moving aside all the software provided by Apple for Mac OS X (or Adobe or Microsoft), let me begin the quest with my list of 3rd party utilities of notoriety and merit.
For example, Drag Thing is a must have for me. But is it really essential? If I could have only one utility on my Mac (back to the criteria), would it be Drag Thing? No. I could just use the Dock.
How about SuperDuper!, the famed back up and hard drive cloning software? Now we’re talking. It’s a utility (it doesn’t create a document). The purpose is distinct and necessary. Add SuperDuper! to the list.
Some Mac users might be tempted to put Tweetie or Twitterific on the list, but I consider both the be similar to Mail; they create documents (stored in the cloud), so, no go.
The Essential Mac Utility
A dozen utilities can clean your Mac’s cache, open up hidden settings and preferences, and perform dozens of functions that make Mac life more personal. Are they essential? If you could have only a single utility would it be Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, Onyx, or Cocktail? Probably not.
If an essential utility is in the vein of SuperDuper!, which can save your Mac life by making a perfect clone of your hard disk, what of AppleJack?
The only time you may need AppleJack is when your Mac isn’t working, and, assuming that AppleJack makes it work again, doesn’t that automatically make it an essential utility? Possibly, though the need for AppleJack is lessened if your have a perfect cloned back up, ala SuperDuper!
And The Winner Is…
What’s the answer? If you could have only one utility on your Mac, what would it be? Almost any answer will depend on each Mac user’s needs, so it’s a subjective response. Your stack of acceptable utilities may differ from mine, however, I choose SuperDuper!
Yes, you could substitute SD for Carbon Copy Cloner. It’s less expensive (as in free) and works much the same way to clone your Mac’s hard drive.
While other Mac utilities may solve distinct problems or provide great usefulness, if I had to choose a single utility, I would want it to be the one that would protect my Mac’s files—all of them—system files, documents, applications, utilities—from destruction.
Any utility that can fully clone your Mac is a valuable tool. What about you? If you could have only a single non-Apple (or non-Adobe or non-Microsoft) utility on your Mac, what would it be?