Modern text editors are built on first impressions. Where the word processors of old inundated us with oodles of options that took months to master, today’s iOS-inspired versions dispense with the features and strip away the ribbons and bars to bring us the cleanest canvases imaginable. Lightweight and minimal, they do their best to emulate the classic pen-and-paper experience, removing nearly every bit of distractive clutter and noise to keep our eyes and brains focused on the task at hand.
Paragraphs (Mac App Store link) very much continues in this vein. One of the newest entries in an increasingly crowded field, the very plain text editor marries minimalism with meticulousness, carving out a very nice concept built around a a clean, smart workspace. Serious writers will undoubtedly be frustrated by the lack of features, but for notes and short blog entries, Paragraphs proves to be a worthy client.
I don’t use outlines often, but whenever I’m working on a book or a long article, I create an outline. I’ve long used The Omni Group’s OmniOutliner but I know I don’t need more than a fraction of the features that app offers. There are lots of other outliners available at much nicer prices, and Robin Schnaidt’s $9 OutlineEdit is an excellent choice for those who want to make outlines but don’t need all the power and complexity of other apps.
OutlineEdit offers all the usual features you’ll find in an outliner. It automatically assigns levels to texts you enter as you press the Tab key. You can fold items, hiding the sub-items of a top-level item, for example, to make your outline view less cluttered. And it lets you move items up and down in the outline, changing their positions, or promoting or demoting them. It also offers checkboxes that you can use to mark items as completed. I often use this feature when I’m writing a book or long-form article, as I don’t necessarily write in a linear manner.
Here’s some scary food for thought: Did you know one of the most commonly-used communication methods that everyone uses daily is actually one of the least safe?
Email is extremely convenient and ubiquitous across desktop, mobile, and web, but it was never designed with any real security—let alone privacy—in mind. This lack of protection also extends to the files we attach to those communiqués, a thorny predicament the folks at Kiev-based MacPaw have set out to resolve with Encrypto (Mac App Store link), an ingenious little Mac app.
Ever since it was possible to tether a computer to a cell modem, it's also been possible to blow through one's monthly or service-plan limit and either run out of mobile data, be throttled to a trickle, or face expensive overage fees. TripMode is the first easy-to-use OS X utility to help with that problem. It could do more, but for $8 (or $5 in its current sale), it does plenty.
When installed, TripMode appears in your system menu bar and monitors for network changes in Yosemite. Whenever you join a new Wi-Fi network or connect to a Personal Hotspot, TripMode activates and blocks all system-level and application network usage. The utility was built as an access whitelist, so all network usage is blocked until you allow it.
Ever since the earliest days of the Macintosh, the clipboard has been an indispensable part of our workflow. It’s one of the unsung heroes of the modern desktop, but the ephemeral nature of the copy-and-paste model has trained us to immediately utilize the things that land on our clipboards, forcing us to constantly be aware of how we’re use it. Despite its remarkable usefulness, the clipboard hasn’t seen much in the way of innovation at the system level, relying instead on hacks and utilities to unlock its full potential.
I’ve used more clipboard managers than I care to remember, but I’ve yet to find a solution that’s as simple or intuitive as the rudimentary one baked into OS X. But Paste might be the first one that sticks around past the trial period.
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.