When you spend most of your work day in front of a Mac’s screen, you develop a system for being productive. Fortunately, there is an abundance of apps available for OS X that fill very specific needs and help keep you and your computer running efficiently. Some of the utilities that I use on a daily basis are rather expensive, such as 1Password.
However, I use dozens of utilities as part of my workflow that cost five bucks or less. Here are some of my favorites.
Porting a physical board game to a digital platform is far from an easy task. The essence of the original game can sometimes be lost in translation as the very fabric the game lies with the board itself. Most major boardgames have been drawn in by the touchscreen revolution to largely tepid reviews. So, how do classic board games translate on traditional point and click devices? Conquist 2 has it nailed.
Strategy games, both digital and physical, have always been my favourite from childhood right through to adulthood. Risk, Command & Conquer, Age of Empires—you name it, I own it. Conquist 2 takes its inspiration directly from Risk whilst daring to best the classic at its own game. Adding its fair share of original content, Conquist has the potential to upstage its ancestor, but how does it fair on OS X?
Todoist—the popular online task management app—recently came out with a Mac desktop app available through the Mac App Store. The app is free, so I gave it a test run. While the app does have a couple of nice features such as a quick add shortcut and a menu bar icon that shows the number of due and overdue tasks, I quickly reverted to using Todoist with Fluid.
In case you haven’t heard, Fluid is a great utility that allows Mac users to turn any web app into a de facto desktop app, or Fluid App. Read on to discover my handy Todoist/Fluid set-up, as well as some other use cases for Fluid.
We reviewed an app called Characters back in August. It gives you quick access to a large number of special characters, making it an indispensable tool for web developers, technical writers, and anyone else who needs to go beyond the standard ASCII fare on a regular basis.
But I think the best tool for the job is PopChar X, not Characters, nor OS X’s built-in character viewer (and not any of the many web-based alternatives, either). It nestles itself in the top-left (or right) corner of your menubar, and it has everything you could need. Allow me to explain.
It’s hard to throw a stone without hitting a new to-do list app for the Mac. From Apple’s Reminders app to the new, iPhone inspired apps like Clear to the old, trusty workhorse apps like Omnifocus and Things, there’s a million ways to get things done on your Mac.
The thing is, we all need different things from to-do list apps. I personally used a plain text file (with TaskPaper or any plain text editor) for the longest time to keep track of everything I needed to do, before it became too hard to keep up with the tasks that have deadlines. I then switched to Omnifocus, and rely on it to make sure I don’t miss anything I need to do. I still like using plain text files for to-dos, though, and also have taken to using Clear to keep up with lists of random things that don’t matter as much (say, apps I want to try or movies I want to watch).
There’s far too many to-do list apps to list in a poll, so I thought instead we’d just ask what apps you use to keep up with your todos. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
It used to be that if you needed to capture your screen — be it movies or static images — Snapz Pro X was the only option worth considering. But the screen capture field is a competitive one these days, with the likes of ScreenFlow and Camtasia raising the bar on the video side while LittleSnapper and its many alternatives doing the same for screenshots.
Does Ambrosia’s star utility still shine brightest? Let’s take a look.
Pictures capture moments, videos capture time. The former is valuable, yes, but the latter is its parent. Sadly, it’s not realistic for the average person to capture a beautiful sunrise in video that’s as high resolution as a photograph. That’s because not everyone has a Red camera. (For good reason: they’re priced in the tens of thousands, far out of the price range of the average consumer.) However, you can always make a time-lapse: a series of images taken seconds (2–30) apart and then merged to form a beautiful moving picture.
Time-lapses are a fascinating concept, and also one of the best ways to show someone what a scene looks like because you can get a larger aperture and use fancy 10mm lenses. Since it’s captured differently than a video — there are less frames per second — you are able to get a much higher resolution, so you can edit and crop things to your liking. Time-lapses are perfect for constellation movements and you’ve probably seen a lot of them around Vimeo. If you’ve ever wanted to make your own, Sequence may just be the best app for that. (more…)
Our sponsor this week is MailTab Pro for Gmail, the ideal app for instantly accessing your Gmail account without having to open your web browser. It lets you do everything you’d need to do in Gmail right from your Mac’s menubar.
Logging into Gmail in your browser every time you want to check your email can get annoying, and you end up missing out on the great integration native apps have with notifications and more. But, if you’re already used to using Gmail online, using it in a native app can feel strange. MailTab Pro for Gmail is designed to give you the best of both worlds. It lets you access Gmail from your menubar, letting you see the mobile version of Gmail to quickly check and send emails, and also lets you switch to the full Gmail experience if you want.
MailTab Pro for Gmail has been designed to fit in perfectly with your Mac. It runs right from your menubar, sends native desktop notifications when you get new emails, and has retina display-ready icons in its toolbar. It even supports standard OS X keyboard shortcuts and multi-touch gestures. You can pick notification sounds and set the menubar icon to change when you get new emails. You’ll get the best of Gmail with the best of OS X in MailTab Pro for Gmail.
Go Get It!
MailTab Pro for Gmail usually costs $3, but is currently on sell for just $1.99 in the App Store. That includes all of MailTab Pro’s features, including full Gmail mobile and desktop support, notifications, chat, and more. If you’ve been wanting a simpler way to access your Gmail web app from your Mac, now’s the time to grab a copy of MailTab Pro.
Cute eyes, button nose, a sweet smile—I must admit that I was drawn to BlankDesk’s Noted and its adorable app icon. Officially launched just a couple of months back, it’s a “simple, yet powerful note taking app” that may just bring something interesting and useful to the round table of notes apps.
In spite of the fact that there are many (maybe even too many) notes apps for the Mac, I wondered if Noted could have something that other notes applications lacked. I’m sure you’re asking the same questions as you’re reading this: What new features does Noted bring to the table? Is it capable of doing all and more than what my existing notes app can do? And why does Noted look like the foster child of Evernote and Notational Velocity?
Let’s find out.
Like many writers out there, I have a book in the works. And also like many writers, my great American novel is still a bit of a rough draft. Or I suppose “idea” is a more accurate description of my book. Alright, fine, I want to write a novel and I haven’t put down a word yet.
What any great story needs is amazing characters, and to do that you really need to get inside their heads. You have to take your time and craft an amazing story full of people who you want to love, as well as those you want to hate. It’s a lot of pressure. Fortunately, there’s Mariner Persona.