One of my responsibilities at work and with Mac360 is to evaluate new Mac apps. After all, if you don’t try something new, how will you ever find something better?
Controlling all the aspects of our Mac life can be a complex effort. Finding a good utility that improves Mac productivity and efficiency, and provides ease-of-use is a challenge. Enter Cockpit—where style meets substance. Which will win?
Controls That Need Controls
I’m on record as officially voicing a complaint about Mac Menubar tools. There are too many which take up too much valuable screen real estate on our Macs.
Yes, the Mac’s Menubar is a good place for tools.
The Menubar is a 12 tool toolbox in an age when everyone wants or needs 36 tools. They just won’t fit (see my mini-Rant on an iTunes controller).
Cockpit is yet another Mac Menubar tool with a variety of functions wrapped in a slick looking package, which, remarkably, doesn’t resemble a cockpit. Think of Cockpit as more of a game controller for apps. Launch and control apps. Run scripts and various tasks. Use custom hotkeys for various functions.
Click on the Mac’s Menubar icon for Cockpit and here’s what you get. See? It’s like a game controller for apps (in the case of the graphic below, controlling iTunes).
Cockpit has controls for iTunes, iPhoto, Keynote, Safari, iCal, Mail, and parts of Mac OS X. You can also build certain functions into Cockpit to control other Mac apps using Controls.
Cockpit comes with controls for the 7 basic apps above. For example, select Safari in the Cockpit menu and the controller changes to let you open a new tab or window. Select Mail and the controller’s nearly obscure icons change to implement different Mail functions (new To-Do, etc.).
Strangely, there’s no pop over tooltip to remind you what the icons mean. Preferences are straightforward. For each of the 7 basic applications (including Mac System functions), functions can be added to the controller to suit your tastes. Functions from other users can be downloaded from the web.
The very name Cockpit evokes an array of controls at your fingertips and always visible with a quick glance. You know, like the Dock. Or, the Menubar. Cockpit isn’t a cockpit of controls. It’s much more like a game controller of controls which can be customized.
The package is slick and fancy and visually attractive.
Most of the custom functions can be controlled using Global Hotkeys to handle other apps and specific tasks.
You won’t need a degree in Mac OS X Administration to use Cockpit. It’s almost self explanatory. Elegant and straightforward for new Mac users, but with controls worthy of attention by Mac pros (ability to run AppleScript, Shell Scripts, SQL Scripts, and so on). It even integrates with OS X’s Automator workflows.
My first impression about Cockpit was, “Wow. This is cool. Looking.” What it does can be fun to set up and use. But I can’t see that a user is any more productive than using other, less expensive, Mac tools (Automator comes to mind, and it’s free).