Daily Essentials — Booster shots for your Mac

I spend a significant time showing work related stuff to the clients and colleagues, on my MacBook Pro.

My current tool-of-the-trade is a 15" MBP, 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 with 16 GB memory. My Mac obsession has come a long way since the days when I bought my first portable Mac — a fancy color iBook. I have to admit, at that time it was more of a “second fun laptop” for doing some graphics work, and also to make a show-off statement! Well, that was 1999, and Mac was not really mainstream at all. Since then, and it has been almost 18 years now, I have used pretty much every version of the hardware and have played with all the cats, before starting to climb the mountains (you know what I mean!).

Although Apple does a great job in building everything that a user needs on a Mac, but I have always enhanced my experience by adding little nifty utilities and tools, that has made my Mac even better. Some of you ask “What is that cool utility on my Mac…?”, when I happen to quickly reveal one of those while my Mac is connected to a projector. So I thought it makes sense to write about those, hence here I am jotting down my personal favorites in this feature. I can safely say, that my professional life would have been a lot harder if these utilities did not exist, so a big “thumbs-up and thank you” to the authors of these utilities — you have made a difference to my professional life!

Without further ado, here is a running list (not in any specific order, as they all do different things)…

  1. A Clipboard with history — Does your day job include the cut-copy-paste madness at times, and it gets out of hand because you are copying and pasting same set of text between applications multiple times. There is a nifty app that lives in the Menubar, it stores the history of copied text, which you can circulate to paste anywhere without going back to the original text. The one I use is called CopyClip 2 by FIPLAB. It will make your life a lot easier. My favorite feature is that, it looses all the formatting when it copies (cmd+c) and stores text, which makes pasting (cmd+v)in a different application a lot more sane (otherwise, the directly copied-pasted text turns out in weird formatting). The CopyClip 2 utility in the MenuBar also allows search feature so that you never loose copied text again, and those special cmd+n shortcuts for copying text are really cool.
  2. A Mac split-view on steroids — If you ever desired that the Mac OS split-view could do more, then Magnet by CrowdCafe is the answer. This is also a little utility that lives quietly in the Menubar without bothering you but comes extremely handy when you are in a situation where more than one applications need to share the screen real-estate. You can drag a window to the sides and corners to achieve many of the possible configurations (including quarters and 1/3rds), or simply click on the Magnet Menubar icon to pick a location and size. I can’t live without it.
  3. Quick live-in-the-menubar color picker — My job needs me to deliver presentations, and I have learned that well-crafted content with right copy and visuals is equally important as the delivery itself. While building my decks, I focus a lot on achieving the correct balance for the text, shapes and background colors. A very handy utility ColorSnapper 2 by koolesache comes to rescue every time when I need to pick a color and reuse in my palette. It can export multiple formats, including # codes, rgba, hsl, NSColor etc, hence, be it Powerpoint, Keynote, Pixelmator, Swift or raw CSS, I can switch color format quickly for my needs. Another cool feature is the high-precision mode, that allows you to pick pixel-perfect color every time. Love this app!
  4. Multiple Browsers, but why(!?!) — Yes, I have 7 Browsers on my Mac! But you ask “why”, and I have my reasons. For the start, just to keep different activities separated from each other. For instance, I use… Firefox for my office work (its kinda ‘Official Browser’ at my workplace). Safari for general leisure browsing (when I want the Browser to play absolutely nice with Mac). Chrome for online shopping (just my preference). Opera for creative media indulgence (another preference for exclusive task focus, and for its built in free unlimited VPN). And, Vivaldi for reading and watching live TV (love its tile screen to quick access by preferred content sites). Well, those are only 5, what about 6 and 7? So, here they are… I use Firefox Developer Edition and Google Chrome Canary for all the tech geekery (if you are a Web application coder, then these Browsers show you what others don’t, just check out the dev tools). Enjoy.
  5. Now manage the Browsers madness — Having multiple Browsers is great, it makes Digital life a lot more organized, but then, it also creates a new problem… how do you launch a link from other applications into the right Browser of your choice (as the system only lets you set one Browser as default)? Well, fret not, there is a solution, use Choosy by George Brocklehurst (George Brocklehurst). It solves the problem by showing you a list of installed Browsers when you click a link in other applications. This utility works like a charm, and you will be able to enjoy the power that having multiple Browsers bring to you. Problem solved.
  6. For the Show-Business — For those of you who need to do presentations or run training sessions, you will agree with me that despite best efforts to un-clutter screens, still at times, you will end up in situations that you need to draw audience attention to a specific item. Thats where you can make use of this beautiful utility, called Mouseposé by Boinx. When invoked (and you can do that by configuring a hotkey), it very nicely dims rest of the screen and shines a spotlight at the location you want. You can also configure radius, blurs and click indicators. Add this to your Mac tools satchel to create a little cinematic effect for your stage presence! If you want to try something for off-stage working mode to stay focused at the desktop, there here is a utility called HazeOver .
  7. “Save thousands of click a day” — I have to say, that this is a bit strange utility! It is called DwellClick by PilotMoon (Nick), and it clicks for you (without you pressing click on mouse or touchpad). Now, why would you do that(?), probably for the same reason as configuring tap-to-click on the touchpad, but DwellClick takes the same concept a step further and automatically clicks the position you have left the mouse pointer at, after short configurable delay. I use it, especially when I am doing some work that needs a lot of repetitive clicks (like working with images). It really speeds up the process and saves you from ‘finger fatigue’. At other times, like when I am typing, I turn it off. It’s a very powerful tool, you have to master it to really enjoy it [== caution].
  8. Sidenote—As you can probably guess by its name, Sidenote by Pierre Châtel (Pierre Chatel) lives somewhere on the side of your Mac screen and allows you to jot down quick thoughts. This is a little unobtrusive utility that gets out of the way when you don’t need it, but you can pull it out to take a note, and tuck it away again. The utility is no longer in development, but you can still download the last stable version from the author’s page (scroll to the bottom to find the link).
  9. Distraction-free writing — At times, you will crave for a more advanced writing space but something that is without too many bells-n-whistles. That’s where I use LetterSpace by Sittipon Simasanti (Sittipon Simasanti). It is simple and elegant, has multiple color themes to get you into the mood of creative writing, or simply for quick note taking. The Mac app syncs with your iPhone/iPad via iCloud. So you can pick up where you left when you are on the go. If you are feeling Pro today, also then check out its mark-down capabilities. This is a work-horse on my Mac!
  10. Switch like a [MB]Pro—Those of you who had the magical foresight to plan refresh cycle for your Mac to match the announcement of the new MBP with TouchBar… here is a little treat for you! Use TouchSwitcher by Maxim Ananov (Maxim Ananov) to cycle through the apps quickly. It brings the cmd+tab task-switcher capability to your shiny TouchBar. It is especially handy, when you are in presentation mode and need to switch the app on the screen without showing the on-screen task-switcher to all the audience!

Your personal favorites could be different, please don’t get offended if mine are not the same as yours. I would be very interested in hearing if you have some really cool tools/utilities that you use on your Mac, and would like to recommend to the readers here.

I hope you have enjoyed the list above.