Many moons ago, I installed an iPhone app called TwitFire. All it did was send a tweet without showing me the Twitter timeline first, but it was surprisingly useful, enabling me to broadcast a single thought to the world without getting distracted by all the other messages. QuickMailer does the same thing for email on your Mac. The idea is that you use a keyboard shortcut or click a menu bar icon, bang out a quick email, optionally add an attachment, and then send it. Since you don’t have to open Mail itself, you can avoid getting bogged down replying to other emails that might cry out for your attention.
Every photographer needs a good tool for organizing digital photos on their computer--it’s almost more crucial than a photo editor, since not ever photo necessarily needs edits, but they all need somewhere to live, where they can be found again. Apple’s options include iPhoto (free with new Macs or $14.99 in the Mac App Store) and Aperture ($79.99). If you’re an Adobe fan, you can use a folder-browsing program like Adobe Bridge (part of Creative Suite 5) or, if you have one of the most recent versions of Photoshop Elements ($79.99), you might be using the Elements Organizer.
I’ve never been too paranoid about privacy. I use a club card in the grocery store, fully aware that my purchase habits are being tracked--but I don’t care if I can save a dollar on cereal. My car flies through the tollbooths at the Bay Area bridges thanks to my FasTrak device, which I guess could be used to track my movements if I ever murdered someone. Don’t worry; I’m not planning to--it’s just that I remember that happening on Law & Order once.
The Mac OS wants you to be able to find whatever you’re looking for, and gives you plenty of ways to do that. You can stash folders and applications in your Finder windows’ sidebar. You can leave aliases on your desktop. You can keep them in your Dock. You can call up a Spotlight window, type in a folder or application’s name, and launch it that way. And now you can keep an auto-populating list in your menu bar, thanks to TopHat Folders Menu and TopHat Apps Menu.
Upgrading a file from one version to another has always been a crucial aspect of any application update—until Final Cut Pro X came on the scene, that is. This latest version was so different that there was no way to import your old Final Cut Pro 7 projects into it. The fact that migrating from iMovie was well integrated merely rubbed salt into this wound.
Search is a big deal online--just ask Google, Bing, and Siri (literally). But while finding the nearest top-rated pet salon is convenient, some of our most important searches are for the files on our hard drives. Spotlight does a good job finding the proverbial needle in a digital haystack, but it has limitations. Enter Tembo, an app that simplifies searches by organizing results more cleanly than the Finder.
There are two things I learned the first year I took up cooking: it takes many failures to create a successful dish, and it’s okay to bring the computer in the kitchen. With the advent of online recipe archives, I’m not shy about placing the MacBook next to the cutting board. SousChef capitalizes on this, and hopes to become the proverbial apron your computer needs to help you cook. And frankly, it’s a great help.
Writing is often a thankless, solitary task requiring isolation from outside interference. Just when you least expect it, the telephone rings, new email arrives, or an interesting tweet diverts attention from the work at hand. WriteRoom can’t thwart all of life’s interruptions, but it does offer solace from most computer-based distractions with a streamlined writing environment, making it easier to get the words on the (virtual) page.
There are already so many tools in OS X for helping visually impaired users that we initially scratched our collective head at Zoom It, an application that lets you magnify parts of your screen with a customizable loupe. But although it’s no substitute for OS X’s built-in visual accessibility features, it’s a handy way to access some of them quickly.
Whether you develop software, work at the help desk, or are simply assisting a friend or relative, creating a step-by-step tutorial can be a huge help--but corralling all those screenshots and notes can be a chore. Clarify aims to clean up the process, letting you easily create tutorials--complete with screenshots, instructions, and annotation. The software also includes tools to share your documents, although the limited options might present a few problems.