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Mac Utilities That Will Rock Your Mac!

written by: Donny Yankellow•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 7/25/2011

Do you ever find yourself using basic functions of your Mac like screenshots or the clipboard and wishing you could do more? Maybe it is quickly renaming a screenshot, or having more than one clipboard. This article will tell you how to do that and more with some great Mac utilities.

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    Where to Find Mac Utilities

    There are a lot of great Mac utilities available that can make using your Mac even easier than it is now. The question is how do you find them? Well, reading this article is one way. I am guessing you found this article via an Internet search. That is one way to find software for your Mac. Do a search for what you are looking for and see what comes up.

    Of course, with the introduction of the Mac App Store finding utilities and other software for the Mac has become a lot easier. If you have Snow Leopard or above you probably have the App Store. Launch the App Store on your computer and search for what you need there. Not every piece of Mac Software is in there, but many are. I will provide links to the App Store for the software mentioned below.

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    Sharpshooter for Screenshots

    I am always taking screenshots for articles I write and for other projects I work on. I might even just be sending a screenshot to a friend in an E-mail. Mac OS X has basic screenshot functionality built-in with keyboard combinations you can use (command+shift+3 for the entire screen, command+shift+4 for selected areas of the screen, command+shift+4 followed by space lets you take a shot of a window). However, there are applications out there that let you take a "better" screenshot and do more with it. Sharpshooter by Kerlmax is my screenshot utility of choice.

    Sharpshooter runs in the background on your computer and uses the same default keyboard combinations built into Mac OS X. However, when you take a screenshot a window appears on the screen allowing you to change the name of the file, change the file format, and even trash the file if it was a bad shot. It then saves it to the location of your choice.

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    Sharpshooter is a great utility for taking and organizing your screenshots. At $15 it is a bargain.

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    Alfred to Replace Spotlight

    I have never been a Spotlight lover or user. Spotlight is the built-in search program for Mac OS X. It always returned too many or incorrect results. In the past I have used a replacement called Quicksilver, which is no longer supported and developed. When Quicksilver "broke" I found Alfred (www.alfredapp.com) in the Mac App Store. Alfred is great and comes in a free version or a paid version (only available on the website). The paid version gives you more features, but I find the free version is more than enough for me.

    You launch Alfred with a key combonation that you can set. It pops up on the screen and you type what you are looking for. I use it mostly as an application launcher, but it can find files, and even launch a Google search. When you see the result you are looking for you can click it with your mouse or use the key command presented in the results. The results are fully customizable too. If you don't want your contacts searched you can uncheck it in the preferences.

    alfred 

    I highly recommend downloading Alfred. For free you can't go wrong.

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    Stuf for Multiple Clipboards

    Have you ever wanted to copy something to your clipboard, but not lose what was already copied there? In other words, have you ever wished you had more than one clipboard for your Mac? Well, with Stuf, by The Escapers, you can do just that. Stuf is one of many clipboard programs out there, but the one I like the best. It is easy to use and works great.

    I currently have Stuf set to twenty clipboards for my Mac. What that means is I can copy twenty different items on my computer and still have access to the first one through Stuf.

    Stuf sits in the menubar and when you access it you get a list of items you have copied. You click the one you want to use and it makes that the current active item in your clipboard. All you have to do is paste. It is that easy to use. It even works between Macs on the same wireless network. While I have not tried this feature, it does sound great. Personally, I love Stuf for what it does on my one computer.

    At $24.99 it is not cheap, but it is well worth the money. It will make your workflow that much smoother and increases productivity.

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    Stuffit Expander for Opening Compressed Files

    Finally, I have to mention an application I install on every Mac called Stuffit Expander from Smith Micro. Stuffit Expander opens up compressed files that you might get in an E-mail or download. While Mac OS X can open most of these file types, there are a few (.bin) that it can't. For these file types you need a third-party program and Stuffit Expander has been my program for this for years. It runs in the background and when you have a file you are opening that requires Stuffit Expander it opens on its own. You used to have to jump through hoops to download Expander, but now that is available in the Mac App Store, it really could not be easier. As I said earlier, this is installed on every Mac I use. It isn't used often, but it's there when I need it.

    These are just four of many great Mac utilities that are available online and through the Mac App Store. If you have one that you can't live without list it below in the comments section.

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    References

    • Article based on authors experience

    • Screenshots by author (using Sharpshooter)

    • Mac App Store links:

    Sharpshooter

    Alfred

    Stuf

    Stuffit Expander