mac essentials, part two: utilities

February 16, 2007

(Hmm…there wasn’t supposed to be a week of silence between these two posts. Life happens I guess.)

As promised (or threatened), here are a list of utilities that, at this point, I couldn’t live without. I consider these utilities because either they are running in the background and I don’t interact with them directly, or they are handy little programs that I only need to run from time to time for Mac maintenance. Again, these are roughly in order of how useful they are to me.

  • Groupcal – For Pathways, we have an Exchange server for all of our email and group calendaring. GroupCal syncs iCal and the Exchange server so that calendar items and to-dos are always in sync with Outlook on my PC and my SDA. I don’t think I could effectively live in both a Mac and PC world without this program.
  • Menushade – I’m easily distracted and a cluttered screen doesn’t help. I’ve been following the lead of Merlin Mann and keeping my screen as simple as possible. I just have a black background and Menushadehides the menu unless I move the cursor to the top of the screen — it’s digital peace and quiet.
  • Spirited Away – Again, following the lead of Merlin Mann here. Spirited Away will automatically minimize any programs that I haven’t used for a set amount of time to keep that desktop clean. Good-bye clutter. If only it worked on my real desktop…
  • iScrobbler – iScrobbler automatically posts whatever I am listening to which then posts the songs in the sidebar of my blog. It also does a great job of giving recommendations based on what I’ve been listening to.
  • smcFanControl – MacBooks can run hot, and this handy little program lets me raise the default fan speed to help keep things cooled down a bit. We haven’t yet decided if we’re going to have any more kids, but at least this program might help keep the MacBook from making that decision for us.
  • HandBrake – Some like HandBrake Lite for ripping DVDs into iPod format, but I’ve found that HandBrake works a lot faster.
  • Disk Inventory X – A handy little program that offers a visual look at your hard drive to see what files are taking up all the space. If you want to create more space on your hard drive (Josh!), try this one out.
  • XSlimmer – XSlimmer pulls out all the PowerPC files and language files from the programs I don’t need. It seems dangerous, but everything is still working fine, and I’ve saved at least a gig on my hard drive. Some say that programs load faster, but I can’t say that I’ve noticed that.
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