Mac OS X offers users a fair amount of options to streamline our everyday workflows. You can have your computer set to turn on and off automatically based on the time and day of the week. You can use Automator to perform a series of repetitive steps, and anyone with a basic programming background can use AppleScript to their advantage.
If you find yourself logging in and out of your system frequently, then taking the time to set your login items can save you the hassle of constantly having to re-open your most frequently used apps. Startupizer from Gentle Bytes improves Mac’s login item preferences by adding a few neat features.
Setup is a straightforward process. When you first open Startupizer, it will automatically find the login items you’ve already selected in System Preferences. You’ll get a listing of them, and you can go through and select which ones you want to add to Startupizer. Clicking on the preview icon next to the app in Startupizer’s list also gives you a look at the file path, in case you’re not sure where it is located.
You’ll need to bequeath control over launching these apps to Startupizer, because it can’t contradict any actions from the login items window. If you want to put all your eggs in the Startupizer basket, you can move all your login apps to it, meaning the only thing that the OS will launch at login is Startupizer itself.
The fun begins once you’ve moved your login apps to Startupizer. Essentially what the this app does is let you tinker with the login process by creating conditions that affect when, and if, an app launches.
By clicking on an app in the Startupizer window, you’ll get a menu that lets you set conditions. Anyone who has ever created a smart playlist in iTunes or dealt with Automator will feel comfortable with this task.
There are three types of conditions that you can utilize: schedule, modifier key, and power source. Schedule conditions let you select either a specific day of the week, all week days, weekends, or everyday, then choose a range of times. So, if you wanted your email client to open after logging in, but only Monday through Friday between 9 and 5, you could easily set that condition. Each condition can, like in System Preferences, be made to launch in a hidden state.
Modifier keys allow you to assign keys that will either force an app to launch that otherwise wouldn’t, or prevent an app from launching that otherwise would. Lastly, the power source condition is self-explanatory: You can set apps to open based on whether or not your laptop is plugged in. This is a great option for road warriors who need to squeeze every last drop of power from their machines.
Overall, I found the process of adding these conditions to be relatively straightforward. I think the app could give you a few more options for modifier keys; you can only choose from Option, Shift, Command and Control. It would be nice to allow either more keys or combos. Also of minor concern is a lack of conflict alerts. If you have two different apps using the same modifier key, there is no alert box that pops up.
Why Would You Use This?
The developers of Startupizer claim that among the benefits of using the app is a shorter login time. I didn’t experience noticeably shorter times, but did recognize a few other benefits. The most obvious is being able to customize your machine at login based on where you are. From 9 to 5 during the work week, you may want to have Microsoft Office apps launch, but on the weekend you may want iTunes instead.
What I appreciated most about Startupizer was the ability to customize the order of my menubar icons. You can of course move the native apps around, but third-party menubar icons are a little trickier. There are a few sort of roundabout ways to reorder them to your liking, but Startupizer can handle it easily. I personally have a bunch of icons sitting in the menubar and loved being able to dictate where they load. Items on the menubar load from right to left, so by changing the specific order of apps in Startupizer, you can easily set up your menubar to your liking.
If you have a bunch of conditions set up for many apps, it can quickly become difficult to keep track of what you’ve done. You could log out and back in to test everything, but that could be a frustrating process. Luckily, the developers have included a simulation mode, which lets you see what Startupizer would be doing given hypothetical situations regarding time, day, power source connection, etc.
Unfortunately, this is a case of a great idea with poor implementation. You have a slider bar that you have to pull across the bottom of the window to simulate time passing. Additionally, there are buttons that get highlighted when you press down their corresponding key. The clock is analog and minuscule, making it difficult to make out what time you’re looking at. It would be great to have a simulation mode option that lets Startupizer drag the bar across itself, giving you easier to understand information.
By default, any condition you set is called New Condition. You can double click the name to give it a custom label. For instance, if you want to reuse the “power source = disconnected” condition, you could call that “mobile” to make it easier to remember that this condition is used when you are away from a power outlet.
You can delay items as well, though I’m not sure why you would want to do that. If you have 5 apps launching, you can have Startupizer wait a set time before launching each after the previous has opened. I suppose you could do this if you need to think about modifier keys that you may be planning on pressing, but as Startupizer is billed partially as a way to speed up the login process, this seems like a step backwards.
Using this app was, for me, a case of finding a solution to a problem I didn’t realize I had. I never saw the login items window in System Preferences as something that needed attention from developers. When I first started using Startupizer, I must admit it felt like a completely unnecessary app, but as I discovered more of what it could offer, I became increasingly impressed. The condition options are, on the surface, rather simplistic, but when you consider the different uses that they offer, you may find that they can, with proper planning on your part, be robust productivity boosters.
On the other hand, there is a ton of room for improvement here. Some of the edges are a tad rough, and you can even find grammatical errors in some of the menus, and such mistakes don’t always inspire a lot of confidence in the quality of a product. I also ran into a few strange graphical mistakes that also indicate that certain aspects of Startupizer have been rushed.
I doubt that this is an app that will have a very broad appeal for Mac users. This is a solution to a non-problem. But perhaps the most important thing to consider is this: How often do you really log into your machine? If it’s a Mac you share with others, then perhaps you use do so quite a bit. But I am the only one who uses my laptop, and I simply close the lid when not in use. I log in only once every couple weeks, typically after a software update.
Do you think this app would be useful in your daily workflow? Let us know in the comments below.