Unclutter: The Place to Keep Everything You Don’t Know Where to Put on Your Mac

I tend to use my Mac’s desktop as a place to dump the files I’m currently working with, and as a writer and app reviewer, that means I’ve got a dozen or more screenshots and markdown files on my desktop at any given time. It works, but gets a bit messy, and while it makes it easy to drag-and-drop images into articles when I’m working in a normal sized window, it’s not so simple when I’m writing in full-screen mode.

Unclutter is a neat new app from the people behind DaisyDisk that aims to solve this this problem. It’s a rather useful little tool once you’re used to using it, enough that I kept it around even though I didn’t anticipate using it much when I first tried it out.

Getting Uncluttered

Unclutter is an interesting little app. It has three widgets: a clipboard viewer, quick file storage space, and a basic notepad. All of this, wrapped up in a app that fills the top of your screen and hides away when you don’t need it. To see anything in your Unclutter, just drag your mouse to the top of the screen, and drag down, and the window will slide down. Click outside of the window, and Unclutter will hide itself again. It feels natural once you’re used to it, but it’s unique enough that Unclutter will show you a quick animation to explain how to use it when you first start it up.

Unclutter is designed to help you keep your desktop clean, so instead of keeping everything you’re working on saved on your desktop, or having several Finder windows open, you can just drag the files you need to the File Storage area for safe-keeping. It works just like your desktop or a folder in Finder; you can triple-tap on a file or select and hit space to preview it in Quick Look, double-click to open a file, or drag-and-drop a file into any app or folder you have open.

There’s two more nifty things in Unclutter: a clipboard viewer and a mini notepad. The clipboard viewer will show a preview of what you’ve copied (including a picture preview if you’ve copied part of a picture) or the file path of a file you’ve copied. The notepad is designed to jot down stuff you won’t need to save forever, but just need somewhere quick to type. And, of all things, if you need to save what you’ve typed, just select the text and drag it to your desktop or a Finder folder, and it’ll save a .txt file with your text.

Unclutter drops down over your desktop or full-screen apps

Unclutter, the Way you Want

There’s a number of unique ways you can put Unclutter to use. It’s great for storing files that you’ll be using, especially if you like using full-screen apps since Unclutter will still work when you’re using a full-screen app. Drag the files you need into Unclutter, then drag them back out in your full-screen app. The notes app is also great for saving some quick reference things that you wouldn’t want to store in your normal notebook app.

Best of all, you can drag any of the widgets out onto your desktop, and they’ll hover over anything else you have open, which is great for keeping up with all those little things you need in your work.

Drag any of the Unclutter panes off for a floating reference window

There’s not too much to customize, but you can tweak what you need to do to open Unclutter. You can set a specific keyboard shortcut to open it, or tweak what you need to do when you hover to the top of the screen to open Unclutter. I happen to like the scroll-from-the-top default setting, but it’s nice there’s a few more ways to tweak it.

Tweaking Unclutter

Conclusion

There might be no way to keep your Mac perfectly organized while you’re organized, and Unclutter might not be the absolute best solution, but it sure is a nice little tool to have around. I’ve found myself using it to jot down those little bits of info that you really don’t need to save in your main notes app, like a phone number or the pizza order I’m supposed to be calling in. The file storage is especially useful keeping screenshots and more together for an article, and since I like editing full-screen in WordPress, it makes adding them to articles quite a bit easier.

It’s like a drag-and-drop tool like DragonDrop or Yoink mixed with a simple notepad, wrapped up in an unique UI. Best of all, it’s cheaper than either of those two apps, at only $1.99. That makes it definitely an app you should consider adding to your workflow.


Summary

A quick spot to view your clipboard and save files and notes for quick reference, Unclutter might be just what its icon shows: a back pocket for your Mac.

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  • http://www.ozomedia.nl Fatih

    Cool little app but it would be better if I could create projects. For example, when I work for client A, I want only the files and notes for that client. And when I switch to client B, the content should change too.

    Also I don’t like the fact that it copies your files to a new location when you drag and drop. It would be better if the app would create links to those files.

    • http://unclutterapp.com Eugene Krupnov

      With Unclutter 1.1 you can switch Files panel between folders. You can also use a CMD+OPTION keys while dragging to Unclutter to create an alias of the original file.

  • http://www.hybridixstudio.com HIXS

    I should give it a try :) see if it works cool, thanks for sharing!!!

  • http://mikemackintosh.com Mike Mackintosh

    It doesn’t solve the problem 100%, but it definitely helps. It’s a great app and for the price, it’s worth a try.

  • Hunter

    This sounds like the app I’ve been waiting for, but didn’t realize THIS is what I was waiting for! Perfect!

  • Thiago A.

    I use this thing daily, very useful for jotting down notes and temporary stuff together, when a full app is “overkill”. It’s simple and does the job. Main problems for me are:

    1. The Files tab should work like Finder, where you press the first letter (or more letters) of a file and the file gets selected. And provide the user with ordering options.
    2. I can’t find stuff in the Files tab using Spotlight, unless I manually index the folder.
    3. Clipboard is useful (the least of the three), but it would be more useful if there was history.

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Totally agree on the clipboard app.

  • Nicholas Lash

    It’s simplistic, but that’s the point. It’d be cool if there was an API that would allow for modular sections, but I guess something like Dropzone fills that purpose. Support for multiple notes would be welcome along with clipboard history.
    I’m grabbing it anyway because I love these devs.

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