Sometimes, the best utilities aren’t something you necessarily can’t live without, but a little tool that makes your overall computing experience better. Head for Facebook is a tiny little circle that lives on a corner of your screen and, when clicked, reveals the Facebook.com website in a Web view (mobile or desktop), blurring out the rest of your desktop. Another click, and the website disappears.
Given that Facebook has no desktop client, Head is a nice way to separate your social media interactions from your day-to-day Safari or Chrome use. I like it because, like my Twitter client, it’s an app I can check on regularly scheduled breaks, rather than having a tab on your browser distracting you from otherwise productive tasks. (And I don’t even use Facebook all that often—imagine how useful it could be if that’s your primary social networking service!)
As robust as the screen capture features in OS X are, there’s always room for improvement. Team Apollo’s Powershot 1.5 fills this role nicely, offering a lightweight, efficient utility that allows you to configure keystrokes for taking screenshots, target the areas of the screen that will be used in the screenshot, lets you specify what will be done with the image file, and allows quick line drawings, shapes and annotations to be added to the finished product.
Diagnosing a computer problem can be a daunting task even when you’re standing right in front of a Mac. When you’re doing it remotely—perhaps to help someone of less-than-stellar technical skill—gathering all the information required to figure out what’s not working can be a downright miserable experience for everyone involved.
EtreCheck attempts to alleviate this problem by automatically collecting a full set of statistics about the Mac on which it runs, from its hardware components, to installed apps and kernel extensions—going as far as quickly sampling your system to determine which programs are taking up the most RAM and CPU time.
Like Apple’s own app, Network Radar offers many common network tools, including ping, port scan, and whois. But it doesn’t stop there: The app can quickly scan your entire network and display a list of devices on it, along with their IP addresses, what services they offer, and more. If you need quick access via services like Telnet, SSH, or HTTP, you can access those for any device by right-clicking on its entry.
Contexts 1.4 supplements—and can even replace—OS X’s window management tools, and it does so in a way that is legitimately useful, especially if you rely on keyboard shortcuts to navigate your Mac.
On first glance, Contexts has a nearly nonexistent interface: The only sign that it’s running is a narrow window-picker sidebar that runs along the edge of your screen. But its real power lies in its keyboard shortcuts.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words—and that’s why creative professionals of all stripes like to communicate their ideas in the form of an image. As it turns out, however, a thousand words can be a few too many when you’re trying to draw attention to a small detail.
Light Up 1.0.3 solves this problem by allowing you to load up an image from a file and blocking it out with a mask whose darkness you can customize to your heart’s content. You can then selectively “carve” sections out of the mask, allowing specific portions of the underlying image to be highlighted. The carving tool supports three different shapes: rectangles, rounded rects, and ovals; you can have as many as you like in your image, and are free to resize and move them around.
Google has been cleaning house of services and features over the last year or so, with Google Reader and iGoogle among the most notable casualties. While not so widely mourned, the recent scrapping of Google Notifier was also disappointing, as the app had been a rather helpful way to stay on top of incoming Gmail messages on Mac.
Notifier Pro for Gmail (Mac App Store link) effectively picks up where Google left off, as the third-party option puts a tally of unread emails on the menu bar, letting you click to drop down a preview of the last ten inbox messages with sender name and subject listed. Clicking a note immediately pulls it up in your default browser without hassle, plus you can quickly hit the Go to Inbox link and be there within seconds.