Archive for the ‘MacOS Productivity’ Category

Mac terminal emulator

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of iTerm2

While every new version of OS X has more and more cool stuff with a GUI front end, there will always be some things that you have to do at a command prompt through Terminal. Unfortunately, in moving into that world, you lose a lot of the features you have come to rely on in working with your Mac.

iTerm2 (successor to iTerm) is a terminal emulator program that, while giving you that all-important command prompt, also brings with it a host of other features. It features split panes, so you can look at multiple windows at the same time. Autocomplete helps you avoid the tedium of having to type the same commands over and over. Choose color combinations that make your text the most readable, as well as allowing you to keep your mouse cursor easily visible against a busy background. And it features Growl support, so if you have it running complicated commands in the background, like creating backups, uploading huge files, or compiling your latest app, it will let you know when it's done, so you can get on with the rest of your life, rather than babysitting your terminal.

You will need to be running Leopard (OS X 10.5) or Snow Leopard (10.6) to use iTerm2.

Download iTerm2

Distraction-free word processor

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

runs on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of FocusWriter

It's easy to get distracted. Email, telephone, co-workers, and more—everything is vying for your attention, but you've got work to do. Sure, you can take the phone off the hook, and if you're lucky you can close the office door (or move into the conference room to hide from everybody), but there's always the problem of the computer itself. Email, Twitter, and the latest viral video will always try to distract you. That's where you need a tool to help keep them all out of the way.

FocusWriter is one such application. When you start it up, it fills the display, effectively hiding all that other stuff on your desktop. While it's a full-featured text editor, supporting rich text as well, by default is has a minimal user interface—as in none. Move your mouse to the top of the screen to get toolbar and menubar functionality, go to the bottom to see status updates, or to the right edge to get a scrollbar. At all other times, it's just you, your thoughts, and that little flashing cursor. With all that other stuff out of the way, your productivity is sure to soar. Or at least maybe you'll finally get that report finished.

You can download FocusWriter for free. It's available as source code (for the adventurous), as well as Mac and Windows binaries and several Linux packages.

Download FocusWriter

Scientific calculator for Mac

Friday, May 20th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of Magic Number Machine

When you get right down to it, no matter how fancy your computer is, with the latest displays and accessories and cutting edge software, it's basically a number-crunching machine. Whether its dealing with digits, text, colors, shapes, or what have you, under the cover it's all numbers. For most of the things you do, it doesn't really make any difference what's going on there, because you're insulated from it all—after all, you're not programming in binary like they did back in the beginning. From time to time, though, sometimes you really need to manipulate numbers, and that's where a calculator application comes in handy.

While the calculator that comes out of the box on most systems might be suitable for balancing your checkbook, when it comes to heavy duty number manipulation, nothing beats a full-featured scientific calculator like Magic Number Machine. Along with normal run of the mill arithmetic functionality, this app also supports all the commonly used trig and logical functions, different bases (decimal, octal, hexadecimal), as well as statistical functions, while maintaining up to 25 digits of precision. Your little desktop calculator will be green with envy.

Magic Number Machine is a Mac application. It runs under OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and later.

Download Magic Number Machine

Press Release Templates

Monday, May 16th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Press Release Templates

Everybody's got a story to tell. Whether it's talking with the kids about how the day went, or sharing some juicy bit of gossip over the back fence, we all want to pass the word on what's happening to all the folks around us. If you run a business or are part of an organization, you may have higher aspirations in terms of getting your message out: for you, there's the mass media. And the best way to get the word to the media is with a press release.

Press Release Templates has a dozen easy-to-use templates to help you draft your own press release. Whether you need to publicize an event, a new product launch, or even a book you've just published, there's a press release template for you. And along with the templates, there are several articles giving you tips on how to approach the process and write your own press release,

You can grab a press release template for free. They're all in Microsoft Word DOC format, so once you make your selection and download it, you can open your template, edit it, and print out your personalized press release. And who knows—maybe they'll even let you yell "stop the presses" when you release your information to the media.

Download Press Release Templates

Free Project Management Software

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of jxProject

Sometimes a project is just a little bit of this and a little bit of that—the stuff you need to do to get your work finished for the day. Other times, it's an enterprise-wide undertaking that involves all kinds of people, resources, and the complex interaction between them all. For the simple stuff, a legal pad may be all the project management tool you need, but for the bigger jobs, you can't beat dedicated project management software.

jxProject is designed to support the most complex projects. Define tasks, allocate staff, track dependencies, and more. Look at things from a high level, or drill down as specifically as you need to. You choose the units that make sense for you, whether it be seconds, weeks, or years. Drag and drop lets you rearrange tasks without tediously re-entering data. And its reporting capability helps you to see what's really happening, and to spot bottlenecks before you start missing deadlines.

jxProject is a free project manager. It's written in Java, so you can use it on Linux, Mac, Windows, or any other platform with a current Java runtime.

Download jxProject

Note taking tool

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Tomboy

With all the information that comes across our desks over the course of a day or week, it can be a real challenge to keep track of it all. While there's certainly a lot of stuff that isn't that important, there's plenty that we really need to keep an eye on. If Post-Its and odd scraps of paper just don't cut it any more, maybe you should check out Tomboy.

Tomboy is a straightforward note-taking tool. Scribble your notes down to keep track of appointments, contact info, websites you really need to visit, and more. In addition, Tomboy supports wiki-like linking between notes, and those links are updated even if you change the names of your notes. Now rather than having just an electronic stack of individual notes, you can develop a system with built-in cross references, making your notes much more powerful. It's also got built in search functionality, as well as a table of contents that lets you browse your notes in the order they were last modified. In addition it also supports several different plugins to give it greater functionality.

You can download a copy of Tomboy for free. It runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows systems.

Download Tomboy

Focus on the task at hand

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of Haze Over

Some people have the gift of extreme concentration. They're the ones who can read the newspaper while standing on the bus, or who can have the TV blaring, tunes blasting away, the phone ringing, and they still get that important report done ahead of schedule. Congratulations to them; for the rest of us, a little help might be nice.

Haze Over is a tool that helps make it easier to concentrate if you're easily distracted. Once it's up and running, your front-most application looks like it always does, but the windows for all those background apps are dimmed—hazed-over, if you will—making them much less noticeable while you're trying to focus on the task at hand. Maybe now you can focus on that important task and go home at a decent time for a change.

Haze Over is a free Mac application. It runs under OS X version 10.5 and later.

Download Haze Over

Business Plan Templates

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Business Plan Templates

If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there? When you sit down to read a book, you know what your goal is: to finish the book. Cooking a fancy dinner? You'll recognize the yummy stuff on the plate and the look of contentment on the face of the diners. But what about your business? Do you just open the doors and start selling stuff? But what kind of stuff, who are you selling to, how much business can you expect? Sounds like you could use a plan.

Business Plan Templates can give you a hand with figuring just what you need to do to make your first million, or at least with getting your business off the ground (the first million is up to you). Check out their "how to" articles on why you need a business plan, what to include (and what to avoid) in your business plan, and different types of business plans. Along with generalized generic business plan templates, they've also got business plan templates for specific businesses, like restaurants, retail stores, daycare centers, and more. In addition, they've also got a bunch of forms that can be helpful to you in writing your business plan, like Start Up Expense and Cost Analysis worksheets.

The Business Plan Templates are available as Word DOC files, and many of the forms and worksheets are available as Excel XLS worksheets as well as Word DOCs. And they're all available for free.

Download Business Plan Templates

Organize your small business info

Friday, April 29th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of Organise

Congratulations! You and your trusty Mac have decided to go into business together. Whether you're writing code or selling widgets, you're going to have a million things to keep track of. And who knows: maybe you'll even have time to make some money.

Organise is a tool that can help you keep track of the details so that you can spend more of your time doing the stuff you really want to do. It's an integrated database tool that includes functionality to keep an eye on customer and supplier contact information, products and orders, and even time management, as well as spitting out reports on all this. By keeping it simple, you can get the tedious "paper work" stuff out of the way and spend more time doing the stuff you do well. As you might guess from the spelling of the application's name, this tool is written in British English, so some of the names and labels, as well as date formats, may take some getting used to for folks on this side of The Pond.

Organise is a free download. It's a Mac application and runs under OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and later.

Download Organise

Create new documents where you want them

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

runs on Mac
screenshot of NuFile

Whenever you open a new file, whether it's a Word DOC, an Excel XLS worksheet, or some other, the first thing you need to do is to save it somewhere, so that you've got a name for the file, and so that you can do regular saves to keep your hard work from vanishing in a puff of smoke the next time your machine decides to go south. Pain in the neck, right? You'd much rather just start working than bothering with all that housekeeping stuff.

NuFile adds an item to Finder's Context Menu (the right-click menu) that lets you create new files of the type you want in the location where you want them. Yeah, the Windows people have been doing that for a long time, but not so much on Mac. Now instead of having to dig through several layers of folder hierarchies to save that file, all you need to do is get to the folder you're working in and get started. To save even more time, you can add your own document types and templates to the menu. You'll be so productive, you just won't know what to do with all that extra time in your day.

You can download NuFile for free for your Mac. It runs under OS X.

Download NuFile