12 Secret Mac Apps that will make you a Productivity Guru

12 Secret Mac Apps that will make you a Productivity Guru

Are you looking to enhance your workflow? I reviewed a handle of applications below to give you an incite on what they do and how they can benefit you. These apps are the epitome of productivity on the Mac and can seriously save you time over the long-term to minimize distractions. I listed these applications in no particular order so you’ll need to dig deep to find the best one.


Houdini.175x175-75

Houdini
Minimize applications automatically.

Description
One method of productivity is to not keep all your windows open at once. But seriously, who minimizes applications constantly? I think most Mac users sometimes never get a glimpse of their desktop because it’s an application graveyard. One way to get around this is to use an application like Houdini. It basically automatically minimizes applications based on your usage. So say I open up Skype and stop talking with somebody, Houdini can minimize that application for me so it doesn’t take up screen space sitting there urging me to use it.

Why you should use it
It can minimize distractions throughout the day. If your like me you crave structure and organization. With a Mac it can be hard to keep your windows organized and work spaces clean. Houdini is the easy-way-out. Oh, you can also specify the delay in hiding applications dependent on the application itself – only drawback is that the max delay is 5 minutes.

How the developer can make it better
The productivity that would be added if it had a feature to allow me to disable Houdini for only a certain amount of time would just be fantastic. I find myself disabling it so I don’t lose my concentration when working between multiple applications at a time (but may not always use the application within 5 minutes). This leads me to forget what applications I was actively working in between because it minimized them! Houdini would be much more magnificent if it could work with the user, and not against them in this case.


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Coffitivity

Increase Creativity
(maybe not productivity though)

 

 

Description
This program was an interesting idea indeed. It was started based off this one particular research study done. The study basically came to the conclusion that listening to moderate levels of ambient noise can enhance your performance on creative tasks. I’ve used it many times but can’t say I’ve specifically experienced a boost in creativity. Perhaps if you keep it on 24/7 you’ll probably get it to do something for you. Programs like this can be very subjective because you need to be able to analyze yourself extremely well to try and find a difference. Until then the study is enough to make me want to use it, whether it’s a placebo or not doesn’t really matter.

Why you should Use It
They sort of hopped on the productivity band wagon, but my analyses showed them not using the word productivity or increased concentration once. I think this is a neat idea when you are looking for a creative boost (without consuming any mind-altering substances) while you’re working. So whether this app is right for you depends on what kind of work you do and whether or not you can remember to use it.

How the developer can make it better
The biggest issue here is that the app doesn’t have a daily timer of any sort. So unless you’re going to constantly turn it off and on, you’ll almost certainly forget to use it when you need it most.

evernote


Evernote

Easy, Fast Note Taking & Sharing 

 

 

Description
I’d probably tell you that you’ve been living in a cave for the past 7 years if you haven’t heard of Evernote by now. Evernote allows you to manage a personal collection of files. If you want, you could pay them $10/month to create shared notebooks that anybody (who pays $10/mo) can have access and edit them. Keep in mind you can still share files with other individuals without paying – they just won’t be able to edit the files.

Why you should Use It
Despite the big hack they had back in 2013, it’s still a good application. You can keep all your documents synced between multiple devices while have the option to pay them to share information. I’ve been pondering moving my company wiki into Evernote since it would make information management easier. However, Evernote is a big company, that makes them a big target. So no matter how much patching they do, I think they’ll always be the elephant in the hackers basement.

How the developer can make it better
An ability to create a template and then copy that to a new document would be great. Currently if you have a specific note-taking template you need to create it as a note, and then duplicate that note to keep your format and structure nice and neat. It’d be a slightly more methodical way to actually have dedicated templates to choose from.

Bonus Tip
In preferences, make sure you create a hotkey for adding a new note, it makes adding new ideas in your head a breeze. In other words, don’t lose your idea simply because you can’t open a note taking page on your computer fast enough.


cobook

Cobook
Instant access to search/add contacts

 

Description
This is a good application that’s quite useful if you need to constantly add and edit contacts quickly. It resides in the menu bar and you simply need to start searching for a contact to find them. Then say you want to call somebody, you can specify what application it opens, like if you want to call them through Skype.

Why you should Use It
Not too many people never need to open their contacts frequently. Whether you’re on the phone and somebody gives you their number, or hey use it to add notes about your caller on that caller. If I call my cable provider, you know how they always give you that case number at the end? Cobook is a great place to store that.

How the developer can make it better
Add a note box in the contact window directly. Currently you have to click the edit button for that contact in order to find the 1-line note field.


dropbox


Dropbox

Create a shared folder, in a box

 

 

Description
Sharing files is a must, and so I must mention one of the most popular startup companies of our time, Dropbox. The name almost sounds repetitive, like a song you get stuck in your head. Nonetheless, it’s still a very relevant application today, just as it was back in 2007 when it was first launched. If you don’t know it’s a file sharing service that allows you to create a shared directory that other individuals can access.

Why you should Use It
Unless you’re lonely in this world, or you’re working in an office that wouldn’t allow data in the cloud, then Dropbox is great thing to share and keep files secure. Even if I’m sharing them with somebody outside the company I can right click the file and select the option to copy a link. It also imports pictures every time one of my devices takes a picture and merges it all into 1 folder. In essence, it helps to make life easier and more hassle free. Despite the security concerns – it’s still a favorite in my book.

How the developer can make it better
The biggest problem I’ve had with DropBox is that it can really mess things up. Never make any complicated folder or file changes to multiple areas at once. The functions that the Dropbox application use are very basic, (IE: upload or delete). So moving files between folders isn’t very efficient in the Dropbox end. I’ve messed up my whole Dropbox account before I found it was my OCD-like organization that was causing files and folders to disappear and revert to their previous locations. So make sure you login to the web interface if you’re looking to do mass file or folder changes.


alfred

Alfred
Spotlight functionality x10

 

Description
This little guy can do a number of things. Alfred is an amazing app, not really by it’s basic functionality, but because of the giant list of available plugins people have made for it. I have applications installed that can do everything from turning off my z-wave devices on Smartthings, to being able to send out tweets and upload files via FTP.

Why you should Use It
The Apps Man – the apps I tell you! It’s almost become a new addiction, trying to find workflow plugins, because they can save time and do all sorts of things you didn’t even know you could do with your mac.

How the developer can make it better
The biggest pain is surprisingly, not adding workflow plugins, but rather themes. It would be much easier if the application could upload downloaded themes to the theme directory automatically, instead of requiring you to open another finder window and do the old fashioned drag-and-drop.


sizeup

Sizeup
Quickly resize or move windows

 

Description
Sizeup can do a handful of things, but mostly focuses around making it easy to move windows to different parts of the screen as well as additional monitors. Beyond that it has window snapping (wonder where they got that from) which will re position the window on a specific, even custom window location and size. It can remember individual window locations and sizes, all the while keeping it the same even if you move it from one screen to the next.

Why you should Use It
This all boils down to user preference I’m afraid. On one hand it can be hard to switch away from the habit of moving and re positioning windows manually, vs using the hotkey methods available inside the application. However keep in mind there are many different commands that do many different things with their own hotkey functionality. So for the app to be worth the cost is really whether or not you are going to create that habit for yourself to actually use the app. If you can kick the habit then this is an amazing program for increased workflow.

How the developer can make it better
Create a function to allow individual tabs in chrome to move to the other window, and not the entire window itself.


due



Due

Create recurring reminders and habits

 

 

 

Description
This tops my list of favorite apps to use. It easily allows you to create reminders for tomorrow, later today or really when-ever. No matter what the time or date is, it can create a reminder for you. If you’re like me you might have resorted to using your calendar for future reminders, but this separates that so you can truly just keep the calendar to actual events. Best of all, the app has an incredible level of functionality built in from the recurring side of things. I can tell myself to go take out the trash every Sunday, water the plants every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, or make copies of my receipts and statements every year on January 1st. The options are almost infinite, so certainly check this out.

Why you should Use It
Sure there are others, but this application’s ease of use, makes habit and reminder creation fast and simple. If you’re trying to start a new habit then this application can be incredibly annoying with various reminder customization. It’s a good thing though, because doing things like sitting up straight in your chair can be hard to master. (I’m talking to you!)

How the developer can make it better
It would be fantastic to create different colored items in the list, as currently they all will appear at the same time. Having a sort of hierarchy will make it easier to distinguish how many habits you have for the day and how many actual reminders to do which might be an important, one time thing.


popclip



Popclip

Don’t like hotkeys? This is the answer!

 

 

Description
Pop goes the weasel, er I mean clip. This is a neat application, mostly because of an extraordinary level of plugins available to add to it. It allows you to do everything from copy and paste, to searching, translating, tweeting, adding to Evernote – and much, much more. It’s a multi-function application that activates whenever you highlight something. However, if you’re at all used to clicking or highlighting text on a page (bad habit?) then this application is going to get annoying, quite quickly.

Why you should Use It
Like for me, I occasionally use it to tweet something, or sending text to Evernote. I had to disable many of the plugins though because I just never got around to using them. This is another application where you have to sit down and remind yourself what buttons are available and what they do.

How the developer can make it better
The application list can get pretty big, so it would be nice to have an option to customize what plugins show on different applications.


bartender


Bartender

Tend your apps in separate bars

 

 

Description
This app is the bouncer of your menu bar. It decides what applications go in, and what applications have to stay in line. Essentially you can customize what menu bar icons you want to show on your primary bar, and on a secondary bar that can be opened by clicking the icon for Bartender itself. You can move around icons as you choose, and customize settings not only with the app itself, but each individual menu bar icon as well.

Why you should Use It
Let’s face it, if you were a bar without a bartender, you’re customers would go crazy, one fight leads to another and without even thinking about it, you’ll have a mass riot on your hands. Bartender is sort of a necessity to mac itself, and it still surprises me that Mac OS doesn’t have this functionality built in.

How the developer can make it better:
Quite frankly, I think the bar is full with this one. I thought about it for a while and I can’t find any suggestion for this app (good job guys!)


defaultfolderx

Default Folder X
Instantly navigate your folders

 

Description
I really, really love this application. It’s changed the way I use the computer and single-handedly been the source of the greatest time saved when looking to upload files. So say you’re editing a photo of yourself, or editing a file to upload to a website. When the drag and drop functionality is unavailable in some applications, you need to manually search for that file you want to upload. It has a lot of other features but the most useful is the “Most Recently Used” option. This gives me instant access to upload files in folders hidden deep inside a directory hierarchy – all less than 5 seconds each time.

Why you should Use It
The amount of time this application will save you us heavenly. I estimate I’ll save myself 15 minutes a week. 15 minutes a week x 52 weeks is 13 freaking hours a year. According to Josh Kaufman in his TED Speech you can learn almost anything in just 20 hours. I look forward to learning how to play the ukulele.

How the developer can make it better
Give us finder window functionality, this would be amazing. Better navigation and search functionality built around the Finder window. This would make it easier to become accustomed to using the application as well as customizing it further.

defaultfolderx

Rescuetime
Understand how you’re wasting time

 

Description
Ah yes, around since 2008 they are really known as the golden arches of time management on a computer. They log how much time you actually spend on your computer, and in what applications. It would be really great and all – if it actually made you more productive. The main problem with RescueTIme is simply that it fails to really help most people. You may like to get that simple email at the end of every week but how much time do you use to actually analyze your habits and change them? It requires immense willpower to analyze your habits every week and compare them to the last week, to actually form a hypothesis and then try an experiment. It’s not difficult to ask yourself how productive you were at the end of the day. 5 minutes before leaving the office, take just 5 minutes! Ask yourself how well your day went and how productive you felt. With that aside, Rescuetime can be a useful application, but you have to know how to take the metrics it gives you, and create an action plan for change.

Why you should Use It
I like to log all my time with everything I do. I have sensors that tell me how long and well I slept, but also know how active I was in the day, or even know the temperature, humidity and other metrics of my environment. Rescuetime provides this so that you can look back at yourself and make some real tough decisions. If you’re one of those people that work all day, but go home feeling like you didn’t get anything accomplished, then Rescuetime gives you the stats to see where you’ve been wasting your time. However, it’s up to you to make a rational decision on how to act to resolve the issue. It’s not a be all, end all solution in terms of time management, but it’s a useful tool all the same.

How the developer can make it better
No ability to disable logging of…incognito tabs. Honestly though, if they did add this ability it would probably be only available in the “premium”.

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