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Conor O'Driscoll

Conor is a designer, blogger, and self-confessed Mac fanboy, based in Ireland. Check out his Dribbble profile, and follow him on Twitter.

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Out of the box, your Mac will work absolutely perfectly—better than most other operating systems, in fact. It will also look wonderful, with teams of designers working hard to make sure your Mac experience looks just right.

And yet, there is even more to be got from OS X – whether it’s tweaking the design, or adjusting countless preferences, the Mac power user will always try to squeeze every last bit out of his computer. Developers know this, and there are a number of apps that make this an easy experience.

Refinery is one of these apps, developed by EZASoft. It focuses primarily on tweaking the appearance of your Mac, whether it’s the dock, Sidebar icons, your Login Window or your Dashboard, it tries to make everything look and work the way you want. Read on to see how it fares.

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If you, like me, regularly use multiple applications at once, then you will know how switching between them frequently can take up precious time. Sure, it’s a lot easier to do it on a Mac than on Windows, with Exposé or Cmd + Tab, but sometimes, you need something even faster. Even worse is when you have multiple windows of the same application open, and need to get from one to another.

This is where applications like DockView and HyperDock come into play. They make it easy to switch from application to application, and from window to window, very quickly. As indicated by the names, both of these are apps that add extra functionality to your dock. When you scroll over an icon in your dock, they will quickly show you all the windows open for that application, making switching easy.

So if you’re interested in getting an app like this, which should you get – HyperDock or DockView? This article aims to put both apps through their paces, head to head!

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With the release of iTunes 10, many people suddenly realised that iTunes really wasn’t that great, and might be starting to suffer from a major case of feature bloat. The interface is starting to become messy and hard to navigate, the icon is atrocious, and Ping just clutters everything up further.

But if your main priority remains to simply listen to music, what alternatives do you have?

Songbird will do everything you want your music player to do, and more. The Songbird developers realised that you don’t want an app to handle most of your media needs, you want an app which handles all of your music needs.

But how does it stack up against iTunes, and is it really a viable alternative? Read on to find out…

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Recently, I was asked to review Nottingham, a note-taking app by Tyler Hall. After using it for a while, I began to notice a lot of similarities between it and Notational Velocity. In fact, Tyler Hall actually makes it clear that Nottingham was created as a clone of Notational Velocity, out of a desire to improve on the features offered by the app.

The general premise of both is a quick, easy way to store information, with no hassle or unnecessary features. But which was actually better? I hope that this article will help you to make an informed decision.

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Hidden deep inside your Applications directory is a folder marked “Utilities”. To a lot of people, this cold, generic title will scare you away, and many will never venture inside, or if they do, won’t want to open up any of those frightening-sounding applications for fear of ruining something.

This is unfortunate, as your Utilities folder harbours a wealth of great apps with beautiful icons and wonderful UIs, all designed to make your experience on a Mac even easier.

Even to the most experienced Mac user, some of the utilities will lie unused. You might know Terminal and System Profiler, but won’t have a clue what Grapher or Console does. In this bumper article, I hope to show you what you can do with these mysterious apps, and how your Mac might just get a whole lot better!

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