5 Free Apps You Aren’t Using – But Should Be

There are so many options out there – freeware and shareware – that it’s often hard to find the quality applications. Some applications luck into a great deal of publicity, but too often great apps do not get the attention that they deserve.

This article has five utility apps that I use just about every day but haven’t ever read or heard much about. The apps range from a screenshot application to a great touchpad tool that I love. Read on to learn about five of my favorite free apps that you should check out today.

PixAM

The first application is an all-in-one screenshot taking, editing and sharing application. If I use PixAM on my computer, the shot I take is automatically synced to the cloud for access on my computer, iPad or iPhone. You can utilize the application for immediate editing with a variety of tools and colors. It even provides a URL with every screenshot to share the shot with friends or co-workers via email.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Sergey Bolshedvorsky

Pix.AM

Desktop Curtain

Desktop is a simple tool that allows you to hide your desktop. It’s useful if you need to hide the desktop clutter during a presentation. I personally like to use it if I need to take a screenshot on a clean background if I’m writing a review. It’s a fantastic, free utility and offers every feature I need from it. However, there is a paid version available on the App Store that offers a few more features, such as a hot key.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Many Tricks

Desktop Curtain

Better Touch Tool

I used to be (and still often am) a huge fan of keyboard shortcuts. I had a shortcut for virtually everything that I did. Then, I got a MacBook Pro and realized the beauty of multi-touch gesture support. Better Touch Tool was my app of choice to start really taking advantage of the trackpad. I also love that the app allows you to utilize the ability to snap windows to either side as that was one of the only things I missed about my Windows computer. With this app, you’ll enjoy a huge amount of new functionality available to for free.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Andreas Hegenberg

Better Touch Tool

EasyFind

EasyFind is an application that can either replace or supplement the Finder and Spotlight. If you’re doing a simple search, the Finder might work just fine. However, if you need features like boolean operators, searches that don’t require indexing, or the ability to find invisible files, then EasyFind is what you need. EasyFind is a great app that takes little to run and does an awesome job.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Devon Technologies

EasyFind

F.lux

While I have started to hear a lot more about F.lux, I still don’t think it has quite the popularity it deserves, especially given the amount of time most people spend glued to a glowing screen of some sort. F.lux is an application that helps your computer screen to adapt to the time of day. Computer screens naturally look like the sun, so during the day the application leaves your computer alone. At night, however, the application adjusts the screen color and brightness to match the lighting in your home. I use this application almost all of the time at night. If you are relying upon the colors on your screen looking right you will have to disable the F.lux, but it’s easy to disable it for an hour and have it automatically restart.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X
Developer: Stereopsis

What Free Hidden Gems Do You Use?

These are, of course, just a small selection of the great free applications out there. I definitely think these five are worth a download. You will find they fit into your workflow quite nicely and soon you’ll wonder why you hadn’t heard about them sooner.

These are five applications that I think should be extremely popular. As always, I’m curious to know what your choices would be. What free apps do you think deserve more publicity? Share your thoughts below.


  • http://www.e2meleng.com e2meleng
  • http://blindyeti.com Dr. Peril

    I love me some BTT! That thing is amazing, it even features Cinch-like window management.

    Flu.x is great, but make sure you remember to disable it if you’re doing design work or your clients might think you’re color blind :S

    To Desktop Curtain, that looks great, but it’s not free ;) Perhaps the author noticed an uptake in traffic from appstorm…

    @drperil

    • Dan

      There is an free version of Desktop Curtain, just like mentioned in the article.

      Check the developers Website (link is in the article), it says “… You can download and use Desktop Curtain Classic for free, or spend $1.99 for the full Desktop Curtain. …”.

      The download link is at the bottom of the Page.

      Cheers,
      Dan

      • sadhuram

        Why want an application for that? There’s a command for that and of course it’s free! Just run in the terminal:

        defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool false

        Whenever you want the desktop back, just put:

        defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool true

        To take effect after you’ve run the command you neeed to restart the Finder running:

        killall Finder

      • sadhuram

        And if you often use this command you can create a script and then make a trigger in Better Touch Tool for that script.

        The result: you can hide and unhide the desktop with a shortcut

  • Billy

    Dr. Peril,

    Download for Desktop Curtain Classic at the bottom of the linked page.

  • http://nataliav.me Natalia Ventre

    I love Flu.x

    SimpleTask (http://www.simpletaskapp.com/mac.html) is a free to-do list app and McSolitaire (http://itunes.apple.com/app/mcsolitaire/id405728848?mt=12) is the best klondike game I’ve ever played.

  • http://iynque.com iynque

    I was going to suggest some free apps, but there’s just a lot of, “Oh yeah, that’s not free anymore since the Mac App Store opened…”

    $2.99 is the new “free.”

  • Jordan Cortes

    “NotesTab” for taking notes from the menu bar, amazing. (Looks like Notes from iOS)

    “BeHealthy” to set work times and break times.

    “Memo – Sticky Notes” a sticker app to store notes locally and on the cloud.

    All free and in the Mac App Store.

  • Magamus

    Shovebox – best spur-of-the-moment jot note app I’ve ever used.

  • Marc Simons

    Spectacle is a well-kept secret. Amazing windows management app!

  • segaprophet

    BatChmod – the be all/end all utility for file permissions editing.

    xACT – awesome audio toolkit for converting all sorts of obscure formats

    Notational Velocity – minimalist and functional note taking app with simplenote syncing

    Colloquy – the best looking IRC client in the world, Mac exclusive

  • http://dougal.gunters.org/ Dougal Campbell

    Caffeine lets you temporarily stop your screen from dimming, turning off, or starting the screensaver: http://www.lightheadsw.com/caffeine/ (free)

    Stay lets you save your application window positions based on different monitor profiles. For example, if you use a MacBook and an external monitor, you can save a profile for that setup, and a separate profile for when you’re on the go and don’t have the big monitor: http://cordlessdog.com/stay/ ($15)

  • http://stefgonzaga.com/ Stef Gonzaga

    I discovered Notational Velocity and Isolator a few weeks ago. I’ve been using it daily for work and haven’t turned back. :)

  • Deelip

    Caffeine definitely.

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