Mac Gems: Holiday-bundle bargains

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With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s time for the annual avalanche of Black Friday sales—and Pre-Black Friday sales, and Cyber Monday sales, and Weekend-Before-Cyber Monday sales, and…you know the drill. But most of those sales, whether online or in physical stores, focus on hardware and gear. If you’re looking for some great Mac software, either for yourself or for your favorite gift recipient, there are currently two big Mac-software bundles, each offering a bevy of apps for one reasonable price. Even if you just wanted the Mac Gems each bundle contains, both are bargains, but each also includes a bunch of other good software that sweetens the pot considerably. (All apps included in these bundles are full versions.)

Productive Macs Bundle

The Productive Macs bundle (available until November 30) includes nine apps for a total of $30, compared to $239 if purchased separately at regular prices:

TextExpander (Mac Gems review; normally $35): Text Expander is my favorite text-expansion utility—I type a few characters, and the utility expands that abbreviation into a longer snippet of frequently typed text. TextExpander has, according to its built-in tracking feature, typed over 300,000 characters for me in just the past six months.

Path Finder (Mac Gems review; normally $40): A powerful replacement for the Finder, Path Finder includes a dual-pane file browser, a drop stack for temporary file/folder storage, window tabs, folder bookmarks, a built-in Terminal-style shell, a file-transfer queue, file tagging, batch renaming, and hex and ACL editors. And those are just the features the developer notes in its one-sentence summary—Path Finder includes many more “I wish the Finder did this” options.

TaskPaper (Mac Gems review; normally $25): This unique task-management app lets you create flexible lists and task-management documents using a dead-simple interface. Instead of complex formatting buttons and menus, you get a single menu (and keyboard shortcuts) for creating new projects, tasks, and notes; and adding hierarchy is as simple as using the Tab key—you can use Taskpaper without ever taking your fingers off the keyboard. Taskpaper also supports tags and filters, and if you have the iOS version of TaskPaper, the apps can use Dropbox to stay in sync.

Concealer (normally $20): This app uses a secure, encrypted database to store private data such as financial information, passwords, licenses, files, and notes.

DesktopShelves (normally $15): Provides virtual shelves on your desktop that you can use to store files, folders, clippings, and other items in order to reduce desktop clutter. You can even open a folder as a shelf using a contextual-menu command.

DiskAid (normally $30): This utility lets you extract the media files and other data from your iPod, iPhone, or iPad—for example, if your hard drive dies and you’ve lost your iTunes library.

iDocument (normally $50): The developer describes this utility as a bit like “iTunes for documents”—instead of using the Finder, you browser and access your documents using an iTunes-browser-like interface. You can encrypt your documents, tag them, and annotate them without altering the originals. The app syncs using Dropbox and there’s even an iOS app for viewing, on your iOS devices, documents you’ve stored in iDocument on your Mac.

Optimal Layout (normally $14): This window manager aims to make it easy to quickly find an open window: Just press a shortcut and then start typing the name of the app or window. Optimal Layout also gives you tools for organizing your windows, applying favorite sizes/locations, and arranging groups of windows.

Trickster (normally $10): Formerly called Blast, this utility tracks recently opened and modified documents and lists them in an easy-access systemwide menu. You can open, preview, move, and perform other actions on any item in the menu. It’s like OS X’s Recent menus, only much more capable.

MacLegion 2012 Holiday Bundle

The MacLegion 2012 Holiday Bundle (available until December 7) includes 11 apps for a total of $50, compared to $548 if purchased separately at regular prices; MacLegion even provides downloads of demo versions so you can try out the apps before buying:

CopyPaste Pro (Mac Gems review; normally $30): This veteran multiple-clipboard utility not only saves multiple recent clipboard contents, letting you quickly access any of them, but it also lets you edit copied and cut text before pasting. You can also drag content into CopyPaste Pro for temporary storage.

Fantastical (Mac Gems review; normally $20): A, um, fantastic utility that gives you quick access to your calendar and tasks from the menu bar. It also lets you create new events and tasks using natural language: “Meet Jon for lunch on Friday at 11:30 at The Melt.”

RipIt (Mac Gems review; normally $25): The easiest-to-use—and, in our testing, most-reliable—app for ripping the DVDs you own and converting them for playback on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Apple TV.

Alarm Clock Pro (normally $20): This utility lets you use your Mac as an alarm clock. It also provides features for automating tasks based on schedules.

Beamer (normally $15): This movie-playing app lets you use AirPlay to easily stream any movie file from your Mac to your Apple TV. It even supports subtitles.

Capo (normally $50): If you’ve ever wanted to learn to play your favorite song, Capo is the tool to use. It slows down your music (without changing the pitch), lets you loop specific sections of any track, and can even show detailed spectrograms and chord progressions.

Code Collector Pro (normally $20): Designed for coders and Web designers, this utility lets you store—and quickly access—frequently used code snippets.

Djay (review; normally $20): This nifty app turns your Mac into a real DJ mixing system, using your iTunes music as virtual vinyl.

Freeway Pro (review; normally $229): This normally pricey app lets you create and manage entire websites using a mostly WYSIWYG interface.

iRip (our coverage; normally $20): Like DiskAid, above, lets you extract the media files and other data from your iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

TechTool Pro (review; normally $100): This powerful utility suite lets you test your Mac’s hardware for problems, repair drives, clone drives, recover deleted files, and monitor your system performance.

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