Unit conversion has always been a task I would delegate to the web, since Google handles it so well. Whenever I need to convert kilometers to miles, inches to feet, and Philippine peso to any other currency, I would simply type the units in the search bar and wait for the results to appear.
There’s tons of unit conversion apps out there (we even have a roundup of calculators and converters for the Mac), but it didn’t seem like a necessity to buy or download one. I then came across Converto, one of FLIPLAB’s newer and free Mac utilities, and decided to give it a test run.
Could Converto finally break the ice and stand as the best unit converter for the Mac? Read on to find out.
Easy Conversion on the Mac
Converto is a unit conversion app that sits quietly on your menu bar. Just summon the app using a keyboard shortcut (default is ^C), select the units to convert, and watch the numbers appear in the boxes below.
On the surface, the UI isn’t bland or stiff. It’s simple and pretty straightforward in terms of how it works, which is all I need for a unit converter. Top that off with the fact that it’s free to download, making it one of the more noteworthy free utilities on the Mac App Store.
But what’s impressive is how prolific Converto is in terms of the number of units available. With over a dozen units segregated into categories, you can easily convert meters to parsecs, milliamperes to electromagnetic units, kilograms to scruples, and more. Thanks to this app, I’ve gotten acquainted with new units for mass, energy, bytes, and temperature.
Accuracy and Speed
Besides the fact that it’s free and it looks good, Converto converts fast and accurately.
Results go as far as the millionths, and they appear as soon as you enter the value under the beginning unit. I did a quick conversion between 24 months to years, and what appeared was 1.9385766373 instead of just 2 years. And even if you switch the direction of the conversion, it still converts at the same pace and accuracy.
Finally, I am happy to see that for a free app like this, there are no intrusive text ads anywhere. You can also take a look at the Preferences panel if you’d like to alter the default settings. You can change the default shortcut, activate start at login, change window opacity, and more.
More Work to Be Done
Converto does its job, and it does it well; however, I see that it still has plenty of room for improvement. Let’s break it down:
1. Long Drop Down Menus
To use Converto, you would have to select the categories, the beginning and ending units by looking through three drop down menus.
Depending on the number of units available, these menus can actually reach across the desktop. It’s a little intimidating and time-consuming when looking for the right unit to convert.
I think Converto would be even more impressive if it utilizes the same natural language engine similar to apps like Fantastical and QuickCal. This way, it would operate the same way as how you would use Google’s search bar to make a conversion. You only have to type which units to convert, and the app would do the rest.
The developers may want to consider allowing Converto to convert to more units of measurement, instead of just limiting it to pairs. For instance, I can choose to convert seconds to days, months, and years all in one go.
2. Currency Rates
You can convert currencies using Converto, saving you a couple of bucks from buying a separate currency converter app.
However, I wonder just how up-to-date the conversion rates are since there is no date or time of checking indicated anywhere on the app. As a user, this makes me feel a little wary using it as the numbers could be misleading.
It’s certainly a small issue that the devs over at FLIPLAB can take care of easily, so I hope to see an update for this in the next version.
Being able to save particular conversions for later would really give this app an edge, considering that other converters like Converter Plus.
With favorites, you won’t have to waste time selecting the category and the units to convert. I can picture a Favorites menu on the lefthand side of the app where you can click on the kind of conversion you’d like to do based on category.
A Great Free App
Looking at the app at where it is today, I think Converto is a great free app to have for the Mac. You save yourself from the hassle of searching online for values for each unit of measurement, and can easily and quickly convert from your Mac’s menu bar.
Of course, there are still plenty of things that needs to be ironed out (e.g., an alternative to long drop down menus), so I hope that updates to make the app even better will arrive soon. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if an iOS version of Converto would be available on the App Store soon.
What do you think of Converto? Would you consider using this for your conversion needs? What do you use to convert values of measurement? Let us know in the comments!