Gems in brief: Utilities and system enhancements

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Although I cover two to three products each week here on the Mac Gems Weblog, I uncover far more than that in my day-to-day software mining. As a result, I’ve got a huge folder full of possible Gems, and it grows faster than I can pull great software out of it. So for the next few weeks, in an effort to share the wealth, so to speak, I’m going to use some of my Mac Gems Weblog entries to provide brief coverage of a number of cool products each day, rather than the usual longer review of a single item. Some products will be simple items that may not warrant a full-length review, some will be niche products, and some will just be things that have been waiting patiently for coverage for too long. The one thing they have in common is that all are Mac Gems.

Today’s theme is “utilities and system enhancements”—products that enhance, or simply provide easier access to, Mac OS X’s own functionality.

KeyViewer 1.4 (   ; free). Mac OS X’s Keyboard Viewer (known as Key Caps in Mac OS 9 and early versions of OS X) is a handy utility. However, to access it you need to enable the menu bar Input menu via System Preferences—a hassle, as well as a waste of menu bar space if you don’t use any other Input menu features. KeyViewer is a simple AppleScript application that opens Keyboard Viewer; stick it in the Dock or on your Desktop, or access it via a keyboard or menu utility, for quick access.

iWillQuit v1.2 (   ; free). You can have your Mac shut down or sleep at a specific time on certain days, but what if you just want it to shut down after you’ve finished downloading the latest Mac OS X Update? iWillQuit lets you schedule a one-time sleep, restart, shut down, or log out, to occur after the amount of time you decree. Of course, as with any logout or shutdown, you need to make sure you don’t have unsaved changes in any open documents, but otherwise iWillQuit works great. Never again will you have to leave your Mac on all night just to finish a big download.

iWillQuit window

WindowsUpdater 1.1 (   ; free [donations accepted]). If you’ve ever made a change to a folder—especially on a server—and then sat there waiting for the Finder to update the folder’s contents, WindowsUpdater is for you. Click the Update Windows button to immediately update all Finder windows, including the Desktop. Or set WindowsUpdater to periodically refresh all windows automatically.

WindowsUpdater window

Volumes Menu (   ; free [donations accepted]). There are many utilities for accessing files and folders, but if all you really want is the ability to quickly browse mounted volumes, Volumes Menu lets you do so via a hierarchical menu in the menu bar.

Volumes Menu menu

Stay tuned for more Gems In Brief over the next few weeks!

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