Archive for the ‘MacOS Productivity’ Category

IDE for Web Development

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Aptana Studio

When you're putting together a complicated presentation, you use a tool like PowerPoint. Need to present complex financial data? Excel is probably your go-to tool. But what about building a website? Since the underlying code is just plain old unformatted text, often the weapon of choice is just a text editor like Notepad or TextEdit. If that seems like a lot of pressure to put on a tool like that, maybe you could check out Aptana Studio.

While Aptana Studio generates that text-only output that you need to build your site or online app, it is itself a full-featured IDE (integrated development environment) that features helps like syntax coloring, JavaScript debugging, and a live preview feature that lets you see what your completed page will look like without having to upload it to the server. There's a DOM outline view that lets you jump between nodes, making it much easier to navigate through pages of complex code to get to the next spot you need to tweak.

Aptana Studio is a free download. It's available for Linux, Mac, and Windows systems.

Download Aptana Studio

Server-based To Do List

Monday, October 24th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of myTinyTodo

Life is complicated, to be sure. Keeping track of what you've got to do can be quite a job, and if you're collaborating with others, that complexity can grow exponentially. Setting up complex collaboration tools can take a lot of time and effort, to say nothing of expense, making you wonder if it's all worth it.

myTinyTodo is a tool you can use to share scheduling information. You set it up on your web server and hook it to a database back end, and you're off to the races. You can enter and edit tasks, add notes and tags, and even assign due dates and priorities to them. And since you can keep track of multiple to-do lists, each project can have its own list to work with. Add passwords to keep your data secure and you can get going. Now everybody's reading off the same page, and that's got to help make everybody more productive.

myTinyTodo is a free download. Your server needs to be running PHP 5.2+ and either MySQL or SQLite.

Download myTinyTodo

Take control of your finances with Checkbook

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of Checkbook

Spending money is generally fun; dealing with the paperwork afterwards somewhat less so. Unless you have unlimited funds, or really enjoy living life on the edge, at some point you're going to have to balance your checkbook to make sure that you and the bank agree on how much money you've got for your next buying excursion–or to pay the rent, the power bill, and all that. You dutifully sit down with your check register, the bank statement, all those canceled checks, and the calculator, and begin the long slog toward reconciliation.

Checkbook is a tool that might just take the hassle out of balancing your checkbook. Its math is always correct, so entering checks and deposits throughout the month will keep you up to date. It's smart enough to recognize transactions that it's seen before, so it can autocomplete entries, making recurring transactions easier to enter. When it comes to the end of the month, ticking a checkbox for items that appear on your bank statement is a pretty easy way to go. As you work your way through the transactions, you see the steadily decreasing difference between your register and the statement, and when it drops to zero, you're done.

Checkbook is a free download. It's a Mac application, and runs on Intel Macs using Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or later.

Download Checkbook

WYSIWYG ebook editor

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Sigil

It used to be that if you had a used paperback or two, you were all set for a trip to the beach or maybe a quiet evening in front of the fireplace. But that's so old school; now everybody's got an ebook reader. With that reader, you need something to read. You can buy ebooks, or you can download them for free at places like Project Gutenberg. Or maybe you can "roll your own", whether it's for your own use, or because you've written the next great American novel and want to share it. Either way, it might be handy to be able to create your own ebook.

Sigil is a WYSIWYG editor that lets you create and format EPUB documents for ebooks. Starting with a plain text file, or some other version of your publication, Sigil lets you format your document so that it looks just right for your readers. Add images, insert page and chapter breaks, create a table of contents, format text, and more. Now you can be the author and publisher all at the same time.

Sigil runs under Linux, Mac (Intel only), and Windows.

Download Sigil

Monitor time in multiple locations

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of LoversClock

Your Mac comes with a built in clock, sitting there in the menubar at the top of your screen. You can change what it looks like and how it behaves, but you're pretty much stuck with displaying time for only one timezone, probably the one where you are right now. If you regularly interact with folks in another location, it might be handy to know that time it is there as well.

LoversClock is a menubar app that will display the current time for you. Since you've already got the local time, you can configure it to show the time on the other side of the country—or the other side of the world. Our preference is to show GMT so all those Unix timestamps make sense. If you like, you can display the time for multiple locations, so you can try figure out when the folks in North America, colleagues in the UK, and the people in Singapore can all be up and running at the same time, ready for that conference call (hint: there is no such time).

LoversClock is a free download. There are versions for OS X 10.5 (Leopard), as well as an older Tiger-compatible release.

Download LoversClock

List optional Word settings

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Word Options Utility

Microsoft Word is nothing if not a complex and complicated application. While you can use it make your grocery list or dash off a letter to Mom, you can also use it to build websites, publish books, do graphic layout, and all kinds of other stuff. In fact, it does so much stuff, that it's really hard to know exactly what's available to you at any give time, and even digging through various menus and choices may not get you the piece of information you want.

Word Options Utility is a tool that will let you see all the options settings for your copy of Word in one place at the same time. It comes as a Word document template which, when you open it, runs a big VBA macro that gathers all of that settings information and delivers it to you in an easy-to-read report.

Just by way of warning, since Word Options Utility is an autorun macro, your copy of Word or your antivirus app may complain when you open it. It's available for both Windows and Mac versions of Word, so you'll want to grab the right version for your machine.

Download Word Options Utility

Easy access to menubar apps

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of AccessMenuBarApps

One of the cool things about your Mac is those neat little menubar apps that just sit up there at the top of your screen. Along with your clock and speaker volume control, you can add these little programs that are then always available to you. Depending on which ones you install, you can monitor your CPU usage, check out the contents of your clipboard, keep a to-do list, and much more. Unfortunately, though, as you keep adding those apps, their icons on the menubar take up more and more space, until you find yourself with some being cut off because they're being eclipsed by menu items belonging to apps you're running on your machine.

AccessMenuBarApps may be able to help you recapture some of that real estate on the menubar. With this tool running, it's easy to access "reduced menu apps" like Menuola, that by virtue of their having minimal menus (Menuola's application menu consists only of the letter "M"), minimize the amount of space that their menu takes up, leaving the maximum amount of menubar available for all those nifty little menubar apps. Maybe not such a big deal on that huge cinema display, but definitely a lifesaver on your 13-inch Macbook.

AccessMenuBarApps is a Mac application, and you can download it for free.

Download AccessMenuBarApps

Industrial-strength find and replace

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of TexFinderX

Back in ancient times when typewriters roamed the earth, making changes to documents was a major undertaking. Your best bet if you needed to change "foo" to "bar" in a document was to re-type the page where the change needed to be made. Using correction fluid or erasers never really worked, and trying to line the text up after you had rolled the paper off the platen was next to impossible. And then there's the whole problem with trying to find all occurrences of your text in a document, whether it be a single page, or a multi-page tome.

TexFinderX is one response to this problem. Rather than being dependent on a particular application to do the find-and-replace for its own documents (e.g. Microsoft Word and a directory full of DOC files), with this app you can throw a whole directory at it and let it find—and replace—all instances of your target word or phrase. Piles of files with word processing documents, plain text files, and even source code for web pages and more are no problem.

You can download a copy of TexFinderX for free. It's available for both Mac (OS X) and Windows (XP and later).

Download TexFinderX

Store and share files

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

runs as Online Serviceruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Cloud Experience

Sharing files and 'round-the-world collaboration is just a fact of life. You may have noticed a huge proliferation of file storing and sharing sites, places where you can stick your backups, save your vacation photos, or push work files out to your colleagues. Many of them give you access via the web. Others, like Dropbox, also supply a desktop app, essentially letting you merge your storage world with the filesystem on your computer. Unfortunately, at least in the case of Dropbox, a free account offers at most a couple of GB of free storage.

Cloud Experience is a file sharing service that gives you access via the web and through desktop applications, but a big difference here is that they also give you 10 GB of storage for free. That's a lot of storage no matter how you slice it. Sync your files between machines, store backups offsite, share files with co-workers, and get at them from anywhere. In fact, along with both Mac (OS X 10.5+) and Windows (XP and greater) clients, they've also got apps that let you access your storage space via your iPhone, Blackberry, and Android device, as well as a web interface for none-of-the-above. When you specify particular people to share files with, they also need to have a CX account (free, by the way) in order to check out those files; but if you want to make your file "world-readable", you get a URL you can email or stick in a blog post that allows anybody to grab your file.

Cloud Experience is free to use. They're looking at adding features down the road in a paid version.

Download Cloud Experience

Task automation app

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Task Till Dawn

With all the games, music, and video clips you deal with each day, it might seem that your computer is a toy. For many of us, though, this piece of high tech wizardry is really a tool, and you use tools to get work done. Some work—typing reports, setting up spreadsheets—has to be done hands-on. But there is some stuff that you can actually leave up to the machine to take care of business. Things like backing up data and compiling programs don't really require that you interact with the computer at all, with the possible exception of getting things started. For tasks like that, check out Task Till Dawn.

With Task Till Dawn you can let your machine do the deed. Choose an app and a time and you can automatically run a backup, download a podcast, defragment your hard drive, or just about anything else that doesn't require hands-on attention from you. Once your job has been run, it can notify you via Growl (on Mac) or in the System Tray (Windows).

A free download, Task Till Dawn is written in Java, so it should run just about anywhere. And to help you out, they've got a couple of pre-compiled versions for Mac (Intel only) and Windows, with the promise of a Linux version coming soon.

Download Task Till Dawn