Utility software

More Mac Software Bargains

Last year, Macworld served up 60 of the best low-cost programs available for the Mac ("Mac Software Bargains," July 2002). This time around, we've tipped the scales with 75 more great apps that will help you get the most out of OS X, hone your creativity, and work better with the Internet and over networks.

And thanks to everyone on the Macworld.com forums who told us about their favorite low-cost apps -- we appreciate the input, and we've reviewed many of those programs here.

System Utilities

Alfred 1.4
  ; Inferiis, alfred@inferiis.com, www.inferiis.com; $7

Alfred is a customizable add-on and plug-in manager for OS X; it lets you enable and disable (in the manner of OS 9's Extensions Manager) preference panes, contextual menus, kernel extensions, screen savers, Services, and many more system add-ons. In addition, you can drop a plug-in icon onto Alfred's icon, and Alfred will install the plug-in for you -- no more digging through Library folders to figure out where it belongs. You can also create custom installation rules that automatically move files with certain extensions, types, and creators to specific folders (for example, one rule could move MP3s to your iTunes Music folder while another moved .dmg files to a software archive). -- dan frakes

AliasMenu 3.0
  ; Benoit Widemann, support@widemann.net, www.widemann.net; $25

The long-awaited update to the popular OS 9 utility AliasMenu generates hierarchical menu-bar menus for each folder or folder alias you drop into the AliasMenu folder. By editing the names of files or folders, you can create keyboard shortcuts to items and even make groups of items that will open all at once. Selecting a clipping file from an AliasMenu menu pastes its contents into the front-most application (and as a bonus, a Date clipping automatically pastes in the current date). You can also get information on any menu item, or reveal it in the Finder, instead of opening it. -- df

CandyBar 1.5
  ; Panic and The Iconfactory, 336/299-5251, www.iconfactory.com; $13

CandyBar makes it easy to change the Finder's toolbar icons, folder icons, clipping icons, and even the Trash icon. To change an icon, drag and drop a new icon onto the existing icon in CandyBar. Due to the changes the program makes, you'll be required to enter your administrator's password the first time you drag and drop an icon. If you want to restore things to normal, a Restore Default Icons button makes it easy to do so. The only real downside to CandyBar is that you must restart your Mac in order to see the effects of your changes. -- rob griffiths

Carbon Copy Cloner 2.1
  ; Bombich Software, www.bombich.com; free (donations accepted)

Whether you're making a backup or transferring your data from one Mac to another, Carbon Copy Cloner is an essential utility. Under Mac OS 9, it was easy to move your system to a different drive or Mac: you just selected all your files and folders and dragged them to the new drive or Mac. Mac OS X can't be copied in that way, but Carbon Copy Cloner does the job. It puts a simple interface on a series of complex Unix-based scripts. Version 2.1 includes several slick new features, including the ability to synchronize files, schedule backups, and create bootable disk images of your drive. -- jason snell

ClearDock 1.2
  ; Unsanity, unsanity@unsanity.com, www.unsanity.com; free

TransparentDock 2.0
  ; Free Range Mac, kfk@freerangemac.com, www.freerangemac.com; $8

ClearDock is a system utility that removes (or changes) the semitransparent white background behind the Dock. ClearDock requires Unsanity's Application Enhancer, which provides the user interface for ClearDock through its System Preferences interface.

In addition to removing the background, thereby making it look as though your Dock icons were floating above your desktop picture, you can specify a color scheme and change the color of the active-application indicator triangles. Used with the proper background imagery, a clear Dock can be quite stunning. -- rg

TransparentDock lets you customize the color and translucency of pretty much every aspect of the Dock and change the animation that occurs when you remove a Dock item. But it really shines at enhancing the Dock's functionality: you can choose the Dock minimizing effect and speed; change placement and pinning; show background-only apps; disable Dock floating (so the Dock no longer floats above other windows); enable Single Application mode (clicking on an application hides all others); enable unlimited hierarchical Dock menus; and add Hide/Hide Others items to application Dock menus and a Quit option to the Dock's own options menu. Finally, if you just can't decide which features to use, you can create preference themes and alternate between them. -- df

Cocoa Gestures 1.1
  ; bitart, gerti-cw@bitart.com, www.bitart.com; free

Cocoa Gestures is an amazing little application that allows you to use mouse movements to perform actions in all Cocoa applications, such as Mail, Safari, Text Edit, and many more. Once it's installed in your Library folder, you'll find a Cocoa Gestures item in each application's Application menu. Activate it, and a screen allows you to define mouse motions and associated actions for each Cocoa application. For example, you could assign a control-click and an up-down-right mouse motion to Safari's Show Bookmarks menu item, or use a control-click and a down mouse motion to close a window. The possibilities are endless. -- rg

Coffee Break Pro X 2.1
  ; Thomas Reed, thomasareed@earthlink.net, http://home.earthlink.net/~thomasareed; $20

If you spend your workday at a computer, you may be familiar with sore wrists, tight shoulders, and neck pain -- or worse. Even though we know we should take regular breaks, many of us forget. Coffee Break Pro lets you work for a set amount of time and then forces you to rest by blacking out the screen. The program displays some suggested stretches for the duration of your break. If you're in the middle of an amazing thought, don't worry -- a snooze button allows for a delay (although the snooze time is taken out of your next work period). -- df

DocJector 1.0
  ; Monkey Food, feedback@diggory.net, www.monkeyfood.com; free

Unmounting removable media buried behind application and Finder windows has always been difficult in OS X. DocJector is the easy solution you've been waiting for: click on the DocJector icon in the Dock, and up pops a menu of all mounted media (CDs, DVDs, disk images, iPods, USB drives, and memory cards); select a volume, and it's immediately unmounted or ejected. DocJector is so simple and useful that we wonder why Apple didn't include this feature with the OS. The only thing keeping DocJector from getting a five-mouse rating is that it can't unmount network volumes. -- df

DockFun 3.7
  ; Donelleschi, john@donelleschi.com, www.dockfun.com; $20

DockFun allows you to have multiple OS X docks, each of which can contain unique collections of apps and documents, and can be located at any of the standard dock window locations. A floating window identifies the active dock and makes it easy to switch between the docks in your collection. The interface can be confusing at first, but you'll quickly get the hang of adding and removing docks from your collection. DockFun can help you control the size and complexity of your OS X Dock by off-loading work to other docks that are called upon only when needed. -- rg

DropObliter8 1.0
  ; Howard Oakley, howard@quercus.demon.co.uk, http://homepage.mac.com/howardoakley/; free

File-permission snafus in OS X can cause a host of mind-numbing problems, such as when your Mac informs you that you don't have permission to delete files from the Trash. Other times, the system says that a file you need to get rid of is in use, although it obviously isn't (aborted or incomplete FTP downloads, for example). In either case, simply drag problem files or folders to DropObliter8's icon, and those pesky rogues will be gone forever -- without any command-line voodoo. It's a single-function app, to be sure, but a talented one. -- jonathan l. seff

FileXaminer 1.5
  ; Gideon Softworks, feedback@gideonsoftworks.com, www.gideonsoftworks.com; $10

Among the myriad utilities that help you edit file information and permissions, FileXaminer stands out. In addition to an easy-to-use interface for editing file permissions and attributes (including advanced settings such as sticky bits), it provides Super Delete and Force Empty Trash functions -- accessible from the Dock, Finder contextual menus, or the application -- for getting rid of stubborn files. It also has a batch mode for working with multiple files simultaneously, Finder integration (1-option-I to get info or 1-option-C to copy a file path to the Clipboard), and systemwide support for contextual menus. FileXaminer even lets you create and delete user groups without making you delve into NetInfo Manager. -- df

Horse Menu 1.6
  ; nimatoad, nima@nimatoad.com, www.nimatoad.com; $8

If you need to know everything about your Mac at the touch of a button, Horse Menu is an amazingly informative utility. It provides a systemwide, customizable menu that includes detailed information about your Mac's hardware, network interfaces, memory use, graphics cards, USB and FireWire devices, mounted volumes, loaded kernel extensions, and even connected UPS devices. It also lets you control all running processes, including force-quitting misbehaving apps and setting application priorities. Finally, Horse Menu provides quick access to system logs, individual System Preference panes, and common system utilities. One of those utilities is Apple System Profiler, which, ironically, you may never need to open again. -- df

iAddressX 2.1
  ; MibaSoft, info@mibasoft.dk, www.mibasoft.dk; $8

Need to quickly look up a phone number or get an address for a letter? iAddressX displays a list of your Address Book entries in the menu bar, providing a shortcut to this information from any application. It displays entries sorted by groups. You can choose which groups to include and specify what information to show in the menu. Copy phone numbers or addresses to the Clipboard or paste them directly into the front-most application with a single click. -- robert ellis

iPulse 1.0
  ; The Iconfactory, ipulse@iconfactory.com, www.iconfactory.com; $10

iPulse is a life monitor for your Mac, displaying all of its vital system information in a colorful, compact (and resizable), multipurpose, and fully customizable gauge. iPulse displays CPU activity, system load, network activity, memory usage, disk usage, and the current time and date. You could get much of this information by typing the top command in Terminal, but that's like getting a computer printout to read the speedometer and fuel gauge in your car. iPulse displays all of your vital information at a glance. There are other system monitors, but excellent design gives iPulse the edge. -- r

jEdit 4.1
  ; Slava Pestov, slava@jedit.org, www.jedit.org; free

jEdit is a programmer's text editor written in Java. It has a number of great features for programmers, with syntax coloring for more than 50 languages (including Java, PHP, and HTML), unlimited undo and redo levels, auto-indenting of source code, and a fully customizable interface. Furthermore, an extensible architecture provides features such as alternative themes and tabs (as in Microsoft Excel) for opening multiple documents in one window through the use of third-party plug-ins. jEdit's feature set and the fact that's it's free make it an excellent alternative to commercial editors. -- rg

Keyboard Maestro 1.2
  ; Michael Kamprath, info@keyboard maestro.com, www.keyboardmaestro.com; $20; Lite version, free

Keyboard Maestro not only provides you with a great keyboard-based application switcher, but also gives you the ability to automate, via keystrokes, almost anything you can do on your computer. You can open files and folders, launch applications, select menu items, move and click the mouse, run AppleScripts and shell scripts, and even type frequently used text. A keystroke can also trigger any combination and/or sequence of actions. As a bonus, Keyboard Maestro provides unlimited clipboards, accessible via -- you guessed it -- keystrokes. (The free Lite version provides the same features but limits the number of hot keys, actions per hot key, and clipboards.) -- df

Labels X 1.1
  ; Unsanity, unsanity@unsanity.com, www.unsanity.com; $10

Labels X is the answer to the question "What happened to OS 9's file and folder labels?" Labels X brings back about 95 percent of OS 9's labeling functionality. Using the Labels X preferences panel, you can choose a color and label definition. Applying a label is a simple matter of selecting one from the contextual menu. Labels X will also show (and sort by) the label values in column-view Finder windows, giving you the ability to sort your Projects folder by priority, for example. -- rg

LiteSwitch X 1.5
  ; Proteron, info@proteron.com, www.proteron.com; $15

LiteSwitch X is an application switcher for OS X. Instead of using 1-tab to switch apps in the Dock, use it (or another keyboard combo) to activate LiteSwitch X. Once activated, the program allows you to apply a number of actions to any open application. These actions can be applied via contextual menus or keyboard shortcuts. The switching window's colors, transparency, position, and size are all easy to customize, and you use the program to control how windows behave when switching applications (in other words, hide all, hide current, and so forth). -- rg

MacJanitor 1.2
  ; Brian Hill, brianhill@mac.com, http://personalpages.tds.net/~brian_hill; free

MacJanitor carries out routine system-maintenance tasks according to your timeline, not your operating system's. OS X tries to run these tasks in the middle of the night; it assumes the system will always be on. But if you put your machine to sleep at night, these tasks will never execute. MacJanitor provides an easy-to-use interface with buttons for each task. Just launch MacJanitor when you have a few minutes of free time, and run the task of your choice (or all tasks) with a click of a button. -- rg

people book 4.2
  ; Amar Sagoo, asagoo@gmx.net, http://homepage.mac.com/asagoo; free

At first glance, people book looks very similar to Address Book, but people book includes some important features missing from Apple's application. It lets you print envelopes, custom labels, and lists. It also lets you use your modem to dial numbers -- a great time-saver if you make a lot of work-related phone calls from home or need to round up your Little League team. Unfortunately, importing data requires that you drag your contacts from Address Book one at a time. If you have a large mailing list, use Snail Mail (see our review, elsewhere in this article), which accesses Address Book directly, instead. -- r

Print Window 2.0
  ; SearchWare Solutions, info@swssoftware.com, www.swssoftware.com; free (donations accepted)

OS X is more advanced than OS 9 in many ways, but you still can't print a Finder window. You can drop a folder onto Print Center to get an ugly text listing, but that's about it. Print Window comes to the rescue by allowing you to print the contents of any Finder window via drag and drop, manual selection, a key combination, or the Finder's Services menu. It goes beyond the classic Mac OS by letting you print all file information, just file names, just the current window's contents, a hierarchical listing of all subfolders, or icons. You can even include your own custom headers. -- df

PTHClock 2.3
  ; PTH Consulting, info@pth.com, www.pth.com; free (donations accepted)

PTHClock gives you everything Apple's menu-bar clock provides, but with a lot more control over time format; date format; and font size, color, and style. You also get a configurable, drop-down calendar, quarter-hourly chime settings, spoken alerts, and a date tool tip (pass the cursor over the time in the menu bar, and the date floats over the desktop). The calendar feature alone is worth a donation; with the clock options, this is the best menu-bar clock and calendar available. (If you don't want two clocks, turn off Apple's clock.) -- df

PTHPasteboard 3.1
  ; PTH Consulting, info@pth.com, www.pth.com; free (donations accepted)

PTHPasteboard lets you manage an unlimited number of Clipboard entries, and it excels in making them easily accessible. You can paste the most-recent ten entries at any time, via keystrokes; the rest are available through the PTHPasteboard buffer (via a keystroke, the menu bar, or the Services menu in any Services-aware application). In addition to multiple clipboards, PTHPasteboard lets you create multiple customized pasteboards that store frequently used text or graphics. For example, you can create one for personal information (for pasting into correspondence, Web forms, and so forth), one for HTML tags, and one for e-mail signatures. Each can contain an unlimited number of items. -- df

QuickVoice X 1.7
  ; nFinity, contact@quick-voice.com, www.quick-voice.com; $20

This voice recorder lets you quickly record notes, create stickies with voice notes attached, or send recordings as e-mail attachments. Files are saved in the QuickTime format, so they can be played on Macs and PCs. QuickVoice's interface is compact and comes with several attractive skins. You can create as many as ten channels, each containing as many as 99 messages of any length (provided you have the disk space). Audio files can be disk hogs, but QuickVoice lets you change the sample rate and choose from several compressors to adjust the size and quality of your files. -- r

SmallScreenX 2.2
  ; Loren Brichter, lorenb@mac.com, www.beaconschool.org/~lbrichte/lbsoftware; free

SmallScreenX displays resizable borders to simulate different screen resolutions -- helpful for Web designers who want to get an idea of how a page will look on different monitors. You can drag a border to resize a page or type in exact dimensions; then you lock it in place. A menu lets you select any open application and automatically resize the application window to the SmallScreenX dimensions. You can save SmallScreenX borders as separate document files. This handy, stable utility is free. If you need more control over screen measurements, try charlieX Screen Rulers (see our review, elsewhere in this article). -- r

Snail Mail 0.2
  ; Nixanz, nixanz@nixanz.com, www.nixanz.com; free

Snail Mail is a program designed to do one thing: print envelopes from your Address Book. It reads the Address Book database directly, so you don't have to import your entries (as you must do with the more full-featured people book). You can display your contacts, sort them into groups, and filter them by typing a few letters into a search box. You can also print a single envelope or many envelopes for all of the entries in a group. Snail Mail lets you format the envelope to show or hide specific fields (such as title or company), and you can change the fonts and margins, or even paste in a custom logo. -- r

Snard 1.6
  ; Gideon Softworks, feedback@gideonsoft works.com, www.gideonsoftworks.com; $10

Snard combines the utility of OS 9's Apple menu with a launcher and Root Runner (the GUI equivalent of the Unix utility sudo) to provide a flexible do-it-all menu. Available from the Dock, the menu bar, and via a hot key, Snard allows you to use hierarchical menus to quickly access files, folders, and applications (for example, it lists System Preference panes individually, like the old Control Panels menu). It also includes submenus for accessing recently used items, mounting favorite and recent servers, and launching worksets -- groups of items that open simultaneously with one click. Finally, you can easily open any application as root by option-selecting it from the Snard menu or by choosing the Open App As Root menu item. -- df

SwordfishExpress 1.0
  ; buyolympia.com, www.buyolympia.com/software; free

The United States Postal Service (USPS) Web site allows you to generate mailing labels, but it's a bit of a hassle. SwordfishExpress takes the mailing and return address you enter and generates USPS labels for Priority, First Class, or Media Mail. If you want delivery or signature confirmation, the program also connects to the USPS Web site, obtains the appropriate tracking numbers, and then generates the required bar codes. Finally, if you highlight a USPS tracking number and select the Confirm In Browser item from the Services menu in any Services-aware app, your browser will provide the tracking information. SwordfishExpress saves you time and money -- you don't have to fill out forms at a post office, and the USPS charges less for electronic labels. A nice feature addition would be the ability to save frequently used addresses; the developers promise Address Book integration in a future version. -- df

WindowShade X 2.1
  ; Unsanity, unsanity@unsanity.com, www.unsanity.com; $10

WindowShade X brings collapsible windows to OS X and adds punch, thanks to Aqua. Using WindowShade X, you can double-click on a window's title bar to collapse the window (as in OS 9), or you can have the window turn semitransparent (based on a transparency level you set). You can also replace the minimize button's behavior with window-shading behavior. If you use the semitransparent mode, you can even continue working in the window in its semi-see-through state. -- rg

Xounds 1.4
  ; Unsanity, unsanity@unsanity.com, www.unsanity.com; $10

Xounds brings an end to the silent era for OS X. Xounds allows you to import old OS 9 sound sets (a link on the Unsanity Web page leads to a sizable collection). Once you import a sound set, you control which actions will generate sound effects, and at what volume level the sounds will play. You can also create an "exclude" list so that any listed applications will not have sound effects. While it doesn't give you all the options of OS 9's sound sets, Xounds does a great job of bringing back nearly the same functionality. -- rg

Xupport 1.2
  ; Laurent Muller, laurentmuller@computer-support.ch, www.computer-support.ch; $20

Xupport incorporates functions found in dozens of shareware and freeware applications. It gives you the power to create bootable backups, optimize your network, browse hidden folders, change SWAP file locations, configure your firewall, set ports for file sharing, and much more -- all via a straightforward interface. You might be intimidated by some of the features Xupport offers, and it does go into the nitty-gritty of OS X. Fortunately, Xupport also has a very helpful appendix section with a wealth of Unix and general Mac information. -- anton linecker


Amadeus II 3.5
  ; HairerSoft, martin@hairersoft.com, www.hairersoft.com; $25

Need a low-cost two-track audio app for recording and cleaning up cassettes and LPs, or editing files you already have? Look no further than Amadeus II. It supports 16- and 24-bit audio in many formats (including AIFF, WAV, MP3, and Ogg Vorbis) at sample rates as high as 1,000kHz. You can easily split albums into tracks and even join several files. In addition to built-in effects such as normalization, fading, and sound repair, Amadeus II supports the VST plug-in format -- and you can download more than 30 free plug-ins from the HairerSoft Web site. -- jls

Audion 3.0
  ; Panic, audion@panic.com, www.panic.com; $30

Audion's pleasingly simple interface belies the robust program's many MP3 uses. Users can encode MP3s singly or in batches; switch between listening to CDs, MP3 playlists, and remote audio streams with the click of a button; expand audio searches to include the Web; and set a time for Audion to begin playing a specific playlist -- handy for people who like their morning routines to be set to music. Managing playlists occasionally gets cumbersome, and OS X users may become frustrated when they try to install and shuffle Audion's applications and plug-ins to the proper folder, but this is a serviceable MP3 player for OS 9 users iTunes left behind. -- lisa schmeiser

Baby Banger 1.1
  ; Paul Suh, plsuh@goodeast.com, www.goodeast.com; free

Parents of small children will appreciate Baby Banger, which provides an outlet for kids' natural predilection to smash keys on mommy's or daddy's keyboard at inopportune times. When Baby Banger is running, every key your child smashes causes colorful shapes to appear on screen; the program can either speak the name and color of the shape or just beep. You can choose from several different color schemes for the shapes, as well. Worried that your kids will figure out how to hit 1-Q and wreak havoc outside of Baby Banger? Fear not: to exit, you have to type a child-proof combination: 1-control-shift-option-P. -- js

BarWare Deluxe 2.5
  ; Digital Fried Chicken, Mitch@digitalfriedchicken.com, www.digitalfriedchicken.com; $13

Throwing a cocktail party but can't remember how to mix up a Melon Ball? Confused when a friend asks for a Honolulu Hammer? Want to stump your favorite bartender by ordering a Pendennis? BarWare Deluxe comes to the rescue, with instructions for creating more than 750 mixed drinks. You can search by type of spirit, mixer, or even garnish (such as a lemon slice, twist, or wedge). BarWare Deluxe comes with a Bar Guide that includes common measurements, a glossary, and a drawing of different glass types. So the next time you need behind-the-bar advice, don't reach for a book -- fire up your Mac. -- jls

BLT 0.2
  ; Braxtech, braxton@braxtech.com, www.braxtech.com/blt; free

Few things are as annoying as stumbling on the dreaded 404 Not Found error. Full-featured Web-authoring programs will search for broken links in your site, but if you rely on a shareware program for coding, BLT can spare your visitors unnecessary frustration. BLT will check files located on your hard drive or on the Web, and it will check all the objects on a page (including links embedded in comments -- handy if your site contains Java scripts), not just hyperlinks or images. You can test a single file or recursively check all files linked to the starting file. -- r

charlieX Screen Rulers 3.1
  ; charlieX software factory, charlie@charliex.co.uk, www.kotarac.freeuk.com; $15

charlieX Screen Rulers is indispensable for graphic artists, Web designers, and software developers who need help measuring or aligning screen objects. It includes five different on-screen rulers and measurement tools. Choose from a transparent screen-edge ruler (which you can set as the front-most application so it's always visible), a dragging ruler with resizable vertical and horizontal rules, and screen-size templates (which display outlines of standard or custom screen sizes, so you can quickly preview how your work will appear at different resolutions). You can also display mouse x-y coordinates or vertical and horizontal guidelines directly on screen. -- r

ColorWrite 1.1
  ; AdaptiveView.com, support@adaptiveview.com, www.adaptiveview.com; free

If you've ever agonized over choosing colors for your Web site, ColorWrite can help. This tool allows you to select colors with several color models (Web Safe, HSV, RGB, CMY, and CMYK) and preview color combinations. Best of all, ColorWrite can generate color combinations based on several different kinds of color schemes, including Analogous,

Complementary, and Monochromatic. After selecting your palette, you can copy CSS, HTML, or Java code to the Clipboard for use in other applications. -- r

Discus 2.7
  ; Magic Mouse Productions, 415/669-7010, http://magicmouse.com; $39

Discus helps you create professional-looking labels for everything from CDs and DVDs to business-card CDs, VHS tapes, and even audiocassettes (remember those?). Although it features a very nonstandard user interface, Discus makes the label-creation process painless. After selecting a label type, you choose the output template (an Avery label number, for example), which takes you to the main screen. Here you use five sections (Canvas, Paint, Photo, Text, and Print) to create and output your masterpiece. With more than 900 high-quality backgrounds available, you'll be amazed at the quality of the labels you can create. -- rg

iSleep 2.3
  ; FlyMac, flymac@ifrance.com, http://isleep.free.fr; $8

iSleep adds a sleep function to iTunes and Apple DVD Player -- set a timer, and when the countdown reaches zero, your music or movie fades out and then stops. You can also choose to put your Mac to sleep, log out of your account, or shut down at the end of the timer. (In the case of a DVD, iSleep can wait until the movie is finished before it puts your Mac to sleep.) iSleep can even act as an alarm clock, waking up your Mac at a certain time and then playing your favorite music in iTunes. The interface is a bit quirky, but the functionality is top-notch. -- df

iStorm 2.0
  ; Math Game House Software, mathgamehouse@mac.com, www.mathgamehouse.com; $20

Need to brainstorm with someone in the next office or the next building? iStorm lets multiple users collaborate on documents simultaneously in real time (depending on their connections) over a local area network. iStorm uses Rendezvous, so no network configuration is required. Starting a collaboration session is easy: create a new document and click on Host, and everyone on your LAN can join in. Edit text documents (which can include pictures, QuickTime files, and links), draw on a chalkboard, and chat. The program also includes a calculator and a Tex equation interface for doing serious math. Export files to Rich Text Format or plain text. -- r

iWork 1.2
  ; IGG Software, ian@iggsoftware.com, www.iggsoftware.com; $20

iWork is a timing, billing, and invoicing application that's perfect for anyone who's self-employed. Use the built-in timer to track work hours with timed events, and add flat-rate and quantity-based items (such as expenses). iWork integrates with Address Book (just add your clients to an iWork group, and they automatically appear in iWork) and iCal (you can turn a deadline into a To Do). A Project Manager organizes all of your projects and lets you see whether they've been completed and paid. When you're finished with your project, create an invoice with your logo and custom formatting. -- r

iChatStatus 1.2
  ; David Remahl, david@ittpoi.com, www.ittpoi.com; free

Kung-Tunes 2.1
  ; Adriaan Tijsseling, ado@kung-foo.tv, www.kung-foo.tv; free

Some people are intensely private; others enjoy living their lives in public. If writing a Weblog of your personal thoughts isn't enough, consider these ingenious utilities. Kung-Tunes lets you update your Web site with the name of the track you're currently listening to in iTunes (as well as a list of recently played tracks). It features customizable templates and the ability to upload your files to a remote server via FTP. iChatStatus uses an undocumented OS X feature (the one Jaguar's iChat menu item uses) to constantly update the status bar of your iChat session. By default, all your buddies will see what song is playing in iTunes, but you can customize iChatStatus via AppleScript to display just about anything, including the application you're currently using or the temperature outside. -- js

MacJournal 2.1
  ; Dan Schimpf Software, dschimpf@mac.com, http://homepage.mac.com/dschimpf; free

NoteTaker 1.1
  ; AquaMinds, info@aquaminds.com, www.aquaminds.com; $70

NoteTaker creates a superenhanced electronic version of the old-fashioned spiral-bound notebook. Using an on-screen spiral notebook, you can create pages of text, sound (including voice notes), images, URLs, and anything else you'd care to categorize. Notebooks can have sections to help organize your thoughts, and you can work with a number of notebooks at once. You can assign categories to and prioritize items in each notebook, and you can create a special to-do section for task management. NoteTaker has many additional features for managing your random data streams, and its unique interface makes it easy to use. -- rg

If you keep a journal -- or a diary, log, notebook, or scrapbook -- MacJournal can help you organize your thoughts. Sure, you could use TextEdit or Microsoft Word, but if you created many entries in one long document -- or a new document for each entry -- they would be unwieldy to edit, organize, and search. Create multiple journals in MacJournal, each with any number of entries that can be sorted by date, topic, or the first few words of text in a file. Encrypt and password-protect your work to keep it safe from snoops. You can export your entries as text, RTF, or HTML. -- r

Meteorologist 1.1
  ; Humongous Elephants and Tigers, fahrenba@ mac.com, http://homepage.mac.com/fahrenba/; free

There are a surprising number of OS X programs that look up current weather data on the Web and place the results in your menu bar. Although we like Glucose Development's $8 WeatherPop (   ; November 2002), Meteorologist is about as good, offers a few unique features, and is free. In addition to displaying the current temperature and weather conditions in your menu bar (with a drop-down menu featuring an extended forecast), Meteorologist can display weather data in the Dock and display data for multiple cities at once. You can also customize Meteorologist to a remarkable extent, via a simple tabbed preference window. -- js

MorphX 2.5
  ; Martin Wennerberg, martin@orcsoftware.com, www.orcsoftware.com/~martin/; free

MorphX allows you to change one image (your cat, for example) into another (your dog) over time, via a series of blended images. The program uses a two-pane interface, with the start image in one pane and the end image in the other. After using lines to identify similar areas in each photo, you set MorphX to work. After a while (calculating the images can take some time), a series of intermediate transitional images is created. If you have QuickTime Pro, you can save the series of images as a QuickTime movie, thereby animating your morph and making it suitable for sharing with others. -- rg

MovieHouse 3.4
  ; David Ahmed, davidahmed@mac.com, http://homepage.mac.com/davidahmed; $15

The MovieHouse movie player lets you organize QuickTime movies into multiple playlists, so you can arrange your own set of videos or preview clips before editing them in iMovie. You can play the movies in sequence, loop them, or click on the Jumble button to play them in random order. After creating your movie list, MovieHouse can burn your collection onto a CD. It boasts one unique feature not found in any other movie player: a simulated 3-D movie gallery. A frame from each movie is displayed on a wall of your virtual gallery, which you navigate with the arrow keys. As you approach a movie, it begins to play. -- rg

PorDiBle 2.1
  ; Rura Penthe, rura@utterer.com, http://pordible.ethelthefrog.net; free

Palm handhelds can be pretty cool devices for reading documents when you're on the go. Unfortunately, converting files on your Mac into Palm-compatible DOC/PDB format can be a bear. PorDiBle converts text and HTML files to DOC files via an easy drag-and-drop operation; all you need to do is install the files on your Palm and use a DOC reader such as TealDoc or AportisDoc to read them. Likewise, you can convert a PDB file into a text file by dragging it onto PorDiBle's icon. -- js

RedrawClassic XTension 1.0
  ; InfoLogic, support@www.infologic.net, ftp://ftp.infologic.net/pub/others; free

If you use QuarkXPress (versions 3.3 through 4.1) in Classic mode, you've likely encountered its redraw problem. This annoying bug leaves ghost images in your document when you switch back and forth between OS X windows and XPress. You can fix the problem by collapsing or resizing the window each time it happens -- or better yet, you can download Infologic's free RedrawClassic XTension. The installer for this XTension (which works for English, Japanese, and Korean versions of XPress, as well as Quark Passport) automatically locates and installs RedrawClassic in any version of XPress on your system. The XTension runs invisibly in the background, and in our tests, it eliminated the redraw problem once and for all. -- kelly lunsford

SETI@home 3.0
  ; SETI@home Project, http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu; free

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has been a trailblazer in the use of distributed-computing techniques. SETI@home, which is available in both screen-saver and command-line versions, uses your Mac's spare processing power to search a vast collection of radio-telescope data for signs of alien intelligence. Once your computer has processed a batch of data, it sends that information back to the SETI servers and picks up a new batch. The idea is that, by pooling the processing power of millions of computers, SETI will be able to process data quickly and maybe, just maybe, figure out whether there's someone else out there. Clever OS X add-on SETI Menu 4.5 (http://perso.wanadoo.fr/vigan/aksoft/) lets you control the command-line version unobtrusively from the menu bar. -- js

Synergy 0.9
  ; Wincent Colaiuta, win@wincent.org, http://synergy.wincent.org; $5

There are many iTunes controllers and information displays out there, but none do it all as well as Synergy, which integrates the best features of other utilities and adds a few of its own. It places playback controls in the menu bar (including a menu listing recent tracks and playlists), provides systemwide hot keys for playback and volume control, and adds a snazzy, translucent informational display that fades in and out at the start of each track (or at your command). You get full control of iTunes no matter what you're doing. -- df

VLC media player 0.5
  ; VideoLAN, vlc@videolan.org, http://videolan.org; free

VLC media player, which picks up where Apple's built-in multimedia technology leaves off, will be especially welcome if you've ever had problems playing files your PC friends handle with ease. VLC is the most versatile video player available on the Mac, allowing you to watch files such as DivX and MPEG-1, -2, and -4 movies without a hitch -- something QuickTime can't easily do. And unlike Apple's DVD Player, VLC supports multichannel output, meaning that with the right hardware, you can use a Mac to experience the full audio glory of surround sound DVDs. Although the interface leaves a bit to be desired, VLC is a godsend for anyone who wants to play many of today's popular video formats. -- jls

X-Tunes 1.2
  ; Pierre-Olivier Latour, info@pol-online.net, www.pol-online.net; free

X-Tunes is a "remote" controller for iTunes that allows you to control the program without resorting to finding its window or using the Dock. X-Tunes installs as a preference pane and activates with a user-definable key combination. When you press and hold down that key combination, a semitransparent window appears on screen, listing the current song information, and providing controls for things such as fast forward, previous/next song, and volume. Make changes with your mouse, release the key combination, and return to what you were working on without ever having to hunt for the iTunes window. -- rg


Bookit 3.1
  ; Everyday Software, support@everydaysoftware.net, www.everydaysoftware.net; $12

If you're a Web developer, you undoubtedly use more than one browser to test your sites. And Web developer or not, many of us use more than one computer. Either way, keeping bookmarks organized is a major hassle. Bookit provides an excellent solution to the problem. Import bookmarks from eight of the most popular Mac browsers (including Safari, Chimera, and OmniWeb), arrange them, and edit them. Bookit synchronizes them by writing identical bookmark files for each browser. It will also synchronize bookmarks on multiple computers. Bookit includes a System menu that lists all of your bookmarks. Select an item from the Bookit menu to open the link in your default browser. -- r

CaminoKnight 2.0
  ; Reinhold Penner, rpenner@hawaii.edu, http://homepage.mac.com/reinholdpenner; free

ChimerIcon 0.6
  ; Reinhold Penner, rpenner@hawaii.edu, http://homepage.mac.com/reinholdpenner; free

SpeedChimera 2.0
  ; Reed Martin, reedm@mac.com, http://homepage.mac.com/reedm/SpeedChimera.html; free

If you're a fan of the Camino Web browser, you'll love these three free utilities (some names may have changed by the time you read this). SpeedChimera unlocks many hidden Camino features, including the ability to block images from servers other than the current Web page's, Favicons, HTTP pipelining (which can increase performance), browser history, and custom browser identification. In addition, you can edit any Camino preference, and even add custom preference entries (such as those at www.efritz.net/chimera tricks.html). ChimerIcon lets you customize Camino's appearance by previewing and installing new splash screens, icon themes, and preference panes. You can create your own interface elements, and ChimerIcon will check the Internet for -- and download -- new themes created by others. CaminoKnight is another winning utility. The Camino browser is updated almost nightly, but it can be a hassle to constantly download and install the latest version. CaminoKnight automates the process by finding the most recent build and then downloading and installing it. It even creates a backup of your existing version (and has a restore command in case you experience problems and want to go back). As a nice bonus, if you've already installed ChimerIcon themes, CaminoKnight will automatically install them in the new version. -- df

ICeCoffEE 1.3
  ; Nicholas Riley, http://web.sabi.net/nriley/software/; free

ICeCoffEE, modeled after the OS 9 extension ICeTEe, is an OS X plug-in that lets you 1-click on a URL in most OS X-native applications -- in an e-mail message, a Read Me file, or even a dialog box -- to automatically open the site in your preferred Web browser. 1-option-click, and you can choose another browser or add the URL to a bookmark manager such as URL Manager Pro. It even works in many Carbon apps. In addition, ICeCoffEE adds a Services submenu to contextual menus, and it allows you to add a Services menu to the menu bar -- no more digging through the Application menu to access Services. -- df

NetNewsWire Lite 1.0
  ; Ranchero Software, brent@ranchero.com, www.ranchero.com; free

If you're tired of surfing multiple sites and blogs each morning to collect the news, NetNewsWire Lite may be for you. This newsreader will collect content from multiple sites into a three-paned browser window, similar to Mail, with sites on the left, headlines at the top, and summaries at the bottom. (You can also access headlines from the Dock icon menu.) NetNewsWire comes configured with several popular sites and includes a directory of others you can add with a single click. (If you know the RSS URL for a site, you can add a site manually.) NetNewsWire Lite can help you scan a lot of news sites or blogs quickly, and the $30 full version even includes a Weblog editor. -- r

Pop-Up Zapper 2.2
  ; Batista.org, zap@batista.org, www.batista.org; $20

Pop-Up Zapper was up and running on our computer in the time it takes for an advertisement window to open in a browser -- and it works hard to get rid of those pesky pop-up windows with ads for products you'll never use. Users have the option of keeping a counter window open to see how many pop-ups the software has intercepted. It's satisfying to watch the number tick upward, although the window does not list the offending parties, which would be useful in helping users tweak their preferences and surfing habits. The only complaint is browser support -- the OS 9 version works only with Internet Explorer 5 and Netscape 7, while the OS X version works only with IE. -- ls

Proteus 2.0
  ; Justin Wood, proteus@indigofield.com, www.indigofield.com; $10

If one of your biggest instant-message bugbears is trying to remember which pals are on what specific message service and whether or not you can use your instant-message application to talk to them, Proteus comes to the rescue with a slimmed-down app that lets you connect to AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, and Yahoo Messenger. Even better, Proteus lets you group your contacts by message service type, which comes in handy for sorting who's available and how. Getting up and running is easy and intuitive. The only downside is that there's no out-of-the-box support for .Mac iChat accounts yet. -- ls

Searchling 1.1
  ; Michael Thole, mthole@purdue.edu, http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~mthole/; free

Searchling is the ultimate use-anywhere Google search tool. It lives in your menu bar and presents a small one-line search box when clicked on -- for Google, Slashdot, eBay, and more. Enter your search terms and press return, and your default browser opens up with the results. You can make Searchling even more powerful by defining a hot key to launch it, and setting the entry box to appear next to the mouse cursor. Now you can search with a quick keyboard combination and no mouse movement. -- rg

Spam Vaccine 1.3
  ; Matterform Media; 505/747-1220, www.matterform.com; lite version, $9; pro version, $19

This utility can save you a lot of heartache if you've got a Web site with a lot of pages containing e-mail addresses -- the kind of pages that are harvested frequently by spammers looking for new victims for their evil deeds. When you set Spam Vaccine on individual pages or entire Web sites, it rewrites all your e-mail addresses as JavaScript code that's not easily processed by spammers. The Lite version can inoculate one page at a time; the Pro version lets you convert entire sites at once. -- js

Share My Desktop 1.2
  ; Mike Bombich, dair@webthing.net, www.bombich.com; free

VNCThing 2.2
  ; www.webthing.net; free

The Virtual Network Computing (VNC) protocol was developed by AT&T Laboratories as a way to view and control a computer's display remotely, across platforms. Any computer running a VNC server can share its desktop with any other connected computer (over the Internet or on a local network) running a VNC client. Share My Desktop is an OS X-native VNC server that's easy to set up. If you want the server to run continually (useful for tech support, or just supporting less computer-savvy family members), it can even be configured as an OS X Startup Item (so it will run in the background). VNCThing is a free client that allows you to view and control the desktop of any computer running a VNC server. You can use it in full-screen mode or view the remote computer in a resizable window. You can even create bookmarks to frequently accessed servers. The combination of Share My Desktop and VNCThing is similar to commercial utilities such as Timbuktu Pro, but with fewer features and a much lower price (free). The combination works surprisingly well -- so well that this review was written "on" a desktop Mac, but the typing was actually done on an iBook. -- df

SharePoints 3.0
  ; HornWare, hornware@hornware.com, www.hornware.com; free (donations accepted)

Like version 2.0 (   ; "Mac Software Bargains," July 2002), SharePoints 3.0 lets you create additional Personal File Sharing share points, create and manage OS X groups, and customize the File Sharing server in OS X. However, version 3.0 adds the ability to easily set share permissions, create additional Windows File Sharing shares, and customize OS X's built-in Samba (Windows File Sharing) server. You can edit your Mac's workgroup and NetBios names, chose specific files to conceal from Windows users, and even force Home directories to show up in Windows share browsers (usually, Windows users must know the exact name of your shares). -- df

Snak 4.9
  ; Kent Sorensen, kents@snak.com, www.snak.com; $20

Long before iChat and AOL Instant Messenger, there was Internet Relay Chat (IRC), a series of networks that allowed tens of thousands of people worldwide to chat (and even exchange files) in any number of themed channels. And one of the best ways to participate in IRC on the Mac is with Snak, which offers a clean interface with docking windows, AppleScript and ircII scripting support, automated actions to respond to a wide variety of events (such as joining a channel or accepting a specific file type), and best of all for those new to IRC, a great HTML manual. Search, logging, and address-book functions add to the program's ease of use, and a channel-list window makes quick work of finding topics. And since chat is a global pursuit, Snak is available in 12 languages. -- jls


ROBERT ELLIS is the author of Handpicked Software for Mac OS X (Futurosity, 2002), and he runs the Handpicked Software Web site (http://handpicked.futurosity.com).
DAN FRAKES is the author of Mac OS X Power Tools (Sybex, 2003); find him online at www.danfrakes.com.
ROB GRIFFITHS is the author of the forthcoming Mac OS X Hints -- 500 All-Time Best Tips, Tricks, and Secrets of Jaguar 10.2 (O'Reilly 2003) and the founder of Mac OS X Hints (www.macosxhints.com).
ANTON LINECKER is a video technical advisor and writer.
JASON SNELL is Macworld's editor, and KELLY LUNSFORD, LISA SCHMEISER, and JONATHAN L. SEFF are Macworld's senior associate editors.

Go to www.macworld.com/macgems to see an index of all of our Mac Gems reviews.

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