#5 – MoneyWell
Our money is near and dear to us. The financial software leader for both Mac and Windows PCs has always been Intuit’s Quicken. Why? I ask myself that question all the time. Quicken might be nice on Windows, but the Mac version leaves much to be desired. With bug-ridden updates coming around every two or three years, it’s as if Intuit wants Mac users to go away.
So, we will. But where to?
Enter MoneyWell, one of a number of Mac financial applications to rival Quicken for Mac, but with a twist. MoneyWell actually works well.
You can find more complex (and more expensive) Mac financial software, but what you really want is one that’s easy to get started, and yet grows along with you as you figure out more ways to use the features.
For example, MoneyWell uses a simple Envelope Budgeting system. Split your monthly paychecks into envelopes, then budget your expenses to match the amount in each envelope.
Transactions can be scheduled, your credit card balances can be monitored, and reconciliation (the biggest financial term I know) is just a click. MoneyWell throws everything into a single window on your Mac’s screen. The graphics and charts are real time, so as expenses go up or down, or income goes up or down, you see the results visually and instantly.
Of course, you can set up multiple accounts for checking and savings, but MoneyWell also connects to your bank (most of them). It imports Quicken files, too. I consider MoneyWell to be the Mac money manager for the rest of us. You know, those of us with too much month left at the end of our money.
#4 – ChronoSync
It’s nitty gritty time. These are the most important of the Mac Must-Have Utilities™ for the 21st century. Are you an owner of multiple Macs? How do you keep files in sync between them?
For the money, I don’t think there’s a more valuable, more dependable, more secure sync tool than ChronoSync. This is one of those special Mac tools which is rather easy to set up to do the basics—sync from one folder to another, between Macs, to another hard disk drive, even across a network—but can do much more.
ChronoSync can be dead simple to set up. Select a folder on your Mac in the left column. Find and select another folder to sync to on the right column (it can be a folder, another Mac on a network, even other devices, including PCs). Walk through a few preferences, and click. ChronoSync has a dependable scheduler which auto emails a sync log.
Files that would normally be deleted in a file or folder sync can also be archived for safe keeping. What better way is there to backup and synchronize your iPhoto photos, your iMovie movies, or your iTunes music, than with a utility that does it all with a click (or, fully automatic). Caveats? Yes. While basic sync is easy enough to set up, ChronoSync does so much that it gets complicated very quickly. It’s just worth the effort.
#3 – 1Password
No list of important Mac software is without a luxury item or two. 1Password is the luxury you will want forever—if you meet certain criteria.
Your Mac stores valuable information—login IDs and passwords—in the Keychain, so it’s a part of OS X and priced right. It’s also a pain to use Keychain.
If you have many login IDs and passwords, many web sites to log in to, plenty of serial numbers and registrations to keep track of, then 1Password is the big bang for the buck.
Information is stored neatly and securely. With a single password you’re the only one who can get to your valuable, but, while using Safari and Firefox and other browsers, login ID, passwords, even personal form fill in information is merely a click away. 1Password handles Logins, Accounts, multiple identities, software information, serial numbers, credit card numbers, registrations, Little Black Book data, and anything you want to store securely, encrypted, and mobile.
Mobile? Yep. The trend continues. 1Password has a companion iPhone version which syncs with data on your Mac. It’s the future, folks. My iPhone is like a Mac in my purse or pocket, so it better carry what I carry on my Mac.
We’re down to the final two of the Top 12. These are the most important Mac utilities you can have. One is a luxury but a life saver. The other may be the single most important Mac software you’ll ever own.
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#2 – DiskWarrior
This great Mac utility could be the answer to the question, “What Can You Do When Your Mac Goes Wonky?” DiskWarrior has been around for many years, dating back to Mac OS Classic, so the heritage is there.
Here’s the deal. What value do you place on your Mac’s files?
Sure, hard disk drives are more reliable now than ever. So is your Mac. But, as they say, stuff happens. DiskWarrior is what you use to rebuild your Mac, recover seemingly lost files, and restore your Mac back to where you’re no longer nervous, but actually content, happy, and with a better complexion.
My Mac is loaded with valuable files, so I back up regularly—to external drives and other Macs within the house. But hard disk drives are full of moving parts and sometimes things just, well, you know, go wonky.
Don’t let the elegance and seeming simplicity fool you. DiskWarrior is a recovery utility par excellence.
Assume for a moment that your Mac’s hard disk drive gets a little bit skittish and decides not to function. Sure, you might have files backed up elsewhere, but you don’t want to copy them back to a disk that’s gone haywire, right?
Start up your Mac with the DiskWarrior start up disk. The DiskWarrior window is deceptively simple. You have a minimum number of choices. View and rebuild a directory (what gets stored on your Mac’s hard disk drive). Check files and find files which seem to have vanished. Check your Mac’s hardware.
First, DiskWarrior rebuilds your Mac’s directory, that listing of files so important to your Mac—it needs to know where it put everything. When it can’t you need a utility that can find file and folders that may seem lost and can’t be found in the Finder.
Mac disk drives can seem wonky for a variety of reasons. A simple file corruption can mess up the directory, but DiskWarrior can rebuild that. What if the hard disk drive is failing? Sometimes it can fail without any warning. DiskWarrior can auto check your Mac’s drives to help guard valuable files before the disk drive dies.
What is special about DiskWarrior is that it’s the tool you must have but hope you never have to use (as opposed to the #1 of the Top 12 Utilities, which you must have, and must use). You don’t have to be a Mac geek or Apple nerd to use DiskWarrior, either.
It’s all point and click, and works before things go bad, and works even better after things go bad. Again, file problems don’t happen as often as they once did, but every hard disk drive on a Mac today will fail someday. This utility is another line of defense.
What’s the best, most valuable Mac utility ever? The one that deserves the #1 slot?
#1 – SuperDuper!
This is a no brainer. SuperDuper! simply backs up the files from your Mac’s hard disk drive to another hard disk drive, internal or external.
While that sounds complicated, it’s very valuable, and very easy to accomplish. Can you click your mouse twice? Done.
Why back up a Mac disk drive at all? Because your Mac’s files are valuable and so is your time.
Can’t you simply use Time Machine and another external disk drive instead? Yes, and that’s recommended because Time Machine, when it works correctly, is an elegant solution to find and recover individual files which may be lost or forgotten or misplaced.
But, when your Mac’s drive dies or won’t start up, Time Machine is a big toad and takes forever to get your Mac back to health. A cloned disk drive gets your Mac files back, and acts as a temporary startup disk—instantly. How? Your Mac can be started from and run on an external hard disk.
SuperDuper simply clones, bit for bit, byte for byte, everything on your Mac and copies it to another disk. Two clicks. Check out the lovely, elegant, simple interface.
Select the Mac disk drive to copy from, and select the Mac disk drive to copy to. Select the options—usually it’s Backup-all files. Then click Copy Now. It’s that simple. The first back up may take an hour or longer, depending on how many files and applications reside on your Mac. Subsequent back ups take only minutes as SuperDuper! only backs up (copies, clones) files which have changed on your Mac.
My iMac disk drive, all 600 gigs of files, is fully backed up in about 10 minutes. Wait! There’s more. SuperDuper! can be set up with a schedule and perform the backup cloning automatically, hands free. How? Check out how easy all that scheduling complexity really is.
See? That’s not exactly an intimidating interface is it? Even if you click the Options button, the options, save one, are understandable even to Mac newbies. So, why clone your Mac in the first place?
One reason is to get a duplicate of everything on your Mac; a duplicate that can be started up again in a minute. You’ll also want to check the backup clone to make sure it works. SuperDuper! automates that, too. On Successful Completion gives you options to test your cloned Mac disk (always beneficial to make sure things are really, really, there). But that’s it. Don’t click the Advanced tab unless you’re well, you know, an advanced Mac user. Why? SuperDuper! can do much more than just clone a Mac’s disk drive, but let me save that for another day.
Any caveats to the top rated, most valuable Mac utility? Yes. And no. No, SuperDuper! works as advertised and is far more valuable than the modest price. Yes. There are alternatives. And one of them is both popular, very good, and very free and a #1 must have utility. Check out the Top 20 FREE Tools Every Mac User Must Have.