I love tools. I really do, and some of them are the ones that I simply can’t live (online) without. That’s how I ended up publishing over a dozen listicles featuring the best productivity tools, blogging tools, marketing tools, social media tools, browser extensions, etc.
Today, I have decided to show my gratitude to fantastic five Mac OS X utilities. I said, “Utilities” and not “Apps” since it’s just a nifty list of tools that enables you to do certain things (or to enable additional functionalities) that are otherwise not possible on your Mac.
First things first.
As I have mentioned, it’s just a tiny list of Mac utilities (or rather say utility apps) that are obviously available only on Mac OS X. All of them basically enables you to do one thing (and only one thing) that can’t be done without using a third-party app on a Mac.
The Fantastic 5 Mac OS X Utilities To Get (Some) Things Done
A quick reminder, these are my personal favorites and hence are not necessarily the best. However, it just works perfectly for me. And it’s a list of free, freemium, and premium apps. So here you go.
1. ActivityTimer — $0.99 — #Pomodoro
ActivityTimer is my favorite pomodoro timer app. It really works! It’s got two versions, one is free and the other one is premium (and costs $0.99). I don’t remember exactly why I preferred the premium version but today when I reviewed the free version I realized that we can’t adjust the length of the pomodoro intervals or breaks in the free version.
With ActivityTimer Premium, you can change the length of the pomodoro intervals and breaks and can create multiple tasks with different time intervals. For instance, if you are a blogger, you can create activities called Research, Outline, Write, Edit, etc. and then accomplish each of those tasks individually.
The best thing about ActivityTimer is that it’s a tiny app that stays in your menu bar and can be accessed with just one-click. And the timer is real-time and it shows within the menu bar itself. You can also reset, pause, or change the activity from the menu bar pop-up window.
If you want to try the free version of ActivityTimer then go here.
2. Paste — $6.99 — #Clipboard
Paste is a clipboard history manager for your Mac. Well, you don’t actually need a third-party clipboard manager on a Mac but once you start using this then it becomes addictive. Because you naturally tend to use it as a quick local storage as well.
I haven’t used any other alternatives but Unclutter looks like a good choice too. Also, if you are looking for a free alternative then you can try CopyClip or ClipMenu (free clipboard history managers for Mac OS X).
3. USB Overdrive — Free/$20 — #Keyboard
USB Overdrive is a shareware that lets you control all your input devices (keyboards, mice, gaming accessories, etc.). I started using it when Microsoft IntelliType Pro (for Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000) stopped working on OS X (thanks to El Capitan).
When I tried USB Overdrive, I was amazed that it allowed me to configure “keys” that was not programmable with the official Microsoft software. And now it’s working so perfectly that I don’t even care to check whether Microsoft has released an update for El Capitan.
The best thing about USB Overdrive is that it’s super-simple to use. And you can know if a certain key on your keyboard is programmable or not by actually pressing it (while the utility is open). If it’s detected then you can instantly reconfigure it. And if a key is not detected then you need to configure it manually.
For instance, I was not only able to configure the programmable keys on Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 but was also able to manually reconfigure the normal keys like Caps Lock, Print Screen, Scroll Lock, Pause, Insert, Delete, Num Lock, etc. that was otherwise not possible with IntelliType.
That’s not all. You can even create separate settings for a separate application or device though it’s a bit tricky (but it’s still possible!).
USB Overdrive is not a freeware but a shareware. So, whenever you restart your Mac it shows a gentle 10-second reminder to purchase it. But there are no feature/time limitations. You can continue to use it as long as you want.
4. SteerMouse — $20 — #Mouse
SteerMouse is mouse driver for OS X that lets you customize any Mouse (whether it’s made for Mac or Windows).
It’s just a tiny application that runs in the background (no icons or menus visible). Once installed, you can go to OS X > System Preferences and click on the SteerMouse icon to customize the mouse that you are currently using.
Once again, it’s super-easy to know if a certain mouse button is programmable or not. All you need to do is, press the mouse button (that you would like to test) when the SteerMouse window is open and it will highlight the corresponding field on the left (if it’s detected).
With SteerMouse, you can not only configure your mouse buttons but can also adjust its cursor speed and sensitivity. And yeah, you can also set application specific settings. SteerMouse is a premium application and it costs $20.
I’m using SteerMouse along with USB Overdrive as I’m also using a Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball with Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000. Because the Mouse that comes with Microsoft Wireless Desktop 3000 is the ugliest one that I have used over the past many years. Moreover, the Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball good for those who have wrist pain (myself included).
5. Numi — Free — #Calculator
Numi is indeed a beautiful calculator app for your Mac. When it comes to desktop calculators, Windows XP PowerToys Power Calculator (screenshot) is my all-time favorite. No other calculator app was as simple or as useful as PowerToy Calculator was (even today!). However, it was not available on any other platforms (including newer versions of Windows itself).
Over the past several years, I have tried so many calculator apps but I never liked anything as much as I do the PowerToy Calculator. When I tried Numi I liked it instantly because its functionality was similar to Windows XP Power Calculator & InstaCalc.com. In other words, it offered the best features of my favorite calculators.
InstaCalc is basically a live interactive online calculator that supports variables, conversions, natural language, etc. and does all the math in real-time. Even better, you can access all your calculations from across the web as it allows you to save and share each instance of your calculations. Actually, it helps you avoid simple Excel worksheets to some extent.
Numi is a new app and it’s still in beta. It supports conversions, variables, percentages, dates, etc. and highlights syntax as well. And there is a Today widget as well to do quick maths right from your OS X Notification Center.
Numi is a desktop calculator and hence is not integrated with the cloud. In other words, you can’t share your maths like you do in InstaCalc but it works beautifully.
The only problem is, it lacks one essential feature — digit grouping. But the good thing about Numi is that it seamlessly integrates with OS X.
That is, it doesn’t add another icon to your OS X Dock and yet it can be opened with just one-click (or using a shortcut key).
You can hide Numi from your Dock and choose to show it in your OS X menu bar.
That’s not all. You can make it open at login and can even set a Hotkey so that it can be opened at any time (from any window).
There are plenty of other useful (or rather essential) free and premium Mac utilities like TextExpander, Alfred, BetterTouchTool, Pushbullet, etc. However, I have listed only the ones that I’m currently using.
Again, I chose to not include some of the most popular cross-platform productivity apps like Evernote, Pocket, Wunderlist, Day One, etc. as they are not just utility apps but much more. You can go here for a comprehensive list of web and desktop productivity apps.
So which set of Mac utilities do you use to get (some) things done?
Stay focused. Stay productive! :)
Disclosure: Some of the links on this blog post are affiliate links.