informa
/
Commentary

13 Mac Productivity Tools, From Merlin Mann And Friends

Productivity maven Merlin Man, author of the blog 43 Folders, gives a video tour of his Mac desktop in his uniquely entertaining and informative style, talking about the tools that help him work. After watching this video, I spent hours and hours fiddling with the tools Merlin recommends, which I'm sure will save me
Productivity maven Merlin Man, author of the blog 43 Folders, gives a video tour of his Mac desktop in his uniquely entertaining and informative style, talking about the tools that help him work. After watching this video, I spent hours and hours fiddling with the tools Merlin recommends, which I'm sure will save me minutes of wasted time.
Merlin's First Desktop Tour from Merlin Mann on Vimeo.

Read on for links to the tools Merlin references, plus kibitzing from me:

Path Finder replaces the Mac Finder. I've tried it a few times, never seen the appeal. After seeing Merlin's demo, I'll try it again.

Google Notifier notifies you when you have new Gmail, and lets you designate Gmail as your default mail program on the Mac, so, for example, when you click a mailto tag on a Web page, the new mail comes up in Gmail. I use Google Notifier all the time.

Dropbox provides file synchronization and online backup with a twist: It looks to your Mac like a local file folder, so you can drag files onto and out of it. You can use it to synch files between multiple computers, across platforms. It's designed to replace e-mailing files back and forth, or carrying a key drive, to synch files between multiple computers. You can also use it to share files by dropping them in a "public" folder.

Merlin describes Dropbox as being like MobileMe that works. Many people complain about bugs and unreliability in MobileMe. I haven't had many problems with the service, but if you hate MobileMe but like the idea of it, Dropbox sounds like something to check out. And Dropbox also supports Windows and Linux.

I use a combination of MobileMe, YouSendIt, Flickr, and Evernote to do the things that Dropbox seems to do all in one.

Skitch takes and shared screen captures -- pictures of what's on your screen. You'd be surprised how often something like that is useful.

Hazel automates file management. For example, you can set Hazel to search your Mac for DMG files, and move them all to a designated folder automatically. It doesn't just work once, it monitors folders over time. Like Path Finder, I've tried Hazel a couple of times and haven't seen the appeal, but your mileage may vary.

FuzzyClock is a replacement for the dashboard clock that tells time in words instead of numbers -- "five past eleven" instead of 11:05. I ran it for a while, got rid of it, now I'm running it again.

Evernote is a note-taking and file synchronization app that runs on the Web, the Mac, Windows, and iPhone. Like Merlin, I'm cuckoo for Evernote; I've been running it a month and I'm looking for an excuse to write an article or meaty blog about it.

Spirited Away hides running programs that you haven't used for a while. According to the comments on Merlin's video, spirited Away .7 is buggy, but .6 works just fine. Get it here.

BusySync synchs your Google Calendar and iCal. Since I saw Merlin's video a few days ago, I've started using it so that my wife and I can share our calendars on Google.

SoundSource makes it easier to switch between your Mac's built-in speakers and microphone and a headset. Like several other of these programs, I used to use it, I stopped for a while, now I think I'll give it another try.

Check out the comments on the video page for more tools, and interesting discussion. A couple of tools that come up there:

Witch and Light Switch X are Cmd-Tab replacements. I can't find a working link to Light Switch X today, which is annoying because I found one earlier this week.

Little Snapper captures screenshots; it's an alternative to Skitch.