Every one of us talks about organizing all the bits of information stored on our Mac, but few of us have the time to do it. Heare are nine software bargains that will improve your productivity without making a dent on your bottom line.
chartConstructor is a simple program that constructs PERT and Gantt charts. You create charts by entering a project’s various tasks and subtasks, as well as the duration of each of those tasks. You can assign team members to each task and easily rearrange tasks by dragging and dropping. You can add notes to tasks, and an inspector shows you which tasks are dependent on other tasks. If you’re a professional project manager, chartConstructor may not have all the features you need. But it’s a basic, relatively easy-to-use project-management charting tool.—ROB GRIFFITHS
John R. Chang; free
Genius 1.5 won’t make you a genius, but it will help you remember things. It tests you using a “spaced repetition method,” asking a series of questions and repeating them at intervals to aid retention. Genius adapts to your performance, emphasizing areas you’re having problems in and letting you make important items repeat more frequently. You can test in both directions—for instance, see a word and guess its definition, or see a definition and guess the word.—ROBERT ELLIS
Bruno Blondeau; $20
If you want to keep track of text, pictures, URLs, and other bits of information, iOrganize is a handy tool. It stores your scattered bits in a database that you can sort, categorize, and search. But its most useful feature is the ease with which you can get things into it. The iOrganize Dock menu lets you paste the contents of the clipboard into a new note in any category. You can also select text in a Services-aware application and—using the Services submenu in the application menu—create a new note containing that text, without ever leaving the application.—DAN FRAKES
Sebastian Krauss; free
This lightweight outlining and mind-mapping program is easy to use and produces results that rival those of costlier programs such as Inspiration and NovaMind. Use MyMind to create an outline, and then display your information in one of three kinds of maps: Ordered (nodes arranged on both sides), Balanced (nodes balanced for height to save vertical space), or Tree (main topic on the left, with nodes on the right). An Inspector palette lets you adjust various attributes, such as fonts and lines. You can add images to your maps and export them as text, HTML, or images with transparent backgrounds, for use in other applications.—ROBERT ELLIS
Xtreme Mac; $40
TheRecipeManager lets you store and organize ingredient lists and preparation instructions for your favorite dishes, but it also stores nutrition information, photos, and preparation and cooking times. You can also use it to create shopping lists for the ingredients in your meals—the program will even keep an inventory of your pantry and fridge. You can search your recipes by any of the interface’s fields. When you’re ready to cook, the Kitchen Helpers screen shows common measurements and substitutions, and a Cooking View displays ingredients and/or instructions in a separate window with large text—perfect for viewing across a kitchen counter or a room.—DAN FRAKES
VoodooPad Lite 1.1
Flying Meat Software; free (full version, $20)
VoodooPad is a unique, featherweight hypertext notepad. Highlight a word or a phrase and click on the Link button, and VoodooPad creates a new page. Type the name of a page in your document, and VoodooPad automatically creates a link. Link to images, URLs, files, or applications via drag and drop. Export notes as text or XML files, or export them to your iPod’s Notes or Contacts folder (see “Hack the iPod’s Notes,”
September 2004). Surf through pages in your iPod Notes folder using the same hyperlinks. The full version adds AppleScript support, more export options (HTML, RTFD, and Microsoft Word), a clippings folder, and remote editing.—ROBERT ELLIS
External hard drives, network volumes, and CDs and DVDs are all great places to back up and store files—the hard part is remembering which files are stored in which locations. DiskTracker solves the problem by cataloging the contents of any hard drive (local or networked) and removable media into an easily sortable and searchable file. The program can batch scan, and you can set it to automatically scan every mounted disk. It also includes editable templates for creating disc labels—so you don’t have to fire up your Mac to see what’s on one. As someone with more than 800 CDs and DVDs of backed-up files, I’ve found DiskTracker invaluable.—JONATHAN SEFF
NoteTaker 2003 1.8
NoteTaker 2003 employs a spiral-bound-notebook metaphor, and—like a notebook—it has many uses. Each notebook that you create can contain audio (including voice notes), images, URLs, and anything else you want to categorize. To organize notebooks and their contents, you divide them with tabs and categorize and prioritize notebook items. You can also have a to-do section for task management.
If you’ve stored a URL, you can browse the Web site in NoteTaker—you can even block pop-up windows while doing so. NoteTaker’s Web browser isn’t as full-featured as Safari or Firefox, but it’s more than sufficient when all you want to do is take a quick look at the contents of a given URL. And since NoteTaker uses Apple’s WebKit, Web pages in NoteTaker look very much like they do in Safari.—ROB GRIFFITHS
TheCodingMonkeys; donations accepted for noncommercial use; commercial use, $35
Sharing a document between several people who want to make changes simultaneously has traditionally been a recipe for disaster. SubEthaEdit makes such collaborative efforts feasible—even enjoyable—by allowing an unlimited number of participants to join an editing session over the Internet or via Rendezvous. Each person’s contributions are tracked in a different highlight color, and each participant can see what other participants are doing in the document. Integration with Apple’s iChat and Mail means you can chat or e-mail with participants on the side. SubEthaEdit is also a full-fledged text editor, with powerful formatting and search-and-replace functionality, and it provides automatic syntax highlighting for a number of development languages.—DAN FRAKES
Contributing Editor Rob Griffiths is the author of
Mac OS X Hints, Panther Edition
(O’Reilly, 2004) and runs the
Mac OS X Hints Web site. Robert Ellis is the author of
Handpicked Software for Mac OS X: The Best New Freeware, Shareware, and Commercial Software for Mac OS X
(Futurosity, 2002); he publishes the
Handpicked Software Web site. Senior Writer
is the author of
Mac OS X Power Tools,
second edition (Sybex, 2004). Jonathan Seff is
s senior news editor.
VoodooPad Lite is a hypertext notepad that connects your thoughts and your projects through linked words, phrases, images, URLs, files, and applications.NoteTaker’s interface includes a hideable drawer that shows an overview of all the pages in the notebook, a toolbar along the top of each page, and tabs for quickly jumping between sections.