Sometimes the simplest techniques are the most effective. If you want to lose weight, exercise. If you want to ace tomorrow's test, study. And if you want to get to Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice.
The same is true of time management. Heavy procrastinators looking to bump their efficiency rating have turned to the Pomodoro Technique as a savior. The concept is simple: Break your workday into manageable chunks that help you accomplish tasks without burning out or getting overwhelmed.
If you work hard to ensure that the music files in your iTunes library are tagged exactly right, you may be frustrated with iTunes’ tools for doing this. The iTunes 12 Info window—the one that displays when you select tracks and press Command-I—is less efficient than that of previous versions, and while there used to be a way to display the old-style window, you can no longer do so.
Metadatics (Mac App Store link) is a powerful tool that’s a bit more efficient to use and offers more features for changing tags than iTunes. You can use it for basic tagging, as you would with iTunes, when you rip tracks from CDs or add downloads to your library. But it goes much further.
Maybe the last thing you want to fuss with when you’re trying to put together a to-do list is the list itself. That’s why Apple’s Reminders app works for so many; you can easily create lists, set notifications, and check off items. That’s about it.
The free version of Any.do 3 has similar features plus a few more, and it offers a different UI treatment that you might find more pleasing, if such things matter to you.
As Apple’s calendar app for iOS and Mac OS X moved across recent releases from inconsistent, inadequate, and irritating to more or less just fine, the market for replacements grew and matured. Fantastical for iOS, now in its second release, filled a gap there by not just presented a clean list and offering strong support for different calendar systems, but also its natural-language processing. Type in a semblance of an event, and Fantastical would parse it and place it for you without fuss.
Fantastical’s makers, Flexibits, brought a kind of snippet of Fantastical to OS X in its first version: a drop-down day view closely reminiscent of the iOS version. With the release today of version 2, Fantastical on the Mac is now a full-fledged replacement for Apple’s Calendar and a strong competitor to similar products. The previous version now appears as the Mini-Window, an optional system menu bar pop-down that gives a capsule view.
The guiding philosophy for the program is that it’s a calendar app that focuses on upcoming events in a list view, keeping that view active no matter whether you’re looking at a graphical layout of day, week, month, or year. I live in the week view, and the combination of the upcoming list and a glance at the current week tends to work well together.
Millions of files lurk in your OS X installation, many of them useful! In an age of spinning hard-drive plenty, in which a 3-terabyte drive is cheap and fits in the space a 250GB or 500GB one did a few years ago, many of us are still constrained by the size of an SSD—or the irritation of a Mac model that has a hard drive it’s nearly impossible to safely upgrade. WhatSize will help you figure out the mystery of what’s filling your drive, and give you both advice and tools to trim the fat.
WhatSize combines the functions of analysis and utility. Its analysis scans every file and folder on the disk and builds sortable, browsable, and visual directories. Its utilities can suggest files to remove. It all starts by selecting a drive in the Devices list: WhatSize goes about its indexing business or loads a previously completed scan.
The analysis part is divided into Browser, Outline, Table, and PieChart. Browser and Outline correspond to the columns and views in the find. Table comprises every file and folder on a drive, and can be sorted and filtered. For instance, you can find every file that’s two years or older that occupies 100MB or more on your drive. This can help spot standout problems easily.
Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro has been a longtime favorite of many who wish to capture sound routed through their Mac—whether from apps or audio input devices. Inventive and powerful though the app was, however, its interface could be challenging to the uninitiated. With the release of Audio Hijack 3, the company has taken a large stride forward in making the app both capable and easy to use.
If you were a person not accustomed to capturing audio you could be forgiven for launching previous versions of Audio Hijack and thinking “Now what do I do?” The app offered a lot of power under the hood, but the way forward wasn’t always clear. This should no longer be a problem as Audio Hijack 3 includes a template chooser. Just create a new session and you can choose the kind of task you’d like to perform—pull audio from an application, record audio from a DVD, jack your Mac’s audio beyond its normal limits, record from an input device such as a microphone or audio interface, create a podcast, digitize an LP, improve existing audio, capture your Mac’s audio, record VOIP conversations, or grab audio from a web browser. Just select the task you’d like and click Choose.
iPhones and iPads are limited in the media file formats they can play. You can listen to MP3 and AAC music files, as well as Apple Lossless (ALAC), AIFF and WAV, and you can watch MP4 and M4V video files. But you can’t play FLAC or MKV, APE, or AVI. Plenty of third-party apps will let you play these files, but first you have to manually sync your files, either using the file sharing feature in iTunes, or over a network.
The $30 Mac app Waltr takes a different approach. Relieving you of the hassle of converting files, Waltr does it for you, and copies the files to your iOS devices. Drag files onto Waltr’s window, and it will convert and copy files in most any media format. There are no settings and no preferences, just a window onto which you drag items.