Organize your life and work faster
With the flood of media sources on the Internet, staying on top of your assets isn’t so easy anymore. The tools and utilities will help you stay ahead of the curve and be more productive in the process.
Utility: Library Books 2.5
As high-tech as our lives may be, most of us still enjoy reading actual books from time to time. Library Books 2.5 ( Harold Chu ).— DM) brings your local library into the digital age by letting you see at a glance how many items you’ve checked out of the library, when they’re due, and even (in some cases) how many items you’ve requested. You can set up accounts for multiple libraries—a school and a public library, for example—or keep track of multiple people’s accounts. Library Books even integrates with iCal to remind you when your due dates are getting close, which should help you avoid fines. With nearly 200 library systems supported in the United States (plus dozens from eight other countries), there’s a chance your library is included. If you don’t see it listed, you can try one of the several included generic catalog systems (payment requested;
Utility: Spanning Sync 1.0.4
The free, Web-based Google Calendar lets you manage your schedule online. Like iCal, it lets you define multiple calendars (to keep work, personal, and family events separate, for example) and subscribe to public calendars, such as sports schedules, holidays, and movie releases. It can even send an SMS message to your mobile phone to alert you to an upcoming event—and unlike iCal, it can do so even when your computer isn’t running. Offering the best of both programs, Spanning Sync 1.0.4 ( Spanning Sync ).— JK) provides two-way synchronization between iCal and Google Calendar without requiring you to reinput data in either place. Enter your Google user name and password into Spanning Sync’s preference pane, select one or more iCal calendars, and specify which Google calendar to sync each with. Changes made on either side will be reflected in both places ($65; yearly subscription, $25;
Organization: ComicBookLover 1.2
ComicBookLover 1.2 ( Bitcartel ).— Jason Snell) is the iTunes for digital comics, letting you organize and read comic-book files stored on your hard drive. Yes, as with iTunes, those files could be illegally downloaded from the Internet. But legal downloadable comics are on the rise, and ComicBookLover is also compatible with the files on the DVD comic collections that major publishers are releasing. ComicBookLover lets you view comics in a window or in full-screen mode, offers an iTunes-style interface for filtering your collection, and lets you browse comics via its handsome cover-gallery feature ($25;
Organization: ReceiptWallet 1.1.1
If you’ve got shoeboxes full of paper receipts—or folders full of PDF versions on your Mac—ReceiptWallet 1.1.1 ( GGT Enterprises ).— DF) can help you unclutter your life. Drag your PDFs or scanned receipts into ReceiptWallet, or use one of many TWAIN-compliant scanners to scan in the paper versions directly, and the software will keep them all organized (and accessible) for you. And if you take the time to enter a few pertinent details—such as the date, the store, the amount, and a category or two—you’ll get a searchable database of your purchases that lets you immediately find any receipt. You can create smart collections based on criteria such as categories, dates, and stores—useful for putting together expense reports, maintaining warranty records, or tracking how much you’ve spent on utilities, for example. You can even export data as CSV or Quick CIF files ($30;
Education: Schoolhouse 2.1
With lots of word processing, calculation, and Web research tools available for OS X, your Mac is terrific at helping you do your homework. Now, with Schoolhouse 2.1 ( Altered Axis ).— Peter Cohen), you can use your Mac to manage your homework, too. The software uses a three-panel interface that will be familiar to anyone who has used iTunes. Smart notebooks let you filter assignments by specific criteria—for example, by due date, priority, or course name. Schoolhouse also tracks assignments, tasks, and class notes; reminds you when papers are due; calculates and graphs grades; and even lets you publish assignments online, via a Classcasting feature that works with .Mac, FTP, SFTP, and WebDAV services. You can also use Schoolhouse to track e-mail requests to your instructor (payment requested;
Web: 1Passwd 2.4
Most Web browsers can store user names, passwords, and other data, and then automatically put them into Web forms when necessary. But 1Passwd 2.4 ( Agile Web Solutions ).— JK) extends this capability, letting you store more than one set of information per site, save passwords in one browser and use them in another, and create new passwords whenever you need to. You can even generate, store, and enter the password for a new site, all with a single click. 1Passwd relies on OS X’s Keychain technology but uses its own keychain for extra security. In addition, 1Passwd protects you against phishing attempts and keyloggers, and optionally syncs its keychain using .Mac ($30;
Productivity: FlexTime 1.2
There are plenty of alarm and reminder utilities, but most are designed to alert you to a specific event. FlexTime 1.2 ( Red Sweater Software ).— DF), on the other hand, keeps you on track for repeating or periodic activities—such as work breaks, exercises, or file backups. Event schedules include both an interval time and a duration (say, every two hours for ten minutes), and you can have FlexTime perform actions—for example, display or speak a message, play a sound, or run an AppleScript—at the beginning of an event, at the end of an event, a particular number of times during an event, or any combination thereof ($19;
Organization: iGTD 1.4
I’ve used lots of tools to manage my to-do list, but I’ve never found one with the perfect combination of simplicity and features. But iGTD 1.4 ( Bartek Bargiel ). — Dan Miller) comes awfully close. Though it’s based on the Getting Things Done productivity system, you don’t have to be a GTD groupie to use it. Like most to-do software, iGTD lets you sort tasks by project, priority, and due date; like GTD, it also lets you group them by context (where or how you’ll accomplish them). You can tag items with keywords, URLs, and contacts, and a menu-bar tool lets you quickly convert e-mail messages and files into to-do items (free;
Utility: Steel 1.1.5
The problem: how to keep track of the dozens of registration codes, passwords, and related data you need to run your digital life. The solution: Steel 1.1.5 ( Gabriele de Simone ).— TL), a no-nonsense, yet very capable, password-management utility. Steel displays data in a spreadsheet-like format, letting you see many items at once. If you need more assistance, you can use the Find dialog box to zero in on the item you want. You can assign entries to different categories. Each category has specific customizable fields—the e-mail category has fields for POP and SMTP servers, while the credit card category includes a field for the security code. Of course, the Steel database is itself password-protected—so you’ll need to remember at least one password without Steel’s help ($9;
Productivity: iKey 2.2.2
If you find yourself doing the same things over and over on your Mac—or if you prefer to use the keyboard as much as possible—you need a keyboard-automation utility. There are a number of these shortcut utilities, but iKey 2.2.2 ( Script Software ).— DF) occupies a desirable middle ground in terms of price and features. For each shortcut you create, you tell iKey what should happen (a single event or a sequence of events), when it should happen (in which programs or contexts), and what should trigger the action (for instance, a keystroke, a sequence of keystrokes, a scheduled time, or a USB-device action). iKey’s range of possible actions is impressive, including launching applications, typing text, copying files, simulating mouse movements, and executing Unix shell commands ($30;
[ Jeff Carlson is TidBits’ managing editor; Peter Cohen is a Macworld senior editor; Dan Frakes is a Macworld senior editor; Joe Kissel is TidBits’ senior editor; Ted Landau is a Macworld senior contributor; Dan Miller is Macworld’s executive editor; Dan Moren is a coeditor of MacUser.com; Jonathan L. Seff is Macworld ’s senior news editor; Jason Snell is Macworld ’s editorial director; Kelly Turner is Macworld ’s senior features editor. ]
Rob Griffiths, Macworld senior editor and creator of MacOSXHints.com:
Butler ( )
This powerful tool does everything for me—launches programs, controls iTunes, creates navigable pop-up folders, runs AppleScripts, and even handles basic macros. It’s my one can’t-work-without-it utility.
Chax ( )
I have dozens of open chat windows most of the time, so Chax brings me order by adding a tabbed window to iChat. This essential iChat add-on also has built-in log and activity viewers.
Google Earth ( )
I used to take out my bike or car to measure routes that I like to run. Now I just use Google Earth’s path tool to get an accurate measurement without leaving the house. When I’m done, I can copy and paste the map of the route, and keep it for future use. (Oh, yeah—it’s also a great way to explore the planet.)
If you use keywords in iPhoto (and you should), Keyword Assistant makes it much easier to add, delete, and work with your keywords. It’s an essential add-on for high-volume users of keywords in iPhoto.